How a Strategic Filter Can Help You Make Better Business Decisions

Defining your core proposition is the first step to winning more clients, and makes evaluating ideas easier

Written by Robert Gold

One of Ian Chamandy’s clients is a company that installs retail shelving. When a new Home Depot opens, for example, this firm fills the big box with the racks that hold $13 magnetic tape measures and $65 high-leverage cutters. “Once they’re done, the store opens,” says Chamandy.

Chamandy is co-founder of Blueprint Business Architecture and co-author of the recently-released book Why Should I Choose You. He believes that conventional business strategic planning is broken and obsolete. “Many of the traditional business practices were developed post-Second World War in institutions like Harvard and Stanford Business Schools or in big companies like General Motors and IBM and Proctor & Gamble,” he notes. “Things like €˜mission, vision and value,’ €˜selling the features and benefits,’ for decades and decades were axioms of business, and now they’re not working anymore.”

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Instead, Chamandy and his business partner (and co-author) Ken Aber threw out that traditional thinking and developed a new methodology for strategic planning that distills a business down to a single core proposition, expressed in seven words or less. “That short phrase ends up guiding the entire architecture of your business, every part of it, everything it does and everything it says,” he explains.

Take the retail shelving firm. The company has been in business for three generations, and over that time has developed techniques, systems, processes and procedures that allowed allow it to complete jobs faster than the competition. “If they get a Home Depot done a week or two faster than any of their competitors, that means the store can open a week or two sooner, and that’s a week or two of retail sales that it wouldn’t otherwise have,” notes Chamandy. “That’s north of a million dollars a week for a Home Depot, and really that’s the only metric we care about—money.”

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When the company enlisted Chamandy and his team to develop their business blueprint, that speed of delivery ended up being key. The firm puts up €˜Opening Soon’ signs while it’s conducting installations, and during a conversation about how it finishes faster than the competition, one executive suggested a tweak. “I want [them] to say €˜Opening Sooner,'” Chamandy recalls him saying. That thought became the basis of the firm’s core proposition. “This company was not in the business of retail shelving, because all of their competitors are in that business as well,” says Chamandy. “What makes them uniquely remarkable in that category is that they get finished faster, and that’s expressed as €˜Opening Sooner.'”

Identifying your core proposition and expressing it succinctly allows you to make every business decision with more confidence and clarity, according to Chamandy. “Those seven words or less guide every decision you make and every action you take,” he explains. So if your core proposition is €˜Opening Sooner,’ then every idea or proposal must be put to the following test: is it going to make a material difference in getting clients open faster, or not? “If it is, then it’s something that is aligned with who you are,” says Chamandy. “If it isn’t, then you know to take that off the table.”

For more ways that defining your core proposition can make your business better, listen to this week’s BusinessCast by clicking the button above or download by clicking on the iTunes logo below:

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com