I’ve had a lot of opportunity in the last two years to talk to people about how they are applying the V-REEL™ Framework for strategy development. Few have taken it as far as the men of Fidelis, a full-service creative agency that specializes in message and strategy. I had the opportunity to sit down with brothers Tim and Mark Douglass over a year ago to talk through the V-REEL™ Framework with their entire team. We visited again recently on the podcast to chat about how V-REEL™ has shaped their company and their thinking. Tim called that first conversation an “eye opening experience” and seemed to imply that might be a bit of an understatement. Mark got more specific.
“We didn’t know each other very well. We had just jumped into business and we were only a couple of weeks in,” Mark said. “It was fantastic that it happened so early on because it gave us a language and terms we could use to really be on the same page.”
Tim explained that before our V-REEL™ session they had written a business plan based on the standard internet template. He noted that it was rather vague but V-REEL™ helped Fidelis get far more specific. In fact, unlike anyone else I had spoken with at the time, Tim and Mark were using V-REEL™ together but differently based on their roles in the company.
V-REEL™ in both Micro and Macro Applications
While Tim focuses more on big picture strategic direction and business development, Mark is shepherding projects and people. Tim explained that he had a pretty good sense of the company’s value and rareness going into our first conversation but the concepts of eroding and enabling factors really got him thinking about the importance of culture and what it would take to enable this intangible but critical resource.
Meanwhile, Mark is focused on enabling human resources and making hiring decisions. He uses V-REEL™ at the micro-level, looking to understand each individual candidate through what he sometimes calls the V-REEL™ lens. Does the candidate offer valuable and rare resources and capabilities? What might erode those and how might the Fidelis culture defend against the eroding factors? Finally, how long before they might lose talent? Mark also framed prospecting decisions with V-REEL™. They ask themselves: Is this project going to be enabling for our team, allowing us to grow and prepare us for future opportunities we want, or is it going to be more eroding of resources?
“Once you know the terminology, it becomes kind of a shorthand,” Mark said. “I can say, ‘Erosion,’ and Tim goes, ‘Right.’ And we move on.”
Prioritizing for Focus
Tim and Mark are bootstrapping Fidelis so they wanted to understand where to invest limited resources and, specifically, how to source those all important enabling factors. The answer, of course, varies company to company but the key here is to prioritize. That’s one of the biggest reasons I designed the V-REEL™ Framework. There is a need to get strategists focused on the most critical resources and capabilities that enable them to create value, and help them understand what might come along to erode that value creation. Knowing that there is a problem and knowing the right way to address a problem are two different things. There is a need to think creatively and prioritize. I need to think not just that eroding factors and enablers exist, but also prioritize. How likely are they to happen? How impactful if they do happen? Prioritize.
Tim and Mark talked about how they are doing just that using V-REEL™, and not just in their business but well beyond. It was a great conversation. I hope you find it useful to your own strategic thinking.