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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leadership Development: The Most Critical Issue Facing Organizations in 2010

For the 20 years that consulting firm i4cp has been conducting research, leadership development has always been a top issue.

In their 2010 research study, however, leadership development has increased in prominence, with a surprising 75% of organizations citing it as an important issue.

Other key findings:
  • only 23% said they were effective at developing leaders internally - a gap of over 50%.
  • only 14.3% of high-performance organizations have a process for identifying gaps in leadership development.
  • Only 25% of the study's respondents said leadership was effective at managing change, yet 74% said change management was important.
  • Strategy execution and alignment was another area of concern. Though 79% of respondents said aligning the workforce to business strategy was important, only 33% said they were effective at doing so.
BOTTOMLINE: "Companies should be treating leadership development as both an urgent survival tactic and a business opportunity. The companies that get it right - and several high-performing companies are doing it right already - have potential for great success."

How Google Sets Goals and Measures Success

Don Dodge (a former Microsoft colleague of mine) is now with Google, and writes about his experiences on his "The Next Big Thing" blog.

In this post "How Google Sets Goals and Measures Success", Don offers his insights into the goal-setting and measurement process at Google.

Worth reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Latest Trends in Executive Coaching

Sherpa Coaching's  5th annual survey shows that the executive coaching industry survived the downturn, and is looking toward radical change in the near future. 

Key findings from the survey:
  • When there is turnover in top management, there’s a need for leadership development. 
  • Emerging leaders must learn how to listen and communicate well, deliver clear expectations and make accountability a positive force in the workplace. 
  • Ideally, executive coaching creates those positive changes in business behavior in a limited time frame.
  • Executive coaching is seen, more and more, as part of succession planning.
  • Do executive coaches follow a published process?
    • 40 percent of executive coaches ‘develop a unique approach from one client to the next'.
    • An additional 40 percent have ‘developed their own process for coaching’.
    • Only 20 percent follow a published process that guides their coaching engagements.
  • Since 2006, the delivery of executive coaching services has moved decidedly toward in-person encounters. 
  • In this year’s survey, there's change in practice that goes against the tide: phone coaching held steady, while webcam coaching took a couple of percentage points away from in-person engagements. What stalled the trend toward live coaching? 2009 was an unusual year, based on budgets drawn during a stock market crash in late ‘08. The call for cost reductions favored remote coaching, hence an increase in webcam engagements.

Strategic Planning Going Away? Not So Fast!

The way this Wall Street Journal article portrays it, "the recession has changed the way business leaders think -- formerly reliable tactics no longer work and innovative strategies are becoming the new standards." 

One standby that may have gone out the window, the WSJ article argues: strategic planning.

In fact, NOTHING could be further from the truth!

If you really read between the lines of this article, strategic planning isn't going away at all.  Rather, it's becoming even more important - and will become an even more pervasive activity as we move ahead beyond the recession and into the recovery. 

"Old" practices, such as updating the company budget on a quarterly basis, are being replaced by monthly updates. One-year and three-year strategic plans are being reviewed and adjusted on a monthly basis as well, to faster respond to fluctuations in the market.

According to The Business Insider, "...even as the economy stabilizes, these new habits might just stick. Valuing flexibility over sticking to a long-term plan allows companies to better react to consumer changes and take advantage of fleeting opportunities, and that extra work and attention can result in better business overall."

Why Is Executing Strategy So Difficult?

In a post by Brian Lassiter, President of the Minnesota Council for Quality, a state-level Baldrige program, Lassiter poses the age-old question: "Why is executing strategy so difficult – especially during today’s tough economic conditions, when strategy is really so paramount to long-term success?"

He sites a recent study by Minnesota-based Digineer (conducted by Pat Salaski, a management consultant and a 2009 Minnesota Quality Award Evaluator), in which they found: 
  • 69% of the leaders surveyed are NOT confident in their organization’s ability to execute strategy.
  • When responding to the question of what was the number one barrier to effectively executing their strategy, most of the barriers reported by these leaders were INTERNAL issues, not external factors (the top two vote-getters: company culture and past habits. In fact, only two external factors listed in the top 10.
  • These tendencies seem to exist in good times and in bad (and maybe they have for decades or generations, which might explain why 70-90% of strategies are said to fail.
  • All contemporary methodologies for implementing strategy – Balanced Scorecard, Hoshin Planning, and others – really have five common elements:
    • Focus on a few critical strategic goals
    • Identify key prformance indicators that measure progress toward those goals.
    • Assess initiatives against a screen of strategic effect and cost benefit.
    • Execute programs that deliver the benefits.
    • Review progress against Key Performance Indicator targets in real time and adjust course quickly when necessary.
BOTTOMLINE: "In challenging times (and really in ALL times) a key role for leaders is to set and execute strategy – to set a vision for the future and align organizational resources to move (and adjust) toward that vision. The good news is that these internal factors can be addressed by senior leaders. The bad news is that they are the same internal factors that have been identified in multiple other studies on this topic for years."

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Are The Six Disciplines?

The Six Disciplines strategy execution program integrates the business-building elements of strategy, planning, organizing, executing, innovating and learning, and offers a systematic way for organizations to continually improve and achieve lasting business excellence.

You can think of the Six Disciplines Methodology as a series of annual, quarterly, weekly and daily repeatable cycles which, with each successive pass, helps individuals to be accountable, align their activities with organizational goals, and consistently execute on strategy.    

So, what are the Six Disciplines? 

Discipline I. Decide What’s Important. The foundation of all strategy formulation is deciding what is most important to your organization (and by implication what’s not important) so the allocation of resources—time, money and creativity—can all be aimed toward this end. In this discipline, organizations regularly review and renew their mission, values, strategic position, vision, their most vital few objectives, as well as agreeing what to stop doing.

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

Discipline III. Align Systems. One of the greatest barriers an organization faces in pursuing its goals is itself. For many businesses, the systems that make up the business are often at cross purposes with the priorities of the company. Why? Because most organizations do not have an organized approach to keep their systems aligned with their strategy. Discipline III, taps the knowledge of the whole workforce to identify the areas where the company will get the greatest return on its investment in policies, processes, measures, technologies and people.

Discipline IV. Work the Plan. One of the greatest organizational learning tools ever invented is the quarterly Individual Plan. In this discipline, every person in the company works with his/her team leader to develop Individual Plans for the upcoming 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. The result is that every individual in the company learns how to set goals, understand company priorities, takes responsibility for their own activities, and reports progress regularly.

Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully. Innovation is just another name for problem-solving, and everyone in the company has the ability to solve problems. This discipline is unlike the rest in that it provides tools and principles that are used throughout the other disciplines to help people set clear goals and eliminate barriers to progress.. These goals will align with company priorities, and then employees use their innate creativity to meet or beat those goals. Empowering principles, such as Embracing Constraints and Taking Informed Risks, plus tools like the 100-Point Exercise and 5-Step Problem Solving, are but a few examples of what’s included in Discipline V.

Discipline VI. Step Back. This annual discipline helps the whole organization to step back from the pressure 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, etc.). In addition to the organization as a whole stepping back, all individual team members are encouraged to do the same by providing input on each other’s performances. This is achieved by completing a 360° and an annual performance appraisal for each team member.

BOTTOMLINE:  The Six Disciplines are described in detail in the award-winning book, Six Disciplines for Excellence, available here from Amazon

101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders

The InsideCRM guys posted this managerial cheat-sheet for those in leadership roles.

For easier reading, they’ve also split the 101 rules into several categories.

Review The Manager's Cheat Sheet: 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Five Domains of High-Performance Organizations

According to The High-Performance Organization Survey that was conducted by i4cp in December 2009, one thing is clear: there is no single organizational element that is correlated with high performance. Rather, there are five.

For decades, the research team at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) has studied what separates high-performing organizations from their lower-performing counterparts. The results of that research have consistently shown that companies that excel in the following five domains are typically high performers:
  • Strategy
  • Leadership
  • Talent
  • Culture
  • Market
The results were interesting, if not startling. The gap between higher-performing and lower-performing organizations has widened considerably from previous studies.

You can download their white paper here: The five domains of high-performance organizations

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Change Is Inevitable. Failure is Optional. What’s YOUR Plan?

As the old saying goes: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

People and organizations have only two alternatives: get better or get worse, improve or decay. And it’s a constant battle. Our choice is to manage this ongoing process and improve the things that can be improved, or ignore the process and decay. This principle is just as important in life-long learning as it is in organizational change.

The challenge for us as individuals, and for organizations, is how to keep on the “upward vector” of growth, innovation, improvement and continual learning. It can be done, but it takes positive, continuous energy and communication.

But first, we need to understand the dynamics of change.

Which Comes First: Process or Behavior?

Many leaders address the change challenge in a very clinical fashion, going first for the process, the policy or the procedure. Fixing or otherwise improving a process usually involves changing it in some way. But, which comes first: process or behavior?

Effective execution of strategy ultimately requires change first in the behaviors and attitudes of leadership – and of all employees –before processes can be changed. One failing in most business improvement approaches is the tendency to develop new or ideal processes on paper, without addressing elements of human behavior and human nature. Perhaps it’s an over-reliance on highly data-driven methodologies like Six Sigma or lean. In these scenarios, the expectation is if we can use good quantifiable data to demonstrate that a process change will result in an improvement, then people will automatically change their behavior. On the contrary, our experience and research tells us that behavior change requires time, effort – and most importantly – discipline.

For any enduring change to take place, behaviors (habits) need to change before processes can successfully be changed.

To understand organizational change, three simple behavioral laws emerge:

  • Any work behavior (verbal or physical) that works (pays off, is successful, gets us what we want) is repeated.
  • Any work behavior that avoids a negative experience (criticism, needless effort, appears inept, avoids something we don't want) is repeated.
  • Any work behavior that leads directly to a negative experience (discipline, embarrassment, needless effort) is not repeated.
BOTTOMLINE: The often used blanket comment; “I don’t like change” is untrue. We generally like changes that affect us positively, but tend to resist changes that affect us in a negative way. In other words, “We don’t resist change, we resist being changed.” What people need is a new perspective on change, and how it will benefit them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Six Disciplines Client BioFit Showcased in U.S. Business Review

In the 1960s and 1970s, BioFit Engineer­ed Products led the industry by introducing a line of ergonomic chairs for the industrial and laboratory markets. These chairs included features such as adjustability, lumbar support and specially designed seats to fit the user’s body as perfectly as possible.

The company became a success, President Ed Metzger says, but had yet to find a long-range plan that suited it.

With the implementation of a complete strategy execution program called Six Disciplines, however, BioFit has found a strategy for success that fits it as comfortably as one of its chairs.

Read the entire story about how BioFit uses the Six Disciplines strategy execution coaching program to execute its strategy, as published by U.S. Business Review, here.

The Top 10 Reasons To Measure Results

The need for measurement may seem obvious, however, more often than not, it's overlooked as being unnecessary by many leaders of small and midsized organizations.

Let's look at the top 10 reasons why your organization needs to measure its results:

  1. Measurement clarifies expectations. Measures are a the most transparent and clear means to communicate expectations to employees.
  2. Measurement directs behavior. Most employees consciously or unconsciously operate on the following assumption: “tell me how you'll measure me, and I'll tell you how I'll behave.”
  3. Measurement increases objectivity. Measurement is essential to “managing by fact” – otherwise you are left to lead with charm and personality.
  4. Measurement makes performance visible. If it’s not being measured, it simply can’t be managed.
  5. Measurement focuses attention. When people are faced with so many competing priorities for their time and activities, what is measured tends to get their attention – particularly when it is linked to a recognition/reward system.
  6. Measurement promotes consistency. Unmeasured systems tend to be highly variable systems, with all the negatives for quality that implies.
  7. Measurement facilitates feedback. Feedback in the form of timely, relevant measures is the basic navigational device of any individual or organization.
  8. Measurement improves decision-making. One of the major causes of failure in decision-making is poor or non-existent use of data. One accurate measure can be worth a thousand opinions.
  9. Management promotes understanding. Quality guru W. Edwards Deming thought that systematic process measurement led to the “profound knowledge” that was essential to top quality outcomes.
  10. Measurement improves execution. As former Allied Signal CEO and co-author of Execution Larry Bossidy has remarked “when I see companies that don’t execute, the chances are high that they don’t measure.”

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Read Six Disciplines for Excellence?

Why read Six Disciplines for Excellence?

“…for those who take the time to read it, the payoffs can be astounding.” (Sarah Bosch, Business Opportunities Weblog)

“For pragmatists and those who love execution, I give this book a strong recommend. Buy Six Disciplines of Excellence.” (Sam Decker, Decker Marketing)

“Well done Mr. Harpst. You have created what I think will be a book and method that will be used for generations.” (Glenn Gleason, Life, Work and the Pursuit of Excellence)

“The Six Disciplines book is a must-have addition to the small business owner’s library.” (Gary Whitehair, High Performance Business)

“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.' (Rob May, The Business Pundit)

“Truly - one of the most well thought-out business books I have read in a long time.” (Glenn Gleason, Life, Work and the Pursuit of Excellence)

“This hands-on book goes beyond the fluff that many other business books serve up, and offers a real world business plan.” (Sarah Bosch, Business Opportunities Weblog)

“Gary has found a way to comprehensively combine the best practices from Balanced Scorecards, Malcolm Baldridge and other frameworks into a world class approach.” (Glenn Gleason, Life, Work and the Pursuit of Excellence)

“I really liked this book because it is simple and practical. It is easy to read, relevant to most companies, and thorough.” (Rob May, The Business Pundit)

“One of the more enjoyable books I’ve read on small business success.” (Dr. Robert Rausch, CEO 1 Executive Energy)

“A Business Improvement Book with a Lasting Difference” (CEO Refresher)
“Six Disciplines for Excellence, by Gary Harpst is a great example of how to use common sense to build a business.” (Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy)

“Six Disciplines is unlike anything I've seen for small businesses. It's a book. It's a methodology. It's technology. It's a coaching system. It's something you'll be hearing a lot more about.” (Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends)

“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.” (Rob May, The Business Pundit)

BOTTOMLINE: Get Six Disciplines for Excellence from Amazon

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Accountability Works

There's a lot of talk going on these days about accountability.

For some, it's important for their professional lives (i.e., setting business goals, keeping on track, being responsible, etc.) For others, it's more personal (i.e., diet, weight loss, exercising, etc.)

Whatever the case, it's important to understand what accountability is, and ultimately, how it works. Here's a short course:

What is accountability? Why is it important? If you walk into a room and ask ten people what accountability means, you’ll likely get ten different definitions. To some, it’s something you make people do, as in “holding people accountable”. To others, accountability means accepting responsibility, but only when a project goes off course, or it’s too late to fix. When it’s all said and done, a workable definition of accountability might include the following elements: Taking responsibility for your own behavior; doing what’s right consistently; demonstrating personal integrity, and actively participating in activities and interactions that support the strategy of your organization.

Now that we understand better what accountability is, now consider what it isn’t. Accountability is not something you “make” people do. It has to be chosen, accepted or agreed upon by the people within your organization. People must “buy into” being accountable and responsible. For many, this is a new, unfamiliar, and sometimes, uncomfortable way to work or live. Learning how to become accountable involves an element of discipline. Most importantly, individual purpose and personal meaning comes from accepting responsibility and learning to be accountable.

Holding people accountable is really about the distribution of power and choice. When people have more choice, they learn to be more responsible. When they become more responsible, they earn more freedom. By being accountable, they earn the trust of managers and coworkers. When they are more accountable, they understand their purpose and role within the organization and are committed to making things happen

How can you learn to be accountable for yourself? In reality, it’s very difficult to be accountable to yourself. Depending on your frame of reference (professional vs. personal) you need to find someone who can help you to stay on track, to stay focused. Accountability can be the catalyst for unlearning old habits, and learning new habits. For weight loss, it's the reason that WeightWatchers is a multi-billion dollar business. It's also no secret that the tremendous growth in business coaching (for example, like Six Disciplines) due to its success in applying the benefits of external accountability coaching.

BOTTOMLINE: Accountability and positive organizational change come through a new set of conversations. So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, January 11, 2010

CEO Gary Harpst Discusses The Four Kinds of Leadership

There are four kinds of leadership development, according to CEO Gary Harpst, who joins Jim Blasingame at The Small Business Advocate, to talk about the way each one allows your small business to grow in a more sophisticated and therefore, more successful way.

Listen to the podcast interview here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Not Just Another New Year’s Resolution

(The following post was written by guest blogger, Eric Kurjan, President of Six Disciplines Ohio/Indiana. Six Disciplines brings “big company” process improvement to organizations looking to break beyond the status quo. For more information visit or call 419-348-1897)

The overwhelming majority of us have dismal success with our New Year’s resolutions. Yet, amazingly enough, despite our collective track records, most of us go through the same process every year.

We step back and review all the things we did poorly and how we can improve – eat better, exercise more, spend more time with the family, etc., etc., etc.. Then we vow to do better in the coming year. I am definitely going to avoid the fatty foods, I am going to lose weight and I am going to be a better father, mother, husband, wife, etc., etc., etc..

Every January, we boldly pronounce our resolutions, even if just to ourselves. Then, two weeks later, we find we’re already off course. Unfortunately, this process of making New Year’s resolutions is not much more than wishful thinking – a mere “hope” that we’ll do better. And, as I’ve written about before – hope is not a strategy.

We really do expect different results but we do little to break the cycle and we end up in the same place. We are fighting human nature. It is hard work to do the right things and more importantly to do the right things consistently.

Whether it’s for personal, professional or business purposes, I encourage you to stop making resolutions. That’s right – you read that correctly. Ditch the resolutions. This year, and from now on, I encourage you to set goals - not resolutions.

The Difference Between Goals and Resolutions
Resolutions are fun, but unfortunately, they’re typically meaningless – with little “teeth” or enforcement. In a word, they lack accountability. For example, some personal resolutions could be: to lose weight, or to exercise more, or to spend more time reading, or to spend less time watching TV, etc. If you examine your current approach to making resolutions (rather than creating real goals) you’ll discover much of the difficulty in executing them are due to barriers. These barriers may include:

  • The timeframe is too short (or so long that it’s not reasonable)
  • The involvement or dependency on other people
  • Poorly defined outcome or a vague strategy for how to get there
  • Unclear responsibility or accountability

The simple truth is most of us are trained to make plans, not to execute them. Our business schools are consistently top heavy when it comes to strategic planning, project planning, etc. But when it comes to execution? More often than not, we learned based on the "school of hard knocks."

No matter the goal, it requires us to formulate a strategy that helps us to achieve our desired results. And herein lies the problem. Formulating strategy is one thing. Executing it is another.

How to Set Goals – Not Resolutions

So rather than continuing on the path of low probability, I encourage you to make your goals that meet the following Goal Setting Criteria. (see below) Let’s look at that age-old resolution favorite “I am going to lose weight” but instead let’s make it a real goal “I am going lose 10 pounds by Spring Break 2010.”

  1. Be Specific – Be as exacting as possible. (Question: Is the goal well-defined, what does success look like? Yes, I will lose a specific weight by a specific date)
  2. Measure the Outcome – if you can’t measure it, it is not a good goal. We can track our progress during the timeframe in the number of pounds lost (Question: Will we know when the goal has been achieved? How will progress be measured? I will weigh 10 pounds less and I plan to lose 3 pounds per month)
  3. Be Realistic – you achieve the goal in the timeframe set or with the resources you have. (Question: Is the goal obtainable? Yes, based on the amount of weight I can afford to lose and the timeframe, it is achievable.)

Additional Goal-Setting Recommendations

What does success look like? What will it feel like when you have achieved a specific goal? Take the time to visualize when, where, and how the goal will be carried out. When you take the time to visualize exactly when and where you will do something, you’ll have a significantly higher probability of meeting those goals.

Passion trumps wishful thinking. You have to care about your goal. It has to be important to you. The goals that are most attainable are those that you want more than anything else.
Become laser-focused. A shorter list of goals is more likely to be achieved than a laundry list. If you set too many goals, it’s difficult to keep them all in mind and make progress. When you lose sight of a goal, you begin to drift. Pick one goal — or two, or at the very most three — and make these your highest priorities.

Make your goals public. You’ll find a much higher level of accountability if you’ve publicly committed your goals to someone other than yourself. This increases the probability you’ll reach your goals. Want additional assurance? Set a specific time (say, halfway through the deadline to achieve the goal) to meet with someone you trust to assess your progress. Share the goals with colleagues, employees, family members.

If you are looking for some good resolutions to turn into goals for 2010 – sample these:

  • Be a better leader
  • Improve your communications at work and home
  • Hold yourself and others accountable
  • Learn new/build skills this year
  • Grow your sales revenues or profits
  • Eat better, exercise, and lose weight

Remember, these are just resolutions until you apply the Goal Setting Criteria to it. Stay focused, stay discplined, get it done. Happy New Year!

A Resolution For Better Plan Execution

Kenneth Dodd, a marketing consultant and contributor for The California North County Times, offers his views on "A New Resolution For Better Plan Execution."

His premise:

  • Every year, we gather our thoughts and consider resolutions for the coming year.
  • No matter the goal, it requires us to formulate a strategy that helps us to achieve our desired results. And here lies the problem.
  • Formulating strategy is one thing. Executing it is another.
  • The simple truth is most of us are trained to plan, not to execute. Execution is all too often learned in the "school of hard knocks."

For any business caring about its brand's promise, becoming better versed in the ways of plan execution is a must. In fact, place it high on this coming New Year's resolution list. Do so and you gain a tremendous competitive advantage over your competitors who continue to ignore its importance.

BOTTOMLINE: "When developing your New Year's resolutions begin by establishing a strategy execution model as goal No. 1. Do so and you will have taken an important first step in making your upcoming planned strategies work as needed. How you execute your planned strategies is a key to strategy success. Clarify each and every step of an execution plan with your employees.

As you examine your current approach to implementing your plans, you will discover much of the difficulty of execution is due to the obstacles or impediments to it. These may include the requisite time frames needed for execution; involvement of various people in the process; poorly defined or vague strategy; conflicts in the organization or unclear responsibility and accountability."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Making New Years Business Resolutions That “Stick”

Making New Years Resolutions that “Stick”: How Small Businesses Can Overcome the Odds in 2010

There’s an old saying “If nothing changes, nothing changes….”

So, with every New Year, business leaders take a hard look and say to themselves, “This year – we’re going to be better, we’re going to change and do things differently…” So, they make a series of New Years resolutions and attempt to set a new course.

And what happens?

  • 53 percent of businesses do not maintain their New Year’s resolutions because their planned changes are either too expensive or take up too many resources (Resource: Health & Safety Executive – HSE – 2006).
  • 75 percent of change initiatives fail because the organization is unsuccessful in managing the human reaction to change. (Resource: John P. Kotter, Leading Change, 1996)

Obviously, the odds are not in your favor. You lose focus, priorities change, and the resolutions become once again, not worth the paper they’re written on.

Faced with challenges from every corner, what can small business leaders do differently in 2010, to overcome the odds, in order to make their New Years resolutions “stick”?

Gary Harpst, CEO and founder of Six Disciplines Corp. and author of the top-rated book Six Disciplines for Excellence: Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last, offers the following tips to help make your business resolutions endure (past January of 2010):

Beware - the “answer” is not the best seller! Most small business leaders hunger for the most effective insights, yet many end up falling for the latest management fad – dragging their organizations through yet another approach – a symptom that has become known as MBBS – “Management By Best Seller.” Best-selling business books, by themselves, are not the silver bullet. To turn the odds in your favor, you’ll need to adopt a repeatable approach, a system for keeping you on track, and obtain outside help (an accountability coach) to keep you on track for sticking with the program.

Use a repeatable method. Only a repeatable method, applied consistently, will enable change to stick. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, start by stepping back and assessing your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then, renew your organization’s mission, vision, values and strategic position, and create a list of the things you will stop doing. Next, set goals that are specific and measurable and ones that will lead your organization. Then, align all the systems within your company to ensure the resources are stacked to meet your goals. Next, create individual plans for everyone in the organization on a quarterly basis, so each person understands and aligns their daily activities with the goals of the organization. Have each person meet with the manager weekly, to keep on track and learn to become accountable for executing the strategy.

Don’t look at it as “just a New Years resolution!” Look at your resolutions (the set of changes) as a continual pursuit – not as a short-term fad that just “fixes” an immediate problem. For change to stick takes an enduring approach, one that must be embraced and practiced every day, quarter after quarter, even year over year. To turn the odds in your favor, you’ll need to come to grips with the realization that short-term fixes are not the answer. Only a commitment to continual improvement will enable the changes you want – to stick, to endure.

Advantages of an accountability coach. Having access to a business coach that can help hold you accountable for the changes you want in your business immediately improves the odds in your favor. Just like personal challenges of fitness, diet or weight loss, an accountability coach can help keep you on track, keep you motivation, and help hold you accountable for where you want to go with your business. It’s too easy to let the crisis of the day change your direction. Having an accountability coach provides that additional level of motivation you need to enable you to “do the things you know need to be done, but in the past, you just never got around to doing.”

An execution system – to keep you engaged. What drives most business leaders crazy – what really keeps them up at night – is the greatest business challenge of all: execution. Getting things done. Meeting the plan. Delivering the goods. We call it so many different things – but it still comes down to one concept: execution. The pressure to get things done is nonstop, pervasive, and unrelenting. In business, as in our personal lives, we generally know what to do (strategy) – the hard part is just doing it (execution). Doing the things we say we’re going to do sounds so easy, yet each of us struggles with it every single day. To turn the odds in your favor, you need to use some type of automated execution management system that enables you to track how you spend your time, communicate effectively with others on how you’re doing, and to continuously align your daily activities with the goals of the organization.

Change what? Look beyond the obvious! So, you’re “biggest” problems seem to be getting sales leads, or maybe it’s your customer follow-up procedures. First, face the facts: whatever you think is your biggest problem, is not. These problems, while looming large today, can be fixed, one at a time, until the next one pops up. The greatest problem business leaders’ face is building an organization that’s learning how to increase its capabilities to meet the next set of challenges.

The Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Presented by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, here is The Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions.

If you're one that finds change, and in particular, changing habits to be difficult or challenging (and, who doesn't?) - it's time to read again.