Direct Marketing Article
The 4 Things You Have to Get Right in
By Michael Menard
Most organizations know that in order to grow and be an industry leader,
they have to continually innovate and undertake key projects that lead to
growth. Unfortunately, many companies do so in a haphazard or non-strategic
Here's what typically happens: Leaders keep saying yes as various projects
and ideas are presented to them for investment. They say yes until they run
out of resources. The projects and ideas first on the list get funded in
contrast to the best of all ideas across the organization. The sad truth is
the early bird does get the worm. As a result, they waste money and
resources, lose momentum, and then wonder why they never achieve their
But it doesn't have to be that way. There's a proven approach that enables
leaders and decision makers to make a greater contribution to the business,
activate the strategic plan, achieve the desired balance, and optimize
allocation of limited resources. Here are the four things you need to get
right in order to make better decisions so you can maximize your company's
Capital Efficient Profitable Growth (CEPG).
1. Define your strategy.
Before your company can undertake any new initiative, you first have to
identify your strategy. In other words, who are you and what do you want to
do? Unless you know this information, it's difficult if not impossible to
move forward in a productive way.
While most companies have a general idea of their strategy based on their
vision or mission statement, often it's not focused enough to translate into
specific strategic goals. For example, suppose you're a beverage company who
offers a variety of soft drinks. How do you grow? You could introduce one
new beverage after another and expand into new markets at random, but that
will quickly drain your resources. A better approach is to define a specific
strategy for growth. For instance, you may decide that you want to be the
North American leader in bottled water. Now you have a focused strategy to
guide your efforts.
2. Generate ideas.
Armed with your strategy, you can now generate ideas that support the
strategy. Some people call this step innovation or creative brainstorming.
Whatever you call it, the goal is to come up with possible options for
advancing the strategy.
Going back to our beverage company example, if the strategy is to be the
North American leader in bottled water, your team needs to generate ideas
that fit the strategy. Some ideas could include adding nutrients to the
water, adding protein to the water, adding exotic flavors to the water,
offering different bottle shapes or sizes, etc.
3. Prioritize and select the best ideas.
Next is to select the portfolio of ideas that are the best for the company
to pursue and that will advance the strategy. As you do the prioritization
and portfolio selection process, you need to ask two key questions. The
first is, "Will this portfolio of ideas and projects deliver our strategic
goal?" If the answer is no, then you have to do something different. Either
you alter your strategic expectation or you increase the number of ideas.
Keep going through these iterations until you can say, "Yes, our portfolio
has the potential to deliver our strategy." And remember, at this point
you're simply assessing whether the portfolio will meet your strategic
goals. You're not assessing whether it's something you actually could do.
Once you agree that the portfolio of ideas and projects will help you meet
your strategic goals, the second question to ask is, "Do we have the
resources (time, money, people, equipment, etc.) to fund the portfolio?" If
the answer is yes, then celebrate and move on to step four. But if the
answer is no, then you need to circle back and solve the equation. Can you
lower your strategic goals? Can you generate bigger, better ideas? Can you
add resources? Change the timing? Scale back the idea? Once you have a
portfolio that allows you to say yes to both questions, you've completed the
prioritization and selection process.
4. Execute on the ideas.
Finally, it's time to take action and actually execute the portfolio of
ideas. This is where project management comes into play. As you execute each
step to support the strategy, outline the detailed activities needed to
complete the project on time and on budget. Assign key people to be
responsible for each role, and establish checkpoints so you know if the
project goes off track. The more thoroughly you manage the execution of the
portfolio, the more success you'll have.
Get it Right...Now!
No matter what industry you're in, long-term business growth depends on
these four things: Strategy, Idea Generation, Project Selection, and
Execution. When you take the time to implement this process in your company,
not only will you make better strategy decisions, but you'll also achieve
the breakthrough results that achieve the ultimate goal: Increased CEPG.
About the Author:
Michael Menard is the author of "A Fish in Your Ear: The New Discipline of
Project Portfolio Management," and cofounder and president of The GenSight
Group, which provides enterprise portfolio management solutions for
strategic planning, project portfolio management and business performance
optimization. A holder of 14 US patents, Menard has utilized his expertise
to advise senior executives at organizations such as Coca-Cola, Cisco and
the US Department of Energy. To learn more about Mike Menard please visit