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Entries in Strategy (10)


Fresh Start

Don't know about you, we always find it exciting to start a New Year.

We just turned the page on 2016, we hopefully learned few things, as well as made a contribution at least few times.

Now we engage 2017 which is 1 day shorter that 2016 (leap year) and probably a ton shorter with time accelerating the way its been doing for the past few years.

We hope you took time to "lighten up" and "clean up" some of the stuff you were dragging around in 2016, while keeping in mind that you will have to move a little faster, do it a little better in 2017.

We hope that you will be your own editor in 2017, and that you will share insight, make a contribution with the the folks around you, and especially your family. Invariably when you make a contribution you will get something back.

From our perspective 2017 is/will be a "pivot year" for the planet, and a lot of folks too.

That you have you filed a meticulous flight plan supported by presentations, and spread sheets, have your own "sort of" plan, or just plain rush into 2017. Ensure that you have Plan A and at least Plan B.

Be prepared to "pivot"...

Be prepared to enhance your personal brand...

Be prepared to deal wih assholes...

Be prepared to make a difference and a contribution...




Do it Better

Its that time of year. We are busy, time has accelerated all year long. We have seen disruption in a bunch of areas. A bunch of folks got caught flat footed and then some.

Its also the time of year when we might just ask "Could I/We have done it better?". Not to be a Monday morning quarter back (analyst) but simply to learn from our experiences, and decisions.

You look at the auto business in Canada, record year, never have so many new vehicles been sold in Canada. Especially with a challenging market in Alberta. Truly impressivle...absolutely. We have to be doing a few right things...absolutely.

Ask yourself "Can you do it better?"

You can surely come up with a few points where you could have done it better...what do you think?




Straddling the Brick / Mortar and Digital Fence

We might as well keep on disrupting this week.

The auto business in Canada is still straddling a physical and digital fence. Somedays seem as if its improving, others as if the chasm is getting wider and deeper. One thing is certain there is a constant flow of sound bites from a myriad of stakeholders.


As the wave of digital natives increases, a bulk of their due diligence is done on a mobile device. Literally visiting a brick and mortar dealer at the last minute. With the gazillion programs and incentives constantly wondering what is a good deal. Yes...the metal must still resonate to finalise a decision.

Safe to say that customers are primarily on the digital side of the fence when acquiring a vehicle be it new or used.


They are caught up in a world of branded glass palaces (brick and mortar) to comply with the manufacturer requirements, and a digital arena to actually deal with customers. Its a complex atmosphere with a myriad of variables.

Dealers are forever straddling the fence since they require both a brick and mortar and digital presence to actually do business. Usually they are more proficient on one side or the other of the fence. all works we have record sales in Canada...never seen before...somebody is doing something right.


Are in a solidly entrenched in brick and mortar and digital landscape. Its a constant dance between the atom and digital world. Its also lucrative on many fronts for manufacturers to keep the dance going.


The basics of the business have not changed in decades. You still have to create a customer, convert a vehicle to money, provide superlative service with an unparalleled customer experience (CX). The customer and dealer remain "horse traders" selling and buying which keeps the business unique in the world of retailing.

A customer requires service, a dealer still needs lifts in the service department, still needs parts and so on.

We could say that the basics remain the brick and mortar of the business. There remains a human, emotional factor in closing a deal which is a constant both on the customer and dealer side.

The basics are on the brick and mortar side of the business.

Evolution 1.0 + Technology

Perhaps you remember when parts managers would order parts over the phone, accounting was a completely manual process, a credit application was called in.

We can quickly conclude that technology has had a dramatic impact on the auto business, initially starting with the dealer and manufacturer.

We can conclude that the dealer and manufacturer got a taste of technology (computers) almost 50 years ago. By 2016 time frames 50 years is an eternity.

Evolution 2.0 + Internet

At the outset of the Internet the folks with vision were telling dealers that all the information residing in a showroom was going to disseminate to the Internet. That was 20 years ago...half an eternity by 2016 times frames.

Lets put this on the digital side of the fence.

Evolution 2.1 to 2.982 + Internet + Social Media

The past 10 years have been a "bazaar/flea market" of sound bites from a myriad of stakeholders from all sides, the customer, dealer, manufacturer. How do you make sense of all this noise, sound bites, everyone trying to monetise one thing or another.

Its a fascinating, overwhelming game that is played out constantly 24/7/365.

Much easier to divide anything and everything into "silos" to monetise them. While adding more clicks to improve the functionality of some software.

In the meantime the customer has a mobile device or tablet, is empowered with product knowledge, and is further empowered by social media and Google. Still needs metal that resonates to finalise a decision.

Lets put all of this on the digital side of the fence, preferably in a back pasture somewhere.

Evolution 3.0 + Disruption

If you have a feeling that there is a level of discomfort with the customer, and would be correct.

In Canada the shift from ownership to mobility occurred a while back (2014/2015) the customer seeks mobility, the dealer is a mobility provider.

Remember the simple sheet of paper to arrive at a final amount, payment and close a deal? It was simple a couple of generations ago. Why is it so complex, full of variable today?

Be assured that "someone" will disrupt this complex process in the near future.




Connect More Dots

Do we start connecting more dots on the last day of the month?

At times its just a gut feel, and in an age of technology, big data, data mining, going by some sort of instinct could be foolish, and perhaps even dangerous.

On the last day of October we urge you to connect more dots.

Agreed...we are already connecting a bunch of dots, and seeking additional variables that might have an impact. Its already complex.

Take the time, make the effort connect more dots...agreed its not easy.

Which dots to connect?

The ones you glanced over, the ones that seemed "totally not important", the ones that appeared in the past few days.

Why you should consider/connect more dots? Strada we believe that in Canada we are at a pivot point in the economy. While every expert, pundit has an opinion (sound bite), true insight is well hidden.

Connect additional dots for yourself, perhaps even disrupt yourself to gain additional insight, and formulate a better strategy.

Who has the time to connect more dots?

Nobody...its easier to gather "sound bites", and repeat sound bites.




Forks In The Road

A thought provoking read...




Change and More Change

At a time when anyone can publish, how often do we read nuggets or longer sound bites about change here, disruption there, innovation somewhere else, often all in the same sound bite.

By now we should all be so proficient at it, they collectively we could get flipped over, turned 180 degrees, and it would be perfectly normal.

Somewhere in the various discussion, and conversations, the fact that we are humans, that we are an old classic model going back a few thousand years is overlooked.

At some point you come across a few hard questions, or choices, the image, the branding quickly gets diluted and you start seeing the "primer coat" of folks around you. Its a fascinating process, often filled with anxiety, stress, and a myriad of other human emotions.

These are not life and/or death situations, its merely being in business, being innovative, being disruptive, being prepared to change. Agreed...there is a difference between reading about it, and being an active player in the process.

At times a minor tweak or incremental adjustement that is barely noticeable. What starts as an infinitessimal ripple, can at some point become a tsunami of change.

We always urge you to connect dots, to be astute and connect your own dots especially the ones that resonate with you.

The sound bites are all over the place, the facades, the branding, the optics are a constant reality. Seek the insight that is usually hidden from plain sight, or is staring at you in plain sight.

What does this have to do with the car business?

Perhaps nothing, perhaps a whole lot...its your decision.

One thing is certain when change comes your way, if you are ill prepared, have not done your due diligence, lacked vision and boldness. At some point you will lose, you will be empowered to control the magnitude of your loss.

In the auto play the game to WIN.



Core Competence

We have all heard about core competence, here is a quick refresher. At a time when it makes imminent sense to focus on core competence, to alleviate the flood and sound bites of technology.






That's Not How We Do It Here.

Informative video by Dr.John Kotter.



Thinking of Software

As we re engage with reality for the last stretch of 2016. Reflect for a moment of the role of various software in our lives, work, and activitites.

We are enabled, and empowered by software, and perhaps even controlled.

Go back...

Various forms of software have totally enabled humans by facilitating, and actually doing a bunch of routine tasks, while saving a bunch of time.

Other forms of software have opened new perspectives, and horizons for a bunch of folks.

At one time it was liberating to have software deal with a myriad of menial tasks that required minimal human brain power. A robot on an assembly line does a dramatically better job than a human.

We could keep on going, but you surely grasp the point.

Go forward...

We are reaching the cross roads where software is replacing human brain power. In the days of mechanical cars the driver required a comprehnsive understanding of all aspects of the car, especially the dynamics of the cars on the road.

Cars are progressing towards being autonomous.

In business software is all over the place, while many humans rely on software for their decision processes, placing more accountability on the software, than their decisions. Need we say more...


In the auto business everyone is using one version or another or similar software. You can conclude that software generates an equal playing field for everyone. The robot that spot welds for this manufacturer, can spot weld for another. The software that aggregates market data for a dealer can do it for another.

Its an equal playing field in a business that is competitive, and always seeking an advantage.


Acquiring an advantage is increasingly elusive. Reinforced by "I'm using software A which is better than software B in this area" and so on. Where the advantage is presumably in the software, while we all know that most folks on a good day use perhaps 30% of what the aoftware can do.


If back in the day folks were immersed in routine, time consuming tasks. Today folks are embroiled in dealing with the vagueries, quirks, glitches of the software. Reflect on this for a moment...


We all know that using "big data" which is generated by software can provide an advantage, and does provide an advantage. How many folks get immersed in big data, reports, more data, get lost in the trees, and miss the forest?

The Real Advantage...

The time saved by using software, must be applied to "connect dots" using the human intellect and brain. Obvious its not easy, requires a profound understanding of your business, your people, and a prescient vision of your direction.

Its a tall order...the sooner you start the greater the advantage.




Our Thoughts on Social Media and the Auto Business

Go back a few years and you surely remember the emergence of social media as a factor in our daily lives. Suddenly Facebook grew larger, Twitter became mainstream, to name a few.

During that time auto manufacturers started participating in the various social media platforms, and the various players involved with those platforms. Yes...some manufacturers took a more pro active role than others interfacing with various platforms users and players.

It was perhaps a quest to seek out influencers that could make a difference.

At some point somebody looked at the budgets that were deployed towards social media. You got it...the returns were challenging to quantify and let alone justify from a conventional perspective.

We all know the results, manufacturers retreated to a known quantity that they could quantify, and justify. On the premise that player A can attract X number of eyeballs in a major publication for a few fleeting seconds.

Dealers in the meantime are also participating in social media. Usually in an attemtp to reach out to their customers, promoting the product they sell, and redistributing factory content and photos.

Agreed...there is a ton of content out there. Who has time to read all this stuff?

At the same time compelling content attracts eyeballs on an ongoing basis. Remember the idea of the "long tail" its exactly what compelling content does, it keeps on attracting eyeballs for a long time. Although it does not convert well to "spending $1.00 to attract 100 eyeballs" as an example.

In reading the KPGM survey of Canadian CEO's they all worry about "customer loyalty" they are literally fearful that customers will go elsewhere. Another is "innovation" fascinating to see Canadian CEO's are concerned about losing an edge to innovation.

When you look at the way the auto business in Canada interfaces with social media, we too would be concerned about "loyalty" and "innovation".