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Friday, November 20, 2009

Start 2010 Off Right - With Six Disciplines

2010 - another new year awaits us all. What will the new year bring in terms of your business? What will you do differently in 2010 to ensure success?

Consider adopting the Six Disciplines approach to strategy execution.

Think of these six disciplines as a series of annual, quarterly, weekly and daily repeatable cycles which, with each successive pass, helps leaders and their teams to more effectively execute in their pursuit of enduring excellence. Six disciplines are all it takes—but leaders and their companies must stick with them. Change initiatives generally don’t last, especially in small and mid-sized companies. This complete program is the "ultimate process" that most organizations don't have - it supercedes all other processes.

Discipline I. Decide What's Important. Decide what’s important (and by implication what’s not important) so you can aim the allocation of resources—time, money and creativity—toward this end. In this annual discipline, leaders systematically and regularly review and renew their mission, values, strategic position, vision, their most vital few objectives—and agree what to stop doing.

Then on to Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead

Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead. Set goals that lead. Well-defined goals are among the most effective tools available to any leader—yet most leaders don’t set goals that lead their people in the right direction. The purpose of this discipline is to produce clear and measurable annual goals. Pursuing these goals will lead people to align their daily activities with the vital few objectives set in the strategy. The result is a brief goals statement that every team member can understand and support in their daily activities

Then to Discipline III. Align Systems

Discipline III. Align Systems. The systems—policies, processes, technologies, measures, and people—are often at cross purposes with the stated priorities because most leaders lack an organized approach to keep their systems aligned with their strategy. This discipline taps the knowledge of the entire workforce to identify the areas where the company will get the best ROI in policies, processes, measures, technologies and people.

Then on to Discipline IV. Work the Plan.

Discipline IV. Work the Plan. One of the best learning tools is the individual quarterly plan. In this discipline, every person works with his/her team leader to develop Individual Plans for the coming quarter. These goals are reviewed and checked for alignment with company goals. This quarterly plan serves as a timesaving template for a weekly status report. Every individual learns how to set goals, understands company priorities, takes responsibility for their goals, learns to become accountable, reports progress, and uses their innovative capabilities to solve problems.

And continuously practice Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully

Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully. Innovation means problem-solving, and everyone has the ability to solve problems. This discipline provides principles and measurement tools that are used in the other disciplines to help leaders set clear goals and align daily activities to meet them. These goals should align with company priorities, and employees should use their innate creativity to meet or beat those goals.
Then, onto the final process, Discipline VI. Step Back.

Discipline VI. Step Back. This annual discipline helps leaders step back from the pressures of everyday business and gain perspective on the factors that affect business performance. This is achieved through a series of “discovery exercises,” exploring externals (competitors, industry, economic) and internals (goal performance, stakeholder feedback, measures, SWOT.) In addition to leaders stepping back, all team members are encouraged to do the same by providing input on each other’s performances, which is achieved by completing a 360° feedback survey and an annual performance appraisal.

Then we cycle back to Discipline I, and begin the repeatable process over again, year after year.

BOTTOMLINE: Get all the details of this repeatable business-building methodology by reading the award-winning handbook: Six Disciplines for Excellence (and visit

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