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Sticky Strategy

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A lot of my consulting practice revolves around helping super-early start-ups understand where they are, what their strategy looks like, and where the holes are. This is an activity that takes …

A lot of my consulting practice revolves around helping super-early start-ups understand where they are, what their strategy looks like, and where the holes are. This is an activity that takes anywhere from 2-4 hours that is the most efficient way to get a founding team to articulate the beliefs that have formed as they've built the company. I do this with every client, and the results are always powerful -- for me as their advisor, but moreover for the team, who leaves with a "forest for the treas" clarity, and alignment around priorities and goals.

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    • 1. ENTREPRENEUR’S TOOLBOX: Use Sticky Notes To Define Your Strategy Quickly. Janice Fraser Presidio School of Business Strategy Residency February 2010 janice@twotopLabs.com 1
    • 2. WHAT SLOWS TEAMS • Making decisions • Being “in the weeds” • Not making decisions • “Forest/Trees • Disagreements • “Analysis Paralysis” • Negotiation • Forgetting to move on • Talking • Not seeing that you already agree • Not Listening • Not noticing that you need to • Meetings make a decision(!) (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 2
    • 3. CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS ACTIVITY • Lo-fi • Dump-and-sort • Rapid • Collaborative • Facilitated (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 3
    • 4. WHERE YOU (PRESIDIO STUDENTS) ARE (IN YOUR PROJECTS) ... • Answering questions: • Early in the process: • What does the company do • Perhaps only one meeting (in terms of Mission)? with Partner • Who else does it? • Scoping doc is done • What’s the differentiator? • Developing the workplan (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 4
    • 5. HOW-TO #1 • Supplies matter: Have a lot of regular size stickies & fine point Sharpies. (limits the number of words per sticky) • Write one idea per sticky. • Create as many stickies as you can, quickly. (10-30mins) • Each person makes one big pile of stickies without regard for whether they’re right, good, cohesive, or useful. • THE RESEARCH QUESTION IS... “Write down everything you know about the company’s strategy.” (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 5
    • 6. HOW-TO #2 • Together, sort all of the stickies into clusters. (ideal group size is 3-4) • Talk a lot. • Name the clusters. (Use a different color sticky.) • Look over the whole the story created by the clusters. Notice gaps, trends, disagreements. • Talk a lot. (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 6
    • 7. WHAT WE’RE DOING Extracting from people the beliefs, ideas, and instincts about the business, ...So that we can deconstruct them, ...So that we can identify patterns and recognize gaps and disagreements, ...In order to see the storyline clearly. (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 7
    • 8. HUMAN-CENTRIC TOOL • Attitudes • Beliefs • Ideas • Intuition • Choices • Behaviors (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 8
    • 9. WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR • Distill knowledge. • Reveal gut instincts. • Operational Efficiencies. Fast progress Creating a shared understanding (!!!) Seeing agreements (fewer decisions to make) Knowing where you need to do more work See all points of view at once, integrated Rounds out the collective view of the problem space (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 9
    • 10. NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR... • Research • Analysis • Business plan • Meaningful debates (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 10
    • 11. FACILITATOR • Encourage a lot of stickies. • Encourage fewer words per sticky -- if it doesn’t fit, it’s more than one idea. • Encourage discussion during clustering -- this is the real value- creating activity. • Put multiples together, noting the agreement. (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 11
    • 12. OTHER MODS USES • Sequencing • Problem-solving • Cause/effect mapping • Go-to-Market planning • Prioritization • Product features (c) 2010 Janice Fraser janice@twotopLabs.com 12