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Friday, September 30, 2005

Corporations Woo Baby Boomers - Is That So?'s a shocker! With more than 1 in 4 workers eyeing retirement, companies are scrambling to keep valued employees.

According to this CNN/Money Magazine article:

  • "Corporate America is finally waking up to the extensive experience mature employees bring to the table and placing value on the benefits of retaining older workers."

  • "Firms are actively seeking to keep their baby boomer employees, enticing individuals with flex hours, part-time, telecommuting consulting -- exhausting every known resource to accommodate their employees."

  • "More corporations are choosing to "rehire" older employees by involving them in mentoring programs, giving them access to coaching, strategy development and research programs.

BOTTOMLINE: Older employees, younger's not age that's in demand. It's the level of knowledge, experience, maturity, and passion that is really in demand.

For Franchises, Growing Rapidly Isn't Always Best

Dane, over at Business Opportunities Weblog, links to a Wall Street Journal article "For Franchises, Growing Rapidly Isn't Always Best"

The key take-aways:

  • "We outgrew ourselves," says Ralph Rubio, founder of Rubio's Restaurants and current chairman. "We thought we had a prototype such that we could just franchise it, but it wasn't working." Recently the chain decided to start franchising efforts again -- this time with a more disciplined approach.

  • "When growing quickly trumps other goals, such as grooming competent leaders, controlling costs, picking prime locations or building a customer base, the company's operations can turn sloppy."

  • "The problem (with Boston Markets) , experts say, was the company became so obsessed with growth that it overlooked principles of good business like grooming good managers and building relations in the community.

BOTTOMLINE: Were you aware that Six Disciplines is much more than a just top-selling business improvement book? We've also invested more than 50-man years of R&D and more than $10 million dollars to develop Internet technologies that make the Six Disciplines Methodology practical.

We deliver the Methodology and Internet technologies through our growing nationwide network of Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchises. Our goal is to launch 70 Six Disciplines Leadership Centers throughout the U.S. - over the next 10 years. Interested? Here's more on the Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchise opportunity.

Monday, September 26, 2005 Recognizes Six Disciplines Leadership Centers

According to, "The Internet and computer technology impact nearly every aspect of our business and personal lives, especially with regard to co mmunications, finance, entertainment and retail. Companies that provide these vital services need not be international conglomerates - the market is huge, and franchisors are able to offer many of the same products and services previously available only from industry giants."

BOTTOMLINE: recognizes Six Disciplines Leadership Centers as the showcase entry in the "Business Management Technologies" category.

On Creating A High-Performance Organization

What can small businesses learn from larger enterprises? Plenty - if you look in the right places.

In this issue of McKinsey Quarterly, strong financial results at Barclays Bank masked an underlying malaise, according to CEO John Varley. In some areas of the business, employee engagement and customer satisfaction—areas for future growth—were weak. Barclays has shifted its attention beyond immediate shareholder concerns, focusing instead on long-term performance and the development of measures to track the bank's health.

"If you concentrate first on creating a high-performance, healthy organization that has everything your customers are looking for, your shareholders will be just fine over time."

The full article is here. (Free subscription required!)

Business Startups - More Than We Think?

A new study just released by the Kauffman Foundation finds that there are 500,000 new business start-ups in the US every month. If accurate, that means we are now seeing start-up rates of 6 million a year!

With that kind of entrepreneurial spirit and passion, you would think that we would be seeing a significant bump in the enconomy?

BOTTOMLINE: "The biggest challenge of an individual small business is "survival." 80% of all new business start-ups are out of business within five years. And if that doesn't get your attention, 80% of the 20% that survive the first five years don't survive the second five." (Six Disciplines for Excellence, page 41.)

(Thanks to Jeff over at the Entrepreneurial Mind for the tip)

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Barriers To Focus

Being focused - whether at the office or at home, is critical to getting things done, and done correctly.

Lisa Haneberg, over at Management Craft, conducted a survey among her readership that asked the question:

"If only I could ___________ , I would be more focused."

Interestingly, (but not surprisingly) a quick take of the responses reads like a long list of excuses or barriers to focusing.

BOTTOMLINE: The skill of focus or concentration is a habit. It can be learned and improved over time. And, as any habit, it does take a degree of discipline.

Take a look here for all the responses. (How many of responses have you used as barriers to your own focus?)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sometime's It's Not Enough....To Be Excellent™

Sometimes, it's not enough to have a systematic business-building methodology, and Internet technologies to make business-building practical, and coaching services to help keep the best performing organizations on track, to help them achieve lasting excellence.

Sometimes, you have to take extreme measures in your "search" to be excellent.

(Thanks to the fun folks at

The Craftsman-to-Manager Paradox

This post, by Dave Gray (founder and CEO of XPLANE) explores the paradox:

"If you are a craftsman, you were probably promoted because you are highly productive. Most likely you are productive for a few reasons:

  • You manage your time effectively
  • You require minimal supervision
  • You are reliable
  • You take pride in a job well done

Here’s the paradox: You meet the above criteria because you are a self-reliant perfectionist. As you move into management, the very things that made you effective as a craftsman are now deadly threats to your success as a manager. Your independence and self-reliance, which was an asset, is now a liability.

Read the entire article here.

Technorati's Take On Be Excellent™'s time for Be Excellent™ to have its "15 minutes of fame."

Technorati is one of the web's top blog search engines.

Technorati's front-end designers and developers cooked up a fun new feature: Technorati Blog Finder.

Blog Finder helps answer the question, "How can you find authoritative blogs on a subject?"

Want to find out more about "excellence"?
How about "business-building"?
Or "business excellence"?
Maybe "business execution"? get the, back to work!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kawasaki's Rule No. 1: Make Meaning

Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm out of Palo Alto (and former Apple employee and evangelist) put down on paper everything he learned in 20 years so that others—entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs, product managers, and engineers—wouldn't have to repeat his mistakes.

Kawasaki developed a Top 10 format for all of his speeches/presentations.

The first thing he learned is that the people who change the world—the people who really make a difference—aren't motivated by money. (The people who succeeded were the ones who wanted to make meaning and create products/sevices they themselves would use.)

There are three principle ways of making meaning:

1. The first is to increase the quality of life of your customer.
2. The second way to make meaning is to right a wrong: To take something and look at the marketplace and say, 'You know, there must be a better way to do this.
3. The third way to make meaning is to perpetuate something good. So to make meaning, you must improve the quality of life, fix something that's bad, or perpetuate something that's good.

(Thanks to the Always-On-Network for this recap)

Rethinking Company Loyalty

In this Harvard Business School Working Knowledge article, the authors reveal that your best workers are likely to show more loyalty to their careers than the company.

If an employee's loyalties to his career and to an employer aren't mutually exclusive, how can leaders ensure that the employee-employer relationship pays off for both parties?

1. Align career growth with company goals.
2. Design work with variety and autonomy.
3. Focus on relationships.
4. Highlight the link between employees' values and your company's mission.

(Reprinted with permission from "The New Loyalty: Make it Work for Your Company," Harvard Management Update, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2005. )

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Microsoft Re-Orgs Again - With Agility In Mind

The plan calls for a reorganization of Microsoft into three large divisions led by individual presidents, each reporting to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive.

1. Jeff Raikes will head up the company's Business division, which will house Microsoft's Information Worker group (which includes its Office product line), and its Business Solutions packaged applications group (which includes the Solomon product line - formerly Solomon Software - founded by Six Disciplines CEO and Founder, Gary Harpst, author of Six Disciplines for Excellence)

2. Kevin Johnson and Jim Allchin will be co-presidents of the Platform Products and Services division, which will comprise Windows Client, Server and Tools and the MSN division.

3. Robbie Bach will be president of the Entertainment and Devices division, which will oversee games and mobile device development.

"Our goal in making these changes is to enable Microsoft to achieve greater agility."
--Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

BOTTOMLINE: Having been a Microsoft employee for more than four years, we recognized re-orgs as annual, planned events. With all the buzz these days moving to Google, I can appreciate the need for agility. But don't forget alignment. (Without it, you'll see people moving very quickly - in every direction at once.)

Business Improvement Methods Under Fire

From Fast Company's blog, with a reference to a Wall Street Journal article. (Subscription required to access Wall Street Journal articles.)

The world of work has seen its share of business improvement movements.

Some, like reengineering, have been seriously revisited -- and criticized.

Others, like Six Sigma, have neared sacred cow status.

Now, quality-improvement programs such as TQM, ISO 9000, and even Six Sigma, are coming under fire -- or at least heavy questioning.

"Managers have stretched the techniques, by applying them too broadly to more creative areas such as research and new-product development. And some companies are rethinking the way they use the systems."

Among the charges: Process management can help routine tasks more effective and efficient, but fall short for new projects -- and innovation. It can force people to focus on optimizing older technologies rather than seeking to keep up with new tools and techniques. And such efforts don't meet the needs of projects and processes that aren't as easily measured.

BOTTOMLINE: Business improvement methods need to be systematic, repeatable, and measurable, supported by technologies that make the methods practical, and need to have a coach/champion/consultant to keep the business process improvement method on track over time. It's what strategy-driven execution is all about.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Leadership Attitude

From this 2004 article in the Harvard Business School Leaderhip Workshop:

"You’ll succeed as a leader only if you’re a living example of your values. What causes do you champion? How do you behave with others? What decisions do you make? Now ask yourself what values your answers demonstrate.

If those values don’t align with your organization, change yourself, change organizations, or tone down your leadership aspirations. Values, if clear and consistent in behavior, are a powerful glue that holds an organization together.”

BOTTOMLINE: Strength of senior leadership is the #1 aspect differentiating top-performing organizations from low-performing organizations. Two primary factors discussed in "Six Disciplines for Excellence" (page 28) included:

1. The ability of leadership to define a clear vision.
2. Appropriate involvement of leadership in leading and supporting projects that are strategic to the organization.

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers Expands into Central West Florida

Six Disciplines Corporation today announced that it has signed an agreement to expand into Florida, with the addition of Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida.

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers offer a new class of professional business improvement service that helps the best performing organization to achieve lasting business excellence. Six Disciplines Leadership Centers combine a systematic business-building methodology, practical Internet technologies, local coaching and strategic advisory services to help top-performing businesses to learn, lead and last.

Leading the new Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida is Sean Burke, who will be General Manager of the Center. Sean and his team will be responsible for ensuring the long-term success of Six Disciplines clients of the area. Sean’s team will coach and offer strategic advisory services to organizations that adopt the Six Disciplines™ Methodology, in pursuit of continual business process improvement.

Read the entire news release here.

Qualities To Hire Team Members By

Unlike most visionaries -- or management consultants -- Dee Hock has put his ideas into practice. More than 25 years ago he oversaw the creation of a business that was organized according to the same principles of distributed power, diversity, and ingenuity that he advocates today.

And that business has prospered -- to put it mildly. (HINT: "It's everywhere you want to be" - VISA)

Here's Dee Hock on hiring new team members:

"Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity;
second, motivation;
third, capacity;
fourth, understanding;
fifth, knowledge;
and last and least, experience.

Without integrity, motivation is dangerous;
without motivation, capacity is impotent;
without capacity, understanding is limited;
without understanding, knowledge is meaningless;
without knowledge, experience is blind.
Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.

BOTTOMLINE: Attracting, hiring and retaining quality team members is an attribute that top-performing organizations do 142% better than the lowest performing organizations. At Six Disciplines, we employ a "leave nothing to chance" approach to hiring, which incorporates many of these considerations, (and recommend a similar hiring process to our Clients.) As part of this process, we use the rigorous Six Disciplines Behavioral Assessment to help determine whether these qualities exist in each applicant.

(Thanks to Todd at A Penny For for digging up this gem from an early 1996 copy of Fast Company.)

What Is Expertise?

Lisa Haneberg, over at Management Craft, blogs the question "What is expertise?"

The common definitions include:
Someone who writes a book (or perhaps a blog? ;> ) has expertise."
Someone who has a degree has expertise."
Someone who spends time with a discipline builds expertise"
Someone who gets paid for their knowledge has expertise."

BOTTOMLINE: Any one of these definitions, by itself, is suboptimal. Expertise should be defined as:

Subject matter knowledge (factual or fictional skill) X repeatable processes (practice, practice practice)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Small Business Brief Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Linda Riley over at Small Business Brief published this review of "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Thanks Linda!

Small Business Trends Calls Out Be Excellent™

Anita Campbell with Small Business Trends references the Be Excellent blog in her recent TrendTracking entry:

"Be Excellent, the blog of Six Disciplines Corporation, has a new format. Skip Reardon, the Marketing Director of Six Disciplines, writes the blog. Part of the blog's purpose is to be a companion to the Six Disciplines book and methodology.

But Skip has broadened the subject matter. He is writing about a variety of small business topics culled from different sources, not just about the book. I especially like his "Bottomline" summary paragraph at the end of each post, in which he emphasizes his point."

Thanks for noticing, Anita!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Communicating The Vision: A Sign of Leadership

The good (but not surprising) news: better communication results in improved employee performance.

A survey published in Management-Issues of more than 18,000 employees of U.S. companies by professional services firm Towers Perrin suggests that business leaders are doing a better job in communicating with employees than they were 12 months ago.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents to the 2005 Communication Effectiveness Survey say senior leadership effectively communicates the company's progress in meeting business objectives, up nine points from 2004.

The same proportion say that leadership has communicated a clear vision for the company's long-term success, an eight-point increase from 2004.

BOTTOMLINE: Effective communications are one of the key advantage that smaller organizations have over larger organizations - particularly when communicating the mission, vision, values, strategic position, vital few objectives, and performance expectations.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Which Type of Leader are You?

The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Charismatic -- these are the three types of brilliant leaders, according to the groundbreaking book, In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century.

So which kind are you?

To find out, take this quiz -- exclusive to and created by the book's co-author, Anthony J. Mayo.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Three Types of Great Leaders

In this FastCompany article, Harvard Business School professors Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria have unearthed an immutable attribute that's shared by all of the giants of business:

They had an innate ability to read the forces that shaped the times in which they lived -- and to seize on the resulting opportunities.

Their expanded scope has resulted in a groundbreaking book on business leadership, to be published next month by Harvard Business School Press: In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century.

In the new book, Nohria identified three prototypical leadership types -- the entrepreneurial leader, the leader as manager, and the charismatic leader -- and showed how each used their contextual intelligence to thrive in their times. "Leaders and those who aspire to lead benefit from having a sense of history," he says. "Not because history repeats itself. History's real value is that it allows you to imagine what's possible."

BOTTOMLINE: "In each of these dimensions, there are very important changes afoot. They will coalesce and create opportunities for entrepreneurial leaders to launch new businesses, for managers to maximize the value of existing businesses, and for leaders of change to rescue businesses that have fallen into decline. The one thing that we know for certain is that context is vitally important; it will shape the opportunities in these new times."