This blog is all about my latest insights into growth, strategy, and execution.
There are two books I want you to consider for the the year, but they aren’t new ones. You may have heard of them or even read them. Maybe, you should read them again.
One is a real golden oldie from 1993.
The first is The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack.
When I first picked up The Great Game of Business (GGOB) back in 1993, I was living in Boston. The morning’s Boston Globe reviewed the book. Between meetings that day, I found a bookstore and purchased the book. I find myself regularly coming back to it every couple of years. This past November, at a Gravitas Impact summit, I had the opportunity hear Jack Stack, the author, along with Rich Armstrong, president of The Great Game of Business, refresh the content for me. Immediately I was re-energized by their presentation and empowerment the GGOB unleashes in the frontline and middle management of companies practicing GGOB. I have just spent an afternoon with Rich brushing up on the GGOB so I can use its principles with my clients.
The other book is a golden, not so oldie, one from 2010.
The second book I recommend for the year is Multipliers by Liz Wiseman.
Multipliers is another book that never gets dusty on my bookshelf. It’s a leadership book that details how the very best leaders “multiply” the contributions of the teams. The resulting effect gets twice as much engagement and twice as many results. It’s leadership 201. As you can see with this short description, a “multiplier” empowers his or her team.
There’s a strong connection between these books.
Although it may appear that the books are totally unrelated to each other, they work well together.
The deeper connection between the books is that they both ascribe to a core belief that leaders should have about their people. “My teammates are smart enough to figure this out.” The Great Game of Business and Multipliers both acknowledge the power of teams and their abilities to solve any problem or tackle any opportunity in front of them. That’s the main connection.
I’m going to be doing some more blogs about both books in the near future so stay tuned.
The passing of Wei Chen, founder of Sunshine Enterprise, and three of his top leaders (John Chen, Bruce Pelynio, and Danielle Robinson) is a tragedy shocking so many people, both here in Memphis and around the world. There is not much to say about it that is comforting, except to share good stories about them. So many stories were told over and over again at the wakes, services, and receptions.
I’m a better person for having listened to all the stories about this influential man.
One particular interchange I had with Wei, some time ago, came when he was a member of a peer group I was leading. When another member asked for advice from the group about his upcoming vacation, we all listened. This guy was worried about leaving his business alone for two weeks and was thinking about canceling at least part of his trip because of recent challenging developments. Almost to a tee, the rest of the members advised him to shorten or cancel his vacation. Most cited the risk of being away from things. Not Wei. He looked at the situation differently.
“Pack and go. All two weeks of it. Go, no matter what.”
Everyone was puzzled by his advice and looked at Wei with quizzical faces.
“You win no matter what happens. If things go wrong, you will know what you have to fix. Then your business will get better and grow. If things go well, you will know you have a good team and can take more vacations.”
“Pack and Go. All two weeks of it. Go, no matter what.”
I can proudly tell you that every member of that peer group and their leader enjoyed full, two week vacations that year.
Hopefully, this little bit of Wei Chen helps you with any grief you may have and inspires you to think as positively about the future as Wei did. He is missed.
What’s your story? Post it please.
Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve had participants in a presentation and a retreat use the word “equipped” to describe how they felt about what they learned that day. Never had anyone use that word before now. So, I had to dig deeper and ask what exactly they meant.
What does it mean to be equipped for business or business growth?
Both participants were feeling “uncertain” about the future of their organizations. Neither expressed their uncertainty in a negative way. There are good opportunities and good futures in front of both of them. Yet, they felt uncertain about how things would play out. They wanted to feel more in control about acting on the opportunities. In the retreat, we were working on the “Road Map to Growth,” and the “Four Decisions Model” and the connections between the two. During the presentation, which was really more of an educational event for entrepreneurs/business owners, I was leading the participants through the “Road Map to Growth” and relating how it will help them make better, faster, and more effective decisions about their growth opportunities.
After the sessions, the participants said they now felt “equipped” to deal with what is in front of them. Some uncertainty remained. However, as a result of the presentation, they found themselves with increased confidence about finding their way through it and beyond it. The tools we worked on and reviewed gave them context for creating success. It also gave them a plan for acting on it.
Therefore, they felt equipped to go forward.
That’s one of the outcomes of working with a Gravitas Impact Premium Coach like me. Confidence and actionable plans are tools and “equipment” to build growth in your organization.
Interested? Schedule a Discovery Meeting with me to learn more about our substantive methods for helping you grow your organization
By the way, I close just about every coaching session or workshop with this question,”Tell me a word that describes how you feel, as a result of our time together.” It’s a great temperature checking question that I recommend you use at the end of all your important meetings. Reveals a lot about how things are going and what you can do about it.
It’s October. The beginning of the end of the year is upon us. It’s almost time to turn the page.
It’s the start of the last quarter.
There’s an expression, “Springtime is when little boys’ minds turn to baseball and batting averages.” This is often used toward the end of the school year, when it’s necessary to keep a student’s attention on studies while there are many opportunities for distraction. For business, while this time of the year is World Series time, it’s also time for CEOs and entrepreneurs to turn their minds to strategic thinking and execution planning for the new year while keeping a focus on the remaining activities currently at hand.
Information from this year can greatly impact next year’s strategic plan.
If you have a strategic plan, it’s time to pull the team together and refresh it. Breath some life back into it. Have them pull it apart, challenge its assumptions, and make adjustments accordingly.
If you don’t have a strategic plan, it’s time to pull a team together and create one.
Do it yourself or do it with help (that might be someone like me). Schedule the time on the calendar. Plan your work, then work the plan. It makes sense. Get it done.
How should you plan for next year by using what you know from this year?
Here are a couple of my options for you to consider.
A Pre-Planning Accelerator Session – The best strategic plans include input from middle management and the front line. This is a session with the middle managers and or frontline that engages them in your process and makes sure you get things right. Learn more about pre-planning sessions here.
Scaling Up Accelerator Sessions – Three options are offered.
Option 1. Take the First Step – Introduce your team to some new strategic planning tools,”The Four Decisions Assessment” and the “Road Map to Growth.” Then pound out next year’s plan. This is a half day session.
Option 2. Meet the Challenges – Add more expertise and tools that will help them break through to the next level of growth with Talent Assessment, Cash Accelerator Tool, Key Discipline Habits, and Master Quarterly Planning. This is a full day session.
Option 3. Make the Leap from Good to Great – Complete a Four Decisions® Assessment Report and Analysis, pound out a Four Decisions® Growth RoadmapTM for the next 3 years. Receive training and education on the core tools for the Four Decisions: People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.
Learn more about these three options here.
Or set up a discovery meeting with me.
Do you compete to be better or compete to be different?
Which is the best for you and your business?
Yes, I know I’m a flower child from the sixties (not really, but I did march in protest at the University of Michigan on the President’s lawn during the 70s, but that’s another story) but I’m not talking about the “me” generation. I’m not talking about finding individuality and my own uniqueness or any of that other rubbish. I’m talking about how to stand out among your competitors to land more business with your target market than they do.
You can try to be the best at what you do for your core customers. That will work for a short period of time until someone else copies you. Then, they get better. And everyone says they are the best, so claiming that usually doesn’t work. That kind of claim can lead to a “race to the bottom” and you certainly don’t want that. So I say, compete to be different.
Compete to be unique.
At what? You want to figure out what attributes in your market place are meaningful to your core customers that you can be significantly different at than your competitors. It means figuring out what you are already different at that your customers want and also figuring out what you can be different at with a bit of effort. For some things, you will choose to be different because it’s just not important to your core customers. When you nail all of this down, you will be able to be unique in order to compete.
It’s the essence of strategy.
Been learning a lot about how to help clients get all this figured out. Being different in a way that is meaningful to your customers is strategic.
I’ve been learning a lot about this because of my commitment to Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches (GIPC, formerly Gazelles International Coaches). Our new coach’s organization is focused on more than just one person as a thought leader. We’re forming partnerships with more thought leaders, so we can bring more value to our clients. One of these is Shannon Susko, and her latest book is The 3HAG Way. She’s taken the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up to new and higher levels in very practical ways, to unleash your growth. I’m learning the methods and tools. It’s how I will continue to be a premium coach to the markets I serve (within 400 miles of Memphis).
Want to learn how to be unique and to compete and unleash some growth? Set up a discovery meeting with me.
It’s that time of year.
Yes, we’re at the annual planning season.How will you be making sure you get frontline feedback or input in your upcoming annual planning process? Although strategy is usually created at the top of the organization, it’s implemented by the middle managers and the front line. They have a lot to add, especially about how things actually get done. It’s imperative that you include them in the process somehow; you learn things that you aren’t aware of and it creates buy-in when you act on their input. At the same time, including frontline feedback in the annual planning session is usually impossible. It’s just too many people.
So, how do you make the most of this time of the year?
I have two solutions for you. One solution gets the job done. Another one is riskier but delivers much better results.
My first suggestion isn’t difficult to do.
Do a “start, stop, keep” survey of every person in the company. Use something like Survey Monkey or Google forms sent to everyone, asking four questions.
- To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things that we need to start doing that we aren’t already doing? Please explain.
- To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things we need to stop doing? Please explain.
- To continue the success of our organization, what are one or two things that we do well that we need to keep doing? Please explain.
- What else to you want to tell us?
Do the survey confidentially. No tracking answers back to names. Don’t even spend time trying to figure out who said what. Compile the information, and then during your planning sessions analyse the data. You’ll certainly get some quick hits on some simple things to do to improve the company. Additionally, you gain insight into your company culture, teamwork, and execution. You’ll certainly get a lot of feedback on what the team needs to succeed.
After your sessions are over, make sure you formally thank the organization for the input, and tell them what you learned from them. Let them know what you are committing to as a result of the survey. This is important. If you don’t do this last step, you can forget getting honest answers in any future surveys.
The second suggestion delivers even better results.
My second suggestion is to have, what we call at Gravitas Impact, a Pre Annual-Planning Accelerator session with the front line and middle managers. It’s a half-day session, without the senior leadership of the company, that delivers the necessary frontline feedback. It’s specifically designed to capture direct input from the participants. You have an outside facilitator (a Gravitas Impact Premium Coach or equivalent) work the participants through a series of exercises: Victories or Bright Spots, SWOT, and Five Highest Priorities. Then the participants prepare a briefing for the senior leadership team. When this is completed, the senior leadership comes in and reviews what has been documented and then listens to the briefings. Senior leaders get to only ask up to two questions each, providing no commentary.
The conversations are rich, the insights are phenomenal, and they result in a better annual-planning session afterwards. The team building and leadership development is beneficial, as well.
Click here to get more information about my Pre Annual-Planning Accelerator session.
My clients that have the strongest benches, or work on building a strong bench, are usually my most confident decision makers. I see this confidence in all of their decisions not just the staffing ones.
That’s because they know they aren’t stuck if someone leaves or has to be asked to leave. There are options available, maybe not perfect ones, but options. Things won’t fall apart. They’ll be able to get through it.
This is why one of the primary responsibilities of the CEO, and his leadership team, is building the bench.
Each member of the leadership team should be on the constant lookout for the good people from within their organization that can be moved up as well as people from outside the organization who they would love to add to the organization. Even at times when promotions from within or positions also offered to those outside are not available. Besides being on the lookout, they should be nurturing relationships with those people as well.
One of the certainties of business is that people will leave you.
People retire. They get recruited away, or their spouses get transferred. Some get burnt out, and others get asked to leave. It’s going to happen no matter what. Hopefully, most of it will be positive. No matter the reason though, you can minimize the impact and act faster by developing your bench and your virtual bench. The virtual bench is those people you want to add but don’t have a position for at a particular time.
I have some clients that keep a chart that they review each month of all the people on their two types of benches. They track where they are in building a relationship with them so when they do have to add people, they can do it quickly. These clients hold themselves accountable for it. It’s a metric they have to report on to each other.
Besides making yourself more confident about staffing changes and additions, building the benches builds confidence in all the other decisions as well. Your entire team will get better and better. With that, the pressure from the many tough situations you face lessens. Better input, faster response, better execution. Better results.
Want to build your confidence? Build your benches.
Want a template of that Bench Building Worksheet? Schedule a time to talk to me about it.
At all the quarterly sessions I facilitate for my clients, we celebrate! That is, we start with a Victories, Brags, and Personal Pride exercise. We’re trying to set up the day well by taking time to identify the organizational wins and individual accomplishments that have occurred since the last quarter. It’s important to do so, because the challenge of the moment (or the bad news of the day) naturally takes up space in the front of our minds. This can render the good work and victories to go unnoticed. Doing this exercise forces a celebration that frees up the minds of the participants to more open dialogue and better decision making for the day. It’s also a great team building and learning experience. Teams are always somewhat astounded by the number of victories and personal accomplishments that have been achieved. Awareness of them is an opportunity to build your culture.
Everyone has to participate in the exercise, personally presenting the victories and accomplishments they have witnessed. Here’s where the exercise gets serious. I don’t let them just announce the victory or accomplishment; I push the presenter to dig deeper and go beyond the obvious. Each is required to:
- tie the victory or a accomplish to a core value,
- and/or go into detail about how it was accomplished,
- and the impact it will have on the future of the team.
I push hard on this, because I want the participants we celebrate to be both cheerleader and coach.
Think about a football game and when your favorite team scores.
The cheerleaders go crazy, making sure the team and every player know that they have done something good. They’re celebrating. That’s important; it needs to be done.
But what are the coaches doing? Of course they go crazy, too. We usually see them jumping up and down, ripping their headsets off, hugging players, and giving each other high fives. Kind of like the cheerleaders, but very shortly afterwards they switch gears and go back to work. They stop the key participants in the play and start giving them feedback on why the play was successful and why their individual parts of it worked. They often get into technique and tell them what they did differently this time that they didn’t do last time they ran the play. Coaches might even give some input on how to do it even better next time.
When the coaches do this, the players know what to repeat, what to differently, and what to do better. They copy from each other. It’s all to build towards another victory or accomplishment.
That’s why I push people in the exercise to get specific identifying the core value exhibited and the specific details of their successes. Those involved learn from this. They can copy the successes of others. Then, they get inspired to find additional successes, and the culture grows.
Finally, I ask one more question. “Have you told these people (especially those not in the room) and everyone else in the company about these successes and why they are important for the company?” Often the team sheepishly admits that haven’t done this. This is immediately added to the “Who What When” list to be completed after the session.
If you haven’t been keeping track of victories and accomplishments, start doing that and celebrating. When you are doing that, start cheering. If you are already cheering, start coaching. It’s how you build culture.
Gravitas Impact means more. Much more.
My coaching organization recently broke away from its parent/partner organization, and I went with them (or stayed with them, depending on your point of view).
Gravitas Impact hasn’t dramatically transformed my effectiveness or expertise as a coach just yet. Currently, I’m working from the same body of knowledge and techniques from my previous affiliation. However, with Gravitas Impact, my body of knowledge, techniques, tools, and support will grow significantly. In fact, the transformation process has already started.
It means more, so much more.
We’re building from our base, The Four Decisions Model®, and adding new thought leaders, as well as new content, new tools and new support. We’ll be able to continue to “unleash growth” but in a premium way.
The Four Decisions Model® applies to all business leaders. Each leader, no matter the challenges, faces four critical decision areas that must be addressed correctly in order to maximize revenue, profit and time—and ultimately enjoy breakthrough business growth. It focuses around people, strategy, execution, and cash.
Gravitas Impact, let me translate it for you. Coaches of substance that bring companies, CEOs, and teams to life in order to unleash their growth.
Let’s stay in touch. When you’re ready to learn more, set up a Discovery Meeting. Ready now? Click that button below.
Rocks or Sand?
That is the question. Is it nobler to push the sand or move the rocks? If you have read my book you know that the answer is not one or the other, but both. Both need to be front and center within your organization if you want to unleash growth.
So, why can’t you keep both front and center?
Because the sand is relentless, makes your money for you, and is immediate. I recently talked to my pastor about this. He knows what I do and was asking for advice on moving the parish forward. He had read my book. “I just can’t get to the rocks that will build our parish, the need to minister (his sand) never stops coming and the rocks never get attention. I can’t say no to ministering to others.” So the growth of the parish is stalled. But if he doesn’t get to the rocks, the ministering will disappear. I’m going to be advising him on how to make both front and center.
It’s not easy but necessary.
Your sand is “right now” and demands and requires immediate attention. Rocks are for the future yet should be worked on now too. If not, the sand will go away. Either that, or the sand will become quicksand that will swallow you up.
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