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We’ve moved…

WordPress.com getting too slow so in order to better cope with this blog’s increased following & traffic I decided it was time for a face-lift and a hosted WordPress.org that will give you better performance. Whilst over the next 24h to 48h I migrate the respective web addresses  & point my current site to the new one, please find your Strategy Guy’s Blog @ http://thestrategyguysite.com. By mid week, everything should be back to normal & the www.strategyinaday.com address will also automatically point to the new blog.

Thanks in advance for your continued support & following!

Regards,

JC

Why you should fire yourself

A few weeks ago I was sitting around a dinner table in Sydney with 3 entrepreneurs and this very topic of “firing yourself” came up! I love this extract from the HBR post of the same name; “Jack Welch used to gather his senior executives together in January and tell them to act as though they had just been newly appointed to their jobs. What would they do differently if they were coming in to their business without preconceived notions and with a completely fresh perspective?”

I have often witnessed first hand how preconceived notions & biases sometimes have us do very unproductive things. Looking at the same situation through new eyes, having someone you trust look at it as well, and having them be honest with you will have you see things you were amazing blind to previously.

Quick Tip: Don’t be defensive & just absorb the other persons observations, otherwise you won’t get the necessary & available value that’s immediately at your disposal.

Now.. armed with this information, what would you do differently? Are you focusing on what you’re really good at? Fire yourself from what you’re not good at (if you can) and get someone else who’s stronger to take care of it. Whilst you’re at it.. learn anything you can by surrounding yourself with smarter people than yourself. it’s one of the most effective secrets to accelerate your growth.

Back to my dinner in Sydney a few weeks back. What did each of those entrepreneurs end-up doing after our conversation? Two of them already had business coaches and walked away with a new perspective on some of the issues we discussed, and the last one brought me in to work with his team before I left for Europe. By coming into those various scenarios as a complete outsider & emotionally detached from what was going on in their businesses, not to mention the solutions that had been previously established, each of those entrepreneurs walked away with significant value which they’ve subsequently implemented into their businesses. I’ve since received some e-mail updates & they’ve been amazed at how quickly change has taken root in their organizations.

Quick Tip; How do I apply this practice to myself? How do you apply this practice if you feel you have the skills to make the necessary changes in your business? One solution I have is to ask my entrepreneurial wife or friends to look at my business, and or situation.The second solution, and the one I use whilst on the road, as was the case last week in São Paulo, is to open yourself from assumed beliefs, and go on a journey reading various articles looking for precious gems of insight and knowledge.  Sometimes to get “outside of my own head”, I find it necessary to listen to music or have a relaxing massage.

Question: What practices do you have to “get outside of yourself” and ask the necessary questions? How can you fire yourself from your own business in time to make the right decisions, and possibly be in a better position to hire yourself back?

“Chief of Staff”, a CEO accessory or non-negotiable?

January 23, 2010 3 comments

Challenges to right, obstacles to the left, investors & competitors on your heels , and your family is crying for some “quality time”. Sound familiar? Reading a very interesting article entitled “Latest CEO accessory: A chief of staff” had me reflect on the role of Chief of Staff. More specifically, it was the opening paragraph that grabbed my attention; “These days it’s a chief of staff, a top-level adviser who’s part confidant, part gatekeeper, and part all-around strategic consultant. While that has long been a key position in politics, many top executives are now adding this person to the payroll.”

Which led me to think to myself… “A Chief of Staff, by definition, provides a buffer between a chief executive (CEO of a corporation) and that executive’s direct-reporting team. The chief of staff generally works behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes, and deal with issues before they bubble up to the Chief Executive. The varying amount of politics, egos, and issues to deal with require that a highly experienced senior executive with a proven background in delivering results in the most adverse conditions lead this role.

A Chief of Staff also acts as a confidante and top-level adviser to the Chief Executive, as a sounding board for ideas, confidant, part gatekeeper, and part all-around strategic consultant. Ultimately, the actual duties will depend on the actual position, roles and the people involved, as well as the situations that present themselves, and could even fulfill temporary senior management voids until one is effectively on-board.

As a resident in-house resource, the role of Chief of Staff will also increase the practical experience of the management team as a whole, as well as their ability to deliver/over-deliver on expected results. Inter-acting across multiple functional areas, this solution will significantly increase interdepartmental efficiencies“.

In short, an all-around personal Strategic Consultant, Practical Implementer & Trusted Partner?

A “scorecard” for someone like that might look like:

  • Facilitates fellow entrepreneurs & CEO’s worldwide across varying industrial verticals
  • Leverages their extensive experience & network in favor of action steps once your success strategy has been defined
  • In working with the team regularly give tools, mechanisms & methodologies that will increase practical knowledge with the ability to immediately implement
  • Fulfill on academic requirements by explaining in clear enough terms what they’ve observed
  • Translate into actionable lessons how, or what, you can learn from to achieve success
  • In parallel, be driven by gut and trusted instinct honed by years of experience, allow an organization to fulfill on practical requirements by “reading” the situations and finding the most appropriate solutions

If you had read Simon Sinek’s recent articles “Two Types of Experts”, you’d see that it’s not that far fetched of a notion to begin with. And if you had been present in a client meeting of mine whilst in Sydney earlier this month, when a new client asked me to help him better align his staff with a methodology previously unknown to me as a formal framework, you would have been even more convinced that, again,  it’s not that far fetched of a notion.

That methodology my Sydney client was referring to is known as Horizon 1-2-3, and after adapting some other frameworks I traditionally work with, we customized a new & improved Horizon 1-2-3 scenario to work with his team, 🙂 which goes something like this..

  • Horizon 1 (H1) is the work resulting in more consistently effecting change through improving and extending present operations (routines and habits), resulting in doing what is currently done in better ways, whilst leveraging (direct or indirect) functional expertise along with industry experience, to drive for greater efficiency based on the focus on performance & results
  • Horizon 2 (H2) is empowering the team to ask themselves how their daily/weekly activities & focus facilitate the creation of new opportunities that will extend the H1 operations, but rather than being focused only on continual improvement in short-term performance, through the art of continual questioning and periodic structured pulse checks (Weekly/Monthly Strategic Meetings), bring new ideas to fruition. This involves increased risk, taking and dealing with a greater degree of uncertainty as the team will be confronted with the Vision Chasms which often don’t exist in Horizon 1 and based on them now literally straddling between H1 & H2 more often
  • Horizon 3 (H3) is where futures must be imagined, researched and developed. This requires seeding options today for the future, which represents understanding these type of costs as related to the required research, pilot projects, proof of concepts, etc, as practical implementation of the same must be immediate

Now, if you’re a CEO, or anything similar, how would any of this information impact your life? Both personal & professional? How would it impact your business? Who do you have in your business or network that can help you in this fashion? And finally, here’s the trick question 😉 is it really an “accessory” (a nice to have), or is it a modern day “non-negotiable” (a must have) for a CEO that want’s to guarantee success?

5 (+) Tips for Running Effective Meetings

December 10, 2009 1 comment

After making the same recommendations to several clients seemingly having identical challenges over the past years, I’ve decided to some simple research and provide three viewpoints, one of which is the foundation closest to what my experience proves is the most effective.

BNET’s Crash Course on How to Run an Effective Meeting, will serve as the foundation for my shared best practice for Running Effective Meetings.

  1. Make Every Meeting Matter (or Don’t Meet at All); Decide if a meeting is needed and invite only the necessary people
  2. Define Goals & Objectives; Create a structure for your meeting (time-lock the start & stop of the meeting & stick to it)
  3. Own Your Meeting; Take charge and keep your meeting moving forward
  4. Make it a meeting of Minds; Get the constructive input you need from everyone present
  5. Close with a Plan of Action; Make sure everyone leaves knowing the next step

These are indeed areas of highest impact toward guaranteeing a successful meeting for all participants. As the organizer of a meeting, or facilitator, however you prefer to identify yourself, there are also valuable tools contained within the presentation developed by Matt Cameron and Cheryl Azevedo Johnson of Santa Clara University. The statistics in this presentation, even though from from 2003, still remain relevant based on what I’ve seen pretty much around the globe:

Characteristics of a Negative Meeting

  • 83% — Drifting off the subject
  • 77% — Poor preparation
  • 74% — Questionable effectiveness
  • 68% — Lack of listening
  • 62% — Verbosity of participants
  • 60% — Length
  • 51% — Lack of participation

What are People looking for in an Effective Meeting

  • 88% — allow all attendees to participate
  • 66% — define a meeting’s purpose
  • 62% — address each item on the agenda
  • 59% — assign follow up action
  • 47% — record discussion
  • 46% — invite only essential personnel
  • 36% — write an agenda w/time frames

So there you have it! If you know what people are looking for, then, with the help of the 5 points at the beginning of this post, all you have to is avoid the pitfalls and give your participants what they want! 🙂 Easy enough.. no?

The additional micro-tips provided on pages 7 through 9, how to overcome the challenges outlined in 11 through 13 & the non-verbal listening skills outlined on page 15, are all very relevant information that will help you be successful in Running Effective Meetings.

Additionally, if you want another perspective, after all you have to ensure that every best practice suits your specific needs, this article from Business Week on How to Run a Meeting like Google, gives you Google’s Vice-President of Search Products Marissa Mayer’s unique perspective and useful examples, especially innovative is her “item 3 – carve out Micro meetings”.

The most common mistakes I’ve seen is (1) the lack of a Parking Lot to keep the meeting on-track & on-time, (2) the lack of perspective as to time allocated for each point & staying on schedule, (3) establishing the meeting scope before the first word is spoken, and (4) being results driven to ensure that decisions are made, actionable and accountable to single individuals.

P.S. Yet another perspective can be found here.