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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Barriers To Sustainable Performance

"It may be overly simplistic to say that a company’s success depends on the quality of its communication and internal dialogue. But look at the top and you’ll see that a leader who is authentic is a leader who has inspired clear and honest communication."

So begins the Ivey Business Journal article "The New Leadership Challenge: Removing The Emotional Barriers To Sustainable Performance in a Flat World," by Paul Wieand, Jan Birchfield and M. Carl Johnson III.

Pulling from disparate works such as Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat" and Jim Collins' "Good To Great", the authors summarize effective leadership in a five-step model:

Step 1: Overcoming the Personality: Removing barriers to self-knowledge and authenticity
Step 2: Authentic Leadership: Developing an authentic leadership style and applying it for effective decision-making
Step 3: Collaboration: Communicating to create unity without consensus
Step 4: Culture: Helping the leader create an environment that enhances openness, candor and dissent as essential characteristics of communication
Step 5: Commitment: Committing to a Level 5 environment for sustainably good results

BOTTOMLINE: "We would encourage CEOs and their executive staffs to embrace the 5-step model we describe above and commit to achieving a highly collaborative culture founded on authenticity. With this achievement, we believe that organizations will raise their success odds for delivering sustainably good performance."

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Power of The Two Word Strategy

When it comes to strategy formulation, it's important to be as clear and concise as possible. Brevity is key.

With that in mind, try boiling your strategic position down to two words (or at least two key concepts.)

The two words you choose need to answer the following two questions:

  1. What business are you in?
  2. What makes you different?
For example: Dell (computers direct); Southwest Airlines (short flights); FedEx (overnight delivery); JiffyLube (quick oilchanges) and so on.


Long-term business success is rooted in your ability to build and sustain a product or service that is different than your competition - different in ways that are important to customers.

BOTTOMLINE: Getting to this level of clarity is not easy. But, simplifying your strategic position to two words:

  • Forces you to make tough choices (you can be all things to all markets)
  • Strengthens your focus and direction (use the strength of competitors against them)
  • Ensures clarity (so everyone in the organization understands it and aligns activities to it)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Six Secrets of Breakthrough Companies

Author Keith McFarland, a former Inc. 500 CEO, has spent years researching thousands of private companies and interviewing their leaders -- in an attempt to identify the secrets of "breaking through." Here are six of his most surprising findings.

  1. Happy employees make successful companies. How employees feel about working in a place is a significant driver of success. A key discovery, driven home in our visits to one breakthrough company after another, was that the task of building a great place to work wasn't delegated to the human resources department alone. The top people in the company thought about it every day.
  2. Money doesn't solve everything. You don't always need other people's money. We've all heard the professional investor's elevator pitch, "Sure, you can grow your business, but you can grow it faster with our money." We were shocked by the fact that not one of nine breakthrough companies was funded by venture capital in their start-up years.
  3. Many paths lead to success. It's not about where (or even whether) you went to school. The diversity of the people who established and/or are running the nine breakthrough companies is simply astounding.
  4. Talent is contagious. Don't look for extraordinary people; build a place where ordinary people can do extraordinary things. While they certainly obsessed about each individual hiring decision, breakthrough companies also focused on creating systems that helped their people grow along with the business.
  5. Change matters. Sticking to the knitting won't always get you there. Just as the breakthrough companies ignored the so-called experts when it came to the prospects for their industry, they also kept redefining their businesses.
  6. Breakthrough companies are found in unexpected places. The most interesting companies may not operate in the markets that Wall Street and the business press consider interesting or "cool." Many of the breakthrough companies began in market segments experts considered unattractive at the time.

Six Disciplines Client Video - Kellermeyer

Kellermeyer, a leading Midwest supplier of retail janitorial services for home and retail space with offices nationwide, works with Six Disciplines to better align its people for sustaining their business success.

Watch this short video as President Jill Kegler talks about how Six Disciplines helped them to optimize operating efficiencies and to get its workforce to become more engaged and accountable. See how she overcame barriers to drive positive change with this unique strategy execution program.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Get Six Disciplines Execution Revolution - for FREE

It's time to start the Execution Revolution!

As our way of thanking all of the Be Excellent readers, we're offering a complimentary* copy of the new book "Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution" by CEO and award-winning author Gary Harpst.

Get a copy of the new book for yourself - and tell others to get theirs quickly as well.

To get yours, visit - and enter the Coupon Code: "START"

*Offer valid for U.S. residents only. Limited to the first 5,000 books, one per address. Offer ends June 19, 2008.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Innovation and the Small Business Challenge

This month Inc. Magazine challenged A.G. Lafley (CEO of Procter & Gamble) and Ram Charan (strategy execution guru) to apply the lessons from their new book The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation to a much smaller company - one with only $4 million in revenue and 30 employees.

Lafley and Charan took on the challenge and came up with a seven-step routine for innovation.

The steps include:

  1. Select the Strategy (Look for an underserved market)
  2. Connect to Customers (Use social networks as an idea collector)
  3. Generate Ideas (Brainstorm the right way)
  4. Select an Idea (Separate the good ideas from the great)
  5. Prototype and Test (Bring on the customers)
  6. Go to Market (Even half-baked product ideas can work)
  7. Adjust for Growth (Devote resources to innovation)