Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A growing network, thanks to I&L Futures

Guest post by Peter Wright, Technical Director, Strata Group

If like me you have spent the last 30+ years climbing through the ranks of a company to find yourself at the dizzy height of management, wondering if you have the qualifications and training required to do the job you now find yourself in, then my recent experience with the team at Interiors & Lifestyle Futures would help anyone in business to realise both where they are now and where they should be going in the future.

Orangery by Strata Group

From the pilot project I gained the knowledge of how to analyse Strata Windows’ strengths and weaknesses. Through this I realised that I was too busy working in the company and needed to assign more of my time to work on the company. This change has been difficult to bring about as I always want to wade in whenever the chance arises. Now we are able to look at new markets and with some of the other business tools we developed in the Discovery Process we have been able to analyse their market potential. As a result we are starting two diversifications: one in Nanotechnology coatings and another in solar energy photo voltaic panels.

Above all else I found the project most helpful in the coming together with individuals from all aspects of various industries in the West Midlands. I realised that we were not alone in our experiences and through a growing network we would be able to chuck ideas about to get other points of view.

I would recommend the experience to anyone who finds themselves wanting to advance their business. My thanks go out to the team at Interiors & Lifestyle Futures.

Hotel market development opportunity for AMS Group

Post by Iain Acton

Back in April 2010 Interiors & Lifestyle Futures’ business engagement associate Neil Young invited Jim Clark of AMS Group to take part in the Discovery Process. A Redditch-based bespoke manufacturer and fitter of retail interiors with an annual turnover of around £15m, its impressive client list includes Debenhams, Footlocker, Marks & Spencer, and Tesco.

We explained to Jim that Discovery Stage 1 is a one to one interactive strategic assessment with the company. He preferred to describe it as a brainstorm. From the beginning, the AMS team made it clear that they wanted to focus on exploring collaboration opportunities in the hotel market. Market growth here would provide the company with a better balanced client portfolio than the current bias towards the retail sector.

AMS Group hotel room for Holiday Inn

Jim, his team and our facilitators (Iain Acton, Colin Copeland and Graham Kennett) quickly identified the key business priorities and the most useful hotel collaboration hotspots:

• Reinforce sales team through shared marketing and CRM
• Network to share leads
• Shared promotion at a trade event such as Olympia
• Product innovation – “how low can we go” reduce cost of furniture assembly

"The session was one of the best brainstorming days I have ever worked in and has given me a clearer insight into my own business"

Jim Clark, AMS Group

AMS has now completed the Discovery Process and is part of the Contract Interiors Group, which is putting forward proposals for collaboration projects. The Group aims to share expertise with other companies in the West Midlands and use collaboration to reduce costs, expand its current portfolio and extend their offer.

The Collaborative Opportunities Dartboard

Guest post: Ken Thompson

Ken helps companies incubate and establish effective collaborative business networks based on his popular book The Networked Enterprise. He runs I&L Futures Stage 2 collaboration workshops for companies and is a regular contributor to the I&L Futures blog.

One of the hardest things for a group of companies to do is to find some quick-win low-risk area where they can build trust by working together BEFORE they embark on something major. The Collaborative Opportunities Dartboard Tool allows companies to quickly explore a dozen practical ways to work together with the goal of meaningful results in 12 weeks or less.

The Collaborative Opportunities Dashboard

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures website coming soon

The Interiors & Lifestyle Futures website is due to launch in October 2010. It will contain further details about our activities, info on the I&L Futures’ team and how you can become part of the most exciting business community in the West Midlands. For a quick snapshot, just click About I&L Futures at the top of this page.

I&L Futures team