Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

How to fix your company in 30 days

Whether you’re a “hired” senior executive or an entrepreneur leading your enterprise to greatness, you’ve probably raised your head from the table more than once and questioned yourself as to “how am I going to fix what’s broken(?)”. And regardless of whether you already have a plan to action on this thought, or not, checking over the following points can only help you fix it faster, better, cheaper.. and maybe even keep you out of bigger trouble than you are already in!

  1. Gut Check Time – How committed are you to affect change in your organization?
    • Are you willing to embrace this opportunity for self reflection & personal awareness/growth?
    • Are you committed to taking the necessary action steps required to fix the situation first, and the root cause second?
  2. Core Ideology Clarity – Do you have, and have you communicated, your organizations Mission, Vision & Core Values?
    • Mission = The Purpose for being (The WHY for your organizations existence)
    • Vision = The Dream you want to manifest (The WHAT of the outcome you want to achieve)
    • Core Values = The Rules for the Road (The HOW you & your team will behave whilst executing your strategy)
  3. Gut Check Time – Do you have proof that your staff/Team have bought into and fully understand your Core Ideology?
    • Do they understand the “why” things need to change?
    • Have you looked them “in the white of their eyes” & confirmed they’re on-board?
      • How are they “living” your Core Ideology day-in / day-out?
  4. Seek “outside & unbiased” contribution from nothing less than a non-consultant consultant
    • As the “owner of your own experience”, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by getting someone who is too close to the business to be objective as to what the true cause for the issues are
    • In fact, the root of the problem might be yourself.. are you ready to admit that?
  5. Validate you have an “Engagement Model” that works
    • Are you communicating “at/to”, or “with” your team?
      • “Communication is a bi-directional activity, and it requires active & empathetic listening
    • Do you have a One-Page Plan, or similar framework to ensure that you and your team are literally on the same page in what concerns your goals & objectives
    • Do you have regular review/Pulse Check cycles? – “People don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect
      • 15m Daily Huddles?
      • 1h Weekly Strategic Meetings?
      • 2h Monthly Sanity Check & Planning Meetings?
      • Half Day Quarterly Strategic Review & Adjustment Sessions?
      • Semi-Annual Full-Day Strategic Alignment & Planning Workshops Off-Site?
      • Annual Full-Day/Two-Day Strategic Alignment, Planning & Executing Your Strategy?
    • Do you have Periodic Performance Review Cycles with your Team?
    • What’s your feedback loop to track & measure progress along the way?
      • How do you ensure you’re hitting your milestones in a timely manner?
      • What’s your escalation process to avoid surprises & keep you in the drivers seat?
  6. Gut Check TimeAre you Strategy or Execution focused?
    • The execution of an idea is ALWAYS more important than the brilliance of the thought!
      • Don’t get hung-up on a beautiful strategy if you’re not going to be able to execute on it
        • Do you have the proper (and proven) skill-set on-board to execute?
  7. Communicate, Communicate & Communicate again
    • Don’t take anything for granted!
    • Keep up the communication with your team, and those you need support from to keep everyone motivated
    • Circulate results & celebrate wins!
    • Look / seek out “quick wins” to boost confidence & motivation
      • Get some air beneath your wings
    • Praise the great work!
    • Address set-backs as opportunities for learning & growth!
    • Give your plan “teeth”!!
      • Make sure there are consequences for non conformance!
  8. Celebrate as a TEAM, so that you can repeat success as, and when needed, to overcome any challenge

It really is that simple! The complexity comes when you have to judge how bad things have gotten and for how long. How corrupt or rotten has your company culture become? This is the difference between a 30 day, 3 month, or a 3 year fix. This will be the significant reason why your employee churn will be single or double digits. The deeper the already ingrained bad habits, the longer it will take to build new & healthy habits! Remember, you don’t stop doing things wrong, you learn how to start doing things right! You don’t stop practicing bad habits, you learn & practice new healthy & productive habits! It takes up to 21 consecutive days of practicing a new healthy habit before it becomes ingrained in your DNA, so you have to be persistent & diligent.

Finally, if you can find a way to make it fun & rewarding, then you’re going to increase the probability & speed of your success.

Overcoming Adversity – Why it’s mission critical !!

February 11, 2010 3 comments

Adversity (Adversity = Obstacles) in our day-to-day lives is 10 times greater today than it was 21 years ago! In today’s competitive environment, this alarmingly record pace will only continue to grow! 21 years of research by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz‘s Adversity Quotient (AQ) program shows that we’ve gone from experiencing (on average) 3 instances of adversity, to 29 instances each day!

Having had my my fair share of adversity over the course of my yet young 😉 lifetime, I especially appreciated & identified with the recent HBR Article “How to Bounce Back from Adversity“.

Yesterday, as part of my own research process in search of ever improving tools for resolving my client’s “challenges”, I had the privilege to have a 1h exchange with this leading edge expert in dealing with adversity. What did I learn? Allot of what I already suspected, but putting it into a whole new perspective, and best yet, accompanied with some powerfully magnificent tools.

My key-take-away:

  • AQ is to Human Resilience what IQ is to Human Intelligence
  • As humans, in work, at home & at play, over our lifetime we all fall into 3 categories
    • Quitters
    • Campers
      • Typically settle for “what is”, even though they may “aspire” for more
      • Studies show 60 to 90% representative of a typical workforce
    • Climbers
      • Consistently action their “aspire” mode & aim to over-achieve
  • Our (instinctive or amygdala) Reptilian Response can be overridden by our (rational) Frontal Cortex
    • Reptilian Response is 10% genetic & 90% programed by external stimuli
      • initial “hard wiring” starts in our childhood/formative years
    • We’re not doomed to live as we have been “hardwired” and we can “choose” to act based on more rational judgment & thought
      • depending on many varying factors, professional help, including personal development such as a Landmark Forum program might be required to learn new habits & re-program/override your natural/instinctive responses

More detailed information from the source themselves can be found in 3 wonderful videos well worth investing 30 minutes (in total).

Let’s get practical! Obstacles can be anything from the expected phone call that isn’t returned, to the promotion we didn’t get, to the love that isn’t reciprocated as “we would have expected. And whilst the “quitter” will allow adversity to freeze them in their very tracks and give-in, the “camper” will settle for “that’s life” and there isn’t much I can do to change it (walking dead/drones), and the climber will momentarily “lick his/her wounds” and get on with the business of turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

Another practical example is the child or adult that based on the circumstantial surroundings of his upbringing, sees challenges as insurmountable obstacles that are “the end of the world” (basically “quits”), or the finance director that instead of taking the initiative of a 5 minute Google search to overcome an obstacle, delays a significant process by “camping” and adopting an ingrained habit of writing one more e-mail, resulting in a “found solution” being delayed to, at the very least, the next business day.

How is that last decision affecting your business these days?

The fact that “who you (currently) are” (different from “what you are”) has already been pre-determined when you were a child, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to succumb to that fact.  You can change “who you can become” at any time you want. Only 10% of our behavior is genetic, and therefore if the remaining 90% are externally influenced (yes, we’ve been programed by family, friends & surroundings), with the roots being established very early on in childhood when we naturally imitate the people that surround us, then we can make the choice to “re-program” our internal circuitry. I liken it to a phrase I commonly use which is “your current reality is only the consequence of your thoughts & ensuing actions to-date, whereas your future (or dream) is completely within your control, your choices only being limited by either the lack of a plan (strategy) or “limiting beliefs“. Pretty straightforward, no..?

Just because we are “programed” at an early age, this doesn’t take away our “choice” to act as we would like, it only means that we will have to work harder at it to reprogram ourselves by developing & ingraining new habits into our decision process. A decision is merely an action based on a previous thought, so by understanding & following this process, we can establish an “override” from our reptilian/instinctive part of our brain that has us “react”, moving our decisions & consequent actions/outcomes to our more rational frontal cortex of  our brain. Another way to state that is that the “re-programing” or “override” can be effectively done in many ways, and most effectively by creating control disciplines for ourselves to consciously make decisions that override our ingrained habits (reptilian brain) and re-wire new habits based on choices that are actually much better for us & well thought out. At least that’s my take on what happens, seeing as I’m merely an enthusiastic amateur in the field of psychology.

For myself, it’s taken allot of life mistakes, along with some professional counseling, including breakthrough Landmark Forum session a few years back, to get my head around how I can effectively gain greater control over what many would call our “monkey brain/mind“. AQ is an exceptionally robust and globally proven predictor of human resilience, energy, capacity, effectiveness, and performance. Your AQ also influences your optimism, innovation, problem-solving and decision-making abilities, income, health, and perseverance.

Like anything in life, in order for you to affect change, there are three basic steps that have to first take place before you experience “success”, and that is to:

  1. Gage it
  2. Understand it
  3. Improve it (reinforcement challenge)

I’ve worked with allot of different methods, but having taken the AQ Profile Exercise last night, I can say from first hand experience that it is a revolutionary simple 10-15 minute survey that will have you immediately understand your “starting point”, or “base-camp”, seeing as AQ’s tools like to comparison mountain climbing. And remember, that’s only the beginning, a full program will definitely get you (and your team) powerfully headed back on that journey to the top of your summit!

At our core, we are in our personal life as we are in our professional. The roots of your behavioral characteristics can’t be segmented in a sustainable & scalable fashion. You can either allow the energy of adversity to hold you back, or harness that same energy to fuel you powerfully forward!

It’s your choice.. so what’s your next move?

“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?

Playing for profits – How a game can help your focus

In a recent session with a client, whilst working on their 2010 Strategic Plan, an inspiring moment took them by surprise. Let me preface this post by saying that it’s my firm belief that part of any successful strategy should involve allot of fun, learning & grow whilst achieving results. To put it simply, unless your process has the “what’s in it for me”  factor covered, you’re not addressing some of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This particular client is in e-commerce, they run thousands of on-line campaigns every quarter, and we were now strategizing how to get the entire company more involved in the effort. As with most activities in an organization, the creation & profitability of an on-line campaign doesn’t always get the entire company “rallying around the campfire”, and so here is where we thought of a new twist.

I’ve long used a One-Page Strategic Plan to get an entire team or company focused on the key drivers of success. And within the context of the One-Page Plan, I always encourage my clients to play a game where everyone can get involved, and hopefully have allot of fun whilst achieving the required results for success.

The game we decided on was themed “Oscar Night”, and the CEO decided that the objective was to acknowledge the campaign that brought in the highest revenue & profit. After 3 months, the winning campaign would be awarded an Oscar. We’re still working it out, but in addition to recognition, the winners of the game will also get a coveted prize, similar to a weekend away for two at a resort, or dinner at a “preferred location”. This is obviously great acknowledgment for the team that would eventually be responsible for creating & running the campaign, but my challenge was in trying to figure out how to get an entire company focused on “results”, and at the same time learn something new whilst rallying around their colleagues, thus increasing teamwork & building a stronger company culture. Pretty tall task.. no?

My solution? What do you know about the game Monopoly & Horse Racing? That’s where the creativity started! First; suppose we were to allocate 1.000 euros of Monopoly money to each employee? Second; what if everyone in the company was required to bet all of their Monopoly money over the course of the fiscal quarter, distributing the bets through the various e-commerce campaigns in an effort to identify which ones would be most successful and beat the odds (objectives) set. Third; what if we grouped people so that each group were to be comprised of at least one person from each department, thus distributing the knowledge base? Fourth; now how about if we graphically tracked each persons’ &  teams’ progress/winnings, so that we would create a virtual horse race?

My audience was excited, but they wondered how the very specific knowledge of what it takes to make a campaign successful wouldn’t create an unfair advantage to the department responsible for the procurement process which drives the campaign.

In part, that’s why we came up with distributing members from different departments in to separate teams, and here’s what else we realized:

  • By distributing the departmental knowledge pool into groups the specific knowledge that increases the probability of winning would be distributed & effectively foster teamwork
  • The purchasing agents will hear first-hand very practical & unbiased (outside-of-the-box) reasons from “uninformed staff” as to why they thought campaigns wouldn’t succeed & this will increase the probability for Black Swan based innovation
  • Everyone in the company, right down to the receptionist, would learn more about “what makes the company tick” & this will in turn foster greater collaboration & understanding of cross-departmental inter-dependencies
  • Everyone will become more conscious of what the company goals are, and over time better understand how their individual talents, skills & roles contribute toward the “bigger picture” & this creates accountability
  • Teamwork & healthy competition will help to improve focus on what really matters to create results

Now those are just some of the highlights & key insights!

How do you think a similar program or exercise would affect your organization?

If you’re already using this technique, I’d be very grateful for your testimonial of what results you’ve seen on your business.

2009 – My Year in Review

December 23, 2009 2 comments

It’s that time of year again.. time to look back at the year that’s about to end and measure what’s worked, what could have gone better, and what New Years Resolution’s are appropriate.

The professional highlights were..

  • an e-commerce business who experienced 59% Year-on-Year Revenue Growth
  • an Art Gallery who experienced 50% Revenue Growth 60 days after a Strategic Planning & Alignment workshop
  • a PR agency that gained focus on “what really matters” & improved their sales processes
  • an illustration business that improved their gross margin by an undisclosed amount
  • an internet start-up that launched it’s first real product within 45 days after many failed efforts during it’s first 18 months
  • and another business that’s 15% above budget after a Strategic Planning & Alignment workshop in late September
  • and a host of accolades

The personal highlights were..

  • watching my wife’s “start-up” get significant market validation and secure another round of funding
  • my kids from my first marriage turning around their falling grades to get serious recognition on their improvement
  • my eldest son gaining greater self confidence and implementing serious change after attending Landmark Forum for Teens in October
  • my youngest son getting over the complex of wearing glasses & thus improving his self confidence as well as behavior in school
  • back in OZ building stronger bonds with new friends
  • growing a new business and still being able to maintain a healthy dose of work-life balance
  • supporting at least 3 friends in making significant life-changing decisions leading to their dream-life-by-design

These are just a snap-shot and they’ve made me even more sensitive for the need to record what’s working so that I can continue to “spread the love”.

Sure I had my share of set-backs, and with each one I was able to take significant learning’s to apply toward my development & growth. As my wife likes to remind me; every disciplined effort reaps multiple rewards, and the stronger the wind the stronger the tree!

Actually, “reviewing” is an exercise I do on a daily & weekly basis, as that’s the best way I find to keep pushing myself to learn & grow. How does that work? Well, I actually block-out 60 minutes in my daily calender at 19h00 to reflect back on the highs & lows of the day just passed.

And ask myself challenging questions such as..

  • On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about your day?
  • What worked well & why?
  • What didn’t work as well as you would have liked & why?
  • What could have worked better?
  • Were you busy or effective? (I actually ask myself this one throughout the day)
  • What could you have done differently to change the outcome of the day?
  • What are the key learning’s from today?

If you’re brutally honest with yourself & keep an open mind, seeking to understand, then this process becomes very powerful. Now, armed with this analysis of my day just passed, I’m ready to affect change into the planning of the day just ahead of me. I find this is the only way to consistently “up my game” from day-to-day. At the end of the week, on Friday afternoon, I do a very similar exercise, but broader in scope. More challenging questions reveal the underlying emotions that had me behave the way that I did, the results of which often reveal important patterns, some of which may even require 3rd party intervention to break. Typically however, a simple trusted circle of like-minded friends or professionals is enough to keep you honest & give you the necessary tools to “break through the glass ceiling” (a.k.a.. a good kick in the pants).

All-in-all I’m pretty satisfied with 2009. It’s had it’s ups & downs, highs & lows, but over-all, the year has been an overwhelming success! The biggest challenge I faced was the recent passing of my father just last week! Whilst it broke my heart to see him go, it also gave me even greater fervor to push myself even more, and continue to affect change & stay on purpose (to empower every relationship I touch)!

How about you? What’s the balance of your year? What do you need to do differently to make it a 10 out of 10?

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

Customer Service Innovation made simple!

This morning my e-mail in-box brought me a pleasant surprise! On the heals of my cathedrals post yesterday, this video from Simple Minds really grounded me as to how simple it is to turn a routine task into an experience that will impact everyone you can touch!

Customer Service, Brand Loyalty & Innovation can really be just one simple action away!

On this beautiful Saturday morning in Barcelona, I’ve been touched by Johnny!

Question is, how will you be a Johnny today?