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Innovate and forward plan for the year ahead

Dave Hunt offers businesses eight tips for 2008

The myriad of issues facing a business leader is greater than ever, however the key is to prioritise and be realistic about what you want to achieve in 2008. Below is a short overview of what trends to expect over the next year, with eight top tips. 

While growth is forecast the risks are greater than in recent times.  Consumer attitudes are also changing.  Companies should plan what they will do if demand softens or changes.

The increasing pace of change means the ability to innovate is more important than ever. This must go further with product development.  Innovation is fresh thinking that adds value.  Innovative companies are marked out by the absence of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, providing the capacity for change. 

The new Australian government will introduce new policies and stakeholders. During 2008, election promises will be delivered, particularly those on industrial relations and climate change. A Labor government will mean the influence of business will change as other groups are elevated to more influential positions when determining government policy. 

New channels and media are rapidly developing, offering new potential for businesses.  Accessing these is crucial to remaining competitive.  New media is also changing the nature of brand management; from guardian to guides.

Finding talent remains a key issue. Workforces are more mobile than ever before, and if employees are not happy, they move. Employees still want the same basics, but the way it needs to be delivered has changed.

Australia is increasingly significant in a globalising world. Domestic markets become more competitive as new entrants introduce best practice from overseas. Australian operations should focus on employing these global best practices and leveraging Australian advantages in innovation.

This provides just a quick snapshot of what’s the come for 2008, here are eight top tips will help you along the way:

Know your options─growth is forecast, but risks are higher; what’s your plan if demand softens?

Sell what they’ll buy─not all social trends translate to sales, test what sells and sell that.

Take lots of small risks─launch many small pilots and roll out the best, manage risks to get to market quicker and ensure success.

Use it or lose it─test new channels and media to evaluate their potential, then roll out the good ones, not all will be effective, but the right ones will be crucial to competing in your market.

Make new friends─in the new regulatory environment you’ll need to manage a wider stakeholder group.

Attack is the best form of defence─beat the international new entrants by implementing their best practices and using our advantage in innovation.

Actions speak louder than words─if you don’t deliver the basics to your employees they will leave.

Keep it simple─cut the fat that recent good times have allowed, use the extra time and resource to deliver fewer things better and to create the space to innovate.

The value of planning is realised in delivery.  Clarity, focus, engagement, discipline and responsiveness are the basis of delivery.  From these we can build alignment of strategy, structure, spend, process, performance and behaviours.

Given the growth of recent years, our last piece of advice for Australian businesses is focus and simplify in 2008.

*Dave Hunt is managing director of straterjee, a business and marketing strategy consultancy. With foundations in business strategy and as part of Australia’s leading marketing and communications group, they provide a link between business strategy, marketing and execution. To learn more call the straterjee office on +61 (0)2 9268 1500.

*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of DYNAMICBUSINESS.com or the publishers.

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