Mission, Vision and Ethic
Bridges coaches subscribe to the set of fundamental values presented here. The Mission, Vision and Ethic statements below are predicated on the Bridges interpretation of "to coach" as meaning "to co-achieve." We also try to have some fun with the challenges, cf. "Tall Tales" at A. Market Research Basics of V. Marketing Strategy at Services. Therefore the Bridges Strategic Growth E-Textbook also has a friendly mascot, Qoogol the Elephant. He is the urban counterpart of "The Coaching Elephant" discussed on his subpage, which follows.
Mission: Co-achieve business growth.
Vision: "Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?" George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)
First, provide value.
Strive to under-promise, over-perform.
". . . there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim." John Owen (1616 - 1683). Are you already in, or want to head into, deep waters (better fishing, but bigger waves)?
Mission Warning & Extension
Warning: Growth is not a strategy! It is a method to implement a strategy. Therefore it is really a tactic -- often one of tremendous power, the very crux of success. However relentlessly pursuing the Holy Grail of growth is fraught with peril. Brands are extended, departments enlarged, subsidiaries opened, acquisitions pursued, all for their own sake. If growth does not reflect a strategic imperative, it can become carcinogenic. The enterprise metastasizes. This kind of managerial cancer has led to the demise of many a commercial giant over the centuries.
Extension: A more accurate statement of Bridges mission is therefore to:
co-achieve strategically-driven business growth.
George Bernard Shaw´s vision may be restated as "bridging the gap" from where one is now to where one wants to be. It also may be sung, for instance Susan Boyle's "I dreamed a dream." The link is to the rendition of this song that is our mascot's favorite. Granted, it is a dubious fit for strategic deliberations, but if you click on it you will not be bored!
Consider how a) the goal was set, b) the plan was made, c) the ensuing preparation and practice it required, and d) the outcome. Reflect on that in terms of your own recent product introductions and the marketing campaigns for them.
No, we are not suggesting "fang marketing!" We are suggesting thinking hard about how to appeal more than your competitors do to your judges, i.e. the customers, by seizing their attention and holding it with exceptional performance. Incidently, the singer's website offering is not nearly at the same level -- a missed opportunity to upgrade the product line.
Intense C-Suite Executives with No Time
At this point you should have enough of a first impression to move you to glance at "Who We Are" and take a decision. If you decide on action, then have your secretary make contact with us or have a member of your staff complete our USP-2, uncomplicated screening process, viz. the Strategy Questionnaire.
Immediately before a telephone call or interview, jot down a couple of questions. The first section of Services, "I. Audits, Beginning with B for Business to W for the Website" provides rifled strategy questions and a broad "shotgun" checklist of marketing ones, among others. You might also want to click on the link below to an article at FAQs:
An Ethics Reality Check
A comment on the last adjuration "be honest" -- tell the truth, be fair, keep your promises, encourage curiosity, and respect different opinions. There is a proclivity to preach that honesty and integrity are important ingredients for success in business (in contrast to politics). The list of eminent "preachers" is legion.
The list includes master leadership researcher James Kouzes (The Leadership Challenge), master sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer (13 books and counting), and master coach Marshall Goldsmith (28 or 29 books). Among them is even the management master who stands in a class by himself, the brilliant, profound Peter Drucker (39 books). In fact, Drucker went so far as to say that without honesty and integrity an executive is a “menace, unfit to manage.” Nonsense.
Being honest is not a management choice. It is not about success either. It is a lifestyle choice. Some CEOs and entrepreneurial giants were (are) totally ethical, virtually saints, others totally dishonest, despicable thieves. Apple is an unusual case in point, with the co-founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, representing the opposite extremes.1
An "environmental" footnote
We are a non-smoking firm, following a precedent more common in the U.S. than in Europe. A primary reason is financial. It lowers the premiums the firm pays for any supplemental health insurance. A secondary reason is that we are aware of the chemical definition of addiction, viz. that the substance causes cellular changes.2
1 In The Silicon Boys, William Morrow & Co., 1999, the author, David Kaplan, relates how when Apple went public, the two founders each received $155 million. Wozniak promptly dispersed $65 million to 45 Apple workers who he felt had been short-changed. Jobs style was a little different. He kept it all. Apparently he continued to do so, becoming worth $8.3 billion in 2011 according to Forbes. (His lack of philanthropy was widely criticized. He did not appear on national tallies of significant charitable donations. Given his reputation as one of Silicon Valley´s leading egomaniacs, that he donated anonymously seems unlikely, albeit not impossible.)
Of course this moral blemish is trivial compared to the amorality of, say, Alexander the Great, who habitually murdered his rivals. However Alexander was already building cities as a teenager, going on to conquer empires while still in his twenties. (He died at 32.) Jobs never built a single city, let alone conquered a country, not even a small one.
Regardless, being tightfisted is one thing, peculation quite another. Jobs once told his friend and partner Wozniak that they had received $700 for a project. The two were just starting out and both pretty broke. Jobs gives Wozniak his half, $350. Actually Jobs had received $5,000. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, had been so impressed with "Breakout," a game developed for him by Jobs and Wozniak, that he paid the agreed amount to Jobs -- and added a huge bonus to bring the payment up to $5,000.
Stealing from the government or a huge faceless corporation is wrong. Stealing from your customers is stupid. Stealing from your partner is despicable.
2 Which three substances below are related? All are lethal. One is used as an insecticide. One kills more people than all the others combined.
(4) C10H14N2 The first is acetysalicyclic acid, more commonly known as aspirin. (Aspirin costs not twice as much, not ten times as much, but thirty (!) times as much in Germany and Spain as it does in the U.S., where many people take a quarter tablet daily as a prophylactic measure against coronary disease.) But taking too much aspirin in one dose will indeed kill you.
The next three substances are related in that they are all potent alkaloids. Their street names are, respectively: (2) cocaine, (3) herion and (4) nicotine. Nicotine, unarguably the most lethal of all, is also used as an insecticide.
"Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break, while the pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Nicotine content in cigarettes has slowly increased over the years, and one study found that there was an average increase of 1.6% per year between the years of 1998 and 2005. This was found for all major market categories of cigarettes. . ." ("Nicotine," Wikipedia, 2010). The article continues:
"The LD50 of nicotine is . . . 3 mg/kg for mice; 40 mg (0.5 mg/kg) can be a lethal dosage for humans. Nicotine therefore has a high toxicity in comparison to many other alkaloids such as cocaine, which has an LD50 of 95 mg/kg when administered to mice." (LD50 is a toxicological term, which refers to the median lethal dose required to kill half the members of a tested population.) The more people look into smoking, the higher appears the chance that it will, indeed, kill you. The old mortality rate of "one in three" has been revised to "about one half" by the U.S. surgeon general´s report on smoking of December 2010.
Of course the "one half" only refers to the death rate. Lots of people get a smoking induced illness and recover, doing just fine. Take one of the most common afflictions, tongue cancer. First your tongue is surgically removed. If that doesn´t get the job done, the next step is to cut away one quarter of your face. Good news, quite often that works. You are cancer free! Unfortunately, you are now a monster who cannot speak and has to wear a mask to go out in public. But, think of all the pleasure the modestly priced cigarettes gave you prior to that.
Perhaps you prefer going blind? Blindness is another statistic that does not show up in the smoking mortality rates. The tobacco smoke drifting past your eyes has nicotine and tar, both of which damage the eyes. More harmful, and what many people do not realize, is that the smoke is also full of carbon monoxide -- which has a really potent effect on the sensitive retina. Over the years the effect is cumulative and there you are, going blind four times as often, and a full ten years earlier, than your non-smoking colleagues.
The U.S. surgeon general´s report also points out that the tobacco companies have made substantial improvements in their nicotine delivery systems in recent years. Modern cigarettes are therefore far more addictive than those of 10 or 20 years ago. "Spiking," or freebasing, is done to create a more intense effect with the same amount of the addictive substance. For instance, one freebases the related drug cocaine by converting it from a salt to its base form.
Similarly, the cigarette companies freebase nicotine by adding ammonia. Actually the preceding sentence is an over-simplification that does not do the world-class research at these companies justice. They are continually optimizing the chemical additives to create the fastest, most powerful nicotine hit. The scientists at the tobacco companies are so good, that by now about one adolescent in three who experiments with the occasional cigarette winds up hooked, a heavy smoker.
The standard marketing strategy for all three drugs is the same. First, one builds the client base by giving away the drug. Then one waits for those who become hooked to return as paying customers. With cigarettes brand loyalty is very strong, so it is important to win customers at the very beginning of their usage. Marketing is therefore focused on teenagers. Giving them away at high schools is extremely effective. This focus on teenagers is particularly evident in those developing countries that have a relatively lax legal environment about drugs.
To quote roughly a comment out of the C-suites of a tobacco multinational: "We have the perfect product. It costs pennies to make and sells for dollars. And it is addictive." And, the modern executive might add, "with no pesky restrictions on freebasing." If you smoke (crack) cocaine, heroin or nicotine, make no mistake; you are smoking a hard addictive drug. Does it follow that if you are an executive for a tobacco company, you are a . . .?
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