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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blognoggle Recognizes Be Excellent™ as a Top 100 Business Blog

Jerry Bowles, over at the upstart news aggregator Blognoggle, has chosen Be Excellent™ as one of the Top 100 Business Blogs to be "shadowed" (tracked) ".....based in part on the popularity of your blog but also on my estimation of what's good from having spent 30 years or so of my life in corporate communications and print magazine advertising and marketing."

If you havent yet checked out Blognoggle, now's your chance! Good stuff there!

The Great Communicators

BusinessWeek offers these bits of advice from top business leaders on communication styles:

  • Jack Welch (GE): Best communication asset: Simplicity Tip: Eliminate jargon
  • Steve Jobs (Apple): Best communication asset: Charisma Tip: Create and articulate a bold vision
  • Meg Whitman (eBay): Best communication asset: Penchant for listening Tip: Seek feedback
  • John Chambers (Cisco): Best communication asset: Preparedness Tip: Review and rehearse your presentation
  • Michelle Peluso (Travelocity): Best communication asset: Responsiveness Tip: Be there for your employees
  • David Neeleman (JetBlue Airways): Best communication asset: Talent for storytelling Tip: Tell tales that inspire
  • Howard Schultz (Starbucks): Best communication asset: Passion Tip: Identify and share what you're passionate about
  • Suze Orman (Author, TV Host): Best communication asset: Clarity of expression Tip: Break down complex information into easy parts
  • Rudy Giuliani (Giuliani Partners): Best communication asset: Ability to make eye contact Tip: Spend 90% of the time looking at your audience
  • John Thompson (Symantec): Best communication asset: Optimistic language Tip: Employ powerful and positive words
  • Klaus Kleinfeld (Siemens): Best communication asset: Ability to reinvent Tip: Stay fresh, remain current
  • Larry Ellison (Oracle): Best communication asset: Looking like a leader Tip: Pay attention to what your wardrobe says about you
  • Richard Branson (Virgin Group): Best communication asset: Generosity with praise Tip: Lavish appropriate praise on employees, customers, and colleagues

Business Process Improvement

Business process improvement was revolutionized when Dr. Michael Hammer introduced the international best-seller Reengineering the Corporation. Dr. Hammer’s research and teachings focus on how to transform business operations; his work is relentlessly pragmatic and immediately applicable.

But what are business processes?

"Process simply means end-to-end work, as opposed to piecemeal, activity-level work. Focusing on processes, as opposed to tasks, is a fundamental change in how we regard work. Improving the productivity of individual tasks is of course a useful thing to do, but no longer represents a major opportunity for organizations seeking to improve performance. The real problems in contemporary operations are not found in individual tasks themselves but in how tasks are combined together to create whole processes."

BOTTOMLINE: Companies that concentrate on their processes by designing them, measuring them, managing them, and constantly improving them are able to achieve sustained high levels of operating performance.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Creating Conditions for Sustained Success

What brings success?

Is it better leaders? Better products? Better salespeople? What about better performance management systems?

Any of the above may bring some level of improvement, but research by the consulting company VitalSmarts reveals that sustained top performance can be tied to one thing: how well people communicate within a company.

How Successful People Remain Successful

When James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras wrote their hugely popular 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, they began by stating clearly that they did not mean to write about visionary leaders, product concepts or market insights. Their goal was to find visionary companies.

But what about successful individuals?

Mark Thompson and Stewart Emery, co-authors with Porras of Success Built to Last, spoke recently with Knowledge@Wharton about their new book.

Can the characteristics of successful businesses also be applied to people? Are there common characteristics among those who are consistently successful?

The answer, it seems, is yes.

Read all about it here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

How Business Should Drive Technology

An excellent article here on "How Business Should Drive Technology " about a very large enterprise (UPS) - and why UPS " always asking if what it has is the best -- and whether it can do better."

Their premise?

At UPS, four conditions—what they call the 4Cs of innovation—must be in alignment to make transformation through innovation a sensible course of action:
  • Our customers must drive it.
  • The new direction must connect to the company's core competency.
  • The new business model must be clear.
  • Our culture must embrace it.

BOTTOMLINE: This model has driven UPS's transformation through innovation since their founding, in 1907. Go with what works......

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gary Tomlinson's Review of Six Disciplines for Excellence

Gary Tomlinson, a business advisor, educator, author, and professional speaker recently published a review of Six Disciplines for Excellence, which was featured in the April 2006 issue of Business Leader Magazine.

According to Tomlinson:

"This is an incredible book. For the past six years, I’ve been a student of business books. I’ve read many of the best such as; Good to Great, E-Myth Manager, How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life, The People Principle, etc. For the past 20 months, I have been writing a monthly book review for Business Leader Magazine. I’ve been in search of the best business education, especially on the “Why of It” as well as the “What of It.” After reading and studying Six Disciplines for Excellence, I now feel that I’ve got a good idea on the “How of It.”

Read Gary's review here.

Welcome to the Carnival of Entrepreneurship #12

Be Excellent™ is proud to be hosting "Carnival of Entrepreneurship #12" -- a weekly stop along the midway of the small business blogosphere.

If you're a regular reader of Be Excellent, you'll alread know we're very passionate about business improvement - and particularly small businesses. (If this is your first time here, browse around! You'll find something of interest - and of use for your business.)

This week, we bring you the following great entries:

  • Jack Yoest, a reputable management consultant whose tagline is "Business Sense -- Military Precision -- Timeless Truth" looks at Illegal Interview Questions. Good things to know before you begin your search for the best talent you can find.

  • David Terrar, over at Business Two Zero offers his insights into wikis in his Wikis - the insider’s guide, saying, "Wikis are excellent tools for collaboration and knowledge management. Although they are applicable to all sizes of business, they are great and easily affordable for small businesses and entrpreneurs to enable direct communication with customers, suppliers, partners or within your team."

  • Over at Ask Uncle Bill, you'll notice another tax-related entry, You, Inc. And The IRS . And this is supposed to make me feel better? On the other hand, do we really want to bet against the IRS computers, and endure an income tax audit? I think not...

  • David Lorenzo presents Creating Momentum posted at The Career Intensity Blog, which details a five step plan to help you work through your next big project and develop some personal momentum. Great ste-by-step process - well thought out here!

BOTTOMLINE: The next Carnival of Entrepreneurship will be at The Small Business Buzz on April 27. Until next week....Be Excellent™.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Perseverance Is The Key

Greg Balanko-Dickson over at Business Performance Coaching presents his take on the lessons business leaders can learn from the New York autistic teen/basketball manager/player who "Never Gave Up."

Greg's assertion:

"With an inner belief, persistence, and openness you will succeed. By remaining open and flexible circumstances begin to bend in your favor. Whereas, being rigid and stiff your strategy can be broken and lead to failure."

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How To Read A Business Book

How should you go about reading business books like those from Jim Collins, Michael Hammer, Tom Peters, Peter Drucker and the others?

1. Take a big grain of salt
2. Distill the central idea
3. Create your own toolbox

BOTTOMLINE: Or, you could read Six Disciplines for Excellence, which distills the core ideas of dozens of the top-rated business improvement books into a practical, systematic and repeatable method for continual business improvement.

Three Myths of Management

In a new book, Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton assail popular yet shaky—maybe even harmful—management practices. The catalogue of poor decision practices is immense - here are three of the most common - and most harmful to companies.

Casual benchmarking. There is nothing wrong with learning from others' experience—vicarious learning, as contrasted with direct experience, is an important way for both people and organizations to learn how to navigate a path through the world. After all, it is a lot cheaper and easier to learn from the mistakes, setbacks, and successes of others than to treat every management challenge as something no organization has ever faced before. So benchmarking—using other companies' performance and experience to set standards for your own company—makes a lot of sense. In the end, good or bad performance is defined and measured largely in relation to what others are doing.

Three questions to ask:
  1. Is the success you observe by the benchmarking target because of the practice you seek to emulate?
  2. Why is a particular practice linked to performance improvement—what is the logic?
  3. What are the downsides and disadvantages to implementing the practice, even if it is a good idea?
Doing what (seems to have) worked in the past. Suppose you went to a doctor who said, "I'm going to do an appendectomy on you." When you asked why, the doctor answered, "because I did one on my last patient and it made him better." We suspect you would hightail it out of that office, because you know that the treatment ought to fit the disease, regardless of whether or not the treatment helped the previous patient. Strangely enough, that logical thought process happens less than we might care to admit in most companies.

Three questions to ask:
  1. Are you sure that the practice that you are about to repeat is associated with the past success?
  2. Is the new situation—the business, the technology, the customers, the business model, the competitive environment—so similar to past situations that what worked in the past will work in the new setting?
  3. Why do you think the past practice you intend to use again has been effective?

Following deeply held yet unexamined ideologies. The third flawed and widespread basis for decisions often does the most damage because it is the most difficult to change. It happens when people are overly influenced by deeply held ideologies or beliefs—causing their organization to adopt some management practice not because it is based on sound logic or hard facts but because managers "believe" it works, or it matches their (sometimes flawed) assumptions about what propels people and organizations to be successful.

Three questions to ask:

  1. Is my preference for a particular management practice solely or mostly because it fits with my intuitions about people and organizations?
  2. Am I requiring the same level of proof and the same amount of data regardless of whether or not the issue is one I believe in?
  3. And, most important, are my colleagues and I allowing our beliefs to cloud our willingness to gather and consider data that may be pertinent to our choices?

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

Managing Multiple Generations

Interesting article here from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge on "Can You Manage Different Generations?"

Their premise? Managing multigenerational workforces is an art in itself.

  • Young workers want to make a quick impact. Younger workers (under 35) feel much less loyalty to institutions than do older workers. They also want responsibility and expect to have input right away, whereas older workers expect people to earn their way up. Younger workers aren't afraid to make decisions, and if you can create a strong social fabric at work, you can leverage their network-centric attitudes.
  • The middle generation needs to believe in the mission. This middle (between 35 and 54) cohort tends to be antiauthoritarian and idealistic. They are ambitious, flexible, productive, self-sufficient, and people-oriented. On the other hand, they distrust leadership, are juggling busy lives, and demand merit-based systems and participative management. Make their work fulfilling to them, and they will move mountains; if they fail to believe in the mission, they will disengage—as 71% of this age group have done, and become unproductive
  • Older employees don't like ambivalence. Workers (who are 55 and over) bring an entirely different perspective, according to Concours research. They trust authority, respect rules, and are loyal to institutions. They expect people to "pay their dues" before being given authority. They place great value on financial security and may be uncomfortable with the ambiguity that is common in contemporary business. They also tend to have stronger social skills than their younger counterparts.

Your move.

Clarity in Decision-Making

To make good decisions, you must learn how to reach the “clarity state,” which is characterized by both mental and physical focus.

Drawing from neuroscience and sports psychology, this state can be reached. There are four key qualities of leadership that lead to clear decision-making:

  1. Authenticity. Authentic decisions are not based on consequences, but instead spring from three things managers can control: the quality of the process, the quality of the data and the level of internal alignment.
  2. Responsibility. Managers often hide behind the need for consensus, but good decisions can arise only from debate and the willingness to accept the responsibility for a decision.
  3. Vision. A manager must have vision — the product of intuition and imagination — in order to know what questions to ask and which deductions to trust.
  4. Courage. A leader must have the courage to consider all options regardless of the perceived risk and, once a decision is made, courage is required to carry out that decision.

(Source: The Right Decision Every Time: How to Reach Perfect Clarity on Tough Decisions - Prentice Hall, 2005.)

Is Strategy a Bad Word?

In this MITSloan Management review, the folks from ask the question: "Is Strategy a Bad Word?"

Their premise?

"The frequent failure of strategy might lie in its very definition, which historically implies short-term victory over competitors rather than long-term vision and lasting success."

"By contrast, sustainable success is not, and cannot be by definition, an end unto itself or a goal to achieve. That is, goal orientation becomes arguably inappropriate when success has to be indefinitely sustained."

BOTTOMLINE: "To create sustainable, long-term success, an organization must first and fundamentally understand and relate to its customers. It is the ongoing cultivation of that understanding — based neither on specific competitors nor temporal objectives — which must be at the heart of any real strategy. "

Monday, April 17, 2006

Small Business Confidence: It Depends On Who You Ask

Two differing views on small business owner confidence:
  • Optimism among small-business owners took an unexpected tumble in March. The NFIB Small-Business Optimism Index lost 3.5 points, falling to 98.0 (1986=100), two points below the 30-year average. The good news is that profit trends improved, inventory investment was up, and reported sales trends remained strong (virtually unchanged from February).

  • Chief executives of small and mid-sized businesses nationwide have increased confidence in a strong economy throughout 2006, according to TEC International’s quarterly CEO survey, the TEC Confidence Index. While CEOs anticipate growth, they are still concerned with staffing, health care costs and implications of an avian flu pandemic. (TEC is now Vistage Corporation)

Be Excellent™ To Host Carnival of Entrepreneurship #12

This Thursday, Be Excellent™ will be the host of the Carnival of Entrepreneurship.

This is our first time hosting the Carnival. You may have seen these listed previously -- and it just keeps getting better.

Here's how Carnival of Entrepreneurship works: Each week, a different blogger hosts the traveling roadshow featuring some of the best tips and inspiration for starting and running your own business. (Hardest part if you're the host? Limiting the number of posts to only seven - there's so much good content out there - it's tough to choose.)

Scott Allen, over at About Entrepreneurs is the creator of this Carnival.

Make sure to come back on Thursday!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gary Slinger's Review of Six Disciplines for Excellence

Gary Slinger, a Solution Architect from Tampa who publishes a great blog called "Thoughts" recently published his review of Six Disciplines for Excellence. Gary's also big into ITIL and MindMapping, which you'll understand more as you read his review.

Thanks Gary, for your insights!!

A few comments from the review...

"...this is a circular, continuous improvement methodology, with outputs from one section readily feeding into another, and that there are linkages throughout the methodology..."

"Frankly, I wish I’d had this book a few years ago, when I was part of a project that DID create a global IS department, from several smaller departments, and set visions, mission statements, processes, and so forth in place, many of which are still in operation today. We got it done, but at times it seemed like we were winging it, as there was no central reference like this to go to..."

"In reading the book, I’m struck that the author spends time focusing on HOW to achieve maximum benefit from each of the six interdependent Disciplines, and not just providing a laundry list without explanation."

BOTTOMLINE: Read the entire review here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How Does Your Job Compare?

MONEY Magazine and researched hundreds of jobs, considering their growth, pay, stress-levels and other factors.

These careers ranked highest.

How does your career/title rank on this list?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Accountability and Integrity

Over at Hilbilly PhD, is a great article on "Do It Right The First Time."

The essence?

"Have you ever noticed that most of our problems in life tend to come about as a result of trying to evade being accountable. It is not always easy to be accountable. When we are accountable we have to be responsible or answerable for our actions. When we are managers or leaders we are often accountable for the actions of others in our organization or on our team. In order to be accountable we must embody integrity."

BOTTOMLINE: "It is not always easy to do the right things, but, we can save ourselves a whole lot of time and trouble if we invest a lttle more time to do things right the first time. It is much more difficult to clean up a mess than it is to avoid it. "....Personal strength is based on your character. character is a by product of your integrity and your sense of personal accountability."

How Did Six Disciplines Come About?

Want to find out how Six Disciplines came about? What were the events that led to its founding, and more importantly.....why are we doing what no other company has done before?

Watch and listen to John Crawford, General Manager of the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Northwest Ohio, as he explains how Six Disciplines Corporation was founded.

Monday, April 10, 2006

National Small Business Week

This week is "National Small Business Week."

To celebrate, we'd like to point out some of the key advantages that small businesses have over larger enterprises.

More small business advantages to come....stay tuned!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pouring Your Heart Into It

George Ambler, over at The Practice of Leadership, offers his take on the book of passion and inspiration “Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time” by the chairman and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang.

Key assertions:

  • Pursue a Bold Vision
  • Passion
  • Leadership
  • Pushing Boundaries
  • Business is About People

BOTTOMLINE: "The Starbucks success story is inspiring and very motivating. I would strongly recommend this book to leaders, managers and especially entrepreneurs. The book is written with the same passion and conviction that made the Starbuck’s brand great."

Powerful Thoughts

From Skip over at Random Thoughts, comes this gem:

Be careful of your thoughts,
for your thoughts become your words;
Be careful of your words,
for your words become your deeds;
Be careful of your deeds,
for your deeds become your habits;
Be careful of your habits,
for your habits become your character;
Be careful of your character,
for your character becomes your destiny.
- Author Unknown

More on SWOT

According to the folks at BPlans:

"SWOT is probably the best tool there is for taking a strategic look at a company. It's named for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It's a very good first step towards analyzing any company, or developing business strategy."

"Of course you have to manage a SWOT meeting well. Like any other meeting subject, SWOT can degenerate into useless discussion. A SWOT meeting should focus on the SWOT agenda and avoid unrelated side discussions. It should invite contributions without reprisals for negative comments. It's a variation on brainstorming, so contributions -- as in suggested bullet points, suggested items on the list -- are all positive as long as they are well intentioned."

BOTTOMLINE: How does Six Disciplines approach SWOT? First, it's an integral part of Discipline VI. Step Back, of the Six Disciplines Methodology. Second, it's built right into our software, the Six Disciplines Business System. Finally, it is further enhanced by the use of the unique 100 point exercise application, which enables each stakeholder to rank how important each item raised in the SWOT is to themselves. Gone are the flip charts, napkins and random pieces of paper to record SWOT - and replaced by intuitive software that records, tracks, trends and enables execution to occur.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How Bill Gates Gets Work Done

Interesting article here from Fortune Magazine called "How I Work: Bill Gates."

The essence?

  • Go paperless
  • Use email as the first communication medium
  • Use email filtering to drop down the number of incoming emails to an acceptable level
  • Email as the central universe of workflow
  • No to-do list. Use email, folders and online calendar
  • Use email notification icon, but have the discipline of ignoring it
  • Use desktop search for files, other than navigating through folders.
  • Use whiteboard to brainstorm

Monday, April 03, 2006

Trust Makes a Leader Great

Steve Sherlock, over at the Blog Synergy, posts this review of leadership characteristics, in which he sums up the one key characteristic of great leaders as being trust.

BOTTOMLINE: Our research showed that one of the key differentiators of top-performing organizations vs. lower performing organizations was the level of TRUST within the senior leadership team and team members.