The BBA Action Initiative: Turning Purpose into Action
We offer an alternative to the traditional "strategic plan," which too often obstructs and inhibits decision-making and taking meaningful action. Planning is a safe and comfortable exercise, whereas action, a prerequisite for successful economic development, entails risk.
“Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim’ syndrome.' You must be willing to fire,” said business magnate T. Boone Pickens. Economic developers should take heed.
“Take time to deliberate," said Andrew Jackson. "But when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
It’s not that we don’t believe in planning, we do. But there comes a time to “go in.” Going through the motions of developing a plan, having a plan for a plan's sake, is a useless endeavor. "A plan without action is just a speech," said Mr. Pickens.
BBA has developed a process or formula specifically designed for taking action: SWOT + LMA = TI/IC
Translation: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) plus labor market analytics (LMA) leads to identification of target industries and specific companies within those industry sectors that would be an appropriate fit for a community. (TI/IC).
Our BBA Action Initiative answers two fundamental questions – where to play (which customers to target) and how to play (creating a value proposition for those customers.) Customers can be existing businesses within the community, new business startups, and companies identified for business recruitment.
Let’s look at each of the elements of the process.
A SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing a community's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats it faces. It is foundational to making needed changes to improve the competitive position of a community.
BBA gathers information about existing major employers, transportation and access to markets, buildings and sites, infrastructure and utilities, education and training, business climate and quality of life.
Our SWOT analysis typically entails two separate visits to a community of three days each, during which time we will conduct off-the-record, not-for-attribution interviews with stakeholders. No one will be quoted.
When a strong connection between strengths and opportunities is found, a business development strategy will emerge. Conversely, when weaknesses and threats are identified, needed changes, when practical, will be recommended.
LMA – Labor Market Analytics
Attracting talent is key to business success that transcends all industry sectors. Almost 40 percent of American employers say they cannot find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs.
BBA examines labor market data sets to draw conclusions about the quality and the quantity of a community’s human resources. Determining skills sets and labor availability is central during the site selection process, because human capital often represents 80 percent or more of a company’s overall costs.
We're not only determining quantity and the quality of the labor pool but also future pipelines of talent derived from local educational/training programs. A community must be able to prove to a prospective company that it can fill the bill in terms of local human resources.
TI/IC – Target Industry/Identification of Prospective Companies
Together, a SWOT analysis and labor market analytics will indicate what industry sectors a community can or should target. BBA goes one step further by identifying prospective companies within those sectors where the fit and circumstances are right.
Using a host of resources and databases, BBA will provide on a bi-monthy basis (every two months) a list of 20 companies within the identified target industry sectors over the course of one year. Included will be names and contact information of senior corporate decision makers. We'll give pointers on creating awareness, developing relationships, and watching for trigger events to spark contact.
Doing What Needs to Be Done
A recap: The BBA Action Initiative identifies strengths to be leveraged and weaknesses to be addressed. We provide insight on the quantity and quality of a community's labor pool and identify specific industries and companies that should be targeted. We will instruct on developing relationships with senior executives, providing names and contact information.
But it doesn't end there. After our initial action report is done, BBA will hold monthly conference calls with the client ED group for one year, focusing on doing what needs to be done and not becoming distracted by outside "noise." In that capacity, our role is one of coach.
"Dean is many things: he's affable, intelligent, thoughtful, and cares about what he does and the counsel he provides. Above all, he engages his stakeholders in each step of the strategic planning process and provides nuggets of insight that are likely to spur on deeper conversations which ultimately leads to solutions. I worked closely with Dean and his team for several months as they worked on the strategic plan for our community. They have continued to stay involved as we worked t0 implement their recommendations. During that time, Dean became a trusted adviser, confidant, and friend." -- Russell Graves, former executive director of Childress Economic Development Corporation, Childress, Texas.