Improve what you’ve done for years

In a previous post, I alluded to the fact that I’ve recently assisted one of the distribution channels at my company to think about how they can improve during 2022.

What was interesting about the problem statement was that they knew the big picture context and they’ve been successful, however, they still felt there is more that they can do, they just weren’t sure how to figure out what that is. What jumped out to me was how we fall into a rhythm of doing the same things over and over, using the same resources, expecting an increase in intensity to improve our results. And to an extent, I suppose it could, like how running faster could make you get to the end faster. But what if the improvement lies in how you could use your strength training equipment to improve your hill-climbing ability? Or how you can leverage psychological strengths during tough hill-climbs? Or how you can use a network’s running knowledge to improve how you move up the hill?

With this insight, I set out to create a short analysis exercise focused on helping the participants re-look how they use what they’ve got. Or in MBA terms, identifying all their resources and capabilities and recombining them to make better and more valuable resources and capabilities. Let me share this process with you.

What do you have and what do you do well?

The first step is understanding what you have at your disposal. Do you have any specific assets or knowledge? Do you have particular relationships or skills? What products, solutions and financial backing do you have?

This step is deceptively simple when you’ve been in a groove for years; you need to look outside what you’re comfortable with or used to. The question is not about listing the stuff you choose to consistently use, it’s about looking at everything you have at your disposal in the broader context, everything available that you could also use but probably don’t.

How can you connect the dots to improve what you have, or fill gaps?

Next, you need to consider how you can put what you have to work, in new combinations, that will help you create something better than what you had. How can you create synergy between the resources you’ve got? Can certain resources be used to support others better? Or could other resources replace less-effective resources? Perhaps you can create a combination that is hard to copy or imitate by competitors?

The hardest part of this step is to actively seek how you can integrate the new or unexplored resources or capabilities you identified earlier. Again, it’s not about regurgitating what you’re comfortable with but rather exploring everything and recombining it in novel ways.

What do you need to do to make this a reality?

Finally, you need to consider how you can go about creating and implementing these new combinations. This is the space for consideration of the practicalities and complexities regarding execution.

The biggest pitfall here is to allow the whole exercise to simply be lip-service. You need to be clear about what you’re going to change or implement. And who will do it, by when it will be done and which of these take precedence over others. In the end, if you don’t complete this step you took a whole lot of time to conduct an exercise that made no difference to the way you do your work because it only stayed on the drawing board.

Are you really as clear about the resources and capabilities at your disposal as you think you are?

Thanks for your time,


Image Credit: Jo Szczepanska