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When times get tough, the tough get focused

For Immediate Release

Media kits, review copies and interviews with business strategy expert Bill Birnbaum available upon request

Contact: Bill Birnbaum   Bill@BirnbaumAssociates.com Phone: (541) 588-6297

When times get tough, the tough get focused

Business strategy consultant recommends companies go through a process of identifying their key success factors.

Recessions leave no room for wasted expenses and diverse organizational effort.  In time of economic downturn, all energies must be applied to those few activities which matter most.

“To survive and thrive in difficult times you have to zero in on what matters most.”

That’s the advice of Bill Birnbaum, veteran business strategy consultant and author of the book, Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle.

“Whether you are a startup or are struggling to survive in the face of economic challenges, you and your management team must identify and focus on the few key factors which produce reliable success.  Those key factors must be specific to your industry, your market, and your organization.”

Birnbaum has developed a process specifically to help businesses narrow their focus and channel their energies on those factors which matter most, and thus produce maximum success.

“It’s never too late to refocus on key activities.  You can start the process anytime,” he said.  “Though during an economic downturn, focus is most critical.”

Birnbaum claims that, “Most organizations try to focus on ‘everything.’  They need to stop trying to take on the whole world and zero in on just two or three key activities.”

How do you select the right activities?

Challenge your management team to come up with a short answer – supported by hard data – to the following question:

“For our organization to be successful, at which specific activities must we be especially good?”

As simple as it sounds, Birnbaum says that most companies struggle with this.

“It’s a process that is all-too-often easier said than done.  Narrowing their list to just two or three key activities requires a serious, in-depth discussion among the management team, plus analysis of data – hard performance data.”

As a business strategy consultant, Birnbaum has led hundreds of companies through organizational and management assessments to get to the heart of the matter.  Companies that have gone through his key success factor identification process have produced some surprising self-discoveries.

A real estate development company found that its two key success factors were selecting land and maintaining financial liquidity.  When the company studied what was really happening, they discovered that if every other business activity were just average, but their land were well located and the firm maintained adequate liquidity, the company would do well.  Sure, the developer should still strive to deliver a well-constructed product with good financing.  But they discovered that, at least for them, the most important factors that determined success were building on the right piece of land and maintaining cash liquidity.

A computer software developer found that their key success factors were developing efficient channels of distribution and providing after-sales support.  They also learned that too much concern about writing “efficient code” may have been nice from a technical standpoint, but from a competitive point of view, it was an expensive and unnecessary waste of resources.

In a strategy consulting setting, a company found out that communicating with executive decision makers and helping management teams think deeply about their enterprise was far more important than time spent on office efficiencies.

“Each company is different,” says Birnbaum.  “It’s a process of self discovery.  Do this process right and it will pay dividends for a very long time.  What you learn about yourself and your organization can be profound.”

Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle

By Bill Birnbaum

List $16.95 (Third Printing October 2008)

ISBN 978-1-932-632-132

214 pages 6 in by 9 in. trade soft cover

Douglas Mountain Publishing

Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle is available from bookstores and on-line booksellers.

This book captures lessons learned during 25 years helping management teams develop their business strategy.  The anecdotal stories offer important lessons and also an enjoyable read.

For more information visit www.BirnbaumAssociates.com, call (541) 588-6297 or email Bill@BirnbaumAssociates.com.

About the author

Bill Birnbaum is certified as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) by the Institute of Management Consultants. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from The City College of New York and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from California State University at Fullerton.  For 20 years he was the editor of the Business Strategies Newsletter and taught strategy courses for The American Management Association.  He is the President of Birnbaum Associates, a management consulting firm located in Sisters, Oregon.

What People Are Saying

“Bill is so right – you have to focus. His ‘1-2, 9-10’ method for limiting the SWOT analysis really focuses our leadership on the items that truly differentiate.”

Wade E. Terry, Vice President, American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

“Bill Birnbaum’s straight forward approach to developing a mission statement saved us many hours of work.”

Kirk Roller, President & COO, Emulex Corporation

“Bill writes in plain, easy-to-understand language about principles important to all of us. This book offers right-on guidance to many management issues we face daily.”

Frank Nisonger, President & CEO, Slakey Brothers

“I had intended to read just the chapters most pertinent to my business. But I found the content so engaging, easy to read and entertaining – and, most of all, relevant – that I read the book cover to cover.” Congratulations to Bill Birnbaum! He hit the right blend of stories, concepts and related diagrams.”

Richard A. Coskren, President & CEO, Insurance Educational Association

“This book gives me a competitive edge with which to focus my team’s strategy. It has already started to pay dividends.”

Ben Berry, Chief Technology Officer, Providence Health System, Oregon

“Bill has a unique way with words and diagrams. His style jump-starts the management team to analyze the day-to-day chaos of running an organization by finding the root cause of an issue, writing an energizing statement of strategy, which ultimately turns the chaos into learning.”

Dave Dutton, Executive Vice President, Centerpointe Research

“Birnbaum speaks directly to what a leader does: direct, mobilize, and implement. The simple diagrams combined with storied examples provide clear direction. Any manager searching for strategic focus and looking to execute will find this book invaluable.”

Derrick McCain, General Manager, Salem Packaging, Boise Paper Solutions

“Bill’s conversational style and rich, strategic content makes this book a valuable read for any business executive.”

William K. Ellermeyer, Senior VP – Managing Director, Lee Hecht Harrison

Media kits, review copies and interviews available upon request

Contact: Bill Birnbaum   Bill@BirnbaumAssociates.com Phone: (541) 588-6297

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 5:01 pm In business, corporate leadership, finance, management