Volume 2   |   Number 2   |   February 2014
Happy Valentine's Day!

gatsby partyLast month, I was fortunate to attend the Adaptive Insights (formerly Adaptive Planning) Partner conference in Las Vegas. Although I'm luckier at the buffet table than the blackjack table, it was an opportunity to meet, greet and learn about the company's new product strategy. The first evening of the conference was reserved for a Gatsby party - the attendees were advised to dress accordingly.

Now, a Gatsby party mid-winter in Las Vegas is about as far spiritually and culturally as you can get from a summer's day in West Egg, Long Island. Even so, I channeled my best Leo DiCaprio and decided to pick up a few traditional 1920's-themed items in order to dress the part.

With time short, I skidooed online to Amazon to purchase the necessary accoutrements. Ironically, when the items arrived a week later, and much to my amusement, everything was made in China, including the American flag-themed bow tie!

My Amazon experience reminded me how the need for speed continues to reorient the business landscape. How do companies keep apace in this "Fast and Furious" environment?

Bob Katz, President
Financial Analysis and Control Technology Services LLC (F.A.C.T.S.)

 I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
- Will Rogers
On Feb. 25 and 26th, the entrepreneurial finalists for the Winter-2014 class at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox will be presenting their final pitches for the chance to win prizes and woo potential investors. Come join the excitement at 175 Cabot Street, Lowell between 5:30pm and 8:30 pm each night.

An excellent book that disputes the established notion of competitive advantage and offers practical ways to develop and sustain organization agility to accelerate your business model is "The End of Competitive Advantage" by Rita Gunther McGrath.

The Need for Speed
Speed manifests itself in many ways:
  • Product development cycles get compressed to introduce new technologies and stay ahead of the competition;
  • Startup's are advised to advance "minimum viable products" to the marketplace so they can "fail quickly;"
  • Profitable market niches or advantages are quickly identified and attacked by competitors seeking to gain market share.
For consumers, quick response and speedy delivery are often the primary reasons for doing business at all, as demonstrated recently by Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, who apparently intends to use drones to deliver goods within 30 minutes of the time they're ordered. (Walmart, watch your head!)

But speed can kill if you're not watching where you're going. Much as the marching band crashed into a brick wall by blindly following the leader in the movie Animal House, companies often chase the market leader with me-too products and services, without much differentiation or chance for real market success.

And so with that cautionary tale in mind, and if your company or organization needs to get faster, here's just a few things you might do to shift to a higher gear:
  1. Introduce a systematic "innovation process" to continuously evaluate market opportunities to create strategic options, support your core businesses or build new businesses
  1. Employ a continuous business planning environment for management and organization alignment, resource allocation and ongoing performance assessments against objectives.
  1. Engage your entire organization rather than just a few individuals in these processes to gather new, diverse ideas for change and to create an innovation culture.
  1. Start small by introducing a couple of ideas to learn how to use the tools and change processes and reinvest in the ideation experience.
Sir Issac Newton's (who knew a bit about speed) First Law states that it's easier to accelerate once you're moving than from a standing still position. The trick then, is to start moving in the first place, lest you become an easy target for a falling apple (and your competitors).

P.S. Speaking of speed, congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on their first Super Bowl win - a dominating performance!

About Us: With our unique insights and expertise, F.A.C.T.S. provides practical, cost-effective solutions to clarify and execute your business vision and objectives.
F.A.C.T.S. LLC  |  info@factservices.com  |  www.factservices.com
Phone: 508.353.3571  |  Fax: 978.841.7910  |  P.O. Box 1574  |  Concord, MA 01742

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