I find that most productivity hints and tips suggest good practices that we should be doing. Reversing this, perhaps there are some things that we should absolutely not be doing and this has lead to creating The Don’t Do model.
Simply, this is about identifying things that we do as a part of a normal day that adds no or little value to what we are trying to achieve. Perhaps it is a ‘feel good’ to get many likes on your LinkedIn, or other social posts but are they adding any real value that you trade with your time. In a world brimming with distractions and demands, mastering the art of saying ‘No‘ to certain tasks can be transformative and increase your personal time or space.
This seven step process is designed to be followed sequentially.
Self-reflection is the cornerstone of personal development. This step is about observing your daily activities without judgment to gain awareness of where your time is currently being spent. It’s a discovery phase where patterns of behaviour are noted, providing a baseline for change.
What are my main goals for improving productivity?
Which areas of my life/work do I feel need more focus?
Step 2: Identification of Time-Wasters
With a week’s worth of observations at hand, you will identify the recurring activities that contribute least to your goals. This step is about recognizing the habits that are holding you back so that you can begin to formulate a plan to change them.
You may find it useful to think about
What activities today made me feel unproductive?
Were there any moments when I felt my time could have been better spent?
Step 3: Categorisation
Categorisation helps to organize your identified time-wasters into groups. This step is essential for understanding the nature of your unproductive activities, which can then be addressed with more targeted strategies.
To help think about categories of activity, think about
What categories do these activities fall into (e.g., distractions, low-value tasks)?
How do these categories align with my personal and professional priorities?
Step 4: Prioritisation
Not all unproductive activities are created equal. This step involves prioritising which habits to tackle first, based on their impact on your productivity. This will help create a focused plan of action that yields noticeable improvements in your daily routine.
Which of these activities have the most negative impact on my productivity?
Are there any activities that, while unproductive, might be necessary for my well-being or work-life balance?
Step 5: Creating the ‘Don’t Do’ List
Here, you’ll articulate your ‘Don’t Do’ List, a manifesto of habits to avoid. This step is about commitment; by writing down these activities, you are pledging to yourself to steer clear of habits that lead to unproductive outcomes.
We now come to the crunch. Give yourself some time to work on this and ask yourself
What activities consistently disrupt my focus or productivity? This question helps identify the specific tasks or habits that most frequently derail your productivity. Consider both work-related and personal activities.
Why do I feel the need to engage in these activities? Understanding the underlying reasons why you engage in these unproductive activities is crucial. Is it due to habit, avoidance of more challenging tasks, a desire for distraction, or something else?
How do these activities impact my short-term and long-term goals? Reflect on the ways in which these activities hinder your progress towards your goals. Are they simply time-wasters, or do they have a more profound negative impact on your personal or professional growth?
What positive alternatives to these activities can I can engage in instead? For each activity on your ‘Don’t Do’ List, consider if there’s a more productive or beneficial alternative. For example, instead of checking social media, could you take a short walk or do a quick mindfulness exercise?
How will eliminating or reducing these activities improve my life? Envision the potential benefits and improvements to your daily routine and overall well-being by reducing or eliminating these activities. This can serve as a motivational factor in adhering to your ‘Don’t Do’ List.
Step 6: Implementation Plan
With your ‘Don’t Do’ List in hand, this step is about strategizing how to effectively eliminate or reduce these activities from your daily life. It involves setting practical steps and integrating support systems to ensure these changes are actionable.
For those difficult to break ‘habits’ think about using post it note – perhaps saying ‘remember No PC’ if you wanted to think before ploughing into the day.
Some things to explore
What specific strategies will I use to avoid or limit these activities?
How can I make these changes sustainable and resistant to old habits?
Step 7: Review and Adjust
Progress is not always linear, and this step is your opportunity to reflect on the changes you’ve implemented. It’s a time to celebrate successes, learn from challenges, and make necessary adjustments to your ‘Don’t Do’ List and strategies.
What successes or challenges have I encountered in following my ‘Don’t Do’ List?
How can I adjust my list and strategies for better results?
So there we have it – the don’t do task list. A powerful and dynamic worktool that can change the way you look at and do work.
In today’s digital age, where data breaches and privacy concerns are rampant, clients seeking coaching services are more vigilant than ever about their personal information’s safety. As a client, it’s crucial to understand the measures your coach takes to ensure your confidentiality and privacy in coaching.
This narrative, inspired by the International Coaching Federation Code of Conduct and guidelines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), offers insights into best practices coaches should adopt. This gives the relationship the freedom to explore confidentiality in workplace coaching.
For simplicity, this narrative on confidentiality in life executive coaching is split into four areas. This is driven more from a How do you ensure confidentiality in coaching? rather than a why perspective. We just accept that Why is a given.
Understanding the Confidentiality Agreement
Before you begin your coaching journey, your coach should provide a confidentiality agreement. This document is not just a formality; it’s a testament to the coach’s commitment to safeguarding your information. Ensure you understand the terms and ask questions if anything is unclear. The agreement should specify what is deemed confidential and under what circumstances, if any, this confidentiality might be breached.
Consent for Recordings
If your coach wishes to record sessions, they should seek your explicit written consent beforehand. This consent should detail how the recording will be used, stored, and eventually disposed of. As a client, you have the right to decline such requests if you’re uncomfortable.
Data Storage Solutions
Your coach should use encrypted storage solutions for any electronic records pertaining to your sessions. This encryption ensures that even if data is accessed unlawfully, it remains unreadable.
For physical records, such as handwritten notes, a locked filing cabinet in a secure location is a must. They should also ensure that any notebook that they use does not refer to the client by name and that this notebook is stored securely in transit.
During Coaching Sessions
Choosing the Right Environment
Your coaching sessions should be conducted in a private setting. If sessions are virtual, the location for both coach and client is critical. Avoiding coffee shops is a must and using headphones can prevent eavesdropping. It’s also wise to use encrypted video conferencing tools, which offer an added layer of security against potential hackers (but this is a norm nowadays)
The ICO emphasises the importance of secure communication channels. Your coach should avoid discussing sensitive matters over text unless using encrypted messaging apps. Regular phone calls, emails, or popular messaging apps might not offer the level of security needed to protect your information.
Avoiding Third-party Discussions
One of the cornerstones of the ICF Code of Conduct is the commitment to client confidentiality. Your coach should never discuss your case with third parties, including other clients, without your explicit consent. It could be that your coach decides to share the context of your conversation with their supervisor for further reflection – they should do this whilst keeping the client anonymised.
Disposal of Notes and Recordings
Once your coaching relationship concludes, or if certain documents are no longer needed, your coach should dispose of them securely. Electronic records should be permanently deleted, while paper notes should be shredded. The ICO provides guidelines on secure data disposal, which your coach should be familiar with.
The world of data protection is dynamic, with regulations and best practices evolving. Your coach should regularly review their confidentiality policies, ensuring they align with the latest standards, including the UK’s Data Protection Act and GDPR.
Supervision and Peer Consultation
While coaches might seek supervision or peer consultation, they should do so without revealing your identity. Using pseudonyms or discussing cases in a manner that doesn’t identify the client is crucial.
Your coach should be proactive in staying updated on data protection regulations. The ICO offers resources and guidelines that professionals can use to ensure they’re in compliance.
Outdated software can be a vulnerability. Your coach should ensure that all software, especially communication tools, are regularly updated to benefit from the latest security patches.
Lastly, always maintain open communication with your coach. If you have concerns about your privacy, voice them. A good coach will address these concerns transparently, showcasing the steps they’ve taken to ensure your data’s security.
As a client, you entrust your coach not only with your personal growth but also with your personal information. Understanding the measures they take to protect this trust is crucial. By being informed and proactive, you can ensure a coaching relationship that’s both productive and secure.
All businesses, regardless of their size or industry, thrive on the feedback they receive. It provides a clear vision of what is doing well and what requires improvement. However, the challenge often lies in sourcing feedback that is constructive, appreciative and encouraging, rather than disheartening or demotivating. This is where Appreciative Inquiry (AI) comes into play, using a positive approach to stimulate improvement and progress.
What is Appreciative Inquiry (AI)?
AI is a model that pursues change in human systems, such as groups, organisations, or communities. Coined by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the ’80s, it focuses on identifying what works well in a situation and exploring how this can be enhanced, in contrast to problem-solving methods that focus on what’s wrong or broken and how to fix it.
Analysis of the traditional feedback model would reveal that it is inherently deficit-based. It manoeuvres people to focus on their weaknesses rather than drawing from their strengths. Appreciative Inquiry reimagines this model by viewing feedback from an appreciative lens, emphasising strengths and capabilities. The key appreciative inquiry principles revolve around four stages – Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny, often referred to as the “4D model”.
The ‘Discovery’ phase is about recognising and appreciating the best of ‘what is’. This phase opens the floor for everyone to share thoughts on what is working well. The focus is not on the problems, but the root cause of success.
The ‘Dream’ phase encourages individuals to visualise ‘what could be’. By creating a collective image of the future, stemming from the positive core established in the Discovery phase, a shared vision for the future is born.
In the ‘Design’ phase, participants create ‘what should be’. They construct the ideal from the real, drawing on inspiration from the best of the past and envisioned future to design innovative strategies for achieving the desired future.
Finally, the ‘Destiny’ phase involves making ‘what will be’. It’s here where action steps towards the dream are identified and committed to, thereby consolidating positive change.
Using Appreciative Inquiry in Feedback
AI’s application for feedback can help create a more positive work environment, encourage engagement, and fuel a culture of continuous improvement. By shifting the focal point from ‘problem-solving’ to ‘appreciating strengths’ and aiming to augment them, a significant transformation in how feedback is received will be achieved.
Start by focusing on strengths:
Instead of highlighting weaknesses, concentrate on the strengths.
Encourage growth by casting a spotlight on the capabilities and achievements that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Recognising employees’ talents fosters a sense of motivation, helping them realise their potential.
Ask positive questions:
The power of positive questioning leverages AI’s core principle. Constructive queries invite team members to share positive experiences and the unique strategies they deployed. This process unearths distinctive methods and provides insight into what works, encouraging shared learning.
Utilising AI in feedback sessions stimulates engagement and collaboration among team members. Everyone’s views are valued, creating a sense of unity and shared commitment to realising the collective dream.
Benefits of Appreciative Inquiry Feedback
As the landscape of workforce culture continues to evolve, AI has emerged as a significant tool for organisations aiming to foster a positive environment. When used effectively, AI can transform feedback sessions into empowering moments of learning and growth.
AI breeds positivity and boosts morale. By recognising and acknowledging employees’ strengths, organisations can encourage their workers to maintain a positive mindset. This positive reinforcement fosters increased engagement and productivity.
AI encourages a growth mindset. By shifting the focus from the remediation of weaknesses to the amplification of strengths, individuals are stimulated to cultivate a mindset of growth and continuous improvement.
AI nurtures a resilient and agile workforce. By fostering an atmosphere of positivity, firms cultivate resilience within their teams, enabling them to effectively handle and rebound from difficulties.
AI aids in forging strong relationships. Its inherent collaborative nature promotes open interfaces among team members, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding, and thereby strengthening relationships within the team.
In essence, Appreciative Inquiry offers a new perspective on gathering feedback.
It creates a positive approach to improvement, leading to enhanced communication, elevated morale, and a more resilient workforce. As organisations continue to navigate the evolving business environment, tools such as AI become even more crucial in fostering a dynamic, positive and thriving workplace.
The key to success lies in choosing to focus and build upon our strengths, rather than becoming consumed by our weaknesses.
Some questions to think about when thinking about Appreciative Inquiry
1. How familiar are you with the concept of Appreciative Inquiry (AI)?
2. Can you share examples of where you have seen AI used in a feedback context in your organisation?
3. How would you rate your organisation’s current feedback model? Does it concentrate more on weaknesses or strengths?
4. Looking at the ‘Discovery’ phase of AI, what would you say are some of your business’s main strengths?
5. During the ‘Dream’ phase, can you envision a future state for your business leveraging these aforementioned strengths?
6. Can you elaborate on how these strengths can be amplified to design the desired future state of your business as per the ‘Design’ phase?
7. Considering the ‘Destiny’ phase, what specific steps would you take to ensure the successful implementation of these strategies for positive change?
8. How do you observe the use of AI shifting the focus of feedback reception in your business culture?
9. How would you start focusing on strengths in feedback sessions for your team? Can you share some practical steps?
10. Can you give examples of some positive questions you should be asking to unearth distinctive methods and encourage shared learning?
11. How would you go about inculcating a future-oriented perspective in your coaching sessions?
12. How can AI be used to establish a culture of collaboration in your workplace?
13. How do you think implementing AI can boost morale in your team during feedback sessions?
14. How could AI foster a growth mindset in your organisation, especially during coaching and feedback scenarios?
15. Can you share how you think AI-based feedback could strengthen resilience within your team?
16. How do you envision AI strengthening relationships within your team during feedback sessions?
17. Have you seen any changes in communication or morale in your team since adopting an AI-based feedback approach?
18. In the dynamic business environment today, how crucial do you think tools such as AI are for the growth and development of your organisation?
19. Can you share a time when focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses during feedback resulted in a tangible improvement?
20. How would you commence implementing AI in your coaching and feedback sessions going forward, considering your learnings and the benefits to your organisation?
Establishing a successful business strategy requires an informed analysis of the industry environment in which your business operates. The Porter’s 5 Forces model, proposed by Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter in 1979, provides a tool to analyze the competitive landscape and understand the industry-specific factors that can affect your company’s profitability.
This article will unpack each of the five components of Porter’s model and show you how to leverage this tool as part of your strategic decision-making process.
What is Porter’s 5 Forces Model?
Porter’s 5 Forces model is a framework used for understanding the competitive forces that shape every industry. These comprise five fundamental forces: the threat of new entrants, the bargaining power of suppliers, the bargaining power of customers, the threat of substitute products or services, and the competitive rivalry within the industry.
Its primary goal is to determine the attractiveness of an industry, which it achieves by gauging the intensity of competition, identifying opportunities and threats, and assisting businesses in selecting appropriate competitive strategies.
1. Threat of New Entrants
The first force, the threat of new entrants, assesses how easy it is for new competitors to enter the industry. Industries with high entry barriers often provide more protection for existing players. Entry barriers can include high initial capital requirements, technology challenges, customer loyalty, patents, and regulatory constraints. If it’s easy for new competitors to enter your market and offer the same value, the threat from new entrants is high, potentially putting a cap on your profitability.
2. Bargaining Power of Suppliers
The bargaining power of suppliers considers how many suppliers exist in your industry, the uniqueness of their products or services, and how easily you can switch to another supplier. Powerful suppliers can exert significant pressure on your business by increasing prices, limiting quality or services, or reducing availability. If your business depends on a small number of suppliers or if switching suppliers is costly, their power, and the threat, is high.
3. Bargaining Power of Buyers
The bargaining power of buyers is the mirror image of the bargaining power of suppliers. If buyers, or customers, have many choices, then your power to set prices or quality parameters could be limited. The force assesses your relationship with your customers and the weightage they carry in negotiations. A low number of buyers, or if the products/services represent a large portion of buyer’s costs, can make the buyers powerful and increase competitive pressures.
4. Threat of Substitute Products or Services
The threat of substitution refers to the possibility of your customers finding a different way to do what you do — for example, a lower-cost option or a technologically advanced product. If your industry’s products or services are unique, this force is typically weak. However, in industries where similar or substitute goods and services are readily available, the threat of substitutes can be high, pushing down potential profitability.
5. Competitive Rivalry within the Industry
This final force focuses on the intensity of competition among existing firms in the industry. If rivalry is intense, companies may be forced to engage in detrimental price wars or increase spending on marketing or research and development. When competition is high, one company’s tactical move leads to countermoves by rivals, reducing overall profitability in a zero-sum game of market share.
How Can You Use Porter’s 5 Forces Model Effectively?
Using Porter’s model effectively requires detailed research into your industry and competitors. To start, map out the five forces for your industry and rate the power of each force. Strong forces present challenges to profitability, while weak forces present possible areas of opportunity or advantage.
For instance, you might find that there’s a high threat of substitution in your industry. To counter this, you could invest in product differentiation and foster brand loyalty among customers.
Perhaps the bargaining power of suppliers is high. In that case, you might mitigate this risk by diversifying your supplier chain or focusing on building stronger relationships with key suppliers.
Understanding the workings of your industry through the lens of Porter’s Five Forces can guide you in investing resources in the right areas. Revisit the model periodically as the business landscape changes over time, responding to shifts in the forces shaping your industry.
The Porter’s 5 Forces model provides a powerful tool for business strategy development. Although it doesn’t eliminate challenges, it helps organize them into comprehensible categories that can be tackled strategically. By identifying significant external factors in your business environment, you can craft strategies that leverage opportunities and guard against threats, ultimately positioning your company for increased profitability and success.
Blue Ocean Strategy is an impactful business model that can revolutionize an organization’s strategic planning and drive remarkable growth. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the core principles, indispensable tools, and case studies of the Blue Ocean Strategy. It will also provide practical advice to help leaders navigate their way into making the competition irrelevant.
The structure of this guide will delve into the understanding of the Blue Ocean Strategy, its key principles and associated tools, some powerful case studies, and useful tips for leaders considering its implementation.
The concept of the Blue Ocean Strategy was introduced by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their eponymous book. The strategy is an approach to business planning that encourages organizations to create new, uncontested market space or “Blue Oceans”, rather than competing in an existing market with fierce competition, known as “Red Oceans.
For leaders, understanding and competently applying the Blue Ocean Strategy is pivotal in formulating innovative business strategies, driving business growth, and creature lucrative new markets.
Understanding the Blue Ocean Strategy
Red Oceans vs Blue Oceans
Red Oceans are existing market spaces where industry boundaries and rules are well-defined. Organizations compete on defined parameters, fighting for market share. These markets become crowded over time, leading to cut-throat competition and diminishing profit margins, symbolized by ‘red’ from the strife.
Eliminate: Identify and stop investing in the factors that the industry takes for granted but no longer holds value for customers.
Reduce: Determine and minimize the factors that are over-designed, outstripping industry standards and hence unnecessarily increasing cost.
Raise: Identify and amplify factors that should be raised well above the industry’s standard to attract potential customers.
Create: Discover and create new factors that the industry hasn’t offered yet to generate additional demand and customer loyalty.
Companies like Apple (with its iPhone), and Netflix (with its online streaming service), have demonstrated successful application of these principles, thereby creating uncontested market spaces.
Tools for Creating a Blue Ocean Strategy
The Strategy Canvas
The strategy canvas is a central diagnostic tool in the Blue Ocean Strategy. It graphically illustrates a company’s relative performance vis-à-vis its competitors across its industry’s key success factors. It allows companies to see the current state of play, to unlock opportunities for differentiation and innovation.
The horizontal axis captures the range of factors that an industry competes on and invests in, while the vertical axis captures the offering level that buyers receive across all these key competing factors.
Amazon, for instance, has successfully used the Strategy Canvas by innovating on dimensions such as convenience, variety, and price, to create a dominant online marketplace.
Case Studies of Blue Ocean Strategy
Cirque du Soleil: By reducing expensive star performers and aisle concessions, raising the level of unique themes and environment, and creating a niche of refined theatrical entertainment combined with circus arts, Cirque du Soleil made traditional circuses irrelevant.
Yellow Tail: The Australian wine brand eliminated ageing quality, wine complexity, and vineyard prestige to reduce cost, raised the easiness of selection and the fun of drinking, and created a fruity, easy-to-drink wine, expanding the wine industry’s boundaries.
Southwest Airlines: The airline minimized services like meals, seating choices, and inter-airline luggage transfers but created short-haul, point-to-point flights and entertaining flight experience, attracting a new market of price-sensitive air travellers.
Tips for Implementing Blue Ocean Strategy
Start by analyzing your current market position and competition.
Identify key factors that your industry competes on and challenge the necessity of these factors.
Seek insights from noncustomers in existing markets and explore adjacent industries.
Test your strategy before rolling it out entirely.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Do not focus solely on competition when there’s a potential to create.
Do not let organizational politics hinder the strategy’s development or execution.
Draw your Strategy Canvas, highlighting your offering against competitors.
Apply the Four Actions Framework to explore how factors can be eliminated, reduced, raised, or created.
Identify a new value proposition and its target customers.
Test your idea, refine it, and implement it.
The Blue Ocean Strategy, while challenging, can transform an organization’s strategic planning, opening avenues for unparalleled growth and profitability. We hope this guide has enlightened your understanding and stimulated your curiosity towards creating your own ‘Blue Ocean’.
For further exploration, refer to the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
Over a decade ago, I took some time away from business to study full-time for an MBA. I had mixed views as to how a formulaic learning experience could have an impact on my future business and strategic thinking. I remember one module concerning strategic business where we were invited to bring some theories together to form new and coherent understandings of existing situations.
One area that I have been thinking about recently is Michael Porter’s 5 forces model and the Blue Ocean Strategy – something I will call the ‘Blue Porter‘. By bringing these two powerful models together could assist in building a competitive strategy.
For brevity, the detail of each strategy is not covered here but can be found on separate pages as indicated by the hotlinks below.
Porters 5 forcesis a framework used for understanding the competitive forces that shape every industry. These comprise five fundamental forces:
the threat of new entrants,
the bargaining power of suppliers,
the bargaining power of customers,
the threat of substitute products or services, and
the competitive rivalry within the industry.
Its primary goal is to determine the attractiveness of an industry, which it achieves by gauging the intensity of competition, identifying opportunities and threats, and assisting businesses in selecting appropriate competitive strategies.
The Blue Ocean Strategy is a business framework that advocates creating uncontested market spaces, or “blue oceans,” instead of fighting for dominance in the current competitive market, or “red oceans.”
Bringing the models together – Building Competitive Strategy
To integrate Porter’s 5 Forces model with the Blue Ocean strategy, businesses must complement their competitive analysis with a search for untapped potential. Here is a step-by-step guide to achieving this integration:
Analyze the Industry Using Porter’s 5 Forces Model
Begin by applying Porter’s Five Forces model to understand the competitive landscape of your industry.
Identify and assess the factors that shape the overall industry environment using the five forces. A way that I find useful is to think about these factors having Low, Medium or High significant in our market.
Recognize the sectors and industry segments where competitive rivalry is most intense, and consider the potential consequences of entering or operating within these “red oceans.”
Identify Opportunities for Innovation and Differentiation With a clear understanding of the competitive forces at play, start looking for opportunities to innovate and deliver unique value propositions that target unfulfilled customer needs. Reframe the competitive forces in your industry to identify new market spaces with less competition—these are your potential “blue oceans.” Ask:
What are the underserved needs of customers in my industry?
What factors could I change to deliver unique value?
Which industries or customer segments are adjacent to mine and offer potential value innovation?
Consider emerging trends, customer preferences, and new technologies that might present opportunities to craft novel offerings not yet addressed by competitors.
Apply the Blue Ocean Strategy Framework Leverage the Blue Ocean Strategy’s core principles to create and refine your new value proposition.
Value Innovation: Deliver exceptional value through a combination of differentiation and low cost, ensuring that your offering is attractive to customers and hard for competitors to copy.
Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC) Grid: Assess which factors in your industry are worth eliminating, those that should be reduced, the ones you need to raise above the industry standard, and the new factors your offering can create.
Reach Beyond Existing Demand: Expand your customer base by focusing on untapped customer segments and non-customers who could benefit from your innovative offering.
Overcome Key Organizational Hurdles: Develop and nurture a corporate culture that supports innovation, embraces risks, and breaks traditional industry boundaries.
Test and Validate Your Blue Ocean Offering Once you’ve pinpointed the unique value proposition and differentiated offering, refine, and test your idea. Use market research, prototyping, and feedback from potential customers to validate whether your offering has indeed unlocked a market space with minimal competition.
Reassess and Adapt Over Time As your business grows, remember that even “blue oceans” do not remain static. Competitors may eventually catch up with innovations, or new entrants can appear. Regularly revisit Porter’s Five Forces to monitor changes in the competitive landscape, while also exploring new ways to chase further “blue ocean” opportunities to maintain market leadership.