The Key To Winning Business – Be The Power P: The Partner, The Platform, The Piping

Why The Three P’s Is Winning & Will In The Future

Throughout time, businesses have had to evolve past just selling widgets. 

We went from specialists selling a smaller number of SKU’s, to selling huge amounts of SKU’s just to compete. Many then moved to rely on everyday people to sell their products on your platform to compete on search engines and drive enough people to drive another round of investment or keep the lights on. 

Many of these changes were necessity, rarely strategic and survival becomes the name of the game, while slowly killing development, product improvements and investment into true growth levers

In the age of the internet, faster more convenient apps and prime expectations, we have seen the way we browse, broker and buy evolve quickly and many times we did not see the landscape shift and change, why? Because of how discreet and smart these new players are. 

In today’s market, we have seen the three P’s step up and win as operating models: 

The Partner 

The Platform 

The Piping 


What The Company Was, What The Company Is & Where It Is Going

There are always three phases of a company, 

  1. What it was (past)
  2. What and where it is today (present)
  3. And where the company is headed and where you are driving it. (prospect)

The Past – What It Was

Many have fond memories of what the company was, often those long-serving employees look back and reminisce of what it was and how it used to operate. As soon as it moves on and often matures, employees will look to leave or look to evolve outside of the company. 

The Present – What And Where It Is Today

Many will struggle with what the company is, what it is, how it acts, how it operates and how to it being seen and understood today, this is often the job of the management team to really take those on the journey around them and help the teams come to terms with its evolution and how it will act for a specific time period. 

The now and near term future is often the hardest to manage, as the company has evolved, will have to evolve again and will be the time to build for the future without losing your best talent who experienced change.

The Prospect – Where We Are Headed 

The challenging phase for many to buy into and see is where the company is headed for the longer term, many will take growing pains and allow steps to make to improve the working environment and product shifts but without the vision is clear and aligned, many will make their minds up to stay for the long term or set a window to leave. 

Rule To Guide You

The sliding scale to be aware of: 

Company culture is often given a nine-month grace cycle by employees, 

  • 0 months what is going on
  • 1-3 months understand what is happening and where I stand 
  • 3-6 months what’s happening now and where are we going vs the previous period 
  • 6-9 months this is the place I can work in and thrive in or this is the place I have to leave for my career. 

If your manage to enable those to go back into a previous category you likely have had a positive effect.

Often when intentional and deliberate (and open) communication and long term plan is lost, you are proactively pushing team members into the next category and that is always bad news. 

Understand & Lead

As a manager, I would highly recommend understanding at what phase of these nine months your colleagues and team members are and what levers you should pull to add clarity and reduce confusion around where the company is and where it is headed and how it will continue to evolve. 

Being able to have discussed phases and directions always helps shape individuals outlooks and points of view on their career in or outside of a business. 

Business Performance = Company Culture x Company Strategy

Company strategy and clarity of the strategy helps to shape the business performance and when paired with the company culture, this helps shape your workforce for the long term and helps you to place both performance indicators together on a level playing field and really drive an organisation forward.  

Your New Compass 

Without a vision, people will question you as a leadership team and question the compass they have to follow. 

Without a mission many will question the why and what are we offering 

Without a clear strategy for the next twelve months, this will raise numerous questions and concerns and many people need something to tie into more than a set of OKR’s and goals. 

Crystal Clear Clarity 

If a team member cannot understand why it has changed, where it will continue to change and where you are headed, you will not be in a place where you can retain top staff, you can sell a vision to attract top staff vs a competitor or large brand and you will not be in a place to lead to truly articulate your current phase to the ELT or board. 

Moving forward learn that the past informs the present and helps to shape the important future of your employee experience but also many people’s careers.

The leadership team have to be mindful and proactive in leading from the front and providing clarity at each step, especially when you have decided to mature a business or looking to be acquired and the internal focus and culture shifts.

Listen To The Focus Podcast

Fixing the broken world of work podcast with Colin Newlyn 🏴‍☠️ Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast

Fixing the broken world of work podcast with Colin Newlyn & Danny Denhard  Thanks for listening today! This is a great conversation with Colin, you will want to listen if you are looking to improve your workplace, making positive change with yourself and how to challenge the status quo by thinking like a pirate.  The Conversation includes: Decrapyifying work The top tips to decrapify work How leadership is about leading Why we should be more pirate Should we rethink the whole work week, should we even have a commute? Policing from managers Why politics and proximity still dictate success And how to rethink and realign our people, heart first leadership Newsletter – Popular LinkedIn Share  The Intro To Decrapifying Work The TLDR to the article  Too many work environments are toxic and harming the people in them, which is why Stress, anxiety and depression are at record levels and rising People are dying from work-induced stress-related illnesses Burnout is commonplace (and now a recognised illness) Suicide levels are increasing (especially amongst men) Mary Parker Follett Quote “While leadership depends on depth of conviction and the power coming therefrom, there must also be the ability to share that conviction with others.” — Mary Parker Follett Person to follow – Video To Watch – Podcast To Listen To: Bruce Daisley’s – Eat Sleep Work Repeat 
  1. Fixing the broken world of work podcast with Colin Newlyn 🏴‍☠️
  2. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Peter Hopwood
  3. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Andy Reid
  4. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Jo Twiselton
  5. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Sharon Aneja
Anonymous Career Advice

How To Reduce The Work Life Blur?

This week’s anonymous career advice comes from a manager that is looking to help their department in reducing the blur between work and home life, especially with many businesses now operating in the hybrid model

Dear Focus, What are the five things you would recommend to help my team reducing the work and life blur?

This is actually something many managers just are not thinking about and I want to thank you for stepping up and asking this question. 

There are much bigger methods in tackling this but requires a fair-sized budget shift and significant change from your team members, however, here are my five simple but ultimately actionable recommendations:

Adding work boundaries helps to guide teams to work to core hours and not react to each request out of work hours

1: Add Boundaries

Ensure you set the right level of boundaries for your teams: 

  • Whether that’s their workday or out of hours
  • The teaming knowing it is ok to not have to reply to slack, teams or emails out of hours
  • Your boss emailing you outside of working hours does not need a reply 
  • Some teams will have to work out of hours, this does not mean the company does and knowing that you will receive 

I have worked for companies that operate across multiple time zones and setting the expectations that your time zone is when you work and respond is important.

Likewise, if you are a senior leader or executive, you work different hours to the rest of the business set the example and allow teams to know you do not expect the same and do not want them to blur the line. 

Remember sending an email or instant message is only ever convenient to the sender, rarely ever to the receiver.

Having worked agency-side and ran agency business operations, it is important for you set the precedent at your agency that working hours and delivering on deadlines happens within work hours.
This will be a huge selling point for your agency and operationally savvy agencies tend to outperform less operational smart agencies. 

Having official works apps and software helps to guide teams around what is work and what is not
Business Performance

Fanclubs, Community, Tribes, Herds

I recently presented a presentation for the technology platform Funraisin at their digital giving summit.

The presentation was called:

Fanclubs, Community, Tribes, Herds, The Next Generation Of People Powered Businesses.

The presentation helps to guide businesses and charities to understand:

  • The next phase of business
  • The formation of people around core ideas and believes
  • Why fanclubs, community, tribes and herds are going to be shaping how we interact and support businesses
  • How to then proactively shape how we connect to other people and businesses.

The Full Presentation

If you attended the event and would like to rewatch the video click here.

Business Performance

The Focus 5×5 Quarterly Matrix

There has been a huge shift towards automated dashboards over the last five years. 

Dashboards have been placed on TV sets across the office, set up on secondary monitors, shortcuts on toolbars and shared across businesses to understand the health of a business and being able to understand what has happening or happening now. 

Dashboards can have huge upsides, however, there are downsides. 

Automated without insights are just numbers on a screen. Dashboards are rarely in real-time and are often difficult for many businesses to surface and display the most important information to staff as the data is not available to query, stored in different datastores and regularly without commentary and insights blindly suggests performance is good, bad or ugly. 

Dashboards can be positive, they can help the staff to follow the company compass, it can help to shift private data to open and transparent data and assists to shift key units from defaulting to siloed to being open and having discussions around workstreams, roadmaps and campaigns.  

Enter The Focus 5×5 

In the business world, we can often joke about the importance of a 2×2 matrix, we can make incredibly important decisions based on the positioning on a 2×2. 

The simpler the information, the simpler the format, the more successful information becomes within businesses.  

The focus 5×5 matrix are the five most important indicators of performance with  five lines to help everyone understand which campaigns are being worked on, the five biggest internal and external threats, the five product enhancements that are being made to your own product, the five ideas submitted and under review by the business and the five goals you have   


  • Strategic campaigns the company is working on 
  • Be explicit on owners, deadlines and what needles these will move. 


  • The 5 biggest issues we are facing (risks) 
  • Be explicit on what it impacts, who will be looking after these issues and when you will feedback and update 


  • The 5 product roadmap rolling out this quarter 
  • Be explicit on deadlines, owners and when will be released to customers. 


  • The 5 ideas submitted by the team to improve problems. 
  • Be explicit on who’s idea these were, when they will be re-reviewed when they will have an expected build date. 


  • The 5 Goals we have this quarter 
  • Be explicit about what the goals are, who owns the goals and when you are expecting impact. 

You should have accountability on the 5×5 by including when the Focus 5×5 matrix was last updated and who last updated the matrix. 

Must be 

  • Linked to company goals presentation/documentation and be updated weekly (one owner higher recommended) 
  • Open to all (members of staff) 
  • Open for comments and questions (from members of staff) 
  • Linked to the decision document – help the wider business understand how the most important decisions were made 
  • Linked to the previous quarterly matrixes & quarterly business review – this is important for new joiners to have a record and comparison to last quarters information 
  • Linked to strategic plans (1 year is action, 3 years is planning, 5 years is thinking on an annual review cycle): 
    • STP – the short term plan – 1 year ahead 
    • MTP – the mid-term plan – 3 years ahead 
    • LTP – from 5+ year plan 

If you have a company-wide meeting weekly like a weekly all-hands standup, this is a great format to run through and review, with departments feeding in updates and most important changes to their departments and disciplines. 

3 Areas To Consider Including: 

  1. If you could like to include your mission and vision headline statements your 5×5 can include these as headings 
  2. If you would like to include five behaviours that make your company culture successful, consider including them as a dividing header 
  3. If you would like to call out department of the week or unsung hero of the week, you can add these in weekly. 

Rolling out a new way of working and providing insights can take four to six weeks of planning, creation and introducing a new habit for the company leaders to follow, it is however an important tried and tested formula to improve your internal communication and performance.

Important Related Resources To Improve Company Performance


Strategy Is Baking A Better Cake

Strategy is misunderstood.

Strategy is notoriously difficult.

Getting Strategy right is one of if not the most important elements of business to get right.

There is, however, another way to rethink strategy and stop doing what you have always done and copying the way you have always created strategy at your business.

A way to rethink this: Strategy is like baking a better cake!

Here’s how to think like a master baker.

We all start with the ability to bake a cake as long as we have a recipe, an oven and with a set of ingredients.


Management Advice For Improved Department & Company Success

Here are twelve dedicated and proven management pieces of advice to improve the success of you and your department, alongside improving communications, connections and department performance. 

  1. Insights Over Dashboards: Dashboards are typically numbers without insights and campaign commentary. Without you speaking to your team, a dashboard won’t report the human vitals 
  2. Win Weekly: Create a win of the week for the team that everyone celebrates together
  3. Unsung Hero: Create an unsung hero of the month, celebrate those who go over and above, who consider it their job to deliver 
  4. Failure Is Not A Fail: Create a managers personal fail of the month – this breaks down barriers and enables failure to be discussed and recognised 
  5. Create Your Own Phrases: Have a set of keywords and phrases that mean important themes within your department or team, this allows you to understand the importance or severity of the issue 
  6. Time Ownership: Block out three ten minutes slots throughout your day. Have 30 minutes to build and reflect. (1) at the start of your days, arrange your day. (2) Before lunch to review the morning and plan the afternoon and (3) at the end of your day write down what went well and what to pick up tomorrow. 
  7. Is your team not communicating enough or need to cut through the noise? Ask for weekly stand-ups and sit-downs in audio or video format, this will help to create a richer media format and enable personalities to come through over written text. Slack and Teams both offer support for voice or video. 
  8. Internally Market Talent & Team Numbers – Rotate who updates the company on the performance numbers, campaigns and ideas.
    Give everyone a platform, not just the same people. Have a smaller team? Create 
  9. Templates Work – Create templates that help remove starting afresh every time. More than just PowerPoint or Google Slides templates, think: meeting agenda’s, decision document, one problem two solution framework, get to know me template, professional SWOT template,    
  10. Borrow From Miltary with BAR & AAR
    Before Action Reviews, review what you need to achieve, what you did well in previous campaigns and not so well and set yourselves up for success.
    After Action Reviews – instantly after a campaign, project or workshop is over, review the successful parts, the unsuccessful parts and what you need to do to optimise, and what is essential for the next campaign.  
  11. Create Collective Habits:
    Create a breakfast lunch and learn programme. Invite inspiring stories to be told.
    Share internal stories.
    Have a podcast listening club.
    Watch powerful Ted talks
    Select conference talks to watch and break down collectively.
    Internal conferences are often the best things you can do and help to co-coach and co-learn away from individuals hoarding knowledge from their solo conference experience. 
  12. Roadmap & Documentation: Keep a roadmap of all the important projects you have on and update constantly. Link to mockups, tests, results and after-action reviews 
Company Culture

Ten Common Misunderstandings About Good Company Culture

It has been brilliant to see company culture become such an important part of business, the business world is on the way to finally align company culture with company strategy

With that being said, there are important and common misunderstandings and misalignments that are important to call out and for people across your business to understand and then collaborate on to ensure these are addressed within your company. 

Staff turnover is not always a bad thing

Happy performing people will look to progress, whether this is in your business or with another business. Like most successful people, they will not want to miss another opportunity.

Mass staff turnover and original staff leaving are core signs there are deeper issues.

Keep an eye across the floor, especially keep an eye out for internal influencers leaving.

Company culture is built every day and is typically behaviour based.

It’s not just leaders and managers who create culture. Employee behaviours and actions when not being watched are as important as the guidance shown from senior titles.

Company culture has a heartbeat and will often beat faster or slower, if it beats in a specific direction for over a fortnight it is time to review.  Nothing should be left for more than two weeks. 

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 62 – WTF Is Strategy

Dear Leaders,

It’s coming towards the end of the Summer here in the UK which typically means it’s long term planning and/or annual planning review cycle. This is likely the second time you are not in the board room or in a basement of a hotel planning your company’s future.

From recent feedback, many are finding asynchronous or hybrid planning sessions a challenge.

There are common questions that are being asked within businesses that leadership teams (and senior management teams) rarely address, through not knowing these questions that are being asked, but, also because the management team is not connecting to the “floor” and are rarely delivering Q&A to the business.

The usual questions being asked are:

  • What is our strategy?
    – This happens multiple times a year
  • Why are we doing what we do?
    – This is usually a follow up to what is the strategy?
    Or we do not support the strategy still
  • What does success actually look like?
    – A list of targets rarely helps employees to understand what success is and how to build towards it.

The word that stands out above the rest but confuses so many people within businesses is: STRATEGY

Strategy can mean so many things to so many people, everything became strategic.

I have recently experienced every team in a large department creating their own ‘strategy’. That was nine (yes 9) different teams, within one department with their own “strategies” that did not connect at all!

FYI: This is not ‘strategy’, these are actually plans of action, that should roll up to departmental action plans, rolling up into the company-wide strategy. (see image below)

The reason I am being so pedantic and why being deliberate is so important; when everyone has a ‘strategy’, the company strategy is commonly ignored and is then questioned as soon as there are disagreements or performance dips.

On the Focus blog, I recently wrote a detailed post about the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics.

The way to think about the bigger picture: Mission sits over & across the top of vision, strategy connects directly into the company vision. Strategy guides each department action plan, with team plans rolling into the department action plan. Tactics sit at the bottom and are often interchangeable but never dictates strategy!

The TLDR framework explainer I used for strategy in this framework:

  • Operating Principle: Strategy  
  • Explainer: One company-wide plan for everyone within the business to understand, everybody throughout the company should be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow when crafting their own plans.
    No team or department should deviate from the strategy. 
    • Your Company Strategy build should be thought about in this simple way:
      • 💭 Think: 5 Years
      • 🗺 Plan: 3 Years
      • 📦 Deliver: 1 Year ahead
      • It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy. 
  • When To Review Strategy: Up to twice per year 
  • When To Change Strategy: Once a year, every year  

It is well worth reading what is mission, vision, strategy and tactics framework.

⬆️ This is an explainer of what mission is, what vision is, what strategy is, what departmental actions plans are and an explainer of tactics.

The mentioned issues are why you have to be so precise and deliberate with your company or organisations plans.

Are You Struggling?
Run A Strategic Audit Recommendation: If you struggle with strategy or how to answer what your company-wide strategy is, what I recommend regularly is running a strategy audit and then creating a one-pager to reexplain your company-wide strategy to the company.

This newsletter is to help guide you through your leadership journey, if you consider yourself a decision-maker within your business, it should be part of your role to improve your company and introducing and creating frameworks and guides for your teams to follow to be successful within your department and the wider company.
And, importantly, when team members move on to the next challenge.

Help those around you build the team and departmental action plans and roll them up into the actual company-wide strategy.
If you do not have a company-wide strategy or struggle with them or get gain buy-in, get in touch today.

Thanks and have a great week.

Danny Denhard


The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy & Tactics

There is a lot made of having to have a mission, a vision, then having a strategy with a series of tactics to help to guide the business forward. 

A BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is another level added in recent years to drive a sense of a company’s ultra long term thinking and showing that the organisation is going to prosper for decades to come.   

Breakdown Of Strategy 

Across the business world, many have experienced everything become tactical, we have seen strategy become strategies (this is the common cause of confusion and internal conflict) and the majority of us have experienced ‘strategy’ become tactical and change constantly. 

This chain of events just leads to the company compass being misaligned and misunderstood.   

Something many businesses experience with this shift is regular questions being asked of what direction are we taking, where are we going and what should we be doing?

Clarity is the key to success for any business.

Operating Framework

At focus, we have an operating model, we introduce to each client.   

We explain that our business operating principles are clearly defined and understood so everyone understands that change is either essential or part of progressing the business rather than just reacting to a change or a shift in the market. 

Our operating guidance is as followed: 

Operating Principle Explainer When To ReviewWhen To Change
MissionThe long term objective to complete as your business.

Missions should be somewhat aspirational but within long term reach
Every three years.

You can question every year but do not change unless essential.  
Once a decade 
VisionThe long term direction for the company.

The vision helps to guide decisions when anyone is unsure and needs to understand if you are making the right move. 

Vision has to inspire and be within reach. 
Every two yearsUp to twice a decade
Strategy One company-wide plan for everyone to understand, be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow.

No team or department should deviate from the strategy. 

Your Company Strategy about guidance should be broken down:

5 Years is thinking ahead, 3 Years is planning ahead and 1 Year delivering for the next year.

It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy. 
Up to twice per year Every year 
Department Action plan Each department creates a plan of action for the year ahead connecting into the one company-wide strategy

Department action plans should be presented to the business. 

Each department should connect together and liaise on their action plans to ensure they will plan resources, budgets and allocate the right prioritises together. 

If teams (for example CRM within Marketing Department) with departments have to break out their action plan it has to roll up into their department plan and connect into the company-wide strategy. 
Up to three times per year Every year 
Tactics Part of the action plan is to help everyone understand the channels and initiatives you are rolling out. 
Tactics are the most flexible part of this operating principle and are important to review, optimise and tweak. 
Tactical layers are important but should not be built up first to build your action plan.  
Monthly Where required 

Each company and business approaches creating ‘strategy’ differently, some are top-down, others are flexible and open for all to add their insights. 

It is fundamental that each manager and every member of the leadership team understand’s this framework and introduces and reminds their teams of this operating framework.

With our management team coaching and strategy audits it is important to guide how important the operating principles are and how to use this as your framework to success. 

With the future of work being hybrid, having a crystal clear mission, vision and strategy could be the difference between missing and hitting targets.

Key To Explaining Mission, Vision, Strategy Internally 

  • For the long term mission and vision are the inspiring elements. 
  • Strategy is the driving force from the short term to the long term. 
  • What is important is to ensure that strategy is the compass for your departments, teams, projects and campaigns. If any team goes off track deliberately and is managed accordingly, you will see offsites and strategy sessions undone very quickly.