January 31, 2018

Ever had one of those “Oh, rats!” product alignment moments?

Evolving Your Offering Part 1In the past year, I’ve worked with two different clients who were trying to move beyond the offering/product upon which their organizations were built.

Most of the time this isn’t as easy as making a u-turn and continuing down the road. After all, successful organizations are built on beliefs and purpose and their products and services reflect those deeply held principles.

So, before you actually get to the place where you sunset one product and introduce another or make investments in a new area, the successful company spends time in assessment, discussion and evaluation.

My clients wanted to be mindful of the legacy of their offerings, but at the same time they needed to be clear-eyed about future profitability and sustainability.

In each case, there was a structured approach to assessing the current situation, determining what would be successful in the future and then planning the strategies to move the organization to that next level.


How do you know whether or not you need a strategic advisor to help you align your product/service offering?

As the leader of your organization, you might see yourself in the client examples I shared. Perhaps you’re even having conversations with your team about future viability of your offering right now. Or, maybe your revenue or sales numbers are telling you that your offering is no longer addressing your customers’ pain points. If any of this is true, it’s time to take action.

Encourage your team to regularly ask themselves – what problem is our product/service solving?

This analysis encourages you to see your offering from your customer’s perspective. Is that problem still acute for the customer? Is your offering still relevant?

Many organizations need an advisor who has worked with dozens of clients on these issues to quickly recognize patterns and themes to facilitate the assessment phase. An advisor has the benefit of having worked with many clients in your field, at your stage, and can look at your situation from many different viewpoints (operator, investor, board member).

January 31, 2018

New Series: Aligning Your Offering

Finding the Ideal Product/Service FitMost organizations would consider their product or service to be customer-focused. But what does that really mean?

And how do you know if the offering that you’ve had for a while is still aligned with what the market needs?

There are several approaches used by organizations to align their offering to make it more customer-centric:

Some organizations believe in the power of their vision to create a great product or service and they double down on that concept. They spend all their time and resources selling and delivering what they believe is the right offering to the market.

Some organizations talk to their customers, grantees, donors to learn what they want from their organization and then build a roadmap for an offering that addresses those needs. Their product is customer-responsive yet adheres to their overarching organizational philosophy.

Still other organizations bend over backwards to accommodate every customer need and pain point and align their offering with that data. They bob and weave and react to feedback, operating under the theory that doing what the customer wants is always right.

This quarter, From the Desk of Your CAO will share several examples of our work with clients as they tried to figure out how to strike the right customer-focused balance in their offering mix – STARTING NOW with the first article in the series, Ever had one of those “Oh, rats!” product alignment moments? 

My hope is that you might recognize your own organization in these stories and reach out to Your Chief Action Officer to have a discussion to help you assess, understand and act to align your offering with your customers to build a strong, sustainable organization.

December 13, 2017

Advice for 2018 from Ann’s Network of Top Business Leaders

Ann shares leadership advice from her high-profile network of Baltimore's most respected leadersGreat organizations do more than deliver a great product or mission. It’s not just about providing a good customer experience or decreasing costs and increasing profits.

Great organizations, the ones that people want to support, work for and fund, they do all those things – and they also do something else.

They install strong, effective leaders.

Leaders who not only can put together a winning strategy, but who can communicate that strategy effectively and, perhaps most importantly, get people to work together and follow them to execute.

I’m always interested in learning how leaders set strategy, take action and get results in their organizations. So as I look ahead to 2018, I reached out to those leaders in my network who are getting it right day after day after day. I asked them:

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to organizational leaders in 2018?

Here’s what 10 of them had to say about leading more powerfully and effectively in the new year: Read full article