Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Consultant’s Clients can learn from the airline industry?

A USA TODAY analysis of 2005-2010 government and consumer survey data, which ranked the airlines, had some simple conclusions. The winning airlines, Jet Blue and Southwest make it easy to fly, despite their low prices. They don’t charge extra for bags, phone bookings or changing flights. Boarding is organized and stress free. The airline personnel most often have the authority to make simple changes that solve most problems for the traveler. Importantly, these folks are upbeat and make flying fun.

As a client in any industry, you might want the same attributes from your consultants
• Expertise – both technical and in practice
• Ease of use and hassle free
• Low but value pricing
• No hidden or extra charges
• Simple operation and stress free
• Authority to make changes as required and not have wait for higher authority
• Consultants who are upbeat and make the work pleasurable.

Is that what you are getting now?

Of course if you are now using consultants at al,l you don’t get the benefit of their expertise or the business acceleration they can provide.

The larger older airlines are struggling with their own profitability and yet don’t get the message about what passengers want. This is not unlike many larger consulting firms. Their process is arduous from initial contact through to delivery. In the consultants’ case the deliverable is generally a thick report that will go on the shelf. Junior people do much of the work but don’t have the experience or the authority to make simple changes as they go. There are extra fees charges for add on projects to the basic proposal. So while these consulting firms may have the reputation like the large traditional airlines, they just don’t meet the needs of many of their clients. But they continue to be the “safe” choice.

It strikes us that the right way to go is for a company to hire a consulting company that has both the expertise and the ability to understand the needs of the client and deliver directly against those needs. The consultant can cut away much of the extraneous clutter in the proposal and focus on what needs to happen to deliver the result. Having consultants that have been line managers with previous bottom line responsibilities vs staff who have been trained only to serve others is the right way to go. These consultants can get to the core issues quickly and develop the plans to resolve them.

This is exactly what happens with the winning airlines. Next time you are looking for consulting help to provide either the expertise or the bandwidth needed to reach your goals, recall the winning airlines and apply their learning to your business.

Contact us if we can assist you in any way. We would be happy to provide a “boarding pass.”



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

Monday, September 20, 2010

Putting Your Business Plan into Action

How is your business doing these days? Are you achieving the success with your plan that you had expected? You do have a plan right??

A number of companies are not achieving the expected results despite what they consider very good strategic business planning. Others don’t have a good plan and even with solid in-market activities are also struggling. Why is that? As we analyze these companies, it may seem obvious to us but certainly not to them. Otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. Or would they?

Traditionally, strategy creation has been almost solely in the domain of the CEO and some of the senior executives. They huddle in conference rooms or even take it off site to a resort where they can also do some “team building” like golf. After the designated period, since most of these sessions have an end time set at the start no matter what unexpected issues arise during the sessions, a plan is “completed and agreed”. This is generally given to a designated implementer and the team returns to their regular responsibilities, pleased that the task has been completed. In many instances, little to no thought or resources have been given to the actual implementation. Hence, the results generally do not achieve the expectations.

Traditionally, the execution of business plans or daily activities are in the domain of the mid to lower levels of the organization. They are given a general idea of what they are expected to do and how to do it and then left to figure it out on their own. If there are additions of new programs or projects, usually they are added to the workload with resources to come from existing allocations. Not surprisingly, the results from this effort also do not meet expectations.

As you can see from the way the two scenarios are described, both are doomed to failure. Perhaps if you review the way that your company operates, you may be surprised to find that you are also falling into one or both of these traps.

Simply, you wouldn’t plan a trip without any idea of how you were actually going to get to your destination. And you would just get into the car without any idea of where you were headed and just drive. The same logic holds true in strategic business planning for success.

Clearly, strategy and execution have to be tied closely together. A recent issue of the Harvard Business Review had a lead article on this critical point. At Maver Management as we work with our clients we attempt to have at least a couple of “Implementers” on the strategic team just to insure that the team understands how the plan will be executed for success. Secondly, a significant element in the post strategic planning process is the cascading of the corporate plan down through the business units and functions. In this way, all will know exactly what is expected to be achieved and what their role in achieving it will be. It leads to coordinated business unit and functional strategic plans that directly tie to the corporate.

With a close tie together, it enables companies to make needed adjustments to the strategic plan quickly based on direct market place feed back. This keeps the plan current and on target. It is apparent that waiting for the next scheduled round of planning exercises a year off will not work in today’s fast moving economic climate.

The combining of strategy and execution may sound obvious. However, we have found that most companies do not do this and when they hire us to help them, are surprised that it is an important element of the planning process. Once they are underway, they see the merits and the results reinforce the wisdom of doing it.

The concept is basic. Are you tying your strategic planning directly to the execution?

Contact us if we can be of assistance. We have the experience and the successes.



John MaverPresidentMaver Management Group(925) 648-7561Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn