Organizational Efficiency…

I totally agree that organizations get obsessed with certifications for the utterly wrong reasons – as an example (albeit exaggerated for dramatic effect), if you were in the business of manufacturing PFDs (Personal Flotation device – or Lifejackets) out of Concrete, you could apply for an ISO9001 or similar certification and get this -you could actually get certified – Why?
Because you need to demonstrate and prove that your process is capable of producing an output that meets the technical specifications you have established. So while I only intended this to be a humorous take on the value of certifications – it does have a rather unsettling connotation when you really think about it in the broader construct of how we typically put our faith (blind faith) in partnering with vendors who have such certifications – Certifications that are typically proffered as a non – negotiable requirement in many Organizations.
Therefore there can be no doubt in my mind that the reverse is true – we can no longer treat Operational efficiency and compliance as distractions – but instead give them the respect and Organizational investment that is their due.
An Organizations operational efficiency and compliance maturity have always been key indicators that have been and continue to be held in the highest esteem. The Organizations that treat these two indicators as moving targets are the most like to see consistent growth and share of mind/market in the long term.
Compliance should be treated as an ‘Early Warning System’ when applied for the right reason.
Compliance needs to be treated as the Key Control Indicators that must be consistently met or exceeded – and most importantly, that tell you sufficiently in advance that failure is about to occur. This sort of approach allows the Organization to develop a predictable process path that always alerts for incoming danger in advance such that the dangers can be anticipated and workarounds implemented to mitigate the danger at very least, mitigate the impact to a tolerable level.
Add to this the environment we are currently required to operate within: Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, All things Internet, I/T Security and of course Commerce.
There has never been a more opportune opportunity for Organizations who have a track record for Operational efficiency and Compliance.

The Balanced Scorecard…does it have a place in today’s business model

A key point that is underscored in the Japanese TQM or Kaizen model of Change Management is the need to ensure that the Scorecard also measures Business and Financial results based on a Competitive Benchmarking approach.

Here is a rather simplified summary:
1. What is the Q: The quality of the competitor – what is their error rate and the percent of rework required before acceptable Quality is achieved.
2. What is the C: The Cost the competitor incurs to perform the same process
3. What is the D: Delivery time taken for ‘On Time and In Full’ delivery (OTIF index)

I have learned since, that any Balanced Scorecard that does not factor in the Benchmarking QCD factors above – is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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As I have always stated – most of the management ‘discoveries’ (Like the Balanced Scorecard) have already happened…we keep re-bottling them in new bottles. The Japanese TQM movements initiated after WW2 have several practices that foreshadowed the Balanced Scorecard. Consider the Hoshin Kanri or full policy deployment programs that basically looked at a process that would percolate the Organizations Vision, Mission and Strategy down to the middle management planning, and right down to the worker level implementation…with measurements and metrics as part of a PDCA loop. America had more than 70% of the world’s export market – but simply because the rest of Europe and the East were struggling to rebuild after the war. read up on  W Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran and many great Japanese TQM luminaries like Shigeo Shingo, Taiichi Ohno, Masaaki Imai, Kauro Ishikawa et al who led the charge for TQM. The rest is history.

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Regarding the Balanced scorecard, it is not new nor can it be simply dismissed as not applicable to our business environment. Drs. Kaplan and Norton were onto something way back in the early 90’s and their initial hypothesis stands today. The BSC is still widely deployed across top fortune 500 companies and finds a place in the management system of organizations in the NA, Europe, East and Far East to date.  It focuses on driving the 4 elements of Organizational learning and growth, Process, Customer and Financial performance – and developing Organization Objectives, Strategy, Measurements and  Initiatives thereof.

With the advent of Big Data and Analytics, it has the potential to become a much more powerful business management system that can render otherwise vast, complex tracts of indecipherable Information into business decision data.

When you really think about it, in business, any business…what gets measured gets done!

Five Things Clients look for during the Sales Dialogue:

  1. Did you do your research about the (Client’s) Organization. Did you understand what their market environment is and how they fit into it. Did you know who their competitors are and how they stack up against them. Were you able to demonstrate an awareness of what keeps them awake at night?
  2. Were you able to clearly articulate your solution proposition such that it not only answered the questions the client raised during the dialogue, but in fact anticipated and clarified those that were never articulated, but that were on the Client’s mind?
  3. Were you able to demonstrate and articulate deep awareness of what the client stands for – The Values the Organization embraces, The Professional, Social and Global considerations that resonate within the Organization.
  4. Were you honest when responding to questions about your Solution, any limitations that may not totally cover the Client’s expectations, and most importantly did you encourage the client to articulate any references to competitive Solutions…and did you respond with Honesty, Clarity and Conviction.
  5. Throughout the Sales Dialogue process, did you ensure (and indeed encourage) the client to share the Organization issues, concerns and aspirations without interruption. Did you listen more than you spoke throughout the Dialogue…I mean true listening from the heart to understand and appreciate what the Client’s real issues and concerns were.

You see…in the final analysis, the Role of the Sales Professional is not so much about selling…. as it is about empowering the Client to buy!

Inhibitors to Innovation…

Innovation is predicated upon the Organization Culture, which is shaped largely by the ‘tone at the top’ or what leadership is thinking, implementing…rewarding and recognizing by way of the goals and objectives that have been established, accomplished or over-accomplished.

Innovation cannot be ‘forced’ or cajoled out of an organization or team? Nor can innovation be taught or coerced using ‘carrot and stick’ behaviours with the teams?

Innovation occurs where there is an environment that supports and encourages ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, to achieve goals and results. The Organization Culture is articulated in the leadership direction and vision. Taking risks to innovate are always consistently supported and evaluated, and successful outcomes are allowed to be taken to the next logical conclusion. Unsuccessful innovations are reviewed for areas that may prove vital to future areas of exploration and innovation. No part of the innovation process is ever ignored.

Failure is not viewed as something to be criticized or put down, but instead as an opportunity for learning and having the ability to take corrective actions that obviate similar occurrences in future. There is no such thing as a ‘Holy Cow’ within Organizations who innovate…such ‘Holy Cows’ are instead lead out to pastures for retirement, and innovation teams fill out the blank spaces with newer ideas and concepts.

I was in Tokyo a few years ago, and had an opportunity to visit the shop floor of a few ‘State of the art’ manufacturing facilities. I was amazed at how the work stations at the assembly lines, inevitably had walls and white boards, adorned with process flow diagrams and charts that the operators had created themselves, in order to make their work flow quicker and more efficient. What was even more interesting was that shop floor Supervisors actually took the time to review these ‘innovative ideas’ the operators had put down and reward and recognize the best ideas, as well as consider modifying the process to include the operator’s innovations!

Now that is how you truly ‘Operationalize’ Innovation within the Organization!

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Here are Richard’s Top Three Inhibitors to Innovation:

1. An Organization Culture that is admittedly risk-averse and favours a “don’t rock the boat” mentality. Typically such an environment will respond with ” That’s not the way we do it here” for anyone who even remotely tries to innovate or enhance any process within the organization.
Innovators are just about tolerated when their innovation efforts are successful, and downright ‘Crucified’ if they fail.

2. Organizational complacency…when the organization has grown deaf to that pithy aphorism: “whatever it was that got you here is certainly not enough to keep you here.”

3. Leadership that is marking time…. not leaving their mark on time.
Leadership that has grown accustomed to the routine reporting of business numbers, ticking off the right boxes, making the right noises and basically marking time till retirement. This factor is an especially damaging barrier to developing an environment and Organization Culture that truly supports and nurtures Innovation, because of the negative morale that gets percolated throughout the organization.

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There is an Advertising adage (not sure of the origins) “Tell them what they can’t have and they all want it.”

I believe that Innovation sometimes needs consumer demand that challenges the Status Quo…so if the market is docile and complacent…happy with the current products and services available, there is very little need to think ‘Innovation.’

Great Organizations (Think Sony’s Walkman, Apple’s IPhone) sometimes challenge the consumer Status Quo by telling the consumer what they truly need – even before the consumer recognizes the need themselves.

It could be said that one definition for Innovation could be: The ability to anticipate and shape Consumer Needs and Wants before they become cognizant of them, and then create Products and Services that fulfill or surpass such Needs and Wants!

On Strategy & Planning

My experience has been that most of the Corporate Strategy plans are rich on what needs to be accomplished, How much will it cost, Who will do it and by when will it be done? (Rudyard Kipling’s faithful serving men).

What is often missing is a solid understanding of what the competitive landscape looks like? what are the unique areas that we can successfully engage in, where would competitive wins become cost-prohibitive and counter-productive and what are the top competitors we need to dislodge if any success is to be attained by the strategy.

So first step would be to perform a SWOT analysis and then agree on and document what are the KSFs (Key Success Factors) we need to ensure are front and center of our strategy and what are our short term and long term goals (remember to ensure we have built in measurements and controls that will tell us in advance if failure is about to occur)

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A Strategic plan must necessarily have a detailed, well considered Tactical plan to operationalize the strategy.

Strategy is necessarily before we engage in ‘battle’ (That is the tactical part of strategy implementation)

Ergo – any strategy needs to think through what the overarching goals and objectives are, who are the key players, what are the Key Success factors, What is the competitive landscape, how do we know when we have succeeded and most importantly, what is our plan to secure any advantage we have gained from the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.

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I believe I may have erred in my earlier remarks on what’s the most essential component in a Strategic Plan. I believe the answer would be ensuring that the strategic plan is always “CUSTOMER FOCUSED.”
In other words how strongly does the Strategic Plan incorporate the voice of the customer into every aspect of the Organizations Product Development Process – from Conceptual Design through to Manufacturing. It needs to define the linkages between Customer Desires/Wants to Product Engineering requirements, taking into consideration Competitive Benchmarking inputs, and how does this overall design link into the overall Manufacturing System. Most importantly what is the communication plan that will ensure that the Information flows across the Organization, and that there is total understanding, acceptance and ownership of the Strategic Plan Deployment across the board.

This is known in TQM studies as Quality Function Deployment (or QFD), and there are probably a few hundred companies globally, who follow this stringent discipline for developing their strategic plans.

I would strongly suggest that he single, most essential component of any Strategic Plan would therefore be “CUSTOMER FOCUS.”

Key Factors in the execution of a Value Proposition…

A good Brand Strategy is always parent to any value proposition worth it’s salt.
How strongly you brand your product or service will dictate how to position the value proposition.
I disagree that the value proposition can afford the either/or options of “make for less – sell for more,” or the reverse?
Sometimes the brand strategy will lead to the formulation of the value proposition…almost in parallel. Consider the Sony Walkman…what was the value proposition there…it was all about carrying your music wherever you went…nothing quite abut making for less and selling for more ore vice versa?
Consider the IPhone…the iconic nature of the brand married to the world class creative genius that was Steve Jobs carved out a niche for this product with almost the same kind of ‘Lifestyle’ appeal of a Luis Vuitton, or a Lexus. It is not an exaggeration to say the IPhone that was launched 8 years ago…truly transformed Apple!
The 5S model did exceptionally well with it’s diminutive screen even tho the big players were gunning for the large Phablet size phone screens. The IPhone was able to dictate that the screen size really became incidental when supported by the hugely ‘desired’ brand credibility…and thereby the value proposition that allowed them so sell $ Bil. 43 in the last 3 months alone ending in Dec. 2014…
The Value Proposition is largely predicated upon the brand strategy…get the brand strategy right and the Value proposition will follow.

Regardless of whether or not a product or service is sold…the concept of the Value Proposition should remain equally relevant. If we consider a ‘transaction’ to have occurred, when a product or a service exchanges hands, then this idea may be easier to deal with (note I am substituting transaction for sale)

Let’s consider the Homeless Shelters as a not for profit service. The value proposition is clearly as important here – what can we do to convince the homeless and/or displaced folk feel a sense of trust and security in utilizing the services the shelters have to offer. The key to note here is that the facility could boast 100 beds with a guarantee of a shower and breakfast and still run half empty…with people still preferring to sleep on the streets?
It is the value proposition that will define whether the shelter will have 100% ‘occupancy’ on a cold night…or whether it will remain unused…even while we know there are while more folk out there…shivering in the cold.

The Brand should always precede the value proposition.
Let me explain: The Walkman came from an existing and highly credible ‘Brand’ – the Sony Corporation replete with the Sony Logo…a highly visible and recognizable entity in the Personal Entertainment space for eons. Ergo, the Walkman was just another value add product from an existing and easily distinguishable brand. In this sort of scenario,…the Value proposition (Mobility of one’s music collection) becomes one with the brand …and when you think about it…the two cannot truly be separated.
If the concept of the Walkman was launched…say by Acme Corp from, Nowheresville, Someplaceelse, the result may not have been quite the same…sans the warm and fuzzy that the Sony Brand was able to generate and deliver on.

On being First To Market…

Do you have to introduce new products far quicker than competition

Being ‘First to Market’ has always held a certain appeal to the manufacturing and marketing side of the house – as well as in the eyes of the ultimate beholder – the consumer.
But there is a key game changer today!
The availability of the Internet…and the accompanying plethora of Social Media platforms and other World Wide Web based ‘listening posts’ have given rise to a new concept that hitherto had a lesser influence on the ‘need for speed to market.’

I am going to refer to this new concept as “The Need for Dominating Consumer Share of Mind.”
Our purchase habits have never been the same ever since the Internet enabled the World Wide Web to become that hugely successful channel for all things product…be it product information, Features, Competing Products,Advantages/Disadvantages, Technical Spec. Comparisons, Pricing, Consumer Feedback…and all literally in the blink of an eye?

So simply obsessing about getting new products out to the market before the other guy blinks…may be an obsession whose time has long since passed…

We need to dominate our existing consumer/future potential consumer’s mind well in advance of putting anything out in the market. We must inform them (well in advance) what we are about to launch, using the most seductive means available to us, and ‘wow’ them with the sheer uniqueness, value, lifestyle options the new product promises them. All this literally in advance of any product launch.

We then need to maniacally monitor this process to ensure we are truly achieving the sort of advance dominance of our Consumer’s share of mind,  and that they are waiting with bated breath for the product to become available.
Witness Apple’s launch of the new, larger screen IPhones and IWatch…which launched to the largest ever record for sales in a single Quarter – upwards of $ 42 Billion???

So any debate around the need for speed to market w.r.t new product needs to be in conjunction with “The Need for Dominating Consumer Share of Mind.”

When it comes to Branding…you’ve gotta’ keep running to stay in the same place…

Let’s face it – Branding has always been a key factor in our personal identification with things:

From the Cutting edge to the mundane and humdrum?
From the Glamorous to the plain/Vanilla
From the Luxurious,High fashion to the affordable and totally unfashionable
From the Unaffordable/ Un-attainable to the totally ubiquitous
From the Exclusive to the accessible to all

So does that mean any brand can ever afford to sit on its Laurels? Of course not!

Brand loyalty is truly a function of those rarest of rare brands that have made an unequivocal promise to deliver the best quality, value for money and lifestyle enhancing characteristics – to it’s users.
This means that when you pay top dollar for an established brand – you get back in return exactly that – best quality, best value for money and a unique identifier that sets you apart as a member of an exclusive group of individuals who possess a unique ‘lifestyle’

The truly great brands span a broad spectrum of demographic and psychographic as well as pricing bands…from the eminently affordable icons like Coke and Pepsi, MacDonald’s and Wal-Mart to the esoteric, high end lux brands like Luis Vuitton, Lexus, BMW or Burberry.

What each has in common is an unswerving commitment to their customer, a reputation for consistent and predictable quality  and an innate ability to stay ahead of the next ‘great’ idea, thought or product revolution curve, well before it begins to take shape on the distant horizon.

These brands are always looking over their shoulder in anticipation that the  specter of complacency and /or the FDL (fat, dumb,lazy) syndrome may be gaining  ground.
They are always challenging the status quo and exploring different ways and means of keeping their brand fresh, vibrant and ever desirable.

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I am intrigued that there seems to be such a lot of negativity (or absolute, utter, disbelief) in the idea that Branding can truly be a science, or a predictable process that can add value to a Corporation’s Market Position, Image, Market Share, Customer Loyalty, and Longevity.

Consider this as a potential (loosely stated) definition of the Brand and Branding:
No Brand can be nurtured, developed and established unless every single Cent spent on advertising, is directly driving towards that singular question: “How can we build up our brand?”
It is said that 95 of all advertising is created ad hoc (David Ogilvy – in ‘How to create advertising that sells’).
Ogilvy goes on to suggest that most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.
Ergo the manufacture who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined image for his/her brand gets the largest share of the market.

So it becomes apparent that the Brand does not exist in isolation, but is instead, is a direct result of Advertising investments, and consistency of approach in striving to achieve as sharply defined an image as possible of how the Brand should be perceived.

DAGMAR, or defining advertising goals to measure advertising results – is a process that can be easily aligned to the concept of creating and developing a highly recognizable brand (think BMW 3 Series, Lexus, Apple, Airbus).
Both (Advertising and Branding) become the wood behind a single arrow…the Corporation’s Branding/Advertising strategy to ensure every Cent they spend is put behind building and constantly sharpening their brand image.

We do not invest in Advertising without any expectation of a direct correlation to projected, improved sales?
We always look for forecasted, predictable buying behaviours as a result of specific, targeted Advertising effort. And this is where the Brand Image comes into play…all things remaining equal, would you buy that Nissan over that BMW 3 series…as a matter of fact, even if all things were not equal, but you had the power of choice…would you buy that Nissan over that BMW 3 series?

I believe a part of the wisdom of creating brands that are larger than life is exactly that – they bring larger than life promises to the consumer…that lesser brands are just not able to deliver with conviction and finesse!

How are we using our scarcest resource?

There is no such thing as ‘Time Management.’
The transition of time cannot be checked or ‘mastered’ in some way?
So how then can we ‘Manage’ time?
The fact is – we just cannot, its as simple as that!

So lets agree on the idea that regardless of our own priorities and inclinations, time marches on inexorably and without interruption, and all we can do really is hope that what we have set up to do can be done within the parcel of time we have at our disposal.
Hence we are really talking ‘utilization of time’ rather than ‘time management.’

There are Three factors we need to consider when we are looking to improve utilization of time available to us, an obsession with:

Step1. Being maniacal in terms of the Quality of work we perform in the time made available to us. In other words monitoring for how much of what we do requires ‘re-work’ or correction, or causes waste to occur?

Step 2. The cost of execution  in performing the tasks assigned to us (the cost of resources we are willing to invest in the execution of a task or project) or, the cost of doing business.

In step 2  we also need to consider any output from step 1. above – when we have re-work or waste  from step. 1, we need to factor that into our total costs in step 2.

3. Maintaining a track record for being able to deliver what we have agreed to deliver (in terms of executing the task or project) on time and in full. In other words what percent of the time are we delivering to our agreed to target date as well as completeness criteria.

The three elements listed above are extremely difficult to pull off, but if one is truly looking for optimizing their utilization of time, they will need to come to grips with this discipline.

Let’s apply it to the subject of too many meaningless meetings in our respective organizations – to apply this discipline we would need to:

a. Select a sample of meetings that we are aware are not as productive as we would like them to be.

b. Determine the three factors listed above (steps. 1, 2 and 3)

c. Compare our findings in terms of Quality, Cost and Delivery, with other similar teams conducting similar meetings within our own Organization (or if not available, in other Organizations open to the idea of Benchmarking).
The goal should be to compare with the ‘best of breed’ always.

Now we have an opportunity to:
# Compare/contrast how we are conducting our meetings as compared with other similar teams (look for productivity gains, success criteria, Synergy, etc)

# Compare our Quality, Cost and Delivery as compared with the ‘benchmark’ team and,

# Set improvement goals to get to a position where we are better than our best benchmarks.

Is this even possible or ‘do-able’? – you better believe it is…this was one of many factors that helped Japanese Auto Manufacturers achieve their astounding successes from the early 80’s on to present day.

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As a big fan of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits Program (and a certified, Licensed Facilitator for the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Program), I have always been a strong believer in this seminal book/work by Dr. Covey.

Dr. Covey talks about the Circle of Influence (things that we have influence or control over) and the Circle of Concern (things that worry us, but over which we have absolutely no influence or control over).

Circle of Concern: We are typically obsessed with worrying, thinking, focusing, on things that cause us concern or discomfort, even though we have absolutely no control over these things. That co-worker who always seems to take smoke breaks while you stay at your desk even during the lunch break, that Manager who consistently seem to assign the choice assignments to that new guy who is always sucking up to that manager, etc,.
This activity takes up an inordinate amount of our productive time.

Circle of influence: The fact that you can ensure that you are always on time in delivering against projects/tasks assigned to you, that you can choose to catch up with work
spill -over by using your lunch break, or that you can choose to avoid spending too much time worrying over that new guy and what he is doing, and stay focused on your own priorities for the day.

Dr. Covey represents these circles as concentric – with the larger circle representing the Circle of Concern and the smaller circle in the center as the Circle of Influence.
This is typically the case because we are usually obsessing over things we have no control over until that becomes a huge, seemingly insurmountable obstacle, and as a result, our Circle of Influence keeps shrinking in comparison (because we do not spend enough time focusing on things that can indeed control)

The recommendation is that we ought to steer clear of worrying about things that lie in the Circle of Concern and focus instead on what we can influence and exert control over. if we do this consistently, over the long term, we will see the Circle of Influence growing larger, while the Circle of Concern begins to shrink in the process.

I find this to be one of the great ‘AHA’s’ from the Seven Habits program. It changed my life  and made me so much more focused on what I need to stay focused on (invest more time on) versus what to stay away from (and minimize the time invested – because the truth is we will always have some things out there in the Circle of Concern…we will never have that Circle utterly devoid of any concern?)

Try this – it may help you use that scarcest resource more practically and also ensure you are utilizing the time in more value-add activities.

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We can utilize our most valuable resource (Time) in two distinct directions – we can either:

1. Spend our time doing business as usual maintenance activities
a. getting that report out on time
b. making sure we reply to those emails
c. submitting our expense claims on time

Or…

2. We can invest our time in real breakthrough activities that drive out greater value add to the organization such as:
d. Look for ways to eliminate waste and nonproductive work effort
e. Strive to improve key process in terms of cycle time, quality, cost and delivery
f. Benchmark our activities with best of breed

As we focus on this direction, we should be able to see that we are investing more and more time on breakthrough activities and less and less on maintenance activities alone – and that should be the indicator that we are moving in the right direction. There can never be zero maintenance activity however we do need to focus on spending more time in the higher value, greater payoff breakthrough activities

Learn from the best chess players…

There is a significant difference in the mindset of a chess (or any game) player, as contrasted to the mindset of a businessman.

You see any game, chess or otherwise, forces you to enter the arena with a single thought in mind – to win the game.

Business transactions however allow the people involved to approach with an assortment of options and choices as to the best outcome they hope to achieve from an engagement.
In business, we sometimes choose to cut our margins in order to win the deal – or delay a competitor from winning a deal. We may choose to think ‘Win/Win or No Deal’ – to ensure that we are playing fair with our competitors, our vendors and our customers.

In a game context, we can only think Win – because that is the nature of game theory. There can only be one winner. In business, we are both strategically and tactically inclined to consider various options at all times, and not necessarily are all of them to win at all costs.
How many times have you heard a coach tell his team…’just play the game…don’t worry about winning’
In stark contrast, how many times have you heard your Executive or leader say that he/she is willing to forego a business opportunity because it does not fit well with the Organization’s business principles.

Just because somebody knows the first four moves in the Ruy Lopez opening in Chess does not mean he/she knows whether to counter with the Berlin defense, or the Schliemann, or the Classical defense…so it is not necessarily true that knowledge of Chess with all the nuances and intricacies of opening, middle and end game, automatically translates into some great learning for us. The truth is that there are utterly divergent motivations in the game of business and the game of chess…and never the twain shall meet!

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What Leaders can learn from the game of Chess would be to think like a Grandmaster. To have the innate ability to ask questions throughout the process…just like the great Grandmasters are trained to do. So what are the questions and how do they apply to our Leadership roles – here are a few examples:

* What is my opponent doing now that threatens me? (self explanatory – think competition)

* What am I doing now to threaten my opponent? (self explanatory – think counter strategy)

* How are the pawns structured – mine and my opponent’s (big picture…how is my organization position versus my competitors…what kind of strengths/weaknesses do I see, how are we deployed versus our competition – where do we have distribution, dealership strengths/weaknesses, what is our staffing position, etc.)

* Can I visualize the next 5/6 moves I would like to influence my opponent to make (think vision, anticipating competition’s next moves, etc)

* Do I see any imminent checkmate opportunities for myself or my opponent – if yes am I suitably defended? Are there holes in my opponent’s position that I can exploit? (think weaknesses we may have in the market? Strengths our competitors may have in the market place?)

* How safe is my King (think key Clients/Accounts you would not like to lose)

* Do I see any gaps in my opponents defense – any gaps in my own defense? If yes, how can I exploit my opponent’s weaknesses…how can I plug my own weaknesses? (self explanatory – this is like a SWOT analysis we perform routinely)

The above are some of the basic questions great chess masters are consistently thinking though and asking themselves…great questions for Corporate Leadership to consider and apply to their roles as well!