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Showing posts with label Team. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Team. Show all posts

The SCORE SLATE Mentoring Guideline

The US Small Business Administration SCORE program has a well-refined guideline for business mentoring, using the acronym SLATE ...

S] Stop & Suspend Judgment
L] Listen & Learn
A] Assess & Analyze
T] Test Ideas & Teach with Tools
E] Expectations Setting & Encouraging the Dream

As important as what mentors do is what they don't do: they don't make decisions for the venture team.

[1.03]

How to Mentor a New Business Venture Development Team

Successful business ventures continually introduce new product, service, process, and positioning innovations; they keep improving internal and external transformation methodologies; and they continually monitor goal and objective achievements. New venture development teams are wise to model their venture plan on these core concepts.

Following are some excerpts from a workshop I presented at the University of New Mexcio ...

The primary mission of a new business venture development team is to create an organization that will earn a profit solving customer problems with something new and better than the competition. While this recipe for success seems straightforward, it is not so easy to execute. Experienced mentors can help a venture development team effectively and efficiently move their venture concept through the research, ideation, test, and planning stages to resourcing, launch, stability, sustainability, and growth. There are a variety of proven business venture development tools that can be used to mitigate risks and optimize the probability of new venture success. Based on experience with some 200 internal corporate ventures, spin-off companies, independent start-ups, and over a thousand graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship students, this paper outlines several of the more useful tools the author has developed and used for mentoring new business venture development teams.

Introduction

Creating a viable business plan with the appropriate depth and detail is a fundamental undertaking of a venture development team. Successful business ventures continually introduce new product, service, process, and positioning innovations; they keep improving internal and external transformation methodologies; and they continually monitor goal and objective achievements. New venture development teams are wise to model their venture plan on these core concepts. The tools in this paper were designed to improve the outcomes of the business venture planning process.


The Role of a New Business Development Team Mentor

Experienced mentors can help innovators and entrepreneurs effectively and efficiently move their venture concept through the research, ideation, test, and planning stages to resourcing, launch, stability, sustainability, and growth. The role of a new business venture development team mentor is wide-ranging:

1] Mentor: experienced and trusted adviser (typically an unpaid, voluntary, part-time role)
2] Adviser: an expert willing to share their knowledge and opinions
3] Business Plan Editor: a mentor is best used in an editor role, rather than a writer
4] Voice of the Customer: keeps a light on the customer pain-pleasure spectrum
5] Voice of the Competition: ignoring the competition is never a good strategy, and there is always competition (alternatives, substitutes, replacements)
6] Voice of the Stakeholders: everyone involved with the venture must win
7] Voice of the Team Members: a balanced team is a productive team
8] Domain Expert: teaching from education and experience
9] Soothsayer: foresees the future based on experiences from the past
10] Angel Advocate: supports the team and venture, internally and externally
11] Consultant: professional expert advice (usually compensated to perform specific tasks)
12] Moderator: arbitrator, mediator
13] Coach: helps the team iterate and pivot as needed
14] Board Member, Director (not an ordinary role): helps govern the affairs of an organization
15] Teacher: instructor, guide
16] Innovation Stimulator: innovation is a continuing journey, not a destination
17] Collaborator: partner with the venture team
18] Friend: personal confidante and sounding board
19] Tool Technician: helping the team use the right tool at the right time for the right purpose
20] DXpedition Tour Guide: Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deploy


The SLATE Mentoring Guideline

The US Small Business Administration SCORE program has a well-refined guideline for business mentoring, using the acronym SLATE:

S] Stop & Suspend Judgment
L] Listen & Learn
A] Assess & Analyze
T] Test Ideas & Teach with Tools
E] Expectations Setting & Encouraging the Dream

As important as what mentors do is what they do not do: they do not make decisions for the team.


Business Venture Development Tools

Focusing on the SLATE "Teach with Tools" element, there are a variety of business development tools that can be used to mitigate risks and optimize the probability of new venture success. (The author has a personal collection of over 400 such tools.) A good mentor can assist the venture development team with selecting and using the most effective tools for the business planning tasks at hand. For example, using proven checklists to assure the venture team addresses key factors in the planning process is a common and productive tool. Some checklists are very detailed and complex, others simple and direct.


The Innovation-Transformation-Achievement (ITA) Checklist Tool

Part of the theme of the Mentoring Institute at UNM 10th Annual Mentoring Conference (Innovation, Transformation, and Achievement) also provides an excellent startup checklist for business venture development:

Innovation] Do the product, service, process, and positioning innovations the venture is introducing to the marketplace match customer needs, wants, and desires?
Transformation] Are the transformation methods the venture will utilize to deliver value to customers effective and efficient?
Achievement] Are the key achievements of the venture (goals and objectives) being tracked such that critical operational methodologies can be continually improved?


Venture Mapping Tool

Simple visual aids, diagrams, flowcharts, graphs, maps et al are also excellent communication tools that help with seeing the "big picture". The Venture Mapping Tool in Figure 1 identifies the key elements that must be addressed by every business venture. There are four categories:

1] The Environment, Markets, and Customers

2] The Transformation Processes including key venture processes (Management, Marketing, Innovation Engineering, Production Operations, Sales, Accounting, and Finance)

3] The Resources available within the venture to power the Transformation Processes (People, Places, Things, Time, and Money)

4] Innovation Activities (Exploration and Ideation, Vision and Mission, Goals and Objectives, Strategies and Tactics, Tasks and Assignments)




Figure 1: The Venture Mapping Tool


The Critical Success Factor (CSF) Venture Mission Tool

There is a common Critical Success Factor (CSF) for every business venture: earn a profit solving customer problems with something new and better than the competition. Business ventures that fail can be readily diagnosed as not adequately addressing one or more of these nine core elements. A common failure mode is the lack of continuous innovation, not creating "something new and better than the competition".

Adopting this CSF as a starter mission statement for a new venture is a very effective tool for focusing the development team on designing strategies and tactics that will be of the greatest value. Figure 2 provides added detail for each of the nine CSF elements.




Figure 2: The Critical Success Factor as a Venture Mission Statement Tool


The Three Musketeer Hats Tool

Many successful new startup venture teams consist of three key people (humorously called "The Three Musketeers") working in harmony: the innovator, the entrepreneur, and the manager. The roles may often overlap. Sometimes team members describe their individual roles in terms of the "hat they wear" on a particular day. It is not uncommon for team members to "rotate role hats" from day to day. Figure 3 shows the primary function of each role and their relationship to the mission of the venture.




Figure 3: The Three Musketeer Hats Tool


The Hierarchical Output-Transformation-Input (HOTI™) Chart

Perhaps one of the most useful tools for in-depth business venture planning and development is the Hierarchical Output-Transformation-Input (HOTI™) Chart. It is very helpful for product, service, and process design. It is also particularly good for focusing brainstorming sessions for the creation of most any transformational system, from smartphone apps to cloud-based data storage to logistical operations flow to customer relationship management systems. In summary, the HOTI Chart highlights six system-critical categories: the environment, inputs, process, resources, outputs, and waste.



Figure 4: The HOTI™ Chart


The Venture Communications Network Tool


An application of the HITO Graphic Tool is in the creation of an internal venture communication network, how the functional areas of a business organization interact and share critical information. Figure 5 outlines a somewhat standard every-business-looks-like-this flowchart. Internal communication channels are numbered 1 through 6, communication channels between the organization and its customers are lettered A through E. Each of these network elements can be further detailed in a hierarchical manner using the HITO Graphic Tool.



Figure 5: Business Venture Communications Network Tool


The "alpha" communication channels in Figure 5 are external, between business venture departments and customers:

A] The Innovation Department communicating with customers to determine what customer problems, needs, wants, and desire the venture should address

B] The Marketing Department communicating with customers to promote current venture solutions, product, services, and processes that solve current customer problems, and obtain feedback from customers relating to the performance of the venture in solving their problems

C] The Sales Department obtaining and processing orders from customers, and customer relationship management

D] The Operations Department building and delivering solutions, products, and services to fill customer orders

E] The Finance/Accounting Department collecting payment for the value delivered to customers by the products, services, and processes provided by the venture

The "numeric" communication channels in Figure 5 are internal, the information being shared between departments in a business venture.

1] Marketing and Innovation Development Departments share information about customer problems, needs, wants, and desires, and the benefits, fit, form, function, and features of new products, services, and processes being created in the organization.

2] The Marketing and Sales Departments coordinate information about the benefits, fit, form, function, and features of currently available solutions, products, services, and process that match customer requirements, including the price of the offerings.

3] The Sales Department communicates information about customer orders to the Finance/Accounting Department such that the customer is properly billed when the solutions, products, and services are delivered.

4] The Sales Department communicates information about customer orders to the Operations Department such that the appropriate products and services are delivered to the customer.

5] The Operations Department communicates information about product and service delivery to the customer so the Finance/Accounting Department can accurately bill the customer.

6] The Innovation Department (often called the Engineering Department) provides the Operations Department with bills of material and assembly instructions for creating the solutions, products, and services being sold to customers.

While there are many other useful tools, those outlined in this paper have proven to provide excellent results for a mentoring a new business venture development team.

Summary

The primary mission of a new business venture development team is to create an organization that will earn a profit solving customer problems with something new and better than the competition. Experienced mentors can help innovators and entrepreneurs effectively and efficiently move their venture concept through the research, ideation, and planning stages to resourcing, launch, stability, sustainability, and growth. There are a variety of tools that can be used to mitigate risks and optimize the probability of success. A good business development mentor can assist the venture development team with selecting and using the most effective tools for the tasks at hand when creating and implementing a viable business venture plan.


References

United States Small Business Administration (US SBA), Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). SLATE mentoring process. Retrieved from www.score.org

HOTI Chart™ is a trademark of Wencil Research, LLC. Used with permission.

[Presented at the University of New Mexico 10th Annual Mentoring Conference]

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Twelve Team Tips ...

Building a venture team? Here are some goog guidelines ...
  1. A team needs a good leader. Usually, in a work situation, the leader is chosen by people outside the team. In more social contexts, the team may choose the leader.
  2. A team needs to be the right size. There is no precise figure here, but generally speaking one would expect a new business venture management team to be around 3 to 6 members.
  3. A team needs members with a variety of skills. The nature of these skills will depend on the organization and the task. However, typically one might want someone good with figures as well as someone good with words, someone who is effective at getting things done as well someone who is a creative thinker. It is important to avoid the temptation to chose too many like-minded members and team members need to know and respect the skills of others in the team.
  4. A team needs members with a variety of personalities. Again the nature of these personalities will depend on the organisation and the task. One might want an introvert as well as an extrovert and a maturer person as well as a younger one. Gender and ethnic differences can also make a creative contribution to an effective team.
  5. A team needs to bond. Some of this can be in done in the course of carrying out team tasks. However, it is good to create more specific opportunities for bonding that are outside the normal work schedule and situation, such as strategy sessions, training course and social events. One should take opportunities to celebrate successes - such as winning a new contract or fulfilling a particular project - and to celebrate occasions - such as birthdays of team members.
  6. A team needs to be able to resolve internal conflicts. However well a team bonds, it is likely that from time to time there will be differences in the team. This should not be unexpected or even always avoided; it is an inevitable feature of creative people having different ideas. 
  7. A team needs good communications. People need to know what is expected of them, what is happening in the organisation, and how all this effects them as individuals and as a team. In many ways, the best communication is face-to-face but this can be time-consuming and may not always be practical. These days e-mail is an efficient means of communication, provided that it is not overdone or used as a way of avoiding difficult encounters.
  8. A team needs shared values and a shared vision. All team members need to know and agree how the team is going to work and what it is trying to do. This might involve having some sort of strategy session - maybe facilitated by someone outside the team - with exercises to ensure that the values and the vision are embraced by all.
  9. A team needs clear objectives. Ideally these objectives ought to be SMART - that is, specific, measurable, achievable, resourced, timed.
  10. A team needs to be empowered. There are two elements to this. First, the team collectively needs to be given the resources and the authority to achieve the objectives set for it. Second, each individual needs to know what is expected of him or her but left to work out for himself or herself how best to achieve this on a day to day basis.
  11. A team needs trust. Members need to trust each other and most especially the team leader. This requires open and honest communication, acceptance of a 'no blame' culture, and a recognition that every mistake is an occasion for learning and not an excuse to criticise.
  12. A team needs to be flexible. There are two elements to this. First, roles in the team should not be rigid - it is the team's success that matters more than who exactly does what. Second, the composition and existence of the team needs to be flexible so, if a new skill is needed, one might add a new member to the team, but conversely, if the team's project is satisfactorily completed, there might be no continued need for the team.
[Thank you, Roger Darlington]

Mentor Guidelines

Here are some "rules of the road" for venture team mentors that we used at the University of Arizona, not only as mentors but as teachers as well with students learning the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship ...

1. Appropriately implements a teacher-designed lesson plan
2.  Communicates specific standards and high expectations for learning
3.  Links learning with students’ prior knowledge, experiences, and backgrounds
4.  Models the skills, concepts, attributes, or thinking processes to be learned
5.  Demonstrates effective written and oral communication
6.  Uses appropriate language to communicate with learners clearly and accurately
7.  Uses strategies that are appropriate to students’ development or functional level
8.  Incorporates strategies which address the diverse needs of learners
9.  Encourages critical thinking
10.  Connects lesson content to real life situations when appropriate
11.  Uses technology and a variety of instructional resources appropriately to promote student learning
12.  Uses a variety of effective teaching strategies to engage students actively in learning
13.  Maximizes the amount of class time students are engaged in learning
14.  Provides opportunity for students to use and practice what is learned
15.  Adjusts instruction based on student feedback
16.  Promotes student self-assessment
17.  Uses a variety of appropriate formal and informal assessments aligned with instruction
18.  Maintains records of student work and performance and uses them to guide instructional decisions
19.  Offers students appropriate feedback on progress towards learning expectations
20.  Maintains privacy of student records and performance
21.  Works with students to enhance learning at home and at school
22.  Collaborates with other professionals, faculty, and staff to improve the overall learning environment for students
23.  Accesses community resources and services to foster student learning
24.  Demonstrates productive leadership or team membership skills that facilitate the development of mutually beneficial goals
25.  Demonstrates knowledge of disabilities and their educational implications
26.  Demonstrates knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations
27.  Demonstrates knowledge of a variety of assistive devices that support student learning
28.  Applies specialized diagnostic and assessment procedures to assist in determining special education eligibility for all areas of suspected disability
29.  Assists in the design and implementation of individual educational programs through diagnostic teaching, instructional adaptations, and individual behavior management techniques
30.  Utilizes para-educators and para-therapists effectively through training and supervision
31.  Addresses physical, mental, social, cultural, or community differences among learners
32.  Addresses prior knowledge of individual and group performance
33.  Reflects long-term curriculum goals
34.  Includes appropriate use of a variety of methods, materials, and resources
35.  Includes learning experiences that are developmentally or functionally appropriate for learners
36.  Includes learning experiences that address a variety of cognitive levels
37.  Includes learning experiences that are appropriate for curriculum goals
38.  Includes learning experiences that are based upon principles of effective instruction
39.  Includes learning experiences that accurately represent content
40.  Incorporates appropriate assessment of student progress
41.  Establishes and maintains standards of mutual respect
42.  Displays effective classroom management
43.  Encourages the student to demonstrate self-discipline and responsibility to self and others
44.  Respects the individual differences among learners
45.  Facilitates people working productively and cooperatively with each other
46.  Provides a motivating learning environment
47.  Promotes appropriate classroom participation
48.  Listens thoughtfully and responsively
49.  Organizes materials, equipment, and other resources appropriately
50.  Applies own best judgment at all times

Tips for Building a Good Corporate Culture

  1. Give every member of your organization a chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody.
  2. Stand firm on your beliefs and principles.
  3. Treat your customers like guests.
  4. Support, empower, and reward employees.
  5. Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners.
  6. Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition.
  7. Train extensively and constantly reinforce the company's culture.
  8. Align long-term vision with short-term execution.
  9. Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems.
  10. Pay close attention to detail.
[Thank you, Walt Disney]

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How to Build an Effective Team

  1. Team members should clearly understand what is expected of them, individually and as a group.
  2. Team members should understand their specific role on the team.
  3. Team members should be committed to the success of the team ... all for one, one for all!
  4. Team members should be competent in their individual field of expertise.
  5. The team should be balanced and cover all key areas ... for example, a new business venture team often consists of a general manager, a product/operations manager, a marketing/sales manager, and a finance manager.
  6. Teams members should be of good character and maintain high ethical standards.
  7. The team should have control of their destiny.
  8. Team members should actively communicate on an on-going basis.
  9. Team members should actively coordinate their planning and actions on an on-going basis.
  10. Team members should actively collaborate on an on-going basis.
  11. The team should be engaged in proactive change and innovation.
  12. The team should be responsible for the consequences of its actions.

The Three (or Four) Musketeers

  1. Successful early-stage venture management teams are often comprised of the "Three Musketeers": the General Manager (President), the Product/Operations Manager (VP), and the Marketing/Sales Manager (VP).
  2. More than three people leading the venture and the communication channels start to become too complex. 
  3. Less than three leading managers and the workload starts to become too intense. If there is a Fourth Musketeer, it could be a Financial Manager.
  4. The General Manager concentrates on the cash flow, keeping the venture profitable, and stimulating growth.
  5. The Product/Operations Manager is primarily internally focused on creating solutions that are better than the competition.
  6. The Marketing/Sales Manager is primarily externally focused on solving customer problems.
  7. The team is a cohesive entity focused on what is best for the venture and its customers ... one for all, all for one.
  8. Successful management teams are comprised on individuals who are competent, have complementary skills, and collaborative styles.
  9. Together the team is purposeful, passionate, and persistent.
  10. Together the team is focused on earning a profit solving customer problems better than the competition.
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Traits of Terrific Teams ...

  1. Challenge each other
  2. Provide mutual inspiration
  3. Perform well in a chaotic environment
  4. Maintain control despite the extreme pressure
  5. Trust each other
  6. Respect each other
  7. Share a common vision
  8. Open to new ideas
  9. Have a sense of humor
  10. Have integrity
  11. Full of energy
  12. Team players
  13. Honest and direct
  14. Calculated risk-takers
  15. Get along with others
  16. Able to handle pressure
  17. Are inspirational
  18. Are doers
  19. Are competent in their field
  20. Are balanced
  21. Are experienced
  22. Share leadership and ownership of team tasks
  23. Communicate continuously
  24. Provide performance feedback
  25. Most decisions reached by consensus
  26. Division of tasks is clear
  27. Collaboration is the norm
  28. Share learning
  29. Listen to each other
  30. Comfortable with disagreements
  31. Are cohesive
  32. Are mutually supportive
  33. Coordinate activities
  34. Share work expectations
  35. Have complementary skills but a collaborate style