The Six Disciplines blog has moved!

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Podcast: Disciplines V and VI

In this fourth podcast interview of the series on Six Disciplines with host Zane Safrit, Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst discusses Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully, and Discipline IV. Step Back.

In this podcast interview, Gary and Zane cover why innovation and discipline aren't mutually exclusive (newsflash to many companies, and about informed risks (where to find them and when to take them), and that innovation is really just another name for problem solving.

Harpst shares his own personal stories to illustrate why these disciplines are critical and the steps needed to achieve them.

You can RSS subscribe to the entire podcast series here.

The Nine C's of Leadership

Remember Lee Iacocca, the white knight who saved Chrysler from the brink?

In his new book, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?," Iacocca describes the “Nine Cs of Leadership”:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Creativity
  3. Communication
  4. Character
  5. Courage
  6. Conviction
  7. Charisma
  8. Competence
  9. Common Sense

Whether you agree with Iacocca's political views, the excerpt here is worth taking a look.

The Art of Execution

Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.

He has a great 2-pager (available for download from a terrific source called the Biz Info Library) called "The Art of Execution."

His premise?
  • "After you raise the money, now what? The good news is that you got the money. The bad news is you got the money. At the end of the process, every entrepreneur has to answer the same question as the candidate: "Now what?" The answer to this question is, "Now you execute." And the next question is, "How do we execute?"

Guy's advice:

  • Create something worth executing.
  • Set goals (that are measurable, achievable, relevant, rat-hole resistant)
  • Postpone, or at least de-emphasize, touchy feely goals.
  • Communicate the goals.
  • Measure progress on a weekly basis.
  • Establish a single point of responsibility.
  • Follow thru on an issue until it is done or irrelevant. (persistence!)
  • Recognize and reward the achievers.
  • Establish a culture of execution.

BOTTOMLINE: "Execution is not an event--a onetime push towards achieving goals. Rather it is a way of life, and this way of life (execution versus non-execution) is set in the early days of the organization. The best way to establish this culture is for the founders, particularly the CEO, to set an example of filling goals, responding to customers, and heeding and measuring employees."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Organizational Learning And Execution

Think execution isn't one of the greatest challenges in business? Think again!

  • More than over half of businesses are unable quickly to translate decisions into action, with employers in the U.S among the least nimble in the world, a new study has suggested.

Research by management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton has found that most organizations exhibit what it calls "unhealthy" traits, traits that prevent them from turning decisions into action.

  • Unhealthy organizations lacked clear decision-making and did not share information effectively.
  • Larger organizations were more unhealthy, the study also found, and were more likely to exhibit dysfunctional traits and behaviors.
  • 27% of organizations were "passive-aggressive" in that they seemed congenial, even conflict-free, yet still resisted meaningful change.
Of the seven organizational types identified by Booz Allen, three are considered "healthy":

  • Resilient: Flexible enough to adapt quickly to external market shifts, yet steadfastly focused on and aligned behind a coherent business strategy.
  • Just-in-Time: Inconsistently prepared for change, but can turn on a dime when necessary, without losing sight of the big picture.
  • Military Precision: Often driven by a small, involved senior team, it succeeds through superior execution and the efficiency of its operating model.
BOTTOMLINE: "Healthy organisations are good at execution – they get things done," said Gary Neilson, Booz Allen senior vice president. "By contrast, unhealthy organizations stumble and eventually stagnate – they can't execute," he added.

Excellence Quotes for May 30

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

"Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence." (George F. Will)

"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." (Pearl Buck)
"It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity." (Publilius Syrus)
"Strive for excellence, not perfection." (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

Engage Your Team

In Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead, the final step is II-D. Engage the Team.

Given that execution is a far greater challenge than strategy formulation, the ultimate core competency for any organization is realized when all individuals make strategy (execution) their everyday job."

Since research shows that less than 5% of the typical workforce understands their organization's strategy, it is critical to engage the team so they understand and commit - and make it their own.

This cannot be achieved by words alone - it has to be achieve through action.

To communicate the change process, conduct an "engage the team" meeting that accomplishes the following:
  • Use the event as an opportunity to interact and learn
  • Create a sense that things are happening “live”
  • Provide the opportunity for people to see, touch, and shape the change
  • Use data collected before and during the event to inform discussion
  • Promote openness and flexibility over control and confidentiality
  • Ensure the active involvement and high visibility of the senior leadership team
  • Emphasize that the event is not an end in itself
BOTTOMLINE: As you're communicating, ask yourself whether you're getting compliance - or commitment. Use group presentations and one-on-one presentations to allow interaction and lessen intimidation. Interaction moves people from compliance to enrollment, and from enrollement to commitment.

15 Habits of High Performing Individuals

Perhaps it's time to add these pointers to your daily routine?

  1. They always live by the motto, “I must do the most productive thing at every given moment.” There are only so many hours in the day, and losing a few minutes here and a few minutes there adds up. To stay focused and productive, end each day by writing down the six most important things you have to do the next day and then follow your list.
  2. They plan their time well in advance. Keeping an updated calendar will help you avoid conflicts and be more efficient in allocating your time. Don’t forget to schedule some personal time too.
  3. They have a game plan for where they want to go. By writing down your mission and vision, you’ll have a goal to work toward and a game plan to keep you on the right path.
  4. They are early-risers. By rising early, you can get a leg up on everybody and take advantage of the early morning hours when everything is peaceful and quiet.
  5. They know the difference between good fear and bad fear. Use good fear to encourage you to take stronger action and eliminate bad fear by not worrying about things you have no control over (like the markets).
  6. They have well-defined short, medium and long-term goals that meet the SMAC test (specific, measurable, achievable, compatible). Have clear goals that are motivating and review them every day. Consider putting your goals into a PowerPoint slide and then have your local copy shop print it and laminate it for you.
  7. They abhor busy work. Don’t let idle chitchat, paper shuffling and busywork bog you down. Focus on your goals and eliminate what gets in the way.
  8. They are very organized. By keeping your desk clean, organizing your files and using checklists, you can eke out more hours in the day. Extend this to your personal life too.
  9. They are great communicators. Ronald Reagan was a master communicator and storyteller. Whether you like his politics or not, he was able to articulate his message and make you feel good about it. By improving your communication skills and storytelling skills, you’ll make a better connection with clients and prospects, which, in turn, will lead to more business.
  10. They are health conscious. Being a top achiever requires energy and stamina. Regular exercise and a healthy diet will make you feel good, improve your confidence and give you the fuel to keep going when everyone else is falling by the wayside.
  11. They have a burning desire to succeed. You can work smart, have discipline and be knowledgeable, but if you don’t have a burning desire to succeed, you’ll fall short of your potential. Burning desire comes from within, so spend some time identifying what it is you want in life, then put all your energy and resources behind getting it.
  12. They can motivate others. Success is best when it is shared. Being able to motivate others and help them reach their hopes, dreams and aspirations will go a long way toward helping you reach yours.
  13. They practice the fundamentals. In football, the quarterback and the running backs get most of the glory. Yet, without the lineman, there would be no protection and no holes for the running backs to shoot through. By staying focused on the basics, you can position yourself for the big breakthroughs.
  14. They are spiritual. They have faith in a higher being and follow a path toward enlightenment.
  15. They continually seek wisdom. The minute you close your eyes to learning is the minute you start to atrophy. Top achievers constantly learn from others and know they’ll never know it all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Laws of Simplicity

To achieve sustainable business excellence is a journey that few organizations are willing to take. For those that undertake the journey, there are ways to make the complexity of continual business improvement simplified: it takes discipline.

Like any business improvement program based on best practices, a goal is to simplify processes along the way, to bring about balance, predictability and sustainability.

Here are John Maeda's "Laws of Simplicity":

  1. Reduce: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
  2. Organize: Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
  3. Time: Savings in time feel like simplicity.
  4. Learn: Knowledge makes everything simpler.
  5. Differences: Simplicity and complexity need each other.
  6. Context: What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.
  7. Emotion: More emotions are better than less.
  8. Trust: In simplicity we trust.
  9. Failure: Some things can never be made simple.
  10. The One: Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

Small Business Advocate Interviews Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst

Do you know how to define excellence? Do you know how to seek excellence?

Jim Blasingame at the Small Business Advocate interviews Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst, who explains the answers to both of these questions and much more of the quest for excellence in small business.

Listen to this 20 minute interview here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ten Universal Principles of the Workplace

Dan Bobinski, business coach and corporate trainer, has released his Ten Universal Principles of the Workplace.

According to Dan, "It’s a simple compilation of principles that, if practiced in any workplace, are key ingredients for making that workplace “excellent.”

You can download a PDF of Dan's 10 Universal Principles of the Workplace here.

The Importance of Passion for Greater Performance

The secret to building employee engagement is creating emotional connections between an organization and its people.

A new study by Philadelphia-based consultants PeopleMetrics (covered here by Management-Issues) reveals just how dramatically passion boosts both productivity and business outcomes.

Their findings?

  • Employees who are passionate about their companies are the best performers, regardless of industry, tenure or gender
  • Companies in the lowest quartile in company profitability had 50 per cent fewer engaged employees compared to those in the top quartile
  • In terms of individual performance, the study found high performing employees were twice as engaged as their low performing counterparts

BOTTOMLINE: "While pay, benefits and resources to do one's job are necessary for a certain level of employee engagement, they are not sufficient to drive the highest levels of employee engagement and performance. Creating emotional connections to employees is what truly matters because this is where organizations can dramatically boost employee productivity and business outcomes."

Building an emotional bond with employees requires organizations to create a "sense of meaning and purpose" among employees by connecting them to the "higher vision and purpose" of the organization.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

SmallBizTechnology Features Interview About Six Disciplines

Ramon Ray, the well-respected technology blogger and editor at, has posted an interview he had with Gary Harpst, CEO of Six Disciplines, LLC about "Six Disciplines software - more than just software."

Read the interview here about how Six Disciplines helps small and mid-sized businesses enhance and grow their business through the use of the innovative Six Disciplines system.

Podcast: Disciplines III and IV

In this third podcast interview of the series on Six Disciplines with host Zane Safrit, Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst discusses Discipline III. Align Systems, and Discipline IV. Work The Plan - and their importance in building a small business that can learn, lead and last.

Harpst shares his own personal stories to illustrate why these disciplines are critical and the steps needed to achieve them.

You can RSS subscribe to the entire podcast series here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Advantages of Time Tracking

One of the key best practices of the Six Disciplines program is to encourage every team member within the organization track 100% of their time.

For some organizations and individuals, this is a new or foreign concept, and many think of it as unnecessary overhead or even consider it "micro-managing."

Time tracking not so much about accountability and making sure you're not wasting time; it's really about learning.

The entire Six Disciplines methodology is about teaching organizations how to build a better business faster. It eventually comes down to every decision that every team member makes on a daily basis. The best performing organizations have to learn to unlock the capabilities and potential of every team member. To do that, every team member has to learn how to align their daily activities to the goals of the company.

Time-tracking helps individuals to learn faster.

It begins by tracking your time against your Individual Plan - the activities that you've agreed (with your team leader) to work on during a quarter. What you'll find over time is that your ability to plan more effectively will increase, as you learn how your daily activities and time spent align with your plan and the goals of your organization.

The reasons why most people miss their plans is that they're either:
  • Working on things they didn't expect to do
  • or, they underestimated the time it would take to do something

BOTTOMLINE: By tracking your time on a daily basis, you'll dramatically accelerate your learning of how to more effectively plan for activities for your quarter (month, week, day). Multiply this effect times each person in your organization that also tracks their time, and you'll have a learning organization that continually improves in their ability to plan more effectively and make better decisions as to what to spend time on as a result.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Advantages of a Business Coach

The June 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine has an article about the considerations and advantages of engaging with a business coach:

Key take-aways:

  • Coaches can help employees keep the big picture in mind and stay on track toward goals as well as master new techniques.
  • Unlike trainers, who may come in, put on a seminar and leave, a coach is typically hired for an engagement of up to several months.
  • Each month, the coach meets a couple of times or more for an hour or two with each employee and is available for consultations as needed.
  • One-on-one work distinguishes coaches from trainers.
  • Coaches are also more like mentors in that they encourage and monitor improvements.
  • Seeing results from coaching can take longer than you originally envisioned.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Eight Steps to Transform Your Company

According to change expert John P. Kotter:

Producing change is about 80 percent leadership -- establishing direction, aligning, motivating, and inspiring people -- and about 20 percent management -- planning, budgeting, organizing, and problem solving.

Results and vision can be plotted on a matrix that has four dimensions.

* Poor results and weak vision spell sure trouble for any organization (Stagnation)

* Good short-term results with a weak vision satisfy many organizations -- for awhile. (Unsustainable success)

* A compelling vision that produces few results usually is abandoned. (Abandoned vision)

* Only good short-term results with an effective, aligned vision offer a high probability of sustained success.

Here are Kotter's eight steps to transform your company:

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
  2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
  3. Create a Vision
  4. Communicate the Vision
  5. Empower Others to Act on the Vision
  6. Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
  7. Consolidate Improvements and Produce Still More Change
  8. Institutionalize New Approaches

Is Focus the New Competitive Advantage?

Rob May, the Business Pundit, raises an extremely interesting question in his entry: "Is Concentration the New Competitive Advantage?"

Rob's premise?

  • Will the successful companies (and employees) of the future be the ones that can do the hard things?
  • The development of sustainable competitive advantage often requires that you be a contrarian. You go where other people aren't. You don't follow the masses. You let other companies move on from fad to fad while you question each "new thing" and focus on boring ideas like execution. Don't get distracted. Build a culture of concentration.

BOTTOMLINE: "Concentration, focus, execution, the ability to tune out the fluff - that will be the competitive advantage of the future." The only thing I'm not agreeing with is his statement: "Don't expect to see any business books to help you with this." Take a look at Six Disciplines for Excellence. It focuses on execution - which, essentially is - the art of concentration.

Performance Management and Six Disciplines

Most new business improvement methodologies typically begin with misunderstandings about what they are and are not. Performance management, as a buzzword, has many misconceptions, but it boils down to three issues:

  • What it should be called,
  • What and how broad it is, and
  • What it does

The media refer to it as business performance management (BPM), corporate performance management (CPM) - even enterprise performance management (EPM). Let's simplify it - call it performance management.

Performance management includes, but goes beyond individual performance, and encompasses group or organizational performance. Think of performance management as an umbrella concept that integrates multiple business improvement methodologies often pursued by organizations. The problem is these initiatives and methodologies are typically implemented in isolation from each other.

BOTTOMLINE: To solve this problem, the Six Disciplines Methodology integrates the top 20% of best-practices from the tenets of strategic planning, quality management, organizational learning, business process automation, people performance management and measure-driven improvement. What makes it systematic is the integration of existing business improvement methodologies that most business owners and team members are already familiar with. What makes it practical is the Six Disciplines activity management system - that employees use from their desktop every day - to keep their daily activities aligned with the organization's strategy.

From this definition - Six Disciplines is a performance management methodology - and a whole lot more.

(Thanks to Gary Cokins at SAS for this one)

Maximum Engagement for Superior Workforce Performance

"In a nutshell, workplace engagement and commitment are at an all-time low."

That's the assessment of Dean Robb, Ph.D, who published the article ""Inside-Out" Alignment: Maximum Engagement for Superior Performance" in CEO Refresher.

Some interesting research by Harris Interactive Inc., focusing on the issue of workplace engagement. The survey produced a few key findings:

  • Only 20% of workers feel very passionate about their jobs
  • Less than 15% feel strongly energized by their work
  • Only 31% (strongly or moderately) believe that their employer inspires the best in them.

Other findings:

  • More than 33% of managers do not care about the fate of their organization.
  • More than 25% of managers surveyed do not agree that their organizations inspire the best in them, or are unwilling to promote their organization as being a great place to work.

BOTTOMLINE: "This represents a crisis as the accelerating pace of global competition acts to create an entirely new market space that is forcing businesses to elicit maximum workforce performance, creativity and innovation. But sustaining that kind of sustainable workforce excellence can only happen where very high levels of workplace engagement and commitment are the norm. "

Friday, May 18, 2007

Six Disciplines On Entrepreneur Franchise Radio

Listen to Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines, LLC as he describes the franchise opportunity for the premiere business coaching franchise, Six Disciplines Leadership Centers on Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise Show.

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers are a new class of business services franchise that transforms business coaching to the next level.

Six Disciplines integrates a systematic business-building methodology based on proven best practices with practical activity alignment software and local coaching and strategic advisory services, to help the best performing organizations to achieve lasting business excellence.

During the interview, Harpst also covers what are the biggest challenges that businesses face and what to do about them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Podcast: Disciplines I and II

In this second podcast interview of the series on Six Disciplines with host Zane Safrit, CEO Gary Harpst discusses the importance of the first 2 Disciplines in building a small business that can learn, lead and last.

Harpst shares his own personal stories as well as the examples of Dell Computers and Starbucks and Krispy Kreme and Conference Calls Unlimited to illustrate why these disciplines are critical and the steps needed to achieve them.

You can RSS subscribe to the entire podcast series here.

Six Disciplines Featured in Carnival of Small Business Issues 2

Six Disciplines is featured in the Operations section of the Carnival of Small Business Issues, Edition 2, hosted by Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog.

Check out all the great small business posts, including other operational, marketing and financial issues.

How To Re-Engage Your Employees

From Harvard Management Update, comes "Why Your Employees Are Losing Motivation."

"Business literature is packed with advice about worker motivation—but sometimes managers are the problem, not the inspiration. To maintain the enthusiasm employees bring to their jobs initially, management must understand the three sets of goals that the great majority of workers seek from their work—and then satisfy those goals:"

  1. Equity: To be respected and to be treated fairly in areas such as pay, benefits, and job security.
  2. Achievement: To be proud of one's job, accomplishments, and employer.
  3. Camaraderie: To have good, productive relationships with fellow employees

BOTTOMLINE: When handled properly, each of the following eight practices will play a key role in supporting your employees' goals for achievement, equity, and camaraderie, and will enable them to retain the enthusiasm they brought to their roles in the first place.

  1. Instill an inspiring purpose
  2. Provide recognition
  3. Be an expediter for your employees
  4. Coach your employees for improvement
  5. Communicate fully
  6. Face up to poor performance
  7. Promote teamwork
  8. Listen and involve

Introducing Organizational Change

When introducing any kind of business improvement process, companies go through an upheaval referred to as "organizational change."

Here are some interesting facts about organizational change, from the research specialists at Prosci.

  • The #1 contributor to organizational change success is active, strong and visible sponsorship throughout the project.
  • The top obstacles to successful change are employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior managers and inadequate senior management sponsorship.
    Employees want to hear messages about change from two people: the CEO and their immediate supervisor - the message they want to hear from each individual is very different.
  • When asked what they would do differently next time, most teams would dedicate resources to change management.
  • The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change.

Organizational change is the implementation of new procedures or technologies intended to realign an organization with the changing demands of its business environment, or to capitalize on business opportunities.

BOTTOMLINE: Most organizations say their most important assets are their people, but few behave as if this were true. Organizations don't adapt to change; their people do. And the reason people resist change is because they like to have their expectations met and what they perceive as change often comes in the form of inconsistency.

What Keeps Business Leaders Up At Night?

In a recent survey by Accenture, senior executives were asked about their top 10 business issues:

  1. 35% said attracting and retaining skilled staff
  2. 35% said developing new processes and products to stay ahead of the competition
  3. 33% said changing organizational culture and employee attitudes
  4. 32% said attracting new customers
  5. 29% said increasing customer loyalty and retention
  6. 29% said managing risk
  7. 28% said improving workforce performance
  8. 27% said increasing shareholder value
  9. 26% said using IT to reduce costs and create value
  10. 26% said being flexible and adaptable to rapidly changing market conditions

BOTTOMLINE: Interestingly enough, those issues underlined above have also been indicated in other studies as the factors that significantly differentiate high-performing organizations from lower-performing organizations.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Small Business Advantages - Part II

Zane Safrit, CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited, and one of the best small business/CEO bloggers in his own right, talks about Small Business Advantages, from his conversations with Gary Harpst, author and CEO of Six Disciplines, LLC.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Center for Workplace Excellence Reviews Six Disciplines

Dan Bobinski is the CEO and director of the Center for Workplace Excellence. He's been consulting on management and leadership issues for more than 18 years, working with the entire spectrum of business—from small regional concerns to companies in the Fortune 500.

Much of his work has been with leadership and management teams, enhancing and refining their thinking processes and tools to move them from surviving to thriving. Over the years, he's honed his programs to provide the best and most essential components. After working with hundreds of businesses, he's seen, heard, and read a lot. Simply put, Dan knows more than a thing or two about management, business improvement and excellence.

His overall impressions of Six Disciplines for Excellence?

"So with that background, Six Disciplines for Excellence has my full and complete endorsement. It’s probably the best book I’ve come across for building a sound and thriving business."

"I’m very glad I was asked to read it–it’s awesome. Everyone in leadership should read it."

"Perhaps it’s best to consider Six Disciplines a workbook (and it’s probably the best business-building workbook I’ve seen). In my opinion, many larger organizations would benefit from reading it, too. It’s not only easy to read, it outlines of the key steps for success that I taught for years in my management development programs—and more—all in a very well-organized fashion."

"Read it and you’ll be enlightened."

Wow! We're humbled. Thank you, Dan!

Check out his blog, and his contributions to Management-Issues here.

Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead

Well-defined goals are among the most powerful and effective communication tools available to any business leader -- yet most leaders don't know how to set goals that lead their people in the right direction.

The goal statements produced take into account past experiences, including previous measures and goals, as well as misalignments of activities and people (organizational mismatches).

The result of Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead is a brief company goals statement that every team member can understand.

Watch this streaming video of Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead.

(NOTE: Video is in Windows Media Format )

Lean and Personal Productivity

Toyota, the shining example of lean today, offers excellent insights and a guide toward improving personal productivity.

In a LifeHack article entitled "What Toyota Can Teach You about Personal Productivity," authors Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa offer these tips:

  • Create manual systems first, then use technology as a tool to assist the process.
  • Create an environment where constant learning occurs.
  • Eliminate – don’t just reduce waste.
  • Build quality into everything. Aim for “great” rather than just “good enough” wherever there is opportunity to do so.
  • Create systems to respect and treat partners well.
  • Work with others but maintain core competencies. Do not outsource the important decisions.
  • Chose friends and associates carefully.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Discipline IV. Work The Plan

Discipline IV. Work The Plan. This is where all the other disciplines come together and the work gets done. This is where people learn how to develop plans, take responsibility for executing them and learn how to coordinate with others and self-manage. It's where people learn to be accountable.

Constructive accountability is developed while learning this discipline, which provides the focus needed to keep the "urgent" tasks from overriding the "most important" tasks.

This is the essence of what Six Disciplines is all about. It's not some short-term fad that quickly fades; rather, it's about learning how to do on a day-to-day basis the things required to build sustainable leadership in your chosen area. It's all about learning how to work on the business -- to be great at executing plans, whatever they may be. And indeed, the results are transforming!
BOTTOMLINE: The result is an organization that has the most vital core competence of all - the ability to execute its strategy, to be excellent.

Six Disciplines Leadership Center Franchise Expands in Ohio

Acquisition, expansion offer companies business excellence development throughout state

FINDLAY, OHIO, May 14, 2007 — Six Disciplines Ohio Group, a newly established multi-unit franchise organization, today announced plans to extend the reach of Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchises throughout Ohio by acquiring existing centers in Cleveland and Cincinnati. In addition, the group plans to enter the Columbus market by opening a center there.

The Findlay, Ohio-based Ohio Group, led by Eric Kurjan, is acquiring the centers from the YHY Group. The agreement calls for completion of the transaction by May 31, 2007. Companies that adopt the Six Disciplines™ program will now receive a wide range of business improvement services from a single source.

Six Disciplines offers a unique program that encompasses four elements for long-term success: business-building methodology; continuous accountability coaching; activity management software that inspires individual and team accountability; and the formation of a shared learning community. The program is delivered to small and mid-sized businesses through Six Disciplines Leadership Centers, a nationwide franchise network of accountability coaches who provide ongoing support, mentoring and training for continual improvement.

“With a successful Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchise already operating in Northwest Ohio, we’re pleased to announce plans to broaden our reach throughout Ohio,” said Kurjan, owner of the Ohio Group and president of the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Northwest Ohio. “There are significant advantages of bringing all of the Ohio Leadership Centers under a single banner. We will be able to improve our services and create a more consistent delivery model for our clients. In addition, we’re beginning to develop plans to expand into the Columbus market,” added Kurjan.

“We see this as another step in building a nationwide network of Six Disciplines Leadership Centers to help organizations plan and execute better,” said Gary Harpst, founder and CEO of Six Disciplines, LLC. “We are eager to work with Eric and his team to develop the first multi-unit, statewide operation of Six Disciplines Leadership Centers, paving the way for future multi-unit arrangements around the country.”

“With this transfer, YHY Group, Inc. is now positioned to focus its efforts on growing their Systems Group Technologies LLC division,” said Mike Yammine, Chief Technology Officer of YHY Group, Inc. Systems Group Technologies is an integrator for ICONICS automation solutions and specializes in Industrial Automation Software and Hardware solutions. “We are in discussions with Six Disciplines, LLC to implement our Iconics BizViz™ suite of industrial and business intelligence products, which bridge the gap between industrial and business information systems. This is a component which can provide “real-time” data helping clients achieve Operational Excellence and coupled with the Six Disciplines Business System will enable organizations to achieve overall Business Excellence.”

About Six Disciplines
Six Disciplines, LLC, founded in 2000, has developed the first sustainable business excellence program – optimized for execution – specifically for small and mid-sized businesses. The Six Disciplines program integrates a proven, best-practices methodology, local accountability coaching, an innovative activity management system, and a shared learning community to enable sustainable business excellence. The Six Disciplines program is offered exclusively through Six Disciplines Leadership Centers, an award-winning network of independently owned and operated franchises that provide accountability coaching, activity management systems and total organizational engagement services for small and mid-sized businesses. The breakthrough methods for planning and executing more effectively are revealed in the top-rated book “Six Disciplines for Excellence: Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last,” by Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst. Visit Six Disciplines on the web at

The Importance of Project Management To Execution

Management-Issues reports on recent study by Boston-based Novations Group, who asked 2,000 senior HR and training and development executives across the U.S. about their experience with major projects and how well – or badly – they are executed.

Their findings? A glaring absence of project management discipline means that just:

  • Only 35 percent felt that their organization normally managed to execute projects effectively
  • 40 percent said that they sometimes experienced delays and cost overruns, while a quarter admitted that such problems were frequent
The primary causes for missed deadlines and overruns?

  • Two-thirds of those surveyed put them down to having inadequate time and resources, while half said that their organizations lacked any project management discipline.
BOTTOMLINE: "Wise organizations make project management capabilities a priority and take pains to be certain the training and methodology are in place. But many companies have to learn the hard way, and that's no longer excusable now that the stakes have gotten so high."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Conference Calls Unlimited Starts Podcast Series About Six Disciplines

Zane Safrit, CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited, has started what may be a six-part podcast interview series about Six Disciplines.

In the podcast interviews, Zane talks with Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst, who walks listeners through the concepts and principles behind his top-rated business improvement book "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

The significance of these interviews is that you're listening to two small business veteran CEOs who are exchanging their thoughts and concepts about business excellence, learning, leading and lasting.

Learn more about Zane's interview series -- and listen to the first podcast: "An Introduction to Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Six Steps to Accountable Employees

"Accountability" is one of the most searched topics here at Be Excellent.

Here are six "SIMPLE" steps toward building accountability within your organization. Each principle builds on the previous one:

S = Set Expectations
I = Invite Commitment
M = Measure Results
P = Provide Feedback
L = Link to Consequences
E = Evaluate Effectiveness

(SOURCE: Keeping Employees Accountable for Results: Quick Tips for Busy Managers (AMACOM, 2006)

Vision and Meaning: A Foundation for Excellence

"Vision Without Action...Is Just a Dream.
Action Without Vision...Just Passes the Time.
But, Vision and Action...Can Change the World."
Joel Barker

Creating Vision

In examining the relationship between corporate vision, individual purpose, and meaning, the ongoing task of executive organizational leadership is to articulate and nurture a shared vision that engages and empowers individuals in order to bring out the best in people.

This does not mean that vision creation is the sole responsibility of the CEO or even a small group of senior managers. Many executives mistakenly think they must come up with a vision that others will follow. However, the opposite is true. In fact, successful companies have found that the broader the participation in creating a vision, the greater the commitment people will have to it.

A simple adage to remember this concept is: people will support that which they help to create.

BOTTOMLINE: The cornerstone of a corporate vision is a clear image of how you will satisfy some important customer need. It is crucial that this image be created from what customers perceive to satisfy their needs not what you think will satisfy them. This requires individuals and organizations to interact extensively with their customers in order to perceive the world from the customers perspective.

Discovering The Root Cause

Here is a link to NDMA's Interactive Tool: Symptoms-to-Root-Causes Expert System -- a tool to help diagnose the root causes of leadership concerns.

This expert system helps executives diagnose the root causes of their organizational concerns. It is based on NDMA's decades of research on the systems within organizations.

Beginning with a symptom (such as dissatisfied clients or unhappy employees), you can "drill down" through a series of successively more specific symptoms until you find a suspected root cause -- a systemic dysfunction within the organization.

BOTTOMLINE: Try it out yourself

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Six Advantages of Small Businesses

Those of you who have worked in both small and large organizations have a much better appreciation for how fundamentally different large companies are from small ones.

Here's a quick review of six key advantages of small businesses:

  1. Connecting People To Purpose
  2. Effective Communications
  3. Timely Decision-Making
  4. Customer Intimacy
  5. Attracting Team Members
  6. Leveraging Advantages

Focusing On The Essentials

Leo Babauta blogs regularly about achieving goals and becoming productive through daily habits on Zen Habits.

His latest entry "Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials" , published over at a very useful productivity blog, is a lesson in simplifying your approach to getting things done.

Check out Leo's 10 simple ways to be more productive with less effort.

Set Goals That Lead - A Video

The purpose of Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead, is to help organizations formulate goals and initiatives that lead people to take action that's aligned with what's most important to the organization.

To be complete, goals must include:

  • A VFO (vital few objective) like "grow sales"
  • A measure that indicates how to track progress against the VFO (like revenue growth per customer)
  • A target that quantifies the measure (like 10%)
  • A target date that indicates the deadline for achieving the target

Watch this short streaming video about Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead, produced by the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central Indiana.

Introductory Video About Six Disciplines

Watch this short streaming video about Six Disciplines, produced by the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central Indiana, located in Indianapolis.

The video intoduces Discipline I. Decide What's Important, and features Chip McLean, General Manager of the Indy Center, and members of the Six Disciplines LLC management team.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Two Word Strategy Exercise in Action

Bill Harris founded Facilitated Systems in 1999 to help people by helping the organizations in which they spend so much of their time. He uses a number of approaches to help them make sense of the puzzles and problems organizations face.

At his Making Sense With Facilitated Systems blog, Bill posts about his experience with the Six Disciplines "two-word strategy" exercise.

Understanding Your Competive Edge

MarketingProfs features a spotlight from Be Excellent on Understanding Your Competive Edge in their thrice-weekly newsletter geared to small business.

The newsletter archive called "Get to the Point" located here lists many great small business secrets you can learn in 60 seconds or less.

(MarketingProfs, by the way, is one of the top marketing blogs - period. Since most small businesses need marketing advice and expertise, a subscription to MarketingProfs is one of the best ways to get the expertise you need in-house.)

CEO Describes The Benefits of Adopting Six Disciplines

Watch Doug Peters, CEO of GreaterFindlayInc. discuss how Six Disciplines is helping his organization develop and execute a strategy that fulfills their mission to make Findlay, Ohio one of the best micropolitan communities in the United States.

The Power of The Six Disciplines 100-Point Exercise

The essence of strategy formulation is making difficult trade-off decisions - saying "yes" to a few things (choices of what to do), and saying "no" to other things (choices of what not to do).

Our Six Disciplines Leadership Centers teach our clients how to use an innovative exercise called the "100 Point Exercise."

The purpose of the 100-Point exercise is to help a group of people use their individual judgment to prioritize choices, and then aggregate those individual judgments into a group perspective.

The exercise is particularly useful whenever you are trying to get consensus about "deciding what's important."

The benefit of the Six Disciplines 100-Point Exercise is that it can bring order to a familiar process (getting consensus) - and it saves an incredible amount of time.

Here's how it works:

  • Brainstorm on ideas on a given issue. (In the example below, we look at renewing the Mission Statement of the company with the company leadership team)
  • Each team member has 100 points to "vote" with, and in this case, cannot vote for any item with less than 10 points.
  • Tally each individual's scores and review the distribution of points.
  • Encourage each person to articulate why they voted as they did
  • To get closer consensus, repeat the process. Almost inevitably, scores with become closer in range the second time through

This process works well on paper, but comes to life within the Six Disciplines System, as the exercise is automated and automatically updated as each person casts their votes, and results can be displayed in descending order, based on the highest-lowest scores for easy analysis.

BOTTOMLINE: The power of the Six Disciplines 100-Point Exercise is that it can (and should!) be used regularly throughout your business in such situations as:

  • Brainstorming
  • SWOT analyses
  • Renewing mission, vision, values and strategic position
Read the complete explanation of the Six Disciplines 100-Point Exercise in Chapter 8, Discipline V: Innovate Purposefully, in the top-rated book "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Entrepreneurial Passion

The results from OPEN Ages survey from OPEN from American Express®, a new survey examining the attitudes of Baby Boomer and Generation Y business owners, is now available.

The survey tapped on business owners from two generations:

  • Generation Y (ranging in age from 18-29)
  • Baby Boomers (ranging in age from 42-64)

Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • More Generation Y owners say 'having fun is a priority in my business' (75% Generation Y vs. 66% Baby Boomers)
  • Generation Y business owners are more likely to find it 'very difficult' to leave their work to go on vacation (39% vs. 26%)
  • They are also more likely to put in the long hours - 10 or more hours a day (66% Generation Y vs. 58% Baby Boomers)
  • Surprisingly, Boomers also report having more natural energy than their younger peers (60% vs. 50% Generation Y)
  • Despite Generation Y's perceived greater ease with technology-- two-thirds (66%) of Generation Y entrepreneurs consider themselves tech savvy compared to less than half (47%) of Baby Boomers--both age groups agree that experience trumps tech savvy in terms of business success.
  • Passion is the leading driver for both Generation Y and Baby Boomers in starting their businesses (55% Generation Y, 40% Baby Boomer)

BOTTOMLINE: Passion, rather than money, fuels the success and entrepreneurial drive of both generations, Generation Y and their parents' generation, the Baby Boomers.

Six Disciplines Podcasts at Small Business Trends Radio

Anita Campbell, over at Small Business Trends Radio has been a pioneer of small business podcasts for over 2 years.

Here are podcasts featuring Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines, LLC.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best Business Books of the Past 30 Years article " Novel Ideas" reveals their picks for the 9 best classic business books of the past 30 years--and why they're still relevant today.

For each book, the article describes

  • Why it mattered
  • Why it still matters
  • What to ignore
The books on the list include:

  • The One Minute Manager (HarperCollins, 1981) by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
  • Out of the Crisis (The MIT Press, 1982) by W. Edwards Deming
  • In Search of Excellence (HarperBusiness Essentials, 1982) by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman
  • Guerrilla Marketing (Houghton Mifflin, 1983) by Jay Conrad Levinson
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HarperBusiness, 1985) by Peter Drucker
  • The E-Myth (HarperBusiness, 1985) by Michael Gerber
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Free Press, 1989) by Stephen Covey
  • Reengineering the Corporation (HarperBusiness, 1993) by Michael Hammer and James Champy
  • Built to Last (HarperCollins, 1994) by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

BOTTOMLINE: Interestingly enough, as a extensive compilation of business best practices, the top-rated business improvement book Six Disciplines for Excellence by CEO and founder Gary Harpst, refers to 7 of these 9 books (or to their authors).

33 Ways To Boost Your Productivity

Steve Pavlina, a well-respected productivity guru in his own right, has just published his 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity - a great list for all of you GTD'ers out there.

BOTTOMLINE: Remember - the end game is not just to "get things done." It's to get the right things done.

Eliminating Procrastination

Procrastination - putting off what you really should be doing - until later.

If you're not familiar with wikis, I encourage you to go to this one, which includes a very comprehensive discussion and "how-to" section on overcoming and eliminating procrastination.

The premise?

"One would think that the solution to procrastination (not doing it) is its exact opposite: doing it! That the cure is doing the very thing it is that is being avoided. Well it is, and then some. Since procrastination is the cause of not doing (rather than merely the lack of action), simply doing that which is being procrastinated may not be psychologically possible while the mental obstacle or technical problem causing the procrastination is in place."

BOTTOMLINE: "In essence, procrastination is a form of incompetence. To cure it is to eliminate it. Since incompetence is the opposite or lack of competence, the only way to eliminate it is to replace it with competence." Just DO It.

The Importance of Succession Planning

Why consider succession planning?

Succession planning refers to the ongoing development of potential successors to ensure a smooth transition and minimum loss of efficiency when management vacancies occur.

Whether one calls it succession planning or something else, it makes good business sense for each team leader to continually develop one or more potential successors. No one is indispensable, but the absence or loss of a team member can cause inconvenience that could readily be avoided with some forethought to serious employee development.

BOTTOMLINE: Planning for how your shoes will be filled when you are no longer there and even planning for knowledgeable coverage when you are ill or vacationing simply makes good sense. It pays to regard succession planning as part of every team leader's job.

CEO Peer Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

As a result of the launch of the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Central West Florida, Rolfe Arnhym, Chairman of Tampa’s Vistage CEO peer group (formerly TEC -The Executive Committee), read Six Disciplines for Excellence, by CEO and founder Gary Harpst.

Here's Rolfe's review of Six Disciplines for Excellence:

"I make it a point to read one professional book per month. Of the many books that wind up on my desk the trick is to ask myself, which one should I read? Two words caught my eye when I saw this book by Gary Harpst: DISCIPLINE AND EXCELLENCE.

Discipline is a given if goals are to be met and/or exceeded. Excellence should be at the core of all that we do. Six Disciplines for Excellence is a road map that focuses on the "how to".

The target is the small business owner/CEO., the vehicle is best practices. The book is unique in that the disciplines recognize the role that the Internet plays in aligning employees/team members with the business plan and company goals. It also recognizes that the small business is just that--it does not have a line of Vice Presidents, each with his/her core area of expertise and a department behind them.

The author has done an excellent job of developing a roadmap without ignoring the fact that leading a growing small business is a process and not for the weak. Fortunately he provides "hints and tips" along the way for those that forget they should be working "on" and not "in" the business. Put another way, "it’s easier if I do it". This is where, as the author suggests, trust comes into play.

Well done, must read, learning experience!"