In-Synk Blog

This blog is all about my latest insights into growth, strategy, and execution.

“Be Right” or “Get It Right”

"Be Right" or "Get It Right" What is your focus? by Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Which is your focus?

Do you want to “be right” or “get it right”? Pretty interesting question isn’t it? Most people will say the correct option is to “get it right.” As leaders, parents, citizens, and business people, we all intuitively know that the way forward in whatever it is we do is  to “get it right” more often then we get it wrong.

Inevitably, we get this wrong. Something happens in the process. We shift to “be right” over “get it right.” Might be just for an instance, but usually it evolves into a habit. All sorts of things cause this: hubris, insecurity, success, intelligence, anger, frustration, etc. I could write a blog about each and every cause (don’t worry, I won’t). However, I will be doing a three part series on this dilemma and how it’s resolution impacts the growth of you business. Consider this post the first part of the series.

So, which right is your focus?

  • “Be right” is about winning the debate, positioning yourself or your idea as the best person or the winning idea. It’s a contest, a beauty pageant, a match race, a competition. It’s about looking good, winning the argument, impressing others, and maybe even intimidating other people.
  • “Get it right” is about gaining understanding, clarifying complexity, creating the best solution, and aligning everyone around it. It’s about listening, learning, leading instead of telling, teamwork, and creating commitment.

During your organization’s next problem solving session, observe everyone’s behavior using the criteria listed above. Try to determine which category applies to them. Better yet, apply the criteria to how you participate in the meeting. What is your focus?

Part two of the series will focus on how to shift to “get it right” from “be right.”

Part three will focus on the benefits, or lack thereof, of being one or the other.

Stay tuned.


5 Signs You Need a New Strategic Plan

Five Signs You Need a New Strategic Plan - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk Coaching

You did the work and put together a good strategic plan. Should you regularly review it? Do you need to update it?

“How do I know I need a new strategic plan?”

I get asked this question often enough. Here are five key indicators that creating a brand new plan is necessary:

  • When what’s been working well doesn’t work so well anymore. Same amount of work and effort being done well, and you are getting less results. Something has changed. Dig in, and figure it out. Change your plan accordingly.
  • When things are going a lot better than they have in the past. This surge in growth needs to be supported, or the wheels will come off your organization. Something has changed, this time for the better. Dig in, figure it out, and change accordingly.
  • New technology enters your arena. Something has changed. Dig into it and figure it out, hopefully so you can take advantage of it. Change accordingly.
  • New technology/competition enters into your customers’ arena.  Something has changed. Dig into it and figure it out for your customers. Change accordingly.
  • Your team changed. You have a brand new team. Dig in, and figure out what the new players on the team bring to the table. New talent, new insights, more bandwidth. Change your plan accordingly.

I could go on and on, but I’m hoping you are catching my drift. Whenever you see that “something has changed,” good or bad, you need to figure it out. And change your plan accordingly.

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You Have Goals, Do You Have a Plan?

You've Got Goals, but Do You Have a Plan? by Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

I love setting goals.

They give you something to compete for. Hopefully you have set goals for your business. What the outcomes you want to achieve in 2018 with your revenue, market share, profitability, new customers, new products or product lines, acquisitions, etc.? I have set my goals, as well. Good job, and well done!

That’s not enough though.

If the goals aren’t translated into a plan, you dramatically reduce your chances of achieving your goals. As many have said in many different ways, “You need to know where you are going to be in the future (goals), and you need to know what you are going to do about it right now (actions/plan).”

This need not mean starting from scratch and creating a whole new strategic plan. At the very least though, you need to update what you have in order to reflect the current circumstances. Here are some basics to keep in mind as you update, plan, or create a new one.

Take stock of the following:

  • Talent – Do you have the right people in the right seats doing the right things the right way?
  • Strategy – Is what has been working still working as well as it did in the past? What is changing, your customer base, technology, competition? Is your strategy focused on your customers, and is everyone aligned around the same strategy?
  • Execution – Is the team working together well? Are they working on both new initiatives (ROCKS) and existing tactics (SAND)? Are the leading indicators where they need to be, and if not, are adjustments being made to make sure you hit your goals?
  • Cash – Got enough cash to cover what needs to be done to produce results?

You also want to ask yourself if everyone is involved in creating the plan, and is everyone aware of what the plan is? When people are actively involved in creating the plan, they are much more committed to making it happen.

Set your goals. Create your plan. Plan your work, and then work the plan.

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How Do They Keep Winning? The Patriots Are There Again.

Keep Winning. How do the Patriots Keep Winning? - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Love them or hate them, one can’t ignore the winning record of excellence demonstrated by the Patriots in the past decade or so. They’re in the Super Bowl again (hurrah or dammit). Since 2000, they have played in eight of them and won five! They’ve played in 14 AFC Championships and won eight. That means 14 AFC East Titles, and they have gone 201-71.

They are always knocking at the door.

Though many attribute it to cheating (Deflategate and Spygate), I’m sure it has much to do with the future Hall of Famer’s Bill Belichek and Tom Brady. These guys are a winning combination if there ever was one. There have been other great coach/QB combos (Lombardi/Starr, Knoll/Bradshaw, Walsh/Montana, Landry/Staubach, Dungy/Manning) over the years, but they haven’t come close to the success of the Patriots.

What makes the Patriots different?

It’s their dedication to team work and being good teammates. I’m not talking about having the best plays or strategy. I’m talking about how well they work together. They work on more than just running the right plays the right way at the right time. They work on working together well. Constantly. They are self aware and fully aware of each other. This team knows how to communicate effectively. They can read each others’ minds.

Do you work on working together well? Are the various members of your team self aware of their weaknesses and strengths as well as the weaknesses and strengths of each other? Are they lined up correctly around them, as well as being aligned around your organization’s strategy?

Your team needs to work on working well together. too.

Besides having a great strategy or playbook to generate sustainable success, how do you do this? 

A good start is to use a tool like the Predictive Index ™ to help individual team members become self aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and then share them each other. This allows teams of all types to become better able to work with each other. Team players become better at utilizing each other’s strengths and working around each other’s weaknesses to move the company forward.

I’ve become a Predictive Index ™ Ambassador and have been using the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment to raise the games of the leadership teams of my clients. I’ve been conducting what I’m calling In-Synk Executive Alignments. Communication barriers are broken; collaboration is enhanced; teamwork increases, and achievements come faster. It’s a session that helps the team work on being a better team. In other words, they work on working together well.

You might hate Patriots, but you can’t help but be envious of their ability to succeed and keep winning. It comes from working at being a good team. An In-Synk Executive Alignment will get that process started for you.

Full disclosure: I’m a Wolverine, and I love Tom Brady. Go Blue!

To Lead, Should You Know It All?

Should You Know It All to Lead Successfully? by Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

You’re the owner/founder of your company. So, most likely that means you have a bit more chutzpah and smarts than everyone else in your organization. But, do you delude yourself into thinking that you know more about EVERYTHING else than everyone else does? It’s easy to fall into that trap, because as we all know “the boss is expected to have all the answers.”

There are so many pitfalls to this delusion:

  • When you follow it, you lose trust in the front line of your organization. You also put an increasing amount of pressure on yourself.
  • Your front line will stop thinking and will wait for you to decide everything. This slows down the company.
  • The information and ideas you need to make the best decisions, and lead, will stop coming to you. This makes the decisions harder to discern, further slowing things down and making all your decisions more risky.
  • Eventually, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that your business is so completely different than all others that no one can really help you, not even outside experts and peers. This puts your company at further risk.

What you can do instead:

  • The first thing to do is to admit you might be a genius at a few things, but most likely it’s only a few things. It’s certainly not everything. There are only one or two geniuses like Steve Jobs in every generation, and it took him many years to realize his genius. Remember, he was fired from his own company and had to learn about collaboration elsewhere before he was able to make Apple into what it is today.
  • Accept that FINDING the right answers is what’s important. It’s not knowing all of them. Lead with questions; ask lots of them.
  • Focus on identifying the problems and the opportunities. Then lead by asking questions of your team to bring out all the data and the potential solutions (this is called being a “multiplier”).
  • Make the assumption that your team is “smart enough” to figure things out. Expect them to do so. You”ll lift your expectations of your team, and they will rise to the occasion. Ask any successful teacher about this. It’s called the Pygmalion Effect. High expectations bring high results. The best teachers have high expectations of their charges.
  • Hire people who are smarter than you, especially in the areas where your experience and knowledge aren’t so strong.

Become the decider on the answers. As you lead, you don’t need to be the man/woman who knows all the answers.

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Can ROI on Coaching be Calculated?

How to Calculate ROI on Coaching - by Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Can ROI (Return on Investment) be calculated when it comes to coaching? It’s important to me for my clients to get a tangible return on their investment in my services. Therefore, I have an annual Return on Coaching meeting with my clients. Sometimes, we have a ROC meeting more often if the value I’m providing isn’t crystal clear. It keeps me honest and keeps our relationship healthy.

Mathematically, ROI on coaching is easy to calculate.

You take the fees invested in coaching for the time spent coaching and divide that into improvement achieved measured in Revenue or Gross Profit or Net Profit for the same period. I recently calculated this for a client I’ve been coaching for about two and half years. I did the back-of-the envelope math and realized my client reaped a 5371% ROI from my coaching. Pretty damn good, right?

However, doing the same calculation a year and half earlier, after only working with the company for the first year, the number came out as zero. Even though we had successfully attacked and overcome so many obstacles and opportunities, the improvement in revenue and profitability was totally flat. We were rebuilding the business. Although we had turned the company around, the payoff was still to come. The math calculation made no sense.

Why keep going after a questionable math calculation?

To make sure the coaching was working and paying off, we listed all the accomplishments and initiatives we had worked on. They were then scored from 1-5 based on impact upon the company.  This confirmed that momentum was building, and it was good to continue the investment in coaching. The payoff for all the coaching in the first year started coming to fruition and resulted in the 5371% ROI listed above. Our work in the past year a half is building on all of that. I can’t wait to do the math next fall.

Return on Investment when it comes to coaching, whether you calculate it mathematically or with a scorecard, should be looked at regularly to make sure your coach is delivering.

I’m proud to say that I’m regularly delivering a healthy ROI on my coaching.

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Reminding About Your Core Values Enough?

Core Values and Reminders for Business Teams and Growth - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

If you are interested in building a culture strong enough to create a competitive advantage, you have to be constantly be reminding the team what your core values are. This goes way beyond putting them on a poster and talking about them in your daily and weekly huddles. I’ve talked about it before in a previous blog post, 3 “R & Rs” for Building a Strong Company Culture. Take a look at it; that will get you started.

Now, I want to take the idea one step further.

What do you do when someone just isn’t getting a core value and that’s causing problems?

Core values aren’t something you can manage really. Team members have them, or learn them and live them, or they don’t. So my suggestion, from Pat Lencioni, is this. For the person who just isn’t getting it and violates a core value, take time to remind them what the core value is. Then remind them of your expectation on how to live that value the next time a similar situation comes up. Also, remind them why this is important. Do it in a matter-of-fact manner. Keep reminding them each time it comes up. And re-reminding them, and re-reminding them.

One of three things will happen:

  1. The team member will get sick of all the reminders and change the behavior.
  2. The team member will get sick of all the reminders and start looking for another job.
  3. You will get sick of doing all the reminders and decide to free up their future.

I think it’s a pretty good way of communicating the importance of  your core values. Remind! Remind! Remind! until someone gets sick of all the reminders.


Free digital copy of Rock & Sand: A Practical Insight to Business Growth by Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Six Book Recommendations for 2018

What Book Should You Read for Better Business in 2018?

Time to tune up yourself and your team.

Time for my book recommendations for 2018. Books that will make you a better leader, make your team better, and improve your entire organization.

Four that I’ve read:

  • The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holliday – If you can imagine, it’s a daily devotional (like a daily prayer book) that focuses on the teachings of the Stoic Philosophers. Five to ten minutes a day with an entry for every day of the year. It will settle your mind, help you think bigger, and give practical perspectives on the challenges that you face daily. I do it everyday first thing in the morning. No matter what.
  • The Coaching Habit, by Michael Stanier Bugay – Teaches you a stack of seven questions to ask of people who are asking for your help or advice. They work, and they make your teammates become critical thinkers.  Helps them think through the solutions instead of you giving it to them. I have them written out on my whiteboard so I don’t forget them and can instantly access them on a coaching phone call.
  • Jobs To Be Done, by Steven Wunker, Jessica Wattman and David Farber – This book and its methodologies will give your marketing people, and your entire team, a deeper understanding of why your customers buy.  It’s about the larger job they are trying to do with your solution or product not the features and benefits. It’s what your brand should be built around.
  • The Ideal Team Player, by Pat Lencioni – As I’ve always said, read anything he writes. This one is another one of his business fables about the attributes of the ideal team player, how to identify them, and how to leverage them to build a better team. If team work is truly important in your team.

Two that I’m going to read:

  • The Metronome Effect, by Shannon Susko – Susko is a fellow Gazelles Coach. Verne Harnish says it’s the perfect complement to Scaling Up, so it is on my list.
  • Your Oxygen Mask First: 17 Habits to Help High Achievers Survive & Thrive in Leadership & Life, by Kevin Lawrence – This is also by a fellow Gazelles Coach. You can’t take care of your business and others unless you take care of yourself first.

And of course, there is my book.  😉

Beyond reading these books, consider a tune up with In-Synk,, and get your company and team moving forward faster in first quarter of 2018.

Does Your Team Shift with the Tide?

Does Your Team Shift with the Tide? - Michael Synk - In-Synk Coaching - #GetInSynk

Do shifting tides cause shifts in your team? There seems to be a pretty obvious answer to the question. Of course they do.

We all know intuitively and factually that about the only thing we can count on in business is change.

Things change.

  • The economy
  • Technology
  • Customers
  • Tactics
  • The market
  • Prices
  • Costs
  • Failures

All these things change and shift around, and we constantly monitor these changes and make adjustments to take advantage of the changes or to protect ourselves our enterprise from the changes. The companies that deal with change the best tend to be the leaders.

Yet, although this is pretty obvious, I often see leaders underestimating how the changes affect team members. The people on the team are the ones who have to implement, react to, overcome, and often just live with the changes. All of this impacting them in a variety of ways. Leaders feel the impact quite personally, but they often miss, or forget about, the same impacts on the team.

The biggest impact can often be on motivation. One huge motivating factor in life is how one feels about the impact they are having on the progress of the organization. Another big motivating factor is how much control one feels that they have over their work. Finally, another important motivating factor is that of having the feeling that one is part of something bigger than one’s self.

Change, if not acknowledged and communicated effectively, eats away at these motivating factors.

When there is constant change, or a big change (especially downturns or failures), it’s time to up the ante on communication about the the changes. The communication needs to be especially focused on including the team on how they can adapt to, or help with, the change. They need to be involved in setting new directions in responding to change.

That way, they can feel that they are making an impact, that they have control, and that they are part of something headed in the right direction.

Don’t underestimate the shift in your team caused by the shifting tides in your business.

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Dorothy Day House, The Rockefeller Habits & Giving Back

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss how I’ve been able to use Rockefeller Habits to help miracles happen in Memphis.

Watch the video or read the transcript, but there are a few lessons and reflections here. One of them is how could Rockefeller Habits and a one-page strategic plan help your business, non-profit or for profit? How could this help a do-good organization you serve? Also, what are you doing to help the community?

Gil Bonwit:

As many of you know, you use the methodology of Rockefeller Habits Gazelles in your businesses. I used it in my businesses and realized it was effective, so we teamed up to bring it into the do-good world, as Bob Chapman said, the nonprofit world. Hundreds of organizations already use those tools. Our BHAGs had 1,000 nonprofits start using those tools with the thought is if they could each be three percent better, what kind of impact could we have on this world, and this is a gift we can give them. We’re really proud of two people, Mike Synk, who’s a Gazelles coach, and Sister Maureen, from Dorothy Day House. They’re going to tell you a little about some of the impact that these tools have already had in their organization.

Michael Synk:

Good morning. Recently, one of my friends asked me a question, “What’s the most important one-page strategic plan that you’ve ever worked on?” And my answer is the Dorothy Day House. What I want to ask the CEOs and the coaches today, rhetorically, is to think about what your answer to that same question is. Maybe more importantly, another way of asking it, how can you bring the Rockefeller Habits to the charities and for-good organizations that you have been asked to serve?

In 2011 my good friend, Sister Maureen, asked me to serve on the board of the Dorothy Day House and be its first chairman. I said yes, and Sister Maureen said, “Yes, we’ll do a one-page strategic plan.” So, I’m just gonna review some of the things that we came up with in our strategic plan. Our purpose, inspired by the gospels we enable homeless families to stay together and empower them to gain independence. I’m gonna go over the core values. The Poor Are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him. Personalism; we have  care and concern for each individual family. Hospitality and Trust in God; we are people taking care of people. Personal Accountability, and We’re a Home.

Then it was very easy to talk and determine what our core competencies or our core strengths were.

One of them is we have this covenant. It’s a simple covenant with house rules, and the rules are followed by all Dorothy Day House residents. Another strength is our volunteer web. This past year, over 400 volunteers served the Dorothy Day House and the families as we’ve helped rebuild their lives. Finally, our board is incredibly committed. All the members of our board are donors and volunteers before they join. One of our first ROCKS that we determined we had to work on was raising awareness about homeless families because homeless families are kind of hidden in each of your cities. The second ROCK was we had to get the message out about a special house in Memphis.


Sr. Maureen Griner:

So Dorothy Day House opened in 2006. It was five years later in 2011 when we decided it was time to get serious about the future. We asked Michael Synk to serve as our board chair. As a Gazelles coach, he said, “Let’s start with this strategic plan.” Anybody who’s done one of those one-page plans knows that the BHAG is a big part of that conversation.

Our BHAG in 2011 is in 2022 there will be a Dorothy Day Village with a capacity to help 20 families at a time. We started with that one house helping three families. Our BHAG was huge. We thought Mike was crazy.

Today in 2017, we’re in the midst of an expansion plan. We launched a $5 million capital campaign a year ago. At this moment, we’ve raised about 1.6 million, which seems absolutely impossible. We’re headed for the impossible. These are the houses that we’ll be purchasing. The first is the one we opened in 2006. We opened another in 2016, and the final three will be opening in 2018, 2019, and 2020. That will get us up to 3, 4, 7, 10, 13 families, and we’re still two years short of that BHAG. We’re going to make it for 20 families by 2022.

I think we’re really proof that the Rockefeller Habits work for nonprofits. So many times, nonprofits just live in today and don’t think about the future. Our work with Mike forced us to have a goal that was so far ahead, we couldn’t imagine. It really inspired us to move forward.

Miracles are happening in Memphis.

We encourage you to pass on those Rockefeller Habits and your work to nonprofits. They need those tools to move to the future.

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