Intended Consequences: Design the Future You Wish to Create (Book Review)

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Global water shortages. A cashless society. Massive national debt. Higher taxes.

The next decade doesn’t look too rosy, does it?

It also doesn’t look business-friendly—unless you know how to increase your chances of success. Your success, according to consultant and author Marc Emmer, hinges on effective strategy and execution.

In his new book, Intended Consequences: Designing the Future You Want to Create, Emmer helps you devise a strategy to bust through modern pitfalls like hypercompetition and commoditization. By creating an all-encompassing strategy and success measurement system, you can pave the way for competitive advantage over the next decade.

Emmer guides you through the steps involved in both creating a winning strategy and a unique selling proposition for your company. At the end of the book, you have an understanding of why strategy and differentiation are crucial in today’s business environment, how to create them, and how to continue to measure your success.

Content

Emmer’s first chapters, which you can breeze through, describe of the human nature and the current economy. Emmer reminds readers that humans are myopic, biased, pattern-seeking individuals—and that comes with limitations. Companies themselves are subject to collecting myopia and herding and internal focus.

To compensate for these intrinsic weaknesses, Emmer tells you how to do a scenario planning (STEEP) exercise, as well as create a Futures map. A STEEP exercise is a tool considering how social, technological, economic, ecological and political factors may affect a business in the future. A Futures map is an illustration of a scenario and is a tool for explaining the company’s vision of the future.

In following chapters, the book introduces the concept of strategic planning. It describes how a company should use it to build its indicators, goals, and manage performance. Next, the book details the three ways in which successful companies can be defined in today’s hypercompetitive business environment. Emmer shares how companies should set expectations based on those success factors.

After that, you learn how customers behave in a hypercompetitive market, and how marketers can effectively react to today’s consumers’ expectations. Emmer shares specific tips on creating points of brand differentiation. Finally, he tells you how to manage your marketing efforts, measure your product’s success, sell correctly for the environment, and organize customer information most effectively.

The next chapter details how to hold, organize, and manage a successful strategic planning meeting. It tells you how to use scorecarding to gather business intelligence and create alignment between a company’s strategy and its staff.

In the book’s final chapters, Emmer talks about being a best-in-class employer, how it works, and why you need to do it. He covers how to manage employee incentives and create successful pay-for-performance metrics. He closes with a simple business mantra: Be intentional. That is key.

Analysis

I don’t usually use “strategy” and “fun” in the same sentence, but Emmer’s book on strategy is fun to read. His initial chapters offer a refreshing take on the pitfalls of the modern era and human behavior. From Chapter 6 onward, Emmer seems to hit his literary stride. The book takes on a pleasing conversational tone, recounting Emmer’s personal experiences and making jokes and jabs about familiar companies.

Some of his tips, like only competing on cost if you have the size to do so, are basic business tenets. The author, however, does a good job of mixing these old adages with strategy-specific concepts, real-life company examples, and definitions. The net result is a pleasing and comprehensible blend of ideas.

Emmer’s clear style makes even the more complex concepts easy to follow. His confidence in his strategy and execution tools is contagious. Accept all the possibilities, know how to secure competitive advantage, and even the post-financial crisis world can be your oyster.

Overall, the book left me with an upbeat sense of control. I recommend it for anyone wanting ideas on how to build an effective business strategy in tumultuous economic conditions.

Disclosure: We were sent a free copy of this book.