My Way is expedient, but in the long run it is not effective. A business owner must find a way to create the time and framework to allow him or her the opportunity to work on the business of running the business. This is to say the owner needs to be able to step back from the day-to-day operations and review how the business is executing to its mission/vision. The owner needs to be open to the changing dynamics that occur due to changes in technology, or competition, or because the business has outgrown its own systems. None of this can or should be done in a vacuum.
This type of planning breaks down into three simple components.
Together, these three steps form the foundation for creative thinking and objective reasoning that will guide you and your business through both prosperous and turbulent times. These steps will help keep from the My Way Trap and allow you to build your business more effectively.]]>
Understanding “Where you are going, How you will get there, and Why you are going there.” Will help you stay on track. But you also need to build repeatable processes and systems that your employees and customers clearly understand. In addition, you need to be acutely aware of what new products and trends are impacting or may impact your industry, or who new potential competitors may be. Finally, you need to build a “thinking platform” that allows you and your advisors to clearly and unbiasedly assess your progress.
But, doing all of this right still doesn’t necessarily add value to your business. Because the single biggest impediment to increasing the value of your business is….
You are the reason your business exists. You had the vision, fortitude, and perseverance to get the business going in the first place. How can you be the biggest threat to creating value in your company? Simple: If you are central to the business, it does not stand without you. Hence, if you are the force behind your company’s value and you exit, value is destroyed.
How can you tell if you are the center of your business’ universe. Try asking these simple questions:
1. Do you own the business or does the business own you?
Can you take a vacation or sick day without worrying about the basic day to day functions of the business? Or are you the person who brags that the business would be nothing without you.
2. Are you comfortable delegating important tasks within the business?
3. Do you listen to your advisors and act accordingly or do you surround yourself with “YES- People”?
In order to build lasting value in your business that goes beyond a high income for you, you need to build a business that can stand and flourish without your needing to focus on every detail or make every decision. You need a strong management and advisory team. You need simple processes that can be executed flawlessly nearly every time. You need to build an organizational culture that is consistent with your vision.
In short, to build lasting value… you need to move beyond an entrepreneurial mindset and begin thinking like a CEO. By making yourself dispensable… you shift the value in the business from YOU to the business itself. By doing this you create a better and more sustainable wealth engine.
I believe we can agree, that there are many technical financial, marketing and control reasons that could cause your business to fail. But I believe these are merely symptoms, and that most of the time a business’ fatal wounds are self-inflicted and they come from a lack of focus and clarity.
Let me explain, everyone can tell you WHAT they do. Most business owners and their employees can tell you HOW they do it, too. But many cannot explain WHY they do what they do. Without a clear mission/vision for your company it is impossible to create a focus on how and where you can WIN in the marketplace. It is a clear focus on who your customers are (and why), and how you are going to compete that will allow you to be successful.
No business large or small can be all things to all people. You need to carefully choose how you are going to compete, where you are going to compete and for what are you going to compete. Decide how your business is going act and write it down… make it the center of what you do. This focus will keep your business on track. By being clear on your vision you can…
With a clear focus and approach you can easily establish benchmarks and measures for your business. You can invite your customers to join your “mission” and your customers become empowered in building your company. With a clear focus your actions are consistent and as a result, you can more readily see what is and what is not working… and you can adjust.
Success starts and stops with a singularity of purpose. It doesn’t mean doggedly sticking to something that doesn’t work, rather it means knowing where you want to go and why you want to go there. It allows all the other details to fall in place.
I leave you with a quote from the movie City Slickers… The Billy Crystal character (Mitch) asks Jack Palance (Curly), “What is the meaning of life?” and the exchange goes…
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.
Find your ONE THING!
It really is not that difficult. Follow these simple rules and you will be well on the way to more effective and efficient meetings.
Don’t Boil the Ocean:
All too often managers try to cram too much into a meeting. They attempt to cover a wide array of topics. The result, the meeting rambles for hours and no one can tell you what was discussed or decided. People leave the meeting frustrated and overwhelmed.
Segment your meetings so your communications are focused and clear. For example, you may hold an annual planning meeting to cover your one to three key objectives, lay out budgets and challenges, and assign roles in order execute the plan. Then you might hold a quarterly meeting to determine your progress. And finally, weekly meetings with management and staff to keep everyone on track and raise/resolve issues as they threaten the plan.
Nothing derails the effectiveness of a meeting more than inconsistency. If you have a weekly management meeting at 9AM every Wednesday, then keep it and be on time no matter what. Nothing says I do not care more than cancelling or being late to your own meeting.
Put out an annual schedule of meetings. Keep a consistent agenda. Keep them short and stay on time. If you respect your team’s time, they will deliver for you.
There is an old Abbot and Costello routine, titled – Who’s on First? I am sure you’ve heard it before. The final key to an effective meeting is deciding who is doing what, and when will it be done. This is a MUST for any meeting. A word of caution here. Many companies use a “stop light” system to track accountability. Is the task green (on track), yellow (in danger), of red (off track). If you use a three tier system like this… SCRAP IT!
Tasks/Projects are either on time, on budget, and going as planned… or they are not! PERIOD. Running a business is not a game of horseshoes. Nearly made it - is not good enough. If your plan is on track, great. If not, glossing it over with an almost will not get you to a successful solution or your goals. If you are off track… say it and figure out why. Make the appropriate changes and move ahead.
In short, plan your meetings… be consistent… and hold everyone (including yourself) accountable.
Mark Mueller-Eberstein did an excellent TedX talk that outlines how to successfully deal with and manage change. It is an excellent video and well worth the five minutes required to watch it. Enjoy.
Covey spoke of “sharpening the saw”, Gerber speaks of “working on the business of your business”, the point is you need the time to think and reflect on what is working and what is not. You need to evaluate if your business is growing consistent with your goals and objectives. This means creating time with your leadership team and creating time for yourself outside the chaos of the day-to-day.
Opportunities to Achieve this goal:
- Monthly leadership meeting (preferably off-site) that focuses on the “big” things, not your tactics
- Read: Keep current to trends both in and out of your business
-Reflect: Take an honest look at what and how you doing, against the why your are doing it.
Are you measuring what you want to achieve? Does your scorecard align with your goals and objectives? Are you holding your team and yourself accountable for those results? Are you open to change when things are not going in the direction you desire?
Business and life certainly can challenge us, but when our goals-values-passions align it is easier to relax and have fun. In sports, they say elite athletes have the ability to “slow down” the game. It allows them to relax and execute. In business we need to do the same. Keep you goals and values aligned, use them as the basis for your decisions and the game “slows down”. You do what you do because you love it… it makes even the most challenging days fun. And if you don’t love what you are doing… well make the changes so you do.
Clarus Advisors wishes you a healthy and prosperous 2013
By definition, Collaboration is working together towards a common end. However, without a process to guide the process, most efforts to collaborate fall short of expectations or worse fail altogether. The primary reasons for this disconnect involve:
Developing a Thinking Platform sets the framework that will help you overcome these obstacles and greatly increase your odds of success. An effective Thinking Platform can be segregated into several components: the team, the objectives, accountability/execution, and reexamination. These four components provide the foundation, but how are they applied?
The Team – Who is a member and what should they do?
Building a strong collaborative team requires you to choose competent and committed people who have demonstrated expertise. They must work effectively in a group setting. They need to be able to effectively communicate their ideas and above all listen with an open mind. Members of a team might include, but are not limited to, managers, key employees, outside professionals, customers, academics and family members. The key is to assemble a team of professionals who will critically focus on the objectives that have been defined. The team must have the freedom to test and challenge ideas in order to ensure the actions taken are moving you towards your desired outcomes. This can be as laser focused as a specific product launch or as broad as the strategic direction of your company. The team is your think tank. They are there to not just agree, but to challenge and keep goals and objectives aligned with actions taken.
The Objectives – What are they?
Before you can begin solving the problem of the day or establish the mission of your company, you have to able to clearly identify your goals and objectives (for yourself and the team.) This is true regardless of whether you are talking about establishing an advisory board for your business or solving a specific technical issue. Defining your objectives and goals means having clear answers to those journalist questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. These answers are the foundation that unites your Thinking Platform. They provide the shared value framework that keeps the team focused, aligned, and clear on the “prize” or solution.
Execution – Are you winning?
Is the team delivering to the objectives? How are you measuring success? Giving The Team the flexibility and authority to create within your shared framework will open the door to better, quicker and more profitable solutions. Do not bog the team down with layers of hierarchy or rigid rules. Sharing a common vision and our innate desire to succeed will keep the process moving forward. The caveat is that the vision/purpose of the group must be shared, and there needs to a common method for measuring the outcomes of the group think in order to ensure consistency with the goals.
Reexamination – What are you missing?
Open questions and transparency is the secret sauce that ties things together. Reexamination is the process of, as Stephen Covey put it, sharpening the saw. Asking, what am I, we, us, missing, keeps us aware of the changes that surround our businesses and our lives. It keeps us open to the possibilities of new opportunities and warns us of potential risks.
Creating a collaborative process to share ideas around a common set of goals and objectives will transform your business. It will speed the delivery of your business in the marketplace. It will make your business more nimble. It will narrow your blind spots. It will provide a springboard for success that includes not only you, but also your business, your customers, and your employees.]]>
Based on my experiences it is an inverted assessment process. Most managers look at a persons qualifications first and foremost. Then “sell” the benefits of their company to the desired new hire. Little time is spent on values, desire, capacity… the decision is driven by perceived competence to do the job.
So how do you fix the issue? Re-engineer your hiring practices.
In short, everything begins with making sure your new hire’s values match the company’s. Without that match… challenges that de-rail the new employee and potentially the company are almost assured. Take the time, ask deep-probing-open ended questions that get to the candidates way of thinking – rather than ”selling” your company because you have a “qualified” candidate.]]>
Questions to consider:
What are the 3 to 5 words that define your company? Some examples might be creative, innovative, honesty, results, integrity to name a few.
What is the company’s focus? It’s Passion? In other words, what niche do you serve and why?
Does your management team and do your employees embody that which defines your company? Are you holding people accountable to the vision (including yourself)?
Align your company’s mission and vision with it’s actions. Be sure all your team is on board and marching to the same beat. Be consistent to your message in all your actions.
“The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are. And if our words and our actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our own inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity. We simply won’t be able to create and sustain the foundation necessary for effective interdependence.” – Stephen R. Covey
Post From George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology – Webster Universty]]>