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Monday, January 28, 2008

What Keeps CEOs Awake At Night - Part IV

In our continuing research comes this recent indication that the fear of recession tops the list of worries that keep CEOs awake at night.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers's 11th annual Global CEO Survey (as reported in Management-Issues) has revealed the first fall in CEO confidence for the year ahead since 2003, with the spectre of a U.S. slump overshadowing over-regulation as the number one risk to their business for the first time in the survey's history.

  • Terrorism and the threat of pandemic, once major CEO concerns, were cited by only 31 percent and 28 percent of respondents, respectively. Other risks to growth such as energy supply, global climate change, and terrorism also declined as business threats.
  • The survey also underlined the fact that the war for talent is continuing to rage, with more than two-thirds of all CEOs –85 percent in North America – saying that their time was best spent dealing with people issues.
BOTTOMLINE: Notice These are all externally-focused issues. While important, it's more critical to focus on issues you can have a direct influence upon, which are internally-focused. According to the survey's administrators, "Regardless of the other issues swirling around them, CEOs clearly understand that having people with the right balance of commercial, technical and management skills is the key to success in their organization."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gary Harpst Interviewed on Indie Business Radio

Founder and CEO of Six Disciplines Corporation, Gary Harpst, was recently interviewed on The Indie Business Radio.

On the showentitled "The Six Disciplines of 21st Century Business Leadership," Gary shares his Six Disciplines Methodology that every business can use to improve business and achieving long term success.

You can download or stream the audio of the interview here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

LA Times Features Advice from Gary Harpst

Karen Klein, of the Los Angeles Times, published a short Q&A article featuring entrepreneurship advice from Six Disciplines founder and CEO, Gary Harpst.

Learn volumes on opening a store

Dear Karen: I'm considering opening a store. What books should I read?

Answer: Becoming a business owner requires a personal evaluation. To help see if you're suited for entrepreneurship, author Gary Harpst suggested "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham and "StrengthsFinder 2.0" by Tom Rath.

"These books will objectively identify whether starting a business is aligned with your personal and professional strengths," said Harpst, chief executive of Six Disciplines Corp.

If you decide to go forward in business, he recommended Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything" and Michael Gerber's "The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It."

After the company opens, Harpst said, his own book, "Six Disciplines for Excellence, Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last," provides small-business owners with advice on planning and executing strategy in a simple, effective way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Execution Revolution: Another "Must Read" from Gary Harpst

According to Dan Bobinski, CEO and Director of The Center for Workplace Excellence:

"Never have I heard it explained so well. This one’s going to be a “must read.

That was Dan's summary reaction to an early read of Gary Harpst's new book, "Execution Revolution: Solving The One Problem That Makes All Others Easier."

In his review, Dan begins:

"Longtime readers know that I’m a fan of Gary Harpst’s work. His Six Disciplines for Excellence book made the top of my recommended reading list for 2007, and his Six Disciplines company is helping companies do what they NEED to do to achieve excellence.

So I was pretty tickled when the Six Disciplines company asked me to give some feedback on an advance copy of Gary’s next book, Execution Evolution."


Read the entire review here.

Gary Harpst Interviewed On BusinessWeek Podcast

Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines, and author of the highly-rated business improvement book Six Disciplines for Excellence, was recently interviewed by Karen E. Klein, as part of the BusinessWeek Smart Answers program.

Listen to the podcast interview with Harpst as he discusses "The Six Disciplines Approach" to planning and executing strategy.

Listen to this MP3 episode (requires QuickTime 7 or iTunes)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Strategy and Execution- The Balancing Act

Strategy execution has always been one of the most difficult challenges in business. Yet it's the appropriate balance between strategy and execution that's the toughest part of the equation.

Let's take a look at both elements:

Creating strategy requires making intelligent choices and tradeoffs. Yet, the effort involved formulating strategy is miniscule compared to executing it successfully. It's much easier to create a strategic plan than to it is to actually do it.

So, in other words, while both are important, (but not equally important) what is needed is an appropriate balance between strategy and execution. The emphasis needs to be placed on the tougher of the two: execution.

There is one problem ,that if solved, will make solving all other problems easier. Our contention is that planning and executing, and at the same time, dealing with the unknowns of the real-world, is the biggest problem in business.

Overcoming it is what we mean by solving the one problem that will make all other problems easier. Failing to solve it destines your organization to a reactive, fire-fighting future.

Six Disciplines is the first complete strategy execution program for a business to take control of the one thing it can, so that it is better equipped to deal with all the things it can’t.

Six Disciplines Atlanta Featured in Gwinnett Business Journal

Riz Shakir, president of Six Disciplines Atlanta, was recently showcased in the Gwinnett Business Journal, in an article entitled "Smoothing The Curve."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gary Harpst Interviewed on On-The-Money Radio

In this recent radio interview, On The Money host, Steve Pomeranz, chats with Six Disciplines founder and CEO Gary Harpst about what it takes for businesses to make and keep their New Year Resolutions.

(On The Money is a southern Florida radio station, affiliated with NPR Radio. )

Click here to download the MP3 of the interview.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Importance of Succession Planning

Successful organizations understand that succession planning is both an art and a science.

All too often, organizations react to the succession challenge too late. They wait for someone to step down or even worse, be removed. Then, and only then, do they consider who or what should happen next?


Succession planning needs to be part of every organization's strategy plan, reviewed annally and updated quarterly. And remember: succession planning is NOT just for the CEO! It's for every major contributor in your organization!

BOTTOMLINE: It is becoming increasingly more important that your leadership team develops a comprehensive perspective of the challenges and disciplines they are responsible for. Get out of reactionary mode - incorporate succession planning into your annual strategic plan.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Strategic Plans and Business Plans - Not The Same

What kind of plan does your organization need--a strategic plan or a business plan?

The easy answer is that you need both. But... you may need one more than the other.

Hank Harris with FMI, offers these differences between strategic plans and business plans:

  • A strategic plan sets the direction for the firm in the mid- to long-term future. It spells out the company's mission statement, primary goals, and measurable objectives, and explains the basic strategies for fulfilling the mission and achieving the goals.
  • The purpose of the business plan is to define the steps necessary to achieve the short- or mid-term objectives. The business plan aims to improve the effectiveness of the organization without significantly changing its direction.

BOTTOMLINE: "The value of strategic planning lies in the process. Engaging team leaders - and eventually team members - is essential to the success of a strategic planning effort. Different viewpoints on directions, goals, and strategies will emerge, but they can lead to creative solutions. Alignment begins to occur as a consensus is reached on vision, values, mission, goals, strategies, and objectives.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Six Disciplines Client Video - Sun State International Trucks

Watch this five minute video about Sun State International Trucks, which engaged with Six Disciplines Tampa.

In this video, Oscar Horton, President of Sun State International Trucks, talks about his company and how the Six Disciplines Program has impacted his business.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Innovation and Execution

A recent McKinsey study offers the following findings on the importance of innovation:

  • Innovation has become a primary force driving the growth, performance, and valuation of companies - however, there is a wide gap between the aspirations of executives to innovate and their ability to execute.
  • Many companies make the mistake of trying to spur innovation by turning to unreliable best practices and to organizational structures and processes, however, executives who focus on stimulating and supporting innovation by their employees can promote and sustain it with the current talent and resources—and more effectively than they could by using other incentives.

BOTTOMLINE: "Three approaches can help executives mount innovation efforts.

  1. First, senior management should actively support behavior that promotes innovation.
  2. Second, network analysis can identify where the capacity for innovation already exists within an organization and help it build more innovative networks.
  3. Finally, executives should seed innovative thinking by focusing on selected managers and projects."

Work-Life Balance in 2008

Despite the bleaker economic outlook leading to fears of less job security this year, U.S. workers want to be able to spend less time chained to their desks and more with their families and friends.

According to an article (reported in Management-Issues) two new polls have put better work-life balance high on the priority list for most Americans.

Their findings:

  • The careers' website,, found nearly six out of 10 put a healthy work-life balance as their most important workplace goal for 2008.
  • In a second poll of 1,200 workers for the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, seven out of 10 said what they wanted most of all from a job was a flexible, family-friendly workplace.

Other employee demands included:

  • Further education - only 18 per cent of the vote
  • Staying organized - 16 per cent
  • Improving workplace relationships - 10 per cent

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pursuing Organizational Excellence

What are the things to focus on to improve your chances of achieving organizational excellence?

Gary Harpst, founder and CEO of Six Disciplines talks with Jim Blasingame on Small Business Advocate Radio .

Listen the the most recent 12/28/07 interview here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Innovation From The Outside In

From the NY Times article Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike, comes the following observation:

"It's a pickle of a paradox: As our knowledge and expertise increase, our creativity and ability to innovate tend to taper off. Why? Because the walls of the proverbial box in which we think are thickening along with our experience.

This so-called curse of knowledge, a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do."

Here are proven ways to to exorcise the curse:

  • Chip Heath, who with his brother, Dan, was a co-author of the 2007 book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” In their book, the Heath brothers outline six “hooks” that they say are guaranteed to communicate a new idea clearly by transforming it into what they call a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story. Each of the letters in the resulting acronym, Succes, refers to a different hook. (“S,” for example, suggests simplifying the message.) Although the hooks of “Made to Stick” focus on the art of communication, there are ways to fashion them around fostering innovation.
  • In her 2006 book, “Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine — and What Smart Companies Are Doing About It,” Cynthia Barton Rabe proposes bringing in outsiders whom she calls zero-gravity thinkers to keep creativity and innovation on track.

BOTTOMLINE: "Look for people with renaissance-thinker tendencies, who’ve done work in a related area but not in your specific field,” Barton says. “Make it possible for someone who doesn’t report directly to that area to come in and say the emperor has no clothes.” (Ed: Sounds like Six Disciplines accountability coaches to me!)

Strategy, Execution and The New Year

Intending on improving the way you execute your strategy in 2008?

You have two choices:

1. Doing the right things.
Doing the right things focuses on choices - it's all about strategy. It's how you differentiate yourself from your competition, and what you've chosen not to do.

2. Doing things right.
Doing the right things focuses on process - it's all about execution. It's how you repeatedly improve how things get done.

BOTTOMLINE: For 2008, I suggest a third option:

3. Doing the right things...right.

This would be a balance between strong strategy and strong execution. You'll be hearing much more about how to increase the capability of your organization to execute its strategy in a more predictable, sustainable way.

Happy New Year from Be Excellent!