6 Steps to “Iron Dome” Your Business

It is the belief of every business owner or leader to operate their business so that it is invincible to business threat conditions.  However, it is easier to believe or wish this than to execute it as a strategy.

I compare the objective of this belief to the Iron Dome missile defense system that Israel turned from idea to reality and then deployed it in 2011.  This system is capable of engaging incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells targeting population areas. Although not 100% effective it has proven to intercept as many as 90% of the rockets launched.

What if you could intercept and successfully eliminate incoming threats to your business 90% of the time.  You may believe you already have a business model capable of that performance but I suspect that unless you are the market leader you are less than 90% successful.

Here are at least 6 steps that you can take to “Iron Dome” your business.

  1. Strategic Plan
      1. It is important for every business to have a strategic plan that defines the vision of the business and the strategic/tactical measures necessary to drive the business toward the vision.  The degree to which the plan is believable is how realistic the alignment of resources (financial, core competence, equipment, etc.) to accomplish the plan objectives.
      2. Without a plan it is difficult to measure progress of your strategic objectives and whether or not the investment in the business is producing the desired results to grow and sustain the business.
      3. A plan places the resources of the company in a forward leaning position to accomplish objectives of value.  The plan enables business leadership to consistently communicate the direction of the business to customers, business partners and employees.
      4. A vision with a believable plan in place allows the business to be more strategic to its customers, offering value designed to increase the strategic value of the customer, which allows them to ask more for their products and services.

     

  2. Products / Services that Solve a Real Problems
      1. Businesses start by solving a problem that no one else does or does well.  As the business grows there is a tendency to stray from designing products to solve what the customer needs to what the company wants to sell.
      2. This creates an artificial market that may be viable while an economy is growing but during a downside will prove to be weak as customers become prudent buyers, unconvinced by marketing hype searching for the best value for their purchasing dollars.

     

  3. Competitive Customer Experience
      1. If we examine our own personal shopping preferences we find that we shop where we are comfortable, trust that we will be well served, feel that we are being offered true value, and know that the business will back up the products they sell and make things right if there is a defect.
      2. Can your customers say this about their customer experience with your business?  Is your business sensitive to the customer and do you sample what your competition is doing to keep your offering a step ahead of theirs?
      3. Businesses that have competitive customer experiences constantly survey customers to get their impressions and feedback.  Results are distilled and analyzed to determine what changes or improvements are necessary in the business followed by timely action and effective execution to refresh the customer experience.

     

  4. Commitment to Industry Best Practices
      1. Perpetuating a business requires the ability to manage cost, offer competitive compensation and benefits, provide unequalled quality, customer responsiveness and to reinvent the business model as technology innovation and market dynamics dictate.
      2. To do this proactively requires a commitment to implementing and operating competitive business practices that optimize the performance of the business.  Business practices that provide feedback to department level professional/supervision employees with the authorization to take corrective action.
      3. Executive dashboards that provide operational metrics that measure the efficiency and health of the business and serve as an early warning system of any trends that would jeopardize business performance and service to the customer.

     

  5. Good People
      1. Not enough can be said about the importance of good people and their impact on long-term business performance.
      2. Some might interpret this as only recruiting the best and brightest available in the market but many businesses prosper over time by investing in the development of loyal, long-term, employees.
      3. Including a few skill players as either executives/managers or individual performers is a strategic action to increase the core competency and knowledge base of the organization.
      4. Care should be taken in how the impact of adding professionals from industry affects the culture of the business.  At the end of the day many professionals “move on” and you are left with how they have impacted the organization and culture.
      5. Investing in employees, training and mentoring, giving them responsibility and authority to make decision for the business will develop a trust environment that will strengthen the ability of the business to deal with adversity from economic cycles.

     

  6. Moral Compass
    1. The foundation of a solid business model is the moral compass of the business, otherwise known as the set of ethics and values, which guide the decisions and actions of the business with customers, business partners and employees.  The true measure of the importance of ethics and values is how the business (and its leaders) responds under adversity when called upon to do the right thing, which may impact the bottom line or brand.
    2. Doing the right thing might be:
      1. Pulling product from the market independently upon learning that it may cause a problem and put the customer at risk.
      2. Retaining key employees during economic down cycles when the bottom-line would indicate that they should be released.
      3. Leadership bearing a disproportionately large reduction in compensation when salary reductions are necessary.
    3. The real test is for business ownership and leadership to live out the ethics and values of the business in their personal life when no one is looking.  Business leaders that display a lack of responsibility in their personal lives with behavior inconsistent with the moral compass of the business creates a conflicting and inconsistent environment for employees where trust is valued.

Summary
These are just 6 steps that you can take to “Iron Dome” your business. Are there more? Certainly!  These six measures are comprehensive in their impact on the business. Making constructive progress in completing these six will introduce you to other measures and actions that will further prepare your business to deal with business threats.

The Israel Iron Dome system is not 100% effective.  Your effective implementation of the measures above will not give you 100% protection from business threats. You will, however,  be able to minimize their impact on the business and to also be able to discriminate threats from those that are dangerous from those that may not cause harm at all and fall safely into unoccupied ground.

Be aggressive and build your Iron Dome; develop your organization to effectively deal with business threats and prosper for the long-term..

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