Saturday, August 22, 2020

The State of (Business) Play - Venkatesh Rao

All credit goes to Venkatesh Rao. 

Original Post: The State of (Business) Play

This post is me splitting out the questions from that ^ post so I can most-easily refer back to them. 

These questions — in this rough sequence — are ones I’ve converged on through trial-and-error over nearly a decade of initial orientation conversations with new clients. Many other questions can be usefully asked once you have a sense of the answers to these basic questions, but skipping these and going straight to other questions is usually a recipe for frustration.

1) What is the primary operational bottleneck or "firefight" currently consuming the bulk of your attention? 

2) What is currently the biggest source of uncertainty/doubt/anxiety for the company? 

3) What are the top 5-7 events coming up on the company roadmap in the next few years? 

4) Who/what are the top 5-7 most important external entities shaping your business sector environment? 

5) Which entity in the list from Q4 above exercises the MOST strategic control over the primary value chain of interest to the business?

6) Which entity in the list from Q4 consumes the largest share of your personal attention? (can be the same as 5)

7) What is the MAIN line of business (LOB) the company MUST win in, within the current business model, to be successful?

8) What is currently the MAIN strategic metric/measure that tells you whether you're winning or losing in that LOB? (be specific, eg: "free cash flow" or "increasing yield rate from process X" or "rate of increase of production volume")

9) Who is the ultimate customer/end user for the overall value chain this LOB is part of? (Be as specific as possible. Eg, "fast-food restaurant chains")

10) Who is the immediate prototypical customer for this LOB for your business? (Eg, "commercial kitchen equipment manufacturers")

11) What is ONE belief held by this prototypical customer that you would like to change, and what would you like it to change to?

  • What they believe:
  • What you would like them to believe:

12) What is your "Thielean Secret"? ONE key belief held by you/your company that is NOT widely shared by the industry?

13) What is working unexpectedly well, where you seem to be getting surprisingly lucky?

14) What is working predictably badly, and seems hopeless/doomed?

15) Overall, how well is the current business model working? Use a qualitative phrase in the range from "succeeding wildly" to "in big trouble"

16) What do you estimate are the % chances you'll need to execute a major business model pivot within the next 3 years?

17) If you do need to pivot, what is the most likely alternative business model you will be considering?

18) What are the top 3-5 macro trends affecting your business environment?

19) What are the top 3-5 elements of the business environment that are NOT changing?

20) Based on reflection on your answers to questions 1-19, list between 3-5 problems that you consider to be the top strategic priorities. Describe each with a single sentence. They can relate to any aspect of the business: internal or external, relating to marketing, engineering, HR, sales, or cutting across functional boundaries. Try and state it in terms of key details that have strategic significance, not generalities