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Your reputation is in the details.

May 30, 2017
by Chris Ward

 

It’s a Saturday morning in January, and you’ve just returned home from a trip to the market. The phone’s ringing as you walk in the door. It’s one of your best friends wondering if you’re free for dinner that night. As it happens, you are. So the conversation turns to where you might go. If you live in a large urban area, there are literally dozens of possibilities. The world is your oyster, so to speak. So how do you decide? 

There are some obvious criteria that can help narrow the field. You’ve heard great things about a new restaurant that’s opened not far from where you live. But you’ve also heard that it’s expensive, which doesn't sit too well with your much-depleted, post-holiday pocketbook. Your friend is salivating over some particularly cheesy Italian food. Unfortunately your main New Year’s resolution is all about dropping 15 pounds. So that’s a non-starter. 

Building your reputation the ‘no problem’ way!

You continue on down the list until one of you says something like, “Hey. I’ve heard good things about that new restaurant on Main Street.” You’ve heard something about it as well, so you ask your friend what he’s heard. As it turns out, another friend had been there for lunch and was really impressed with the wait staff and the general attitude. This friend had ordered something that wasn’t on the menu, half expecting to find the kitchen unwilling to accommodate her request. So when the very pleasant server said, “No problem!” the restaurant’s evolving reputation got a real boost. 

And that’s the point – reputations really are in the details. 

There are plenty of good restaurants in a city like Toronto, New York or Boston. Many have nice decor, savvy service, good food, and a decent wine list. Assume these are the chips any restaurant has to ante up to make it onto the ‘under consideration’ list. What makes one restaurant stand out from others are the little things – not being charged for a dish that wasn’t to your liking, a fancy dessert compliments of the chef, or a resounding ”no problem.” 

The lesson for any business is simple.

Certain attributes – in the case of a restaurant, quality, service, decor – are taken for granted. But small, often unexpected, experiences are the stuff of which great reputations are made. And which, over time, mean the difference between a good reputation and a great one


Chris Ward is a Principal with StrategicRetreats and founder of Riverhorse Strategic Advisors. Over the past 20 years he has facilitated dozens of meetings, workshops and retreats and conducted more than 1,000 key informant interviews for organizations of all types and sizes. An expert in strategic planning and branding, he helps clients develop very specific plans to achieve corporate goals and own their space. 

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The Power of One: A Single-Minded Focus Essential to Owning Your Intended Future

May 8, 2017
by Chris Ward

A few years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of business executives gathered to learn more about membership in an organization dedicated to leadership development and business growth.

My talk was entitled The Power of One and I spoke about how every employee, regardless of title or department, has the power to influence what stakeholders think of a business and what it offers.

Since then, I’ve developed an even greater respect for the number “one,” in large part owing to my work in helping clients develop strategies focused on owning their intended, or desired, future.

One plan... one theme or focus

Planning to own an intended future should be a priority for every business organization. A sound planning process will force leaders to be clear about what matters to their stakeholders, and the market position they intend to stake out. As a result they will be better able to offer products and services that satisfy very specific needs... better able to communicate clearly and succinctly what their organization stands for and how their offering will benefit their customers, clients, members, or donors... and better able to fine-tune their policies, systems and processes to support employees in delivering what stakeholders expect. Based on a fundamental understanding of market opportunities and their position, they will be better able to differentiate themselves from their competitors and build their reputation as a go-to provider.

Integration enables focus

From a strategic perspective, it takes an integrated business, brand and marketing strategy to own your intended future. That means a strategy with a single-minded purpose…a strategy with one overarching focus.

A few years ago, I worked with a provincial healthcare association to develop an integrated, three-year strategic plan. Through workshops and surveys, it became apparent that members expected more from the association than they were actually getting. And they were quite clear about what ‘more’ should look like. As a result, the overarching theme, or focus, became ‘member value’, and the plan’s unifying and overarching goal spoke to significantly enhancing the benefits of membership. This goal served as a litmus test for prioritizing strategic initiatives and building the plan.

Strategy benefits from a single unifying theme

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post—The Power of One: A Single-Minded Focus Essential to Owning Your Intended Future. In my experience, many plans come up short because they lack this unifying theme and focus. What about your organization? Have you got a single-minded focus? Have you got a unifying theme that will help you plan initiatives that really matters to your customers or members? Are you capitalizing on The Power of One?


Chris Ward is a Principal with StrategicRetreats and founder of Riverhorse Strategic Advisors. Over the past 20 years he has facilitated dozens of meetings, workshops and retreats and conducted more than 1,000 key informant interviews for organizations of all types and sizes. An expert in strategic planning and branding, he helps clients develop very specific plans to achieve corporate goals and own their space. 

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