Volume 12 Number 2 - February 6, 2014


The Finish Strong® monthly e-newsletter is for business leaders who recognize Operations as a strategic function that creates competitive advantage, profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace.

These brief articles, list of events, and amended quote will make you think.
Go ahead: test us


Business book authors, especially university types, often seem focused on keeping up with the Joneses. One writes an interesting take on a concept or describes a new one, and others quickly fall in line, striving to ensure their insights are even more breathtaking. After all, catch phrases sell books. But let's consider the cream of the crop and call this thought leadership followed by thought enhancement.

Innovation is certainly one of those concepts. Good books on the topic have been available for many decades, including de Bono's 1981 Six Thinking Hats and Drucker's 1985 Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Yet it was Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma in 1997 that propagated the notion of the critical role of innovation in corporate success and failure.

Despite the thousands of books and articles about innovation published since 1997, executive suite focus on the topic has only recently mushroomed.

The concept of critical mass, as old the science of innovation, applies. The proof? "Innovation" has reached buzzword status.

But that status doesn't make innovation any less valuable in impacting the standard of living, in determining which organizations fail and which succeed, and in solving socioeconomic conundrums.

The focus on innovation in many companies is only slow arriving, not passe. There are other developing concepts of import. If you are serious about innovative thinking, be open to them now.


While I certainly don't encourage wasting time arguing over the definitions of mission, vision, objectives, strategy, tactics or other similar terms, there is a logical flow in figuring out what to do. Call each element what you choose, but understand that strategy (big picture) must guide tactics (implementation), and not the reverse.

As much as I hate to admit it, someone else has verbalized a very simplistic explanation for the sequence:

"Don’t let the tail wag the dog. Start with the brand promise. That leads to positioning. Which leads to messaging. Strategy then follows. The tactics will fall into place."—Andrew Stanten

Mr. Stanten appears to be a marketing strategist, and I believe his reference to strategy and tactics refers to the marketing side of a business. My interpretation is, of course, on the operations side.

As our website describes, Fulcrum ConsultingWorks increases client profitability through operations strategy development and implementation. "In short, we help companies both large and small deliver their brand promise."

Brand Promise can only be described by taglines and messaging; it exists in performance. Operations strategy prioritizes and defines the boundaries of tactics that impact performance, and therefore the market's experience of brand promise.

Spend marketing dollars on activities that will increase market presence, but realize that investment in delivering brand promise must occur in Operations.


The Starting Pistol
Vince Lombardi:
"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

The Tape
Rebecca Morgan:
"Respect each person you meet who is good at what s/he does, or who is working hard to become good; after all, none of us were born excellent at anything of value except being cute."

If you know a company — customer, supplier, friend, or your own — that could benefit
from improved operations, let us know.

Your best interest is our best interest.


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