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Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

Dear leaders, who do you serve? 

And in what order do you serve them?

I remember an all-hands I attended and the EVP stood up and read from a very simple slide:

“We serve the shareholders first, then customers second and then the staff” 

It stuck with me, I was in a follow-up meeting and the same priorities were repeated, followed by:  

“We have to remember who we are serving”.

Whenever I brought this up with leadership colleagues they failed to remember this, not just because we were clearly saying we serve two other layers of the business before the staff but because it was quite subtle, despite the slide being clear for all to consume. 

This prioritisation isn’t uncommon but isn’t spoken enough in businesses.

Survive — Thrive 

Survive: As a business when you are trying to survive you do everything you can with conversion rate optimisation (CRO), take rate (if you have a checkout) and inside of the CFO’s spreadsheet including its complex formulas to drive the most value for the shareholders (or for the owners).  

Thrive: When you are thriving you do the same, however, you do have the luxury to add more value through your product or pricing to make it more equal, and the customers tend to get a slightly better value exchange.

CVO aka Customer value optimisation was a trendy phrase towards the end of last year and at the beginning of this, it’s essentially how you get the most amount of value from your customer, increasing subscription prices, creating surge (demand-based) pricing or reducing down the basic packages to drive upgrades. 

Some brands will use shrinkflation (making items smaller) to drive up efficiency. 

Rightly or wrongly – all of this is business first and as a business performance is paramount.

Netflix Competing Priorities

Netflix has been doing this for the last few years and it’s worked wonders for their share price but not necessarily for their customers. 

Netflix is even trying to remove the basic entry-level package and recommending downgrading the user experience (yes making it a worse experience) to fulfil their advertiser numbers – adding ads for £3 less per month. This tactic has proven price elasticity studies lower quality tariffs improve subscriptions numbers.

Advertising is a way these platforms make more money, paying a high subscription to move away from ads was the way streaming enabled customers to move away from the burden of ads and cheap/low-quality content. 

Netflix is now TV (adding live content like sports into your schedule) without it calling itself TV now. 

Is this smart? Or is this market dominance pushing for more that may lead to less for consumers? 

Managing Expectations & Packaging Prioritises + Problems

Having led Product teams, a startup within a company, big company changing pricing projects and helping subscription businesses to switch their business models, the common theme is putting the business first and constantly trading what you can do for your customers, your external customers through product improvements and your internal customers (staff) by helping them manage workloads and managing their expectations on the tradeoffs. 

It’s now Q2 and most businesses start to find out where they are and what they need to do to improve the business or push harder on what’s working. 

Enter Answer Engine Vs Search Engine 

I am a user of perplexity answer engine, it’s not replaced Google completely for me but it has replaced the need to refine my searches for the right answer. 

In a recent podcast (embedded below – start at 13:45 “The Importance of Aligning Shareholder and User Interests” if prefer the audio-only experience) their CEO Aravind Srinivas calls out why Google isn’t incentivised to always offer the best answers and why their business model isn’t geared towards their customers. 

This Google example is a great example of how businesses set out on a mission and then when successful, they diversify. 

Once this shifts you then serve different stakeholders in different orders. 

Google was released in August 1996 and then went public in 2004. = Shareholders had to come first. 

>> I have an upcoming post breaking down the evolution of search engines and what we will see in the near future with “engines” and why Google’s business model is under intense threat. Teaser below 

This week’s focus action is to: Consider the prioritisation of your business and associated priorities. If you are a smaller business how can you look to serve your customers first and improve your service to a point that they will continue to use you and keep recommending your product or services. 

Thanks and have a great week, 

Danny Denhard 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

Dear leaders, this week I am going to answer a few follow-up questions I received this week. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and those who fed back – thank you!

The leadership questions I cover this week to help you include helping with: 

  • You or your colleagues to re-think where they think they are in their careers 
  • Quick wins for leaders wanting to improve their leadership skills 
  • Address challenges within companies 
  • How to build your executive edge (not just your ‘exec presence’)
  • How to reboot your career 
  • You to learn from hard lessons in my career 

Sharing Is Caring: Copy and paste this URL https://focus.business/blog/197 to help a colleague or team member who will benefit from this advice

» If you missed my AMA Part 1 read today 


What are 5 of the hardest lessons you have had to learn from in your career? 

  1. Leaving a workplace can be like a breakup with a long-term partner, everyone has that one former workplace, you can grieve, you will receive some unconstructive feedback, someone will always have something to say about you after you leave, you will receive some nasty comments and you will lose some “friends” in the process. If you feel this could be a case get some help through therapy, this will become more and more common in years to come. 
  2. Words and actions are often so disconnected you have to learn to dissect the words from the actions and drive the change yourself. 
  3. Colleagues will decide between professional friendships and their salary, salary almost always comes first and don’t be surprised. 
  4. A bad manager will put your career backwards if you are under them for six months – they’ll put you back a year. I have had two or three terrible managers and thankfully I learnt to get out in under six months. I thankfully had great people around me to guide me into a move for my mental health. 
  5. A company on the up is great to work in generally, a company on the way down (especially being hidden) can be an impossible company to operate in and personal development is limited

Bonus: However much you look out for your team members, department heads or senior colleagues you won’t be seen as doing enough for everyone


Are there any quick wins for leaders to get better at leadership? 

  • Learn how to present well, from creating a deck (or editing a deck) to presenting with confidence away from reading it word for word, slide by slide  
  • Learn storytelling basics and principles – capture attention and imagination, the more you compellingly tell the story and garner engagement the sooner you will improve as a leader  
  • Hard decisions have to be made – put yourself in a place where you can make hard decisions and know whether this is a quick or long process 

What are the biggest challenges companies are currently facing today, and how do you recommend the company addresses these?

  • Profitability and efficiency targets – hard for most employees to impact directly and have very little visibility. Show staff members how they can move the needle and be more open around performance and ownership. Move away from the spreadsheet view, it’s terrible for storytelling and connecting people to performance  
  • Culture – companies are dealing with social networks dividing people, political unrest and political opinions are being shared more loudly and many feel they have to have a side or pick a side. Aligning any of this and attempting to drive a positive work environment while building a culture around performance is particularly challenging. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers on this one, what I do recommend is creating guidelines around topics for discussion within the work environment. Coinbase and 37Signals (Basecamp) were called out by recommending this at the time (and didn’t execute it well) but there are some valid points in helping to reduce external factors impacting the workspace 
  • Keeping staff happy – while losing colleagues and having to pick up their work. This is common until the headcount is replaced in the old normal but in today’s business landscape, this just isn’t going to happen. This needs leadership to step up, help readjust priorities and remove roadblockers 
  • Hard economy – for many it is tough and it’s hitting them harder than expected, while some big companies are cutting back on perks and some smaller firms are asking staff to return to the office, travel, food and drink prices increased. There is no fix here but there are ways companies can support their staff, help with travel or proactively help with reducing high prices. 

What are the best methods of career progression when you feel your career has stalled? 

  • Go and interview, get the experience back under your belt and understand your worth 
  • Build your own personal development plan – take control, write out the areas you have to improve, you want to improve and the areas you have always wanted to go into and set milestones. One follow-up recommendation: partner up with someone who will keep you accountable – this way you aren’t attempting to do too much and not celebrate the progress 
  • Get more experience – if that means helping other companies, helping a startup, or creating a side hustle you need broader experiences to help restart how you think and how you view your current situation 
  • Start learning again – most people in their career stop learning and stagnate, whether you are a specialist or a generalist you should be able to learn quickly. Reading a recommended book, listening to podcasts, downloading workbooks, signing up for a cohort course, and watching lectures on YouTube are all low-cost ways to learn and ways your company will pay for your development 
  • Write a professional SWOT and highlight where you need to improve and where you have the opportunity to drive your career or gain help driving it forward 
  • Get a mentor – someone who you look up to or people who will share their experiences and help put you first not just tell you how they did things 
  • Get a coach – this is biased advice however a great coach will help improve your skills, help to boost your own confidence and shape your near and long-term future. The best coach won’t just push you, they’ll help to reshape your ‘now, next and future’.  

I have read you need an edge as a leader, what do you recommend?

  • Be known for something important (not just your title) 
  • Be relatable and approachable (this goes a long way with the layers below you)
    Or be unavailable (time-constricted people’s time seems more valuable – don’t be the exec who celebrates with a busy badge of honour) 
  • Operate well under stress – if not you will struggle to drive positive change and the higher you go the more stressful it can become 
  • Be additive not defensive – add more than you create slowdown or stoppers 
  • Have a catchphrase or a look that sticks in people’s minds – this should reflect you authentically but it can also be crafted 

This week’s focus action is to create a list of actions to help you and your leadership development and the steps you will take moving forward and then help your team members create their own plan.

Have a great week and remember to sign up to the newsletter below

Danny Denhard

  • Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

    Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

    Dear leaders, have you ever sat in a meeting and stagnated, whether that’s with your team, in middle management or at the senior executive level? The one way most likely way to move forward for most is parking it and revisiting it. That’s long, frustrating and slows down decision-making.  Others like to grind it out and…


  • Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

    Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

    Dear leaders, who do you serve?  And in what order do you serve them? I remember an all-hands I attended and the EVP stood up and read from a very simple slide: “We serve the shareholders first, then customers second and then the staff”  It stuck with me, I was in a follow-up meeting and…


  • Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

    Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

    Dear leaders, this week I am going to answer a few follow-up questions I received this week. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and those who fed back – thank you! The leadership questions I cover this week to help you include helping with:  Sharing Is Caring: Copy and paste this URL https://focus.business/blog/197 to help a colleague…


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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 190 – The Who, What, When, Why, How Of Leading Business To Success

Dear leaders, you may have noticed this week the newsletter is slightly delayed. 

Apologises, I want to be transparent, I have been working on a couple of larger consultancy projects combined with my coaching commitments and I wanted to take a few extra days to land with the usual high-quality newsletter that’s going to add value rather than just a good newsletter that I’m not happy enough with. 

Let’s dive into The Who, What, When, Why, How Of Leading Business To Success.

The Different Ways Of Working Towards Success 

Startup Approach:

  • If you have worked in a startup you would have noticed everything is often thrown together, the idea of strategy and tactics and often blended and sort of everyone’s job. 
  • On the flip side, some startups have more leadership team that says who does what and when and sometimes include “the how” you are going to do it. 
  • Startups win by hitting aggressive targets and getting a lot of buy-in from the teams not always being autonomous and democratic. 

Scaleup Approach:

  • If you have worked in a scaleup, successful businesses know how to split out who does what – when, the why is explained and the how is often left to department leads and they present to the business.
  • Scaleups win by maturing from their previous state, they mature and grow by adding in more processes and taking away the goal(s) is the only thing to hit. Scaleups fail by acting like startups with only startup employees. Sad but true.  

“The Mature Approach”:

  • In mid to large-sized businesses the exec team will say to the business what you need to do to hit a set of big goals and then the discipline leads to controlling the who, the what, the why and the how, the why is often left to the business to explain otherwise the business results will go aray. 
  • Larger companies win by what I call controlled collaboration and being hard on the goals and output but the who and how many are often most flexible. 
  • Middle managers will be critical in some mid to large-sized businesses, and completely redundant (as we have seen in layoffs from Amazon, Meta, Google and many other tech companies) in others. 

No Secret Formula? 

I have worked across the full spectrum of businesses, from small ten-person businesses to larger 5k to 15k-person businesses and there is no perfect one-size-fits-all for the who, the what, the when, the why and the how. There are ways to push the business in the right direction by understanding if it is leadership-owned or leadership-guided. 

Change Is Hard But Necessary

There are, however, businesses that just stick to how they have always done it and top-down (directions from the exec team) that went from being successful to slowly but surely status quo-based businesses that decline and then the point the fingers phase, blaming those underneath them for struggling to make bigger changes or being able to make broader changes to their tech and then hiring more sales doesn’t work and Marketing can’t squeeze another 10% out of a bad Product. 

You lose in business by staying the same and squeezing more and more out of a bad product and badly positioned products. 

This is where trust evaporates within leadership teams and rips through your business when everyone is fully aware of this situation and cannot make any meaningful change because of poor leadership decisions.  

Below is a way to consider the who, what, when, why and “the how of your company”, regardless of how you build your company goals (OKRs or an alternative) 

Leadership Flex 

Leadership is mostly won by: Adding in the right level of guard rails and adding in flex to take ownership if and where required. Flex does include layoffs (Google is spending $700m on severance this quarter alone), removing department leads and finding a blend of the two or (not in recent times) mass hiring to accelerate with market shifts and new opportunities.  

Question for today: “Is our company leadership team giving enough direction or is it providing too much?” What stage are we at and how do we empower or power up our employees to feel part of the driving force behind the business? 

This week’s focus action is to: review The Who, What, When, Why, How Of your leadership teams and proactively drive change throughout your leadership, management and up and comers to keep being successful and drive long-term growth within your business. 

Have a great week and I’ll land in your inbox next week,

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter 189 – This Is Not The Way Book – Unleashing Creativity: An Interview with Author & Founder Andy Reid

Dear leaders, this week I have a special interview with the author of This Is Not The Way, Andy Reid. 

Andy Reid is the founder of Genius Box who help companies big and small address company issues from creating North Stars to creating or optimising company strategies. 

In this interview, I ask Andy 6 questions:

  1. Your new book aka anti-manual “This is not the way” is a mass of knowledge and learnings from your successful career of change making, why an anti-manual and why now?
  2. You have helped many well-known and upcoming companies move their businesses forward, who are the best people to get into the room to create the most effective company-wide strategy?
  3. You interviewed a number of smart strategic operators and facilitators (not just because I was involved) and curated a number of actionable insights. What surprises or new approaches have inspired you to improve your workshops?
  4. You have suggested brainstorming don’t work – what’s the best alternative in getting the best ideas and concepts out of colleagues?
  5. Many companies always problem-solve the same way or mimicking how they’ve always done it – what’s the best way to problem-solve with your decades of experience?
  6. What’s the best piece of wisdom you can share from your anti-manual? 

The Interview

I am also interviewed in the book:

  • I offer my insights around company strategy is baking a better cake
  • How to thrive in workshops 
  • Who to bring into workshops (hint not just the leadership teams but never overload strategy is too many opinions, analysis and time to step out and create the compass is critical). 

Here’s my section

Here’s The Learnings Broken Down

In a world where business books often provide high-level strategies and case studies, Andy Reid’s new book, “This Is Not The Way (The Anti Manual)” takes a refreshing approach rather than the usual approach. 

Andy dives into the motivations behind the book, the importance of innovation, and practical tips for driving creative change within organizations. Andy’s insights and discover how you can become a fantastic creative facilitator alongside several experts interviewed including me.

Why an anti-manual and why now?

Andy recognizes that existing business books often lack actionable tactics for turning strategies into real-world actions. With “This Is Not The Way,” he aims to bridge that gap by providing tools, language, examples, and stories that empower individuals to align and excite their colleagues around a new organizational narrative. This book is a treasure trove of knowledge and learnings from Andy’s successful career as a change-maker. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or tactical guidance, “This Is Not The Way” has something for you.

The importance of getting the right people in the room

When creating an effective company-wide strategy, Andy emphasizes the need for individuals willing to embark on a challenging yet rewarding journey. Making change happen requires tearing down old rules, which are often met with resistance. The best strategists and facilitators are storytellers who can flexibly explain the vision and inspire others to follow. It’s also crucial to involve senior leaders who have a line of sight on the business, as their insights are invaluable.

Surprises and new approaches to improve workshops

Andy interviewed several smart strategic operators and facilitators for his book, he discovered that creative techniques have been around for thousands of years. What may seem familiar to him is often new and valuable to others. Incorporating experiments, stories, tools, and techniques into workshops injects novelty and creates tremendous value for the participants. By encouraging everyone to share their thinking and building upon each other’s ideas, workshops become collaborative and productive.

Say goodbye to brainstorming?!?

Brainstorming has long been hailed as a creative technique, but Andy challenges its effectiveness. Our minds often shut down when forced to generate ideas on the spot. Instead, he suggests providing a clear brief and allowing people time to incubate their thoughts. In facilitated sessions, starter thoughts can be shared, and participants can build upon them. By creating an environment that welcomes all ideas without judgment and capturing them consistently, teams can foster better idea generation and capture.

Innovative problem-solving strategies

To solve problems effectively, Andy advocates for injecting 10% of difference and newness into every endeavour. The brief can provide stimuli for thinking differently while changing the environment can spark imagination. 

An example Andy shares is using a musical metaphor for a project called “Project Allegro,” which allowed the team to design activities and tools that connected to the client’s need for a new perspective. The key is to embrace new approaches and avoid striving for perfection, as progress is often more valuable.

The wisdom within the “Anti Manual”

Through his interviews with various professionals, one consistent message emerged for Andy – the importance of providing a safe space for people to share their thoughts and ideas. Creating an environment of psychological safety encourages individuals to be themselves and embrace their unique styles. 

Stories play a significant role in conveying information and inspiring change. By valuing safety, personal style, and storytelling, leaders can pave the way for a new creative era.

This Is Not The Way Conclusion:

Andy’s book, “This Is Not The Way: The Anti Manual,” is more than just another business guide. It’s a call to action, challenging the traditional approach to organizational change and encouraging individuals to become fantastic creative facilitators. 

By implementing the practical tips and insights shared in this interview, you can unlock your creative potential and drive real change within your organization. Embrace the power of innovation, storytelling, and collaboration, and let your creativity flourish.

This week focus on moving your business forward by learning to do things differently, and refresh your strategy by embracing another approach. 

I highly recommend the anti-manual for executive teams. 

Have a great week and I will land in your inbox next week, 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

More Essential Reading For Leaders

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Leaders Letter 184 – The Important Themes Through My Coaching Sessions In 2023

Dear leaders, throughout 2023 I have coached, CEOs, founders, COOs, CGOs, CMOs and VP & Director level of Product, Growth and Marketing. 

It has been a highly rewarding year, especially with my passion for coaching and through my consulting (I have especially enjoyed the dedicated workshops and problem-solving-based hackathons this year). 

Professional Reflection & Retro 

In my annual review I ran earlier this week (I run a review every year, why? retrospectives are critical parts of improving as a professional), I reviewed the common themes from my coaching notes and wanted to share the themes that came up throughout coaching sessions and matching calls (the process to see if the “coachee” and I are a good match) to help you move forward with the end of 2023 and use the themes to help guide you in 2024. 

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Confidence 

In themselves and in the team’s ability to deliver what’s required for success. This came up across all roles I coach and many CEOs and COOs are struggling with the confidence, in (1) making core decisions to drive the business forward and (2) ensuring the long-term success is actually taken care of – knowing they might not running the company. 
Confidence is something that is broken down are often performance and numbers-based, however, most are not recording and then celebrating smaller wins and micromoments to enable you and the team around you to understand wins and reflect to remind the team(s) of great moments and wins to promote confidence and delivery. Without knowing what helped success and what blocked it – how can you address confidence issues? 

Recommendation: Start to keep track of the wins and losses throughout the year, have a quick retro on each item and call out (1) what went well and the triggers of this, (2) what could have been improved and how potentially this can be removed in the next phase and (3) what went wrong and if you needed to go again or you could have stopped earlier for the same result.  
This is very similar to an after-action review and something I commonly recommend.  

Boundaries 

When I searched my coaching notes, boundaries came up in almost every session review, boundaries are often hard to set when you are not confident, you are not hitting targets or a new department lead or in a promoted role. 
Boundaries are crucial for owning your time, controlling how and when people can contact you and ensuring you can deliver work. Boundaries aren’t just for you, they are for your department, team leaders and for the business to know how you operate. As I tell many, think of boundaries like the guardrails at ten-pin bowling, not perfect but help to train and guide. 

Recommendation: Create a working schedule, that starts around X, finishes around Y and blocks out time for your own work and regular breaks. Many suggest they do not take a lunch break daily. Have a list of ways to contact you in emergencies out of hours (if business critical does it have to be a phone call, a SMS or on the emergency group chat) and use messaging scheduling as a way to control how and when you are contactable and how you communicate to your business, departments and teams to set boundaries for you and them. 

“Owning My Time” 

Every person I spoke to this year and coached brought up how they struggle to own their time and find the time for deep work. Without deep work you are not completing your role and critically thinking deeply (or thinking through first to third-order effects) If you do not own your own time, you are giving away the most precious items to us. Owning your time doesn’t mean you stop every meeting request or set too strict boundaries, it means using time blocking, setting non-negotiable requirements for meeting requests and being ruthless with requests. A title requesting a time slot or ‘got a quick five minutes’ shouldn’t mean you have to say yes. The best executives own their time and create barriers to getting any time on their calendar.  

Recommendation: Time block sections of your day where you are unavailable, and create statuses where your colleagues know you are in deep work (for example agree on instant messenger statuses green = contactable, orange = in a meeting, red = do not disturb / deep work etc) and creates requirements for others to complete for you to join their meeting requests. My focus recommendations for meeting requirements include – every meeting must have 
(1) a clear agenda 
(2) why was this not an email 
(3) what does success look like 
(4) what question(s) do we need to answer 
(5) owner of the meeting and a few others. 

Meeting Overload 

Many department leads and c-suite are blocked out with meetings, many suggesting they are booked in back-to-backs and then just about have time for lunch and to grab water or a coffee. I know every executive says this but often this approach can be confused with wearing the busy badge of honour, many knowing if in back-to-backs they are seen as working. One issue that many are unaware of is MRS (meeting recovery syndrome) and the knock-on effects bad meetings have and the mood you will carry into the next interaction and next meeting. Meetings are significant parts of most businesses, they have however caused a disconnect between getting work done and making decisions away from a Zoom room, a team call or being in a meeting room. 

Recommendations

  • Be clear in meeting requirements, what type of meeting is it (a brainstorming, a decision-making session that is needed versus an email chain, a workshop or a 1-2-1), what decisions have to be made, who has the sign-off for important decisions, what are the expected outcome from requested “meeting”.
  • Default meetings from 30 to 25 minutes, 60 to 45 minutes and any recurring meeting have a cadence of updates that everyone follows to ensure these aren’t just status updates, leaning more towards collaborative working sessions. 
  • Lastly, consider how a walk-and-talk or a standing meeting (if possible with all parties) can speed up the meeting. 
    Here are 25 meeting recommendations to improve your meetings and reduce overload

Struggle With Management & Leadership 

  • Team management is hard and from all the feedback, it is getting harder. This is something many need support with and something I am recommending more and more if creating a management style and approach that is unique for you versus just following what others are doing. 
  • Leadership is interrupted in many different ways. Being a department or division lead isn’t enough to be seen as a leader and knowing what type of leader you want to be and what the needs of your business are – is the only way you become a better and effective leader and executive. 
  • The demands of being both manager and leader take a toll even on the best and well-known CEOs with the best teams around them. There are times when the two blur together and times when inexperienced or time-poor struggle with management particularly of team members and many aren’t ever taught to be a manager of managers and taking on the extra responsibility of being a Head of Team/Department. Others struggle to know when to bring HR into conversations and when to bounce off issues with senior colleagues. 

Recommendations

  • Create your own management profile and work through what you need to work on and what you need to proactively learn and lean into more 
  • Create your own leadership profile and work through learning how to be the leader you need to be and want to be. Focus on communication and ‘holding a room’ if you are looking to become a CEO or have aspirations of becoming a founder. 
  • Understand when you can speak to colleagues with potential team issues and when to go directly to HR with everything logged. The best executives have a unique feel for what the issue is and who is best placed to help problem solve people issues or performance issues. 

Goal Setting 

Many leads stated how they despise goal setting, particularly how hard it was to set and track OKRs. Digging deeper most struggle as they are fully aware the goal is almost impossible to hit and they understand the constraints the team are under or how much additional work or headcount is required. Once breaking down the goals into more manageable and achievable steps most coaching collaborations end up in a different model, whether that’s using SMART goals methodology or moving across to think big act small by when framework understanding how to set goals and break these down into manageable tactical attacks.  

Recommendations

  • Review how you are setting goals and the framework you are using. 
  • OKRs are confusing without real training and are often rolled out and takes 12-18 months for them to make sense to a business, many opting to remove them. 
  • Most companies set goals from the top and often use spreadsheets with formulas to understand what the business needs, create strategy ~10 weeks before the end of the year and then ask the departments to build their departmental plans into the company-wide strategy to ensure they are realistic and review tactics regularly and then review plans quarterly. You can then revisit strategy up to twice a year by being informed by the business metrics and the leading indicators rather than looking to change everything all the time. 

Ongoing Costs Of Bad Decisions 

Everyone makes decisions, often in the most positive way possible, a common theme in bad decisions is selfish-based decisions, and political-based decisions (Me before the We decision) but never keeping track of decisions and whether they were bad decisions or decisions that were right at the time but need addressing with a market shift or reacting to a new market condition. What is key is to understand the cost (whether in £/$ or in headcount losses or motivation and performance). Also, have retros on whether decisions were slow or fast and if this impacted the business – most businesses come to understand slow decision-making is detrimental to performance and can have real long-term impacts.  

Recommendations

  • Create a decision document that shows what the major decisions were, why they were made, and how and who made these. You can then share across the business and receive feedback and questions. 
  • Taking this one step further is reviewing within your QBRs and reviewing if the decisions were “good” or “bad” and any impact they might have had. 

Bonus — Strategy 

Strategy is baking a better cake’ – this is a statement I say to almost every coaching client. Strategy is something we have forgotten its actual role within the business, strategy is often misunderstood, misinterpreted or misdiagnosed. 

Strategy takes time and dedicated resources away from just a room with execs and the CFO’s spreadsheet in mid-December or in an away session. 
Through Q&A I uncovered most professionals do not make the time to think and build the long-term strategy, they do not think about who has to be invited to contribute and how to gain the right level of investment needed.  

Recommendation: Have a clear idea of what strategy is and what it is not, arrange a kick-off meeting inviting department and discipline heads and work through 2-week window where they will be blocked out to work through strategy, the department plans to roll up into the strategy and where their teams co-create the tactical elements to use and roll out. Throughout the year block of time to review department plans as a leadership team and block out 2 sessions to review strategy but ensure you are incorporating QBRs and recent updates to guide you and not to guide biases. 

» Are You Or Your Business Struggling With Strategy? Here is my free strategy cheatsheet

This week’s focus action is to run your annual review, understand where you did well, where not so well and where the seven themes will help you for next year. 

Thanks for reading again this week, have a great break and for those celebrating enjoy Christmas and have a great week ahead. 

Danny Denhard

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7 Recommended Following On Reading: 

  1. Do You Need A Refresh, A Reset, A Reboot Or A Restart?
  2. The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy, Plans & Tactics
  3. The 5 Recommended Roles For 2024 Success 
  4. Community Your Next Competitive Advantage
  5. Your Leadership Superpower – Your Leadership Kryptonite
  6. Time For A Calendar Audit 
  7. Improve Company Culture With The Right Company Activities
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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 177 – Community The Sixth Business Moat

Dear leaders, are you prepared for a sixth business moat? 

Here is the list of the traditional economic moats – including network effects that we all rushed towards over the last decade 

Community. 

The chances are you haven’t heard a definition of community that has even got you thinking about how you can turn your business into a community-driven ecosystem. 

Let’s change that. Here’s a quick teaser on why community has to be included: 

I recently spoke at the Love Inbound Conference. It was a great conference and organised really well and had a number of brilliant speakers, one of whom Luke Staton you will hear from in a couple of weeks (below is a short video to give you a teaser). 

Here’s me presenting the risks and benefits of community and why it’s not going to be everyone! 

My concept and talk were centred around you guessed it… community, it is doing business differently (you can decide whether it is worth the long-term work and if you can make it effective in your space) and why connecting at a deeper level (community done right) is more important and actually scaleable. 

Community is how the smartest brands are going to be building “connected customers” not just a broadcast channel on WhatsApp or Instagram (move over Facebook Groups, Circle and Telegram groups) but a fully engaging community platform for existing customers (aka members) and new customers can feel safe, share their insights, tips and give feedback directly to the brand, while saving other community members money (think about sharing discount codes/coupons and being rewarded for it) and having a direct 1-2-1 relationship with their brand of choice.

Sound too good to be true? 

NO!

Not with hard work following the rules and cheat codes provided you will win.  

I have broken down the full presentation into an exec summary below or view the full community deck below

The Exec Summary Of ‘Community As A Moat?’: 

  • Network Effects Table Stakes Now: Moving on and building on top of network effects, 
  • Trust: Customers and potential customers don’t trust brands – more trust = more business and more recommendations to friends, family and colleagues  
  • Improved Acquisition: the only way to kill one-and-done customers is to build deeper connections with your customers and provide better service (quicker payback period, lower CAC, better LTV) 
  • Less Reliance On Platforms: Remove your business reliance on algorithmic updates and zero-click results
  • Closed To Competitors: We can see every competitor’s Marketing moves, from their emails, to their push notifications to seeing every one of their ads 
  • Better Retention: Retention comes from trust and offering great products we need (and sometimes want) – retention will be higher, it will engage customers who are advocates and those who want long-term trusted relationships 
  • Brands have created ask fatigue: Always asking for more (this can be removed)
  • Whether you’re a startup, challenger brand or have aspirations to become a super brand, community will be hard work but will build a moat around your products, your people (yes builds connection deeper than CS tickets and complaints) and its performance  
  • Everyone craves PLG (aka product-led growth) and referrals (and move away from SLG) but these are extremely hard. Why not grow with community-led growth think of a bigger & better flywheel, more feedback, and shared results  
  • Superfans & Superspending: Be inspired by Taylor Swift’s lead, from her deep connections to building a community flywheel
  • Reddit is a precautionary tale of community but that’s a whole different community culture & that Reddit brought it on themselves

Or you can enjoy the full deck with commentary here and add it to your Google Drive. 

If you would like to chat through community and implement true community get in touch with me directly > danny @focus.business

This week’s focus action is to deeply consider community and whether you can build a new moat in a true community. 

Thanks and have a great week ahead. 

Danny Denhard » coach, consultant, advisor 

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 162 – Threads Strategy Breakdown

Dear leaders, are you one of the 100m users who flocked to threads over the last couple of weeks? 

I am and I must confess, I am not so convinced about the product and its lacklustre product features…yet.

I suspect you have heard it at least mentioned within your business, from the employees using it and as likely from your Marketing or Growth team with the race to get the account and find if you are relevant within the evolving app culture. 

This week I am going to breakdown one of Focus’ core offerings strategy and break down Treads, what it is, why it launched and why it is different, how Meta has thought about the landscape and how they’ve used this launch (smartly or not I’ll let you decide) to misdirect some of its recent failures. 

The Threads TLDR

  • App only (threads.net prompts you to download the app) 
  • Threads is an extension of Instagram – it connects to your Instagram account and supplies you with an @ with a specific number you joined 
  • Threads are built into the Instagram platform enabling micro-updates (500 characters)  
  • Updates can be shared publicly or privately (you set when you sign up) 
  • It has limited features and is by all accounts an MVP 
  • A curated feed that does not allow users to select just those they followed (a lesson from their previous growth days that the feed has to be incredibly valuable) 
  • As a platform, it wants to sit away from news and not be known as a news outlet like Twitter (this will be harder for Threads as this is what people use microblogging platforms for) 
  • There were no ads for a week (Hulu were exclusively the first)
  • Think of a really lightweight Twitter 
Mark Zuckerberg’s tweet poking fun at Elon Musk on Threads launch

Strategy Smarts 

  • Record Breaking – Leveraging the user numbers across the Meta portfolio (Facebook 2.9b MAUs, WhatsApp 2.2b, Instagram 2b MAUs) is driving record user creation and download numbers was incredibly smart and knowing how difficult being an audience can be this was strategic smart and savvy.
  • OrganicTikTok spent over $2b to gain a record number of downloads, user accounts and drive retention through advertising efforts, this has been largely organic channels and knowing they gain mass attention from the tech press and mainstream media
  • New & Alternative – An alternative method to always posting videos and the perfect picture on your native Instagram feed and threads allows users to have something to say and create a new space to be different or be more you. Twitter usage has dropped and it was prime time to release new. We might see Meta allow this to fly too close to the sun and crash quickly after the engagement levels drop. If you follow a number of friends, not media outlets and personalities the updates have already dropped (falling foul of the deliberate full feed of random content)
  • Creating FOMO – creating FOMO around a new product to remove time spent on other apps is intelligent in a market full of attention and time-based apps (while many were enjoying JOMO (joy of missing out) was happening on Twitter)
  • Algorithmic Driven Feeds – Something that Meta got right with Instagram and Facebook was flipping the feed from chronological feed to algorithmic-driven feeds with affinity signals and then learning from a superior product in TikTok. TikTok took algorithmic-driven content to another level and then evolved into an entertainment engine from anyone showing in a feed created for you versus just from people you were connected to. This shows how the internet went from and where it is now, with numerous apps driving entertainment for “free” with us as the product aka being sold to by advertising and subscription models.
    Meta has tweaked their approach to offer similar features and has helped to drive engagement and usage. 
  • Acquire Or Copy – When you hit Meta’s size and scale you cannot easily acquire a competitor or new entrance in the market due to anti-competitive laws and measures. Meta is famous for using Snap, iMessage, Telegram (chat and group platform) and TikTok features in its brand’s umbrella and roll directly into their apps. This is another example of Meta and their leadership team embracing the Microsoft approach to strategy, copying key features and killing others with distribution within their own ecosystem (think recently with Teams fighting with Slack and Teams winning the professional chat app battle)
  • Meta Huge Scale = Controllable Narratives – By releasing a new product it starts to remove narratives away from other platforms and helps to control mass narratives and then how they communicate (we will see exec and media companies exclusively updating and using threads)
  • Big Army Big Battles – Fighting for time and attention from Twitter and importantly against TikTok – this isn’t widely discussed but new products reduce the usage of other platforms while users work out the new platform, the etiquette and the culture of the new app/platform 
  • Hitting Other Apps That Have Potentially Run Their Course – Twitter is struggling to stay relevant (other platforms in the same category as Twitter such as newer players Mastodon and Bluesky), and BeReal was effectively killed off by Instagram and TikTok being inspired by their USP and rolling in a product feature and then usage dies off. This is a smart tactical move(s) for these big platforms horrible for BeReal and similar apps and services that are easily copied 
  • Data Collection – This is the most controversial piece here, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all collect a large number of data points on their users and use it to inform their next series of decisions. This is well known and although this has caused a large number of headlines, court cases and investigations, it hasn’t stopped Meta from releasing a new app with a new set of data collection and a way to connect users into cohorts 
Threads announcing record-breaking weekend, no more official numbers since

Meta Misses & Misdirections  

  • The Metaverse – Meta invested multiple billions in a new metaverse (the company re-branded around) and it hit its stock price and confidence in Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership 
  • AI Struggles – Meta has struggled to have any breakout with their AI tools and while rivals are making bigger steps in the perceived AI battle – we should never count out Meta but their very slow approach it’s likely hindering them from an investor’s perspective 
  • App Store – Facebook wants to become a marketplace for others and an app store alternative, allowing users to download apps directly from their potential version of an app store. This is the play Mark Zuckerberg has wanted to lead on since his earnings call back in 2018 —  “Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage,” “In important countries like the U.S. where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as a default texting app and it’s still ahead,” 
  • Hits & Misses – Despite the Meta brand’s dominance, Instagram and Facebook apps have had a number of product feature misses, including audio and creator funds. Can Threads be a hit or will it be a miss and popularity nose dive like a clubhouse or more recently BeReal.  
  • Creators Only? Instagram threw itself into the creator economy and has struggled with making its shop feature and shopping experiences work – Facebook has also struggled with shopping away from ads – for now, that works, however, in the near future Meta brands will struggle with stuffing more ad units 
  • WhatsApp Controvisal Usage – WhatsApp is a behemoth, it has however struggled with governments (and Taliban) using its platform and having their messages leaked or released – despite its e2e encryption this will have a negative impact (despite all of the convenience and free use via data packages) 
  • 80:20 rule: Apart from on WhatsApp Meta’s properties have a 20% creator role and 80% viewer role (consume content but don’t create) – this will likely also become the norm on Threads. Will their growth teams be able to break this and can their feed be important enough to fill the boredom slots that other apps do already?  
  • Mark Zuckerberg vs Elon Musk – A supposed MMA fight and spat really has taken a leaf out of the music beef (between rappers) playbook to pull attendance away and be part of multiple conversations. This may have seen fun but is a waste of time and effort  
  • Step Out – With many elections coming up, Meta has now built a new (currently) mostly completely organic product that shouldn’t influence the election 

Having worked in a space where Facebook entered with a bang, you prepare for their growth engine and its huge breadth of users and ability to cross-sell to hurt you, interestingly, in two businesses I was in or across this didn’t materially hinder or hurt us. With the right prep for the teams and a reminder of why we were different and to focus on our journey, we drove the business forward. I am not sure Elon and Twitter have the same sort of defence. 

Whatever you think of Meta, there are always numerous lessons we can and should take away, from their aggressive tactics to their ability to engage and retain users and drive more ads into their ecosystem while glueing the user data together. It is the modern-day company that has navigated numerous issues and continues to be stronger for users and advertisers. 

This week’s focus item is to: learn from how Meta leveraged its own ecosystem and a weakening market to drive a record-breaking app that may or may not keep its mass appeal… 

Have a great week! 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard 

More Strategy Resources To Help You

If you want to know more about Focus strategy work and how to review your strategy in our Strategy Audit, get in touch below

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 156 – The 5 Questions To Ask Ahead Of Q3

Dear leaders, this week marks the third year anniversary of Leaders Letters. Thanks for being a part of it by reading the newsletters weekly, sharing across social and replying and even challenging my leadership advice. 

I look forward to landing in your inbox every week and love debating with readers if they like the post, dislike the newsletter or feel you could add more to that week’s topic. 

I have a dedicated newsletter coming soon to break down my learnings and share some of the insights from the last 3 years. With a focus on those who I have collaborated with and worked with through this leadership newsletter

The Q3 Questions To Tackle 

With Q3 starting in just a couple of weeks, here are the most pressing questions to ask internally to help with people (aka company culture) and performance (aka the company-wide strategy) and drive change for the future months.

The hints below are there to help you think slightly differently or position the points internally

  1. How are we scoring with company performance and our people’s performance?
    Hint >> Score out of 10 and where do we need to improve the score by 1 or 2 points? 
  2. If we were to change 3 things to improve our working environment, what would they be and how would they improve performance? 
    Hint >> Don’t just think office environment, think of all working environments (remote, hybrid, etc), look at reviewing meetings, look at how you are encouraging cross-functional collaboration, look at reviewing how your skip meetings went, and look at reviewing the exit interviews and onboarding flows. 
  3. What three themes (bigger than trends) have we seen this quarter we need to address and build for the future?
    Hint >> AI is definitely in there already, but what else is happening within your space or with your customer spending / customers new habits that you need to address and refactor 
  4. Are we in the place to accelerate growth?  
    Hint >> Find where you have some seeds planted with small bits of traction and question how much water we might need to get it to grow or where we might place more resources to really take this to the next level. Anything with say 6/10 traction is already in plan and in flight and often causes confusion if you push too hard on what people are already aware of. 
  5. What two areas of the business are struggling most and what is the next quarter plan to address these or remove these?
    Hint >>  This could be from a hiring perspective, this could be from a retention POV or could be performance related and if you might need to:
    keep (the activities that are doing well but could do with some extra attention),
    kill (stop the work on it, it won’t work again),
    cure (optimise or tweak elements of existing tactics or plans)
    or copy (copy features or styling) from others. 

If you cannot answer these questions easily, consider building management pods for ownership and tackle these together with their teams.

This week’s focus action is to add these five points to your next management or leadership meeting and help to progress the company forward.

Thanks and have a great week and I’ll see you with one of my favourite newsletters to date, titled 3-3-3. 

Danny Denhard

Recommended 5 Essential Must Reads For This Week

>> Strategy is baking a better cake

>> Annual Strategy Template

>> Strategy Cheatsheet

>> WTF is strategy really?

>> Your Infected MOAT Is An Internal Disease

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 132 – 22 Leadership Lessons From 2022

Dear Leaders, every year I write a dedicated newsletter from lessons to take the year closing. This year is no different, with 22 lessons and lessons to learn from. 

The 22 are from conversations with company leaders, department leads struggling or parts of AMA or talks I have given to companies through 2022. 

Where there are free frameworks or supporting guides I have linked, so do click through, download and apply internally.  

Bad Practises 

  1. PR Not Leadership: Leadership PR became a political tool both externally and internally, with very few coming out looking good. Especially helping their internal teams with mass layoffs.
    > Lesson to learn: If you have been told to use spin and PR, learn how to use and when to use otherwise it will blow up in your face. 
  2. Bad Leadership 101: Elon Musk highlighted what is wrong with outdated management ideas and approaches. Elon might have numerous fanboys, however, he really isn’t helping his or big tech cause(s).
    > Lesson to learn: Understand what is really needed within your business and provide updates directly to the company and the teams. Any big changes needed to be communicated internally, especially with firing and hiring. 
  3. Professional Ghosting: Ghosting is a real issue within business and many defaults to ghosting because they are not trained to deliver bad news.
    > Lesson to learn: People do not forget bad behaviours, especially from brands they interact with. Deliver bad news or if you have no update you should keep people updated. 
  4. Leadership training or development is not happening: Many are finding leadership is getting harder and without coaching and support it is going to become harder and you will then have more reliance on HR.
    > Lesson to learn: Invest in yourself and spent dedicated time slots where you develop and train. Hire a coach (either yourself or through the business) and develop as a professional and as a manager. 
  5. Over-communication is not smart: Most are not using templates and frameworks to help others improve and keep communication flowing in the right direction.
    > Lesson to learn: Help everyone be smarter, help the teams to develop frameworks and share across the business, stop bad meetings early and have detailed agendas to help everyone align.
    Request my group meeting template here 
  6. Lack Of Effective Planning: Many business leaders this year have fed back that their planning has not been and is not effective and often is ignored by April. Effective planning and understanding of what strategy is and is not, is imperative. Strategy is understanding what you are not going to do and packaging strategy so everyone understands and uses as the compass is the difference between a list of tactics and tick box exercises and a strategy that departments (and the teams) can build their annual plans into.
    > Lesson to learn: Whatever your planning cycle is truly understand your beliefs, the bets you will make from your informed beliefs and build into pillars so these act as important navigation points when people feel like they need to challenge these. 

Hybrid Working 

  1. Same Office Same Bad Environment: The office is a place where most didn’t redesign, change or make a place for collaboration – this has led to default to bad behaviours and many not wanting to go into the office. 
    > Lesson to learn: Improve your office environment to produce the best environment to work in for everyone, tailor your office design for library rules, collaboration stations or areas and remove the friction of meeting rooms create. 
  2. “Proximity Is Power”: Proximity bias is still a real issue for many, particularly for middle managers and untrained managers who did not enjoy forced working from home.  
    > Lesson to learn: Embrace hybrid work, understand the cadence you need to check in with your team members and ensure you fully commit to the 1:2:1’s and look to book in sessions where you as the leader can meet up in person. An organised or arranged coffee together or grab a lunch together in person will help rather than forcing people into the office.  
  3. Old Habits Don’t Die: Conditioning runs deep, old habits beat out new habits as it was easier to conform than inform and improve work 
    > Lesson to learn: Create a list of old habits and new habits and review them as a leadership team and say which are rewarded behaviours and that are bad behaviours. Call these out and create leadership principles to take ownership and hold the leadership team accountable. 
  4. Hybrid Work For Most: Hybrid is a work in progress and most did not drive change when embracing hybrid work, many reporting it doesn’t work for them. Whereas the real issue is when there is a divide between those who go into the office and those who don’t regularly, you create a tiered system, this has to be removed and difficult choices will have to be made by the leader to embrace hybrid work or look to place in the structure.  
    > Lesson to learn: Remove the “them vs us” with hybrid work, you either have to embrace it and create structure and guidelines or you reduce it down and have firmer companywide guidelines. Those who decide you are 3 in +2 or 4 in +1  you will likely see this impact you when hiring and especially in core areas like Engineering, Product and Marketing. 
  5. Real Time Everything: Real-time work and meetings are default hindering time to get work done. This has created busy as a badge of honour and stolen hours of time and working time from colleagues. Especially those with pressing deadlines.
    > Lesson to learn: Remove the demand for attention to every meeting, remove having to work in real-time and in person and move to async work that enables more thoughtful work and collaboration across schedules and time zones.  
  6. Async Is Not Happening: Asynchronous work has been ignored by the majority of companies. For years many companies have struggled to invest in training to help move people towards writing documentation to help those around them, aysnc work and creating documentation is often a very different operating system. Many have become so accustomed to having working meetings they struggle to work more effectively within documents and canvasses.
    > Lesson to learn: Really audit your time in meetings and work out how much time you are wasting in real-time status updates and trying to force working sessions into meetings, this can be done async and have documentation to improve future campaigns and refer back to. They also will have the opportunity to run before-action review and after-action reviews, constantly improving work and approach to work. 
  7. Playbookless: There is no template or playbook for many companies to copy-and-paste with hybrid or remote first work so it became the wild west for many companies. Companies need to own hybrid to make it work for them. Assign an owner and build into company culture
    > Lesson to learn: Build out playbooks and templates for your people and teams to roll out and introduce cross-functionally, without this many will see essential work streams take longer and negatively impact the business 

Coaching 

  1. Confidence Low: Throughout my coaching, confidence is at an all-time low and many do not know what is going to work – this is something we can work on and have small wins to help rebuild. If you are a confidence low or dropped lately, find out what you can do to improve performance or ask for feedback on something you and your team have delivered that had a true impact 
    > Lesson to learn: Confidence changes throughout the year, especially towards the end of the year, work on positively influencing your own confidence and teams around you, and build up collective confidence with small wins and micro moments
  2. No Actual Strategy: Many Department leads do not know how to build a plan and connect it to the company goals. Many leads struggle to build a plan that sparks inspiration throughout the team, especially when pushed on why are we doing this. Build out your beliefs, bets and pillars, this will help your team to buy in and see a why when they are told performance is falling behind   
    > Lesson to learn: Not everything can be a strategy, not every department should have their own strategy, they should have their departmental and team plans that roll up into strategy not just a list of tactics
  3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Many CEOs struggle with repeating the same x pillars to keep the teams on track, and many struggle to be confident in their plan that flows through the organisation 
    > Lesson to learn: Each year and every quarter create a schedule to replay and repeat your strategic pillars and why they are important. Don’t wait for quarterly events, be a little ad-hoc, vary the channel of comms to enforce the message. When you are bored of being bored about repeating these, know you have to change the words to make this stick. If the teams cannot repeat it and make a little joke about it you aren’t doing it enough. 

Culture  

  1. Bad Behaviours = Culture: Bad behaviours have crept back into the office and hybrid work, especially in working sessions that are disguised as meetings; with no or bad agendas, no explanation of why this is a meeting, what success looks like etc  
    > Lesson to learn: Remove bad behaviours and roll out change with meeting agendas, tell people why they are part of meetings and what type of session or meeting this is.
    Request access to my personal guide 
  2. Remember Culture Never Stops Evolving: Many are finding out that Culture is always on, always evolving, not a workstream that has to be managed, understood regularly and checked in on   
    > Lesson to learn: Have a culture community manager, ideally away from HR that is trusted and can feel the change happening and helps to shape and reshape culture. 
  3. Bad Tech = Bad Progress: Many are defaulting to old and bad technology and are force fitting to work in old ways not finding better software for hosting workshops etc 
    > Lesson to learn: Stop blaming old tech and bad tech choices for force-fitting old behaviours into existing tools. It is time to review your tools and toolkits and either invest or remove bad use cases and bring in better tools for the jobs to be done. 
  4. Burnout Happening Everywhere: Burnout is a continuing theme many are not addressing and refuse to get to the root cause. Most leaders experience this more often than they realise and the negative impact is huge.  
    Lesson to learn: Stop making burnout something people do not know exists and stop relying on mental health apps. Burnout is a much bigger theme within all businesses, be smarter and get ahead by building programs around the triggers.
    > Learn from Burnout Coach Anish Hallan on addressing why mental health cannot be a perk and ways to address it 
  5. Misselling Perks Business: “Perk-based culture” has died for almost all companies and many haven’t attempted to address this and actually reconsidered what company culture is and is not
    > Lesson to learn: Although perks are an important part of differentiating many companies, perks = culture ideology has to stop and stop from being pushed from the HR and management teams. Learn to grow your company culture, look at how you can be different and better and grow up as a business as the perks as culture movement is going to limit companies progression and stop internal hiring referrals  
  6. Time Is Being Stolen: Time is precious, we are told this from a young age, yet many are struggling with time management and many leaders have influenced those around them that sitting in meetings is work and a good use of time. Meeting Recovery Syndrome (MRS) also impacts how time is spent or wasted post-meetings. The ripple effect is much bigger than people realise. Your time is your time, learn to time block or remove bad recurring meetings, poorly planned working sessions and over-emphasis in real-time status updates that only add value to one of the people joining the meeting. This also happens when people believe slack or teams chat is work 
    > Lesson to learn: Remove your time being added into your calendar that doesn’t have agendas, remove recurring meetings that add no value to you and the business and reduce other people’s frustration when you are not caught up with performance as you have not prepared or looked at their updates. Hint: If you want a new years resolution, you should consider scoring every meeting and understand how useful it was for you and the attendees. 

Thanks for reading again this year and I look forward to adding more value to your day every week.

Danny Denhard

Focus Frameworks to check out 

One Problem Two Solutions Framework – how to frame problems and pitch the solution and a backup solution 

Companywide Decision Document & Framework – how to explain decisions to the company and receive better questions on decisions made by leadership 

Get To Know Each Other Framework – struggling to get to truly know your team or colleagues, this will help set a base of questions and understand others’ triggers 

25 Meetings Recommendation – How to optimise and improve your meetings within your business 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 116 – Go Back To Basics

Dear leaders, you would be surprised how many businesses are struggling with who they are, what they should be offering and why they should be offering their product or services. 

In recent weeks, I have spoken to a number of CEOs and Marketing leads and they are at a crossroads, unsure if they are in the right market, messaging the right way and actually adding value. 

Something I recommend all businesses to go through is a super simple six-question process. 

This is something I typically run through right at the beginning of workshops but in this current climate and the number of fears people have, here are the six questions you will want to visit and gain alignment over. This is particularly useful if you are due a long-range planning meeting or you have your annual operating plan meeting coming up. 

You would have seen iterations of these questions in popular business canvas, something to keep in mind, canvas are completed and then forgotten about, this is why you should record the decision-making process and then summarise at the end of the session (importantly remember to add this to your decision document

(And yes, these are deliberately simple to make you think and revisit your core fundamental beliefs and you have to answer these questions in order 1 down to 6) 

  1. Problems: What are the top 3 problems you are actually solving? 
  2. Needs Solving: Why are these problems solving your customer’s needs? 
  3. Customers: Who are the target customers? 
  4. Selling Problem Solves: How are you actually selling the problems you’re solving? 
  5. Unique: What are you uniquely offering? 
  6. Find: How are customers going to find or discover you? 

Something to keep in mind, these questions are deliberately simple questions to focus business leads, the more simple the questions are, the better the answers tend to be, the trick with this exercise is to ensure it fits on one a3 piece of paper and the document to act as a compass moving forward. 

So this week, your action plan: plan this session with your leadership team and even give the 6 questions a go and see where you land, if you cannot answer these questions I would suggest you really drive this session forward as quickly as possible (if not everyone can answer this the same way you have a real alignment issue)

Thanks and have a great week ahead, 

Danny Denhard

Essential Reading For The Week Ahead