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Friday, July 28, 2006

Ten Ps of Productivity

Thom Quinn, over at the QLog, presents his well-crafted list of the "Ten Ps of Productivity":

  1. Purpose
  2. Passion
  3. Positive
  4. Possible
  5. Prepare
  6. Plan
  7. Prioritize
  8. Persistence
  9. Performance
  10. People

Read all about them here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Organizational Change and Transformation

The newest McKinsey Quarterly online survey (subscription required) sheds new light on what drives a successful transformation in organizational performance.

Their premise?
  • Transformations appear to produce the best results when executives mobilize organizational energy and communicate their objectives in a clear, comprehensive, and engaging way.
  • Certain change mechanisms also were correlated with executives' satisfaction with transformation.

The survey, which covered a range of contexts from turnarounds to restructuring, highlights the mixed emotions felt by those on the receiving end of deep-rooted change.

Respondents with the most successful transformations reckon that their company was conspicuously more effective than the others at raising expectations about future performance, addressing short-term performance, engaging people at all levels of the organization, including a clear and coordinated program design, and making the change visible—through, say, new IT tools or physical surroundings.

Emotions play a leading role in a performance transformation. Overall, the respondents report negative and positive moods in roughly equal proportions, with anxiety (mentioned by 46 percent of all respondents) as the most common negative feeling, well ahead of confusion, frustration, fatigue, and resistance. Among the positives, a sense of focus, enthusiasm, and feelings of momentum occur roughly equally. Not surprisingly, more of the top performers report experiencing the positive emotions—especially focus and enthusiasm.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Changing Behaviors And Processes

"Fixing or otherwise improving a process usually involves changing it in some way."

But....Which Comes First: Process or Behavior?

"One failing is a tendency to develop ideal processes on paper, without addressing elements of human behavior. I suspect it’s a by-product of being trained in a highly data-driven methodology (like Six Sigma). We expect that if we can use good data to demonstrate that a process change will result in an improvement, then people will automatically change their behavior."

BOTTOMLINE: For any change to take place, behaviors (habits) need to change before processes can successfully be changed.

  • To grow your business... something needs to improve.
  • To improve performance... something needs to change.
  • To change effectively... it needs to last.
  • To make it last… you need Six Disciplines™.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

State of the U.S. Workforce

From the 2006 Employee Review by recruiter Randstad (as reported by Management-Issues) we see the following trends about the U.S. workforce:

  • 75% of employers said that staff development was important, but only 50% of employees felt that their organization delivered on it.
  • Almost 90% of employees said that feeling valued is an critical factor in job satisfaction, but barely 30% of them felt that they were valued by their own employers.
  • only 25% of employees felt that their organizations felt any loyalty towards their staff and barely more than half (56%) felt any loyalty to their organizations in return.
  • While the majority of employees and employers agreed that the top source of productivity gains was increased employee efficiency, only half of employees of all ages said that leadership practices in their organisations fostered employee development.

BOTTOMLINE: "The survey shows a widening gap in employee expectations and respective employer delivery," said Genia Spencer, managing director of operations and human resources for Randstad USA.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Why Change Efforts Can Fail

In his best-selling book Leading Change, John Kotter points to lack of urgency as one of the most significant factors in failed change efforts.

While your senior leadership team may be on board and in agreement with moving in a new direction, you need to invest some time and energy in getting buy-in from the rest of the organization.

Complacency with the status quo turns out to be one of the most powerful barriers to change initiatives -- even when leaders confront it head on.

"If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got."

BOTTOMLINE: If you're initiating a change effort within your organization, create a sense of urgency:

  • To grow your business... something needs to improve.
  • To improve performance... something needs to change.
  • To change effectively... it needs to last.
  • To make it last… you need Six Disciplines™.

The Challenge of Processes

Ann Michaels, over at Manage To Change, offers some great insight into the challenge of processes.

Her assertions?

  • Process and rules applied correctly are invaluable. They insure resources are allocated effectively. They create consistency. They allow everyone to know what they’re supposed to do and when and how to do it.
  • In order to accomplish all of this, they’re often very inflexible.
  • Process is created to support specific values and assumptions. When those change, the processes that support them must change as well. Otherwise, they will exert pressure to keep things exactly the way they are.

BOTTOMLINE: "What can you do about it? When evaluating the potential impact of change, don’t forget to evaluate established processes and rules. If your change effort is challenging values or “best practices,” chances are, it’s going to be in conflict with some of your established processes. Identify them. Highlight where and how the conflict exists. Decide how you’re going to handle it."

Small Business Success: What It Takes

Dave Lorenzo offers this list of core competencies required to be successful in starting (and running) a successful small business:

There are ten personality traits that successful business owners possess – at least to some degree. Read the list below and see how many of them apply to you:
  • Willingness to Sacrifice
  • Service Orientation
  • Leadership Ability
  • Business Intelligence and Creativity
  • Management Ability and Organization
  • Optimism
  • Persistence
  • Competitive Nature
  • Sales Orientation
  • Confidence

BOTTOMLINE: "If one or more of these traits is not second nature to you, don’t fret. During the next two weeks we will be discussing each of them in detail. We’ll talk about ways to leverage your current skills, knowledge and experience to make up for a lack of strength in one or more of these areas."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Reviewer Talks About Six Disciplines

Scott Young is one of the most prolific and detailed bloggers out there on topics like goal setting, time management, discipline, and personal development . He has an obsessive passion for personal development.

Recently, he was able to spend some time and read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Here's what he had to say:

"I finished the book a few days ago. The book is great with a lot of excellent ideas. Unlike a lot of the books I've read which tout theories this actually goes into specific detail for implementing ideas. Being heavily biased towards implementation myself, I appreciated a more detailed look at how to run a small business that wasn't just platitudes and feel-good messages."

Scott also added:

"Unfortunately the precision in the book is also the reason I wont be able to publish a review. I hold myself to a strict standard of not promoting ideas I haven't been able to test. Although there are hundreds of excellent ideas here I won't be able to test them until I am in the position of running a small business."

Why the hesitation/reluctance?

You see, as amazing as it seems, Scott just recently graduated from high school! I encourage you to visit his blog and spend some quality time there.

Be Excellent™ Mentioned in USA Today

Jim Hopkins, the editor of USA Today's Small Business Connection blog, includes a mention and link to Be Excellent™ in his article "Trying to sell to female entrepreneurs? Better listen up!"

"For one thing, they recognize that female entrepreneurs really want to be listened to -- and that once heard, their wishes will be respected. Blogger Skip Reardon ranks "listen to learn" No. 1 on a list of seven essential skills to become a greater leader. In my interviews with women, they tell me that -- more than men -- their management style is to sound out employees, listening carefully for ways they can build consensus on major decisions."

Thanks for noticing, Jim!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Core Components of Performance Management

What does performance management mean to you? What’s the difference between managing performance and driving performance?

What does it mean to create a performance-driven organization?

Mark Stiffler, CEO of Synygy Inc. offers these insights:

A unified approach to performance management—one that ties together the organizational and individual aspects— consists of the following components:

  • Align the objectives, resources and budgets of the different parts of the organization and the goals, opportunities and quotas of individuals.
  • Measure organizational and individual performance.
  • Reward individuals for performance.
  • Report organizational and individual performance.
  • Analyze organizational and individual strategy execution..

BOTTOMLINE: "For many organizations, becoming performance-driven might cause a cultural upheaval that, at least in its early stages, results in turmoil, a perception of chaos and a lot of discomfort. It can trigger turnover of long-time employees who do not like to be held accountable for goal achievement and who feel entitled to a certain level of pay regardless of their performance. And it might cost money as you make the initial investments.

But with the leadership and commitment of senior management, becoming performance-driven will lead to dramatic improvements in performance in financial terms, with respect to employee productivity and morale and in the flexibility to quickly adapt to change. The effort will be well worth it."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Comparing Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Seth Godin, a marketing genius (who has the ability to make very complex things - simple), offers this explanation of the differences between entrepreneurs and small business owners, in his article: "So, what's wrong with small business?"

According to Seth, entrepreneurs:
  • Think big thoughts and do big things
  • Try to make money while they sleep, and does it with someone else's money!
  • Build a business bigger than themselves, that scales for a long time, that is about processes and markets

On the other hand, small business owners:

  • Settle, working their way through the day to day
  • Are basically freelancers with support
  • Someone who understands the natural size of their business and wants to enjoy the craft of doing it every day.
BOTTOMLINE: According to Seth, "The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are. They often make more money, take fewer risks, sleep better and build something for the ages, something they believe in and can polish and be proud of. Growth for growth's sake makes less sense every day."

Collin Powell On Leadership

Colin Powell’s principles of leadership described in the book The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell include the following:

  • Being responsible sometimes means honking people off.
  • The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
  • Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.
  • Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.
  • You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.
  • Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.
  • Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fall because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.
  • Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.
  • Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.
  • Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.
  • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
  • Powell’s Rules for Picking People: Look for intelligence and judgment, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.
  • Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
  • Part I: Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired. Part II: “Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.
  • The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.
  • Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it: Spend time with your families. Corollary: surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.
  • Command (leadership) is lonely.

(Tip of the hat to George Ambler at The Practice of Leadership)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Top Reasons For Business Failure

From Entrepreneur Magazine and Yahoo!, comes this list of the top reasons for business failure:

Here they are, in order of their importance:

  1. Lack of direction. Business owners often fail to establish clear goals and create plans to achieve those goals, especially before starting out, when they fail to develop a complete business plan before launching their company.
  2. Impatience. This occurs when business owners try to accomplish too much too soon, or expect to get results far faster than is truly possible. A good rule to remember is that everything costs twice as much and takes three times as long as expected.
  3. Greed. When entrepreneurs try to charge too much to make a lot of money in a short period of time, failure isn't far behind.
  4. Taking action without thinking it through first. An entrepreneur acts impetuously and makes costly mistakes that eventually cause the business to fail.
  5. Poor cost control. An entrepreneur spends too much, especially in the early stages, and spends all their startup capital money before achieving profitability.
  6. Poor product quality. This makes it difficult to sell and difficult to get repeat business.
    Insufficient working capital. An entrepreneur expects--and requires--immediate, positive cash flow that doesn't occur, leading to the failure of the business.
  7. Bad or nonexistent budgeting. An entrepreneur fails to develop written budgets for operations that include all possible expenses.
  8. Inadequate financial records. An entrepreneur fails to set up a bookkeeping or accounting system from the beginning.
  9. Loss of momentum in the sales department. This leads to a decline in cash flow and the eventual collapse of the enterprise.
  10. Failure to anticipate market trends. An entrepreneur doesn't recognize changes in demand, customer preferences or the economic situation.
  11. Lack of managerial ability or experience. An entrepreneur doesn't know or understand the important skills it takes to run a business.
  12. Indecisiveness. An entrepreneur is unable to make key decisions in the face of difficulties, or decisions are delayed or improperly made because of concern for the opinions or feelings of other people.
  13. Bad human relations. Personal problems and conflict with staff, suppliers, creditors and customers can easily lead to business failure.
  14. Diffusion of effort. An entrepreneur tries to do too many things, thus failing to set priorities and focus on high-value tasks.

Improve Your Business Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Manny Sequeira, over at Improve Your Business, has published his review of Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Here are some excerpts from Manny's review:

"In his book "Six Disciplines for Excellence", Gary Harpst details a roadmap for small businesses to learn, lead and last. The result is a book which is lays out a systematic approach for building and sustaining a successful business - driven by excellence. This systematic approach is what Harpst has termed The Six Disciplines."

"Gary Harpst and his team have put a tremendous amount of work into detailing the steps within each of these disciplines so that this book can really be used as a small business owner's manual. They have succeeded in developing a practical methology for those of us who spend too much time "working in the business, instead of on the business."

"I like the approach and would recommend the book, as it is uniquely tailored for small businesses; it is well written with a lot of substance; and gives business owners a practical tool that they can use to implement business improvement for sustainability, growth and excellence."

Read the entire review here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Qualities of a Leader

Over at Whitespace, there is a great collaborative listing of what 75 (and counting....) people think are the Qualities of a Leader.

Some of the better leadership qualities listed?

  • Consistency
  • Integrity, principles, sincerity, ethics
  • Respect, trust
  • Sacrifice (servant)
  • Humility, diplomacy
  • Flexibility
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Passion, enthusiasm
  • Confidence, decisiveness, competence
  • Vision
  • Clarity, focus
  • Execution
  • Communication (speaking and listening)
  • Wisdom
Want to add your own thoughts here?

Seven Essential Skills to Become a Great Leader

Dr. Peter J. Dean offers his The L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Method - the essential skills necessary for any effective leader to practice:

  1. Listen to Learn
  2. Empathize with Emotions
  3. Attend to Aspirations
  4. Diagnose and Detail
  5. Engage for Good Ends
  6. Respond with Respectfulness
  7. Speak with Specificity

BOTTOMLINE: "When individuals practice good leadership skills and acknowledge change, the entire organization benefits. Management is easier when leadership resides throughout all organizational levels with each person utilizing his or her sphere of influence in a positive way.

These skills allow individuals to develop expertise earlier in their careers and demonstrate greater productivity, resulting in a more enjoyable and positive work environment. People can be excited about going to their place of employment because they are developing their repertoire of leadership skills.

By allowing leadership skills to develop early, both the individual and the company grow and profit."

Reasons for Formal Process Improvement

The QualityGuru suggests the following Reasons Why You Know You Need A Formal Process Improvement Structure:

  1. Fragmented processes causing delays and defects:
  2. Customer Complaints: For every customer that complains about your product or service, there are 16 more that won’t tell you directly. Word of mouth can kill you!
  3. Supplier Complaints: Do your suppliers complain about the last minute delays imposed on them?
  4. Employee’s Whining: What’s stopping your employees from doing a good job? “I could do my job better if ____”.
  5. Blaming People: The problems are in your processes, not your people.
  6. Knee jerk Reactions: Managing by Gut feelings. “
  7. Margins are low, expenses are high, and our growth is stalled.
  8. Field failures.
  9. Too many inspectors: You cannot inspect quality in, but you can build it in.
  10. Absenteeism and turnover: Employees don’t want to do a bad job.

BOTTOMLINE: The need for formal process improvement can be any one or a combination of these symptoms. And, there are many different business process improvement methods to adopt. Only Six Disciplines is designed specifically for smaller organizations, focuses primarily on execution vs. theory, and is optimized for use over the Internet.

Tom Peters: On Excellence

Want to see what Tom Peters says about Excellence?

Check out his PowerPoint from a recent 2006 presentation - where he focuses on Excellence.


Putting Values To Work

Fortune Magazine/CNN/Money features an article about business executives putting their values to work building their businesses.

The premise?

  • Some companies become more socially responsible to protect their brands, to engage their people or to appeal to a certain set of customers who care about reputation.
  • But business is personal, too.
  • More than the bottom line is driving all these efforts. They are all personal.
  • Each of these leaders care passionately about the causes their companies are engaged in.

In a new book called "True to Yourself: Leading a Values-Based Business."author Mark Albion argues that the personal side of business must come first. Only then will profits follow.

"Values-based leaders focus on their impact on people and the planet," he says. "And when they do it well - building a company or division that reflects their values - it results in more meaningful lives and financial health."

Particularly in a startup, Albion writes, the leader's values are crucial. "The day you launch your company, you are its first product," he notes. "You must sell your values, your mission, your uniqueness to others."

BOTTOMLINE: "The way you really make change is by capturing the hearts and minds of your people," says Albion, paraphrasing Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Measurable Progress Toward Excellence

Skip Angel, over at Random Thoughts, poses this thought-provoking entry: "Measurable Progress Toward Excellence"

His premise?

"A strength is defined as a pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings that produces high satisfaction and pride; generates mental and/or financial reward; and presents measurable progress toward excellence."

Listen For Yearnings: Like an internal magnet, yearnings pull us toward one thing (strength) instead of another, beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout life. One's life work often begins in yearnings from childhood. Friendly advice can derail us from our strengths when we confuse it for a yearning.

Watch For Satisfactions: Great emotional and mental rewards come from activities we "get a kick out of doing." Satisfactions are not fleeting pleasures, but form our intrinsic motivation. Both satisfactions and yearnings cluster around strengths. Competencies and satisfactions don't always align. If it doesn't feel good, it's probably not a strength.

Watch For Rapid Learning: If you catch on to something quickly, you're probably good at it, and will say, "I feel like I've always known how to do this." A strength is always characterized by initial rapid learning that continues throughout one's lifetime.

Glimpses of Excellence: We see signs of strength in glimpses of excellence within a performance, such as singing a song, writing a letter, giving a speech. A performance is a series of "moments" which provide clues to greatness.

Total Performance For Excellence: The behavior flows and there are no conscious steps in the mind of the performer. The performer is acting on automatic -- time has stopped. Total performance is much more than a glimpse; it is the complete extension of an activity. It happens consistently, and is repeatable.

BOTTOMLINE: Measurable Progress Toward Excellence is a series of activities that are systematic, cyclical, consistent and repeatable.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The New Rules for CEOs

The Six Sigma master, Jack Welch, was once the undisputed authority in management.

But Fortune Magazine is now finding that today's smart CEOs are following a different set of rules.

The New Rules for CEOs:

  1. Agile is best; being big can bite you.
  2. Find a niche, create something new.
  3. The customer is king.
  4. Look out, not in.
  5. Hire passionate people.
  6. Hire a courageous CEO.
  7. Admire my soul.
(Tip of the hat to BusinessPundit for this one!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Reasons for New Executive Failure

Candidates for executive positions frequently experience “organ rejection” – being rejected by companies if they don't fit in with its culture, according to research from Salveson Stetson Group, a full-service retained executive search firm.

“Lack of cultural fit is one of the biggest reasons why newly recruited executives fail,” according to Sally Stetson, co-founder and principal with the 10-year-old executive search firm. “Assessing the suitability of candidates to an organization’s culture can significantly improve the success rate of new hires.”

John Salveson, co-founder and principal with Salveson Stetson Group added, “Candidates may have outstanding technical skills, accomplishments that match the job requirements, and have worked at the ‘right’ companies, but their leadership styles, interpersonal skills, and approaches to making decisions may not mesh with the way the company works. A candidate who was enormously successful in one company can fall flat on his or her face with another due to culture fit issues.”

BOTTOMLINE: To increase the success rate of newly recruited executives:

  • Consider using behavioral assessments (such as those offered by Six Disciplines Leadership Centers)
  • Consider using candidate 360 feedback surveys (such as those offered by Six Disciplines Leadership Centers)
  • Assess your own organization's culture (consider attending a training session called "Building Company-Wide Accountability" - offered by Six Disciplines Leadership Centers)
  • Assess your own organization's hiring process (consider attening a training session called "Finding and Keeping The Right People" - offered by Six Disciplines Leadership Centers)

Friday, July 07, 2006

How To Read A Business Book - Part II

About 3,000 new business books are published each year in the U.S. (according to the Economist). That’s roughly 57 new books each week when, for most of us, reading even one a week feels like an accomplishment.

How do you keep up? How do you read a business book?

Andrew Hargadon offers his tips here:

  1. Read wisely.
  2. Don’t read.
  3. Read efficiently.
  4. Read skeptically.
  5. Finally, read the reviews.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The CEO's Job - Creating Lasting Value

What is authentic leadership for the small business CEO?

We need to spend more time developing the next generation of authentic leaders within our companies.

Failure to develop outstanding successors has forced far too many organizations to look outside for the next chief executive.

Typically, CEOs don’t design anything, make anything or sell anything. Their job is to create the strategies for building the business and to create the kind of positive environment that enables our employees to do these vital jobs.

The only way to build lasting value in our companies is to focus on our missions, our customers and our employees.

BOTTOMLINE: So what will create lasting value?

  • Building your business by pursuing your mission with a passion.
  • Connecting every day with your employees.
  • Being out with your customers looking for great ideas for growth.
  • Being true to your core values in every decision.
  • Building an enduring organization of authentic leaders from top to bottom.
  • Getting results for all your stakeholders, not just the shareholder of the past five minutes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Passion Is Why

"To live is to choose. But to choose, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go, and why you want to get there….”

In business, our Mission and Values statements spell out who we are and what we stand for.

Our Vision statement gives where we want to go, and our Strategy gives us the how.

But the why is missing.

Passion is the why.

Read the entire article on Beyond Motivation - Passion

Four Questions Every Leader Must Ask

Ed Brenegar, over at Leading Questions, offers up his Impact Leadership Survey.

Rather than focusing on SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), Ed increasingly talks with his clients about how they understand their impact.

The four questions?

  1. Over the past year, what has been your IMPACT?
  2. WHO have you Impacted in the past year?
  3. What OPPORTUNITIES do you have now that you didn’t have a year ago?
  4. What PROBLEMS or OBSTACLES have You created?

Take the survey yourself

Productivity and Quality of Life

The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) have revealed a sea-change in the attitudes of corporate high-flyers, with a growing number rejecting long hours and the scramble up the corporate ladder in favour of better quality of life.

Some of their recent findings:

  • 53% of those questioned said they have not achieved a satisfactory work-life balance.
  • 46% felt that their work-life balance had changed for the worse over the past five years.
  • 60% complained that technologies such as the BlackBerry and mobile phone are further eroding the boundaries between work and personal life.
  • 56% of the current generation said that they would strongly consider refusing a promotion if it negatively affected their work-life balance.

BOTTOMLINE: "Top senior executives are hard to come by, and this survey suggests that executives are beginning to carefully measure the cost of their personal lives against the value of their professional goals. Employers need to be more creative and nimble in today's market and some negotiating tactics may include being more sensitive to candidate work-life balance needs. If employers do not listen, their competitors surely will."