Wednesday, October 28, 2009
”No, I am still a Conservative and I shall support you whenever I think you are right.”
Sir John A. said:
”That is no satisfaction. Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is a man that will support me when I'm wrong.”
Thursday, October 01, 2009
A Story About Value
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Growth can still be defined in yesterdays focused terms (GDP for the broader US economy, Revenue/Market Share for individual business and a host of other financial metrics) but growth is usually defined more broadly by those seeking it.
We all want to see our children experience healthy growth but that growth isn't just in height and weight. We want them to grow in knowledge, understanding, wisdom, values and morals. If physical growth was all that was important we'd all just feed and exercise our kids like livestock.
Mental, spiritual and emotional growth is equally important for successful lives as food and activity is. With our children and ourselves we broaden our scope and definition of growth and work at it today so that we can develop, plan and be prepared for tomorrow's challenges and opportunities.
So in today's economy; business growth must take on the added dimensions of developing people, strategies, methodologies, capacity, capability and product/service offerings in order to be best prepared to take advantage of opportunities waiting just beyond our current situation and circumstance.
Organizations that can do this now, in a down and lingering economy, will be the market leaders tomorrow and those all important hard dollar growth metrics will follow.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
First understand that everyone is different and motivated by different needs and desires. The can be some common characteristics. Top performers are usually self motivated and independent thinkers. They can be highly competitive or non-competitive types. To perform well in any given role you need to fully understand your capabilities and be motivated toward achieving a goal or continually improving. The goal could be any metric you choose. High performance individuals can meter themselves and find incremental objectives in every task. Top performers seek to toss the goal lines further and further each time and look for new ways to improve efficiencies in everything they do. They like challenge, variety and rewards. Some truly self-motivated people see reward in personal achievements and not monetary. However, you should reward performance according to each persons needs/desires profile as well as their paycheck.
A well run company would strive to understand the mindset and characteristics of top performers in order to ensure the proper tools and methods are available for all to use. Some simple drivers for high performance is flexibility and autonomy. When you allow individuals to naturally excel and then work to understand why they do and then nurture the environment that enables high performance, you can duplicate the benefits across the whole organization with the added advantage of developing, retaining and recruiting highly capable individuals.
Hopefully there are companies and leaders out there who are paying attention and seeking to develop talent as well as understand and take care of each individuals current needs.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
What is great about a true leader is that they infect us with their vision to the point where we take on some part of the leadership mantel. That transference of leadership is done by the leader through coaching and mentoring managers into better managers and future leaders. None of us are absolved from the challenge and responsibilties of being BOTH manager and leader. We attend to the execution of our processess and tasks to achieve daily, weekly and annual objectives as managers and we also stretch ourselves to DREAM about the many “what ifs” that cross our paths.
Think about your family and home; You manage the budget, home and car maintenance and mow the grass. You lead, coach and mentor your children and spouse to fulfill their dreams and desires and achieve their unlimited potential. YOU ARE BOTH LEADER AND MANAGER!
While there is a difference, let’s not build a wall or see leadership as some far off bridge in the foggy mists. Look for the manager and leader inside all of us and cultivate the best of both to achieve the greatest where we are and where we CAN BE. Manager-Tools should be building and creating leadership qualities in all managers, after all, the kids are watching.
Countless times in my life I’ve had to work on things. It could be that it required normal maintenance, like the car, or it just wasn’t working correctly. Sometimes it was s just plain busted, like a kid’s toy or even my laptop. No matter what it was I would grab the tools and start taking the contraption apart. Sometimes I had some experience, like with the washing machine, and knew exactly what to do and the whole process went well. Then there are those time when I thought I knew what I was doing and things didn’t go so well. And then there are the instances where I’m totally clueless but push ahead into the unknown with confidence only to meet face to face with my limited knowledge and more than a few extra parts. If I’m expecting good results the process should follow some simple rules:
- If I’ve never done it before it will be best to do some research FIRST and maybe even ask for advice or assistance from an expert.
- If I’m going to take it apart, I better be careful to watch what I’m doing during the disassembly and follow the reverse to put it all back together again.
- If I’m going to put it back together I need to follow my memory or better yet written instructions or drawings made during the deconstruction phase.
- If I expect it to work well when I’m done, I better use good technique and good repair parts to make sure it’s as good or better than new.
- While things were apart I should check for any other signs of needed repair. Could it use some lubrication? Maybe some cleaning? Are there any other items that look worn out that should be replaced? A keen eye and careful observation can catch things and eliminate repeated failure even after a successful repair.
- Be patient.
Now, surprisingly, I don’t always follow the rules. There are many times during the reassembly process the stuff just doesn’t seem to fit right. I’ll apply more pressure, tighten things a bit more or whatever it takes only to find the covers don’t fit or the screws don’t line up. Maybe I’m all done and I notice a screw is left without a home or some other part is still lying on the table. Something just isn’t right. It’s at this point I need to face the facts - If I want to succeed I’ll have to take it all apart again and start over and figure out where it all went wrong and then concentrate on doing it right the second time.
Sometimes in life or in business we come to a point where performance is poor, things just are not fitting right or maybe something is totally broken. Usually, we’ve never been in the situation before and don’t have a maintenance manual or instruction book to guide us through a set of rules or processes. Poor performance can take you by surprise. Day-to-day you just didn’t notice that motivation was decreased, people were not happy and the work output isn’t of the same quality. In business, you may have built it yourself and success has been on your side but you suddenly find that things just are not where you had hoped and it’s beginning to look bad. It isn’t rare to have past success plateu or even turn south on you. What is important at these stages is stepping back and evaluating the facts.
Have there been signs along the way that maintenance was needed and neglected? Did you miss the little rattles or squeaks? It’s possible that you’ve been operating the machinery for so long that those little noises were not noticed. What once could have been corrected with minor adjustments or a few replacement parts now requires a major overhaul. The acknowledgment and realization of past error will serve you well when making a decision to tune up or rebuild.
So the big question is: Are you willing to take it apart in order to figure out why the fit just isn’t right? Are there some missing pieces? Have you used the best tools, techniques and components all along or do you need to refocus on building the quality back in? If you are ready, some rules still apply:
- If you’ve never done it before – Do some honest research to assess the condition and be willing to ask for advice and outside assistance. Part of your first step should be a reevaluation of exactly who you are - As a business and as a person. You may need to reinvent yourself or your business plan to get things back on track.
- Know what continues to work well and multiply the good. Figure out what needs to be added to complete the picture and what needs to be fixed or replaced. If you’re taking it apart you need to make sure only the good goes back together and together the right way.
- If reconstruction will be a change from the original you need to reset the compass for everyone so they understand the new direction and destination. What is expected of the result? How will it be different? What will the NEW and IMPROVED version look like? Leaders call it VISION!
- You want the best right? Then invest in the best and most importantly, understand what the best is. To what will your new product or service be compared? How is it measured and how will you know it when you see it? Observe what is going on around you and take careful note. Gather insights and recommendations from those outside your normal sphere of contacts. The things you may set out to fix might only be the tip of a larger problem. Avoid fixing symptoms and get to the root of all issues.
- Be patient. Not complacent or slow to act but patient at the taking apart and the putting back together part. Everything must align and fit. You want it to be better than new!
If you are in a position of ownership and leadership and you feel things just are not the same or maybe your organization is struggling to get to the next level, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some maintenance. Just don’t forget to follow some rules and have a plan. The results are worth it.
Several years ago I had the privilege to work at a large hospital complex. The medical center campus covered several city blocks and was in the midst of a construction program that doubled the number of buildings between 2001 and 2003. Many of the structures were interconnected and the architecture incorporated large spaces and wide hallways. You could tell that the designers wanted a great deal of visual impact and openness.
With the large floor plan, shear number of buildings with their multiple levels and web of enclosed sky bridges, hallways and escalators – it would be quite easy to get lost. To help visitors, patients and workers navigate to a destination the architects and interior designers created themed areas in each of the major sections of the campus. One area featured a large Tree Sculpture that soared from the ground floor to the ceiling several stories up. Another had a large Aquarium. Others were named The Art Gallery, The Fountain, and Sundial - each with their associated design feature. While serving as navigation aids these sites were also places you wanted to go to and enjoy. Once you knew that your destination was near one of these landmarks you could then follow colored symbols of each landmark like signposts letting you know you were heading in the right direction.
The landmarks and signposts guided you along your way but another useful tool were the many kiosk stations that displayed interactive digital maps showing your current location and a clear map of the area. These “you are here” kiosk sites provided a quick view of your relative position compared to your ultimate destination.
Now let’s look at the elements above and think about our corporate destination. Like the landmarks at the medical center, do you have a clearly defined destination and milestones to help you know how close you are? Have you created something that clearly communicates the goals, objectives, dreams and visions that have been set for the company? Does everyone see these landmarks as places that they will enjoy and are they excited about the trip? I know when I walked through the buildings at the hospital, I felt good. Not just because I wasn’t lost, the design did give me confidence, but because the spaces were enjoyable. How can you take the elements of Landmarks, Signposts and Kiosks and design a landmark vision, a clear well marked and planned path and “you are here” maps so everyone in your organization knows where they are in relationship to the vision objectives and their own personal goals?
The ultimate destination can be anything you dream of! Make sure everyone knows where that is, where they are and give them the information and tools they need to get there.