Archive for 2010

In 100 Words: Time to Reflect

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Troy Schrock

The end of the year is a natural time to pause and reflect – both as individuals and as organizations.  Yet, many don’t take full advantage of the opportunity.

Reflection is slightly different than real-time course correction; it’s a conscious effort to identify the gaps between plans and reality.  Did you meet your goals?  If not, why not?  What factors define your current environment?  Which of your assumptions are no longer valid?  What do you need to do differently?

Give yourself a dose of reality and let it drive your actions in the coming year…until it’s time to reflect again.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”  (Winston Churchill)

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Living Your Values

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 by Susan Diehl

It seems that many employees are increasingly disgruntled by their employer’s failure to “walk the talk”. When an organization proclaims it believes in something, but then behaves in a way that is contrary to those beliefs, the results are dire. Just today, I heard an example of a company communicating to its employees that it had instituted a process for global sales to promote fairness and transparency; however, when the process was not followed and worse yet, employees were hurt financially, the company turned its back on its values by not enforcing the policy against the offending employees. The reaction to this lapse, predictably, was that the negatively impacted employees did not want to follow the process the next time (and perhaps even to sabotage it!). Morale plummeted, trust in the process was lost, and no incentive remained to pursue similar sales in the future. In one fell swoop, the organization created a credibility gap.

Living your core values is more than putting a poster on the office wall, or holding a session to “embed” the values in the organization. Indeed, even if you are successful in aligning your employees around the values of your organization, it only takes one misstep (like the one above) to unwind all the good work that the organization has done to create that alignment. Put simply, the organization is just one behavior away from destroying a positive reputation that may have taken years to build. So, how can an organization ensure that it is walking the talk consistently?

First, and foremost—ensure that all members of your leadership team demonstrate your organization’s core values in everything they do. If they do not, you might as well not read any further. Leaders are like amplifiers: if they are aligned they will produce resonance, but if they are not aligned, the organization will hear static and will block out what is being communicated. Second, empower your employees to raise concerns about behaviors that are inconsistent with your values, without fear of backlash. You can designate someone in your organization or on its leadership team to champion these values. Encourage your employees to share their views and call out inconsistent behaviors, even if these behaviors originate with your leadership. Third, make sure that you follow up and follow through on these legitimate concerns. This will create credibility with your employees and promote an ethic of accountability. For example, if you value “respect for all people”, then allowing harassment or demeaning conduct in any form would not be tolerated. Finally, only hire and retain employees who demonstrate the core values of your organization. People are who they are—either they share your values or they do not. So, hire and keep people who reflect, rather than detract, from who you are. As Patrick Lencioni teaches, your values should be the immutable parameters of your hiring decisions.

On a personal note, I lost my father about a week or so ago. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the support we received by the many, many people who loved him. I heard wonderful stories about how my dad helped people when they were down, how he made them laugh, how he taught them to love, how he made them feel special. These were my dad’s values: showing love, being a friend, helping others, and keeping his family safe and secure. He lived them every day. I saw these even more clearly after he died and realized that your values are what define you. It reflects who you are and who you are not. Organizations, like people, need to live their values each and every day. These values define who they and what their legacy will be. So, go be inspired to create your legacy. It is the foundation upon which your organization rests.


Strategic Retreat? More Like Strategic Advance

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Troy Schrock

This is the time of year for annual strategic planning sessions.  Business leaders are pulling their executive teams together to map out a strategy for the coming year.  “It’s time for our 2011 strategic planning retreat,” they’ll say.

Retreat?  Do we really have to call it that?  I know the strict definition of the word, but its connotation bothers me. 

The business world frequently adopts terminology from the military context.  We say things like, “It’s time to launch a marketing offensive,” “We’re ready to unleash an all-out assault on the market,” or “We’ve been in hunker-down mode for the last year.”  In fact, even the term strategy originates in the military. 

From that standpoint, retreat is a negative word.  It’s synonymous with withdraw, relinquish, and concede.  Is that the way you want to be thinking as your organization plans its coming year?  I don’t think so. 

It’s time to retire the strategic retreat.  From now on, lead your organization on a strategic advance.  It’s time to advance your purpose and achieve your goals.  Assess your current position, identify the target, and push forward.  That’s what you really hope to do, so call it what it is.


In 100 Words: Strategic Retreat? More Like Strategic Advance.

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Troy Schrock

This is the time for annual planning sessions, and many business leaders are pulling their teams together for a strategic retreat.  But why do we call it a retreat?  Retreat is a negative word synonymous with withdraw, relinquish, and concede.  Is that your frame of mind as your organization plans the coming year?  I don’t think so.

Forget the retreat.  Lead your organization on a strategic advance.  Plan how to advance your purpose and achieve your goals.  Assess your current position, identify the target, and push forward.  That’s what you really hope to do, so call it what it is.

“There are risks and costs to a program of action.  But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”  (John F. Kennedy)

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Is Your Organization Aligned for Maxiumum Results?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by Ellen Bryson

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the phrase, “Vision is 1% and Alignment is 99%.”  Is your organization aligned to deliver maximum results?  Here are six questions to consider:

  1. Are all of your employees focused on the company’s top priorities?
  2. Do your employees have goals that tie directly to the company’s top goals?
  3. Do you use accountability to empower your employees to accomplish desired results?
  4. Do you measure results?
  5. Do you pay for performance?
  6. How do you encourage continuous improvement in your organization?

Actionable Focus

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Ellen Bryson

By the time he was 39 years old, John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the U. S. and controlled more than 90% of the world’s oil flow. Want to know the secret to his success? He understood the power of focused and disciplined behavior.

Rockefeller understood that priorities were essential for maintaining focus.  He knew that he must always know and understand what his most impactful goals were for the week, month, quarter, year, and beyond.  He met with his executive team on a daily basis. His team understood that their strategic priorities were their most important work and they developed the discipline necessary to successfully execute. They cultivated actionable focus!

If everything is important, then nothing is important. Companies have to regularly set and reset their priorities, knowing what number one is and the top three to five at any given point in time. Once the company top priorities are set, each executive with the help of his/her team should set his/her functional area’s top three to five to support the company. Finally, each individual should establish his/her top three to five priorities to support the department’s priorities.

Once priorities are established, the next step is to execute and drive results. Simply put, all the good ideas in the world are worth little without people who execute on the good ideas and get them done.  Priorities set you free…empower employees to do their jobs…inspire them to achieve results…require you to manage less!