Tactics to Design the Best Business Strategy for Growth

Objectivity is critical if you want to create your best-possible business strategy. By allowing innate biases to prevail, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, companies often fail to achieve goals after executing their strategy. That’s because managers fail to discard their biases and they consequently fail to clearly see their challenges and options.

To capitalize on opportunities for growth, companies must use the most-productive approaches in designing strategy.

It isn’t enough to eye financial opportunities.

Typically, businesses are astute in eyeing their financial and marketplace prospects.

However, they fail to experience the desired growth for a few operational reasons.

They don’t use due diligence in evaluating their assets and in designing the best-possible organizational structure, and in recruiting and retaining the right people to execute the strategy.

The approaches must include careful assessment of their opportunities via financial performance, marketplace opportunities, competitive advantages and in operations.

Businesses can achieve the desired growth by fully and objectively utilizing the four approaches:


In order to achieve returns high above the cost of capital, it isn’t sufficient to merely use mundane valuation methods.

Companies will fare better financially when they look at internal data and external data by leveraging the view of external data as an outsider would.

This means developing benchmarks that will help to surpass the financial performance of competitors – using marketplace data to understand what will happen without taking counter measures.

By knowing where they are and where they want to be, businesses can best discuss and determine how to achieve superior performance.


In today’s dynamic marketplace, businesses often suffer from slow growth in their core activities and pine for higher growth sectors.

However, the first thing that such companies really need to do is be defensive – in football parlance, protect their goal line – and take baby steps to create internal opportunities in a granular fashion.

Once that’s accomplished, companies can look to contiguous markets of opportunity, but also to capture market share to deny opportunities for latent competitors.

So, the analysis should cover two areas: Determine which existing segments of your business can probably grow and analyze which are the possible attractive contiguous markets to pursue.

Competitive advantages

To maximize competitive advantages, businesses should be taking into account their assets and competencies, as well as any additional requirements for investment to achieve success against rivals.

This means evaluating whether they have the firepower to win and determine whether anything else will be needed.

If indeed more assets are needed, it’s vital to determine what advantages will be obtained and whether the newly found advantages will be sufficient for winning.

To successfully complete such analyses, management must query employees, customers and vendors for their insights. In this way, valuable information is obtained for a competitive advantage.


One salient mistake that companies make is in assuming the status quo in operations will be sufficient to achieve the goals.

To lay a foundation for success, it’s critical to assess your organizational structure, employees, processes and technology.

Then, take salient steps and make the needed improvements.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

Scaling Your Business Starts with Effective Management — Confidence starts with knowing the difference between scaling and expanding – and growing with the help of your culture and employees. Here are Biz Coach strategies in human resources to scale your business.

10 Execution Values to Guarantee Your Strategic Plan Works — Many companies devote resources to devise a great strategic plan. But they fail in their objectives because they don’t link their strategy to execution. So here’s how.

For Profits, Align Your HR Program with Your Business Strategy — For profits, a successful human-resources management strategy should complement your overall business strategy. Here’s how.

Build a Strong Sales Foundation by Being Defense-Minded — Sports is a great lesson for sales growth — build a strong foundation by being defensive-minded. Protect your turf first. Here are five tips for sales domination in your hometown.

6 Strategies if You’re Losing Market Share to Small Rivals — Here’s a scenario that can happen to any successful business – smaller competitors grabbing your marketing share. Here’s what you can do.


“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”   

-Jack Welch


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

10 Red Flags Your Business Needs Strategic Planning

Many entrepreneurs are so busy putting out fires, they fail to take care of business in two ways. They fail to plan strategically and they don’t make marketing a priority each day.

Ironic isn’t it? Every entrepreneur wants to get ahead.

If they haven’t identified their best growth opportunities, they’re missing opportunities for growth in business development, product innovation or diversifying.

pakorn successTo compete, entrepreneurs either need to be strategically planning or rethinking their strategic plans – a clear, concise growth strategy.

There are multiple reasons for a strategic plan and its six key elements.

So it’s important to develop foresight and focus – a vision for action.

Firstly, be aware of the typical inter-related red flags:

1. You’re working harder, not smarter

Perhaps you’ve noticed you’re working longer hours but not seeing an increase in your return on investment in time, energy and money. This, of course, means you’re not growing.

For profits, entrepreneurs must learn how to manage their financials and performance. This also means it’s vital to know what drives profit. There are four drivers.

2. Little or no revenue growth

Your financials confirm revenue is stagnant. You must know what months, weeks, days and hours are weak in sales. What you need are solutions for a financial turnaround.

… entrepreneurs either need to be strategically planning or rethinking their strategic plans – a clear, concise growth strategy.

3. Profit margins are tight

You must know the actual costs of selling your products and services. Leverage technology to cover your costs. For higher profit margins, minimize your markdowns and optimize your prices.

4. Burnout has set in

Most entrepreneurs have periods of burnout. If you’re suffering from burnout you can’t afford not to get more sleep, rest for your mind, exercise and adequate time with your family.

In other words for top performance, reduce stress and plan to work happier.

5. You and your associates are discouraged

If discouragement has reared its ugly head, you’re probably on a treadmill going nowhere. Don’t procrastinate.

Focus on the positive and give yourself a morale boost. Get busy identifying the issues and take appropriate action.

6. You can’t pinpoint areas of growth

It’s likely you don’t have any growth if you can’t identify the areas in which your company is growing. If that’s the case develop your instincts with competitive intelligence.

7. Cash flow is weak

If you’re unable to pay your bills and obligations, it’s because of poor cash flow. Your receivables are probably slow and your prices might be too low.

Poor cash flow means your image can also suffer with vendors or with customers. So learn how to creatively manage your cash flow.

8. Competitors are stealing business from you

If you’re working hard but losing sales to your competition, something’s amiss. Your prospects perceive more value from your competitors.

Start fixing it by measuring your brand’s personality.

9. Your products and services are no longer relevant for customers

It might be that your products or services aren’t meeting the needs of prospective customers. If your sales skills are sharp but you’re not selling well, customers don’t need what you’re selling.

To become an innovative leader, it’s vital to continually evaluating your organization and strategizing for success. Then, become an innovative leader.

10. You don’t have enough repeat business from loyal customers

For growth, turn your customers into fans for maximum referrals. That starts with customer retention. Implement strategies for maximum customer loyalty and profits.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

11 Management Strategies for a Successful Turnaround — When it comes to management strategies for a successful turnaround, a quote by financial-world wizard Warren Buffett is apropos. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing,” Mr. Buffett said. My response: “Touché.” It’s all about capital mobility created by effective management.

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth — Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals — Whatever your situation, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. Here are eight best practices.

Don’t let Minimum Wage Mandates Ruin Your Business — Your cash flow, credit access, pricing and profit margins are all directly or indirectly at-risk with the proposed mandates to increase the minimum wage. Workers should be paid well, if they’re good performers.

Risk Management – Making Best Decisions, Using Right Tactics — To prevent a crisis from interfering with the continuity of your business, you must strategically plan to manage any potential risks. That means avoiding the classic mistakes routinely made by companies, and making the right decisions for proactive measures to minimize any dangers.  But how can you best manage risk?

“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.”

-Harper Lee


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of pakorn at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth

Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value.

Idealism is fine if it’s counter-balanced with pragmatism to improve business performance.

Continually, you must be practical in asking the right questions about your current status.

So identify your barriers and determine the realistic solutions as opportunities for growth.

There are at least seven steps for strategic planning in finance for growth.

ID-100120484 ddpavumbaThey are:

1. Determine whether your current approach is adequate for growth.

Whether it’s through organic growth or via mergers and acquisitions, make sure you’re making the right investments for growth.

Furthermore, analyze your costs to see if you have the right processes in place in order to make the right decisions about spending money.

2. Consider restraints holding you back

True, sometimes there are external marketplace problems you can’t readily solve such as legal, regulatory or tax issues. But there are solutions from which you can benefit, especially internally.

Typically, there are at least six questions to ask:

— Do we need better cash flow?

— Do we need new products?

— Do we have the right human capital?

— Do we need to change your company’s culture and mindset?

— Do we have the right business processes?

— Do we need to change your marketing?

Once you determine the restrictions, strategize on how to solve them.

3. Clear the table of your biggest headaches

Virtually all businesses suffer from uncertainties. The trick is to fully analyze the uncertainties and alleviate them.

Here’s an example:

One of the most under-rated of our nation’s presidents helped the nation heal from uncertainty during a major crisis. That was President Gerald Ford in Watergate. He had great wisdom and the courage to do the right thing.

One of his major acts would cost him reelection.

At the time, many Americans didn’t appreciate his pardon of President Richard Nixon. What Mr. Nixon did caused a Constitutional crisis.

But historians later agreed Mr. Ford’s action was the fastest approach to end the nation’s long nightmare.

President Ford’s most-used phrase to solve problems: “Let’s clear the table and move forward.”

So whatever your major headaches are, identify them. Implement solutions with brilliance and tenacity.

4. Know where you’re spending the most money, and analyze your return on investment

Look at your biggest expense. Ask yourself: “How is it working?”

Then, determine how you can get a better ROI. This simple act can often dramatically improve your immediate cash flow.

5. Evaluate the big picture of your company financial objectives

Determine if your current strategies will help your company reach its financial goals. Many companies unfortunately implement the wrong behavior.

The behavior must synch with the goals to obtain the desired results.

If you suspect you’re on the wrong path, start an internal dialogue by asking questions. You want participation from all concerned executives.

6. Identify your marketplace threats and leverage your financial planning and analysis capabilities

Examine the strategies of your competitors. Are they making moves that threaten your company’s future?

Consider your financial planning and analysis alternatives in order to cope and triumph over your threats.

7. Continually evaluate what isn’t working

You might be targeting the wrong sector or customers. Keep mind Pareto’s Principle: 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.

For instance, 80 percent of your problems are created by 20 percent of your customers. Or 80 percent of your sales are derived from 20 percent of your customers.

But are the customers profitable enough?

Determine what functions aren’t scaling your business and generating returns. Then, do something about it.

As famed entertainer and well-to-do businessman Bob Hope used to say: “Get it done.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional relevant tips:

Strategic Challenges — What’s a CFO to Do about Sustainable Growth? — Sustainable growth ranks as global companies’ No. 1 strategic planning challenge – in which chief financial officers will be playing a major role, says a study.

You Can Creatively Manage Your Cash Flow 7 Ways — If you’re taking the pulse of your business, of course, the first thing to consider is your cash flow. If your cash flow is poor, you feel poor because you can’t pay the bills nor can you use money for what you’d like to do. Your image can also suffer with vendors or with customers, if you don’t manage your cash flow.

Profit Margins: 11 Tips to Increase Sales and Minimize Markdowns — Imagine being able to sell your products at full or nearly full margins. How would you like a dream situation – not having to mark down your products? It’s important to develop and implement responsive, multi-dimensional strategies to maximize your sales.

6 Tips to Turn Your HR Department into a Profit Center — At least 50 percent of a company’s profits are contingent on employee problems. If you have challenges in one department, odds are you have HR issues in other departments. In fact, human capital is the No. 1 reason why CEOs lose sleep. Many businesses often need an objective source of information and expertise from critical thinkers. It’s true you can turn your human resources department into a profit center.

For the Best Cash Flow, Manage Your Inventory Costs with 8 Tips — With proper inventory management, you can lower your expenses and increase your cash flow. For many businesses, it means taking a look at your inventory costs.

Employee Retirement Plans: Preferences of Employers — Study — Trust is the No. 1 reason employers choose retirement plan providers for their employees, according to a landmark study of 809 companies across a full spectrum of industries in 2014. But for the first time we learn which are the top three providers that companies trust the most and why — and that only 9 percent of employers trust financial institutions to manage their employees’ retirement plans.

“About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

-Herbert Hoover


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of ddpavumba at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Why Companies Stay Strong When Others Fail

There’s a common thread among companies that succeed long term.

A Stanford University professor calls the reason “organizational ambidexterity.

That’s the ability needed to manage business lines while simultaneously strategizing and implementing change as the world and marketplace evolves.

“You often see successful organizations failing, and it’s not obvious why they should fail,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Charles O’Reilly

dreamstimefree_80463The professor says strategy that was once successful at a particular time may suddenly be all wrong once the world changes.

A Stanford news release, “Secret to Successful Companies” points out successful companies evolve into a form entirely different than how they began.

Examples of success

For example, Nokia was launched in 1865 as a paper mill in Finland. Toyota began in Japan as an automatic loom in 1924.

Stanford Professor James March first articulated the approach in 1991.

“Both exploration and exploitation are essential for organizations,” Professor March wrote in a paper, “but they compete for scarce resources.”

But there are often tradeoffs – going for one approach at the expense of the other.

In “The Innovator’s Dilemma” in 2011, Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen added that successful approaches actually hurt the organization as the marketplace evolves. Companies make the mistake of standing pat because they see change as a danger.

Wal-Mart’s changes

Professor O’Reilly says Wal-Mart is an exception. When the Internet swept the world, Wal-Mart stayed with what it knew best. It kept its strategy of focusing on its brick-and-mortar stores. But long ago – in 2000 – the retailer structured Walmart.com as a separate entity.

Meantime, Professor O’Reilly asserts the strategy won’t work in the long run.

“A better way, his research suggests, is to run the mature business alongside the newer business under the same organization — but, crucially, to do it in a way that makes smart use of the organization’s resources,” according to the news release.

He concedes, however, Wal-Mart’s smaller Express stores are a good strategy to compete with CVS and Walgreen. The company’s management are  staying in the same line of business by “leveraging ‘the strengths of the mother ship.”

He adds Wal-Mart’s strengths are in information technology, logistics, purchasing and real estate.

Opposing viewpoint

There isn’t universal acceptance of Professor O’Reilly’s ambidexterity theory. Dissenters support the idea of “organizational ecology.” In essence, they believe businesses succeed by good luck. But in an evolving marketplace, they contend companies can’t change.

Professor O’Reilly believes that’s irrational theory, and overlooks the potential of management to learn and change. 

For example, if an old company like Sears falters while Wal-Mart succeeds, it simply means Wal-Mart’s senior management is enlightened.

The professor and his collaborator, Harvard Business School’s Michael Tushman, reason why:

An ambidextrous company has leadership with “overarching vision.”

But when there’s internal dissention with such a company, Professor O’Reilly says the boss has to “make sure that everybody is singing off the same hymnal.”

Large vs. small companies

He says large companies are better suited in ambidexterity than their smaller counterparts.

“If you’re a small company, you place all your chips on this one thing, whereas a large organization can do lots of experiments,” he explains.

“A culture that says, ‘We don’t have all the answers; we’ve got to try these experiments’ – that’s the type of culture that promotes ambidexterity,” he contends.

But here’s a caveat: A company with the most-productive experimentation depends on the level of change in its industry.

“If the industry isn’t changing rapidly, doing 100 experiments is unproductive and expensive,” says the professor. “But if you don’t do experiments, you’re likely to be in trouble if the industry is changing.”

From the Coach’s Corner, see these related articles:

Artificial Intelligence: How to Maximize Your ROI — You will maximize your return on investment in AI with these strategies.

Solutions If You Want to Rise to the Top in Innovation — Every company wants to be successful. But to achieve lofty goals, certainly innovation is the key. To become an innovative leader and to participate in turbo-charging the economy, it’s vital to continually evaluate your organization and strategize for success. It takes involvement by members of your entire operation. That means identifying your company’s assets, processes, resources and skills.

Strategies for Manufacturers to Increase Profits – When it comes to revenue for capital-equipment manufacturers, the key pivotal factors are innovation and service levels. It might be an obvious conclusion, but it’s confirmed by the IDC Manufacturing Insights’ 2013 white paper on the global capital equipment manufacturing industry.   

Risk Management – Making Best Decisions, Using Right Tactics – To prevent a crisis from interfering with the continuity of your business, you must strategically plan to manage any potential risks. That means avoiding the classic mistakes routinely made by companies, and making the right decisions for proactive measures to minimize any dangers.  

Best Practices for Many Companies Failing to Capitalize on Business Intelligence – A large number of business intelligence (BI) users admit they don’t effectively use it to identify and create opportunities for sustainable growth, according to a study. Their honesty isn’t surprising, but the high level of misused BI is. 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Strategic Planning – Profit Lessons from Companies That Focus Long Term

To alleviate uncertainty in business and to grow profits, it’s increasingly clear that businesspeople must keep an open mind to seek opportunities, be bold and plan long term.

In other words, companies that change their business models in order to become sustainable enjoy higher profits.

That’s the conclusion from a 2013 study by MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Such companies enjoyed a 23 percent profit increase. The report’s title: “The Innovation Bottom line.

ID-100208147stockimagesIt’s like a long-term game of chess. Executives need vision to spot opportunities.

“Sustainability-driven innovators see the opportunity differently than do companies that haven’t gleaned sustainability’s financial rewards,” explained David Kiron, executive editor at MIT SMR and a coauthor of the report.

“They don’t dwell on it as a cost issue,” he added in a press release. “They focus on how their efforts can increase market share, boost energy efficiency, and build competitive advantage.”

North American companies lag behind

Interestingly, the study found that companies in emerging markets change their business models as a result of sustainability at a far higher rate than those based in North America, which has the lowest rate of sustainability-driven business-model innovation and the fewest business-model innovators.

The study, which is based on a survey of 2,600 executives and managers from companies around the world, also found that nearly half of respondents said their companies had changed their business model as a result of sustainability opportunities, a 20 percent jump over the previous year.

The report cites numerous companies: AT&T, Campbell Soup Company, Dell, Ecover, Greif, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods (recently renamed Mondelez International), Marks & Spencer, Nestlé, Patagonia, PepsiCo, Sainsbury, SAP, Sprint, Timberland, UPS, and Zipcar.

The report calls these companies that have made business-model innovations “sustainability-driven innovators.”

Sustainability-driven innovators also bring a strong execution focus to their efforts, are much more likely to place customers at the center and work closely with many stakeholders, and drive sustainability objectives through skillful organizational change, said Mr. Kiron.

Strategies for sustainability

The extent to which a company incorporates sustainability concerns into its business model often correlates with its increase in profit, the study found.

Findings include:

  • Fifty percent of survey respondents who had changed three or four business model elements said they profited from their sustainability activities, compared with only 37 percent of those who had changed only one element of their business model.
  • When innovations to both target segments and value-chain processes were among the three or four business-model changes, the percentage of respondents who said sustainability added profits climbed from 50 percent to nearly 60 percent.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents at companies that had changed their business model and had sustainability as a permanent fixture on their management agenda said they have added profit from sustainability.
  • Companies that profit from sustainability are almost 200 percent more likely to develop sustainability business cases. The business case is often integral to the company’s overall strategy.

“The research suggests that business-model innovation, top-management support, collaboration with customers, and having a business case are all critical to creating economic value from sustainability activities and decisions,” said Knut Haanæs, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report who leads the firm’s Strategy practice.

“Executives need to view sustainability as both a business necessity and an opportunity,” Mr.Haanaes added. “Even moderate changes to company business models can reap significant financial rewards.”

Five Recommendations

The report recommends that executives emulate five practices common to many of the companies that are finding profit in sustainability:

  1. Be prepared to change business models
  2. Lead from the top, and integrate the effort
  3. Measure and track sustainability goals and performance
  4. Understand how customers think about sustainability and what they are willing to pay for in connection with sustainable products or services
  5. Collaborate with individuals, customers, businesses, and groups beyond the boundaries of the organization

From the Coach’s Corner, the report’s conclusions make sense – here related articles:

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals — Whatever your situation, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. Here are eight best practices.

How to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning — Incredible as it might seem, companies fail because they underestimate strategic risks – yes, strategic blunders instead of common sense – according to an authoritative study. Instead of studying the successes of companies, Booz & Company consultants took the opposite approach in a 2012 study.

Cutting Costs: 9 Best Practices to Avoid Making Reactionary Decisions — In chaotic times, it’s common for businesspeople to be fearful and reactionary when they feel they must cut expenses. But entrepreneurs need to be unemotional so that they make decisions that will bolster their objectives. They can take the emotion out of their decision-making — by eliminating stress factors — if their priorities are clearly defined with values.

“Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”

– David Ogilvy


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Strategies to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning

Incredible as it might seem, companies fail because they underestimate strategic risks – yes, strategic blunders instead of common sense – according to an authoritative study.

Instead of studying the successes of companies, Booz & Company consultants took the opposite approach in a 2012 study. In “The Lesson of Lost Value,” Christopher Dann, Matthew Le Merle and Christopher Pencavel looked at the biggest losers.

“To be sure, during the past decade, companies have steadily dialed up their focus on risk, in part as a reaction to the requirements of the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002,” acknowledged the authors. “Individual functions such as accounting, finance, and compliance have improved risk controls.”

However, companies drop the ball.

The consultants concluded that compliance issues weren’t the reasons for corporate failures.

Senior management has often been misdirected.

“…they have usually done so with a bottom-up approach that has proven flawed,” they wrote.


Such companies have enterprise risk management (ERM) teams. ERM specialists are responsible for identifying and evaluating risks, and they start with an assumption – that senior executives are on the right track.

However, executives bypassed ERM in “what products and services to offer, whether to outsource manufacturing, or what acquisitions to make.” And the ERM folks aren’t apprised of the big picture.

Meantime, Messrs. Dann, Le Merle and Pencavel indicate the reasons for strategic risk have multiplied.

“Accelerating technology development is forcing the rapid adoption of new products, services, and business models; digital information is making organizations more vulnerable to theft and loss; supply chain disruptions quickly ripple around the globe, affecting both companies and customers; consumer connectivity via social networks can broadcast missteps instantaneously to millions of people worldwide; and natural, political, or regulatory shocks can reverberate widely,” they explained.

“For example, an ERM team can call attention to risks associated with doing business with manufacturers in Southeast Asia, but it can’t evaluate whether the company should be outsourcing to the region in the first place. This responsibility gap can be costly,” they offered.

What about shareholder value? Underestimating risk by CEOs also means too much risk for investors.

The consultants’ recommendations:

1. Broaden awareness about uncertainty and risk.

We expect change to continue accelerating and uncertainties to increase. Extreme events with extreme consequences cannot be accurately predicted, but they can be anticipated. Management teams need to think broadly about what could occur and constantly layer new risks into their calculations as these risks emerge.

2. Integrate risk awareness directly into strategic decision making.

By conducting more conversations about risk at the top levels of the company, looping in key individuals as needed, management acquires a full understanding of the uncertainties — both upside and downside — inherent in strategic decision making.

3. Focus on strategic resiliency.

Managers need to consider how strategic decisions can affect resiliency, incorporate resiliency into all decision making, and always be on the lookout for more strategically resilient alternatives in order to build greater corporate agility.

See the report.

Good stuff. The study makes a lot of sense.

In the past, I’ve questioned the approach by Carly Fioria at Hewlett-Packard (Leadership, HR, Marketing Lessons from HP’s Executive Turmoil).

Need another tech example? Consider Yahoo (Did Carol Bartz Use the Right Leader.ship Approach?).

You might also want to consider an aerospace example (Boeing, Airbus Rivalry – Lessons in Strategic Planning).

From the Coach’s Corner, regarding the mistake executives usually make in mergers:  They must consult HR pros first.

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

-Warren Buffett


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Image courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Are HP’s Board and CEO Headed in Right Direction?

Updated Sept. 6, 2015 –

Hewlett-Packard’s quarterly earnings beat analysts’ forecasts but sales are stagnant – falling 8 percent from a year ago.  The company is splitting into two companies on Nov. 1. HP Inc. will sell personal systems and printers. HP Enterprise will target small and large businesses.

That’s partially true. But the real problem is that HP needs stronger innovation and products. For a comparison, consider Blackberry’s turnaround strategies.

Ironically, 2014 and 2013 were a lot kinder to HP. Earnings were sky high, and it won a $3.5 billion contract to run the U.S. Navy’s communication system. But what about HP’s long-term sustainability because of its decline in the computer-producing sector?

KROMKRATHOG business planOne reason profits were up is because HP laid off 27,000 workers.

There are other common-sense questions, such as a CEO worth $15.4 million when the company loses $12.65 billion?

H-P reported a net loss of $12.65 billion for the year ending Oct. 31, 2012, but CEO Meg Whitman was given compensation totaling $15.36 million. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed her compensation included $7.04 million in stock awards and $6.41 million in options.

HP’s 2011 profit was $7.07 billion when her compensation was $16.52 million.

She announced in May 2012 that she planned to lay off 27,000 employees by the end of fiscal year 2014.

More nightmares for HP as its long-term credit rating on senior unsecured debt was slashed by Moody’s Investors Service from A3 Baa1.

HP’s being hammered by competitors’ hand-held devices and deteriorating profits. But HP has been the cause of many of its own challenges.

Not to be gauche, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Harry S. Truman were perplexed by the judgment and performance of the board of directors at the world’s biggest-selling tech company. That being the HP board of directors over the past decade.

Indeed, many people might be wondering if the company might be better-served if the board adopted the former president’s famous mantra, “The buck stops here.” Because the question is, have they acted like it?

It’s unfortunate – the tech company has a rich heritage. That’s not to conclude that the board has ruined the company, because in 2010 it had an enviable $126 billion in sales. It employs 326,000 workers.

But HP had lost more than half its market value. Meantime, the board didn’t appear to understand the Link between Financial Performance and Succession Planning.

Questions had risen over the board decisions and strategies, while many analysts approved of recent developments.  The storied company plans to continue with its strategy of cloud-based services and enterprise software solutions.

“One of the biggest responsibilities of management is to look after the corporate DNA.”

– Andrew Rolfe

Based on past developments, HP fans, and I’m one of them, might wonder about HP’s long-term strategic planning.


  1. The board hired Carly Fiorina as CEO in 1999. Her performance proved to be unsuccessful, as she apparently didn’t understand a basic principle about mergers (If Mergers & Acquisitions Tempt You, Consult HR Pros). She persuaded the board to force a merger with Compaq – despite all kinds of red flags. At the time, as a media columnist for Belo Web sites, I wrote it would never work because the cultures of the two companies were vastly dissimilar. My predictions proved to be accurate. The merger resulted in the layoff of 17,000 talented people and HP’s financial picture worsened. She was fired in 2005.
  2. Soon, the board’s chair, Patricia Dunn, hired firms that used illegal methods to try to stop leaks of proprietary HP information to reporters. 
  3. Mark Hurd was hired to run the company. While he did have some success, many analysts believed HP suffered from his lack of vision and poor judgment leading to his forced resignation – over sexual harassment of a marketing consultant, who was actually an actress, and his inconsistent expense-account reports. 
  4. They hired a CEO, Léo Apotheker, who made his own controversial decisions, including plans to change the company’s mission – from world-class hardware to software and cloud computing. Some board members voted to hire him without even meeting him. Mr. Apotheker’s actions prompted declining shares and a shareholder lawsuit. 
  5. The board hurriedly hired a new CEO, Meg Whitman, who had joined the board after she lost to Jerry Brown, Jr. in running for California governor. As head of eBay, she was successful but known for questionable acquisitions. You might recall her 2005 purchase of Skype for $4.1 billion, but eBay ultimately sold it for $2.75 billion four years later. 
  6. Ms. Whitman recently said she supports Mr. Apotheker’s decisions, including the proposed$10.3 billion purchase of commercial software-maker Autonomy, but she will not forego HP’s hardware business. The latter is ostensibly is one the most logical public decisions to come from her office. 
  7. Ms. Whitman’s first announcement that her priority will be to get HP strong financially. But again, HP’s finances were hampered by negative Wall Street reactions to Mr. Apotheker’s actions, which she mostly supports. So how can she achieve such goals, especially since she doesn’t have any enterprise experience?

HP’s biggest customers balked at buying PCs until they got clarity on HP’s plans. Savvy consumers were probably hesitant, too. That was my thought when I spotted some flashy HP notebook computers in recent visits to retail stores. Fortunately, HP decided to stay in the notebook computer business.

Following weak sales, Ms. Whitman’s predecessor stopped marketing smartphones and tablets with webOS software, an HP product. She also needs to waive her magic wand in combating the popularity of iPads and smartphones to use the Internet.

Meantime, HP has other complicated matters to solve, including what to do about its services business, its slim profit margins in servers, and slower sales in printers. The latter two might very well be approaching the end of their product life cycle.

Ms. Whitman also promised to get more teamwork and cohesiveness out of her management team. That’d be a good move, too.

Ms. Whitman has needed to conduct an in-depth SWOT analysis – of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – followed by a strategic action plan to anticipate emerging trends and capitalize on them. A sophisticated look to the future is prescribed here.

But has she?

Let’s hope Ms. Whitman comes up with better strategies and communication than she did in her failed gubernatorial campaign and questionable acquisitions at eBay. She also has to be successful working with a board that’s made so many anemic decisions.

HP is a fine company and deserves a better future than its performance of the last decade.

From the Coach’s Corner, here is a related link: Leadership, HR, Marketing Lessons from HP’s Executive Turmoil.

“One of the biggest responsibilities of management is to look after the corporate DNA.”

– Andrew Rolfe


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Photo courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at www.freedigitalphotos.net

5 Best Reasons for a Strategic Plan and its 6 Key Elements

Strategic planning tips that work for nonprofits and businesses

Are you ready to compete? Is your company like many that need to rethink their strategic plans?

There are five reasons to create strategic plan. It has at least six components.

Cash flow for companies is a common problem. Some businesses have grown too fast. Others have fallen short in due diligence. Many failed to plan for a roller coaster ride.

ID-10061404 AscensionDigitalNo matter the reason, as a result, many are cutting muscle in human resources and marketing.

History shows the organizations that keep pressing forward do better in the short term and dramatically increase market share as the economy improves.

In a weak economy, successful companies know employees are a key asset and they stay on the attack in marketing.

In this way, they’ll maintain market share and develop opportunities for growth at the expense of their competitors.

Instead of waiting for a transforming event to rescue them, successful companies don’t miss opportunities to grow.

They recognize opportunities and seize them by launching and periodically fine-tuning their strategic plans.

Do you know when should you create a new strategic plan?

Here are the five reasons to create a new one:

  1. When your company is new.
  2. If you’re looking for breakthrough results.
  3. If your firm is failing in cash flow or customer satisfaction.
  4. If you have a limited budget in choosing options.
  5. If you need to set short and long-term goals.

Miscellaneous tips

Schedule blue sky sessions to make a plan. Ask lots of questions, such as: What are your financial goals? What are your biggest challenges? What is the desired footwork? What will be the required investments?

Develop a vision of what you want to achieve and then draw your road map of how you can make that vision a reality.

Make choices based on your return on investment. Some opportunities are positive, but some aren’t. Record and analyze how you spend your time and money. Determine your ROI on each before moving ahead. Not every idea is a good opportunity.

Acknowledge that perfection is not attainable. Procrastination results if you’re looking for perfection. Don’t be afraid to act.

Brace yourself to stretch your comfort zone. Remember the definition of insanity: “If you keep doing the same thing time after time, but you’re expecting new results, then…”

Be assertive – make a commitment. Once you make a decision, don’t engage in self-doubt.

‘Get it done’

Here’s an example provided by one of the world’s great entertainers:

As a youngster growing up in Palm Springs, one of my neighbors was Bob Hope, who passed away in 2003. So I was especially motivated to interview his grandson, Zachary, regarding the comedian’s business philosophy. At the time of his passing, the entertainer was the largest landowner in massive southern California.

He confirmed his multi-millionaire comedian grandfather wasn’t joking when he used to say to his family and associates: “Get it done.” He said it was the comedian’s most-used phrase.

Depending on your situation, consider the basic components of a strategic plan:

  1. Mission. This is where you reason why your firm exists and where you list the contribution of your principal players along with your core values and priorities.
  2. Strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate your resources, including your employees’ skills and facilities.
  3. Opportunities and threats. List factors, such as changes in technology, employees’ abilities, available resources to help you achieve your mission.
  4. Forecast your capabilities. Anticipate any upcoming budget, resources and personnel changes before you forecast opportunities.
  5. Goals and objectives. Remember that goals need to be specific, measurable and developed by consensus of all principals. Then, outline your tactics to achieve your goals.
  6. Implementation. As you carry out your tasks, continue to evaluate the results and fine-tune your plan as necessary.

From the Coach’s Corner, for more on planning, see this portal’s Planning pages. Meantime, don’t give up and as Mr. Hope used to say, “Get it done!”

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

-Yogi Bera


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional.Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of AscensionDigital at www.freedigitalphotos.net

How to Create Luck So You Can Fly High with Profits

Despite higher costs and a weak economy, some businesses are lucky in increasing profits. Often, it’s a result of success from competing in a zero sum marketplace. Companies survive and gain market share when their competitors fail. But that’s often because successful firms know how to create luck.

Fear is a factor when companies underperform. But fear is also an acronym: FEAR, frantic effort to avoid responsibility. Fear is often the reason why people fail to perform.

free stock photo Blonde, Anger, Surprise, ComputersConsider these typical situations:

– Do you let fear lead to paralysis from too much analysis?

– Do you give away your power when you encounter rude customers?

– Do you allow rejection in sales presentations to get you down?

-Do you idly sit as public officials create policies that harm your economic and political freedoms?

To create profits with strategic planning in a competitive marketplace and business adversity, here’s how to eliminate fear and create luck:

Create balance with an analysis and strategic plan. Don’t go overboard in planning, but look at your role in capitalizing on your strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities and threats. Your best plans can go awry but you can minimize any challenges with the right amount of reflection for the performance of both you and your business, and execute with courage.

So, my question is how’s your strategic planning for the next 12 months?

Invest in your education. Learn from others how they deal with uncertainty in business. I’ve had literally thousands of telephone conversations with great mentors. That’s right, just a few personal meetings and countless telephone calls.

I love the business philosophy of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki. Perhaps he’s been justly criticized for some of his investment approaches, but his anecdotal lessons are inspirational. For example, his ideas on networking are insightful and he’s got an unusual take on the Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

Focus on marketing and sales simultaneously. Marketing is vital in creating a brand image. That might include public relations, a Web site, online prominence in social media and trade shows. Sales includes prospect and customer contact. Here are more tips to get strong results from your marketing plan.

If time and budget issues are taxing and you don’t have the right staff, consider alternatives:

To make a productive sales call, good marketing materials are an asset. And marketing results are stronger if your salespeople are effective. But sales and marketing usually requires two different skill sets. So consider a part-time independent contractor for marketing and commission pay for results-oriented salespeople.

Remember sales require an “inside job.” If you’re selling value, and speaking and acting with conviction, you’re destined to attract the right customers.

Create opportunities with partnerships and centers of influence. Develop relationships with influential people or groups and ask them for referrals. Look for ways to reciprocate. Rotary Clubs and chambers of commerce are good places to look for people who can be instrumental. They’ll help when you need it the most. I got my first two consulting gigs after being laid-off as a newscaster, and started meeting businesspeople over coffee. Using football as examples, here are nine steps for strategic alliance success.

Create great PR. My favorite PR example is my second client, the Utah State Fair, which was part of state government. After leaving the airwaves as a newscaster, I was hired in a 1988 Utah recession to get a $2 million state appropriation for repairing deteriorated historic buildings. At the time, asking for $2 million would be like asking for $65 million today adjusted for inflation. Legislators had been ignoring the fair and even rescinded funds they appropriated the prior year.

Effective marketing is both public and private. Following the lead of every dignitary who visits Salt Lake City, I advised my client to make a call on Mormon Church officials. Officially, the church didn’t influence public policy, but as a relative newcomer to Utah, I realized the head of the church was Ezra Taft Benson, who had been Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. Soon, a Mormon-owned newspaper published the headline: “Our Crumbling Fairgrounds.”

We scheduled events nearly each day:

For example, we took horse-drawn carriages to the state capitol “to take lawmakers for a ride.” Every newspaper published pictures with the caption, “Utah State Fair takes lawmakers for a ride.” (Actually, the veteran lawmakers ignored our invitations but the rookie lawmakers eagerly climbed into the carriages. But after the old-timers saw extensive pictures of the rookies, they eagerly cooperated on other PR efforts.) We hand-delivered bouquets of flowers donated by a grower to the morning DJs at the top 10 radio stations on Valentine’s Day to entice them to “Love a Fair.” During lunch that day, we delivered bouquets and messages to every state legislator and capitol employee.

The result: $2 million. (The following year lawmakers appropriated another $1 million without even being asked.)

We promptly issued a press release detailing how the appropriation was efficiently being invested so lawmakers wouldn’t change their minds again. If you need PR, but don’t have a budget? Here’s how to leverage the news media.

Cost-effective Internet options. Advantages in online marketing include: 1. Low overhead. 2. An opportunity to list a mega selection. 3. The Web is a great equalizer in competition. 4. International trade keeps getting bigger – remember you have the ability to sell outside the U.S.

A good barometer for advertising trends is national politics and how political candidates influence voters.Broadcast yourself.Check out YouTube. You’ll see an endless potpourri of video sales pitches.

Blog, publish or use online E-newsletters as options. Create effective press releases for your local media and don’t forget to insert them on the Internet.

There are numerous local e-marketing opportunities from local search-engine listings to Craigslist. But if you want to reach prospects who are good citizens with positive cash flow, my preference is a good local media Web site. Here’s more on how small businesses can capitalize on cyber strategies for profit.

Face adversity with courage and detachment. Many great strategies will trigger vindictive opposition. The competition in Utah for legislative funding was intense. We were victims of dirty tricks by other special interest groups. But we had fun and ran the race without ever looking over our shoulders.

Stay focused like Ichiro. Practicing good habits makes for good performance.Respect your opponents. Be defensive — like Ichiro. He does two things a lot of baseball players fail to do — he stretches all the time and he keeps his bats in a special carrying case to protect them against humidity. He doesn’t take his body or bats for granted.

Likewise with your prospects and customers, do not take them for granted. When businesses lose customers, my research shows 70 percent of the time it’s because their customers feel taken for granted.

Good luck with your strategies for creating luck to fly high with profits!

From the Coach’s Corner, don’t ignore your employees as opportunities for growth.

Pay your employees well. Be as generous as possible. Recognize them publicly. Employees are often more productive when they have a life – or job flexibility.

Treat your productive workers like you would a good customer, such as baseball or football tickets, nice dinners or their birthday off with pay.

Enhance organizational moral by making certain employees are best-suited for their responsibilities.

Look for opportunities to create a culture of personal growth. You’ll inspire loyalty and minimize turnover, which is a profit-destroyer.

So don’t forget your profit drivers – here’s how and why to partner with your employees.

Recruit employees on the four A’s of Hiring:

  1. Attitude — look for positive attitude. Will they go the extra mile and create opportunities to blog about your company on the Internet?
  2. Appearance — make certain they inspire confidence with a professional appearance.
  3. Ability — make sure they have talent.
  4. Angle — research their empathy skills – will they work well with peers and understand your customers’ angle or point-of-view? Do they know how to say thank you  – instead of the boring phrase, “have a nice day.” Do they how to prevent buyer’s remorse with customers?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”



Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Strategic Planning Lessons: Why United Airlines Was Forced to Merge with Continental

United Airlines (UAL) was forced to merge with Continental Airlines because of anemic strategic planning and poor execution. It was a $3-billion merger with about 1,200 jets and more than 86,000 workers.

Sadly, after eight decades, UAL’s logo became history. The Continental logo remains.The merger entailed a mega review of 2,000 policies and procedures.

UAL’s loading procedure prevailed — for the fastest-possible boarding time — window passengers seated first, and aisle passengers seated last.

Its policy for loading pets remains – they’re loaded onto the jets’ tail — first. Amen.

But starting with the new branding slogan, “Let’s Fly Together,” one has to wonder if the airline will get it right.

The slogan does not convey a fun experience with value and safety.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. In a dubious way, management at UAL is our teacher in strategic planning.

History of good planning?

In 2002, I wrote an uncomplimentary commentary about UAL’s management. UAL’s bankruptcy filing was a major concern to businesses, investors and workers. It was the largest airline bankruptcy in the nation’s history.

UAL comprised about 10 percent of Boeing Capital’s $11.5 billion loan portfolio as a result of jet deliveries to UAL.

Boeing’s move to Chicago, which is also UAL’s home, made it easier for the manufacturer to monitor bankruptcy proceedings and to persuade the airline to make good on its financial commitments. My sense was that other reasons included the attitude of labor, the Washington State Legislature’s approach to business and the need to be close to money markets and be more centrally located for stakeholders.

In May 2005, UAL’s plan to terminate employee pensions – the largest corporate pension default in U.S. history – was approved by the bankruptcy judge. UAL managed to dump its pension obligations on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

In Oct. 2005, the airline got a $3 billion loan from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., and emerged from bankruptcy in Feb. 2006.

But starting with the new branding slogan, “Let’s Fly Together,” one has to wonder if the airline will get it right.

The slogan does not convey a fun experience with value and safety.

Poor ESOP model

In the wake of UAL’s financial collapse, it might have seemed logical to rebuke employee-owned companies, or employee stock ownership plans.

UAL’s failure was not a reflection of ESOPs but it provided lessons in developing a productive business model and operating a complex enterprise. After all, there are more than 11,000 successful employee-owned companies throughout the nation.

The ESOP concept evolved when it was theorized that company employees are more productive when they feel a sense of ownership. But UAL’s ESOP was established for the wrong reasons in 1994.

You might recall the acrimony at UAL when the CEO, Stephen Wolf, threatened to break up the airline and outsource maintenance projects. Instead, Mr. Wolf was given $30 million to walk away as the unions embarked on their plan to save thousands of jobs.

UAL essentially became an employee-owned company, 55 percent of the shares, in 1994. Employees gave up some $700 million in wages and conceded some work rules. In exchange, the workers bought out the boss and stockholders.

The TV ads were glitzy and impressive as UAL’s stock ultimately soared above $100 a share in 1997. Then it happened: The concept was failing and UAL’s TV ads touting the airline as an employee-owned company disappeared from the airwaves. The sky-high stock price began to descend.

Published reports in 2002 indicated union members needed to conduct a reality check about their misdirected anger – they blamed the Air Transportation Stabilization Board for refusing to make a $1.8 billion loan to UAL.

There are good reasons why UAL’s ESOP failed to blossom and the bud fell off the rose. It wasn’t because of 9/11, or because the airline was refused the government bailout.

Simply put, harmony and healthy participatory management are needed for ESOP success. UAL’s ESOP proved to be an anomaly – management and employees were not united.

Strategic-planning lessons

Of the 14 major airlines before 1978, only six remained in 2002. Like the 120 carriers that have failed in recent decades, UAL failed because of an unproductive business model:

Infrastructure. Bigger isn’t always better. In 2002, UAL was the second-largest carrier behind American Airlines. It dropped to fourth in passengers flown. UAL had unsuccessfully operated hubs in Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. A modified hub system with more direct flights would have been less costly to operate.

Did UAL finally learn that it will have more leverage if it limits its purchases to one manufacturer? No. UAL bought from both Boeing and Airbus.

Uniformity. It only seems logical and cost-effective to operate a single aircraft brand for the majority of operations instead of a hodgepodge of planes. There are usually rewards for being loyal to vendors, including cost savings in purchases of jets and parts, as well as maintenance and operation simplification with one aircraft line instead of multiple aircraft makes.

Finally in 2009, UAL began negotiating with Airbus and Boeing for the purchase of 150 fuel-efficient planes to replace part of its aging fleet. Given its balance sheet, it was anticipated that UAL would depend heavily on the manufacturers for financing.

Did UAL finally learn that it will have more leverage if it limits its purchases to one manufacturer? No. UAL bought from both Boeing and Airbus.

Market conditions. Yes, airlines have had a tough time, especially because of fuel prices and passenger demand. But profitable airlines have consistently utilized economic principles, such as a no-frills approach, while UAL failed to adapt in losing $8 million a day. UAL lost $2.1 billion in 2001 and $1.74 billion for the first nine months of 2002.

UAL’s losses continued throughout the decade. For example, it lost $792 million in Q3 2008. In 2009, UAL failed to capitalize on plunging fuel prices. Its 2009 Q3 fuel bill decreased almost 57 percent or 1.1 $1.1 billion, but the airline lost $57 million.

Contrast UAL with Alaska Airlines, which netted $13.1 million in Q1 2010, and that’s typically its weakest-earning quarter each year. Alaska ranks well in on-time performance.

Failure to keep arms length from employees. With adversarial union leaders represented at the board level, it was impossible to keep labor costs at a realistic level.

Corporate welfare. In 2002, I pointed out this disturbing incident: Behind the scenes, the Air Transportation Stabilization Board had allowed accountants from competing carriers to examine UAL’s financials. They pointed out numerous flaws; consequently, the board gave the carrier several opportunities to revise its deficient business plan. UAL failed to do so.

Again, the company dumped its underfunded pension obligations on the PBGC. CEO Glenn Tilton kept his $4.5 million pension and is paid$10.3 million a year – considerably more than his peer airline CEOs.

Management. With due respect, Mr. Tilton was hired to save the company without sufficient airline experience. He was recruited from the oil industry. Plus, it takes a strong, non-confrontational administrator to cope with such challenges, and his team wasn’t strong enough to offset his weak points.

It’s also unfortunate that Mr. Tilton failed to avoid nearly $400 million in losses on fuel hedges in recent years – despite his decades of experience in oil.

In terms of strategic planning, UAL has not flown high, but had started to show some signs of corporate wisdom.

UAL started the process of improving its infrastructure. For example, it laid-off 36 employees at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and cut capacity in half because its two flights to Chicago’s O’Hare airport have been replaced by United Express and its smaller aircraft. This was part of UAL’s plan to cut its overall capacity by 10 percent.

Failure to honor tradition. Regarding the purchase of new planes, tradition and relationships should have been considered by the airline. Yes, UAL operates outside the U.S., too, with flights to Asia, Europe and Latin America with 3,300 flights to more than 200 destinations.

But my sense is UAL should have only gone with Boeing for three basic reasons:

— In recognition of its Boeing roots starting eight decades ago

— Boeing’s past goodwill in service

— Boeing’s risk-taking in extending more than $1 billion in financing to the carrier

Customer service. Consider UAL’s rankings in The Air Travel Consumer Report in 2008 by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings:

On-Time Arrivals: Near the bottom with 27.2 percent of its flights delayed.

Complaints: The worst.

Baggage Mishandling: United ranked 9th out of 19 places for baggage mishandling.

By September 2011, UAL still didn’t rank well in on-time flights – ranked third in flight delays at an average of 84 minutes per delay, according to Air Travel Consumer Reports for 2011.

UAL could learn from Alaska Airlines. I’ve flown both and there is no comparison. Connecting flights and poor customer service are a nightmare. My business associates have made similar unsolicited comments.

Then there was Dave Carroll, a Canadian musician from Halifax. He spent more than nine months trying to get United to pay for damages caused by baggage handlers to his guitar.

So he retaliated with the following YouTube video, which was viewed by at least six million people.

The merged airline has a long way to travel if it’s going to successful.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are strategies for mergers and acquisitions:

HR Lessons from Failed Mergers of Canadian Businesses — Only 20 percent of Canadian mergers and acquisitions succeed, according to a survey of finance executives. Here’s why.

If a Merger & Acquisition Tempts You, Consult Your HR Pro First — If you’re contemplating a merger, be very careful about your human capital – whether you’re in the public sector, a small business or a global company.

Like Creating a Healthy Salad, M&As Need Key Ingredients — Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) might seem simple in small business. But for success in either small or big business, M&As are a complex process. They require the right ingredients much like building a great-tasting, healthy salad.

Buy a Business to Grab Market Share but Study 10 Financials — One of the fastest ways to grow is to buy a competitor or to acquire another business. But you must exercise due diligence in 10 steps.

Selling Your Mid to Large-Size Business? Beware of the Obstacles — With plenty of angst and working long hours, you’ve spent a lifetime building your company. Now, you’re dreaming about an exit strategy – selling out before your retirement for easy living. Perhaps you’ve exhausted so much time and energy growing your company you haven’t given any thought to the business-selling process. Here are recommended strategies.

“If black boxes survive air crashes, why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?”

-George Carlin


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.