Sunday, March 30, 2008

Noah and his Ark – Lessons in Working Together

Today we are finding the daily “disaster” in the news. It can be political disasters, business disasters, economic disasters or natural disasters. We check the news and wince because there is one problem after another. But this isn’t the first time that a worldwide disaster has happened. The one we recall easily concerns Noah and the great flood.

Since the book “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum, there have been a number of similar type summaries. The basis for this one about Noah and the possible learning come from the Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership. This Center has many very good materials and I recommend it to you.

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark:

> Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
> You had better have a great plan if your vision is a big one.
> Don't miss the boat. If you miss the boat you are doomed.
> Remember that we are all in the same boat.
> Stay fit because even if you're not 600 years old, you may be asked to do something really big.

> Don't be immobilized by critic. Get on with the job that needs to be done. There are always going to be nay-sayers.
> Build your future on high ground.
> Diversity is a good thing so value it. Remember all of the animals were on board.
> Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
> When you're stressed, float a while.
> Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs with “Professional” help

Noah’s Ark is about how certain people survived the Bible’s Great Flood and why a man of integrity was selected. Clearly, Noah had some Divine direction for his task and you may not have that. However, to survive, achieve and succeed, like Noah, here are some thoughts:

> Proper prior planning prevents pathetically poor performance. You just have to have a plan!
> Emergencies and opportunities seldom come with warnings. Maintain a healthy state for both you and your company. Check often to make sure you have things in balance.
> It really takes less time to do it right, the first time. The costs associated with inferior performance, including re-doing, are incredible. Noah took a long time to build that Ark. Take the necessary time to do tasks correctly, at whatever is an appropriate speed.
> Focus and don’t wander off track. Hang tough.
> Operating with integrity is not just the best path, it is the right path.
> Remain alert to the needs and goals of others, including time constraints, corporate culture and individual needs and idiosyncrasies.
> Graciousness is about understanding that sooner or later, everyone needs a little help. Noah had his wife and family to help. Be willing to offer assistance and ask for it, with ease. >Partnerships, built on mutual respect and competency, are powerful.
> Pay attention to the wisdom of all people, regardless of the package in which they come. >Insights that create success are in the hands of engaged stakeholders. Get your teams involved.

If you are the CEO or a senior executive, no matter what size the storm, always look for the rainbow. The rainbow lets you know that the daily disaster will also pass. Point it out to your organization. They need to see the promise of the future too.


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jump Start Your Strategy Development

Presented by John Maver at the Institute for International Research

Strategy is about determining what is really important and what you can do to influence it. Creating successful strategies depends more on asking the right questions and getting good answers than on getting great answers to the wrong questions.

Senior executives know the value of strategic planning. Sometimes they just need a little help to get started. Here are some Jump Starting Questions. Don’t rush through them. Involve your full executive team and discuss the responses. It will lead to a much better plan.

Who are you?

This sounds like a ridiculously simple question but it is the key to starting with the right questions. It sets the general definition of the boundaries within which you will seek answers to your questions and the platform upon which to build.
• How do you define your market to maximize your opportunities?
• Who are your customers? What are their needs?

What’s in it for me, the Customer?

Businesses are a complex network of issues but there are only a few things that really make the difference in the marketplace. This is your core. You should be able to summarize the responses in 5 bullet points or less.
• What distinguishes the winners from the losers in your market?
• What fundamental benefits are you providing customers?
• How would your customers answer these questions? Don’t be afraid to actually ask them.

Look back. What have you learned?

Change in most businesses happens incrementally. Building a reasonably complete picture at discreet points in time 1 to 3 years ago and comparing each to the current reality can maximize learning. Don’t focus on results. Focus on the assumptions you made. They drive the results.
• What have you learned since your last strategic plan?
• How valid were the assumptions used then and why?
• How does that impact your current assumptions?
• What conventional wisdom about your industry might be incorrect?

Look around in the present. How are you vulnerable?

Exposing your underbelly. Analyzing threats and opportunities is an age-old technique. But the answers can sometimes be politically charged based on the respondent’s point of view. This is designed to reduce the biases to the extent possible.
· The Frontal Attack - If you were made CEO of your competitor tomorrow, how would you attack the plan you are developing today?
• The Side Attack - If you were a small start-up company entering your market, what would you do to carve out the most profitable niche at the expense of your current business?

Look forward. “What If …?”

Step into the future. Suspend reality. Look at the extreme ends of the spectrum of possibilities. Force out the key assumptions.
• Doom and Gloom – If there is only a small chance that results could possibly be worse, what are the aspects of the future state? What external events and internal actions on your part led to this dismal position? - What can you do about them?
• Nirvana - If there is only a small chance that results could possibly be better, what are the aspects of the future state? What external events and internal actions on your part led to this spectacular position? - What can you do to capitalize on them?

Is that all there is?

Examine all the possibilities for incremental business, now that you have opened your mind.
• What related markets are you not serving now?
• What new benefits could you provide?

How do you get there from here?

There are a number of proven formats to capture the data you have generated from your questions and develop the right Strategic Plan for your business. You may already have one that fits your needs. Use it. Then keep your plan current.

We use a simple, action-oriented, living, document format with our clients. If you want a sample, contact me at


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Strategy -Ten Reasons to Rethink Your Strategic Plan

1 Your customers have changed - physically. With mergers, take-overs and buy outs many are no longer in business or at least not in the same business.

2 Your customers have changed - mentally. The mind set is very different. The “recession” thinking has companies cutting back and reducing their workforce. Your product positioning has to change.

3 Your customers have changed organizationally. They do business in very different ways with the new technologies.

4 Your competitors have changed – physically. Just like your customers they may have been subject to major changes. Many organizations are in disarray after the cost cutting mergers or buy outs. Opportunity!!!!

5 Your competitors have changed – strategically. Our findings indicate that many have no strategic plan. Therefore your plan can have dramatic impact.

6 You may have changed. You are smaller, leaner, more focused. How can you capitalize on the increased speed that it brings?

7 Your channels have changed. The dot coms brought many new ideas. The goods ones stuck.

8 Your opportunities have changed. Companies that are ready can really capitalize on the upswing that is certainly going to happen as the economy improves.

9 Your available talent pool has changed. Many top quality people are available and loyalty has taken another knock. Trade up and get the right people.

10 Your outsourcing opportunities have changed. Successful companies outsource all but their core competencies.

Consultants are available to help you create a new plan. Get a good one.


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We enjoy many visits to this blog from people in France. Some appear to be daily visitors.

Would you email me and let me know what is most appealing to you in this material?



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn