The value of a one-page plan

A leap is required whenever you start any new project, initiative, or business; you can’t possibly know everything before diving in. However, there are some simple ways to “look before you leap” to spot potential hazards with a small amount of upfront planning.

In 2010, I first discovered the concept and value of planning on a single page through the book “Business Model Generation” by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. It was in this book that the authors introduced the now well-known Business Model Canvas. 

Unlike typical text-heavy and overly tedious business plans, the Business Model Canvas represents a quick, thoughtful, and visual way to get the entire vision of a business on a single page. These features make the creation of a canvas a lot of fun. Whereas the same can seldom be said about the creation of a typical business plan.

The canvas consists of nine elements that allow you to quickly get an overview of what a business or initiative...

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How do you assess your organization’s change readiness?

How do you assess your organization’s change readiness?

One of my favorite books is “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. Though it is positioned as the “onboarding bible” for executive leaders, the book also includes excellent insight into strategy formulation and implementation more broadly.

One of the frameworks Watkins puts forth is his STARS Model. In effect, the model allows you to get clear on the “lay of the land.” This clarity is essential because if you jump into proposing significant changes before doing this foundational analysis, you will likely encounter resistance from the individuals you are expecting to implement these changes.

Whether you have led your team for a while, were recently promoted or transferred internally, or are stepping into a new organization, STARS allows you to answer two key questions: 

  1. What change am I being called upon to lead?
  2. What type of leader must I be to lead this change?

STARS is an...

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How a non-profit successfully achieves strategic realignment

What does it take to bring about an organization's strategic realignment? In this episode of Toughest Call, Scott Skinner, CEO of Clean Foundation, talks about how he and his team strategically repositioned their organization to heighten its impact. Scott takes us through how he initially positioned this strategic pivot for success, and then kept it on course, during execution.

Scott Skinner: We had really great, well-educated, competent people that could take on complex projects, so I saw this, I was like, I need to apply these people to their highest and best use. So that may require a pivot.

Chaz Thorne: Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call, a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues about career-defining decisions. I'm your host, Chaz Thorne. 

In this episode, I'm talking with the CEO of Clean Foundation, Scott Skinner, about how he and his team strategically repositioned...

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How do you navigate a toxic business relationship?

How do you navigate a toxic business relationship?

Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in a partnership, team, or company where something isn’t quite gelling.

But sometimes, that situation turns from uncomfortable to toxic when there’s a conflict in values.

In her episode of the Toughest Call podcast, Dr. Dianne Tyers, the Dean of the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development at Dalhousie University, talks about her experience confronting this situation as a partner in a consulting business. After years of cultivating clients and achieving financial success, she found herself grappling with the strain the partnership was putting on her values.

As a strategic planner, I’ve seen that organizations have no problem coming up with a list of stated values.

The challenge is that sticking to them means some very real short or medium-term pain.

Despite the enormous financial hit, Dianne stuck with her gut and her values and ended the partnership.

Though the road...

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A strategy for vetting business partnerships

How do we assess whether a partner is a good fit beyond a typical, surface-level analysis? In this episode of Toughest Call, Dr. Dianne Tyers talks about her decision to end a business partnership that would have a significant impact on her company’s revenue for several years.

Though she was an entrepreneur at the time she made this tough call, Dianne is now Dean of the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development at Dalhousie University. She shares what she learned about the importance of ensuring you share the values of an individual or organization before you enter into a partnership.

Dianne Tyers: I got to the point where I need to be true to who I am, I need to be true to the values under which I established this organization that I'm running, and I just need to make this decision.

Chaz Thorne: Welcome back, or welcome to Toughest Call, a podcast for organizational leaders where we hear stories from your leadership colleagues...

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Focus7 framework: A clear process for organizations to achieve growth goals

How do you know when it’s time to accelerate your organization’s growth?

Making the “go/no-go” decision whether to expand is something many leaders struggle with.

Though there are some extremely inspiring stories of organizations achieving amazing growth, there are many more where poorly timed or thought-out moves resulted in significant losses.

Suzie Yorke is the Founder of Love Good Fats, a snacks company that experienced unprecedented success very soon after launch. In her episode of the Toughest Call podcast, Suzie talks about the thought process she went through when she was presented with a huge growth opportunity while still a relatively new company.

If you’re facing a similar tough call on how to grow your organization, there is an excellent book that may help you with your own thought process.

Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused Growth” is written by Sanjay Khosla and Mohanbir Sawhney. I met them both while...

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Planning a career move? Three key tips for a successful strategy

Whether you’re switching jobs, changing careers, or transitioning into retirement, a few guiding principles can make all the difference in your success.

In the latest episode of The Toughest Call podcast, Rishad Tobaccowala, futurist, and author of "Restoring the Soul of Business," shares how he approached his shift into something completely different.

In this video analysis, Chaz Thorne discusses Rishad's guiding principles for a successful career move.

After 30 plus years of building a career as a leader within Publicis, the third-largest global communications group, Rishad decided it was time for him to take on a new challenge.

With the decision to leave already made, he then switched to HOW he would leave and broke that process down into three guiding principles:

  1. Consult people you trust
  2. Make an elegant exit
  3. Practice patience with yourself

Consult people you trust

Consult people in your professional network about your plans for the future. They may have done...

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Looking for buy-in on your new strategy? Don’t just start with words. Start with data.

Sooner or later, every business finds itself at a crossroads. Adapt or die, as they say. For many companies, that push for change has been dramatically accelerated by COVID.

Over 28 years ago, Dave Reeve founded a tech company called InvestorCOM that provides compliance technology for the wealth management industry. 

Even in an industry where change is relatively slow, it was apparent to Dave that he’d need to dramatically change his business if he was to adapt to the changing times. More specifically, Dave would have to let go of the business model he’d honed for nearly three decades and switch from a service model to a software model. And this move would mean lost jobs for some long-standing employees.

Armed with a deep understanding of where the business was headed, he chose to pivot. But the most challenging part wasn’t making the actual choice. It was stick-handling the fallout with employees and carving out a plan to get them behind the new direction.


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Getting Down from the Ledge: Why Overcoming Fear is Critical for Forging the Right Strategy

We all have moments of paralyzing fear when the stakes of making the wrong decision seem gut-wrenchingly high. John Bourke, President of the Business Excellence Institute, knows that feeling well.

John recently shared a story with us about the moment he had to make a decision that could not only change his life but potentially end it. 

On a mountain climbing trip with his brother and his father, he found himself just short of the peak, on a six-inch ledge, and looking down at a 2km drop. Awaiting him on the other side was an overhang that he’d have to climb over with spider-like skill to reach his goal. 

It was a challenge John was nowhere near prepared for. Too far past his skill level. And far too dangerous. 

“I remember thinking very clearly, ‘I just can’t do this. Even though we’ve completed 75% of the climb, I’m brave enough to admit I'm just not up for this.’”

So, with his pulse racing, he made one of the most...

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The Lockdown that Saved Nova Scotia: Why Every Tough Strategy Needs Trust

Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health in Nova Scotia, on Episode 1 of the Toughest Call podcast.

When North America first started getting wind of a possible pandemic, no one quite knew the right course of action. 

Many in government wanted to watch and wait. Some were convinced we’d already outsmarted the virus. And still others thought the whole thing was simply exaggerated — just another variation of the flu.

While the public may not have known its extent, the urgency to “do something” was extremely pressing within Nova Scotia’s inner political circles. With catastrophic evidence pouring in from COVID-ravaged countries overseas, there was no time for public consultation. 

There was only time to act.

And act, they did. 

Under the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia completely shut down. No school. No restaurants. No offices. It was a lockdown like no one had ever seen before. And Nova...

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