Building Entrepreneurial Strategy in a Corporate Setting

Well, that was fun. I’m thinking back on my conversation with my good friend and colleague Dr. Brandi Plunkett, executive director of the Center for Executive Development at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School. Brandi is one of those people who is really sharp and has wit to match. It makes for fun conversations, even fun strategic conversations. I’m glad to be able to share this podcast because Brandi’s situation is actually pretty common. Many of you can gain insights from this episode about building what is essentially an entrepreneurial strategy while operating inside a well-established large organization.

As Brandi explained in the podcast, she was charged with starting what is essentially a new program from scratch when her leadership tasked her with diversifying the Center’s client base. She needed to create a new marketing strategy, pricing structure, product mix, and so forth, but all within a very successful and well-established organization. It was about that time two years ago that Brandi asked me to sit down with her and her team and talk strategy. And, because V-REEL™ is always operating in the back of my head, our conversation very naturally began with a search for distinctive competencies.

“You asked the question, ‘What do you have that nobody else has; that nobody else can replicate? What is that thing that’s unique?'” she said.

Brandi said that responding to my question prompted a real ah-ha moment for her. While she had previously been trying hard to “think outside the box,” to discover new opportunities, Brandi realized that her Center’s greatest distinctive competency is the Aggie Network and the associated Texas A&M University brand to which she, her Center, and Mays Business School are inexorably connected. For those yet uninitiated to Texas A&M University, the campus culture–and the Texas Aggie brand–is deeply rooted in values of service, loyalty, integrity, honor, trust, and leadership. Texas A&M graduates are intensely loyal and even those who did not attend Texas A&M but are familiar with the school, tend to be aware of the high expectations A&M Aggies place upon themselves, their classmates, and their fellow former students.

“It really comes down to an issue of trust. People who know anything about A&M know they can call on A&M and they will be served. So there is an expectation we have of ourselves. We have a responsibility to live up to that brand.” she said.

Brandi talked about the importance of keeping up with those expectations and delivering exceptional service least the distinctive competency succumb to eroding factors. She talked about restructuring her staff when the opportunity presented in order to have more personnel. She acknowledged that growing momentum could actually become an eroding factor if she doesn’t put more enabling staff in place. And that’s to be expected. As you grow as a business, you need to adapt your operations. V-REEL™ can help you and your entire team keep thinking, communicating, and be nimble as an organization.

“V-REEL™ makes sense. It’s accessible to everyone in the room and you can explain it to someone who just walks in or hasn’t been with your team for a very long time. And that’s great,” she said.

It’s encouraging to see how teams are using V-REEL™ to improve communication, not just about strategy but about operational issues. Brandi shared more about how her team is using the framework to take her operations to the next level. She’s funny and insightful. Enjoy.