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4 simple but successful management tools February 20, 2014

What if you could have a limited number of simple “one pager” management tools at your fingertips that could assist you to have a more consistent, effective approach to your regular work; and improve your business outcomes?

Over the years most of you will have been to plenty of conferences and workshops, all espousing the credentials of “Best Practice” management tools and techniques . Some of them are useful… Maybe I’m a little different, but in my experience the management approaches that have ignited my curiosity and which I have subsequently embedded into my business approach and mindset have not come from industry conferences but have actually come from seeing them work in reality, with a variety of Managers across all types of industries and locations.

As a rule, I always try to look for a simple approach, one that produces sustainable results.  I thought you might be interested in a few that I consistently use and by the way, I haven’t created these - other more clever people with whom I have worked with have. I have simply used their key learnings to improve my own management style and outcomes.

The 4 simple tools I use are:

WIGO (What Is Going On) – This is a weekly management reporting tool that I use to gain a regular update from my team.  They fill out a page divided into four sections:

1)      Highlights ­- 3 or 4 dot points on what they achieved in the last week

2)      Focus for next week – dot points of what they are doing  and what their priorities are for next week

3)      Lowlights – dot points on what’s restricting them from doing their job.  My responsibility as their Manager is to ensure the restrictions are removed or the business improvement idea is escalated.  What’s the solution to address the issue? Do they have any business improvement ideas?

4)      Budget variances – dot points on income and expenditure and actual versus budget.  My aim is to ensure that I manage my budget with a ‘”no surprises” methodology.

Receptivity Planning (What, Who, When, Where)

This is a one page planning approach I use to align with the belief that if we connect with the way people are feeling when they are in the right frame of mind, our target audience will be more receptive to our messages.  

1)      What are we trying to achieve? – i.e. what is the business task, what are the barriers for communications?

2)      Who are we trying to influence? Understand our consumer insights, motivations and behaviours.

3)      When are they most receptive? i.e. when is our target audience most likely to be in this motivational space and what style of content best fits this need?

4)      How do we effectively reach them? i.e. what is the optimum mix of channels and how should we behave in this space?

Creating a Competitive Advantage

This is the 4 point approach I use to try and develop a competitive advantage.  At first glance it might look only relevant to a marketing role, but I find this approach useful in other areas too.

1)      Critical Buying Criteria – I try to understand my target audiences critical buying criteria and expectations

2)      Competitors’ Propositions – understand our competitors’ proposition and activity and industry benchmarks

3)      Customer Value Proposition (CVP) – I use the “3D” approach i.e.


  • Desirable – the proposition must be highly desirable to the customer
  • Differentiated – the proposition must be uniquely different to what our major competitor is offering
  • Defensible – ideally the proposition should be one that your competitors cannot quickly replicate or transition to

4)      Execution – I try to ensure the following are implemented to support the proposition:


  • Staff Rewards and Recognition – provide large rewards for unbudgeted income
  • Scorecard / KPI’s for staff
  • Customer Satisfaction Research (3rd party)
  • Coaching and Leadership.

DBAT (Don’t be a Tool)

I try to behave in line with the following criteria:

1)      Have a go – I believe the greatest mistake you can make is to be too scared to make a mistake!!  In almost all organisations I’ve worked with, most people have a “CYA” (cover your arse) attitude. Don’t be afraid to try to create things that are uniquely different even if you occasionally get it wrong

2)      Give credit to others – you’ll find that it doesn’t reduce your creditability

3)      Help others to achieve their goals – if they achieve theirs, it may help you achieve yours

4)      Admit errors – If you take ownership of your failures and learn from them, people will give you ownership for decisions

5)      Lighten up – don’t take things too seriously, have fun with pain!!  Two of my very close friends have died recently – one from cancer and the other from asbestosis. And my father died at 51 from motor neuron disease, so I can tell you from personal experience that money and other things may seem to be a big deal,  but ultimately in the big picture, almost all of them really aren’t. So try to lighten up and even laugh at yourself!

I hope one or more of these management tools are of some interest.  I’m happy to take any questions and I’d like to hear if you have any favorite management tools that have worked for you throughout your career.

Cheers until our next blog.

Terry Jones
Marketing Manager  

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