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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Is there Gain without Pain in Strategic Planning?

We’re almost through the first month of 2020, and many of us may have already given up on the gym. But not all goals can be dropped so easily. Like getting (or keeping) your business in shape. That’s one you’re probably determined to stick to.

Like hitting the gym though, strategic planning has a reputation for being rather painful. There are sensitivities between departments. Competing priorities. Challenges building consensus. And baking buy-in into the plan is always easier said than done. All of these things can not only slow down the strategic planning process, they can grind it to a halt.

But the fear of pain is no reason to avoid tackling your plan head-on. Because let’s face it. With no plan at all, you’re just inviting a whole different dose of pain. So, what’s the solution?

The answer all comes down to approach. Having worked with everyone from small non-profits to some of Canada’s largest corporations, I can tell you that the pain...

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Top Tried-and-True Tips for Better Strategic Planning in 2020

We’ve taken on our fair share of corporate strategic planning retreats over the past few years, and we’ve learned a lot doing it. One thing I can say unequivocally is that doing it right is tough.

You have limited time. Participants often come with their own agenda. And corporate sore points often creep into the discussion and bog things down.

But there are a few tried and true tips we always stick to when developing our strategic planning workshop. Together they help guarantee we keep on track and build a plan both on-time and on point. Here are our top three as we head into 2020:

1) Focus on Only a Few Priorities

You can’t boil the ocean. And you can’t be the best at everything. So pick your lane. Working on achieving just a few key priorities are more than enough to level up your 2020. We like three as a number, but it’s okay to have four if it’s really called for. As long as you have the resources to focus on them correctly and build...

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Going From Complex to Clear with Frameworks

As leaders, we spend a lot of time explaining things. Very often those things get lost in translation which results in squandered time and money while also causing frustration amongst team members.

I have yet to find anything more valuable than the use of frameworks to quickly communicate concepts and processes. At its most basic, a framework is a simple structure that represents the “how” of a process that leads to a result. (Bonus points for being able to illustrate it visually!)

Two key words above are “simple” and “result”. I have seen more than one framework that looked like the map for the Tokyo Metro. Unless your audience is all engineers, you’re not likely to get a positive response. You need to begin by breaking it down into the essential steps. If you have a tendency to get lost in detail, just going through this exercise is an excellent way to force yourself to identify what truly matters.

As for result, it needs to follow a...

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