execution posts

Busting the Core Values Myth

Too often, value statements are no more than vague ideals that are impossible to measure, and even harder to implement. Millions of dollars and an unimaginable number of employee hours have been wasted on the hypocrisy of “core value statements.” Consultants and company leaders form committees and convene at off-site meetings to carefully craft the [...]

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The Fierce Urgency of Now

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

This quote about fierce urgency and procrastination should resonate when we all realize how quickly January 2011 has flown by. Now there are only 11 months left to reach your 2011 goals. Q2 is around the corner, and if you’re off track in Q1, the rest of the year may be in jeopardy. Don’t allow one more year of missed opportunity. In that short amount of time, your company could easily end up “standing bare, naked, and dejected” when the competition cleanly passes you by.

It’s not as if companies don’t want to meet their goals. They try to meet them. But there’s a hard truth here: if they aren’t meeting goals on a regular basis, something needs to change. Let’s discuss what gets in the way of achieving results: obstacles, aka problems.

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What are your odds?

It’s easy to be confident that you’ll meet your 2011 goals – after all, you have 12 new months ahead of you. But in his book 8th Habit, Stephen Covey provides a sobering analogy: 37% of employees have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why, and only 1 in 5 employees has a clear “line of sight” between individual tasks and the team’s goals.

Now comes the sobering part: what if a soccer team had those stats? Only 4 of 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs, and only 2 of 11 would know what position they play and what they’re supposed to do.

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The Cost of Chaos – Part III

Imagine that you have a huge digital billboard in your office. It’s something like the national debt clock, and it’s tracking something that is just as critical to your company’s future. It’s the money your organization wastes while trying to generate revenue: the cost of failed products, excess sales salaries, sales support, ads, promotions, campaigns, demos, travel, unhappy customers, re-makes, lost deals, incorrect pricing, channel support, training, and more.

We have a name for these losses — the Cost of Chaos — and your new “chaos meter” would track every minute and dollar lost from uncontrolled revenue generation. And while nothing can match the national debt clock, we can guarantee that you won’t like the numbers you see on the version that hangs in your office.

This topic is so important that we’ve covered it in a three-part series. Today we’re providing examples of specific actions you can take to reduce these costs.

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8 Ways to Listen to Your Market

Look OUT, not IN! If you’re following our CEO Challenge articles, speaking or consulting work, you’ve heard this mantra a lot. More often than not, answers to your most important business questions aren’t inside your organization; the answers lie out there with your customers. What problems are they facing? How is your firm REALLY doing at solving those problems? How do they make decisions? What’s the image they have of your firm versus your competitors? How much value do you really bring? How consistent and predictable is your service? Do you know what your customers wish you did better? But how can you gather this research? This action plan provides 8 ways to listen without breaking the bank.

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You know the saying about assumptions. Why are you still making them?

Assumption testing has always been important in organizations. Right now, however, it’s more critical than ever. Markets are evolving so fast that the wrong assumptions can be fatal.

Worse yet, an organization’s inability to routinely identify and test assumptions is a cultural defect that can be very difficult to correct.

Rick and I often see this problem when we participate in leadership meetings held by our clients. During these meetings, we frequently hear executives mistakenly state assumptions as if they were facts.

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The Cost of Chaos

During the first week of the new year, when we tend to gaze optimistically at the road ahead, a headline from the Associated Press announced “Americans’ job satisfaction lowest in 22 years.”

The article then went on to say “That is the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board research group in over 22 years of studying the issue. If the job satisfaction trend is not reversed, economists say, it could stifle innovation and hurt America’s competitiveness and productivity. It also could make unhappy older workers less inclined to take the time to share their knowledge and skills with younger workers.”

Well, that got my attention! Of course there are many reasons for the decline, including the worst recession since the 1930s and the fact that downsizing has created more work and more demands on the workers who’ve survived the cuts. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that such a decline has somber implications for businesses, and executive teams need to address this issue in their organizations.

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“We have a great strategy but have trouble executing it.”

Have you had this thought lately?

“This year we’ll include a wide range of employees to assist in developing our revenue strategy. People will feel involved, they’ll fully understand the reasoning behind why we’re moving in this particular direction, and they’ll have ownership of the strategy. In fact, this is so important we’ll even hire an outside facilitator and conduct the strategy sessions off-site so there will be no distractions. The result will be a well thought out plan for moving the company forward. Perfect.”

Not really. Because, as we all know, the challenge of implementing that strategy is what trips us up. We put a great deal of time and energy into developing a strategy, but daily tasks, emergencies, and problems cry out and divert us from strategic initiatives. Six months down the road we’re sitting in a meeting struggling with familiar issues, and the great strategy we developed is long forgotten or ignored.

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