John Myrna

John Myrna is the author of The Chemistry of Strategy: Strategic Planning for the Not-Yet-Fortune 500 (Global Professional Publishers, 2014), available at Amazon. com, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere. He is a management consultant, coach, and facilitator.

Companies don’t grow by making a sale. They grow by attracting and retaining customers, which sometimes requires losing a battle to win the war.

I was in Atlanta to support a family member who required significant surgery and had selected the doctors at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute for the procedures. The Atlanta location made sense, even though it was over an hour away from her home, or two and a half hours in rush hour traffic, assuming there wasn’t a major crash on the Atlanta beltway.

The strategic planning review meeting started on a downbeat note. “We just lost Acme, our biggest customer. How could this happen?” Fred, the CEO of what I’ll call Precision Manufacturing, was more sad than angry. “Acme always gave us a positive review in our annual survey. We visit them at least monthly. How could this possibly happen?”

Since there are only four reasons an established, satisfied customer will switch vendors, I said, “Let’s see if we can figure it out.”

I recently gave a talk on the chemistry of strategy to the CEO Club of Boston. The talk was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and to finish no later than 11 a.m. I’ve devoted the last forty years to this topic, so I could have talked for hours. But I didn’t. Why? Because I knew the people in the audience had planned their day around the meeting finishing on time. Many attendees had made commitments for later in the day -- follow-up telephone calls, other meetings, and delivery of projects they had committed to finish that day.

the ceo magazine, business meeting

What if you had a strategic planning meeting and the eight worst behavioral archetypes who appear on executive teams showed up? How would you handle them?

Brad was the CEO of Liberty Consulting (all names have been changed), and he was frustrated with the tension and disconnect between his executives. Would getting them together to build a strategic plan solve the problem? We scheduled a two-day strategic planning meeting and all eight of the behavioral archetypes were there.

the ceo magazine, business strategy,

At this year’s strategic planning meeting, the CEO of a small automotive parts supplier was feeling optimistic. “We’re on a path to double revenues within five years,” said Jane. “Finally, we’ll have the resources to do things right.” She and the team had been struggling to keep their demanding customers satisfied on a shoestring budget. Jeff, the manufacturing VP, wasn’t as excited. "In my experience, growth creates nothing but problems. Why can't we just stay the size we are?"



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