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Friday, September 29, 2006

Strategy Execution - Part III

According to Fred Nickols, "Strategy is many things."

It involves a..
  • A Plan (how we intend to realize our goals)
  • A Pattern (a course that reconciles what we want and how we're going to get there)
  • A Position (a stance, a positioning statement of who we are - and who we aren't)
  • A Ploy (how the strategy unfolds relative to competitive advantage)
  • A Perspective (how we view our organization and our competitors)
"Strategy is getting it right and doing it right. On the one hand, we have to pick the right course of action. On the other hand, once chosen, we have to carry it out (execute it) properly.

Strategy is . . . well, strategy is everything. Strategy is timing, then, because, as the comedians tell us, timing is everything. When the time is right, we use the word "opportune" and thus imply the existence of opportunity. This is how intention reconciles itself with reality and how tactics shape strategy.

As Tom Peters once said, "Execution is strategy." Algebraically speaking, that means strategy is execution. In much simpler terms, we adapt to changing circumstances. So does strategy."

Entreprenuership Alive And Well

According to the new report from BusinessWeek, entrepreneurship is alive and well within college and university programs these days.

  • Some 2,100 schools now offer coursework in entrepreneurship, up from just 380 in 1990,
  • Nearly 500 of them offer entrepreneurship concentrations or degrees.
  • About 400,000 undergraduate and graduate students took at least one entrepreneurship course in the past academic year, compared with possibly 24,000 10 years ago.
  • At the Wharton School, the most popular double major among MBAs for three of the last four years has been finance and entrepreneurship.

The goal of these programs are to offer instruction in the basic block-and-tackle skills of business, and to equip students with some insight into the world of new ventures.

That insight, on most campuses, comes from a mix of academics and experienced entrepreneurs.

BOTTOMLINE: Rather than the traditional classroom academic studies, these new programs focus on strategy, planning, organization, execution, measurement and leadership.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Deciding What NOT To Do

Effective strategy execution requires that the resources of the organization are aligned to its purpose.
"The essence of strategy is deciding what NOT to do."

Unless your priorities are clear enough that you know what not to do, or what not to allocate resources to, you don't yet have "strategy."

One way to test how committed the organization is to your Vital Few Objectives (VFOs) is to get agreement on the projects and priorities in the organization that can be stopped.

BOTTOMLINE: The forces of business and human nature cause programs and projects to continually expand, resulting in an ever-increasing misalignment of resources. An organization must have the self-discipline to free up resources and reallocate them to higher-value projects and to deliver competitive profitability at the same time. If an organization doesn't discipline itself to do this - our free market - will.

Identifying Areas For Performance Improvement

Based on a recent nationwide survey by NFI Research:

  • When it comes to dealing with weaknesses in others (inability to perform required tasks, poor time management, procrastination, late projects,) 91% of executives and managers discuss the weakness.
  • Only 12%of senior executives and managers say their actions ultimately meet their requirements/expectations extremely well.

“Interestingly, almost all business leaders agree that discussing the weakness is the proper course of action, but nothing seems to work very well to make the subordinate meet the expectations of the manager," said Chuck Martin, CEO of NFI Research.

The top three ways senior executives and managers deal with weaknesses of others are discussing the weakness (91%), provide additional training (71%) and support the employee (59%).

BOTTOMLINE: Establishing organizational accountability, where all team members understand the what they are responsible for, what the expectations are for performance, how to monitor progress and how to work toward self-management, is the key to top people performance management.

Supporting Organizational Change

Introducing change within an organization is not easy.

Team leaders may feel that team members tend to resist change, are not supportive or are trying to make things difficult.

Esther Derby offers her 10 lessons on Supporting Organizational Change
  1. Communicate a Compelling Reason to Change
  2. Communicate Formally and Informally
  3. Personalize the Message: What Does This Mean for Me?
  4. Acknowledge the Unknowns
  5. Surface Rumors and Fill in the Blanks
  6. Practice What You Preach
  7. Acknowledge and Build on What People Value
  8. Reframe Resistance
  9. People Do Not Resist Change, They Resist Coercion
  10. Empathize
BOTTOMLINE: Anytime change is being introduced into an organization, there is resistance and a strong likelihood that it will not take hold or last. When leaders understand how to manage change, the likelihood accelerates, can change behaviors and attitudes, and help to create a new organizational culture.

(Tip of the hat to Leon Ho at for this one!)

The Keys To Successful Organizational Culture

A recent study by Denison Consulting has found that, when it comes to delivering positive, bottom-line results, an organisation's culture can make a huge difference.

A workplace that values adaptability, consistency, a clear direction and employee involvement is more likely to deliver better returns, sales growth, productivity and shareholder value, according to new research from the U.S.

Their findings?

  • Businesses with the best organizational culture earned an average return-on-assets of 6.3% versus. 4.5% for firms with the lowest organizational scores.
  • The top-quartile firms achieved average, one-year sales growth of 15.1%, as compared with 0.1% for the lowest-quartile group.
  • The companies that achieved higher scores on mission, consistency, involvement and adaptability earned a return-on-assets difference totalling 40%.
  • During a three-year period, the firms with the best scores around organizational culture significantly outperformed their industry peers, as well as the companies with the lowest organizational culture scores

BOTTOMLINE: These results represent a dramatic affirmation of the importance of organizational culture, and its link to real-world business results.

Here's the full press release from Dennison Consulting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Power of Ordinary Practices - and Execution

Rob May, the BusinessPundit, brings to light this interview with Dr. Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School.

In his usual fashion, Rob's take on it all comes down to our favorite subject: EXECUTION.

"For all the talk of strategy, big picture thinking, innovation, disruptive technology - the little things still matter. All that fun cool stuff that you find in the business mantra of the month is useless if you don't pay attention to the ordinary, the details, the implementation, the execution. Don't be one of those managers browsing the book store for the next big idea. There are no panaceas. Get the little things right. Build good solid habits. Then you can move up and focus on the bigger things."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Eight Rules To Brilliant Brainstorming

BusinessWeek brings us "Eight Rules To Brilliant Brainstorming"

  1. Use brainstorming to combine and extend ideas, not just harvest them.
  2. Don't bother if people live in fear.
  3. Do individual brainstorming before and after group sessions.
  4. Brainstorming sessions are worthless unless ideas lead to action.
  5. Brainstorming requires skill and experience both to do - and especially - to facilitate.
  6. A good brainstorming session is competitive - in the right way.
  7. Brainstorming sessions can be used for more than just generating ideas.
  8. Follow the rules, or don't call it brainstorming.

BOTTOMLINE: Brainstorming is just one of many idea-generating techniques that make a company creative. However, itt is of little to no value if it's not combined with observing consumers, talking to experts, or building prototype products and experiences that provide an outlet for the ideas generated. In other words, it is taking ACTION - and EXECUTING on the ideas that is meaningful. But only in the context of taking action and executing on ideas from brainstorming that support the overall organization's strategy.

Be Excellence

Thom Quinn, over at The QLog offers this insight into "Be Excellence."

Thom includes the Aristotle quote:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Along with this one from Booker T. Washington: "Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

BOTTOMLINE: "One must break the traditional pattern (e.g. old habits) to move to the next level. An uncommon way can be an approach that is novel, unique, or both. This evolutionary style is ‘excellence of the second order’. It is much rarer; yet, it is extremely powerful."

Resistance To Change

George Ambler, over at The Practice of Leadership, brings us these powerful insights from his readings on why we resist change - and what to do about it.

On the subject of change:

  • The need for change in how we think, behave and relate as organisations and individuals has never been greater.
  • There is a great need for leaders who are capable of leading organizational change.
  • The results to date have been dismal, research from Harvard Business Review indicates that as much as 70% of all organizational change programs fail.

Richard Beckhard describes "The Paradigm Shift Mode," a model (see formula above) for what is required to bring about change in an organization or in individuals.

BOTTOMLINE: "The discrepancy between what you now have and the results you want to create in the future creates a structural tension that seeks resolution. In creating the tension it’s necessary to hold the vision and not lower your standards and face reality as it is, any biased view of reality makes the tension difficult to form or maintain."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Random Thoughts from a CTO: Reviews Six Disciplines

Skip Angel, the insightful and passionate author of Random Thoughts from a CTO published a comprehensive review of Six Disciplines, Six Disciplines for Excellence (the book), and Be Excellent™.

But first, about Skip and Random Thoughts.

When you read Random Thoughts, the first impression you get is: this guy "gets it."

You can see the wheels turning, feel the passion he has for quality, for doing the right thing...for excellence.

His community of "like-minded" readers come from all walks: project management gurus, IT professionals, management, productivity mavens....

BOTTOMLINE: From one Skip to another, I humbly encourage you to read his review about Six Disciplines - then, spend some time diving into Random Thoughts.

Time well spent.

Succession Planning A Necessity for Small Businesses

According to SuccessFactor's recent survey, succession planning is another area in which organizations are getting a "failing" grade:

  • 58% stated that there was no/did not know if their organization has a succession planning strategy in place
  • 48% face challenges with a lack of visibility into employee skills, experience level and career path
  • 46% face challenges with an inability to quickly find a pool of qualified internal candidates for open positions
  • 44% face challenges with a lack of visibility into bench strength for leadership positions

"Most companies would like to take a snapshot of their workforce and freeze it in time. With this line of thinking, no one would leave, no positions would be eliminated and no one would be promoted. The problem is that this scenario does not account for the good things that happen to a company as a result of business success and therefore forces the company to implement a comprehensive succession planning strategy: the company grows, necessitating more workers, talented individuals become available on the job market, high performers within your company are promoted to recognize their good work."

BOTTOMLINE: "Succession planning is not only a good practice—it is a necessity for businesses large and small. Succession management, when instituted as a standard and consistent business process, incorporating long term vision and strong technology, will ensure the continued effective performance of an organization by making provision for the development and replacement of key people over time, allowing an organization to evolve seamlessly."

Goal Setting and Execution - Two Different Things

With all the talk about employer branding, employee engagement, communications and change management, and for all the money organizations spend on implementing technology, process and workflow, it still doesnt seem like things are clicking on all cylinders.

In SuccessFactor's recent survey, here are some interesting (and not always positive) findings:

  • 35% do not have/do not know if there is a formal method for setting goals and objectives in their organization
  • 58% face challenges tracking employee and department progress against goals
  • 54% face challenges aligning employee goals with corporate strategy
  • 47% face challenges giving employees visibility into management and corporate goals

BOTTOMLINE: "Provide a mechanism that enables all employees to have insight into corporate goals and objectives, which should in turn, be cascaded throughout an organization. Develop a tracking system that easily measures how both the company and employees’ goals and objectives are matching against those that were set and projected." (Sounds like they've looked at....Six Disciplines

Setting Objectives - Getting Even SMARTER

George Ambler, over at The Practice of Leadership, offers his latest take on Setting Objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. method.

Notice it's not setting goals, but setting objectives.

George's take: We need to be aware of the difference between goals and objectives.

  • Goals relate to our aspirations, purpose and vision.
  • Objectives are the battle plan, the stepping stones on the path towards the achievement of my goal.

S.M.A.R.T refers to the acronym that describes the key characteristics of meaningful objectives, which are:

  • Specific (concrete, detailed, well defined)
  • Measureable (numbers, quantity, comparison)
  • Achievable (feasible, actionable)
  • Realistic (considering resources)
  • Time-Bound (a defined time-line)
More on the SMART method of setting objectives here.

Seven Core Leadership Principles

Paul Hogan, CEO of Home Instead Senior Care, offers this from the September 2006 issue of Franchising World -- the "Seven Core Leadership Principles":

  1. Leaders are driven by conviction
  2. Leaders are values-driven
  3. Leadership hold to their core vision, but allow it to evolve at the margins
  4. Leaders build a great team and trust it
  5. Leaders are obsessed with listening and learning
  6. Leaders are what they do, not what they are
  7. Leaders nurture leadership in their organizations

Friday, September 22, 2006

Starting A New Small Business?

Some 464,000 people on average start new businesses each month, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.

But according to the Small Business Administration, only two-thirds of new businesses last at least two years, and 44 percent survive for at least four years.

So for those who have already gone down the entrepreneurial road or are just thinking about it, Neil Anderson, president of The Courage Group, a services firm for entrepreneurs, offers these tips for avoiding the startup graveyard.

  1. Market and Sell
  2. Have a Sense of Urgency
  3. Hunker Down
  4. Take Nothing for Granted
  5. Exercise
  6. Down with Negativity
  7. Have a Daily Business Plan
  8. Visualize Success
  9. Remember the Alternative
  10. See No. 1 Again!

The Appeal of Small Businesses

If all you care about is money, it's large companies that deliver the goods. But if you want something resembling a personal life, don't want to be unhappy on the job and like to be treated fairly, you'd be much better off with a smaller employer.

From their 12th Annual "Attitudes in the American Workplace" Poll carried out for Connecticut-based employee communications specialists, The Marlin Company, here are some interesting findings:

  • One in three (28%) of US workers at large companies (those with more than 1000 employees) are strongly satisfied with their jobs compared with four out of 10 (41%) of their counterparts in companies with fewer than 100 staff.
  • While almost half (46%) of big company employees complained that work often interfered with their personal and family life, the same was true for only one in three (33%) working for small companies.

BOTTOMLINE: Smaller companies often give employees more responsibility from the start, are less politicized and less bureaucratic.

Excellence in Music: Eric Clapton

Every once in a while, a musician has the ability to harness talent, passion and longevity.

One such individual is Eric Clapton.

I had the honor to see the musical legend himself in concert in Chicago this past week.

It was an incredible life experience - and an amazing example of excellence in music.

Thank you!

(and many thanks to JB...for everything!)

Management's Top Priorities

According to the latest from consulting firm Accenture, managing risk is the new Number 1 priority in larger firms.

Here's the most recent Top 10 list of priorities:

  1. Managing risk
  2. Achieving growth while increasing profitability
  3. Acquiring new customers
  4. Using IT to reduce costs and create value
  5. Changing organizational culture and employee attitudes
  6. The need to increase customer loyalty and retention
  7. Improve workforce performance
  8. Increase shareholder value
  9. Apply innovation to stay ahead of the competition
  10. Attract and retain skilled staff

"This latest study illustrates that companies realise they must address the increased risks associated with geo-political instability, globalisation, aggressive growth, increased competition and the information explosion. These risks have ushered in a new era in corporate strategy in which high performance companies are those that sense potential issues and opportunities, and then respond and execute their strategies more quickly."

BOTTOMLINE: "In each of the three previous surveys, workforce-improvement issues have ranked at the top of the executives' priority list but had now been overtaken by external competition issues, said Accenture." That might be the case for larger enterprises, but for small businesses, workforce improvement issues is still Number One.

Why Performance Feedback Is Crucial

According to this article from NFIB:

"Good management is not only the gift of identifying talent, but the art of selective recognition of strengths and weaknesses, and the proper encouragement of the best in any man or woman."

One interesting stat:

  • The well-known "80/20 Rule," can be applied to problem employees and employee problems. It says that 20 percent of a group's employees are responsible for 80 percent of the problems. As a result, the troublesome 20 percent command most of the manager's attention and attract the most feedback on both performance and behavior, while the non-troublesome 80 percent chug along with no one paying much attention to them.
BOTTOMLINE: Although not always recognized as such, performance feedback is an important responsibility of those who manage the work of others. Performance feedback is essential for reinforcing appropriate performance and sustaining motivation. Since most formal evaluations happen only once or twice each year, and a great deal can happen between formal evaluations, we recommend an Individual Plan process, (Discipline IV. Work The Plan) where progress is maintained weekly, monitored weekly, and measured quarterly.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hiring The Right People

StraightSource, a Dallas-based recruitment outsourcing company, has identified the key process steps necessary for minimum effectiveness in hiring the right people.

Their assumptions?

  • Recruiting, like every other corporate process, can be measured, monetized and managed to deliver specific value and contribute to corporate objectives,” said Brandt Hamby, executive vice president, business development. “Too often, there is a schism between recruiting and management, where one group is blaming the other for organizational challenges.
  • The key to finding the talent to drive corporate success lies in having a documented, well-defined, well-executed process to recruit and retain top talent.
  • The process makes the difference and ensures consistent and repeated success in finding the right people to drive a business forward.
  • They evidence a focus on developing measurable, repeatable and scalable processes in hiring more than 50,000 people for leading companies over the last 10 years.

CEOs should evaluate the effectiveness of their organization's recruiting process by asking five tough questions:

  1. Is there a detailed process map for recruiting that includes interview scripts and job description aids?
  2. Is there a well-defined, position-based selection process? Does it include selection tools that have been validated across all jobs and job types?
  3. Is there an audit process to determine how well the recruiting staff adheres to the designed process?
  4. Are there both process (time and cost) and outcome (satisfaction, quality and retention) measurements associated with the recruiting process?
  5. Can you measure the financial value recruitment provides to the organization?

BOTTOMLINE: "The best-performing companies have a well-defined and consistently executed process that helps them find the right players time and time again. If you don’t have these process steps in place, there are inefficiencies in your recruiting, and most likely you are not getting the best people you can.”

See What The Experts Are Saying About "Six Disciplines for Excellence"

The book reviews on Six Disciplines for Excellence continue to come in...see what the experts are saying about the book!

Leading Today Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

The good folks at Leading Today.Org have published their review of Six Disciplines for Excellence.

The review begins:

"Most new jobs created in the United States today are the result of small businesses forming or expanding. Gone are the days when large manufacturers rapidly created hundreds or thousands of jobs to support their growing requirements. However, small businesses have special needs, not only to survive the early years but to sustain their foundational growth. Author Gary Harpst actively taps into these critical needs in Six Disciplines For Excellence...."

Read the rest of the review here!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Making Change Stick

WeLead reviews a new book "Making Change Stick: Twelve Principles for Transforming Organizations."

Essence of the book:

  • In Making Change Stick the author defines sticky as the ability to accomplish and sustain change.
  • Reale correctly observes that leaders tend to focus on the technical side of change but typically ignore the human or people side of change. But, change is personal and involves human emotion and commitment.
  • The twelve principles for making change stick are a series of repeating patterns that help an organization to become change-capable.

The twelve principles for making change stick:

  1. Know where you are going
  2. Challenge your thinking
  3. Involve and be involved
  4. Align your culture
  5. Honor emotions
  6. Confront fear
  7. Don't wait for perfection
  8. Communicate intentionally
  9. Set people up for success
  10. Catch people doing something right
  11. Measure stuff that matters
  12. Lead from the heart

Also see How Do You Know If Your Change Will Stick

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Execution: Getting The Right Things Done Right

In this entry, "It All Comes Down To Execution," the author (OconDC) states:

Execution is the discipline of getting things done.

"Execution is a great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the big obstacle to success and the cause of many disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes. A company vision without the ability to execute is a hallucination.

The problem is to me that everyone at an organization suffering from lack of execution blames everybody else for the company-wide poor performance, and very few people—managers and leaders—try to find ways for things to actually work.

Execution is the major job of the business leader; it is both a discipline and an integral part of strategy. It is the difference between getting the job done versus merely talking about it; moving away from management theories and talk to reality and results. E

xecution must be a core element of an organizations culture in order to ensure long-term viability. Execution is the main reason companies fall short of their promises. It lies in the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organizations to deliver it."

BOTTOMLINE: Execution is not the discipline of getting things done. If execution is strategy-driven, then execution becomes the discipline of getting the right things done right.

On Execution and Strategy

Some fundamentals:

  • Execution will always be more important than strategy.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • A fair-to-middling strategy exceptionally executed will almost always yield better bottom-line results than a great strategy poorly executed.
  • A great strategy never executed -- and it happens a lot more than any of us would like to admit -- is a lame exercise in futility.

Best example from sports: John McKay had a track record as the highly successful coach of the USC Trojans (and had moved on to coach in the NFL). A sportswriter caught McKay right after a particularly ugly loss:

"Coach McKay... What do you think of your team's execution?"

He responded: "I'm in favor of it."

Execution Quotes for 09/14/06

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." (General H. Norman Schwarzkopf)

"Strategy gets you on the playing field, but execution pays the bills." (Gordon Eubanks)

"There is value in careful planning and thoughtful preparation. However, until there is execution, no plan is flawed; no preparation inadequate. Execution spotlights all." (Chip Bell)

"Consistent alignment of capabilities and internal processes with the customer value proposition is the core of any strategy execution." (Robert Kaplan)

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week." (General George S. Patton)

Closing the Strategy To Execution Gap

According to the thought leaders at Marakon Associates:

"...there has been a lot of talk about the importance of great execution in producing consistently superior performance. Despite all the talk, there has been surprisingly little research on the topic -- that is, until now."

New research by Marakon, in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit, has found that companies typically realize only about 60% of their strategies’ potential value due to breakdowns in planning and execution.

The results of this research along with seven simple rules for closing the strategy-to-performance gap were featured in the Harvard Business Review.

The seven simple rules for closing the strategy-to-performance gap?

1. Keep it simple, make it concrete.
2. Debate assumptions, not forecasts.
3. Use a rigorous framework, speak a common language.
4. Discuss resource deployments early.
5. Clearly identify priorities.
6. Continuously monitor performance.
7. Reward and develop execution capabilities.

Identifying Root Problems

In his Thinking Faster blog, Jeffrey Phillips advocates the "ask why three times" approach as a method to gain deeper understanding of problems or challenges before you start working.

Phillips adds: "As you confront a challenge or a problem in which you lack expertise, gain understanding by a systematic evaluation and deconstruction of the challenge, the root causes and potential solutions. By gaining a deeper understanding of the symptoms and the root causes, your approach will become signifcantly clearer and you will be able to move more decisively and productively to address the challenge."

BOTTOMLINE: In Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully, there is a 5-Step Problem Solving exercise to help identify root causes. The technique involves is to ask "Why?" seven times to get to the root issue. After seven levels of "drill down," chances are pretty good that you're close to the real root cause. (Six Disciplines for Excellence, page 199)

The Leadership Challenge and Change

Forget all the management-speak and buzz-words. The challenge of change in today's high-tech world demands a low-tech revolution in management – one based on commonsense.

The succinct, five-point Kouzes-Posner model can be used as a leadership tool. (NOTE: Each of these has correlations in Six Disciplines for Excellence, as indicated in italics below)

How does your business rate against the five criteria?

Does your leadership...

1) Model the Way? (being clear about personal values; setting an example and planning small wins) - Renew Values

2) Inspire a Shared Vision? (envisioning the future; getting the support of others) - Renew Vision

3) Challenge the Process? (looking for opportunities; experimenting and taking risks) - Innovate Purposefully

4) Enable Others to Act? (fostering collaboration; empowering others) - Engage The Team, Align People

5) Encourage the Heart? (acknowledging contributions; celebrating accomplishments) - Recognize Contribution

Is Small Business A Noble Calling?

Rob, at the BusinessPundit, reposts this Duct Tape Marketing entry "Small Business Ownership : Is It a Noble Calling?"

Rob's take: "Business has tremendous impacts on society, and with power comes responsibility. One of the things I say in my chapter is, if you want to change the world, start a business. I believe finding profitable solutions to problems is one of the most noble things you can undertake."

BOTTOMLINE: "Most people will spend helf their waking hours at work. To a business leader who takes the risk of owning and building a business, this is both exciting and sobering. It's exciting because of the great opportunity to do something meaningful in the lives of other people. It's sobering because of the responsibility it implies, derived from the understanding that oftentimes a single decision may significantly affect the the lives of many others. Those who take this stewardship seriously truly are heroes!" (page 40, Six Disciplines for Excellence)

At Six Disciplines, our entire focus is on "small businesses." Our Methodology, Internet technologies and coaching provided by Six Disciplines Leadership Centers are designed and optimized for small businesses.

And this, from the Six Disciplines "Corporate Information" tab, (under Our Purpose) - "We believe that business is a noble calling. Behind our mission is the “bigger purpose” of having a positive impact on the people and communities in which we operate. Businesses enable professional and personal growth and provide the economic foundation to help others and ourselves."

Building a Better Workforce

This article "Building a Better Workforce" discusses what technology can (and can't) do to help companies optimize their most valuable asset.

Two relevant excerpts from the article:

"Every employee needs a clear line of sight between what they do each day and how it relates to our global business plan. That's how they understand the contribution they make. That's part of what makes them feel engaged by their jobs."

"The effort to build a "high-performance workforce" has led to other discoveries, notably the importance of making smart hires. We changed gears and reallocated funds from training to a more-formal interviewing and hiring process."

BOTTOMLINE: Every team member needs to understand how "what they do" on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis aligns with the business plan. It's how they connect or engage with their responsibilities. One way of ensuring that is to have a "leave nothing to chance" hiring process - which is one of the key components of building company-wide accountability.

People Performance Management

The folks at Warrilow report that "...One of the most powerful yet overlooked success factors for small businesses is implementing effective HR management practices."

According to a study by the University of California Center for Effective Organizations, employee management practices have a proven impact on the top and bottom line – resulting in returns of up to 66% in sales and 13% in equity.

Gevity, a provider of professional human resource capabilities to small and medium-sized businesses, established its Institute to delve deeply into small business HR issues and build insights into how they can most contribute to improving business performance. David Sikora, the head of the Institute says, “The typical small employer defines HR as payroll, benefits and perhaps compliance. Most don’t think about the other side of the coin, which encompasses practices like having formal appraisal processes and job descriptions, and linking compensation to business objectives.”

BOTTOMLINE: Formalized HR best practices like performance appraisals, 360 feedback and systematic hiring processes -- can effectively be conducted in smaller organizations, leading to improved people performance. You'll find these best practices as integral components of the Six Disciplines program.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Coaching: Fad or Tool?

This new article "Coaching: Fad or Indispensable Management Tool?" poses some interesting trends about business coaching:

  • Despite more than 20 years as a mainstay of organizational development, copious affirming efficacy research and annual U.S. coaching fees estimated at $1 billion, according to the Harvard Business Review, business coaching still has a "faddish" side.
  • The International Coach Federation (professional credentialing organization) has made significant progress with 9,500 members from more than 70 countries.
  • Twenty years ago, having a coach meant you were in trouble. Coaching doesn’t have that onerous reputation anymore, fortunately – today, having a coach is a competitive advantage for leaders.

BOTTOMLINE: About 80% of firms using coaches say they plan to spend the same or more than last year, meaning the consensus view on coaching is that it’s far more of an “indispensable management tool” than it is a fad. Be careful when choosing a business coach.

Succession Planning Best Practices

Succession planning is one of the most critical and often overlooked strategic priorities of for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Whether managing senior leader turnovers resulting from planned retirement, unplanned departure, or developing next generation leadership, continuity requires formal planning and the development of resources.

Succession planning is the process of identifying and preparing suitable employees, through mentoring, career development, and job rotation, to replace key players within an organizations.

Succession planning is part of the strategic planning process and includes measureable assessments of team member skills, including 360 Feedback Surveys, Performance Appraisals and Behavioral Assessments.

BOTTOMLINE: In the next 2 months, Six Disciplines Leadership Centers will be conducting half-day Business-Building training sessions on "Succession Planning: Positioning Your Company For Optimal Transition."

It All Starts With Passion

Skip Angel, over at Random Thoughts from a CTO, is one of the most passionate business leaders I've had the pleasure to meet. His articles are well-thought out, and actionable.

Read his most recent entry: "Do you have PASSION for your job?"

BOTTOMLINE: "Sometimes passion has always been there, but never triggered. Other times, passion was there but need to be re-ignited. Find it! Use It! Help others do the same! If you find that these things don't renew your passion, then you seriously need to consider finding another organization that will."

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

"To survive and prosper, a small company must establish a marketing presence based upon a sustainable competitive advantage."

Explore this principle (which makes it easy for people to buy from you) by first defining some terms:

Marketing presence is the message your business communicates to its prospect and customer base. To be effective, the message should be clear and simple -- and contain the key attributes you want associated with your business.

Competitive advantage is the sum of those attributes that differentiate your business from its competitors. This is your core competence. You develop, build and enhance it through a clear understanding of your customers' wants and needs. You implement it through a strategic plan (a directional compass) that can help you quickly adapt to changes in their wants and needs.

Sustainable means to keep in existence, to maintain and affirm the validity of, to support the spirit, vitality and resolution of, to encourage, to endure and withstand.

BOTTOMLINE: Only through your continuous understanding of what makes your business competitive can your business survive and prosper. GE's former CEO, Jack Walsh, once said, "If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete."

Step I-B: Renew Values

Each discipline in the Six Disciplines Methodology consists of a number of individual steps.Within the Six Disciplines, there are 31 steps.

Beginning with Discipline I - Decide What's Important, let's cover Step I-B, Renew Values.

  • Whereas mission statements answer the question of "why" an organization existing, values speak to the character or personality of the organization. Shared values should be as enduring as your mission, and are just as important - if not more so.
  • Values should be based on what is already important to you - not on what you wish was important to you. Your values have to be based on integrity, passion and conviction.
  • Keep the list of values between 3 and 5. Any more than that, and you'll lose focus.

BOTTOMLINE: Instilling values is a matter of talking the talk and walking the walk. People must both understand what the values are and mean, AND see how they're applied in everyday decisions and interactions in your company.

Success Requires Support

Jacob, over at SuccessMinders, recently posted a great entry on "Success Requires Support."

His assertion?

"Recently I was talking with my wife about this web site; asking her thoughts about it. She told me that she thought the articles were good, but she didn’t see anywhere on the site where I mentioned her. Why wasn’t she one of my passions? I have to admit I was taken aback - how could my wife think she wasn’t one of my passions?"

His plan?

Every day do the following for the people that support your success:
  • Encourage them
  • Challenge them
  • Excite them
  • Congratulate them
  • Help them
  • Praise them
  • Love them
  • Teach them
  • Learn from them
  • Support them
BOTTOMLINE: In life, as in business, make a habit out of keeping yourself aware of your need to support those that support you.

(Special thanks to JB for her continued inspiration - in all aspects of life)

The Power of Focus

This from Management-Issues:

A study by Time Magazine indicates that everyday interruptions cost Western economies billions of dollars in lost productivity, with the average worker interrupted by an email, phone call or simple tap on the shoulder every 11 minutes.

Two other disturbing facts from the study:

  • Interruptions now took up an average of 2.1 hours of every working day, or 28 per cent of the average person's nine-to-five schedule, including the time to recover your train of thought following an interruption.
  • It takes an average of 25 minutes to return to a task after being disturbed, according to the magazine.

BOTTOMLINE: Focus.........Focus..........Focus........

Small Business Advantages

Small-business owners have their worries, but they count their blessings, too.

According to a recent poll, conducted for online small-business guide,, by Frank Magid Associates, comes the following survey results:

  • 79% say that it is more rewarding to work in a small business than a large one.
  • 76% of the owners and executives also say that in general small operations have more flexibility than big companies.

Read the entire article here at StartupJournal.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How To Plan And Execute Strategy

Ah...if it was only this easy...

How to Plan and Execute Strategy: How To Implement Any Corporate Strategy Successfully

  1. Appreciate the benefits of strategic management
  2. Understand the logic of the process
  3. Assess your readiness
  4. Planning to plan and getting organized
  5. Define your businesses
  6. Assess your current situation
  7. Understand your business model
  8. Know your market
  9. Assess the competitive landscape and forces of change
  10. Understand your opportunities and threats
  11. Set feasible goals and objectives
  12. Create the strategies to achieve your objectives
  13. Identify and set priorities for the strategic initiatives
  14. Write your business plan
  15. Write your annual plan
  16. Get the right people
  17. Communicate the strategy and obtain commitment
  18. Establish alignment with structure, systems, and culture
  19. Integrate across functions
  20. Execute your strategy with discipline
  21. Monitor results, evaluate, and react
  22. Learn, change, and institutionalize

Sounds so ....simple, eh? Why it so hard?

Principles of Strategy and Execution

Principles are the fundamental essences out of which and from which all things are and exist.

Some fundamental principles about strategy and execution:
  • Making strategy work is more difficult than the task of strategy making
  • A focus on making strategy work pays major dividends.
  • Strategy execution deals with the managerial exercise of supervising the ongoing pursuit of strategy, making it work, improving the competence with which it is executed, and showing measurable progress in achieving the targeted results.
  • Strategy and execution are independent - yet interdependent.
  • Execution takes much longer than strategy formulation.
  • Execution involves many more people than strategy creation.
  • Execution is a process, not a single step.
  • Less than 10% of strategies effectively formulated are effectively executed.

Click here for more thoughts on What is Strategy...or over here at the Strategy Wiki.

Change, Coaching and Sustainability

“Employee loyalty is definitely at the forefront of many organizations discussions,” said Charles Orlando, director of marketing at Ninth House, a provider of learning and development solutions for employees at all levels of an organization.

Their key findings:

"We believe coaching is twofold,” he said “One part of it has to do with a combination of formal coaching and/or mentoring by an expert, a manager, etc. The real question for this type of coaching is how information, once learned, is sustained. In order to sustain that, those same methodologies need to be offered on a continuous basis after the event has taken place, whether it is more coaching, online learning or whatever it may be, so it can be sustained.”

BOTTOMLINE: Changing habits and behaviors takes time, and typically is very hard to do "if left alone" to happen by itself. That's where coaching comes in. Typically, this means someone from the outside who focuses on the benefits of change, continually reinforcing the results of change, and works to make it continually better over time - to make it sustainable. (That's what Six Disciplines Leadership Centers do - it's where organizations come to learn to Be Excellent.)

Performance Management Survey Results

In a recent workforce performance survey from Watson Wyatt (based on a survey of 1,191 US workers from a broad cross-section of industries):

  • Approximately 90% of surveyed employees participate in a performance management program.
  • Only 30% of employees believe the program helps them improve their performance.
  • Less than 40% say the system establishes clear performance goals or generates honest feedback.
  • Only 39% of employees see the connection between their day-to-day work and company goals.
  • Only 54% of workers think their companies set high performance standards.
  • Only 44% feel that people are held accountable for their performance.
  • 20% say their companies help poorly performing employees improve.
  • 43% of employees feel they don’t get enough guidance to improve their performance.
  • Only 38% of employees say that their company uses technology to streamline the performance management process.

BOTTOMLINE: The highlighted survey results above tell the story: Existing performance management programs are "missing the boat" because:

  • Lack of connection betweeen day-to-day activities and goals (Discipline II - Set Goals That Lead, Discipline III - Align Systems, Discipline IV - Work The Plan)
  • Lack of accountability (Discipline IV - Work The Plan)

Using technology to help streamline the performance management process helps (Six Disciplines Business System) - but it is the ongoing coaching and strategic advisory services that keep individuals accountable, and organizational aligned.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On Attitude and Talent

Which has greater growth potential: Attitude or Talent?

This post comes from John Maxwell on his recent book The Difference Maker.

His assumptions?

  • For people show say that "attitude is everything," we know that isn’t true. Talent matters.
  • On the other hand, some people dismiss attitude as inconsequential.

Maxwell says that attitude is the difference maker. He believes it so much that he wrote a book with that title. Whatever God-given talent you have can be taken farther with a great attitude.

BOTTOMLINE: Says Maxwell: "A good attitude is a lot like success. A person must go through a process to have it, and the hardest part is that you have to keep working at it. Having a good attitude is one of the key decisions I made early in life, and I wake up every morning determined to make my attitude all it can be. Why? So that it can make a difference in my life."

What's Better Than GTD?

Adrian Savage, over at Slow Leadership, posts this good one on LifeHack.Org "GTD? Try WNTGD Instead."

The essence?

  • The GTD (Getting Things Done) phenomenon is yet another symptom of today’s short-term mentality and our obsession with activity (getting things done.)
  • Getting Things Done is useful, of course for people with bulging schedules and huge to-do lists, who seek a better way to organize themselves.
  • People would be better advised to turn their attention first to WNTGD: What Needs To Get Done.

BOTTOMLINE: In other words, the focus needs to change from getting things done (efficiency) to getting the right things done (effectiveness).

Translating this from individual efficiency (productivity) to organizational performance (execution), we begin to understand that execution means getting things done.

Strategy-driven execution means getting the right things done. There is a big difference. Among other things, a company's strategy describes how a company is going to survive and thrive over the long-run. Strategy-driven execution is all about the careful alignment of limited resources to the organization's strategy and to nothing else. Research shows that most businesses fail, not because of poor strategy, but because of poor execution of strategy.

Six Disciplines is the first complete strategy-driven execution program optimized for small businesses. It’s a systematic program for establishing six basic business disciplines related to strategy, planning, organization (of people, processes and technologies), connecting every employee’s daily actions, along with measurement and learning.

While larger businesses have spent millions of dollars on individual disciplines like strategy, performance management, etc., it has now become economically feasible for small businesses to benefit from the combination of these in a complete on-going business improvement “fitness” program. However, with any fitness program, the biggest hurdle is making it last.

To sustain these fundamental disciplines requires tight integration with day-to-day activities from every employee in the organization. To achieve maximum results, every employee must understand company strategy and how their daily work connects to it so they can self-manage to the strategy. In addition, it requires the accountability of an outside coach or advisor to keep organizations on track in learning and applying the disciplines. It also requires a community of like-minded organizations sharing best practices and accelerating learning.

The Internet and the convergence of efficiency and effectiveness are the enabling factors for the packaging of a next-generation program for breakthrough results in small business execution – strategy-driven execution.

Six Disciplines removes the barriers that prevent organizations from effectively executing their strategy, while creating a new culture of effective work habits and focused business processes.

Unlike other business improvement attempts like seminars, consultants or quick fixes, Six Disciplines make these new habits “stick” by providing practice tools to align individual performance, and on-going coaching to ensure organizational progress and accountability.

ConverStations Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Mike Sansone, over at ConverStations, just posted his review of Six Disciplines for Excellence, calling it "Six Disciplines: A Playbook for Sustainable Success."

His assessment?

"Two weeks ago, I began reading the book, Six Disciplines for Excellence. Any business could benefit greatly by ditching their Operations Manual - if they have one - and using Six Disciplines in its place. Without a doubt - Buy It."

(And we're humbled to add that Mike also said some nice things about Be Excellent as well. Thanks Mike!)

Friday, September 08, 2006

High Performance Organizational Cultures

George Ambler, over at The Practice of Leadership posts about five key values that support high performing cultures of companies.

The five values:

  1. Openness and candor. Candor involves more people, results in speedier decisions, and more meaningful conversations.
  2. Collaboration. It’s easy to talk about teamwork but difficult to achieve. You have to rise above it
  3. Common shared goals. A good mission and compelling vision are the “hard strategy” elements that can motivate people to work together.
  4. Involvement. Getting the different perspectives of everyone on the management team leads to a better mission statement and strategy .
  5. Feedback. Feedback is formalized candor. It compares performance to plan. Feedback is essential for the continuous improvement of both people and businesses.

BOTTOMLINE: These attributes are directly related to high performance. Your culture -- and the mission, vision, values and behaviors that produce it -- must be unique to your company. How are you doing in your leadership role, relative to candor, collaboration, shared goals, involvement and feedback?

Creating The Performance-Driven Organization

From his new book: Performance: Creating the Performance-Driven Organization published by John Wiley & Sons in March 2006, Mark Stiffler, Founder, President, and CEO of Synygy Inc. describes the five different components of performance managemen for HR.Com:

  1. Align
  2. Measure
  3. Reward
  4. Report
  5. Analyze
The Align component is when you are taking the strategic objectives of an organization and cascading them down into the organization so every individual in the organization understands what they need to do to help the organization achieve its goals.

The Measurement component is then how you measure both the performance of the organization and the performance of the individuals. The important aspect of Measurement is that it occurs frequently, at least quarterly, and that the measures of the people are aligned with the measures of the organization.

The Reward component links the measures of organizational and individual performance to the pay of individuals, so every person in an organization’s pay is linked to their measures of performance that they affect.

The Report component reports both organizational and individual performance and giving people the information and feedback they need to help them improve performance and again, that is a process that needs to be at least quarterly.

The Analyze component is about using models and analytics and other tools to automate the process of analyzing data so that answers to key business questions are understood by managers and employees.

Small Business Statistics

Small businesses in the U.S.:
  • Create 75% of the net new jobs in our economy.
  • Start-up at a rate of over 400,000 per year.
  • Make up 97% of exporters and produce 29% of all export value.
  • Small businesses employ about 50% of all private sector workers.
  • Create more than 50% of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Those with fewer than 100 employees make up more than 99.7% of all employers.
  • 1 out of 11 people is a small business owner.
  • Of the businesses that approach sustainability, over 70% "go down" with their founder

The most common measure of business success for small business owners is:

  • The ability to balance life and work (39%), a goal shared by four out of ten small business owners.
  • Making money takes second place as a measure of success for entrepreneurs (25%)
  • Doing good for their community and employees (16%)
  • Getting recognition for accomplishments (9%)
  • Creating a legacy (4%)
  • Combination of it all (1%)

With all of this excitement surrounding small businesses, there are a few very alarming facts:

  • By the end of the first year, at least 40% of them will be out of business.
  • 80% of all new business start-ups are out of business within five years.
  • 80% of the 20% that survive the first five year don’t survive the second five years.

Entrepreneurship Week 2007

EntrepreneurshipWeek USA officially launched its nationwide promotional and advertising program today.

The promotion will culminate in events across the United States during EntrepreneurshipWeek USA, Feb. 24 – March 3, 2007.

Official events will be held in five U.S. cities and a number of other regional and local events will take place across the country.

So far, national partners include The New York Times, Inc. magazine and the Kauffman Foundation.

The goal of EntrepreneurshipWeek USA is to celebrate the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking and to encourage young people to consider entrepreneurship as part of their future.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Readers Are Leaders

"A recent book seller survey of American business people indicates that the average respondant reads .7 business books every three years! In sharp contrast, respondants that are executives at Fortune 1000 companies read 6.7 books per year.

Readers are leaders.


Because most business books reflect current business trends and the everchanging leadership landscape. If you keep reading, long after you finish college, you remain a student."
BOTTOMLINE: Try and read one complete business book every six weeks. Want good business book recommendations? Try 800-CEO-READ Blog.

Aligning Resources With Performance Appraisals

It seems these days that everyone is bashing performance appraisals for one reason or the next.
They take too long, they're backward-looking, they take practice - you name it, and there are more excuses than

In Increasing the Value of Performance Appraisals, the point comes down to the fact that performance appraisals do look backward, but it is the forward-looking aspect that is part of the continuous process of securing and aligning resources. That's why Discipline III. Align Systems is so critical to the small business.

BOTTOMLINE: Alignment ensures that the right tasks are being done with clear targets and priorities that are in collaboration with and driven from the overall corporate goals and objectives. (Sounds like "strategy-driven execution" to me!)

CEO Confidence Sinks

With small and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. create 75 percent of all new jobs and generate 50 percent of national revenue, it is concerning that CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses said their confidence in the economy and prospects for the coming year are at their lowest levels since 2003, according research findings from the Vistage Confidence Index, a quarterly measure of economic, market and industry trends.

(Vistage polled 1,939 CEOs of small- to mid-sized companies between May 15-24, with a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points.)

Key findings:

  • The data clearly indicates a much more cautious outlook among CEOs.
  • CEOs are already beginning to modestly scale back their plans for future growth of their business, as they expect to reduce the pace of investment spending and add slightly fewer new employees during the year ahead.

The top concern?

  • Finding qualified employees was reported by one-third of all CEOs as their top concern.
  • Hiring and retaining qualified employees was mentioned more than twice as frequently as other problems.

BOTTOMLINE: Finding and keeping the right people continues to be one of the toughest challenges. Use an integrated approach of finding (selecting, screening, interviewing, using behavioral assessments, hiring) and keeping (mentoring, setting expectations, individual plans, performance appraisals, individual development, rewards.)

Essentials for Organizational Growth

Ready to drive the growth of your small business?

In “Blueprint to a Billion”, David Thomson provides 7 essential components of a successful growth-focused organization.

  1. Create and Sustain a Breakthrough Value Proposition
  2. Exploit a High-Growth Market Segment
  3. Marquee Customers Shape the Revenue Powerhouse
  4. Leverage Big Brother Alliances for Breaking into New Markets
  5. Become the Masters of Exponential Returns
  6. The Management Team: Inside-Outside Leadership
  7. The Board: Made Up of Essentials Experts

BOTTOMLINE: Managing all seven essentials at the same time is the toughest challenge of all. The formula is: Organizational Growth=Focus on people and product X Drive for exploration and innovation X Ability to manage the seven essentials simultaneously.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Improving Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is critical to the continued success of any organization, yet fewer than half of the executives who responded to a new online survey conducted by The McKinsey Quarterly say that they are satisfied with their company's approach to planning strategy.

Some key findings:

  • More than half of all respondents say that at their company the important strategic decisions are made by a small group of senior managers, including the CEO.
  • No matter who leads the decision making, executives at companies that make good use of a formal process seem to be more satisfied with strategic planning.
  • Most respondents say that their company's board of directors focuses on a few roles in planning strategy. Boards are seen to be most active in challenging strategy during the development process and in approving the final strategy .

More important than strategy, however is execution.

  • A significant number of respondents express concern about executing strategy. Some 28 percent say that their company produces a strategic plan that reflects the company's goals and challenges but is not effective.
  • Another 14 percent say the strategy and plans for executing it are not necessarily aligned with each other.
  • 67 percent say aligning management with the strategy is an element of the strategic-planning process.

On measurement:

  • Monitoring progress is an area where many executives see room for improvement. Only 56 percent of respondents say that their company currently tracks the execution of its strategic initiatives.

Strategic Learning and Execution

Although the central challenge facing most small business leaders today is how to work with change, one-time change isn’t good enough for today’s fast-paced small businesses.

How can established organizations create the capacity for ongoing adaptation?

This paper provides a practical leadership process for creating an adaptive enterprise by mobilizing a dynamic cycle of four steps:

  1. Learn
  2. Focus
  3. Align
  4. Execute

BOTTOMLINE: "These steps build on one another and through repetition become a dynamic cycle of renewal: Strategic Learning. Think Cycle … Not Straight Line. Simply following the Strategic Learning process once is not enough. The leadership challenge is to repeat it over and over, so that an organization continuously learns from its own actions and from scanning the environment, and then modified its strategies accordingly."

Execution - The Determination To Get Things Done

It's perhaps the most crucial ingredient of organizational leadership, and you can't learn it in business school:

The stubborn determination it takes to get stuff done.

Small business CEOs must cultivate a "don't-give-up mentality" as the most crucial ingredient to their success.

Good article here from Business 2.0: Secret of success: Be a bulldog

BOTTOMLINE: "All my years of experience have taught me that the greatest attribute for any business leader is perserverance. As long as you keep trying, you'll keep learning. (Gary Harpst, founder of three companies, CEO, and author of Six Disciplines for Excellence.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Aligning Business Strategy and IT

The August 2006 issue of Business Performance Management magazine offers up this detailed article on "Aligning Business Strategy and IT."

Their premise?

"As vendors peddle the slickest new dashboards, scorecards, and planning applications to get your attention, they probably are glossing over the behind-the-scenes work that makes these tools perform reliably. It's not just about a pretty interface anymore. Infrastructure is back in fashion. Companies have realized that a dashboard, planning, budgeting, or forecasting system needs to deliver trustworthy, integrated, and timely information that supports key performance indicators (KPIs) and serves as a foundation for business decisions. Companies need information strategies that are aligned to their business strategies. They're inextricably linked -- two sides of the same coin."

BOTTOMLINE: "Adopting the old real estate mantra for organizations today, it's "alignment, alignment, alignment." Of course, the main motivational drivers are business ones. In the final analysis, there are no problems unless they are business problems, and there are no solutions unless they solve a business problem."

Succession Planning

Succession planning no longer can be an occasional activity for businesses or exclusively an HR responsibility, leadership experts say.

According to the Center for Creative Leadership and author of "Succession Planning and Management: A Guide to Organizational Systems and Practices", to prepare their businesses for the future, “managers and executives need to be hands-on in strengthening organizational talent and filling the leadership pipeline.”

Leader development is a core element for effective succession management, so why is it often overlooked? Many organizations understand succession practices but fall short when it comes to implementation (sounds like an execution challenge!)

BOTTOMLINE: "With a time investment of just eight hours per year per direct report, it can be done, and with the next generation of leaders replacing the retiring baby boomers, it is critical to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are ready for the road ahead."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Excellence in Sports: Andre Agassi

Nothing else needs to be said...

Thank you Andre, for an amazing career...and for the excellence you brought to the sport of tennis - for over 20 years.

The best article on Andre?

Read this one from Sports Illustrated.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Excellence Quotes for 9/1/06

"Excellence is not an accomplishment. It is a spirit, a never-ending process." (Lawrence M. Miller)

"With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it." (Aristotle)

"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." (Pearl Buck)

"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude." (Colin Powell)

"The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous." (Shana Alexander)

Performance Management

According to Simon Caulkin, "You could be a genius - if only you had a good system."

The "system" Simon refers to is that of performance management.

"Performance management is one of those many management issues (leadership is another) that becomes more puzzling the more you look at it. At first sight it seems evident that teams and individuals should be managed to produce good performance. But that doesn't make it effective or easy. A recent report by the Work Foundation notes that despite intensive attention from academics and practitioners over the last two decades, for many organizations performance management remains a vexed subject with a 'grail-type quality' always out of reach."

BOTTOMLINE: 'Bad systems do far more damage than bad people, and a bad system can make a genius look like an idiot. Try redesigning systems and jobs before you decide that a person is "crappy",' they advise.

(Tip of the hat to Dave Sovde, over at Frontline Team Achievement)

Are We Ready for Self-Management?

"On its face, self-management looks like a "win-win" answer to the scarcity of good managers and the predominance of low-involvement entry-level jobs. But are sufficient numbers of entry-level employees ready for self-management? And is management ready?"

The challenges?

  • It flies in the face of traditional command and control management practices.
  • And in many cases it will require the development and use of new management information systems in which many organizations may be unwilling or unable to invest.
Check out this Harvard Business Review article on "Are We Ready for Self-Management?"

Seven Secrets to Leadership Success

Paul B. Thornton has written a book Leadership—Best Advice I Ever Got, which describes the best leadership advice 136 successful CEOs, coaches, consultants, professors, managers, executives, presidents, politicians, and religious leaders received that most helped them become effective and successful leaders.

Here are seven secrets to leadership success:

  1. Leadership is about making things happen. (Execution!)
  2. Listen and understand the issue, then lead. (Communication - two way)
  3. Answer the three questions everyone within your organization wants answers to. ( Where are we going? How are we going to get there? What is my role?)
  4. Master the goals that will allow you to work anywhere in today’s dynamic business world. (Work to be known for delivering excellence)
  5. Be curious. (Curiosity is a prerequisite to continuous improvement and even excellence.)
  6. Listen to both sides of the argument.
  7. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Going Full Circle

Ann Michael, over at Manage To Change, offers this great insight that really lets us know we've come full circle.

Something deep to think about for a Friday, and the beginning of September!

Link Between Mission Statement, Long-Term Revenue Growth

The folks at Kinetic Wisdom recently published a study to determine what, if any effect, the presence of a mission statement might have on a company's success.

The survey findings:

  • 98% of the top 50 companies showing the highest 5-year growth in revenues had published mission statements
  • 90% of the top 50 companies showing the highest 1-year growth in revenues had published mission statements
  • 96% of the top 50 companies showing the highest 1-year and 5-year growth in profits had published mission statements

Also try out the company's unique Mission Statement Finder search engine!