Welcome to this week’s Premier Business Operations newsletter…

Hope that the first week of 2011 has been good for you, your business and that the year is off to a good start for you.  Before I get into this week’s newsletter, I just wanted to remind readers that previous editions can be found online at https://premierbusinessoperations.wordpress.com/ or alternatively by going to the Premier Business Operations website:  www.premier-business-operations.com.

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a friend of mine in Oklahoma.  Doug has been a business owner, running a small print shop in Tulsa for over twenty years.  He was curious that the majority of my newsletters and Facebook posts have revolved around developing a business or marketing strategy or plan and not enough about execution.  His thought was that execution and agility in business is just as valuable is not more so in growing a successful business.  As you may guess, this struck a chord with me and inspired me to alter my original plan for this week’s newsletter.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a love of history and more specifically military history.  From that perspective, I have sometimes viewed running a business in the same vein as a military operation.  A couple examples of the importance of such agility come to mind…

  • The famous WW 2 invasion of Normandy, better known as D-Day.  This military operation that ultimately led to the defeat of the Third Reich was first noted in a memo written by Winston Churchill in May 1942, with tactical planning ensuing in August 1943.  Of course, the actual invasion occurred June 6, 1944 over two years after Churchill first drafted his memoWhile the amount of planning was immense, consuming hundreds of thousands of man hours and millions of dollars, true success has long been attributed to the officers and NCOs on the beach that were able to adapt to their surroundings while not necessarily following the plan to the letter.  While goals were still kept in mind, such as the capture of Cherbourg, the route getting there was not exactly per plan.  The attributes of agility and execution proved to be on a par with sound strategic planning.
  • Training of artillery gun operators.  During his military career, my brother in law Bill while stationed in Germany was charged with training junior officers and NCOs in the operation of various pieces of artillery.  About ten years ago, Bill described to me some of his experiences in this job and one in particular still stands out to me.  When Bill first entered the military, it was imperative to be able to use a combination of small printed tables and arithmetic to calculate where to aim the weapon.  Such calculations took into account the range of the target, wind direction and speed and even the rotation of the earth.  Of course in the modern military, all artillery is computer operated and the need to manually calculate has gone away.  But as Bill pointed out to me, “what happens when the shooting starts and the computer is knocked out or fails to work?”  The soldier just can’t sit there and not fire.  He must adapt to his surroundings and execute or surrender – not an enviable position.  To Bill’s credit, he realized that overreliance on technology could be detrimental to the goals and insisted that his trainees mastered the manual technique of sighting and aiming such weapons.

 

So what does all of this military talk have to do with operating a business?  A couple of takeaways come to mind:

  • The need for a business owner to be aware of their surroundingsAt a large scale, this may equate to GM not foreseeing the Asian automakers overtaking the auto industry over a 30 year period.  On a smaller scale, this may is be a restaurateur underestimating the impact to his business after finding out that a new upscale restaurant is opening-up across the street 2 months from now.  Recognizing the changing environment and then being able to quickly adapt to these changes are two of the keys to survival for the small business owner.
  • The need for the business owner to understand their customers’ needs and buying habits Many companies such as Amazon and Wal-Mart have made it their business to understand their customers, having invested in the capture and analysis of customer information.  For example, the simple purchase of shampoo at Wal-Mart that was paid for by credit card provides them with the customer’s sex, age, home address, possibly favorite brand of shampoo, etc.  Combining this information with other data helps Wal-Mart adjust everything related to hygiene products such as pricing, promotion, product placement in their store, etc.  In fact Wal-Mart has become so sophisticated in their product promotion that they have even gone to the extremes of changing the piped in music or altering the store lighting since their research has indicated that they can alter customer buying behavior.  If you don’t have an understanding of your customers, how can you possibly meet their needs?
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Premier Business Operations has the ability to help you better understand your surroundings by implementing a system to capture customer data or to help you analyze the volumes of data that may have been captured for you by such a system.  To find out more about how Premier Business Operations can help you follow the road to success, please visit our website at www.premier-business-operations.com or contact us at information@premier-business-operations.com

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