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Friday, September 28, 2007

Execution Is All That Matters

Serial entrepreneur Wil Schroter brings this article on "You can’t protect a good idea" - and it all comes down to EXECUTION.

While great companies can benefit from good ideas, they require superior execution.

Wil's advice:

  • There's a simple and effective way to protect your idea from the world -- focus on actually executing on the business plan. It’s rare that a company loses to its competitors because they “stole the idea” and somehow instantly created a huge company with it.
  • If your idea is good, it will be stolen.
  • If your idea has a "secret sauce" - simply explain what the product does, not how it does it.

BOTTOMLINE: "A good entrepreneur believes not only in themselves, but also in their ability to execute better than anyone else to turn the smart idea into a great company. Ideas are a dime a dozen -- execution is ultimately what matters."

New Six Disciplines Web Site

Check out the newly revamped web site for Six Disciplines!

While you're there, make sure to view some of the Customer Stories, and see for yourself why a growing number of already successful organizations are adopting the Six Disciplines program for enduring business excellence.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Leadership: It's Not About You

The minute you transform from being a task-oriented professional to being a manager of people, it stops being about your individual talents, your successes, and starts being all about coaching, motivating, teaching, supporting, removing roadblocks, and finding resources for your employees.

At that point, leadership is not about you. It’s about the people who work for you.

Leadership is about celebrating their victories and rewarding them; helping them analyze when things don’t go to plan.

Read all about it from this article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Are You Ready for Change?

For most business book readers, the concept of change is intriguing, even attractive. At least the concepts must hold some interest for you.

The most important question to ask yourself is "How ready are you -- and your organization - for this type of challenge?"

Here's a simple checklist of things to think through to gauge your readiness:

  • Is there a hunger for quality, excellence and continual improvement?
  • Do you "get" the difference between working on your business - and working in your business?
  • Is your organization of sufficient size to understand the challenges that growth brings?
  • Does your organization have a high trust culture?
  • Is your business stable - decent balance sheet, not running from one crisis to another?
  • Does your organization use technology effectively - and strategically?
  • Do you value the advice from outside experts?

BOTTOMLINE: If you're ready for change, contact a Six Disciplines Center near you. By adopting the Six Disciplines business excellence program, you'll transform your organization into a place where the leadership team becomes expert at setting the vision for the company and engaging people in the pursuit of that vision.

Emory University Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

The Goizueta Business School of Emory University, in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has published their review of "Six Disciplines for Excellence."

Some excerpts:

"Six Disciplines is clearly, concisely and engagingly written. Its ideas are not new, but they are not meant to be."

" Harpst has distilled the best advice he’s found in popular business books that promote strategic thinking by business leaders, and has created clusters of routine activities, or disciplines, for leaders to follow. The goal: Turn strategic thinking into strategic action."

Read their entire review here. (ID and password required)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ready for Q4?

Q3 is almost over.....

Did you meet your quarterly goals?

Are you still on track to meet your annual goals?

James Sagar over at Marketing M.O. provides a great list of things to do (even if you're not in marketing!)

BOTTOMLINE: If you were working from an Individual Plan (IP) as described in Discipline IV. Work the Plan, you'd know exactly where you were toward meeting your goals.

What Differentiates Growth Champions From The Rest

The Mercer Delta Consulting firm looked at the 10 practices that statistically differentiated "growth champions" from all other companies.

It found that growth champions:

(For the sake of continuity, the appropriate discipline from Six Disciplines for Excellence has been inserted)

  • Were very clear about their markets or businesses and where growth will come from. (Discipline I-C Renew Strategic Position)
  • Articulated clear profit models that were well understood by managers and focused the whole business on a few initiatives. (Discipline I-E Define Vital Few Objectives)
  • Engaged in the disciplined execution of growth initiatives at all levels of the organization and translated customer insights into new offerings and/or business improvements.
  • Maintained strong metrics/feedback to identify what was or wasn't working. (Discipline IV-E Monitor Measures)
  • Made effective trade-off decisions about which opportunities to invest in (Discipline V - Innovate Purposefully)
  • Ensured there was sustained alignment of their leaders and actions to support growth strategies (Discipline III-F Align People)
  • Built on their leaders' capabilities to grow the company from within (Discipline VI-D Review Individuals)

BOTTOMLINE: What set growth champions apart was their ability to implement (execute) these business practices in conjunction with one another and to pursue the practices with a greater level of intensity. The growth champions implement these key practices in a systematic way.

(Thanks to our friends at Management-Issues for the tip)

Friday, September 21, 2007

What Are Six Disciplines Clients Looking To Solve - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "What Are Six Disciplines Clients Looking to Solve?"

During the interview, Harpst talks about the challenges that companies have as they decide to adopt the Six Disciplines business excellence program.

Who Is Six Disciplines For - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "Who are the Customers for Six Disciplines?"

During the interview, Harpst talks about the kinds of organizations that are ready and able to adopt the Six Disciplines business excellence program.

Management Training and Leadership Development

Most American businesses don't understand the difference between management training and leadership development, and wrongly believe the answer to middle manager shortages is simply to throw money at the problem.

As reported by Management-Issues, a recent Bersin study found that more than half of American businesses say they are facing leadership shortages, primarily at the mid-management and director level -- yet often do not know what to do about it.

Other findings:

  • Four out of 10 firms put leadership development programs in place simply because they are desperate to plug this shortage of internal leadership candidates.
  • The best leadership programs need to be guided right from the top and not solely led by the training and development side of the business.

Bersin found that most organisations still confuse management training with leadership development. More than a third of companies outsourced at least half of the content of their leadership development programs. Just over a tenth – 13 per cent – kept all their programs in-house.

BOTTOMLINE: There is a big difference between management training and leadership development. "To be successful, the best leadership programs need to be guided right from the top and not solely led by the training and development side of the business. Successful initiatives must have strong internal executive sponsorship and engagement."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gary Harpst Speaks on High Performing Organizations

Gary Harpst, founder and CEO of Six Disciplines, LLC, recently spoke to the Toledo Area Small Business Association (TASBA), on the topic of "Five Secrets of High Performing Organizations."

Thanks go to WTVG-Channel 13 Toledo (an ABC affiliate) which covered the event.

Here's a quick look at the event from their perspective.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How is Six Disciplines Delivered - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "How is the Six Disciplines program delivered?"

During the interview, Harpst talks about the delivery of the Six Disciplines program through a growing nationwide network of local business excellence centers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

CEO Confidence Hits All-Time Low

According to a Q3 2007 Vistage CEO Confidence Index by Vistage International, CEO confidence has hit an all time low since their research began in 2003.

Key findings:

  • Chief executives of small- and mid-sized businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about the turmoil in financial markets and the effects it may have on their businesses.
  • The concern is not only about the economy, but also about the availability and cost of credit to their companies.
  • Because of this, executives plan to put some of their planned investments on hold for the remainder of the year.
  • One-third of all firms noted finding and retaining qualified staff is still the most significant problem they face.

BOTTOMLINE: Overall, the survey indicates business leaders expect a slowdown, but not a turndown in the economy. Companies still expect strong growth in their revenues, and have no plans to cut payroll. Just like the prior quarter, recruiting and retaining talent is the most important challenge executives face, although uncertainty about the economy may also slow hiring.

What Makes Six Disciplines Different - Video

Watch this short video as Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst explains "What Makes Six Disciplines Different?"

During the interview, Harpst refers to other improvement programs (Covey, Baldrige, Six Sigma) and how Six Disciplines differs from the rest.

What Is Six Disciplines - Video

Watch this short video with Six Disciplines CEO and founder Gary Harpst, as he describes "What Is Six Disciplines?"

Succession Planning And The Aging Workforce

The times they are a changin'.....and it's looking like "60 is the new 30."

  • According to data released by the Census Bureau, almost 1 in 4 people between the ages of 65 and 74 nationally - 23 percent - were still in the labor force in 2006, up from close to 1 in 5 at the beginning of the decade.

The good news?

  • People are healthier, they want to remain engaged in the community, and they find fulfillment through employment.

The bad news?

  • There are people who don't have the financial resources to live without working, and they need the supplemental income to make ends meet.

Actually a third factor is at work: the growing talent shortage in the United States (and other countries too).

  • 70 million Boomers will reach "retirement" age in the next five years - and the numbers coming up behind them are much, much smaller.

Companies are more than willing to keep older workers employed for the simple reason that there aren't enough younger people to replace them.

BOTTOMLINE: Succession planning should be part of your annual strategic plan - and not just at the CEO level -- but all levels within your organization. Blending succession planning with a touch of contingency planning will enable your company to weather the coming aging workforce challanges.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Symphony-Business Analogy

As one of the top ensembles in classical music, the Medici String Quartet has enjoyed a long and creative collaboration. But it hasn't always been harmonious.

Harvard Business School professor Robert Austin explains what innovative businesses can learn about managing creative people.

Key concepts covered:

  • Businesses emphasize technical mastery and the creation of predictable patterns. The Medici String Quartet aimed for more. The goal of each performance was never to render a piece exactly as the composer intended, but to interpret it in fresh and new ways.
  • Financial pressures for the quartet could be intense. Among musicians, it's an old (but good) joke: How do you become a millionaire as a classical musician? Start as a billionaire.
  • Businesses enjoy the notion that innovation happens when everyone is happy and satisfied. As the quartet proved, harmony comes in unexpected ways.

BOTTOMLINE: The challenge of executing strategy sneaks up on us. In some ways, when we first start a business, there’s a kind of simplicity. It’s sort of like an individual whistling a simple tune he’s made up in his own head. As the business grows bigger and more complex, however, this person’s simple tune gradually transforms into a “symphony,” requiring an orchestra to play it and a conductor to lead it.

Unfortunately, many of us are caught trying harder and harder to “whistle a symphony” when we should really be building an orchestra.

An orchestra is a complex system made up of many different parts, all of which have to be aligned so their tempo, mix and volume all synchronize around the composer’s music and the conductor’s leadership. A business is an even more complex system. Continuing the analogy of a symphony, in Disciplines I and II we’ve written the composition we want to play (goals statement). Discipline IV—Work the Plan (coming up in the next chapter) focuses on actually playing the music. However, the purpose of this chapter’s Discipline (Discipline III—Align Systems) is to make sure we have the right “types” and number of instruments, the right musicians, the correct floor layout, sound systems, electrical services, music stands and
copies of the music before rehearsal starts.

Interest Grows in Workforce Performance Management

Aging workforce dilemma...challenges with knowledge transfer....lack of workforce engagement and accountability.

These issues are helping to grow interest in workforce performance management software.

In a report last year, IDC forecasted that worldwide spending for workforce performance management software and services would grow at an annual rate of 16.3 percent between 2006 and 2010.

BOTTOMLINE: The Six Disciplines System provides a holistic approach to workforce performance management - specifically for small and mid-sized businesses. The system helps organizations learn how to do strategic planning, goal setting, alignment of resources, initiative and project management, daily activity alignment, execution of plans, idea and innovation management, performance reviews and succession planning. In conjunction with the Six Disciplines Methodology, and local coaching, the Six Disciplines System supports workforce performance management for the entire organization.

Aligning Recognition With Strategy Execution

According to a recent article in Human Capital Management Magazine:

"A major new trend will affect corporate recognition in 2006 and beyond: aligning recognition practices with strategy execution."

In a recent survey, CEOs across America were asked to list their top 10 challenges for 2006. In response, these CEOs answered that sustained, steady top-line growth and profit growth were the two most important challenges.

No surprise.

But it may surprise you to know that No. 3 on the list is “consistent execution of strategy by top management.”

Intensifying market pressures are requiring companies to make very deliberate strategic choices about what they will be become. However, most organizations fail to implement their
strategy successfully.

Why? Because culture eats strategy for lunch.

Unless carefully cultivated, company culture is an underestimated force that will smother change efforts. If senior leaders are to be effective in driving strategic initiatives (change initiatives), they must engage their people."

BOTTOMLINE: "The the consistent results of successful companies are achieved through
thousands of small but significant actions."

Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead

No organization has the resources to do all things at once; goal setting by itself, it not enough.

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

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.

While working on Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead, organizations produce annual goals that are clear and measurable.

Pursuing these goals will lead the people in the organization to align their activities with the Vital Few Objectives set in Discipline I. Decide What's Important.

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

BOTTOMLINE: The result of Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead is a brief company goals statement that every team member can understand. There's no greater tool for improving the performance of an organization than setting well-thought-out goals -- it's one of the most effective communication tools of leadership. But it takes a long-term, disciplined approach for an organization to learn how to Set Goals That Lead.

On Discipline

Often we're asked: "Why did you call it Six Disciplines?"

To many, "discipline" has a negative connotation.

An article here helps to understand what discipline is all about:

"There’s something to this, I think. Although it was necessary for us as children to be disciplined by our parents, it was often negative. Most of the time for good reason and with love -- for our safety and general well-being."

"Gradually, our parents disciplined us less and less and we assumed more and more responsibility for ourselves. However, others took over our parents’ roles -- teachers, coaches, employers, et al. As a result, discipline as a matter of practice remains essentially an external control for many of us. Sometimes I think even our use of Day Timers and other such systems are as much an effort to provide discipline from outside ourselves as they are to remind us of meetings and tasks to be done."

"Time management is all about self-discipline. And self-discipline depends on saying "yes" to ourselves to accomplish what is important to us. So, spend some time determining how your work reinforces your personal values, create your goals on that foundation, and keep those goals fixed firmly before you."

BOTTOMLINE: And so it is in business. Six Disciplines is about learning how to continually improve processes that reinforce the organization's mission, vision and values. It's about deciding what's important, setting goals that lead, aligning people, processes and technologies to attain those goals, working the plan, innovating purposefully - then stepping back and repeating the process annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily.

Six Disciplines is a holistic business-building methodology than enables organizations to continually improve, to learn how to work ON their business rather than just IN it. Want to know more? Read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Management Tools for 2007

For the past fourteen years, strategy consulting firm Bain & Co. has been tracking the most popular management tools worldwide, including just about everything from strategic alliances to corporate blogs, and from benchmarking to offshoring.

This year's report outlines the major trends and examines some exotic newcomers.

In terms of the management tools used, here's what the top 15 look like for 2007:

  1. Strategic planning
  2. Customer relationship management
  3. Customer segmentation
  4. Benchmarking
  5. Mission and vision statements
  6. Core competencies
  7. Outsourcing
  8. Business process reengineering
  9. Scenario and contingency planning
  10. Knowledge management
  11. Strategic alliances
  12. Balanced scorecard
  13. Supply chain management
  14. Growth strategy tools
  15. Total quality management

New MP3 - What Are The Six Disciplines?

Listen to this MP3 as Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst describes the idea behind Six Disciplines, and as he describes each of the Six Disciplines:

Discipline I. Decide What's Important
Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead
Discipline III. Align Systems
Discipline IV. Work The Plan
Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully
Discipline VI. Step Back

Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

What's the difference between a satisfied and an engaged employee? Only everything, argues Globoforce, a Westborough, Mass., work force solutions company in this eWeek article.

Satisfaction is a measurement of the past; engagement is more future-looking.

Research to support this claim?

  • A recent study by the Corporate Leadership Council, a human resources research company, found that increased engagement could be the "tipping point" in retaining employees; in fact, increased engagement was found to lead to a 57 percent improvement in discretionary effort.
  • Furthermore, increased discretionary effort improved performance by 20 percent and reduced attrition by 87 percent.
  • Highly engaged organizations grew profits three times faster than their competitors.
BOTTOMLINE: "Beyond a lack of recognition, unclear demands had a significant impact on the engagement of employees. It's up to the manager to recover this discretionary work enthusiasm."

Aligning Technology To Business Strategy

Bain & Company recently released some very interesting research on IT spending.

Some highlights from Bain's research on over 450 publicly traded companies:
  • 85% of respondents characterized their IT operations as ineffective
  • Bain finds that nearly one-in-two IT projects are considered partial failures upon completion, having gone over budget, past deadline and/or with under-delivered features and functionality
  • Bain found companies whose IT operations were ‘effective’ though not aligned with business priorities grew ~10% more than average and spent over 15% less on IT
  • Companies that focused on strategic alignment at the expense of effective IT operations grew almost 10% less than average and spent over 8% more on IT
BOTTOMLINE: Bain's research shows that CIOs who focus on alignment before effectiveness spend more, and their companies grow less, than those who do not focus on alignment. The conventional wisdom about aligning IT to business doesn't mean much without operational excellence.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jim Symcox Reviews Six Disciplines for Excellence

Jim Symcox, a business coach, posts his review of Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Jim's assessment?

About the book's influences:

"The book’s title sounds a little like Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the author acknowledges that books help. He also acknowledges the book’s debt to others such as Michael Gerber and Peter Senge and I would say also to Edwards Deming the quality guru too. "

Jim's summary:

"Six Disciplines of Excellence is not just a book to read, place carefully in your bookshelf and forget. Gary Harpst has written it into a tool that any business can use to successfully grow bigger, more profitable and more consistent."

"Any smallish company of between one and a hundred people will definitely benefit from buying, studying and applying the Six Disciplines found in this book. Gary Harpst has taken strands of so many different methods for improving business and cooked them up to produce a recipe for building a better small business. If you’re a small company this book can get you well down the path to a better and more profitable company and improve your own personal growth."

"So go buy it from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA) or Amazon (Canada) and strike while the iron’s hot!"

We're humbled Jim - thank you!

Gary Harpst Speaks About Six Disciplines With

Six Disciplines offers the first enduring business excellence program, specifically designed for small and mid-sized businesses.

Six Disciplines is delivered through a growing network of local business excellence centers located throughout the U.S. The Six Disciplines Centers are independently owned and operated franchises, offering accountability coaching on the Six Disciplines Methodology, Six Disciplines System and value-added services.

Six Disciplines Franchising Corporation offers the opportunity for qualified professionals to own a Six Disciplines Center franchise.

Click here to listen to Gary Harpst, as he speaks about the Six Disciplines Franchise Opportunity with Franchise

Excellence Quotes for 9/11/07

On this, the sixth anniversary of 9/11, rather than taking a political stance, we'd prefer to take a proactive, positive stance to our world situation, and offer these quotes on excellence:

"The more we sympathize with excellence, the more we go out of self, the more we love, the broader and deeper is our personality." (Edwin Hubbell Chapin)

"What is excellent, As God lives, is permanent; Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain, Heart's love will meet thee again." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"Excellence, is never granted to man, but as the reward of labor." (Sir Joshua Reynolds)

"Those who attain any excellence commonly spend life in one common pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms." (Samuel Johnson)

"Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way." (Booker T. Washington)

"The noblest search is the search for excellence." (Lyndon Baines Johnson)

"The quest for excellence is a mark of maturity. The quest for power is childish." (Max Lucado)

"Excellence is best described as doing the right things right -- selecting the most important things to be done -- and then accomplishing them correctly, year after year." (Six Disciplines)

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Impact of Technology on Small Business Growth

Want to grow your small business? Growing your technology savvy is a good place to start, according to a survey of mid-size companies conducted by tech services firm CDW.

In fact, 48 percent of respondents to a recent survey by Baseline Magazine who described themselves as “total geeks” said their companies grew from startups to 100-employee businesses in five years or less.

BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines conducted similar research that supports this claim. High performing organizations give more emphasis (109 percent more!) than lower performing organizations to using technology to impact the business in strategic ways. Underlying this rating is the greater use of long-term technology plans aimed at delivering competitive advantage. Such organizations have developed a culture that figures out ways to deploy technology, not for technology's sake, but to better serve their strategy.

Succession Planning: Passing The Torch

According to this article in CareerJournal, giving up command is never easy. But it may prove especially difficult for the large number of retiring baby boomers, accustomed to working hard in a fast-paced economy.

Many aging presidents/CEOs choose to move on slowly, and want to do their part to ease the transition and shape their legacy.

Consider this:
  • More than half of the 50 coaches at Marshall Goldsmith Partners LLC are seeing increased demand from senior leaders for advice on a gradual transition at small employers as well as big, according to the coaching network.
BOTTOMLINE: Succession planning, while often thought of as a CEO-only planning process, needs to be considered for every key position within your firm. Make sure succession planning becomes an integral part of your strategic annual plan.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Reviewer Ranks Six Disciplines for Excellence In Top 5

Gary Tomlinson is president of Tomlinson & Associates, an organizational development firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gary has read Six Disciplines for Excellence, and posts his review here on

In a separate communication, Gary indicated to us:

My favorite five books are these:

1. Good to Great by Jim Collins
2. The E-Myth Manager by Michael Gerber
3. How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life by Michael LeBoeuf
4. The People Principle by Ron Willingham
5. Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary Harpst

I rank the “Six Disciplines for Excellence” right up there with the other four. In fact, I feel that Harpst's book is the first book I’ve read that takes the best education from the first four books and combines them into one book. As you can tell, I’m a fan of “Six Disciplines for Excellence.”

Thanks Gary!

What Makes Six Disciplines for Excellence Different?

What makes Six Disciplines for Excellence different from other business improvement books?

“Six Disciplines for Excellence is what the E-Myth Revisited wants to be when it grows up.” (David Rothacker, Rothacker Reviews)

”We interrupt our coverage of meaningless business books to review a book that made the cut: Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary Harpst.” (Ethan Johnson, The Vision Thing)

“How does his (Harpst’s) book differ from others which also discuss business improvement? First, [unlike most other books] which focus 80% on principles and 20% on implementation, this book's content is focused 20% on principles and 80% on implementation.” (Robert Morris, Top 10 Reviewer for

“Six Disciplines differs in that respect – it’s all about teaching a system of getting done the things that we all know need to be done.” (Bob Shuneman, Small Biz Matters)

“This is the type of book that each time you read it you’ll find new pearls of wisdom and – better yet – practical advice.” (Bob Schuneman, Small Biz Matters)

“What I found also fascinating is that the book was influenced by many people (the same people that I had read and liked the theories but didn't know how to act) including: Michael Porter (Competitive Strategy), Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Michael Gerber (The E Myth Revisited), Robert Kaplan and David Norton (Balanced Scorecard), Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline), and Jim Collins (Good to Great) to name a few. (Skip Angel, Random Thoughts of a CTO)

“This is a guidebook, with practical business advice, that if followed, will enhance your business and provide solutions to every day small business problems.” (Gary Whitehair, High Performance Business)

“Here’s what differentiates this book: it bridges concept and principles to execution.” (Sam Decker, Decker Marketing)

“But the book doesn't stop there! Therefore, there is also a Six Disciplines company that was established to help companies long-term get established and maintain using this methodology.” (Skip Angel, Random Thoughts of a CTO)

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

“Full of incredibly useful tools and charts -- all about how small businesses execute strategy.” (Anita Campbell, SMB Trend Wire)

“However, the power of this book is in how it integrates these time tested, common sense ideas into a useful whole.” (Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy)

“What makes this book unique, not to mention worthwhile? The book is filled with concrete examples, processes and checklists that will help a business owner in creating a successful business.” (Trevor Hall, Servant-Leadership Blog)

“I've read and participated in many 'best practice' methodologies over the years. Unfortunately most are skewed towards theory, with minimal attention to practice and implementation. Gary Harpst is the direct opposite.” (David Daniels, Business & Technology Reinvention)

“The approach is current and I love that it ties technology and systems with strategy. Most importantly this book is about execution.” (David Daniels, Business & Technology Reinvention)

”Overall, I found this book to be well-organized, yet a slow read because my brain kept exploding with ideas while reading selected units.” (Ethan Johnson, The Vision Thing)

”And that is indeed what sets this book apart from more typical business book fare: Gone are the grandiose declarations and cheeky labels.” (Ethan Johnson, The Vision Thing)

“Instead, this is meant to read more as a how-to manual. Not so much “read”, as “used.” (Ethan Johnson, The Vision Thing)

“Harpst's book is the first book I’ve read that takes the best education from (Good To Great, E-Myth Manager, others) and combines them into one book. As you can tell, I’m a fan of “Six Disciplines for Excellence.” (Gary Tomlinson, Tomlinson & Associates)

BOTTOMLINE: Read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Company Founders and Organizational Performance

USA Today posted an interesting article about how founder-led companies perform better than their non-founder-led counterparts, with a 15-year stock price appreciation of 970% vs. the S&P 500 average of 222%.

While most business leaders will not be surprised by this finding, it's a finding that has been of interest to the investment community.

What are the reasons?

  • Company founders have a deep, emotional, passionate connection to the business, which contibutes to them becoming great leaders
  • Company founders typically have deep industry knowledge
  • Company founders typically have risked a considerable amount, and have a large financial stake in the success of the business
  • Company founders tend to take the long-term view
  • Company founders tend to learn from their mistakes and rarely make the same mistakes twice

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Annual Planning To Improve Business Performance

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio are sponsoring an executive workshop for established businesses that are not satisfied with the status quo.

You will learn how to align your organization and your management team to develop a practical plan for improving your business, and more importantly, to execute it company-wide, every
month, quarter and year.

While many business leaders are successful at growing their businesses, they struggle to consistently deliver long-term results. This is symptomatic of a gap between a company’s annual plan and its execution.

When: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 8:00 a.m. - Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:30 to 11:30 a.m. - Seminar

Where: The Toledo Club, 235 14th Street, Toledo, OH 43604

Presenter: Scott Gray, Partner & Certified Business Coach, Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio

Guest Speaker: Brian Roth, President & CEO, TRUFAST, LLC

Cost: $50 for Chamber Members, $65 for Non-Members

To Register: Contact Marsha Schroeder, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, at 419-243-8191 ext 228 or - visit

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Six Disciplines Radio Interview With Eric Kurjan

Listen to this MP3 radio interview from WFIN Radio, as Eric Kurjan talks about Six Disciplines and what benefits it brings to his small and mid-sized business clients in Northwest Ohio.

Eric is the President of Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio, located in Findlay, OH.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Building An Enduring Organization

Thinking holistically about your business -- how to make all of its components, people, processes, policies, key measures, assets and strategies work together to meet the promises made to customers and other stakeholders in a repeatable and predictable fashion - is KEY to pursuing lasting business excellence.

Warning signs that prevent leaders from building an enduring organization include:

  • Critical business processes are missing or poorly defined (e.g., strategy, planning, measurement, execution, learning, leadership development, recruiting, training, etc.)
  • Processes aren't measured, so there's no way to evaluate the effectiveness of new ideas
  • Team members don't understand the measures that are critical to company performance - or their own
  • Trended data to support long-term learning are either absent or inadequate

Time Management and Execution

According to Rich Fredricksen, principal of the execution consulting firm, Paiva•Fredricksen Group:

“longer hours, constant connectivity, more meetings, multitasking, a 24/7 mentality and a global economy are making it more of a challenge for leaders to stay focused on strategy, much less execution which is the key to productivity.”


A Harvard Business Review article entitled “Beware the Busy Manager,” states up to 90% of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities, while only 10% spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner.

BOTTOMLINE: Some general guidelines for leaders looking to conquer the “busy manager” syndrome, according to Fredricksen are: “prioritize your work, simplify, work from detailed metrics, provide clarity, focus on execution, and think.”

Look for an in-depth discussion of both time management and execution in CEO's Gary Harpst's upcoming new book "Execution Revolution."