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Growth Manufacturers Case Study

Create the Business You Want by Focusing on the Future

By Gordon Mandeville and Craig Hopkins

CEOs are creating the businesses they want using a powerful process, called Transtheoretical Business Development (TBD). This article begins with a short exercise that will assist in understanding the impact of TBD and where this method fits among the myriad of tools and consulting products available to you. This exercise is also the first step of the TBD process.

Take some time and write about the business you want to be leading. Use your creative imagination to put yourself three years in the future, unfettered by today's constraints. Write about the products, the people, the customers, and the facilities. Describe the atmosphere in the business and what it will feel like to come to work each day, the more detail the better. This is the first draft of your Future-State Narrative.

Next compare this narrative to your current business. Write about the gaps you see between the two. How can you close these gaps? Are they inter-related? Is there a common theme? Are they systemic? 

If closing these gaps seems insurmountable, or if you have already tried and nothing has improved, the Transtheoretical Business Development process will help. TBD is based on a broad set of disciplines including strategy, marketing, business development, quality improvement, several consulting disciplines, and behavior modification theory. These are all synergistically combined and sequenced for maximum effect. TBD uses known and proven tools and processes: nothing new and no rocket science.  You will find that some of these tools are familiar. The TBD roadmap, however, combines them synergistically and provides additional tools. To create the business you want to be leading follow this new roadmap.

TBD Roadmap
The TBD roadmap is not exclusive. Other tools and consulting approaches can fit within this structure. The roadmap is unifying, provides a context for all the tasks of change, and reduces confusion. It ensures that each task the team undertakes builds on the previous. It measures progress and can flag resistance. Optimism and momentum build as the leadership team sees their progress along the roadmap.

There are seven stages that make up the TBD roadmap. The primary stages are sequential, each has a well-defined purpose and exit criteria. The stage you are in determines the tools and processes to be applied. Finally, there is a quantitative test before entering the stage requiring the most resources.

Empowering the Leadership Team
In our experience, once a leadership team has completed a cycle of the TBD process, it is strengthened and more empowered. Once trained, the team members can initiate another cycle as needed even within their individual departments or for a new initiative.

Taking on a project of this magnitude is not easy, especially considering that the current business must keep generating cash flow until the new initiatives are successful. There is no silver bullet, just well directed hard work and an empowering structure. The process discussed here was developed through over 10 years of experience and study, combined with years of research and verification by others. This is the best approach known for creating the future you want.

In their own words, here's what local manufacturers are saying about the TBD Roadmap:

Jeff Gilling, CEO, Diamond Antenna and Microwave:
Giant Consultants facilitated internal communication of strategic initiatives to build teamwork and ensure success at implementation. The experience took our organization to a new level of capability in pursuing numerous projects toward continuous improvement.

Phil Holman, President/Owner, Fourstar Connections:
We were introduced to the concept of Future State at a meeting sponsored by MassMEP. At the time, as a 20+ year old company, we were struggling with declining gross margins and marginal profitability. The management staff was in the "woe-is-me stage of our business cycle" where nothing we had been doing worked any more. We were ready for something new and were lucky to find it using the services of Giant Consultants. Through a series of workshops we were able to assess our strengths and weaknesses as a management team, and then explore the possibilities of WHAT COULD BE in our future. Once we defined and prioritized our initiatives, we were able to act out the vision by placing ourselves into the state of mind where every important decision was evaluated as to its impact on the Future State. This is no magic bullet. It takes a desire for change, and a discipline to constantly evaluate day-to-day decisions against the vision. With that said, the cultural shift to Future State thinking can be exciting and empowering to a management team that had been previously overwhelmed by changes in business dynamics that they could not control.

To learn more about Future State Thinking contact:
Greg King
Program Manager, Mass MEP
E-mail: gregoryk@massmep.org
Phone: 617-823-2319

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