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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays from Be Excellent™

With over over 350 posts since we started in July, and over 6,000 visitors worldwide later.....we'd like to thank everyone -- and extend to you a Happy Holiday season - wherever you are.

Let's take time this Holiday season to reflect on what is good in the world, and how we can all help to make it even better.

Looking forward to sharing even more with you all in 2006!

My challenge to all: Be Excellent™

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Vision Thing Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Ethan Johnson, over at The Vision Thing, offers his book review of "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

First, let me tell you that Ethan is one very sharp individual. His specialty? Business Process Management.

He's also a very tough business process management critic - as shown here, in his "All of Your Business Books Are Meaningless: Archive."

So....what did Ethan think of Six Disciplines for Excellence?

A few excerpts:

  • "We interrupt our coverage of meaningless business books to review a book that made the cut: Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary Harpst."
  • "And that is indeed what sets this book apart from more typical business book fare: Gone are the grandiose declarations and cheeky labels. Instead, this is meant to read more as a how-to manual. Not so much “read”, as “used”."

Read the entire review here - at The Vision Thing.

Year End Questions for Leaders

Bud Bilanich, good friend over at The Common Sense Guy, offers his last post of 2005, called "Year End Questions for Leaders."

All of the questions are spot on, but I've selected a few from Bud's list that I think are critical for small business leaders to consider:

  • Have I communicated a clear and compelling vision for the part of the business I lead?
  • Do I think strategically everyday?
  • Have I communicated my values as a leader?
  • Are they consistent with my company’s values?
  • Do I live these values?
  • Do I help others understand and buy into my company’s values?
  • Do I provide the people I lead with clear performance objectives and feedback on their performance?

Read the entire list of Bud's Questions for Leaders here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Franchise Forecasts for 2006

Entrepreneur Magazine's article In the Know offers a franchise forecast, where, "your search ends here, as we predict what will break on franchising's horizon in 2006."

Some interesting observations:

  • Undeniably, 2005 is the year that franchising itself became a trend.
  • In fact, the total number of franchise units for all Franchise 500® companies grew 11 percent from 2004 to 2005.
  • That's an impressive jump compared to the 4 percent increase that occurred from 2003 to 2004, not to mention the previous year's drop in franchise units.

So what's spurring this amazing growth?

More people are recognizing franchising as a viable means to turn entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

This article "uncovered eight growing categories we predict will sweep the franchising world in 2006." One of those eight growing categories? Business Services. The entire business services category, ranging from tech consulting to advertising, experienced steady growth.

BOTTOMLINE: For those of you who are intrigued with Be Excellent, Six Disciplines or franchising, take a look here for a franchise business opportunity that combines all three: Six Disciplines Leadership Centers.

Business Pundit Adds Six Disciplines for Excellence to Bonus Book List

Rob May, over at Business Pundit, offers his list of the "Ten Business Books (+5) For Your Christmas List"

His list is "simply ten business books that I have gotten a lot out of."

In addition, he adds five bonus books, that he "would recomend for specific situations."

On the short list?

"If small business is your thing, Six Disciplines for Excellence is, well, excellent."

Thanks Rob!

Six Disciplines for Excellence - A Best Book of 2005

We're proud to announce that CEO Refresher, has included "Six Disciplines for Excellence" in their listing of "Best Books of 2005."

It is an honor and a humbling achievement to be included on their list of top business books, by such respected authors and management experts as Jack Welch, Malcolm Gladwell, Philip Kotler, and Larry Bossidy.

The CEO Refresher is "brain food for business." It covers leadership - strategy - leading change - performance - insight - words and wisdom - mindfulness - interestingness - learning - and learning faster.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Open For Business: Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida

Six Disciplines is proud to announce that the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida is "open for business."

The Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida, located in Tampa, is headed by Sean Burke, General Manager. Drop Sean an email or give him a call - and welcome him to Tampa!

Sean's Six Disciplines Leadership Center services the best performing businesses in the regional Tampa Area on the North, South through Naples; extending from the Gulf east through the center of the State.

3001 North Rocky Point Drive East Suite 200 Tampa, FL 33607
Phone: 813.281.5471
Mobile: 813.469.0038

Podcast: Discipline IV. Work The Plan

One of the greatest organizational learning tools ever invented is the quarterly individual plan.

While working within Discipline IV. Work The Plan, every person in the organization works with his/her team leader to develop Individual Plans (IPs) for the upcoming quarter. The activities within these plans are checked for alignment with company goals. This quarterly Individual Plan is a time-saving template for weekly IP Status reviews.

The net result is that every individual in the organization learns to set goals, understand company priorities, take responsibilities for their own goals/activities, report progress and use their innate, innovative capability to solve problems.

Watch this streaming video podcast of Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes Discipline IV. Work The Plan.

(NOTE: Video is in Windows Media Format )

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Linking Strong Moral Principles to Business Success

From the good folks at Emory comes this book review on "Moral Intelligence: Enhancing Business Performance & Leadership Success."

Using original research, the authors show how the best performing companies have leaders who are able to promote moral intelligence throughout their organizations, despite the fact that the business world all too often seems to reward bad behavior, at least in the short run.

BOTTOMLINE: Moral intelligence is new to the playing field. This book focuses on four principles that are vital for sustained personal and organizational success: Integrity, Responsibility, Compassion and Forgiveness. Moral intelligence isn't the only determinant of sustainable business performance. But you need it to stay in business over the long haul.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Most Admired CEO Characteristics

A new global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) asked more than 600 global business influentials in 65 countries to write in which CEO or chairman they admire most in the business world today.

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, was ranked as the the world’s most admired business leader, followed by Steve Jobs (Apple), etc.

More important than the rankings were the reasons and characteristics for being included on the list:

  • Recognition for ongoing stewardship at the company they founded (Eight of the top 15 leaders (53 %) are company founders.)
  • Business decision-makers clearly voted for long-term performance and proven track records over fleeting success.
  • The tenures of these top-ranking CEOs are not short-lived. They had an average tenure of 21 years to repeatedly prove themselves.”

Read the summary of the rankings here.

Feeling Good And Business Performance

Economists are becoming increasingly interested in the question of happiness and how it affects business performance.

Gallup Management Journal recently published some rather intuitive research, indicating happy employees are better equipped to handle workplace relationships, stress, and change.

Also published here are definitions (and percentages) of engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged employees.

BOTTOMLINE: 77% of engaged workers strongly agreed with the statement "My supervisor focuses on my strengths or positive characteristics." 86% of engaged employees said their interactions with coworkers were always positive or mostly positive. A majority of engaged workers (61%) said they feel challenged very often. Almost 4 in 10 engaged employees (39%) indicated that they rarely or never feel frustrated at work. 54% of engaged workers felt more secure at work than they did a year ago.

Most Frequently Used Words in Six Disciplines for Excellence

Amazon just added a new "feature" on its web site called concordance, in which they scan the book, and report on the 100 most frequently used words in this book.

Concordance is an alphabetized list of the most frequently occurring words in a book, excluding common words such as "of" and "it." The font size of a word is proportional to the number of times it occurs in the book. Hover your mouse over a word to see how many times it occurs, or click on a word to see a list of book excerpts containing that word.

Click here to see what words are used most frequently in Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Integrity - Word of The Year

With all of our attention on best practices of strategy, planning, streamlining, execution, learning, and leadership, this just in from USA Today:

In a year filled with political wrangling, natural disasters and pop culture curiosities, Americans turned to Integrity

BOTTOMLINE: The fact that "Integrity" is the most frequently looked-up word - is a double edged sword. The bad news? People don't really understand what it means. The good news? They want to understand what it really means.

Top 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs

Barry Moltz, an author and fellow blogger, posts his Top 10 Rules for Entrepreneurs (which he teaches in his Introduction to Entrepreneurship course at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Some real pearls of wisdom he shares:

  1. Every Business is About Solving Pain. Find the People that will Pay For It.
  2. Ideas are Meaningless. Many Think It, Few Actually Do It.
  3. People and Effective Managers that Execute are the Only Thing Business is All About.
  4. Sorry, There are Absolutely No Right Answers In Business: It Always Depends on Your Point of View!
  5. Having Your Own Business Takes Resiliency. It’s A Rollercoaster That isn’t Fairly Built.
  6. As an Entrepreneur, You can make a Difference in This World: Create Jobs, Products, and Markets.
  7. Know the Numbers, and that they Lie. Follow only the Metrics.
  8. Cash is King. You go out of Business when You Run out of Money.
  9. Focus. Focus. Morph. Focus on a Competitive Sustainable Advantage
  10. Go Forth and Sell. Every Business’ Strength is their Customers

Good stuff!

(Thanks to Rob May at Business Pundit for the tip!)

Monday, December 12, 2005

25 Characteristics of The Ideal Startup

Sam Decker, over at Decker Marketing, posts his comprehensive list of "25 Characteristics of The Ideal Startup."

As always, Sam's insights are invaluable. Here's his list:
  1. Defendable and differentiated
  2. Competitive cost structure
  3. Attractive partnership opportunities
  4. Repeat customers
  5. Word of mouth opportunity
  6. Memorable product and name
  7. Potential for PR
  8. Attractive to be bought or merged
  9. Scaleable staff and systems
  10. Scaleable product -- build once, sell many times
  11. Uncomplicated
  12. Focus
  13. Niche market or fragmented industry
  14. High velocity and large market / industry
  15. High perceived value
  16. Product can be accessorized – revenue synergies
  17. Healthy cash flow –> margin x velocity
  18. Demonstrable felt need, demand – does it hit a primal chord?
  19. Business can be measured for improvement
  20. Can claim leadership
  21. Sales model is scaleable and predictable
  22. Product evokes emotion
  23. Can make big wins – big customers
  24. Limited exposure to legal issues
  25. Own relationship with and information about customers
BOTTOMLINE: Can your startup have all of these attributes? Not likely, but this list is a great sanity check on whether your business idea has "a long tail."

Be Excellent™ Included in Carnival of Lean Leadership #4

Kevin Meyer, over at Evolving Excellence, has pulled together his Carnival of Lean Leadership #4, and includes mention of Be Excellent.

BOTTOMLINE: If you're into Lean Manufacturing, or want to take a look at other important aspects of Quality Management, Evolving Excellence is the place to go.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Difference Between Customer and Business Excellence

Gary Whitehair, over at High Performance Business, offered a tip about this article on View from the Mountain, titled "Finding the right balance in the workplace."

The essence:

  • Building a great company is not an easy challenge.
  • The balance that a leader has to strike is the real challenge in creating a great company.

At Six Disciplines, our research shows that to build a great company -- one that will lead, learn and last -- you need to understand the difference between customer excellence and business excellence.

  • Customer excellence looks at attributes that the qualities that are important to customers (e.g., taste, finish, response time, quality, price, atmosphere, service, etc.)
  • Business excellence looks at a different set of attributes (e.g., sales growth, profitability, predictability, leadership, etc.)

BOTTOMLINE: Your organization puts into place a number of processes to ensure a degree of customer excellence (great products or services.) For lasting business excellence, you need to make the transition to building an organization that learns how to make great products or services. It's what we call "business-building" - that's what Six Disciplines is all about.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Value of Surveys

LinkedIn, (an online network that professionals can use to find new clients or pick up leads on jobs) has 3.5 million registered users.

To keep track of their needs, they poll or survey 20,000 to 30,000 of them each month using an online service called Zoomerang. The price: $599 a year.

Surveys used to be a slow arduous process, with limited results. By optimizing for the Internet, online survey companies like Zoomerang provide value to small (and much larger) organizations that want to stay in touch with their stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, etc.)

The value of survey engines cannot be underestimated.

BOTTOMLINE: The Six Disciplines Business System has a built-in, web-based survey engine that enables organizations to quickly produced web-based surveys, send invitations via email to participate in the surveys, and enables you to track results and trends over time. You can develop any number of surveys for stakeholders, get their opinions and views, take action on their feedback, and execute accordingly.

2006 Workforce Trends

Anita Campbell, our good friend with Small Business Trends, shares her report on workforce trends, courtesy of the Herman Group.

Themes that stand out in this 2006 Workforce Trends forecast include:

  1. Intensifying competition for qualified workers.
  2. Gradually increasing attention to employee retention.
  3. Increasing investment in older workers.
  4. Shift in retirement plans to lifetime lifestyle funding.
  5. Continued off-shoring of some work, coupled with return of other work.
  6. Larger investment in corporate training.
  7. Growth in telecommuting.
  8. Expansion of staffing industry.
  9. Heightened flexibility in work arrangements.
  10. Employer dissatisfaction with product of schools.

Read all the details in this new 2006 workforce trends research - here.

(Thanks to Anita for the tip!)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Clarity of Purpose - And Strategy

Tom Asacker, a brilliant brand expert over at A Clear Eye, refers to David Allen's two key points on CLARITY:

"So in order to achieve clarity and be fully and positively engaged in what you're doing, you must:
  1. know the goal or outcome you're intending and
  2. decide and take the next physical move to propel you in that direction."

Even more to the point, Tom offers a brief, but very articulate 2-page white paper titled Clarity: Marketing's New Task.

BOTTOMLINE: Tom's white paper is brilliant - and it's not just about marketing's new task. It's about strategy. His entire web site is "an unobstructed view on business and brands with an occasional rant on the power of imagination, integrity and passion!"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Roadmap for Achieving Outstanding Organizational Performance

Andy Parsley, over at Management-Issues, offers his "Road Map for Employee Engagement."

His premise?

  1. Enhance leadership
  2. Involve your people and value their input
  3. Look after your reputation
A common theme runs through all three stages of the process: COMMUNICATION.

In short: Effective Communications create Engaged Employees create Loyal Customers who in turn create Bigger Profits.

BOTTOMLINE: "It is clear, therefore, that employee engagement is a major driver of organisational performance. And effective organisational communication is a significant driver of employee engagement."

Best Business Books 2005?

Strategy+Business just released their "Best Business Books of 2005" list.


Six Disciplines for Excellence is NOT on the list?

Not to worry: the book was actually released in 2004.

Here are two quick quotes from experts who have read the book:

“This hands-on book goes beyond the fluff that many other business books serve up, and offers a real world business plan.. I recommend this book for anyone who is serious about a better business.” (Sarah Bosch, Business Opportunities Weblog)

“The Six Disciplines book is a must-have addition to the small business owner’s library." (Gary Whitehair, High Performance Business)

BOTTOMLINE: Want to know what the experts are saying about Six Disciplines for Excellence? Download their comments here.

Trust: One of the Most Important CEO Traits

Gary Whitehair, over at High Performance Business, brings to the forefront the importance of Trust.

According to Gary, "as one of the more important character traits required of a CEO of a High Performance Business (HPB), trust can take many forms:"

  • Your suppliers need to trust you
  • Your investors, bankers, etc, need to trust your business plan
  • Your business partners and the companies that you do business with need to trust that you are a person of conviction
  • Your employees must trust you when you say that you will do something that you will actually do it

"Trust is a delicate thing. It builds slowly, overtime. However it can be shattered in a moment, so guard it carefully. The hallmark of a HPB is trust. Trust in the CEO and trust of each member of the team."

BOTTOMLINE: At Six Disciplines, our research shows that top-performing organizations, or what we refer to as "ready & able" organizations, have a high trust culture. People believe and respect the leadership and each other. The Six Disciplines Methodology (or ANY business improvement methodology) is not designed for organizations with radically broken cultures, where team members are suspicious of leaders. Key piece of evidence for a high trust culture? The ability of the organization to attract and retain high-quality people.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Strategic Innovation

So many bright ideas fade away at the execution stage—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A new Harvard Business School Press book, "10 Rules for Strategic Innovators" looks at four categories of innovation:

  1. Continuous process improvement
  2. Process revolutions
  3. Product or service innovations
  4. Strategic innovations

Their major premise?

"Management theory has evolved rapidly over the past few decades. For example, the once-popular notion that the essence of strategy is to maintain stability has given way to acceptance that stability is illusory. Instead, strategists recognize that to stay ahead, corporations must always look for new markets and new sources of competitive advantage."

BOTTOMLINE: "Through cycles of boom and bust, a fundamental truth endures: Change is constant and often nonlinear. Financial markets are misleading, because change does not alternate between periods of hyperactivity and inertness. Through strategic innovation, corporations can not only stay ahead of change, they can create change. They can pile new successes on existing ones. They can consistently create, grow, and profit from new business models."

Chief Learning Officer

If you've not experienced this kind of innovative "book-like" imagery, I highly suggest spending a few minutes to view the latest digital issue of "Chief Learning Officer."

While the content targets much larger enterprises, there are excellent articles within, and the presentation is very unique.

Google's Ten Golden Rules for Productivity

Getting the most out of knowledge workers will be the key to business success for the next quarter century. Here's how they do it at Google, according to their CEO - Eric Schmidt:

  1. Hire by committee
  2. Cater to their every need
  3. Pack them in
  4. Make coordination easy
  5. Eat your own dog food
  6. Encourage creativity
  7. Strive to reach consensus
  8. Don't be evil
  9. Data drive decisions
  10. Communicate effectively

BOTTOMLINE: Read all the details in this very insightful article from Newsweek here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Porter Becomes The Most Influential Management Guru

With the recent passing of Peter Drucker, comes a new "king" of management thinking. According to The Times UK rankings of The Thinkers 50 2005, Michael Porter is now tops.

The Thinkers 50 ranking is based on the votes of 1,200 business people, consultants, academics, MBA students and visitors to the project’s website.

With 18 books and a host of influential articles to his name, his status in the world of management thinking is legendary. As well as teaching and writing, he consults widely with the Monitor Group, the consulting firm he helped to establish.

BOTTOMLINE: At Six Disciplines, we refer often to Michael Porter's works. His focus on strategy is timeless - and extremely beneficial to anyone who wants to plan for the long-term. He's best known for an insightful article entitled "What is Strategy?," - which is excerpted here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Leading Leaders

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge has a review of a new book called, "Leading Leaders: How to Manage Smart, Talented, Rich, and Powerful People," by Jeswald W. Salacuse.

Leading Leaders tackles the topic: how to drive change when you lack compelling authority over other leaders.

The key issue?

"...many of the people you are supposed to lead are smarter, more talented, richer, or more powerful than you are. . . . Many of the people you lead, whether you like it or not, are themselves leaders.”

Salacuse's solution is to break the challenge down into “seven daily tasks,” each of which merits a chapter in this book:

  1. Negotiate the vision
  2. Make stars a team
  3. Settle leadership conflicts
  4. Teach the educated
  5. Motivate other leaders
  6. Lead outside the organization
  7. Create trust and capitalize on your leadership

Innovate - Or Find Somewhere Else

In this New York Times article "Attention All Employees: Ford Is Serious About Change," (subscription required), Ford's chief executive, William Clay Ford, Jr., told employees that those who could not support the company's drive for innovation -- should find something else to do.

In an e-mail message sent to employees on Monday, the chief executive, William Clay Ford Jr., said those who could not support the company's drive for innovation should find something else to do.

"Anyone who thinks or attempts to convince you that it's business as usual at Ford is wrong and would best serve us all by pursuing their interests elsewhere," Mr. Ford said in the message.

In the message, Mr. Ford stressed that the company's efforts were not a case where it would "quickly declare victory and move on." Nor was the effort simply a marketing campaign, said Mr. Ford, who talks about the push to be innovative in the company's latest television ads.

BOTTOMLINE: Will innovation be transform Ford...again?