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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

How to build scalability into any organization

In a January 23rd post earlier this year, I briefly mentioned the Horizon 1-2-3 framework originally developed by Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White, who authored The Alchemy of Growth: Practical Insights for Building the Enduring Enterprise. In it they established a view that companies that are successful in the long term have growth initiatives in three stages. Subsequently, many consulting organizations worldwide have used dozens of frameworks over the years to analyze the trends which impede their clients’ ability to grow.

Allow me to summarize for you what I’ve been seeing as the #1 culprit for limiting the growth of organizations worldwide.

Premise; The H1-2-3 framework is built around the point of view that to sustain growth, a company must maintain a continuous pipeline of business-building initiatives. Companies considered sustainable & scalable are characterized by their ability to create new business opportunities by innovating from within their core business ares whilst building new off-shoots at the same time.

Challenge; With the limited resources that the majority of modern-day companies face today, where can you find the time, resources & funding to innovate?

Solution; Identify within your organization who’s ready to operate at each Horizon, and then stimulate their development by holding them accountable.

  • (H1) is the work resulting in more consistently effecting change through improving and extending present operations (routines and habits)
    • Who in your organization is working at this day-to-day level?
      • Are they the right people / profile?
    • What monthly gatherings are you promoting to review & improve on the recently past activities?
      • How do (what proof are you collecting) these gatherings benefit your future activities, both immediate & mid-term?
  • (H2) is empowering the team to ask themselves how their daily/weekly activities & focus facilitate the creation of new opportunities
    • Who in your team is ready to step-up to the next level?
    • What weekly questioning and periodic structured pulse checks are you committed to?
    • How are you fostering increased risk taking & the capability of the team in dealing with a greater degree of uncertainty & adversity?
  • (H3) is where futures must be imagined, researched and developed.
    • Who in your organization is passionate & skilled at seeding options today for the future?
    • What is the required business acumen for understanding the related research, pilot projects, proof of concepts, etc you’ll need to succeed & innovate?
    • How are you going to measure the practical implementation of the same, both immediately & on a continual basis?

Results; A client of mine is currently putting this model into effective use. The Managing Director is a visionary and he needed to break himself away from the daily routines that were keeping him from affecting the broader & longer term results of his organization. Last year he asked one of his next-line management to step-up & shadow his responsibilities. After one quarter, this 1st line executive had gained deeper knowledge & understanding of what it took to “play at the next level”.

Having also experienced professional growth & personal development, he was tasked to find someone one level down & do the same exercise. At the same time he was sharing with his immediate management colleagues the direct & indirect benefits of this experience. Each quarter the Managing Director rotated his direct reports through this process. Whilst he gradually freed himself to a level at which he significantly impacted the broader scope he desired, this exercise permeated throughout the organization giving more voice to many more layers of management & personnel in general.

Whether you’re staffing levels are 5, 10, 50, 100 or 1,000, what can you learn from this exercise? What are you holding onto that you should let go of? Who’s growth are you debilitating by continuing to carry on the way you do today?

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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.

Fast Growth Etiquette – The Pulse Check

During a recent lunch conversation with a start-up entrepreneur, he asked me to share what were the most common trends stopping brilliant start-up ideas from becoming great scalable ventures.

He was obviously a curious chap looking for some “quick & easy take-aways” from our lunch, and so being the generous &  practical guy I am, 😉 I grabbed a pen & drew the following diagram on a napkin for him…

I’ll make it short & simple for anyone who wants to stop reading this post here, and maybe check back later.. just like on a road trip to a place you haven’t been before, “you can’t get where you’re going unless you know where you are at”. Every journey has a “start”, “mid-point” & “end”, along the way, you should also have intervals at which you check your pace & requirements for refueling, but it’s not really rocket science, and it applies to any type of venture, be it entrepreneurial or corporate.

I asked him when had he last been to the doctor. Now, the first image get when I think about a doctor’s visit, is how the quickest and most immediate assessments they make are typically based on the simple pulse check. It’s a “status update” of sorts, to see how you’re doing, whether you’re running too fast, too slow or just about right. Whilst it’s only a momentary picture in time, this information combined with your medical history can tell him allot about how much longer you’re going to live without some sort of intervention.

Back to my journey analogy, how can you accurately predict any refueling requirements unless you can compare your current location with where you started vs. where you want to get to? So I then proceeded to expand on this biggest hurdle I’ve seen of late. Within the last 2-3 years, pretty much across the world, regardless of industry vertical, the general missing link is an understanding by staff (in general) as to what (and when) they needed to do to contribute toward their company getting from A to Z.

Did you expect a more profound & intellectual response? There are obviously varying stages of complexity around this issue whenever I find it, but generally it’s due to one of the following Top 3 things not being done

  1. Lack of appropriate articulation from the Founder/CEO/Leader as to “the why” driving their day-to-day activities
    • Mission (purpose), Vision (dream) & Core Values (rules for the road) based engagement & enrollment
  2. Lack of alignment between theoretical plan & practical measures put into place
    • Strategies communicated aren’t consistent with actions put into place
      • i.e. NOT “walking their talk”
  3. Lack of rhythmic processes that will allow you to measure progress toward achieving a predetermined strategy
    • Lack of follow-up, measurement & the necessary adjustments required along the way to get things back on track

Somewhere along those simple three areas are where I typically have to start my own engagement process within a new client, obviously after I’ve completed a discovery process to understand the depth of the challenge at hand. Now you may have noticed, as did my lunch companion, that I was using words like “engagement” & “enrollment”, in his case allot, and these weren’t by chance.

  • Engagement, “in my book” requires a two way conversation, give & take from both sides until they both agree on a common understanding, otherwise you won’t get the necessary “emotional involvement or commitment”
  • Enrollment, when borrowed from academia, the word “voluntary” stands out as a means of getting someone to do something. By “enrolling” someone (you get a voluntary commitment for attendance or follow-through on an activity, generally attending class & doing the required homework)

These two words are possibly the most powerful words in the “strategic execution dictionary” when you want to execute on any strategy. Whether it’s an entrepreneur trying to get his business off the ground or to the next level, or a CEO of a multi-billion dollar enterprise trying to keep shareholders happy, far too often we “talk to” rather than “converse with” our staff. That’s where the engagement & enrollment process starts, and once you’ve covered those steps, than in order to keep people, business and/or strategies “on-track”, you need routine follow-up with measures to check “where you are” at any point-in-time since you started, and “how much effort” is still required to get you to the finish line.

To-date, some of the best tools I’ve found to overcome those Top 3 barriers I mentioned are

  • Simon Sinek’s “Why” process for getting to the crux of your Mission or “purpose”
  • Cameron Herald’s “Painted Picture” process for articulating the true essence of your Vision or “dream”
  • Verne Harnish’s Gazelles “Rockefeller Habits” for the rhythmic processes required to super charge your growth strategy

In many instances now, I have personally worked with the consequence of these tools to then adapt practical solutions to the unique culture of organizations, or, leveraged the outcome of these tools & subsequent clarity to help organizations get to the levels everyone knew possible.

Where are you or your organization stuck? What practical measures have you taken on-board within the last week, or will be taking on-board as a consequence of this reminder?

“Yesbutters” & “whynotters”.. which are on your team?

One of my clients this morning sent me the following and whilst I couldn’t find the original author, I thought it was very relevant.

Yesbutters don’t just kill ideas, they kill companies, even entire industries.

The yesbutters have all the answers….

  • Yesbut we’re different
  • Yesbut we can’t afford it
  • Yesbut our business doesn’t need it
  • Yesbut we couldn’t sell it to our workforce
  • Yesbut we can’t explain it to our shareholders
  • Yesbut let’s wait and see

All the answers. All the wrong answers!

Whynotters move Companies, so the next time you’re in a meeting, look around and identify the yesbutters, the notnowers and the whynotters. God bless the whynotters, they dare to dream, and to act. By acting, they achieve what others see as unachievable!

Before the yesbutters yesbut you right out of business, “why not”, indeed?

– Author Unkown

As a consequence, this was the funniest, & yet simplest advice that I could give to a CEO who just didn’t think his team had the capability to overcome adversity. By reflecting on this message, he realized that it wasn’t the strategy that was too complex, but rather the attitude of his team that wasn’t aligned with his expectations for results driven focus.

So he gathered his team earlier this morning & shared with them that yesbutting was a now forbidden practice. He made time in his agenda to help anyone out who didn’t know how to become a whynotter. The end result was that by the end of the day, he reported back to me that with the exception of two individuals who are now on a performance plan, his yesbutters had transformed into whynotters and the outlook for the rest of the week was much brighter than before.

Take a look around you. What type of people surround you at work? More importantly, what type of people do you allow to surround your personal life? Inspiring whynotters or depressing & dream dampening yesbutters?

Ready to make any changes?

———————–

P.S. Thanks Fabio!

Content Rich & Implementation Poor (part 2)

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday I shared my concern over the recent focus & hype on content (tools & frameworks) in sacrifice of implementation & execution. In part 2, I’ll get into some examples of how I’ve gone about in some cases.

When I do finally engage in offering solutions, many times I start with recommending a book or seminar as parallel work before I can actually make serious progress with an individual. And once we do move forward with a collaborative relationship, then a recent first step I’ve introduced is the Extended D.I.S.C. exercise to better understand the person’s natural & non-natural states, as well as their lifetime and “adjusted behavior”. Sometimes before I can effectively share my experience & help someone “take their game to the next level”, they’ve got to do a little homework and therefore I’ve got to ask them to read something like Loving What Is by Byron Katie, The Lost Art of Listening, The Road Less Traveled or Synchronicity.

I’ve also been know to refer people, or their staff to, Landmark Forum, acupuncture or other forms of disruptive intervention that will have them look at their behavior in a different light. And even once they’ve recognized the need for change, that is only the first step. Just like in AA, you have to first admit that you are powerless over the force that is governing your behavior, and then ask for help before you can effectively change. AA & the 12 Steps are only the tools or frameworks, it’s still up to you to reach out and put those tools & frameworks to effective use. Let me share a frightening but awakening statistic with you. Did you know that on average only 10-20% of alcoholics stay in recovery over a lifetime? Why? Because only a few of them are able to consistently make the choice to walk down another street, one without a hole. The hole is symbolic, I believe, for the emptiness within that we try to fill with external stimulus.

What’s the relevance between personal/business coaching & AA? In order for an effective change to happen, one must (1) first recognize the need for change, (2) then have the desire to change for the right reasons, (3) followed by the appropriate & necessary steps for their particular situation, (4) including the appropriate network of support. Once you’ve tasted success, then it about (5) repeating the right new steps until you (6) reach your desire outcome. In short, this is a strategy.. a series of steps to facilitate a predestined/determined outcome.

And here is where I have a challenge with coaches who haven’t had real life experience. The best they can hope for is to be content rich & implementation poor. And when you head down this path, you’ll get exactly what you’ve paid for… 😦

Now, how do I measure impact on a client coaching/mentoring based or strategic consulting situation? Well, first there are the tangible business results or customer testimonials that are frequently available. A more recent example being a key-stakeholders in a client of mine, judged by his CEO at practically a zero, on a scale of 0-10, when I was first engaged. Just a few days ago I heard how he was now at a 7.5 just two days after attending a Landmark Education Forum. The previous 2 or 3 sessions I had with them were limited until I could reach this “breakthrough” point, but now we can make some serious progress, as long as they are willing to put in the hard & smart work.

The key message I’m hoping you’re taken away from this article is that if someone is going through a challenging time, the discipline that may need to be applied might not just be straightforward coaching. Depending on where the subject is “within their journey”, maybe they just need to read a good book, or have a great conversation before they can get to the next stage. Sometimes, unfortunately, they still need to feel a little more pain. In regards to business coaching, question the overload of frameworks & tools, without practical support with implementation. The next time you’re thinking about getting some help with a particular situation, I hope you will think as hard about the relative experience of the individual you’re about to engage, as much as the multitude of tools & frameworks at their disposal.

That’s when you’ll be better prepared to make the best decision possible.. for you, as well as the person you’re about to engage.

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?

A CEO’s 5 key focus areas

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

As an alumni of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), what I most value by surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, is the opportunity to learn & grow as a consequence of shared experiences & challenges. I love to step outside of my comfort zone!

A few weeks ago, as I watched EO Orange County member Mark Moses give his rendition of the “top 5 things that a CEO needs to focus on”, I was reminded of my own rendition based on working with senior executives across entrepreneurial & more mature Fortune 100 organizations worldwide. I’ve personally found that the following 5 key focus areas are true as much across North & Latin America, as it is in Europe, the Middle East & Africa. More recently, I’ve been able to observe first hand that as far east as Australia & New Zealand, only the accents & dialects are different, as the key focus areas remain.

  • Vision/Core Ideology
  • Cash
  • People
  • Relationships
  • Learning / Growth / Self Actualization

How would you rate yourself on any one of these areas? On a scale of 0-10, where is your energy & focus in each of these areas on a regular basis? Likewise, how clear is it to your team? Individually, how are they affecting anyone of these areas within the capacity of their current roles? If the answer to any of these questions is unclear or not immediate, then I can guarantee you that you have “some work” ahead of you if you truly expect to maximize your organization’s potential. Until you and your team can answer, on the spot, how they’re impacting these areas, they are one of the most likely reasons your company isn’t growing at the rate you would expect.

How do you get more focus on these areas? Review the current tasks that you’re doing on a regular basis and compare them in regards to the weight they are contributing in each of the above 5 areas. Now reflect on the challenges your enterprise is currently facing. Are these challenges a consequence of a lack of focus, follow-up or action in one of the above 5 key focus areas? Great (!), now all you’ve got to do is create a plan to get back on track.

If it’s still not clear what to do next, then you need to get an outside perspective of where & how your organization, or your own agenda can be tweaked. It’s not as difficult as it may first appear.. believe me.. just make sure you get someone experienced, and who can role up their sleeves in order to provide you with practical solutions & practices instead of just theory. Lastly, make sure that anything that get’s applied, is adapted to the reality of the company culture you want to establish. A simple copy/paste isn’t going to do the trick either.