The Six Disciplines blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to our new home. If that does not occur, please visit:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Strategy Behind Succession Planning

Too many think of succession planning as having application only in family-owned businesses or in large enterprises.

In fact, succession planning should be a part of every company’s Strategic Plan - your vision of where the company will be going in the future (with - or most likely, without you.)

Succession planning is a part of the process of preparing for the future of your company. And, while most succession planning focuses on the CEO, virtually every key position and key person in your organization is a candidate for a succession plan.

To effectively implement a succession plan, consider some of the following issues:
  1. What is the long-term direction of your company? Do you have an effective strategic plan guiding your course and direction? Is it documented? Is it available to share?
  2. What are the key areas which require continuity and long-term people development?
  3. Who are the key people you want to develop and nurture for the future?
  4. How does the concept of succession planning fit into your strategies? Are you concentrating your efforts in the areas where the returns will be highest?
  5. What are the career paths that your most talented people should be following? Is each path customized to fit the abilities and talents of the people involved
  6. Should you wait for openings to appear before promoting someone, or should you make opportunities for each person as they grow and mature, so that you can keep them challenged and stimulated, and not lose them to other, possibly faster-moving companies?

BOTTOMLINE: When done with your organization's strategy in mind, succession planning will bring the peace of mind that senior management should have, based on the understanding and expectations of its future leadership.

Six Disciplines Explained

Watch this short video by Ken Hilty, General Manager of the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Northeast Ohio (Cleveland), as he briefly describes the benefits of Six Disciplines.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

If It Works - Keep Doing It

Over at QLog, Thom Quinn presents this short article focusing on "Myth Three: None of the techniques from the 20th century work any longer"

His premise?

Here are some just a few ‘ancient’ strategies that still have great value:

  • Mission Statements/Purpose Statements
  • Monthly/Quarterly/Annual Goal Setting
  • Daily Task Lists with Ranked Priorities
  • Urgent vs. Important

"I am willing to bet that 99 times of out 100, someone employing only techniques developed 40 years ago would be more productive than someone using no techniques whatsoever!"

BOTTOMLINE: "Do not shun an idea just because it turned 50 last week. Instead of asking the question “How old is it?” I suggest asking “Does it work?”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Two Critical Phases of Growth

Jeff Cornwall, over at the Entrepreneurial Mind, shares this story from StartupJournal about there being two critical phases of entrepreneurial growth:

  1. The first is aligning your business to the market properly before you even open the doors. This is the process of opportunity assessment.
  2. The second critical point is when the business hits its growth phase.

According to Jeff, "During growth, both the business and the entrepreneur have to go through transitions. For the business, the entrepreneur has to build systems and processes that can handle processes that the entrepreneur managed himself when the business was smaller. And that leads to the second transition. As the entrepreneur builds more and more of the day-to-day details into systems and delegates responsibility to the expanding team, his job must change. As seen in the case at StartupJournal, the transition from being mostly a "doer" into becoming a "real CEO" can be one of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur can face."

BOTTOMLINE: In the growth phase, the entrepreneur/CEO must make the transition (To use a Gerber phrase) from working "in" the business - to working ON the business." That means building processes that others can be accountable for as the business grows. Until now, there's only been disconnected "systems" to help growing organizations to approach this in a systematic fashion.

Six Disciplines is a systematic, repeatable and cyclical business-building process, that includes practical software systems enabling top-performing organizations to document and improve processes, tying together the core business fundamentals (strategy, planning, measurement, execution, learning and leadership) ith measures to monitor change and improvement. Six Disciplines Leadership Centers provide the on-going coaching and strategic advisory services that CEOs and their organization's need during this critical business growth phase.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Video: The Idea Behind Six Disciplines

Watch this streaming video of Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes how the idea for Six Disciplines came about.

(NOTE: Video is in Windows Media Format )

Company Culture Vital in Recruiting Employees

According to new research from conducted by NFI Research, the three most effective incentives for recruitment were:

  1. Company culture (59%)
  2. Organization's reputation (57%)
  3. Stability of the company (54%)

For retention of valued employees, the top three incentives were

  1. Company culture (57%)
  2. Stability of company (50%)
  3. Flexibility (44%)

BOTTOMLINE: There was no significant difference by company size. This means it's important for large enterprises - and for small businesses. Start working on your company's culture today....a good start? Read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Uncovering Growth Opportunities

Sometimes uncovering or building growth in mature industries means more than simple product extensions or acquisitions.

The answer?

Develop "growth platforms" that extend your business into new areas, according to this article in Harvard Business Review called "Building a Platform for Growth"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Factors of Leadership Motivation

weLEAD magazine offers this take on "The Factors of Leadership Motivation" by Brent Filson:

His premise?

"To understand motivation and apply it daily, let’s understand its three critical pillars:

  1. Motivation is physical action.
  2. Motivation is driven by emotion.
  3. Motivation is not what we do to others, it's what others do to themselves.

BOTTOMLINE: "By applying motivation the right way (understanding and using the three pillars, can serve you well in many powerful ways throughout your career."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Good Performance Is No Longer Enough

In bookstores Gallup Press, "Married to the Brand: Why Consumers Bond With Some Brands for Life," by William J. McEwen, draws on more than 60 years of research from The Gallup Organization to examine how and why we connect to the products we use and the brands we buy.

So why is this important for organizational performance?

This research demonstrates that customer satisfaction is woefully insufficient when the goal is an ongoing exclusive relationship between a customer and a brand.

"Good" performance is no longer enough, and one purchase in no way guarantees that another will follow.

Instead, an enduring (lasting) relationship between a company and a customer has four prerequisites. Together, these add up to an emotional connection that is both powerful and profitable:

  • Confidence: Customers must feel that a brand is one they can always trust and one that will always deliver on whatever it promises.
  • Integrity: Customers must feel that the brand treats them fairly -- as they've earned the right to be treated. And they must believe that the company stands resolutely behind its products and services. They must feel that if a problem ever arises, the company will fix it.
  • Pride: Customers must feel proud to be associated with the brand -- proud to be known as a brand owner, shopper, or user. They must be convinced that the brand and its representatives will always treat them with respect.
  • Passion: The customer must feel that the brand is irreplaceable in their lives and represents a perfect fit with their needs, whether those needs are tangible or intangible. In fact, they should feel that their world really wouldn't be the same without it.
BOTTOMLINE: These four aspects of an enduring customer relationship must be reinforced wherever, whenever, and however companies touch their customers. At its very core, however, the relationship between a brand and its buyers is visceral and emotional. It derives not just from the product and its features, but from the experience that surrounds its purchase and use.
It is a continual reminder to ...Be Excellent™.

Six Essential Roles of the CEO

From the May 2006 issue of Vistage International's newsletter to CEOs, comes this piece on the "Six Essential Roles of the CEO."

Exactly what should the CEO focus on? The role of the CEO encompasses six essential functions:

  1. Strategist
  2. Ambassador
  3. Inventor
  4. Coach
  5. Investor
  6. Student

BOTTOMLINE: "Most CEOs know what they need to do to fulfill their role. The problem is they allow themselves to get sucked into doing other people’s jobs. Focusing on the six key roles and your success profile will go a long way toward keeping you on track and ensuring that others are doing what you pay them to do.”

Lessons from Bill Gates

Bill Gates - the world's richest person, and arguably the person many "love to hate." But beyond "all of that".....he's one of the most studied persons in business

Interested in taking some business lessons from Gates?

Eight Attributes of Management Excellence

In the business classic "In Search of Excellence," authors Tom Peters and Bob Waterman described their take of the Eight Attributes of Management Excellence, based on McKinsey's 7-S Model.

The Eight Attributes of Management Excellence include:

  1. A Bias for Action
  2. Be Close to the Customer
  3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship
  4. Productivity through People
  5. Hands-on, Value-Driven
  6. Stick to the Knitting
  7. Simple Form, Lean Staff
  8. Simultaneous, loose-tight Properties

Innovation's Biggest Paradox

From FastCompany's recent article, "The Beauty of Simplicity":

"It is innovation's biggest paradox: We demand more and more from the stuff in our lives--more features, more function, more power--and yet we also increasingly demand that it be easy to use. And, in an Escher-like twist, the technology that's simplest to use is also, often, the most difficult to create. " quote Albert Einstein:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

BOTTOMLINE: Simplicity is both sacred and central to a organization's competitive advantage. And no doubt about it, the market for simplicity is complex. Start by simplifying your company. "Less isn't more; just enough is more."

Friday, May 19, 2006

5 Startup Mistakes

CNN/Money Magazine offers these "5 deadly mistakes when starting a business" which include:

Here are five common mistakes to avoid, so you can build a successful business:
  1. Too little cash.
  2. Thinking small.
  3. Skimping on tech.
  4. Underestimating the importance of sales.
  5. Losing focus.

BOTTOMLINE: At Six Disciplines, we assist organizations in understanding and preventing these 5 mistakes (and many others) - by concentrating on #5 - Losing Focus. All businesses lose focus at one time or another. By creating a vision, mission, strategic position - then establishing goals, and individual plans to execute on a daily basis, organizations develop their core competence to become more skilled - and disciplined - in their approach to strategy execution. By doing this, they do NOT lose focus.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Half-Truths of Leadership

"We are obsessed with leadership. Thousands of studies and books are devoted to it, and we still want more. So much is written about leaders because we believe that our fate, and the fate of our organizations, is in their hands and ought to be."

In fact, leaders have far less control over organizations than people believe, but they can be more effective if they understand leadership myths and use them to their organizations’ advantage. This recent article on the "The Half-Truths of Leadership" from the Stanford Business Magazine spells it out.

What Should Good Leaders Do?

  1. "Everyone expects leaders to matter a lot, even as they have limited actual impact. Leaders need to act as if they are in control, project confidence, and talk about the future, even while recognizing and acknowledging the organizational realities and their own limitations.
  2. Because leaders succumb to the same self-enhancement tendencies as everyone else, magnified by the adulation they receive, they have a tendency to lose their behavioral inhibitions and behave in destructive ways. They need to avoid this trap and maintain an attitude of wisdom and a healthy dose of modesty.
  3. Because the desirability of exercising total control is itself a half-truth, effective leaders must learn when and how to get out of the way and let others make contributions. Sometimes the best leadership is no leadership at all.
  4. Leaders often have the most positive impact when they help build systems where the actions of a few powerful and magnificently skilled people matter least. Perhaps the best way to view leadership is as the task of architecting organizational systems, teams, and cultures—as establishing the conditions and preconditions for others to succeed."

(Excerpted by permission of Harvard Business School Press. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Most Influential Business Books

Forbes’ has published their list of the 20 Most Influential Business Books which was compiled in 2002. The list of book is worth considering if you’re looking for a good business read.

Interesting - but not surprising --7 of the 20 books are referenced in Six Disciplines for Excellence.

SWOT Analysis - Scanning Methods

In the most recent Harvard Business School Working Knowledge issue, the authors of Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that Will Make or Break Your Company offer this advise about Scanning for Threats and Opportunities.

Their premise?

  • All managers scan, but they often do so passively.
  • To see more of the periphery, an organization has to change how it scans.
  • There is a portfolio of scanning methods to capture and amplify the weak signals within targeted zones of the periphery: inside the firm; customers and channels; the competitive space (competitors and complementors); technologies, political, social, and economic forces; and influencers and shapers.

BOTTOMLINE: "To improve the ability to capture the peripheral insights within the organization, there must be (1) appropriate and visible channels for sharing information, (2) wide knowledge of the questions guiding the scan, and (3) incentives for actually sharing useful information. People must engage in frequent and free dialogue for the necessary connections to occur spontaneously. This, in turn, requires a culture of trust, respect, and curiosity, plus the recognition that information sharing is crucial. Too many companies still operate in a mode where information is shared on a "need-to-know" basis only."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why Organizations Can't Retain Employees

Gautam Ghosh posted his thoughts on "10 reasons why organizations are not able to retain employees."

  1. People don't get integrated.
  2. Performance goals are unclear.
  3. Development is always tomorrow's job.
  4. The personal touch is missing.
  5. Reward systems are not transparent.
  6. Percieved equity of reward systems is low.
  7. Goal setting process is not scientific.
  8. External equity is missing too.
  9. No communication around total value.
  10. No career planning.

Eight Things Leaders Never Do

J. Timothy King offers his assessment on the "Eight Things Leaders Never Do."

  1. Leaders never say it can’t be done.
  2. Leaders never focus on the past.
  3. Leaders never resist change.
  4. Leaders never belittle or scold their constituents.
  5. Leaders never assign blame.
  6. Leaders never tell people what to do.
  7. Leaders never talk when they could be listening.
  8. Leaders never fight.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Leadership Capability - And Profitability

The connection between profits and leadership has been a missing link in most leadership research.

Recently, the Ken Blanchard Companies identified connections between leadership capacity and organizational vitality -- research that allowed Scott Blanchard and Drea Zigarmi to examine what it has dubbed the Leadership-Profit Chain.

Key findings from the research:

  • Leaders who hold people accountable and ensure effective, productive behaviors in their people are the most effective influencers and drivers of organizational results.
  • Equally important is a leader’s ability to affect the mood, attitude and engagement of employees and the overall culture of the organization through a specific chain of events that are implicitly linked.
  • Employee passion results from the employee’s positive experience and overall satisfaction with the organization, its policies, procedures, products, and management practices, and directly predicts customer devotion and organizational vitality.
  • Hard measures of employee passion include retention, absenteeism, tenure, and productivity.

Creating an organization that is successful and effective is an inside-out proposition. The quality of the culture, the quality of management practices, and the alignment of these practices with key strategic initiatives rests with leadership.

According to Blanchard and Zigarmi, leaders also hold the key to organizational vitality—the creating of an environment that allows employees to win and be passionate about what they do. By taking care of employees, leaders establish an environment in which the employees take care of the customers at a level that causes the customer to want to return year after year.

BOTTOMLINE: When managers focus their attention and emphasis only on organizational indicators of vitality such as profit, they have their eye on the scoreboard and not on the ball. Profit is a byproduct of serving the customer, which can only be achieved by serving the employee.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Seven Behaviors Of Successful People

Here's a good one from business coach Ron Finkelstein on Results.

Studies have shown that there are seven behaviors that all successful people exhibit. These behaviors include being:
  • Selfish
  • Focused
  • Disciplined
  • Persistent
  • Take Ownership
  • Results Oriented
  • People Focused

It's these kind of people that produce results.

Results: Results mean to end in a particular way. You defined your goals; the outcome you want to achieve. You defined how you want things to end and because you took ownership you now have the power to create the desired outcomes. You can create the results.

When you don’t get the results you want you fall back to persistence, ownership, focus and discipline and know that you have the skills, the drive, the desire, the knowledge and the roadmap that will take you where you want to go. Results are simply a way of measuring your success. You either got the job done or you didn’t. If you didn’t, because of your ownership, you go back and try something different.

BOTTOMLINE: According to Yoda..."there is no trying, only doing.” You either got the desired results or you didn’t. No excuses. No remorse. Only results.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The 6 C's of Leadership

The 6 C's of Leadership, as described at a recent Global Conference....

  1. Courage. Great leaders take risks. That takes planning and discipline, to be sure, but most of all it takes courage
  2. Creativity. Great leaders embrace imagination. They foster innovation. Do it with economic logic and operational discipline, yes, but do it with creativity
  3. (and 4) Compassion and Caring. Caring deeply about what you’re doing, about the welfare of your people and customers, and about doing things with a strong moral fiber. Great leaders have emotional and ethical as well as intellectual integrity. They love, and they love ethically.
  4. Curiosity. Great leaders come to the party with a sense of wonder and awe. They restlessly and repeatedly ask questions like-- What’s out there? (let's check it out!) What’s behind there? What’s underneath there? What if? Why not? When can we try it? What will happen? What did happen? What did we learn? What’s our next step?
  5. Consistency. The issue of consistency is essential for effective branding and sustained competitive success. Great leaders create an environment where C’s #1-5 aren’t a one-shot flash-in-the-pan deal, but so steady and ingrained that people inside and outside the organization can count on them.

Changing CEO Leadership Styles

In an article called "CEO growing pains," Katherine Catlin, founder of the Catlin & Cookman Group, talks about how can you learn to make the right changes in your leadership style at the right time.

The premise:

  • Three distinct stages of growth mark an organization's evolution after it has passed through the start-up stage and has stabilized into a “real” company: Initial Growth, Rapid Growth, and Continuous Growth.
  • The “red flags” that signal the advent of a new stage of your company's evolution and that demand changes in your leadership to ensure continued success.
  • Your changing role and the key responsibilities you must assume if you are going to remain an entrepreneurial leader as your company grows through each stage of development.
  • The habits you must break and the personal transitions — specific changes in behavior and leadership style — you need to make to successfully take on each new role, growing from a founding entrepreneur into a great entrepreneurial CEO.

Click here for a chart of "The Evolution of Your Role as CEO."

Stage 1 Start-up, the time when you're trying to figure out what product or service to offer that fits market needs and what your company's real value will provide for its customers. Your role is Doer and Decision Maker.

Stage 2 is Initial Growth. In this stage your company is very sales driven, trying to launch a new or different product, trying to capture market share, and growing revenues. Company operations are fast-paced, highly flexible – even chaotic. People do whatever is necessary to be successful. Your leadership role needs to change to Direction Setter and Delegator.

Stage 3 is Rapid Growth. Here your company is trying to achieve widespread use of its products or services, gain a significant share of its chosen markets, ward off advances from competitors, and move into a market leadership position. Lots of new people need to be hired – rounds and rounds of them. Integrating them and aligning their efforts can be a daunting, never-ending task. In this stage, your role as leader changes to Team Builder, Coach, Planner and Chief Communicator.

Stage 4 is Continuous Growth which is comprised of successive rounds of turbulence and periodic “re-inventions” of the company. Rapid growth led to many more customers and market opportunities, a much larger employee base, a more complex organization, and the potential to dominate the industry. But more of everything also includes more potential to go out of control.

In Continuous Growth, the company tries to dominate the industry by finding new markets and growing new niches in the current market, expanding the product lines, providing more “total solutions” to help customers, and branding itself and its people as “thought leaders”. Growth strategies include new product development, strategic alliances, acquisitions and mergers, spinning off subsidiaries, corporate partnerships to provide funding, or even an Initial Public Offering. The critical leadership roles you must change to are Strategic Innovator, Change Catalyst, Organization Builder and Chief of Culture.

(Source: Excerpted from Leading at the Speed of Growth: Journey from Entrepreneur to CEO by Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews)

Organizations Worth Working For

Uncovering a company's corporate culture is a critical task for today's job searcher. As important as the job itself. Management-Issues brings their take on "Finding an organization worth working for."

Their advice? There are Three Steps To Uncovering Cultural Truth

  1. Know your own cultural values
  2. Research the company's culture
  3. If you're asked to an interview, arrive early - unannounced if possible - and spend time observing how current employees interact with each other, how they are dressed, and their level of courtesy and professionalism.

BOTTOMLINE: Great list of things to consider - and questions to ask - all here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why Business Needs More Geeks

Rob over at BusinessPundit, offers his take on why business needs more geeks.

His premise?

"When I talk about geeks, I am not making blanket statements about tech workers. Plenty of tech workers are lousy at what they do. What I mean by geeks is people that are fascinated with their work, enjoy it, and are willing to do it for fun."

So what can we do? How can business return to the roots of capitalism? By embracing geeks. Here are the top five reasons I think business needs them:

  1. Geeks seek knowledge for it's own sake.
  2. Geeks like to experiment.
  3. Geeks openly debate the merits of technical ideas.
  4. Geeks are concerned with doing good work just because.
  5. Geeks are about results, not office politics.

BOTTOMLINE: Rob says: "Imagine working in a company where the business leaders embraced these geeky ideas. Imagine the impact a company could have if filled with people who always wanted to learn, debate, and do things the right way instead of the easy way. Imagine working with business geeks who love what they do because they believe business itself is ultimately cool and fun."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Leadership: Be, Know, Do

Once again, our good friend Skip Angel over at Random Thoughts of a CTO offers his take on a leadership framework "to help others understand what leaders need to aspire to become."

It's simple, straightforward, and easy to remember:


  • A professional.
  • A professional who possesses good character traits.


  • Yourself.
  • Human nature.
  • Your job.
  • Your organization.


  • Provide direction.
  • Implement.
  • Motivate.

BOTTOMLINE: This framework, while it works well for personal leadership, also works well (slightly modified) when developing the Vision Statement for an organization. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want your organization to BE in 10 years?
  • What do you want your organization to HAVE in 10 years?
  • What do you want your organization to DO in 10 years?

This kind of tangible vision increases understanding and motivation. It's one more step in the process of moving people from "good intentions to concrete reality."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sports Excellence - A Tribute to Earl Woods

This, from a tribute to Earl Woods, dedicated father of Tiger Woods, who passed on today at age 74:

"In an athletic world filled with athletes who jog to first base and give half-hearted efforts, Woods stands out for his consistent excellence each and every time he steps on the stage. The fact that he has carried himself with such impeccable manners and decorum off said stage is even more impressive, because we know in this regard, he’s the exception, not the rule.

“I wanted to raise a good person,” Earl Woods told Golf Digest in November of 2000, and therein lies the real glory to a man whose life deserves to be celebrated. Earl Woods never asked of himself anything more than what many of us ask of ourselves when we put our kids to bed at night: Let them be safe. Let them be respectful. Let them be strong. Let them know right from wrong.

BOTTOMLINE: They poured the foundation. They showed the way. That Tiger Woods followed in a manner that has helped make him one of the world’s most admired athlete is a tribute to the power of love. The dignity and humility that have accompanied this incomparable success of Tiger Woods? That is owed to a legacy left by Earl Woods. May he rest in peace.

On Creating Game-Changing Innovations

Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit (makers of great softwarea solutions like Quicken, Quickbooks, TurboTax, etc.) has some great insight on on creating game-changing innovations.

As Cook suggests:

"Innovation happens at the junction between business and customer needs, not from executive ideas or lonely geniuses within the company. Indeed, innovation bottlenecks are often at the top. Creating a culture of innovation is about nurturing customer observation, incubating new ideas, celebrating failure, and staying out of the way."

At Intuit, the goal is to change lives so profoundly that people can't imagine going back to the old way. With that in mind, Cook gave some examples of game-changing business ideas and showed how they were born by the understanding of an unmet customer need and really good innovative solutions.

Cook also highlights the five principles of corporate innovation and outlined the five basic models of innovation:
  1. The lone genius
  2. The boss is a genius
  3. Copy competitors' inventions
  4. Cloister the geniuses in a lab
  5. Make your people the geniuses
Not surprisingly, Scott Cook prefers model #5:

"This is what really works. None of the other models are sustainable or effective in creating a culture of innovation in the long term. Models 1-4 tend to create pockets of innovation that are limited and isolated from the rest of the company. The source of invention is unlikely to be the big executive: innovation comes from where the business connects to customers. It scales, because it allows the company to create many "contact" groups between the company and the customers."

The full text of Scott Cook's presentation at CHI 2006 has also been posted by SĂ©bastien Paquet.

Enthusiasm and Passion

Scott Young has an great entry on Enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is like any other skill. If it is continually practiced and exercised, it gets better. If it is not, then it will atrophy. Enthusiasm rarely comes naturally and it must be the result of conscious effort. Practicing the ability to use enthusiasm can keep you excited and driven even in horrible circumstances. Without this ability even great circumstances are viewed through the lens of sarcasm and cynicism.

Genuine enthusiasm can only be sustained about something you are truly passionate about. Anyone can get themselves hyped up over a boring situation for the moment, but sustained enthusiasm can only come when you deeply care about something. If you aren’t that interested in the outcome of something, you won’t be able to create enthusiasm.

Don’t spend your time pursuing things that you aren’t passionate about. If you aren’t passionate about something, try to minimize or remove the time it is taking from your life. Nobody is going to applaud you for working at a boring job, having boring hobbies or staying in a dead relationship when you are dead. We are ultimately responsible for the amount of passion we experience in our lives.

If you look at really successful people, all of them having something they are very passionate about. These people have a drive that compels them to give 110%. Nothing is more motivating than an obsessive passion. As a self-proclaimed obsessive about personal growth, I can attest to that.

BOTTOMLINE: Common sense? Perhaps. Insightful? You bet! Keep in mind - Scott Young - is still in high school. How about THAT for enthusiasm and passion??

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What If...Part V

What If...

...there was a local Six Disciplines Leadership Center near you, staffed with passionate, service-driven professionals who were experts in empowering the best-performing small businesses to adopt this methodology and integrate the system into their business?

…this local business coaching organization was staffed with professionals who were experts at drawing priorities and decisions out of the people in your organization, as opposed to suggesting what your priorities should be?

…this local business coaching organization was also certified in helping you align your business priorities so everyone in your organization can learn to execute toward your established goals and objectives?

…this local business coaching organization was there to show you to learn how to use the Six Disciplines Methodology -- so it becomes a natural, rhythmic way of working on your business?

…this local business coaching organization sole purpose was to keep your organization on track, make you accountable, and to make these continual improvements sustainable, and last for the long-term?

…this local business coaching organization professional staff worked with you to document your most important business processes and workflows so they become known and accessible to everyone in your organization?

...these standard business processes were built right into the software system you used everyday?

…this local business coaching organization could show you how your company can become a “learning organization” – one that has a key competitive advantage as you align your people, systems and priorities?

...your company had a local Six Disciplines Leadership Centers by your side to assist you along the way?

BOTTOMLINE: Time to experience what a Six Disciplines Leadership Center can offer to your organization.

What If...Part IV

What If...

...this intuitive software that you used every day could help you to document your mission, vision, values, strategic position, making it all accessible to everyone in your organization?

...this software also helped you to track your organization's financial, operational and people goals?

...this same software also featured fully-integrated people-processes like individual performance development, 360 performance feedback, performance appraisals, incentive and recognition programs, and recruiting?

...this same software also featured fully-integrated financial-processes processes like cash, billing, receivables, payables and general ledger?

...this same software also featured fully-integrated key Sales, Marketing and Service processes like sales opportunities, marketing leads, service incidents, contracts, alerts and escalation?

...this same software also featured fully-integrated key Project processes like project scheduling, resource scheduling, project billing, timesheets and expense reports?

...this same software also featured fully-integrated included customized measurements, alerts, and reports – specific to your business - to keep you on track?

...this software system was accessible anywhere there was an Internet connection, was available 24 x 7, was easy-to-use and to learn, and worked seamlessly with other software you already know how to use? had 24 x 7 web-based access to a resource library of hundreds of online learning materials, specific to your use of this system – and to your role within your organization?

BOTTOMLINE: The Six Disciplines Business System is all of this - and more.

What If...Part III

What If... organization conducted several years of research, and chose only the essential elements of strategic planning, quality management, integrated learning, business process automation, people performance management and measure driven improvement – and optimized them -- just for small businesses?

…the result of that research was developed into a very practical, systematic, six-step "business-building" methodology?

…that practical approach to building your business was not “yet another management fad” – but rather, was based upon proven, time-tested, established business principles and best practices?

…that practical approach was designed into an easy-to-use, intuitive software system that you used every day – that kept you on track, and kept you accountable for your organization's execution - and ultimately, it's success?

…this same organization had invested over $12 million and 60 man-years to develop an innovative "system" around this proven, time-tested, six-step methodology – to help the best-performing small businesses achieve lasting excellence?

BOTTOMLINE: What if wanted to find out more? Read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Small Business Growth Strategies

Fortune Magazine has recently published "7 ways to join the billion-dollar club" -- or how small companies that grow to chalk up huge sales share seven key traits. Although much of this advice might seem like common sense, it's based on hard quantitative evidence.

Here's the seven traits:

  1. Create and sustain a breakthrough value proposition. Three ways: create an entirely new market for their products and services, redefine an existing market, or underpricing the competition.
  2. Exploit a high-growth market.
  3. Focus relentlessly on cash flow. Blueprint companies tend to be profitable from a very early stage. As a result they are able to finance their own growth at less cost than competitors.
  4. Leverage big-brother alliances. In their early days, most Blueprint companies found a major corporate partner whose high profile and reputation opened doors to new markets.
  5. Pack your board with industry experts. Stack you board with successful CEOs and market experts who offer deep experience and help bring in business.
  6. Use marquee customers to build credibility. The best customers become an extension of your sales force.
  7. Build an inside-outside leadership team. Dynamic duos are the stuff of corporate legend: In most such partnerships, one leader concentrates on internal operations while the other leader represents the company for clients and investors.

Hard Facts About Business Myths

Rob May, over at Business Pundit, reviews the new book "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense."

Of particular interest was his (and the author's take) on business books:

Rob says: "I have about 15-20 books that I think are excellent, and another 20 that are pretty good overall. The rest are like "One Minute Manager" or "Good to Great," they have a few things worth pulling out of them but people treat them as business gospel when at best they are mediocre half truths."

(BTW....Six Disciplines for Excellence is one of those excellent/pretty good books - read his review here).

A few of the author's conclusions about business books?

  • Treat Old Ideas As If They Are Old Ideas. After all, isn't bland old excellence a better fate than an exciting new failure? (!!!)
  • Be Suspicious of "Breakthrough" Ideas and Studies. Most claims of originality are testimony to ignorance and most claims of magic are testimony to hubris.
  • Celebrate and Develop Collective Brilliance, Not Lone Geniuses or Gurus. Knowledge and success typically build on what was previously done. Lone geniuses are rare in business.
  • Emphasis Virtues and Drawbacks. If someone tells you there are no drawbacks to a certain theory or idea, be very very skeptical.
  • Use Success (and Failure) Stories to Illustrate Sound Practices, Not as a Valid Research Model. This was Rob's problem with "Good to Great." Who cares what the winners did? Maybe the losers did the same thing. Did anyone check? Does anyone care as long as it sells books?
  • Take a Neutral, Dispassionate Approach to Ideologies and Theories.
BOTTOMLINE: Some great critical thinking about the hard facts about most business books. Now, go read "What The Experts Are Saying About Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Seven Traits of Great Leaders

Ken Shelton originally published his "Seven Traits of Good Leaders" in Executive Excellence Magazine. They're shared here at

All great leaders have some aspects of their personalities in common. Outstanding leaders share seven qualities:

  1. Great leaders identify, cultivate, and inspire enthusiastic followers
  2. Great leaders focus their efforts
  3. Great leaders face and overcome great difficulties
  4. Great leaders expect more from themselves than they do from others
  5. Great leaders are not afraid to make tough decisions
  6. Great leaders have a vision and utmost faith in themselves to fulfill that vision
  7. Great leaders are ambitious for themselves, their companies, and their people

Jumpstarting Your Business

If your business has "stalled" or is somehow losing its edge, Andy Birol, a business consultant in Ohio, offers these "jumpstarting" tips to get your business moving in the right direction.

It's a process he calls determining your "best and highest use" or BHU. Determining your BHU will connect you to the passions and purpose that led you to start your business in the first place.

How do you determine your BHU?

  1. Document your successes.
  2. Consider the importance of fun.
  3. Discover what clients, customers and staff like about you.
  4. Distill and simplify.
  5. Know your blind spots.
  6. Synthesize, apply and focus..

BOTTOMLINE: "Apply these steps and you will gain new insight into your business and its customers. Customers will notice. The relentless logic of the marketplace demands that you deliver solid value to customers in order to keep them loyal to your business, and as they respond positively your comfort zone will expand."

Long-Term Strategic Planning

In a recent McKinseyGlobal Survey, Executives report an accelerating pace of change in an increasingly competitive business environment, driven by knowledge and information trends and the forces of globalization.

They found that the long-term strategic-planning process can be a powerful tool for identifying growth opportunities and external risks.

When asked how their strategic planning was organized, executives revealed significant differences between small and big companies.

  • When executives are probed about what strategic planning achieves at their companies, an interesting divergence emerges.
  • C-level executives are more confident than their lower-ranking counterparts that the process results in concrete measures.
  • Top executives also emphasize the effectiveness of their company's strategic planning in identifying new opportunities for growth.