The Six Disciplines blog has moved!

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Employee Engagement Video

As you are about to embark on your 2008 initiatives - we certainly hope you haven't forgotten about your MOST IMPORTANT ASSET - YOUR EMPLOYEES.

Check out this well-produced video on employee engagement, from McDaniel Partner's blog (The Employee Factor.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Best Business Book Of The Year

Dan Bobinski, writing for Management-Issues, reveals "My end of year list of recommended reads."

According to Dan:

"I mentioned this first book about six months ago, but it's such a great tome it tops my list of best business books this year. The book is Six Disciplines for Excellence: Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead, and Last, by Gary Harpst.

It's easy to read, well organized, and heavy on application – not theory. In fact, it's probably the best "how-to" book I've read in a long time."

Several other great business books also made Dan's annual list. Take a look here for the others.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One Book Is Revolutionizing How Companies Execute Strategy


One Book Is Revolutionizing HOW Businesses Execute Their Strategies

Read about the breakthrough program that's designed specifically to be implemented and embraced by everyone in your company, in an on-going, systematic way.

This top-rated book (consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the Organizational Learning category on Amazon) is the how-to guide for business leaders who want to take their organizations beyond temporary success to pursue enduring business excellence.

A great Christmas gift for all the business leaders on your list: Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Aligning Action and Values

In a 1996 article from Leader to Leader, best selling business author Jim Collins writes about "Aligning Action and Values".

In the article, Collins states:

"Executives spend too much time drafting, wordsmithing, and redrafting vision statements, mission statements, values statements, purpose statements, aspiration statements, and so on. They spend nowhere near enough time trying to align their organizations with the values and visions already in place."

BOTTOMLINE: Discipline III. Align Systems, seems to some like a lot of discussion of technical and systems jargon. It is this unfamiliarity that is the proof that ALIGNMENT is something that needs to be mastered. Systems just "happen" all over your organization - and there's no way they're going to magically line up with the priorities of your company unless you diligently work to MAKE them line up. The more out of line your systems become, the more difficult is becomes to execute your strategy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Organizational Learning and Performance Management

Bersin & Associates, a research and advisory firm solely focused on organizational learning, completed a nine-month study on the direction of learning and performance management.

The study identifies a clear trend toward the increased demand for performance management systems, relatively new software applications designed to identify and develop employee skills and competencies.

According to president Josh Bersin, "The adoption and integration of these new applications will reduce the cost and time involved in completing and managing employee performance reviews, facilitate regulatory compliance, correlate training investments with top-priority skills and competencies, and give organizations the ability to assess available employee skills and cultivate new ones."

The drivers of this trend?

  • An aging workforce population
  • Highly decentralized organizations
  • Business expansion
“Whether you have to prepare for the replacement of an experienced plant maintenance manager or quickly assemble a team of employees to handle a corporate emergency – such as the renovation of a facility destroyed by a hurricane, you need the ability to quickly assess available skills and identify those that are missing or underdeveloped.

Without technology, this is virtually impossible for organizations with more than several hundred employees.” (Actually, it's virtually impossible for organizations with more than 40 employees!)

BOTTOMLINE: Execution systems (like the one that is part of the Six Disciplines program) that enable organizations to align execution with strategy, and enable individuals to align activities with organizational goals and initiatives, track and measure performance -- are a required component for organizational change and continual learning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How To Read Six Disciplines for Excellence: Part II


How should you read Six Disciplines for Excellence?

“Read this book with a highlighter and/or a legal pad and pen nearby. You’ll need them.” (Bob Schuneman, Small Biz Matters)
“But don’t just buy it, read it and put it on the shelf -- implement the concepts into your business.” (Gary Whitehair, High Performance Business)

“The only down side I see is that it’s not a book to read and put on the shelf, (the down side is that many of us do just that) – it’s like the Bible for small business success and must be used daily for the plan to work.” (Dr. Robert Rausch, CEO 1 Executive Energy)

“There are few books that can be used as a "How To" manual; Six Disciplines for Excellence is one of them.” (Steven G. Lauck, CEO Refresher)

“It is definitely not a "read once and file away"; it should be on the desk in plain view and over time become worn with dog-eared pages from continuous review.” (Steven G. Lauck, CEO Refresher)

“But don’t just stop at reading it. This book is 20% principles and 80% “how-to.” It just screams practical. And for that reason, it would be great if the “how-to” sections became action items on meeting agendas. (Dan Bobinski, Workplace Excellence)

Execution Revolution: A New Book Coming in 2008


What keeps business leaders up at night? It all comes down to getting the job done. Meeting the plan. Delivering the goods. And doing so in a consistent way, year after year.

With all of the pressures successful business leaders have today, none is more urgent or challenging than learning the ability to execute.

While larger businesses have the luxury of budgets and resources to meet this challenge, it’s the small and mid-sized businesses that now have a tremendous opportunity to level the playing field, and leapfrog past the expensive, outdated approaches of the past, and attack the challenge of execution in a revolutionary way.

What these businesses need is a new way to solve an on-going challenge – a holistic program for planning AND executing strategy, which will provide them the competitive advantage in pursuing their ultimate goal: enduring business excellence.

Occasionally, truly new and synergistic approaches to solve old problems emerge. Supported by investments, progress, innovation and the convergence of trends from a variety of business improvement disciplines and technologies during the past two decades, the door is now wide open for a next generation approach for execution to emerge. At last, a profound change, a revolution if you will, in the way small and midsized businesses approach executing strategy -- is now possible.

Based on breakthrough research, field testing, proven best-practices and real-life stories from business leaders who have struggled with - and succeeded – in executing strategy, the thought-leading vision described by Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst, in his newest book to be released in early 2008, entitled: "Execution Revolution: Solving The Problem That Makes All Other Problems Solvable"

In his first book, the top-rated "Six Disciplines for Excellence: Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last," Harpst offered a practical, repeatable business-building methodology based on six fundamental disciplines. Experts and readers agreed: it's one of the best "how-to" books on pursuing business excellence.

In "Execution Revolution," Harpst sets a new course for how small and midsized businesses can finally confront the never-ending challenge of planning and executing their strategy.

Execution Revolution also resets the stage for an entire industry of solution providers who help small and mid-sized companies perform to their optimum potential, by offering a comprehensive manifesto for a fundamentally new approach toward executing strategy.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and overthrow old, outdated and incomplete ways of getting the right things done.

It’s time for the Execution Revolution – to begin!

(Stay tuned to the Be Excellent blog - lots more coming about this important new business book release!)

Covey's Four Imperatives of Leadership

Dr. Stephen R. Covey offers a new post on his blog on what makes a good leader.

Covey believes there is a formula. They are what he calls the four imperatives of leadership.
  1. The first is to inspire trust. You build relationships of trust through both your character and competence and you also extend trust to others. You show others that you believe in their capacity to live up to certain expectations, to deliver on promises, and to achieve clarity on key goals. You don’t inspire trust by micromanaging and second guessing every step people make.
  2. The second is to clarify purpose. Great leaders involve their people in the communication process to create the goals to be achieved. If people are involved in the process, they psychologically own it and you create a situation where people are on the same page about what is really important—mission, vision, values, and goals.
  3. The third is to align systems. This means that you don’t allow there to be conflict between what you say is important and what you measure. For instance, many times organizations claim that people are important but in fact the structures and systems, including accounting, make them an expense or cost center rather than an asset and the most significant resource.
  4. The fourth is the fruit of the other three—unleashed talent. When you inspire trust and share a common purpose with aligned systems, you empower people. Their talent is unleashed so that their capacity, their intelligence, their creativity, and their resourcefulness is utilized.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What If...Part II

What if…

…with all the things you’re doing in your business today – you were still finding it elusive to pursue excellence?

…you are already good (perhaps even great!) at delivering customer excellence (e.g. quality, price, reliability, taste, options, speed)…but you also recognize the need to work on business excellence (e.g. profitability, growth, execution, predictability, satisfying stakeholders, making the business last)?

…an organization invested over 100 man-years and $20 million researching small and emerging businesses to determine what separates “average” businesses from those that are destined to be enduring, excellent organizations?

…you found that you and your business had this set of characteristics -- found only in the best-performing organizations?

…you and your leadership team have what it takes to become an excellent organization? (e.g. a passion for excellence, a sufficient size, ready to work on your business, a history of stability, a high trust culture, regularly attract and retain good people, and effectively use outside experts)

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

…the result of that research was a very practical, systematic, and repeatable method?

…this systematic method was not YAMF (yet another management fad) – but instead,was based on proven, time-tested, established business principles and best practices?

…that same organization developed a very intuitive software system you could use every day – making it practical for everyone to use to become better at execution?

…for less than $15, you could read “Six Disciplines for Excellence" -- and find out what all the buzz was about?

BOTTOMLINE: Time to learn more about Six Disciplines.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Hiring A Facilitator for Strategic Planning

A facilitator can make or break a strategic planning retreat. By using an experienced facilitator in the right situations, you will almost certainly accomplish more in your meetings, delve deeper into critical issues and resolve them.

Equally important, participants will leave with positive feelings, stronger cohesiveness, a sense of accomplishment, and a renewed belief in the team.

Why Hire an Outside Facilitator?

Strategic planning discussions can be painful and difficult. They involve personal values and goals, deeply held beliefs about the nature of the firm and where it's going, and maybe different perspectives on the marketplace. Some principals may have values or goals that conflict with those of other key members of the firm.

An outside facilitator carries none of this baggage. He or she can look at the firm, the management team, and the planning process objectively. An outside facilitator can say things like "that's habit talking" or "you're rationalizing," and can make sure that some people don't dominate the discussion. A facilitator knows how to keep the discussion on track while taking everyone's concerns into consideration.

BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines Centers offer facilitating services for strategic planning engagements. In fact, a requirement of becoming a Six Disciplines client is for the senior leadership team to go through a 3-day strategic planning retreat.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Communication and High-Performance Companies

Management-Issues reports on a recent study by the consulting firm Watson Wyatt in which they identified six communication practices that distinguish the top performers from the also-rans.

Mostly common sense perhaps, but companies with the most effective communication programs reported a massive 47 percent higher total return to shareholders from 2002 to 2006, compared with companies that communicated less effectively.

The six communication practices of high-performing companies identified by the research were:
  1. Focusing managers and employees on customer needs
  2. Engaging employees in running the business
  3. Helping managers to communicate effectively
  4. Leveraging the talents of internal communicators to manage change more effectively
  5. Measuring the impact of employee communication
  6. Branding the employee experience

BOTTOMLINE: Top-performing companies treat communication as a key business driver. Companies that communicate effectively with employees have an engaged workforce and superior financial results.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Six Disciplines CEO/Author To Speak at Atlanta Chamber Event

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce will host its December Small Business Matters seminar on Thursday, December 6 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. This seminar will present specific issues of interest to small and mid-sized businesses in the Atlanta area, with a focus on how to do work and compete with big businesses.

The event will feature guest speaker, Gary Harpst, author of Six Disciplines for Excellence and CEO of Six Disciplines, a nationwide network of business excellence centers. Harpst will be revealing his upcoming book "Execution Revolution" (to be published in 2008), and will discuss the roles that strategic-plan definition, implementation and accountable execution can play in creating and sustaining a successful business environment.

Where: Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce 235 Andrew Young International Blvd.Atlanta, GA 30303
When: Thursday, Dec. 6, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch provided
Registration: Online at https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/serving/event_rsvp.asp?eventid=631 Free for Metro Atlanta Chamber members, $50 for non-members

The Importance of Workforce Satisfaction Factors

According to a new study by Leadership IQ, the youngest workers are the least satisfied. Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company, compiled these results after surveying a random sample of 11,244 employees ages 21-70 from 872 public, private, business and healthcare organizations.

Other results of the research:

  • Only 30% of workers ages 21-30 would strongly recommend their organization as a good place to work.
  • By contrast, 47% of workers ages 61-70 would strongly recommend their organization as a good place to work, making them the most satisfied age group.
  • Age is positively correlated to workplace satisfaction, so the older you are, the more likely you are to have a high opinion of your company.
  • The biggest statistical driver of workplace satisfaction for workers between the ages of 21-30 is whether their boss recognizes and praises their accomplishments.
  • The biggest statistical driver of workplace satisfaction for workers between the ages of 61-70 is whether they can assess if their performance is where it should be.

BOTTOMLINE: Younger workers want praise and older workers want clear measures of their performance. From the research findings, managers are doing a better job with their older workers than with their younger workers. Managers cannot use one management style and expect success, because every age group is motivated very differently.

With Six Disciplines, measures, clear goals and accountable individual plans are active components to help individuals understand how their daily activities and performance support the organization's goals. Peer recognition of individual contributions within the Six Disciplines System provides an additional outlet for recognition and praise.

Monday, December 03, 2007

On Becoming A Learning Organization

Organizations with the best chance to succeed and thrive in the future are learning organizations.

Susan Heathfield (who references Peter Senge's work - author of The Fifth Discipline) describes the attributes of a learning organization in this article.

Here are some ways in which you can promote a learning organization environment in your organization:

  • Systems Thinking: The underlying structure and the interlinking components of each of our work systems, shape a great deal of the behavior of the individuals who work inside of the work system. Think about Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s admonition. When something goes wrong, rather than seeking someone to blame, ask, what about the work system caused that individual to fail?
  • Personal Mastery: States Peter Senge, “Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.” (p. 7) He offers that an organization’s learning can only be as great as that of each of its individual members. Consequently, personal mastery and the desire for continuous learning integrated deeply in the belief system of each person is critical for competitive advantage in the future.
  • Mental Models: These are the deeply held pictures each of us holds in our mind about how the world, work, our families, and so on work. Mental models influence our vision of how things happen at work, why things happen at work, and what we are able to do about them.
  • Building Shared Vision: By shared vision, Senge is referring to a process in which the original vision for an organization, probably determined by the leader, is translated into shared pictures around which the rest of the organization finds meaning, direction, and reasons for existing.
  • Team Learning: Senge finds that “teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations.” (p. 10) It is the dialogue among the members of the team which results in stretching the ability of the organization to grow and develop.
BOTTOMLINE: One of the major premises of the Six Disciplines Program is enabling the organization to become a learning organization. It's no coincidence that Six Disciplines for Excellence (which also references Senge's work) is now consistently one of the top-ranked books in the "Organizational Learning" book category on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Six Disciplines Congratulates PRO-TEC on 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Six Disciplines announced today that one of its clients, PRO-TEC Coating Company of Leipsic, Ohio, was named as one of only five organizations in the U.S. to receive the prestigious 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor awarded annually for quality and organizational performance excellence.

PRO-TEC was the only the only recipient of the 2007 Baldrige award in the “Small Business” category. Criteria for the Baldrige award include: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and business results.

PRO-TEC is no stranger to quality and performance excellence. In 2002, PRO-TEC achieved Tier 3 – Achievement of Excellence from the Ohio Partnership for Excellence. In 2004, PRO-TEC received the Governor’s Award for Excellence from the Ohio Partnership for Excellence. In 2006, they were named a finalist for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and now they’ve been named as a recipient of the prestigious award for 2007.

“PRO-TEC is a premiere example of how a high-performing organization can deploy a repeatable methodology and execution system to help their employees align day-to-day activities with company goals, and to execute their strategies,” said Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines Corp. “We are proud to serve such a forward-thinking organization and applaud their achievement,” said Harpst.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience to partner with the teams at PRO-TEC to build strategic plans and focus their efforts on the execution of those plans, said Eric Kurjan, president of Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio. “We congratulate the 236 employees at PRO-TEC on this most prestigious recognition of their performance excellence,” added Kurjan.

“We are excited to receive the Malcolm Baldrige award, and are grateful for the support from Six Disciplines on our performance excellence journey,” said PRO-TEC’s president, Paul Worstell.

About PRO-TEC Coating
PRO-TEC Coating Company, Leipsic, Ohio, provides world-class coated sheet steel in coil form primarily to the quality-critical automotive market. PRO-TEC is a 50/50 joint venture partnership of U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) and KOBE Steel, Ltd., of Japan. The company is privately held. PRO-TEC organizational culture blends the strong American steel-making tradition of USS and KOBE’s technical and analytical Japanese style with the strong work ethic and family values of rural Northwest Ohio to produce a superior product. PRO-TEC is certified to stringent ISO-9001, ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 14001 standards. Visit PRO-TEC at http://www.proteccoating.com/.

Change Management Toolkit

Are you personally ready for change?

Is your team in serious need of new ways to work together?

How can your organization deal with a change project which lacks focus or direction?

Do you want to know why change is inevitable but hard to achieve?

Do you want to surf on the waves of change?

The Change Management Toolbook is a collection of more than 120 tools, methods and strategies which you can apply during different stages of personal, team and organizational development, in training, facilitation and consulting. It is divided in three principle sections: Self, Team and Larger System.

(Hat tip to Anthony Ceminaro at BizzBangBuzz for the insight!)

Six Disciplines Client TRUFAST Showcased in Inc. Magazine


The December 2007 issue of Inc. Magazine includes an article by Scott Westcott on the challenges of performance appraisals, entitled "Putting an End to End-of-Year Reviews."

The article highlights two companies and their innovative approaches toward year-end reviews and pay for performance.

A Six Disciplines client, TRUFAST Corporation, a $40 million manufacturer of fasteners in Bryan, Ohio, is showcased in the article.

"Last spring, CEO Brian Roth decided to assess and reward more frequently. Working with Gary Harpst, CEO of the consulting firm Six Disciplines, he launched a quarterly review system for his 80 factory employees....More than 90 percent of Trufast's line workers now receive some bonus."

Read the entire article here.



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Six Disciplines Client Receives 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

On November 20, 2007, President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez announced that five organizations are the recipients of the 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for organizational performance excellence.

A Six Disciplines client, PRO-TEC Coating, was named as one of the five recipients. PRO-TEC is one of only five companies to win the award in 2007, and it is the only company to win in the Small Business category.

The Baldrige Award is the top honor a U.S. company can receive for quality achievement and performance excellence. Criteria for the award include: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and business results.

Read the official 2007 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award press release here.

See the PRO-TEC profile here.

Read the official press release from PRO-TEC here.

BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines congratulates PRO-TEC’s President Paul Worstell and all of the 236 PRO-TEC employees on this outstanding achievement.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Podcast of Gary Harpst on Startup BizCast

Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, was recently interviewed by host Steve Mullen of Startup BizCast.

During the podcast, Gary talks about the importance of planning, as well as a summary of his book "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Listen to the podcast here: Startup BizCast 24 - A Business Plan for your Small Business (Gary Harpst)

(Startup BizCast, produced by EndGame PR Podcast Production, offers weekly small business advice, tips, and education from owners of small businesses ... all in less time than it takes to have a coffee break! Each episode is 15 minutes or less, so even the busiest small business owner has time to take a BizCast break!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strategy, Execution and Communication

"The key to delivering strategy is to assemble a balanced team and ensure that both conception and implementation are given the necessary resource."

That was the conclusion of Professor Eddie Obeng, director of Pentacle business school in the UK from their most recent research on strategy and execution, as reported in Management-Issues.

Some of their key findings:

  • More than 80% of managers surveyed believed that too many projects failed to result in anything that improved the profitability of their business.
  • More than three quarters of senior managers underestimated the stress of repeated initiatives or how much such a regime of "permanent revolution" could unnerve their staff.
  • More than half of the managers also believed projects failed because of poor execution rather than in their conception.
  • The most common reason for failure was poor communication, which was ranked highest with 73% seeing it as a regular cause of failure.
BOTTOMLINE: Our survey revealed that people are aware that communication of strategy is of the highest importance and senior management still need to step up to the challenge of being able to effectively disseminate the relevant parts of a strategy in the wider organization, in order to be able to deliver the projects they design."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Six Disciplines for Excellence - 2007 National Best Book Finalist


Six Disciplines for Excellence, by Six Disciplines Corporation CEO and founder Gary Harpst, was named a finalist in two categories of The National "Best Books" 2007 Awards, sponsored by USABookNews.com.

The two categories


  • Business: Management & Leadership (2 finalists)

  • Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business (6 finalists)
See the entire list of winners and finalists here.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Self-Discipline - The Key To Getting Things Done

Guidelines for reducing procrastination and improving self-discipline in business are offered in this Entrepreneur Magazine article by Romanus Wolter, "To Do or Not To Do."

"Successful entrepreneurs discipline themselves to take action even when they're weighed down by the tasks at hand. With a few guidelines, you can develop the self-discipline necessary to navigate these new boundaries and accomplish your goals with ease."

  1. Establish an affirmative mind-set by giving yourself a reason to become more disciplined.
  2. Engage yourself.
  3. Start with tasks that produce immediate results.
  4. Make sure your boundaries fit the real world.

BOTTOMLINE: "It takes determination and perseverance to make self-discipline an integral part of your regular practice. You'll become stronger, and insurmountable tasks will become routine. Take conscious action, and soon you can spend more time tackling bigger challenges and reaping the rewards of greater successes."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Six Disciplines Business Excellence Program Builds Nationwide Momentum

Six Disciplines Business Excellence Program Builds Nationwide Momentum

Business coaching network enters new markets, adds clients, experiences rapid growth during 2007

FINDLAY, Ohio, Nov. 15, 2007 — Six Disciplines expanded its reach by entering the Southeast market with a new center in Atlanta and added new clients to its roster in the manufacturing, plastics, construction and engineering industry. Six Disciplines is an award-winning national business excellence network which provides organizations with a complete program that encompasses four elements for enduring business excellence: a repeatable methodology; ongoing external coaching; proactive organizational alignment software to ensure individual and team accountability; and the competitive advantages of a shared learning community.

“Six Disciplines has built momentum during the past two quarters, through franchise network expansion, client growth and senior coaching leadership additions,” said Gary Harpst, founder and CEO of Six Disciplines. “For entrepreneurs and businesses around the country, it’s an alarming reality that only four percent of businesses survive beyond ten years. Our program provides an unprecedented combination of expertise, resources and commitment to help top-performing organizations pursue business excellence and ensure they sustain growth to be one of the four percent that endures.”

President Riz Shakir led the expansion of Six Disciplines Atlanta in October 2007. Shakir, an Atlanta-based serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience growing and running businesses, is a certified executive coach and consultant with the Vail Leadership Institute and has completed executive development programs at The Harvard Business School, The University of Chicago School of Business, The Wharton School of Business and The Kellogg Business School of Northwestern University.

To manage the Atlanta office, Shakir is joined by Senior Vice President Larry Smart, a certified business excellence coach who has led high-growth technology companies in turn-around strategies throughout North America and overseas.

To commemorate the launch, Six Disciplines and the Vail Leadership Institute co-sponsored a leadership event in Atlanta on Nov. 5, with Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust – The One Thing that Changes Everything, who addressed the importance of trust and how it impacts organizational performance. Additionally, on Dec. 6, Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst will be presenting “Execution Revolution: Introducing The First Enduring Business Excellence Program." in conjunction with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

The Six Disciplines business excellence program is designed to help businesses increase their capability to handle ever-changing challenges, specifically related to strategy and execution. New clients adopting the Six Disciplines program include Tiffin-based J.B. & Co. Inc. Roofing, one of the largest roofing contractors in Northwest Ohio; Montpelier, Ohio-based Winzeler Stamping Co., a fourth-generation, family-owned manufacturer and supplier of high volume, deep drawn metal stampings and related complete engineering/tool room services; Russells Point-based World Class Plastics Inc., an ISO-9000 certified manufacturer of thermoplastic injection molded parts, dies, flanges, protective pads and blow molding; and Bowling Green-based Kellermeyer Co., which distributes cleaning supplies, cleaning equipment and packaging products in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

To broaden the community among current customers and better connect with businesses seeking assistance in strategy execution, Six Disciplines also launched a redesigned Web site at http://www.sixdisciplines.com/, extended their client rosters and announced new staff additions.

  • Six Disciplines North Carolina (Raleigh; Research Triangle Park): Managing partner, Craig Landwehr, recently completed a series of annual strategic planning workshops with Cary-based Signalscape, Inc., provider of advanced signal processing solutions and the parent company of law enforcement video analysis leader StarWitness(SM). The center is also working with several global and regional, non-profit organizations to help them better set and achieve goals while reducing risks.
  • Six Disciplines Central Indiana (Indianapolis): Indianapolis-based Deborah Wood and Associates, a full-service healthcare communications company, has completed a full year utilizing the Six Disciplines program. The company is producing a “Business Life” Video Series in conjunction with Six Disciplines Central Indiana to showcase the company’s progress. The center is also hosting a Jan. 17 event focusing on women business leaders and their keys to success.
  • Six Disciplines Central West Florida (Tampa): President Sean Burke was a featured speaker at a recent Tampa Bay Business Journal Power Breakfast, and the center recently launched a podcast series focused on business challenges facing CEOs in conjunction with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
  • Six Disciplines Ohio (Northwest Ohio): President Eric Kurjan will present to entrepreneurs and business owners on how to build company-wide accountability at the University of Toledo on Nov. 30. Kramer Enterprises, a uniform and dry-cleaning business based in Findlay, Ohio has successfully completed a full year with Six Disciplines Ohio focused on developing a corporate succession plan. Kramer Enterprises, along with Six Disciplines, was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal regarding the best way to prepare for corporate change.

In addition to local momentum, based on recent media exposure, the top-rated book Six Disciplines for Excellence, authored by Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst, experienced top rankings in the Organizational Learning book category at Amazon.com.

Based on years of field testing, client feedback, 100 man-years of research and development and a $20 million investment, the Six Disciplines business excellence program provides organizations with a holistic, enduring approach toward strategy, planning, organizing people and processes, and execution management. Compared to other business improvement and quality programs like Baldrige, TQM, Six Sigma and Lean, which are prevalent in much larger businesses, Six Disciplines is the first program for enduring business excellence, designed specifically for small- and mid-sized businesses. Features normally associated with these much more expensive approaches – including proven best practices such as balanced scorecard, project management, key performance management metrics, integrated activity alignment, and business excellence rating systems – are all elements of the Six Disciplines program.

About Six Disciplines - Six Disciplines Corporation, founded in 2000, developed the first enduring business excellence program, specifically for small- and mid-sized businesses. A business excellence program is an organized way to grow a company’s ability to address an ever-changing and ever increasing series of business challenges, with a focused effort on execution. The Six Disciplines program integrates a repeatable methodology to drive organizational learning, ongoing external coaching to ensure accountability, a proactive alignment system to align daily activities of every stakeholder, and a shared learning community of like-minded people to accelerate and sustain business excellence. The program is offered exclusively through a locally-owned national network of Six Disciplines franchises. The organization was awarded the 2006 Entrepreneur Magazine Top Gun Franchise distinction and among its clients are several from the Inc. 500, ISO-9000 certified companies, and a Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award finalist. For more on Six Disciplines, visit http://www.sixdisciplines.com/.

Vote For The Best Business Books of 2007

Reader's Choice voting is now available for the 2007 800-CEO-Read’s Business Book Awards.

Gary Harpst’s book “Six Disciplines for Excellence” has been submitted in the “Small Business/Entrepreneur” category.

Click here to vote for Six Disciplines for Excellence, as well as any of the other great business books that you've read during 2007.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CEOs as The Next Team Builders

The New York Times recently published an article entitled "C.E.O. Evolution Phase 3," in which it showcased the profiles of prominent CEOs of the 1990s who built empires, then the "Fix-It Men," whose job it was to repair the excesses and mistakes of their predecessors.

"Now, management experts and longtime watchers of corporate America say the current environment demands, and is attracting, yet another kind of chief executive: the team builder."

The article's premise?

  • "CEOs must be able to ...assemble a team that functions as smoothly as a jazz sextet,” said Warren Bennis, a professor of management at USC.
  • CEOs need to make sure the top hundred people know that they’re in this together, that their fates are correlated,” Mr. Bennis says. “That’s what it will take to succeed in this century.”

BOTTOMLINE: What will be the main challenge in the next 5 to 10 years? The prediction is it would be achieving double-digit growth internally, without the benefit of huge deals or accounting sleight-of-hand. “That’s why I think the baton will go to the manager who will stimulate a division and will be creative and innovative."

Trust and Execution

Jeffrey Phillips, over at Thinking Faster, posts his views on "A Matter of Trust."

His premise?

  • Trust is probably the most important and least discussed aspect of working effectively and efficiently.
  • Trust is something that is earned by a manager or by a co-worker.

Trust comes from:

  1. Doing what you say and saying what you'll do.
  2. Trust comes from being honest about your skills, your abilities, the things you know and can share with others.
  3. Trust is built when people can look around and see that the "values" in the value statements and mission statements aren't just words but are put into practice by the people in the organization
  4. Legacy - what you leave behind.

BOTTOMLINE: At Six Disciplines, our research shows that top-performing organizations have a high-trust culture. High trust cultures lead to higher execution of strategy.

  • What does your firm do to establish and retain your trust?
  • Does it enforce a positive and effective culture?
  • Does it do the right thing, regardless of the consequences?
  • Is the communication open and honest?
  • If not, what can you do to change it?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The ROI of Employee Engagement

Several studies over the past few years reiterate the return on investment of strategy-driven employee engagement programs, confirming the importance of an engaged workforce on bottom-line results.

  • The 2007 Global Workforce Study by Towers Perrin established a definitive link between levels of engagement and financial performance. Firms with the highest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income 19% and earnings per share 28% year to year.
  • A 2006 Watson Wyatt study involving 12,750 workers across a range of different sectors demonstrated that the three-year total return to shareholders was 36% higher in organizations with high-employee commitment.
  • A 2005 ISR study (now Towers Perrin) showed that companies with above average employee engagement profits rose by 2.06% and operating margin rose by 3.74% over the same period.
  • A 2004 Sirota Consulting study of 28 multinational companies found that the share prices of organizations with highly engaged employees rose by an average of 16% compared to an industry average of 6%.

BOTTOMLINE: Employee engagement starts with a strategically-aligned recognition system that is directly tied to the strategy (mission, vision, values) of the entire organization. This does not mean motivational posters and a simple pat on the back. Successful engagement programs must be embraced company-wide, supported by senior executives, and executed strategically.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Four Dimensions of Employee Engagement


Excerpted from their new book Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter (Gallup Press, November 2007), authors John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund explore the four dimensions of employee engagement.

Their premise?

"Executives cannot legislate culture with mission or vision statements or through values clarification; it must also grow organically one workgroup at a time."

So how do we manage people for success and high levels of productivity in the new economy?

BOTTOMLINE: "The answer is employee engagement or the ability to capture the heads, hearts, and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence. Engaged employees want their organization to succeed because they feel connected emotionally, socially, and even spiritually to its mission, vision, and purpose."

Read the entire excerpt here.

The Strategist Notebook Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Kim Soon Lye, editor of The Strategist Notebook has posted a review of Six Disciplines for Excellence.

The review steps through the book, chapter by chapter and offers a good summary of Gary Harpst's top-rated business improvement book Six Disciplines for Excellence.

(Speaking of books, watch for Gary Harpst's new book, coming in mid 2008, entitled "Execution Revolution"....stay tuned to this blog for more details coming soon!)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Execute the Things That Matter

Good friend Bud Bilanch, The Common Sense Guy, offers this timely post on "Successful Businesses Skillfully Execute the Things That Matter," which come from his book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations.

The focus of his post is on our favorite topic: EXECUTION.

According to Bud:

"Execution is where the rubber meets the road. An outstanding mission, vision and business plan and the most committed people in the world, still must do what it takes to turn an organization’s vision into reality. They start with well defined metrics that are linked to their strategic and annual business plans. They use these metrics to manage their business and measure progress towards their goals. They use both quantitative and qualitative measures to determine their performance versus metrics. They revise their plans based on the information they glean from regular reviews of their performance versus metrics."

(And, what's NOT to like about Bud's collection of expert quotes on the importance of execution?)

Check 'em out here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Stephen M.R. Covey Speaks in Atlanta

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of the best-seller The Speed of Trust, was in Atlanta on Monday, speaking to business leaders about the importance of building trust and its effect and return on organizational performance. The event was sponsored by Six Disciplines and the Vail Leadership Institute.

In the picture, L-to-R: Gary Harpst (Six Disciplines); John Horan-Kates (Vail Leadership Institute); Riz Shakir (Six Disciplines Atlanta); Stephen M.R. Covey (CoveyLink)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Six Disciplines Client Featured In WSJ Forum

The Oct. 22 Small Business Link in the Wall Street Journal looked at ways small companies had planned for a change in management at the top.

Wall Street Journal reporter Simona Covel asked Tim Berry, founder and president of Palo Alto Software Inc. in Eugene, Ore., and Andrea Fetterman, director of corporate-image consulting at City Apparel, an offshoot of uniform and dry-cleaning business Kramer Enterprises Inc., in Findlay, Ohio, (and a Six Disciplines client) to be guest moderators.

Here are the edited excerpts of the reader forum on WSJ.com about succession planning.

Author Gary Harpst Appears on iBusinesschannel.com

Six Disciplines for Excellence Author, Gary Harpst, Talks Exclusively with Ruth King on iBusinesschannel.com.

Listed as Accounting Today magazine’s “Top 100 Influential People in Accounting”, Gary Harpst’s reputation does more than precede him. As a veteran corporate executive he’s dynamic and brilliant, but as the founder and CEO of Six Disciplines Corporation and noted author of the acclaimed Six Disciplines for Excellence he’s inspiring.

Gary Harpst will make his debut on Atlanta’s premier internet broadcasting network, iBusinesschannel.com, as he talks about his latest book and long-term fitness program for an empowered, successful, and better quality of life.“Having a guest like Gary Harpst appear on our network is both thrilling and motivating. We aim to bring our viewers top-notch professionals with a genuine story to tell, and we’re proud to say that we’re achieving that.” says Susan Roman, Production Manager for iBusinesschannel.com about the quality of guests invited to appear on the network.

Gary Harpst was interviewed by Ruth King on iBusinesschannel.com’s breakout program “Cover Stories”. Designed to spotlight authors of business books, “Cover Stories” has garnered tremendous support from publishers and the media because of its high quality content. Internationally-known speakers-turned-authors have appeared on the program, and Gary Harpst will help in maintaining that standard. The methodologies and principles illustrated in Gary Harpst’s book parallels the insightful and timely programming iBusinesschannel.com strives to sustain. In addition to its compelling content, iBusinesschannel.com offers and interactive experience for its viewers by allowing people to chat in questions during the live program. This innovation is what makes “Cover Stories”--and the network as whole—an industry leader in internet broadcasting.

Viewers can watch Gary Harpst's web TV interview for free here.

(Thanks to Jennifer Colter at Biz Biz for the coverage)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Effective Succession Planning

Succession planning, along with workforce performance management in general, is increasingly regarded as a significant influence in determining the success of an organization. If it is undertaken effectively, you can ensure that your organization has capable and trained managers to guide its growth.

So what are the benefits of an effective succession planning process?

  • A study of more than 100 companies found that organizations that routinely use a formal succession planning process to help workers advance, are also consistently high-performing firms, as measured by total shareholder return. (Source: Hewitt Associates, November 2003)

Unfortunately, many people think of succession planning too narrowly, as if it were something done only to plan for CEO transitions, emergency contingencies, etc.

  1. Succession planning is a part of the process of preparing for the future of your company.
  2. Succession planning is a learning process.
  3. A succession plan is also a documented road map.
  4. Succession planning is about sustaining your firm throughout constant change.

Kramer Enterprises is an example of a company in transition. They've adopted the Six Disciplines program to help them with the challenges of succession planning. Read about them here in this Wall Street Journal article.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

When Success Isn't Enough

The November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine offers an article entitled "When Success Isn't Enough."

The premise of the article?

"Business is good, but it could be better. So get out of that rut and take it to the next level--here's how. "

This is exactly the scenario we at Six Disciplines find many companies in. A few years ago, we conducted quantitative research with over 300 CEOs from small and mid-sized companies. We asked the senior leadership, “If you could only choose one area of focus in your business, what would it be?” (The graph above indicates their responses.)

What appears from our questioning of top performing businesses that their leaders want something beyond being successful.

These CEOs are very passionate about their businesses, and their companies are financially sound. They have strong leadership teams and they attract and retain quality people. They’re already disciplined in their approach to business, they use technology strategically, and they effectively engage external trusted relationships. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as an analogous construct, these CEOs had already experienced success. What they sought was Maslow’s highest level of attainment: the business form of self-actualization . . . or what they responded to as “business excellence.”



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Six Disciplines Client Video - TRUFAST

TRUFAST, great at aligning resources to manufacture fasteners, worked with Six Disciplines to better align its people for sustaining that success.

Brian Roth and Kip Winzeler of TRUFAST talk about how Six Disciplines helped them to optimize operating efficiencies and to get its workforce to become more engaged and accountable.

Watch this short video as Brian and Kip explain the benefits of Six Disciplines, and what it does for their growing company.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How Can We Pursue Enduring Business Excellence - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "How Can We Pursue Enduring Business Excellence?"

During the interview, Harpst talks about the years of field research that went into the development of the Six Disciplines program, and about the four essential component of an enduring business excellence program.

video

Employee Engagement Starts With Leaders

From The Employee Factor blog comes this post "Employee Engagement Starts with Leaders!"

Their premise?

"A number of studies and other literature related to employee engagement shows similar definitions for employee engagement:

  • Commitment to the organization
  • Job ownership and pride
  • Passion and excitement
  • Commitment to execution and the bottom line

Engagement is an amalgamation of commitment, loyalty, productivity and ownership.

What can leader’s do to drive employee engagement? Companies need to spend more time helping their leader’s be authentic, consistent and real."

Read the entire post here for nine specific suggestion on how to drive employee engagement.

BOTTOMLINE: While employee engagement starts with leaders, they are not the only ones who drive engagement. Six Disciplines uses both a top-down and bottoms-up approach to drive total organizational engagement. It's the only way cultural change can be endure over the long-term.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How Does Six Disciplines Actually Work - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "How Does Six Disciplines Actually Work For My Company?"

During the interview, Harpst talks about the changes that occur in companies as they begin to adopt the Six Disciplines business excellence program.

video

Six Disciplines Co-Sponsors Stephen M.R. Covey Jr. to Speak in Atlanta

Stephen M.R. Covey Jr. - author of the bestseller “The Speed of Trust – The One Thing that Changes Everything is speaking on November 5 from 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., including a Q&A session at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Duluth, GA 30097.

Covey will be speaking on the topic “High Performance Organizations at The Speed Of Trust.” In this fast-paced and engaging presentation, Covey will demonstrate the leadership benefits of trust from the informed perspective of a CEO and show how to establish and grow a high-trust, high-performance organization.

Covey is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, the largest leadership development company in the world. He led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to one of the most influential business books of the 20th century. Covey is currently CEO of CoveyLink—which is a learning and consulting practice focused on enabling leaders and organizations to increase and leverage trust to achieve superior performance.

Business owners, executives and managers; non-profit leaders and board members; community leaders and public officials are encouraged to attend.

Individual registrations – $45/person, group registration (5+ people) – $35/person, $55 if paid in person at the event. Local Chamber of Commerce members - check your Chamber's website for discounted pricing code.

REGISTER HERE: www.SixDisciplines.com/Atlanta

Six Disciplines and the Vail Leadership Institute are co-sponsors of the event.

Employee Engagement A Key Factor

Interesting findings from a recent Gallup Management Journal ( GMJ) survey of U.S. employees.

Gallup researchers studied employee responses to see which factors differed most strongly among engaged employees (26% of respondents) and those who were not engaged (56%) or actively disengaged (18%).

Gallup uses its employee engagement survey, the Q 12, to measure workplace engagement and glean insights about the kinds of manager behaviors that are most likely to cause employees to disengage from their workplaces.

Not surprisingly, engaged employees aren't the ones wanting to bid their manager farewell. Just 6% of engaged workers say they would fire their boss if they had the chance.

BOTTOMLINE: Engaged employees consider their relationship with their manager to be crucial to their success. Employees' disengagement with their supervisor can have real -- and negative -- consequences for their companies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

CEOs Describe Benefits of Six Disciplines - Video

Six dynamic CEOs tell you how Six Disciplines transformed their companies like no other business improvement program could.

From publishing to technologies to nonprofit, the business categories are diverse, but the results are the same – remarkable!

View the short video here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Six Disciplines Client Video - Flexware Innovation

Flexware Innovation is a 10-year old leading provider of manufacturing software.

Scott Whitlock, President of Flexware Innovation, talks about how Six Disciplines helped him to optimize operating efficiencies and to get its workforce to become more engaged and accountable.

Watch this short video as Scott explains the benefits of Six Disciplines, and what it does for his growing company.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Implementing A Framework for Accountability

In his post about Risk Management Made Easy…, Mike Myatt, the chief strategy officer for N2Growth (and author of the N2Growth blog) asserts that:

"Accountability is the lowest cost, most practical and most productive form of risk management and quality assurance that can be implemented across an enterprise. It is really nothing more than a common sense understanding that decisions made within a framework are going to have a greater chance of success than those made in a vacuum."

In his post, Myatt "examines not only the benefits of accountability, but also how to implement a framework for accountability within your business…"

His solution? Setting up an enterprise wide framework for accountability is as simple as implementing the following three items:

  1. Have a clearly articulated statement of corporate values.
  2. Have a written delegation of authority.
  3. Implement a good leadership development program.
Read Mike's entire post on accountability here.

Six Disciplines Client Video - Kramer Enterprises

Paul Kramer, CEO of Kramer Enterprises, a Midwest uniform and dry cleaning company, was just featured in the Wall Street Journal in an article about succession planning, where he explained why they decided to use Six Disciplines to help make the transition smooth.

Watch this short video as Paul explains the benefits of Six Disciplines, and what it does for his growing company.

What a week for Six Disciplines client - Kramer Enterprises!

The Employee Engagement Gap

From Management-Issues, comes this article on The Disengagement Gap, in which a study by workplace consulting firm Towers Perrin found:

  • Many employees did not believe their organisation or senior management were doing enough to help or keep them engaged.
  • Just a fifth said they felt engaged in their work
  • More than a third admitting to feeling partly or fully disengaged.

The Global Workforce Study establishes a definitive link between levels of engagement and financial performance and, for the first time, begins to quantify that link. The most striking data about the linkage between employee engagement and financial performance come from a study of 40 global companies that involved a regression analysis of company financial results against engagement data.

  • Firms with the highest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income by 19 per cent and earnings per share by 28 per cent year-to-year.
  • Companies with the lowest percentage of engaged employees showed year-to-year declines of a third in operating income and more than a tenth in earnings per share.

BOTTOMLINE: The importance of an engaged workforce on a company's bottom line is critical to its long-term success. "When companies are looking for every source of competitive advantage, the workforce itself represents the largest reservoir of untapped potential."

What to work on?

  • Communicate a clear strategy and how their work contributes to reaching the company's goals
  • Offer ways to have employees to enjoy challenging work that will allow them to learn new skills

"Turning people's energy and ambition into engagement – and ultimately into significant performance lift – demands attention, focus and some very different behaviours from senior leaders, as well as clear follow-through on a number of organizational practices."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Six Disciplines Business Excellence Coaching Expands Into Atlanta

ATLANTA, OCT. 23, 2007 — Six Disciplines, LLC today expanded its award-winning national business excellence network by signing a franchise agreement launching Six Disciplines Atlanta. Six Disciplines provides organizations with a complete program that encompasses four elements for enduring business excellence: a repeatable methodology; ongoing external coaching; proactive organizational alignment software to ensure individual and team accountability; and the competitive advantages of a shared learning community.

Six Disciplines Atlanta is led by President Riz Shakir, an Atlanta-based serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience growing and running businesses. Shakir is a certified executive coach and consultant with the Vail Leadership Institute and has completed executive development programs at The Harvard Business School, The University of Chicago School of Business, The Wharton School of Business and The Kellogg Business School of Northwestern University.

“Six Disciplines is a brand and methodology that will compliment the dynamic Atlanta business environment,” said Shakir. “I look forward to helping area companies identify and bypass roadblocks impacting their long-term success, regardless of industry or challenge.”

Shakir is joined by Senior Vice President Larry Smart, a certified business excellence coach who has led high-growth technology companies in turn-around strategies throughout North America and overseas. Smart has been chief executive officer and chief operating officer of international businesses such as Atlanta-based InfoTouch Corp., DL Technology Partners, Inc., Ross Systems, Inc. and Western Data Systems, Inc.

“Entrepreneurial CEOs in Atlanta have made it one of the top business markets in the U.S. because they are constantly looking for ways to innovate and sustain their success,” said Gary Harpst, founder and CEO of Six Disciplines. “It’s an alarming fact that only four percent of businesses survive past ten years. Riz and Larry bring to our network a tremendous combination of expertise, resources and commitment to help top-performing organizations pursue lasting excellence and ensure they sustain growth to be one of the four percent that endures.”

To commemorate the opening, Six Disciplines is sponsoring a series of business seminars:


  • Stephen M. R. Covey, acclaimed author of The Speed of Trust – The One Thing that Changes Everything and former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, will address the importance of trust and how it impacts organizational performance. Covey will be the guest of Six Disciplines and Vail Leadership Institute on Nov. 5 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., including a Q&A session at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, Georgia. Event registration and details can be found at www.SixDisciplines.com/Atlanta.
  • To provide insight into the resources and guidance Six Disciplines can provide to organizations, Six Disciplines’ Founder and CEO Gary Harpst will speak at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Dec. 6, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. He will focus on what it takes to pursue enduring business excellence, based on insight from his upcoming book Execution Revolution: Introducing the First Enduring Business Excellence Program. For registration and information, call 404-586-8432.
  • As a primer to the Metro Atlanta Chamber event and to discuss goal setting for businesses, Shakir will host a teleconference with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 1. For registration and information, call 404-586-8432.

Based on years of field testing, client feedback, 100 man-years of research and development and a $20 million investment, the Six Disciplines business excellence program provides organizations with a holistic, enduring approach toward strategy, planning, organizing people and processes, and execution management.

Compared to other business improvement and quality programs like Baldrige, TQM, Six Sigma and Lean, which are prevalent in much larger businesses, Six Disciplines is the first enduring business excellence program designed specifically for small- and mid-sized businesses. Features normally associated with these much more expensive approaches – similar to balanced scorecard, project management, key performance management metrics, integrated activity alignment, and business excellence rating systems – are all elements of the Six Disciplines program.

About Six Disciplines Six Disciplines, LLC, founded in 2000, developed the first enduring business excellence program, specifically for small- and mid-sized businesses. A business excellence program is an organized way to grow a company’s ability to address an ever-changing and ever increasing series of business challenges. The Six Disciplines program integrates a repeatable methodology to drive organizational learning, ongoing external coaching to ensure accountability, a proactive organizational alignment system to align daily activities of every stakeholder, and a shared learning community of like-minded people to accelerate and sustain business excellence. The program is offered exclusively through a locally owned national network. The organization was awarded the 2006 Entrepreneur Magazine Top Gun Franchise distinction and among its clients are several from the Inc. 500, ISO-9000 certified companies, and a Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award finalist. For more on Six Disciplines, visit http://www.sixdisciplines.com/.

Monday, October 22, 2007

How Trust Improves Ethics and Return on Investment

Six Disciplines and Vail Leadership Institute are co-sponsoring an event in Atlanta on November 5, bringing best-selling author Stephen M.R. Covey to speak on "High Performance Organizations at The Speed of Trust."


BPM Magazine recently spoke with Covey about how trust can boost corporate performance and how companies can foster trust through transparent business performance management processes.

Read the article Why Trust Improves Both Ethics and Returns.

Wall Street Journal Offers Forum on Succession Planning

In conjunction with the article on succession planning - Three Ways To Plan for Change - which showcases Six Disciplines client Kramer Enterprises, the Wall Street Journal is also offering an open forum on succession planning.

Andrea Fetterman (Paul Kramer's daughter) is one of the forum hosts.

Check out the Planning for Change forum here.

Wall Street Journal Profiles Six Disciplines Client





In the October 22 issue of the Wall Street Journal Online, reporter Simona Covel covers a story "Three Ways To Plan for Change" about three companies and their approaches to executive succession planning.

In the online article, Six Disciplines client Paul Kramer, CEO with Kramer Enterprises, a 95-employee uniform and dry cleaning business is interviewed.

Kramer highlights the use of Six Disciplines, with accountability coaching services from Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio as contributing to their successful transition of the business to the next generation.

BOTTOMLINE: The Six Disciplines program is being successfully adopted and practiced by many companies across the nation, to help them address issues such as succession planning, employee accountability, team alignment, individual goal planning, etc. How can it be that one program can address all of these challenges? Because Six Disciplines is the first enduring business excellence program, designed specifically to help organizations increase their capability to address an increasing variety and number of challenges.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Overcoming Resistance to Change

"If you’re attempting to transform a legacy organization into an Enterprise of the Future, you’ll recognize that the irresistible force is the tidal wave of change brought about by an ever-flattening world."

According to an article by Art Murray called "Overcoming Resistance to Change," there is a way to shift the weight of the resistance and turn it into positive momentum will focus the energy where it will do the most good.

Using the analogy of a martial arts master, Murray offers his tips on accelerating change.

Here are a few basic techniques to speed up the transformation process:

  1. Focused concentration.
  2. Force, speed and precision.
  3. Relentless repetition.
  4. Living embodiment.
  5. Refocus negative energy
Read the entire article here.

(Art Murray is CEO of Applied Knowledge Sciences and co-director of the Enterprise of the Future Program at the George Washington University Institute for Knowledge and Innovation.)

Five Secrets of High Performing Organizations Teleconference

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Six Disciplines are hosting a teleconference on "Excellence."

Come learn what separates the best from all the rest. Riz Shakir, Owner of Six Disciplines Atlanta will present: "Five Secrets of High Performing Organizations."

His presentation will also set the stage for Gary Harpst, author and founder of Six Disciplines presentation “Execution Revolution: Introducing The First Enduring Business Excellence Program” on December 6, 2007 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Register and attend the teleconference to receive your FREE copy of the White Paper “Five Secrets of Highly Performing Organizations." RSVP at events@macoc.com with “Excellence” in the subject line.

Six Disciplines for Leaders - On COSE Mindspring

From the COSE Mindspring site, comes this article "Six Disciplines for Leaders" authored by CEO and founder of Six Disciplines, Gary Harpst.

Read the entire article here.

Harpst will be speaking at the COSE Small Business Conference in Cleveland on Friday, October 19.

(Go Tribe!!)

Excellence Quotes for 10/16/07

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." (Aristotle)

“Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer.” (Rick Pitino)

“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)

“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” (John W. Gardner)

“Excellence is not an act but a habit. The things you do the most are the things you will do best.” (Marva Collins)

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” (Pat Riley)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gary Harpst To Speak At Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce

Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines, LLC, will be conducting a presentation entitled “Execution Revolution: Introducing The First Enduring Business Excellence Program" at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on Thursday December 6, 2007 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Harpst, the author of the top-rated business excellence handbook "Six Disciplines for Excellence," will be revealing insights from his newest book "Execution Revolution," which is scheduled to be published in 2008.
Click here for a calendar summary and to register for the event.


Using Technology Strategically

According to a recent NFI Research study, the majority of business leaders spend more than 60 percent of their time using technology in the course of a business day.

Three-fourths of senior executives and managers spend more than half of their time using technology (cell phone, BlackBerry, computer, etc.), according to the worldwide survey of 194 senior executives and managers by NFI Research.

Almost one-quarter (23 percent) spend between 70 and 80 percent of their time using technology, and 18 percent spend between 81 and 90 percent of their time using technology.

BOTTOMLINE: It's not how much time you spend using technology that's important. It's how you use technology to support the overall strategy of your organization, and more specifically, how you use technology to support the execution of your organization's strategy.

Ingredients for Good Decision-Making

In a 2007 survey of 154 global C-level executives, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Business Objects, the research found that more than 9 out of 10 corporate executives admit they are making important decisions on the basis of inadequate information.

Other findings from this decision-making research:

  • Less than 10% of executives receive the information they need.
  • 72% of execs believe management decision making is only moderately efficient or worse.
  • 25% of executives believes management frequently, or always, gets its decisions wrong.
  • 56% of executives are concerned about making poor choices because of bad data.
  • 55% of executive decisions are based on ad hoc consultation instead of corporate metrics.
  • 70% of senior managers rate decision-making as moderately efficient or worse vs 52% of C-level superiors.
  • Yet, only 29% of executive think poor decision-making structures are a common cause of bad decisions.

The ingredients for good decision-making?

The report's authors identify five ingredients of good decision-making. Obviously, supporting good decisions requires a lot more than technology, but business intelligence systems can help with each of these:

  • High-quality data
  • Access to advanced systems and training
  • Sound judgment
  • Trust
  • Flexibility

Three Ingredients for Success

From a recent New York Times article (subscription required), the co-authors of the book “Success Built to Last” (Wharton School Publishing, 2006) write that “extraordinary people, teams and organizations are simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things that matter to them.”

Their premise? Successful people are “builders.”

Builders find lasting success when three essential elements come into alignment in their lives and work.

  1. The first element is meaning. “What you do must matter deeply to you."
  2. The second is a “highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion and responsible optimism.”
  3. And finally, these successful people “find effective ways to take action.”

Monday, October 08, 2007

Introducing Change within Your Company

When introducing any new business process improvement approach (like the Six Disciplines™ program), change management is a key to successful implementation. Since Six Disciplines can lead to a positive transformation of your company’s culture, it’s important to understand how to introduce this kind of change – BEFORE it actually occurs.

Consider these research findings about organizational change:

  • Change can be painful: Organizational change is unexpectedly difficult because it provokes sensations of physiological discomfort. Trying to change hardwired habits requires a lot of effort, in the form of attention. This often leads to a feeling that many people find uncomfortable. So they do what they can to avoid change.
  • Behaviorism by itself doesn’t work: Change efforts based on incentive and threat (the carrot and the stick) rarely succeed in the long run (e.g. offer the right incentives, and the desired change will naturally occur.) Yet there is plenty of evidence from both clinical research and workplace observation that change efforts based on typical incentives and threats (the carrot and the stick) rarely succeed in the long run.
  • Humanism by itself doesn't work: In practice, the conventional empathic approach of connection and persuasion doesn’t sufficiently engage people. This phenomenon provides a scientific basis for some of the practices of leadership coaching. Rather than lecturing and providing solutions, effective accountability coaches ask pertinent questions and support their clients in working out solutions on their own.
  • Repetition, consistency, perseverance are keys: Repeated, purposeful, and focused attention can lead to long-lasting evolution and continual improvement. For insights into why change is necessary, they need to be generated from within, not given to individuals as forgone conclusions.

BOTTOMLINE: Knowing these factors before going into your business process improvement can help set expectations appropriately.

Communicating Organizational Change

Although always important, communication is absolutely critical when deciding to adopt a business improvement process like Six Disciplines. Most importantly, this needs to occur BEFORE the actual change initiative begins.

Consider the following change management research findings:

  • The #1 contributor to the success of a business improvement initiative is active, strong and visible sponsorship (commitment) throughout the process.
  • The top obstacle to successful change is employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior management.
  • The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change initiative that is coming, why it is necessary, what is expected as a result.
  • Employees want to hear messages about change the change from two people: the CEO and their immediate team leader. The message they want to hear from each of these individual is very different.

BOTTOMLINE: It’s difficult to manage the transition if people have no sense of where the changes are headed. Painting a picture for them can be difficult. The truth is that many organizations head into a transition state with nothing more than some basic goals and cherished values to guide them on their journey.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Promoting Company-Wide Accountability

"Whether the goal is elevating employee performance, strategic alignment, spurring innovation, or something else, leaders earn their keep by creating the conditions of accountability in their organization."

In "How to combat a culture of excuses and promote accountability," author Jeff Grimshaw offers his advice on how to promote company-wide accountability.

You can also download an 8-page whitepaper on accountability here.

Excellence of Execution is Top Concern for CEOs Worldwide

According to The Conference Board's most recent survey of 769 global CEOs, execution is taking precedence over profit and top-line growth as a focus for CEOs around the world.

The survey of 769 global CEOs from 40 countries is from The Conference Board report, CEO Challenge 2007: Top 10 Challenges.

When asked to rate their greatest concerns from among 121 different challenges, chief executives participating in this year's survey chose excellence of execution as their top challenge and keeping consistent execution of strategy by top management as their third greatest concern. Sustained and steady top-line growth, which led the pack last year, now ranks second, with profit growth fourth, and finding qualified managerial talent fifth.

Read the entire summary of this new study here.

BOTTOMLINE: This study validates our major premise here at Six Disciplines. Execution IS the most commonly mentioned challenge by CEOs - regardless of size of company or type of industry. In fact, Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst's next book named "Execution Revolution" is all about the challenge of execution, and how small and mid-sized businesses will be able to harness and leverage the advances of the past two decades to leapfrog past much larger organizations to deal more effectively with this never ending challenge.