#FLAsia2010 Special 2: Ideas require Imagination; Execution requires Capacity

21 10 2010

Something I learnt very quickly when I first start working in the Franchise and Licensing Field was that ideas – even brilliant ideas – are essentially worth nothing. This was hard to communicate sometimes to inventors and innovators who thought they had the next world changing idea in their heads and who assumed that step two was to start collecting the royalties. But an idea with no execution is essentially dead air.

This doesn’t just affect inventors: any business can come up with a world-beating strategy; not every business can turn their world-beating strategy into a well-beaten world. For Franchisors (and many others), the fundamental issue which determines their ability to execute is not – and this may surprise you – management style or ability to focus, but rather organisational capacity. If you don’t have the right people in place to support the training and support of your growing network, your network will grow so far and then stall. If you don’t recruit the right kind of Franchisees – those who have the capacity to execute your Franchise System relentlessly – then however successful you are in growing your network numerically, your brand will eventually collapse under the weight of failure to deliver.

The answer I often hear to this is something like “Oh, we have a fantastic Franchise Manager, she/he is our secret weapon…” That is great as far as it goes; but if your Franchise Manager left you tomorrow (perhaps someone else has noticed how fantastic they are), would you know how to replace them? In other words, can you write on a sheet of A4 the specification that makes them so successful, so that you could replace them – or multiply them – at need? If not, then you are far from secure.

Ditto your Franchisees, although here you are more likely to have some sort of profile against which you recruit. (If your profile is purely financial, once again I think you are in danger). But if you got lucky the first three times you sold a franchise, that doesn’t mean your luck will hold.

Building organisational capacity should be a highly intentional activity. We know what we are looking for and why, and we know when we have found it. Intentional capacity building allows for intentional execution of strategies and ideas. If you don’t already have access to a toolset that allows you to do this, time to get one.

(And yes: equipping organisations with just such a toolset is precisely what we do. Contact John Ong at john@consultft.com or tweet me @jonmkiwi )

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