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Archive for July, 2009

Who ya gonna call?

Do you remember these words from Ghostbuster?

If there’s something strange
in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?

If there’s something weird
and it don’t look good
Who ya gonna call?

Now I’m no ghost-buster, but I have been known to quickly get rid of strange & scary things that sometimes haunt businesses! Both BIG & small!

I sat down the other day with several entrepreneurs to try and help them get some traction on delivering results in their businesses. Let me preface this post by saying that in the last 6 months, I’ve heard all about the money they’ve “invested” in books & guru’s coming into her company to motivate their teams and “shed some light”, as well as the countless speeches & workshops where they left convinced they NOW had the magical formula. In each case there was allot of enthusiasm, conviction and even an action plan moving forward, but a few weeks later, the results just weren’t consistent! What’s wrong with this picture?

They even have regular bi-weekly, weekly and monthly calls with proven professionals in their own right! Coaches, mentors, proven champions in their previous engagements, they discuss allot of strategies, they make allot of commitments to do many things, that on paper sound right. Yet every other month when I catch-up with them, the pattern seems to be the same. They’re swamped! Over their heads with to-do’s, to-action, to-chase, to-hold accountable, & what’s most common is they seem to be the ONLY ones in their businesses that are loosing precious nights sleep over the entire situation. Now that’s just not right!

This time around they decided to try some practices which actually guarantee delivering results! Because we’re not taking a top-to-bottom approach, but rather getting the people who actually have to execute on-board right from the start, the results start to appear very quickly. Because these key-stakeholders can now clearly see how they will benefit, both personally as well as professionally from executing the organization’s success, they’re just as committed as their leadership. Because they themselves have stepped forward, and put forth what they will do, within their areas of responsibility, to deliver on the required results, they’re holding each other to account. Because they have simple tools which guarantee transparency & clear communication, there simply aren’t anymore excuses, just results. And because all of these processes have been adapted to their unique company culture, framed to fit around their unique and jointly agreed, or validated core ideology, the business is sustainable as every new member that comes onto the scene is filtered by the ground rules established by the existing core team!

What’s the difference between 6 months ago & now? When I got the call, they got more than advice & templates! They got frameworks, routines & rhythms which are adapted to their unique culture, size, complexity & situation! When they didn’t have the skills on-board, I rolled up my sleeves & got into the trenches with them! And whilst I was there, I helped develop the necessary skills for them to be autonomous.

Basically putting me out of my short term assignment. Why would I do this? Because my vested interest is in empowering the collective! That way, I get called back to help them make the next significant leap, and not to re-engineer what didn’t work the first time out because they just didn’t have the skills, experience or know-how to execute.

In closing, I’d like to share with you that I’m reading a book this week that speaks about how when you gather a group of people together, it’s a proven fact that the collective is always more innovative than the smartest person in the room by themselves! That’s what I love to leverage, the power of the collective! 🙂

So next time you feel there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? If there’s something weird in your business, and it don’t look good, who ya gonna call? 🙂

Remember.. my favorite motto.. the execution of an idea is always more important than the brilliance of the thought! And people will do something, including changing their behavior, if only it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values. Make sense?

Rethink Your Mindset

Last week in the UK was AMAZING! It started out with Strategy as a Form of Art, by mid week Strategy was a Religious Experience, and then I took a quick hop up to Manchester to facilitate a Weekly Strategic meeting for an ongoing client relationship. I’m coaching/mentoring a team that has in the last 6 months responded to the economical crisis by being 30% on last year’s performance & 150% up on plan!

In-between my facilitation’s last week, to recover from one & be better prepared for another, I stepped into a walk-in back rub just off of Charlot Street & Rathbone on the West End. Whilst waiting my turn, I picked up a leaflet promoting Dadi Janki, where she spoke of Rethink Your Mindset.

The leaflet states “Your mindset is key! Attitudes, perceptions, habits & beliefs create your mindset. It shapes the way you think, feel & act. Is your mindset limiting or empowering you? Rethink challenges: approach them with inner strength and self-confidence. Rethink problems: see them as opportunities! Rethink being busy: be productive by staying calm, centered & focused! Rethink worry & fear: maintain peace of mind. In times of change, you need to flex, adapt and rethink, or get left behind. When you rethink your mindset, you can reconnect with your well-being. Reconnect to your well-being & you’ll recapture your natural rhythm, vitality & resilience”.

Very wise words, and fundamentally these aspects of “rethink” are core to the methodologies with which I’ve witnessed my clients have success! The rethink of challenges, problems & being busy most resonate with my more recent clients who have made a significant change for the better! In what concerns driving results & prospering, regardless of economical cycles, definitely the rethink being busy is KEY! For that, I’ve very often counted on my Focus Pyramid exercise :-), and it WORKS!

What are you doing today? being busy or delivering results? How are the activities you’re currently engaged in, in ALL aspects of your life, moving your forward, and with each day narrowing in on your 2-3 year goals & objectives?

Strategy as a Religious Experience

July 23, 2009 1 comment

This has been an amazing week of firsts! Earlier, I shared my Strategy as a form of Art, and this morning I can honestly say that my Strategic Alignment & Planning workshop became a Religious Experience!

I thought my client Six Degrees was joking when they told me their offices were located in a 19th century church, but pictures can’t tell a lie & when I rocked up to the front court yard, actually the cemetery, I stepped over a grave & into one of the coolest office facilities I’ve seen to date! The night before I had finally met the team in person at a dinner at the local restaurant, which in itself was a once-in-a-lifetime experience as the Queens Royal Brigade had invaded the pub to relax, drink and sing, sing, sing after their day’s chores of Swan Upping.

I made my way up to the dinning room and for a minute I thought I had interrupted a family reunion. The energy, the sharing, the conversations, I couldn’t believe how aligned this team was and how much they felt like an extended family! In the good sense, of course 😉 But I had more awaiting me! When I walked into their offices this morning, I was “gob smacked”. You say that when you’re married to an aussie after all ;-). To see pictures all over the place, again, just like you’d find in a family home. If it wasn’t team pictures in the hallway, on the shelves, it was their numerous award on the alter! What a more fitting place to put them. Rumor is, their going to start putting their top clients there! Literally on the alter!

WOW, now there’s one way to get me to church that my mom never thought about! As a professional facilitator, I can’t stress the importance of commanding the room, so what more suited environment for me than to initiate the ceremonies from my own pulpit! Then after their blessing, we got down to business! The business of setting an empowering strategy that will have this team align around it, super charged by it, and take accountability for delivering results on the master plan that was about to be brainstormed & concocted during the next 8 hours.

Final result? The plan is laid out, the Core Ideology is in construction, the core values, rules for the road, rules of engagement are defined, the Top 5 areas that need action are identified, better yet, they’re prioritized, actionable and accountable. Loads of tips, tricks & best practices have been shared, experiences have been spoken, practical examples have been adapted to suit their unique company culture and they’re psyched and ready to get on with the show.

What’s next? Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll outline/workout the critical keys for success! We’ll focus in on creating smaller action items to celebrate periodic success after regular pulse checks on the road to achieving the larger goals & objectives. We’ll put it all on a One-Page Plan, collective & individual, which means that we will literally have everybody on the same page!

And that’s it! As simple as that! I passed around the collection plate 😉 and asked for feedback on “what worked” and “didn’t work” for them. All part of the continual improvement program that has these sessions get more powerful with each engagement!

Six Degrees Public Relations

P.S. Usage of post-its inspired by Jonathan MacDonald during a super facilitation a couple of weeks back at M.Love

Strategy as a form of Art

My first workshop this week started out very peculiarly with a customs/baggage handling/customer check-in incident which had my Barcelona outbound Easy Jet flight take off 90 minutes behind schedule this past Sunday evening! 1h & 50m later, landing at Gatwick, (London. UK) I proceed to catch the last train into Victoria station.

Along the way into London, I can’t figure out whether it’s a dream or a nightmare!?! I’m in East Croydon, yet it says Brighton is the new Barcelona & Portsmouth the Malta!?! What’s happened to the universe whilst I dosed off for only a second? Have I been transported through some mysterious time warp into another dimension?

Finally into my friend Julia’s flat, make-up the sofa-bed, send out some final e-mails & it’s dream land by 3am!

The next morning I rock up to my first workshop for this week! Alison Jacques(pronounced “Jakes”) Gallery. A beautiful & pristine white space in the middle of the London West End. The facilitation went as planned, which means that I had an intended framework, but went ad-hoc & off the beaten track as necessary to serve the clients needs. 😉

Half way through the workshop, as every one is getting crystal clear on the BIG Picture, we’ve got our core values/core ideology & now we’re drilling down into the detail; creating our focus areas for development over the next 30, 60 & 90 days, leading to the 12 & 18 month plan to hit our 2-3 year vision. It’s actually all pretty straight forward. 🙂

Then comes my déjà Vu moment!! Only two weeks ago I was on a week long +3.000km driving holiday with my lovely wife through the north of Spain. Along our travels Maria we visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I had been fascinated by the prestigious, impressive, imposing, yet inspiring SPACE. The white walls, the high ceilings, the lighting, the energy & the artwork. I was sold & completely blown away!, especially by the Cai Guo-Qiang exhibition on the 2nd level!

Fast-forward two weeks and the results of my strategic planning & alignment methodology are hanging on similar walls, next to prestigious and exclusive pieces of work! WOW! I rub my eyes & think “can this really be happening”?!?! Come to think of it, when the recent results have developed into more than 50% of my clients being nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year awards, I guess I could humbly see where it could be considered an art form. (he says with modesty) 😉 After all, in one short day, the team’s developed the high level skeleton of the framework required to achieve success!

Now it’s back to business & developing the collective & individual One-Page Strategic Plans, along with all of the necessary hands-on work that’s going to drive the necessary results!

As Alison & I step away from the Gallery for a decompression cappuccino & hot chocolate, she reflects “with 3 hours sleep and an 8 hour workshop, on your feet all day you must be exhausted”. I smile, and with the empowering freshness of a spring breeze, I share with her “when you’re working with passionate people, doing empowering work and doing what you love, then it’s NEVER WORK!

Alison Jacques Gallery

P.S. Usage of post-its inspired by Jonathan MacDonald during a super facilitation a couple of weeks back at M.Love