Monday, July 30, 2007
If you’re tired of a lot of management theory and would rather learn specific actions you can take TODAY to improve your management performance, you’ll enjoy the Manager Tools podcast.
This week, one of their community members posted a short review of Six Disciplines for Excellence on their forum.
Here at Be Excellent, we're strong advocates of the short weekly 1:1 status meeting with every team member. Take a look at our post that points to ManagerTool's great "tool" for exactly that purpose!
According to BlessingWhite, a global consulting and training firm, several themes emerge when taking a closer look at why these sorts of programs fail.
"Senior executives go off-site for a team-building program with noble intentions and an ambitious agenda, but weeks afterward, they find little benefit for their time and effort,” Parker said. “Regrettably, this is not unusual for executive development retreats. What surprises us is that many organizations continue to make the same mistakes.”
(Principle: We often know what to do, the problem is, actually doing something about it!)
Some of the most common difficulties that bring down corporate leadership development programs are as follows:
- Urgency overrides preparation. In this case, the CEO’s insists that a team meet as quickly as possible, which tends to have a negative impact on effective preparations, thus having a negative impact on the corporate leadership development program.
- Trendiness triumphs over consequence. When this occurs, the program’s basis or inspiration is not actual business or strategic issues but the latest, hottest trend in business circles.
- Participants fail to engage emotionally. They might agree with what they learned in the corporate leadership development program, but if participants do not walk away with a burning desire to implement anything — or they simply do not care enough to put forth the effort to try something new — the program has not succeeded.
- The CEO cannot contain himself or herself. Although leadership off-site programs are supposed to give people an opportunity to “let their hair down,” some CEOs forget that they should not monopolize the conversation, which leads to intimidation and, accordingly, a lack of candor.
- Awkward issues are not confronted. It’s easy to point a finger at others and offer leadership development suggestions. It’s not so easy to look inward and acknowledge what you personally need to address.
BOTTOMLINE: "Even if organizations recognize these pitfalls and successfully change them, corporate leadership development programs still will not lead to positive change unless the organizational culture is receptive to them. Too often executives want leadership development to be the magic pill, except that if a company’s culture punishes risk taking — or worse, rewards the same behaviors that need changing — then training and development are beside the point."
"Is your company running smoothly? Then there's no better time to review your business plan and consider what your next move will be."
It's why - even during good times - that your strategic plan should not be collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.
"The business plan is the company's road map and strategic vision for the future. In its first iteration, it's simply a best guess, but later revisions show the business owner what's working, what isn't and why."
BOTTOMLINE: Examine your company's value drivers and how they may have changed since you started. In the Six Disciplines program, we call this Discipline IV: Step Back. It's an annual discipline of reviewing externals and internals, recapping your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and reviewing your team's performance to ensure you're organized the right way to execute your strategy.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Small businesses that follow a set of "workforce alignment" employee management strategies see
- 22.1% higher revenue growth
- 23.3% higher profit growth
- 66.8% less employee turnover
....than companies that do not follow the strategies.
The tactics examined included:
- Hiring employees to fit in with company culture rather than just based on a job candidate's individual skills. (Finding and Keeping The RIGHT People)
- Trusting employees to manage themselves rather than enacting strict controls. (Building Company-Wide Accountability)
- Using company socials and creating a "family-like environment" rather than trying to motivate employees solely through monetary incentives.
The study found that businesses with more than 50 employees in competitive environments and high growth rate goals received the most impact from following the strategies.BOTTOMLINE: Workforce alignment strategies, in many forms, are what it takes to be more successful in terms of organizational growth. Six Disciplines Centers offer Business-Building Training sessions on Finding and Keeping The RIGHT People and Building Company-Wide Accountability - as examples of fostering workforce alignment using Six Disciplines.
- "Why, oh, why is it so hard for companies--successful companies filled with very smart people--to align their objectives with their activities?
- "Why does "getting it done" seem so, well, impossible?"
- Conflicting organizational activities, silos, redundant processes, and confusing governance policies block effective, consistent execution.
- 64% of C-level executives have said that being able to execute, to react quickly to changing business opportunities and technologies, is critical for their success.
- Yet nearly 80% of them said that it is nearly impossible to achieve.
- Knowing what connects with what, when, where, how, and how much.
- Internal struggles around new products/services development.
- Getting T-shirts, Turtlenecks, and Suits to agree.
- Silos: Corporate antibodies to change.
- Integrating "existing" with "emerging" technology.
- The "invisibles." (What you don't know will bite you.)
- Conflicts between what's good for the company and what's good for your team.
- The Botox Effect: managing the impossible decisions.
- The Peter-Out Principle and the rise of horizontal loyalty.
- Underestimating the Bull's Eye Effect.
Read the summary here.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We're apparently wasting less time at work!
A mid-year 2007 Salary.com survey found about 6 in every 10 workers admit to wasting time at work with the average employee wasting 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour working day.
While the amount of time wasted at work seems high, the percentages have actually improved by 19% from Salary.com’s first survey conducted back in 2005, when workers reported wasting 2.09 hours of their working day! That initial survey revealed that workers actually worked a total of three days a week, wasting the other two. Even worse, a study by Microsoft in 2005 revealed that American workers, on average, spent 45 hours a week at work, but described 16 of those hours as “unproductive.”
What are we wasting time on? Topping the list of time-wasting activities:
- Personal Internet use – 34%
- Socializing with co-workers – 20.3%
- Conducting personal business - 17%
The reasons why people wasted time?
- Boredom and not having enough to do was the main reason - 18%
- Having too long hours - 13.9%
- Lack of challenging work – 11.1%
BOTTOMLINE: Clearly, companies that have a challenged and engaged workforce can expect less time wasting, and more productivity in return. What organizations need is a systematic program to address activity alignment, not just to reduce wasted time, but to focus in real-time on the every-day activities that most align with company goals. That's what Six Disciplines is all about.
Here's a post on The 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs.
The categories of blogs covered include:
- Raising Capital
- Managing Debt and Risks
- Managing Staff
- Venture Capitalists
- Small Business
- General Interest
- Young Entrepreneurs
(.....and humbly, Be Excellent is included on the list! Thank you!)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
If you ask a roomful of business leaders: "What is your definition of exellence?" you'll get a wide range of responses.
Although business leaders vary in their definition of excellence, most agree that excellence is an ongoing pursuit in an ever-changing – and increasingly challenging – business environment.
Every situation is different, but typically our clients are already successful, already growing, but have difficulty meeting their next challenge. Frequent challenges mentioned by CEOs include:
- Communication - departments/employees operate in vacuum
- Accountability - things that should get done, don’t get done
- Engagement - people don’t seem to care as much or aren’t sure of their role within the company
- Alignment - people aren’t on the same page
BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines is a business excellence program. Years of research revealed to us that successful businesses all follow six fundamental disciplines related to strategy, planning, organization, execution, measurement and learning.
In our field research, we learned that a sustainable business excellence program must have the following four elements:
- A Repeatable Methodology-- to drive organization learning
- Ongoing External Coaching- to keep employees accountable and the program on track
- Pro-active Organization Alignment--a system to align the activities of every team member, every day and
- A Shared Learning Community— like-minded people… our clients, their employees, business peers, Six Disciplines coaches… all dedicated to accelerating learning and improving performance.
Monday, July 23, 2007
"I'm beginning to notice a trend. Business authors are finally coming around to embrace execution. Maybe strategy books don't sell well anymore, or maybe these authors have just gotten tired of watching people plan, strategize, and then flounder when it comes to executing their plans."
"I really liked this book because it is simple and practical. It is easy to read, relevant to most companies, and thorough."
"I've become an execution convert over the last few years. I used to think ideas were special, but I've seen the same thing time and time again - lots of people have good ideas, usually they even have similar ideas, but there are very few people in this world that can consistently execute to get things done right. This book can help you become one of those rare execution oriented individuals."
"This book is about real business, how to get it done, how to consistently improve, and how to achieve excellence using that time tested method called "hard work."
BOTTOMLINE: See Rob's entire review at Business Pundit.
There are ten steps to continuous improvement:
- Determine current performance.
- Establish theneed to improve.
- Obtain commitment and define the improvement objective.
- Organize the diagnostic resources.
- Carry out research and analysis to discover the cause of current performance.
- Define and test solutions that will accomplish the improvement objective.
- Produce improvement plans which specify how and by whom the changes will be implemented.
- Identify and overcome any resistance to the change.
- Implement the change.
- Put in place controls to hold new levels of performance, and repeat step one.
It's a 5 stage process:
- Introduction - In this article, Scott provides an intro to mastering our habits. First we need to really recognize what a habit actually is. From there we need to develop the ability to become aware of these habits and our ability to seek improvements in them.
- Conditioning - Conditioning a habit is the primary mechanism for installing it. In this article I’ll detail some of the methods I’ve used to condition new habits to make them an effortless part of my life.
- Leverage - What do you do when your habit requires more willpower than you have? In these cases, understanding the power of leverage can allow you to take a small amount of willpower to push through an incredibly difficult habit.
- Replacement - Habits can’t be removed. They must be upgraded or replaced. In this article I’ll detail how we can work on replacing habits to prevent some of the unwanted side-effects caused by massive habit changes.
- Experimentation - Now you will know how to change your habits more effectively and easily, you can really start pushing the boundaries for what is possible. In this article I’ll give steps for what I feel is the fundamental key from taking your habits from average to excellence.
BOTTTOMLINE: "Habits can be changed and we can even reach a point where even dramatic habitual changes are fairly easy. Changing habits is a skill. Like all other skills it needs both practice and technique."
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
3. Read Actively
4. Reflect for Insight
5. Systematize for Implementation
BOTTOMLINE: It is #5 that most readers neglect. Six Disciplines is the first enduring buiness excellence program, optimized for execution. The Six Disciplines Program is revealed in the top-rated business improvement book Six Disciplines for Excellence, which is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and from bookstores nationwide.
The article includes comments from Vistage expert speakers....very much worth the time to read through!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
- To create synergy, we require more than a concept and a strategy. The enterprise value proposition defines the strategy for value creation through alignment, but it doesn't describe how to achieve it.
- The alignment strategy must be complemented with an alignment process.
- The alignment process, much like budgeting, should be part of the annual governance cycle.
- Whenever plans are changed at the enterprise or business unit level, executives likely need to realign the organization with the new direction.
BOTTOMLINE: Closely tied to this core thought is Discipline III. Align Systems, from Six Disciplines for Excellence.
“Hey...I’ve read all these books, spent thousands on courses and conferences and sat at the feet of every guru I could find. It must have done me some good.”
BOTTOMLINE: "No excuses, no exceptions. Take at least one significant step each day. Your old habits are strong and you won’t overcome past conditioning by doing something new once. All you read or think is useless if you don’t turn it into consistent, daily action. All the complex advice about getting things done can be boiled down to these two points:
(Hat tip to Adrian Savage)
- Do the next most important thing. Do it now, however small it is.
Repeat this until you’ve reached your goal.
- If you’re not sure what’s the next most important thing, do something anyway."
Friday, July 13, 2007
The following is a short FAQ that provides brief answers:
Q: Who is Six Disciplines?
A: Six Disciplines is a growing national network of local business excellence centers.
Q: What is Six Disciplines?
A: Six Disciplines is a business excellence program. Although people vary in their definition of excellence, most agree that business excellence requires a never-ending pursuit in a world of increasing challenges. Therefore a business excellence program must grow an organization’s capability to execute and it must do so in an enduring way.
Q: What are your clients looking to solve?
A: Every organization’s situation is different, but challenges frequently mentioned by CEOs include:
· Accountability -- things that should get done, don’t get done
· Engagement -- people don’t seem to care as much
· Direction – focus is unclear, opportunities may be overwhelming
· Transition – a desire to “pass the torch” successfully
· Control - things “feel” out of synch
· Quality – product and service levels are diminishing
· Alignment - people aren’t on the same page
· Frustration – we should do better
We challenge company leadership to realize that their particular challenge at the moment is a symptom of a deeper need that all growing organizations have: the need to systematically improve the organization’s ability to manage their next challenge.
Q: What does Six Disciplines actually do?
A: Our program includes a holistic approach toward strategy, planning, organizing people and processes, and execution management. Simply put, Six Disciplines grows an organization’s ability to plan AND execute better.
Q: What makes the Six Disciplines program different?
A: The problem with most business improvement efforts is, for one reason or another, they don’t last. What makes Six Disciplines different is that it has been optimized to be embraced by an organization in a long-term sustainable way. We leave nothing to chance in this pursuit and believe that Six Disciplines is the first enduring business excellence program.
Q: Why are you able to do what no one else has?
A: The first reason is that we invested more than 100 man-years and $20m focused on solving this problem. The second reason is that the timing is right. Advances in separate business and technology disciplines over the past 20 years have made it possible to attack this problem in ways never-before practical.
Q: What does the Six Disciplines Program include?
A: In our field research, we learned that an enduring business excellence program must have the following four elements, (all of which are core components of the Six Disciplines Program):
- A repeatable Methodology to drive organization learning
- External Coaching for accountability
- A System to align the activities of every team member, every day and
- A Community of like-minded people to accelerate learning
Q: Who are the target customers for Six Disciplines?
A: We target private, U.S based small and mid-sized (SMB) organizations that are financially stable, have strong leadership with an open culture and have between 20 and 200 employees (knowledge workers) using computers. Ultimately, it is the CEO we’re targeting, as this is the only person who has the responsibility for the overall success of the company and can bring about the necessary commitments for change.
BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines is the first enduring business excellence program, optimized for execution, specifically designed for small and mid-sized businesses.
Excellence is an enduring pursuit. It requires an enduring approach. Visit us at http://www.sixdisciplines.com/.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Congratulations and thank you to all at BookPros, and to their publicity arm, Phenix Publicity.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
A short excerpt:
"Now in its new and improved second edition, Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary Harpst is still one of the best field guides to business. It lays out a practical methodology to help you stay aligned with your mission using sound foundational principles. Through a series of repeatable annual, quarterly, weekly and daily cycles, this methodology will help you to successfully guide your business and quite frankly, your personal life as well. Not surprisingly, you will find that these disciplines are applicable to your personal life, because we are all subject to some of the same pressures that are present in any other system."
Read the entire review here.
Monday, July 09, 2007
From Kotter, the leading thought leader on change management, here are "Eight Steps to Transform Your Organization:"
- Establish a Sense of Urgency
- Examine market and competitive realities
- Identify and discuss crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
- Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
- Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort
- Encourage the group to work as a team
- Create a Vision
- Create a vision to help direct the change effort
- Develop strategies for achieving that vision
- Communicate the Vision
- Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies - Teach new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition
- Empower Others to Act on the Vision
- Get rid of obstacles to change
- Change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision
- Encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions
- Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
- Plan for visible performance improvements
- Creating those improvements
- Recognize and reward employees involved in the improvements
- Consolidate Improvements and Produce Still More Change
- Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don't fit the vision
- Hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision
- Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents
- Institutionalize New Approaches
- Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success
- Develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession
Unfortunately, “90% of the time, what passes for commitment is actually.....compliance.”
However, people have tremendous reservoirs of endurance, creativity, passion, energy and enthusiasm for the things they believe in. If you can’t get the people in the organization engaged in the ongoing need to continually improve, then no improvement approach can last.
Therefore, an approach that’s going to work over the long haul must engage the individuals in the organization.
Warnings signs of people not being engaged:
- Poor understanding about how an individual’s work connects to
the purposes of the company.
- Poor, limited communication with team members about the purpose
of the organization, its strategies, challenges, strengths, weaknesses,
- Expectations aren’t properly set in the minds of all staff members,
resulting in disappointment, frustration or resentment.
- There’s an imbalanced focus on short-term achievement, instead
of long-term thinking.
- People are hired who are not aligned with your mission and values,
resulting in a weakening of company culture.
BOTTOMLINE: One of the top priorities of leadership is learning how to engage their team to strive for the company’s goals. Given that execution is a far greater challenge than strategy formulation, the ultimate core competency for any organization is realized when “all individuals make strategy (execution) their everyday job." To achieve this kind of engagement first requires overcoming any lack of understanding or clarity of what is expected. Research shows that “less than 5% of the typical workforce understands their organization’s strategy.”
The existence of a well-thought-out mission, strategic position, and values and goals statement provides an essential foundation for building this understanding. Because of the size of their organizations, small and mid-sized business leaders have an enormous advantage in being able to get in at the “ground level” to build the kind of understanding that really unleashes the innovative potential of their team.
Friday, July 06, 2007
In Part Four of the series, watch this short video as four CEOs explain why they decided to train their employees on the Six Disciplines business-building methodology.
BOTTOMLINE: Six Disciplines helps organizations achieve operational ease. Many organizations bounce against ceilings of complexity as a result of an unbalanced approach to business. We help organizations validate their strategy, create a balanced 12 month plan, and connect all people within the organization to that plan. We utilize a proven, systematic approach for executing successful business strategies. We coach organizations on how to deploy, communicate, and effectively execute their strategic plans.
Trust is an essential part in managing people and building a high-performance organization.
It's the foundation upon which all relationships are built. As in any relationship, trust is central to stable and productive workplace relations and successful team building initiatives. High trust environments correlate positively with high degree of employee involvement, performance management, commitment and organizational success.
If trust is present in the workplace, the organization gets maximum effort and commitment, and the employees receive security and know they are appreciated.
This Australian survey shows a strong correlation between trust and a positive workplace culture that emphasizes reward, supportiveness and stability. It shows that trust is strongly linked to attributes such as caring for colleagues, actively involving them in the company's vision, mentoring, role modeling and inspirational motivation. The survey also reinforces findings of similar research projects around the world: The more high tech, impersonal and sophisticated organizations become, the greater the need for leaders who can build a culture of trust in the organization.
Whatever method you use, reviewing your goals regularly is the key.
Here's the take-aways:
- Keep your goals with you always.
- Keep your goals present in your environment.
- Keep your goals present where you can’t possibly miss them during the course of a day.
- Keep reminders in interesting and unusual places to shake up your patterns.
BOTTOMLINE: Interestingly enough, the Individual Plans (IPs) as described in the book "Six Disciplines for Excellence," reinforce these principles of continual review. By using the Individual Plans in the Six Disciplines Business System, you have them with you always (even over the Internet); they're always in your environment (on your desktop); you can't miss them during the course of the day, as your daily prioritization of goals and plans depends on it, and you can always bring up your IP anytime during the day.
Monday, July 02, 2007
- This is due to senior management pressure for greater accountability and cost containment
- The downtown also might be because of the abundance of executive coaches in the field.
- Organizations are looking for more emphasis on the ROI of their coaching dollars
- Less coaching could have a negative impact on organization down the road
- Most leaders do not make a successful transition into higher levels of leadership without some coaching
BOTTOMLINE: With the impending baby boomer retirements and subsequent middle- and senior-level promotions, this trend of unprepared new executives could have a negative effect on corporations and their bottom line. Executive coaching will pick up again when companies realize that their leaders are struggling. Training and development initiatives have a lot of value, but when it comes to long-term behavioral change, coaching is a more successful methodology.
- Your employees are the voices and drivers of your business.
- Directly or indirectly, everyone on your team sells. But what are they selling? Is it your vision and passion for your brand or mission?
- If what they're selling isn't 110 percent aligned with your commitment and vision, then they are selling your company--and customers--short
- To sell to your employees, you must share your vision and passion.
- Focus on the company mission, and tie initiatives and campaigns to it.
- The strongest advocates are those who are already sold on the brand and what it represents.
BOTTOMLINE: "As founder, you must fuel the fire of passion within every employee. It's what turns an employee into an advocate--and advocates sell without even realizing it. This must be a 24/7 priority for every entrepreneur--your business's future depends on it."