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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Seven Secrets To Success

Brian Tracy offers his "7 Secrets to Success " over at Entrepreneur Magazine:

  1. Clarity: You must be absolutely clear on who you are and what you want. You need written goals and plans for every part of your life.
  2. Competence: To be truly successful and happy, you must be very good at what you do.
  3. Constraints: Between you and your goal, whatever it is, there will always be a constraint or limiting factor.
  4. Creativity: The essence of successful business is innovation.
  5. Concentration: Your ability to concentrate single-mindedly on the most important thing and stay at it until it is complete.
  6. Courage: It takes tremendous courage to take the entrepreneurial risks necessary to become wealthy.
  7. Continuous Action: Perhaps the most outwardly identifiable quality of a successful person is that he or she is in continuous motion.

(Hat Tip to Dane Carlson at Business Opportunities Weblog)

Building Company-Wide Accountability

Speaking of the good things going on over at, I've authored an article entitled Building Company-Wide Accountability.

This site has top-notch "how-to" articles. Feel free to take a look.

What's Keeping You Up At Night?

According to the good folks at Warrillow, publishes a list of the top 20 most popular how to guides small business owners have downloaded.

The list paints a revealing picture of some of the operational issues small business customers are struggling with. These are all in the top 20:
  • Creating a Great Business Plan
  • Creating an Employee Manual
  • Employee Evaluation
  • Sample Business Plans

Check out the entire list here, to see that small businesses are focused on ‘nuts, bolts and tools'.

Think Clearly about Change

Talent Management has posted an article about the "busyness" of change initiatives.

Their premise:

"Busyness is the word of the day — we are all too busy! Too busy to attend important meetings, to think through key decisions, to keep others informed, to ask for input from stakeholders, to listen to the needs of our people, to think outside the box. This is not a pretty picture, yet it is epidemic in organizations."

  • Prolonged busyness carries a price. It unduly stresses people and — plain and simple — it leads to poor judgment, mistakes and sloppy work.
  • Change does create more work for people, and it does make them busier.

BOTTOMLINE: "There is much that can be done when planning change to improve its chance of success. The factors we listed earlier are a good place to begin. But even more important is to ensure and protect regular time to think clearly about how you lead your changes, what shows up that you did not expect and what you will need to do to adjust course so you can deliver your promised result. "

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SMART Goals - And Six Disciplines Individual Plans

One method for goal setting that has proven to be very successful (for both organizational and individual goals) is the SMART method.

The SMART method reinforces the need to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Recorded, and Timed.

BOTTOMLINE: When creating a Team Member's Individual Plan using the Six Disciplines Program, every goal and its deliverables are created by being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Recorded - and Timed.

Confessions of a Trusted (CEO) Counselor

Few roles in business are as unique, challenging, exciting, deeply rewarding and professionally exhilarating -- as that of advisor to the CEO.

According to this Harvard Business Review article, "CEOs sorely need close, long-term relationships with trusted professional advisors."

BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines Leadership Centers provide long-term, on-going business coaching and strategic advisory services to CEOs/presidents/leaders of top-performing organizations - and provide this needed role of trusted professional advisor to the CEO.

You Can’t Manage It If You Can’t Measure It

From NFIB, (The Voice of Small Business) comes a great article "You Can’t Manage It If You Can’t Measure It"

The article reinforces what the Six Disciplines Methodology articulates about measures, as described here in Six Disciplines for Excellence:

  • Discipline II-A. Define Measures(page 95)
  • Discipline III-D. Align Measures(page 136)
  • Discipline IV-E. Monitor Measures (page 174)

Excellence Quotes of The Day - 01/30/07

Quotes about excellence come from all areas and disciplines in our lives.

From ancient thought-leaders:

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

From sport:

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." --Vince Lombardi

From business:

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." -- Steve Jobs

Monday, January 29, 2007

Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Northeast Ohio Names General Manager

Six Disciplines Corporation today announced that it has named Joel Head to assume the leadership role of General Manager for the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of Northeast Ohio, located in Cleveland.

Joel and his team will be responsible for ensuring the long-term success of Six Disciplines clients in Northeast Ohio. Joel’s team will provide coaching and strategic advisory services to top-performing organizations that adopt the Six Disciplines™ Methodology. He will also be responsible for expanding the Six Disciplines practice in Northeast Ohio, offering the Six Disciplines program to companies seeking to sustain high-levels of business performance over the long-term.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What VC's Look for In A CEO

When venture capitalists have made mistakes with an investment, its demise usually falls into two buckets:

  1. They mistimed or misunderstood the market or
  2. They backed the wrong CEO.

The trick is finding the entrepreneur/CEO who fits in-between these worlds and has the following characteristics baked into his/her DNA:

  • Resourceful
  • Relentless
  • Creative Thought
  • Responsive
  • Proactive
  • Honest/Open Communicator
  • Justified Confidence
  • Strong Domain Knowledge
  • Respect for Downside
  • Leadership/Inspirational

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Coaching Hits The Mainstream

From being something rarely spoken about only a few years ago, coaching has hit the corporate mainstream as a new survey finds that fully half of managers in the U.S. have received some sort of coaching in the workplace in recent years.

Coaching is now seen as a development initiative, not as problem solving, with more people both receiving it and being willing to say so. A stigma once associated with coaching seems to have gone away.

A recent Harvard Business Review article suggested that although American companies are spending more than $1 billion annually on coaching, this isn't always money well-spent.

Cohen advised individuals that to get the most out of their coaching, they need to be clear on the results they are looking for.

"There are different types of coaching available and deliverables, styles and outcomes can vary significantly. Clarify these issues in your first meeting with a coach so you know what you can expect and if it's a good fit for you and your situation."

Execution and Performance Management

Ram Charan, a noted expert on business strategy and coauthor of Execution and the author of What the CEO Wants You to Know and many other books, has a new book out titled, "Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform From Those Who Don't."

View Fast Company's slideshow, "8 Skills Of People Who Perform," and learn what skills good leaders possess.

Why Good Strategies Fail

The shortcomings of a bad strategy are usually painfully obvious -- at least in retrospect.

But when good strategies fail it's often harder to pinpoint the reasons.

Execution can go wrong for a variety of reasons.

  1. One of the most basic is allowing the focus of the strategy to shift over time. The challenge of execution is mostly a matter of alignment -- getting the right product or service to the right customer at the right time. (or simply - doing the right things right.)
  2. At other times, strategies fail simply because they don't get communicated to all the people involved.
  3. Strategies also flop because individuals resist the change.
  4. Cultural factors can also hinder execution.

Yet the biggest factor of all may be executive inattention. Once a plan is decided upon, there is often surprisingly little follow-through to ensure that it is executed.

Frequent communication is essential if plans are to be executed well -- very effective companies have regular dialogues between the leadership team and unit managers.

Two schools of thought about the best way to improve execution.

  1. One school emphasizes people: Just put the right people in place and the right things will get done.
  2. A second school emphasizes process rather than people.

Research suggests that companies that have delivered the best results to shareholders combine both approaches.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers are a nationwide network of franchised organizations that provide accountability coaching and strategic advisory services to small and midsized businesses that adopt the Six Disciplines program for sustainable business excellence.

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers were recently named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the Top 99 Franchise 'Top Guns' - and included as one of the top 10 in the Business Services franchise category.

Visit them on the web:

Monday, January 22, 2007

High Performance Workforce

For the past several years, Accenture has engaged in comprehensive research to identify the characteristics of high-performance businesses across industries and functions.

As part of this effort, the Accenture High-Performance Workforce Study examines how the workforce affects the journey to high performance, and, most importantly, what practical steps companies can take.

Key findings include:

  • While companies have clear goals for their training functions, performance against those goals is mixed.
  • Leaders have a more direct, quantifiable correlation between the performance of their top three workforces and overall business performance.
  • Leaders place more strategic importance on HR.
  • Leaders rely more heavily on metrics such as customer satisfaction and retention levels, the performance of critical business processes, and the strength of the revenue/sales pipeline.
Download a PDF version of the Executive Summary.

Creating An Engaged Workforce - Part II

As much as 70% of a typical company's workforce is not "engaged." They drift, sometimes aimlessly, wasting time and valuable resources.

Much of this starts as a result of not understanding the organization's strategy (mission, vision, values, strategic position).

Employees also get disengaged when they can't understand their everyday activities relative to the organization's stated goals.

An alignment of an individual's daily plan and the goals of the organization are required to engage the workforce.

Items to consider in this engaged workforce plan include:

  • Individual goal setting (the Individual Plan)
  • Prioritizing daily activities
  • Measuring progress and performance
  • Performance appraisals
  • 360 Feedback surveys

BOTTOMLINE: Technology makes all of this much simpler. One such approach is the Six Disciplines Activity Management System - a single integrated system to help engage the entire workforce of a company (not just the top level).

Friday, January 19, 2007

Motivation versus Transformation

SystematicHR offers this article on Motivation versus Transformation.

Their premise?

  • How can we best motivate our employees to do better work, be more productive or have better attitudes?
Employee engagement is not about motivation. Employee engagement is about TRANSFORMATION.

To truly realize a permanent shift in how your employees act, think, do, and desire, you must transform them.

Change management is about fundamental behavioral change. Without it, all changes are fleeting.

BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines is the first complete business excellence program, optimized for sustainable execution, for small and mid-sized businesses. Unlike most business excellence programs, it is designed to address the key human factors - and helps transform individuals and organizations by changing both attitudes and behaviors.

Engaging Your Workforce - Part II

Our research has shown that the Number#1 difference between the highest- and lowest-performing organizations is strength of leadership, based on the average of several factors.

One of those factors was the ability to motivate or engage the people in the company in pursuing its goals.

For this isolated factor - the ability to engage the workforce - top-performing companies rated 281% higher!

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

BOTTOMLINE: Three key steps to engaging your workforce:
  1. Make sure each person understands your strategy. Since research indicates that less than 5% of the typical workforce understands their organization's strategy, make sure it is clear, available and reinforced continuously.
  2. Get individual commitment (buy-in) to the strategy. The best way to do this is having leadership visibly engaged themselves in the strategy's execution.
  3. Give individuals the tools they need to execute the strategy. Individual plans, created on a quarterly basis and reviewed briefly each week gets each person more engaged.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Organizational Change and Purpose

Nikos Mourkogiannis is a senior partner at Panthea, a global consulting firm advising chairmen and CEOs on leadership. He is also senior executive advisor on leadership to Booz Allen Hamilton.

A senior partner at Panthea Consulting, Nikos Mourkogiannis talks about his new book Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies in this interview.

22 Time Wasters

From Rick Telberg's blog, here's a list of 22 Time Wasters

BOTTOMLINE: Eliminating one or more of these can add not only TIME, but purpose and discipline to your daily routines, increasing the freedom you have to do other MORE importanting things with our time. Replace one or more of these bad habits with good habits.
  1. not having a plan; lacking direction
  2. failing to set priorities; trapped by indecision
  3. unable to say no
  4. attempting to take on more tasks than you can possibly handle
  5. failure to delegate; trying to do everything yourself
  6. scheduling activities so that you have too much or too little time for something
  7. putting off something that should be done today
  8. focusing on how busy you are; avoiding priority work
  9. suffering from personal disorganization; unable to find things because of clutter
  10. jumping from one activity, project, item to the next instead of getting one thing done
  11. leaving tasks unfinished and having to rethink what you were doing in order to finish up
  12. getting bogged down by the details instead of keeping your goals in mind
  13. starting a project without enough information
  14. lacking skills to accomplish what you intend
  15. being kept waiting
  16. being interrupted by the telephone (or email, or IM, or.....)
  17. socializing during time set aside for your priorities
  18. being interrupted by visitors who drop by -- and letting them take control
  19. not getting to the point of the conversation; not saying what you mean
  20. holding a meeting without an agenda
  21. not using your commuting or travel time wisely
  22. watching tv (or surfing the 'Net) when you had planned on doing something else

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1000 Post Milestone

A blogger's milestone has been reached...!

Since our humble beginnings back in July of 2005, we've now reached the 1,000th post on the Be Excellent blog.

I'd humbly like to thank all of you for reading, encouraging and hopefully, getting value from our efforts.

Here's to the next 1,000 posts!

Hot Franchising Trends for 2007

Which types of franchises boast standout growth?

In the January 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine is their list of "Hot Franchising Trends for 2007."

In their short list, they call out:

  • Business consulting/staffing: Every business needs help sometimes--and that need is keeping business consulting and staffing franchises growing. In addition to nearly double the number of business consulting franchises, there is also a new emphasis on companies offering small-business and franchise-brokering/consulting services.
Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchises are pioneers and industry leaders in providing small and midsized businesses with a complete business excellence program and professional services optimized for sustainable execution.

The Six Disciplines Program is offered exclusively through Six Disciplines Leadership Centers, a premiere class of independently owned and operated professional service franchises offered in targeted cities throughout the U.S.

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers were also recently named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the Top 99 Franchise 'Top Guns' - and included in the top 10 of the Business Services franchise category.

Work the Plan

NFIB presents this article on Work the Plan, Plan the Work, which is detailed outline for a small business strategic plan.

Looks simple. It isn't.

Otherwise, more busineses would do it, more would be successful - and frankly, we wouldn't be needed. But we are needed. Just ask the clients we work with.

BOTTOMLINE: At Six Disciplines, we break this entire business-building process down into six processes, made up of 31 steps. But the business-building steps themselves are only one part of the solution.

It also requires using an activity management system to align individual plans to the strategic goals of the organization. It also requires an external coach for teaching individual and organizational accountability for the ongoing business improvement process.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Leadership Begins With Passion - Part II

In our continuing journey to tie leadership with passion, I offer this new article published by Knowledge@ Wharton from (my former boss) Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Here's the key points:

  • Leaders must continuously adapt
  • Compete against new business models
  • Why innovation and agility matter
  • Breaking with the past to compete in the future
  • Attracting and retaining talent

What a Company Needs Most

David Maister, over at Passion, People and Principles, asks the intriguing question: What a Company Needs Most

If you HAD to put them in order, what do you think are the most important key ingredients for a company (or an organization)?

  • A Mission?
  • A Vision?
  • Values?
  • A Direction?
  • A Culture?
  • A Set of "Rules and Obligations" for membership?
  • A Purpose?
Check out the comments here.

I tend to agree with Scot Herrick who said:

"I'll take one that isn't on the list: execution.

One can have great strategy, vision, values, be customer centric, purpose, rules, and a culture and they all mean nothing if the company and the people in it can't execute.

If execution works, it will naturally lead to where the company should be going because there is immediate feedback as to what works and what doesn't.

So the ability to execute a task, plan, strategy, deliver services to a customer, within a culture trumps everything."

Ten Steps Process For Continual Improvement

  1. Determine current performance.
  2. Establish a need to improve.
  3. Obtain commitment and define the improvement objective.
  4. Organize the diagnostic resources.
  5. Carry out research and analysis to discover the cause of current performance.
  6. Define and test solutions that will accomplish the improvement objective.
  7. Produce improvement plans which specify how and by whom the changes will be implemented.
  8. Identify and overcome any resistance to the change.
  9. Implement the change.
  10. Put in place controls to hold new levels of performance, and repeat step one.

The Impact of Psychological Capital On Your Business

The Gallup Management Journal just published an interesting article, Hope, Optimism, and Other Business Assets (Why "psychological capital" is so valuable to your company).

Their premise?

  • Very few people have inventoried their psychology, and even fewer know which attributes really propel business performance.
  • Human capital has been studied and tested extensively, but psychological capital is such a new idea that few of us know whether we've got any or not.

Dr. Fred Luthans, Ph.D. says that, though management science and economics have explored business with excruciating thoroughness, they've overlooked something big -- the human mind.

Further research led him to a breakthrough: Hope, confidence, optimism, and resiliency make workers more productive.

However, Dr. Luthans' research takes it further than conventional wisdom.

  • He's found that these attributes can be embedded, developed, measured, and trained to create sustainable, predictable, measurable increases over time. And that's not just common sense, that's profit.

BOTTOMLINE: It's this new focus on "human factors" that will revolutionize the business excellence industry. And Six Disciplines is helping to bring all these factors together as we create a new category of business excellence program, designed specifically for small and mid-sized businesses - optimized for sustainable execution.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Six Disciplines for Excellence Makes CEO Refresher Reading List

Six Disciplines for Excellence is on the Recommended Reading list in the current issue of The CEO Refresher.

There's a great number of business improvement books on the list - take a look!

Here's the review of Six Disciplines for Excellence, by CEO Refresher.

Here's another review as well!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Strategy Execution - Part V

In today's business world, strategy execution is inseparable from effective leadership and communication within the company.

The process of effective strategy execution, in our experience, follows these lines:

  • Formulation and effective communication of strategy (mission, vision, values, strategic position, and what to stop doing)
  • Defining of Vital Few Objectives
  • Setting Goals That Lead
  • Defining Measure, Targets, Initiatives
  • Engaging the Entire Team - at all levels
  • Commitment to projects and business results that support the strategy
  • Aligning the organization to enable empowerment and communication
  • Defining individual plans for everyone in the organization that support the strategy, VFOs, and initiatives
  • Monitor progress toward goal achievements regularly and take corrective action
  • Instill responsibility and individual accountability
  • Innovate and solve problems along the way
  • Review progress, review individuals, review performance and measures, review strengths, weakenesses, opportunities and threats
  • Repeat, refine, improve continuously

BOTTOMLINE: For a practical approach to strategy execution, read Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Assessing Future Leader Potential

Ram Charan reveals in his book, Know How, eleven criteria for spotting future leaders in your organization.

  1. They consistently deliver ambitious results.
  2. They continuously demonstrate growth, adaptability, and learning better and faster than their excellently performing peers.
  3. They seize the opportunity for challenging, bigger assignments, thereby expanding capability and capacity and improving judgment.
  4. They have the ability to think through the business and take leaps of imagination to grow the business.
  5. They are driven to take things to the next level.
  6. Their powers of observation are very acute, forming judgments of people by focusing on their decisions, behaviors, and actions, rather than relying on initial reactions and gut instincts; they can mentally detect and construct the “DNA” of a person.
  7. They come to the point succinctly, are clear thinkers, and have the courage to state a point-of-view even though listeners may react adversely.
  8. They ask incisive questions that open minds and incite the imagination.
  9. They perceptively judge their own direct reports, have the courage to give them honest feedback so the direct reports grow; they dig into cause and effect if a direct report is failing.
  10. They know the non-negotiable criteria of the job of heir direct reports and match the job with the person; of there is a mismatch they deal with it promptly.
  11. They are able to spot talent and see the “God’s gift” of other individuals.

How to Succeed in 2007

Business 2.0's article on "How To Succeed In 2007" is now available.

Check it out! Recommendations about company growth, competition, leadership, making a comeback, and doing well - by doing well. Review of Six Disciplines for Excellence

The folks at have issued their review of "Six Disciplines for Excellence." and have given us rights to distribute the 5-page review of the book.

As their name implies, they do a good job of summarizing the content.

Download the summary here.

Communication is Critical for Engaging The Team

Survey results from Right Management Consultants reveals that two thirds of employees do not know or understand their employer's business strategy and are not engaged in their jobs.

Other disturbing findings:

  • The main reason why most employees are disengaged is the failure of employers to communicate their business strategies to their people.
  • Almost one in three organizations (28%) limit such communication to only their leadership teams.
  • 25% have not yet communicated their strategy to all their employees.
  • One in seven organizations (15%) are uncertain of the best way to do this.
"Management's effective communication of the vision of the business to all employees, and how it can be lived in their daily jobs, is one of the biggest differentiators between engaged and disengaged work forces," said Right Management Consultants' Chris Gay.

BOTTOMLINE: Leadership's responsibility is to communicate strategy to everyone in the organization, and not only communicate it, but to share the vision so there is team member "buy-in." It's the only way to get team members engaged in their work. If you want to get alignment and execute your strategy more consistently, work to engage your team.

The 100 Best Companies to Work For 2007

Fortune Magazine's List of The 100 Best Companies to Work For 2007 is now available.

More important than The List itself, are the reasons WHY these companies made it -- and with cost-cutting, pensions being dropped, health care being reduced -- the expectations of even a great employer have to be recalibrated.

They're still finding ways to differentiate themselves. How'd they get there?

  • Treat employees well. Ttrust them. Employees treasure the freedom to do their job as they think best, and great employers trust them.
  • Recognition. It's probably the fattest pitch managers miss. Telling employees they're doing a great job costs nothing but counts big. The cost is insignificant. More generous rewards cost little in the scheme of things yet pay off immeasurably.
  • Allow more telecommuting (where appropriate)
  • Personal-concierge services, take-home meals, and free or subsidized lunches

But those are tactics anyone can match.

BOTTOMLINE: Winning requires something more: a sense of purpose. Employees get deep satisfaction, and become devoted to their employer, from feeling that what they do is good and right -- that they're serving a noble cause. Make it purpose-driven. One last observation: These firms are highly successful. The average American business lasts less than 20 years before it fails or gets bought. The 100 Best companies, on average, are an incredible 85 years old. Bottom line: Being a great place to work pays.

Ben Franklin and Self-Discipline

You probably know Ben Franklin as one of the Fathers of the United States, a great leader and diplomat. He signed the major documents of the founding of the U.S. including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Maybe you know him as an inventor, or as a scientist who flew kites in lightning storms, or as a writer and printing press operator.

But did you know that in 1726, at the age of 20, while on an 80-day ocean voyage from London back to Philadelphia, he developed a “Plan” for regulating his future conduct? He was partially motivated by Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

His “Plan” was made up of 13 virtues, each with short descriptions:

1. Temperance
2. Silence
3. Order
4. Resolution
5. Frugality
6. Industry
7. Sincerity
8. Justice
9. Moderation
10. Cleanliness
11. Chastity
12. Tranquility
13. Humility

BOTTOMLINE: Ben committed to giving strict attention to one virtue each week so after 13 weeks he moved through all 13. After 13 weeks he would start the process over again so in one year he would complete the course a total of 4 times. Talk about self-discipline!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You Have To Want To Change

So if the business world has changed so much and so quickly, why is change still so difficult to achieve?

Why does it spark such resistance, and why is it so hard to do well?

This article provides more insight into the problem:

  • “Change is hard, and it’s not free,” explains Todd Senturia, global head of Bain Consulting’s change management practice. “People simply aren’t getting any better at it.”
  • 70 to 80% of companies continue to fail at change management, Senturia estimates, a task made all the more difficult by the growing complexity of the global economy.
  • The rewards of stellar execution are huge.

After reviewing many case studies of successful change, Bain codified a four-step formula for navigating the change process well. The steps are: plan, lead, operate, and track. They sound simple, but they aren’t.

  • Planning requires a robust self-assessment, a review of customer and product roadmaps, and the development of new opportunities, spelling out the business case, risk and investment requirements for each.
  • Leading requires selecting and directing the right change team, with the right people in the right roles to achieve effective engagement in the process. Businesses should avoid the trap of underinvesting in the change process.
  • Operating demands treating the change itself like a business, with its own plan and decisions, sometimes requiring tradeoffs with other production or corporate targets.
  • Tracking is the fourth and final step in lasting change, which means finding the two or three key indicators that show change results in increased production, bigger market share, or fatter profits.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Make Each Individual Plan (IP) Status Meeting Go Smoothly

As stated in Six Disciplines for Excellence, (page 53), " of the greatest organizational tools ever invented is the individual quarterly plan. In Discipline IV. Work The Plan, every person in the company works with his/her team leader to develop Individual Plans (or IPs) for the upcoming quarter. These goals are reviewed and checked for alignment with company goals.
This quarterly plan serves as a timesaving template for a weekly IP Status report.

BOTTOMLINE: It is during the weekly IP Status meeting that Team Members and their Leaders take responsibility - and are accountable -- for their own goals, report progress, and use their own innovative capability to solve problems (page 54).

If the concept of a weekly status meeting is foreign or uncomfortable for you, here's a great reference tool (for one-on-one meetings) to help make things go smoothly.

(Tip of the hat to Manager Tools for this one!)

Goal Setting Research

ThinkTQ -- a leading publisher of virtual training products for personal and professional excellence -- announced their results of its Goals Study.

Their editors distilled this entire body of knowledge down to 10 key actions that, when taken, move you closer to achieving your goals.

  1. Make all your dreams real by first identifying and then focusing on specific, tangible targets for what you want. (Only 26% of those tested say they do this frequently. Is it any wonder that, without a clear vision for what they want, people fail to find the success and happiness they desire?)
  2. Maintain at least one clearly defined goal for every major interest and role in your life. (Only 12% of those tested do this consistently. Thus, 88% lack balance in their lives. )
  3. Set your goals so they are directly aligned with your life's mission, purpose and passion. (Only 19% of those tested do this consistently. This leaves 81% that can't connect the dots between their life's' passion and purpose, and specific goals that would provide direction and meaning in their lives.)
  4. Create goals high enough to ignite your spirit and inspire you to take action. (Only 26% of those asked take this action frequently.)
  5. Write down all your goals in specific, measurable detail. (Less than 15% of those surveyed write down their goals.)
  6. Absolutely, unconditionally commit to hitting each of your targets. (Only 33% of those surveyed say they're fully committed to their goals.)
  7. Share your goals with others for mutual accomplishment. (Only 22% of those tested say they frequently share their goals with others.)
  8. Set a whole series of related daily, weekly and long-term goals, complete with starting times and completion dates. (Less than 12% of those tested say they do this consistently.)
  9. Take 10 minutes every day to imagine how terrific it will feel when your goals are actually realized.(Only 11% of those tested do this consistently. This, of course, is what leads to the huge disconnect between setting and achieving goals over time.)
  10. Take an action step toward the attainment of at least one goal every day. (Only 7% of those tested do this daily.)

BOTTOMLINE: "With an average Set Goals TQ Score of just 49 out of 100 points, is it any wonder the vast majority of people have difficulty setting clear, tangible goals for themselves or their organizations? Success -- both personally and professionally -- depends on your ability to turn dreams and visions into tangible milestones and objectives."

Renewing Your Mission

Now with the beginning of the new year, we will be covering each of the individual steps, beginning with Discipline I - Decide What's Important, Step I-A, Renew Mission.

Some Hints and Tips to help you renew (or craft) your company's Mission:
  • A company's mission explains why an organization exists and what its purpose is.
  • Purpose should be enduring - something the pursuit of which is limitless.
  • The simpler the better. Fewest words to express an powerful idea.
  • Purpose must be authentic - must come from within, not based on what "looks good."
  • Mission statements focus on WHY, not HOW (how is strategy, which changes over time.)

BOTTOMLINE: For more on Mission Statements, visit BNET here. And here's a blog all about company's mission statements.

Saying No Is Very Strategic

Sam Decker, a very astute marketer authoring Decker Marketing, offers his take on "Strategic Plan -- 12 Places to Say No"

His assertion is also one of the key elements of Discipline I. Decide What's Important, which is I-F - Agree What To Stop.

BOTTOMLINE: The essence of strategy is deciding what NOT to do.

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

Friday, January 05, 2007

Five Things People May Not Know About Me

I’ve been “tagged” by several of my “blogging buddies” to post 5 things that most people probably wouldn't know about me.

Most probably realize that I work for Six Disciplines Corporation as the Director of Marketing.

What most probably don't know about me is that:

1. I’m a Music Fanatic. After the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan, things have never been the same (except for my hairline.) Since then, I’ve seen hundreds of concerts over the years. I’ve played guitar since I was 9, and can also carry a tune. Have lots of fun with Internet Karaoke (check out member “sreardon” at - be kind). Prized possession is an Eric Clapton “Blackie” signature Strat. Along the way, I’ve played in a few bands, and even fronted for Chubby Checker in Cleveland back in 2000. Test me on my music trivia, but be prepared to go down in flames.

2. Cooking is a Passion. Have cooked for 1 to over 100 people. I’m particularly intrigued with combinations of colors, textures and tastes. Favorites include pastas, Cajun/Creole, seafood dishes. Fresh herbs and summer vegetables are the only way to go. Usually get rave reviews. Of course, a good bottle of Merlot to go with whatever - goes without question.

3. A True Sports Nut. Playing, participating, coaching - you name it. Basketball, football, baseball – and most recently, hockey. Was the 2nd fastest sprinter in high school - still hold my high school record for pushups (127 consecutive) – and pull-ups (119 consecutive). Only TV I watch now is sports (OK, maybe a few good documentaries…). I’m also nuts about sports trivia – hey, I’m no “Schwab” – but I can hold my own. There's nothing like some good competition - anytime, anyplace.

4. A Self-Made Computer Geek. I truly believe that software can do almost anything. I’ve worked for a small software vendor (Solomon Software) – that became very successful over a 20 year time span, merged with our biggest competitor, and was acquired by Microsoft. I've designed software, created training materials, wrote technical documents, I worked for Microsoft for 4 years as manager of industry analyst relations, also doing competitive intelligence and public relations work. I have been coding websites since 1994 (before most people even knew what the web was!). Am connected to the Internet more hours per day than I want to admit.

5. Passionate About Seeking Deeper Meaning. Knowledge, news, music, information, I need it 24 x 7. It’s all about deeper meaning: understanding, appreciating talent and excellence in all its forms, giving more than receiving.

There you have it. It was fun and provided a little chance to stroll down memory lane. Thanks for opportunity.

(And now, we return you back to our regularly scheduled programming...)

101 Common Sense Management Tips

The blog Business Intelligence Lowdown argues that to be an effective manager, you don’t need a shiny MBA degree, but just some common sense.

They recap 101 principles and tips, which you might already learn from your lemonade stand business, but forgot about them.


Set Goals - Not Resolutions

It's the New Year, and tons of talk about setting new year resolutions - both personal and in business.

The first week of the year is often a time for making resolutions. We all know the common ones: Lose weight; get in shape; spend more time with family, etc.

Resolutions for our workplace might be to improve our time management, have better relationships with coworkers, or increase our productivity.

However long or short our lists, too often they fail to become reality.

Dan Bobinski offers his take on WHY we don't follow through on our resolutions:

It stems from three basic problems:

  1. The goals are fuzzy – not clearly measurable.
  2. The goals do not have a mapped out plan for success.
  3. No accountability system is in place.
How to overcome these obstacles?

  1. Clarify! Clear targets are easier to hit. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-factored.
  2. Plan! Identify all that needs to happen. Write the steps out. Map them out. Draw projected timelines. Set milestones.
  3. Be Accountable! Discuss your progress with others, otherwise you'll procrastinate and not get much done. Executives use personal or professional business coaches for accountability. Successful athletes stay accountable to their trainers and coaches. CFO's stay accountable to CPA's. Stay on track with what you want to do by being accountable to at least one other person. More is better.

BOTTOMLINE: A key component of the Six Disciplines Program is accountability coaching. Six Disciplines Leadership Centers offer accountability coaching to keep you on track, help you develop new habits, and show everyone in your organization how to be more accountable and self-managing.

The Three Keys to Change

Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most?

Yes, you say?
Try again.
You're probably deluding yourself.
That's what the experts say.
They say that you wouldn't change.

Here are the odds that the experts are laying down, their scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That's nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?

Finally, we often believe that people can't change or that they "resist" change. We think that this is simply human nature. Our most distinguished experts--the MDs and PhDs and MBAs who run the health care and criminal justice systems and the largest manufacturing corporations--think that it's naive and hopeless to expect the vast majority of people to change.

In this excerpt from the introduction to his new book, Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life, Alan Deutschman discusses the framework to successfully change yourself (or perhaps to change how you work.)

Change or Die is a short book about a simple idea.

There are three keys to change, which Deutschman calls the three Rs: relate, repeat, and reframe.

1. Relate
You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope. If you face a situation that a reasonable person would consider "hopeless," you need the influence of seemingly "unreasonable" people to restore your hope--to make you believe that you can change and expect that you will change. This is an act of persuasion--really, it's "selling." The leader or community has to sell you on yourself and make you believe you have the ability to change. They have to sell you on themselves as your partners, mentors, role models, or sources of new knowledge. And they have to sell you on the specific methods or strategies that they employ.

2. Repeat
The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you'll need. It takes a lot of repetition over time before new patterns of behavior become automatic and seem natural--until you act the new way without even thinking about it. It helps tremendously to have a good teacher, coach, or mentor to give you guidance, encouragement, and direction along the way. Change doesn't involve just "selling"; it requires "training."

3. Reframe
The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. Ultimately, you look at the world in a way that would have been so foreign to you that it wouldn't have made any sense before you changed.

BOTTOMLINE: These are the three keys to change: relate, repeat, and reframe. New hope, new skills, and new thinking. This may sound simple at first, but it's not. Unfortunately, no one has been teaching us what we really need to know. People try alternatives to try to change, but they more often than not - fail to realize their goals. The reason isn't that they don't want to change or can't change but rather they don't understand change or have the right tools to effect it.

Six Disciplines is the first complete program to help individuals in small and emerging businesses to understand how to change, providing the right tools to effect it, and coaching to make the change process repeatable. This leads to achieving sustainable business excellence.

(CHANGE OR DIE. Copyright © 2007 by Alan Deutschman.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Discipline I. Decide What's Important

Watch this streaming video of Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes Discipline I. Decide What's Important.

(NOTE: Video is in Windows Media Format )

Discipline VI. Step Back

While working on the annual Discipline VI. Step Back, the whole organization learns to step back and gain perspective on the factors that affect their business performance.

By exploring External factors (competitors, industry, technology and economic trends) and Internal factors (goal performance, stakeholder feedback, measures), organizations go through a series of discovery exercises that enable its team members to step back and understand how to purposefully move ahead.

Individual team members also provide input on each other's performance by completing a 360 degree and an annual performance appraisal.

Watch this streaming video podcast of Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes Discipline VI. Step Back.

(NOTE: Video is in Windows Media Format )

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mission Statements - Not All Fun & Games?

Ah....the beginning of a new year, and many organizations are wringing their hands around crafting a more succinct mission statement.

You're right -- it's NOT easy.

Lot's of good resources out there to help you....

And....if you just want some fun....Dilbert is always there to help generate your company's mission statement too!

Best Business Books of 2006 - Part III

Strategy+Business publishes a great business book list every year.

Here's their 2006 Best Business Book list, by category.

Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail: Part II

Scott Glatstein, writes for the American Chronicle with this article "Business Strategy Execution: 4 Reasons Why Your Company’s Strategy Isn’t Working."

"Your business strategy defines your company’s intent. In essence, it’s a promise – a promise that defines what your organization intends to deliver to its customers and the marketplace. But articulating a good strategy is only the beginning. It’s the strategy’s execution that determines whether an organization can turn good intentions into profits."

Here are four primary reasons why your strategies aren’t living up to their full profit potential:

  1. The strategy fails to recognize the limitations of the existing organization.
  2. Employees don’t know how the strategy applies to their daily work.
  3. The organization’s business systems or processes can’t support the strategy.
  4. Performance metrics and rewards are not aligned with the strategy.

BOTTOMLINE: "Your employees need clear direction and the tools and processes necessary to support them. You need to “activate” your strategy. Strategy Activation is the new bridge that spans the chasm between strategic intent and marketplace implementation. It takes “what” an organization wants to do and defines “how” it is going to do it. It ensures that every employee drives the promises made to the marketplace across every customer touchpoint every day. Without this, your strategic vision will remain a presentation and nothing more."

Be Excellent a Favorite Business Blog of 2006

Be Excellent has been listed as a Favorite Business Blog of 2006 by the good folks at Diary of a Startup.

We are humbled for the inclusion!

Diary of a Startup is the blog from PeersightOnline, the nationwide CEO membership Organization offering access to leaders of growing companies. Most certainly worth the time to take a look at.

Check out the complete listing of business blogs here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Succession Planning: Part II

Despite acknowledging the importance CEO succession, new research on U.S. organizations has found that a remarkable proportion have failed to put succession plans in place, an oversight that is symptomatic of a more widespread failures in talent management and leadership development.

According to this article from Management-Issues, around half the boards of public, private and nonprofit corporations consider their efforts around CEO succession to be less-than effective and a similar proportion admit they have no succession plan in place.

The findings emerged from a series of surveys published by The National Association of Corporate Director's (NACD) research arm, The Center for Board Leadership, in collaboration with Mercer Delta Consulting.

Their findings:

  • A quarter of organizations acknowledge that their boards fall into "below acceptable" levels of CEO succession planning, despite directors identifying succession as among the leading concerns facing their companies.
  • For directors on public boards, CEO succession is the second-most critical board concern, up from last year's third, while for directors on private boards, it ranks as the third-most important issue, up from fifth last year.
  • Strategic planning and corporate performance were other issues high on the agenda for boards in 2006.

Results, Not Resolutions

Thom Quinn, over at The Q-Log, suggests we go for "Results, Not Resolutions."

Instead of thinking of a single resolution, set some real goals. Most resolutions are wishy-washy at best and an empty promises at worse. Instead, focus on goal-directed behavior which ends with powerful results!

Please consider using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal System I outlined this summer. This is more work and will take you a few hours to plan your year; however, would you go on vacation without some preparation?

If not, why would not take the time to insure you have the best year ever?

S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

S – Specific, Significant, and Stretching
M – Measurable, Motivational, and Meaningful
A – Adventurous, Attainable, and Action-oriented
R – Realistic, Relevant, and Responsible
T – Time-Bound, Tangible, and Thoughtful
E – Energizing, Exciting, and Excellence
R – Roles, Recorded, and Reviewed

MP3s from Jim Collins

Jim Collins writes about core values in Built to Last, which of course has been a long-time bestselling business book on

Check out his great selection of mp3s available on his website.

Top 10 Business Resolutions for 2007

As we begin the new year, it's a good time to set some resolutions for your business.

Consider the following:

  1. Resolve to create a profile of your ideal customer and stick to it. Figure out who you can best serve and use this understanding as a guide for determining who to work with and who to refer on.
  2. Commit to working with only your ideal customers for this year. You'll feel happier and your business will be more joyful.
  3. Promise yourself to make business decisions guided by your heart, head and finances. Too much of any one is not good but a little of all three can be very helpful when considering new opportunities or approaches.
  4. Agree to let yourself be known. Get more comfortable with promoting yourself and your business and let people know who you are and what you do.
  5. Tend to your current best customers and ask for referrals to more customers just like them. This is the fastest and easiest way to grow your business.
  6. Freshen up your marketing strategies. Try a new marketing approach, especially if it makes you stretch. Keep yourself on the growing edge and keep refining your marketing.
  7. Learn something new. Seeking out new knowledge and new methods can keep you feeling interested and enthusiastic even with the occasional ups and downs of business.
  8. Master a positive mindset. Keep your mind free of self doubt, worry, or fear. You can achieve what you desire or else you wouldn't want it in the first place.
  9. Ask for help. Allow others to mentor, guide, support and coach you to reach your goals. The journey is better when it's shared. And it's more likely you'll get there - with help, than on your own.
  10. Savor your accomplishments. What's the point of continually achieving business milestones if you never savor the feeling of accomplishment? The more you enjoy your business success, the more success you will have to enjoy.

Why New Years Resolutions Fail

From a site called bmindful, comes an article called "Why new years resolutions fail."

The example:

"Think how crowded the streets are in early January with people out walking, jogging or running. Think about all those people joining gyms and weight loss programs. What happens to these people come February? All has been forgotten and they are back to their old unhealthy ways."

And so it is in business.

BOTTOMLINE: It takes time, effort and persistence to overcome bad habits.

Good ideas - from business improvement books - are not enough. At Six Disciplines, we believe it not only takes a solid methodology to make business-building systematic, but also technology to make it practical - and local coaching to make it last. One way to start? Read Six Disciplines for Excellence, and decide for yourself - is your company a "Ready & Able" organization?

Happy New Year

From all of us at Six Disciplines Corporation, we wish for all of thousands of Be Excellent readers a Happy New Year.

Looking forward to a productive and safe New Year!

Six Disciplines for Excellence Makes The 2006 Book List

John Steffen offers his review of Six Disciplines for Excellence.

Here's a quick excerpt:

"In short, this book is a great overview of all of the different things you need to excel at in order to have a successful business. There's not any single concept that feels particularly groundbreaking. In fact, if you've read much of the popular and classic business press, you will immediately see where Mr. Harpst is grounded. But he makes no bones about it and gives credit appropriately. I think he is comfortable that his book is intended to be an overview and that if you really want to become expert in each area, you have to read more on your own, or hire a Six Disciplines consultant, of course."

"If you are just starting a small business and you are curious about resources that can help you with the business side of things, you can't go wrong with this book. I would blast through it quickly without reading all of the charts, tables, and graphs. Then, I would start from the beginning and read it for implementation purposes. When you get to an aspect of your business that you think needs extra focus, look at the footnotes that Mr. Harpst gives and start reading some of the books that he used to formulate his theories. The man ran a highly successful business so he knows what he is talking about."

Read the entire review here.