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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Avoiding The Epic Fail - Part II

Venture capitalist John Doerr with Kleiner Perkins lists the top things that start-up CEOs should do, based on a survey of his own start-up firms, and here’s what they suggest:

  1. Act now. Act with speed. Raise money. Get a loan, secure financing. Focus, cut or sell.
  2. Protect the vital core of the business. But use a scalpel not an ax. Be surgical. Protect the vital core of the company. Cut once, deeper than you think.
  3. Make sure you have at least 18 months of cash. Or more — on a conservative revenue forecast.
  4. Defer facility expansions. Don’t spend money on tech infrastructure, such as new software or computers.
  5. Reevaluate your R&D priorities.
  6. Renegotiate any contracts that you can. Everything is negotiable.
  7. Remember, everyone in the organization should be selling, from the receptionist to the engineers.
  8. Offer people equity instead of cash e.g. in place of bonuses. (You can do this with outside vendors as well).
  9. Secure your cash. Treasuries, or treasury backed securities, are more secure than money market funds.
  10. For your revenue plan, develop and obsess on leading indicators — e.g. bookings, unique visitors, conversions.
  11. Over-communicate with everyone – employees, investors, partners and particularly customers. Don’t sugar coat things, communicate your resolve

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Art of Successful Innovation

Towers Perrin, a global professional services firm, recently published an innovation study and found that companies are adept at generating innovative ideas, but are far less effective at turning those ideas into reality.

Their findings suggest that the next battleground for companies will be around innovation sustainability -- building a “machine” to institutionalize and formalize innovation processes and outcomes in a more structured way

The biggest problem? They may be overly invested in the creation phase and significantly short-changing the implementation (execution) phase.

  • 44% of survey respondents felt their company was not good at moving quickly from idea to implementation outpaced slightly the percentage (42%) who felt their companies did this well.
BOTTOMLINE: "The finding that organizations rate themselves relatively poorly when it comes to implementation is a serious concern because taking action -- commercializing an idea -- is what innovation is all about. We see a noticeable disconnect between organizations’ desire to innovate and their ability to do so effectively."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Creativity and Discipline - Keys To Radical Service Innovation

"Strategies on the frontiers of service design demand a blend of creativity and discipline."

So begins a recent article in BusinessWeek, which details a five-step framework for implementing innovation projects successfully, by offering "radical service innovation".

The five steps for radical service innovation:

  1. Develop insight about the market
  2. Create radical value propositions
  3. Explore creative service models
  4. Bend the rules of delivery
  5. Iteratively pilot and refine the new service

BOTTOMLINE: "The market landscape for services is evolving constantly and rapidly. Both the market and customers expect nimbleness when it comes to innovative services. Frequent and radical innovations are key to being relevant in such a landscape. "

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution Named Finalist in National “Best Book” 2008 Award

Best Selling Author Gary Harpst’s Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution Named Finalist in National “Best Book” 2008 Award
Harpst named a finalist in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business category

FINDLAY, Ohio, October 21, 2008 — Six Disciplines announced today that the bestselling book, Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier by author and CEO Gary Harpst, was named a finalist in the National “Best Books” 2008 Awards by Harpst’s latest book, published in July 2008, was named a finalist in the Business category: Entrepreneurship & Small Business.

“It’s an honor to receive the award and to know the Execution Revolution content and concept has been so well received,” said author and Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst. “Business owners across America are desperate for ways to rise to the top of their industry and stay there through consistent execution. Economic development can be accelerated, and sustainability is achieveable -- with the right process and support network to encourage accountability.”

Based on breakthrough research, field testing and proven best-practices, the thought-leading vision described by Harpst in Six Disciplines Execution Revolution sets a new course for how small and midsized businesses can finally confront the never-ending challenge of executing strategy.

Six Disciplines Execution Revolution details the elements of a complete strategy execution program, clarifies how it could only have happened now, and explains why such a program will soon become a mainstream requirement for all businesses.

In addition to this award, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution has been named a nationwide bestseller by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and BusinessWeek.

This year, Harpst has addressed industry leaders on business sustainability and the importance of small businesses in economic development at events including the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Association of Small Business Development Centers.

Harpst’s first book, Six Disciplines for Excellence, published in 2007, was previously named a Finalist in the National “Best Books” 2007 Awards, by, in two Business categories: Entrepreneurship & Small Business, and Management & Leadership.

Six Disciplines Execution Revolution are available from Six, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, 800-CEO-Read, or from any bookstore nationwide. Hardcover, 208 pages, $12.95, ISBN 978-0-9816411-0-2.

About Gary Harpst
Gary Harpst, a highly successful entrepreneur and CEO, spent twenty years as leader of Solomon Software, which implemented more than 60,000 businesses management systems in small and midsized businesses, before it was eventually sold to Microsoft. Today, as founder and CEO of Six Disciplines, Harpst and his team have developed the first complete strategy execution program, designed specifically for small and midsized businesses. The Six Disciplines® Program includes a repeatable business-building methodology, local external accountability coaching, an innovative execution management software system, and the advantages of a broad learning community.
Harpst is also the author of two award-winning business improvement books, Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution and Six Disciplines for Excellence. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, Harpst uses his 30 years of business leadership and entrepreneurial experience to provide a fertile inventory of hard-hitting, real-world examples that pepper his presentations and engages his audiences. Visit

About Six Disciplines
Six Disciplines, founded in 2000, has developed the first complete strategy execution program, specifically for small- and midsized businesses. The Six Disciplines program integrates a repeatable methodology to drive organizational learning, ongoing external coaching to ensure accountability, an execution software system to align daily activities of every stakeholder, and community learning to accelerate and sustain business excellence. The program is offered exclusively through a growing national network of locally-owned Six Disciplines Centers. Businesses that have implemented the Six Disciplines program include those from the Inc. 500, ISO-9000 certified companies, and a 2007 Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award recipient. Visit

About the National Best Books Awards, the premiere online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE NATIONAL “BEST BOOKS” 2008 AWARDS (NBBA) on October 20, 2008. Over 500 winners and finalists were announced in over 140 categories covering print and audio books. Visit

Friday, October 10, 2008

Communication Essential During Economic Downturn

Consulting firm Watson Wyatt offers these best-practices for keeping communication as a top priority during tough economic times:

  • Be a leader. Leaders don’t have to have all the answers. Tell employees what you know and what you don’t. Explain the steps the organization is taking to identify issues and resolve problems. Knowing senior executives are there to lead through uncertain economic times is crucial to your people.
  • Show your strengths. Reinforce the core competencies and values that make your organization successful. Talk about how they will help the organization thrive in the future.
  • Be visible. Credibility, conviction and passion are important messages that only actual presence can convey. Employees can benefit from seeing engaged and informed senior leaders through Webcasts or other interactive vehicles.
  • Use your team. Make sure the management team knows how and what to communicate, and that no one is a bystander. Limit potential damage from leaders’ informal conversations that are overheard and ripple through every organization.
  • Be coordinated. Coordinate your internal and external messages. Employees should hear company news from the company first.
  • Share responsibility. Be clear about what you want your managers and your workforce to do. People want to help — tell them how. It’s never a bad time to reinforce customer focus.
  • Give up the myth of message control. Find ways to listen to what is on employees’ minds. Monitor the press and social media for what is being said about your company and your industry. Have a process for quickly developing and distributing answers to rumors and for clarifying inaccurate statements, such as possible layoffs.
  • Be humane. Some employees are experiencing personal trauma from falling 401(k) account balances and home prices. Acknowledge their pain.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Six Disciplines On The Amazon Kindle

Six Disciplines Execution Revolution, rated as a bestseller by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and BusinessWeek, is now available for the Amazon Kindle - for only $9.99.

  • Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.
  • Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.
  • Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed.
  • Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.
  • More than 180,000 books available, including more than 98 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers

More about the Amazon Kindle - here.

Gary Harpst - Podcast on PriceWaterhouseCoopers Startup Show

Gary Harpst, CEO of Six Disciplines, recently was interviewed on the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Startup Show.

You can listen to the conversation here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gary Harpst Podcast: How Smart Businesses Succeed

“Don’t think of your biggest problem as the thing in front of you,” says best-selling author and Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst. “Your biggest problem is that as you solve problems and overcome hurdles, bigger ones will come and until you build an organization that recognizes that, you’re going to have this up and down reaction-oriented type of business.”

Harpst talks about how he built his business, Six Disciplines, in this podcast by Central Valley Business Times.