“Trust is the glue of life.

PPT What will your operational narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.”As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, the words of Stephen Covey in the title ring true as leaders develop their new operational plans. Operational planning is comprised of the four guiding elements of the business: People, Process, Technology and Compensation. In Chapters 4 and 5 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved in operational planning and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives, we will focus on the available or readily available resources needed to achieve the strategic objectives. In leveraging operational communications, leaders...
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“If you don’t know where you’re going...

Strategic-communication What will your strategic narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...any road will take you there.”Many will recall this classic line from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” in the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, it is important they plan through the lens of strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is comprised of the three guiding elements of the business: Vision, Mission, and Strategy. In chapter 3 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the strategic communications involved in strategic thinking and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communications strategy.We define strategic communications as the actions involved in communicating the long-term purpose and direction of the organization. To that end, strategic communications is unique in its application than the operational and tactical communications which we will...
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We are all Products...

core-competencies How is your business capacity and capability supporting your strategy and how do you know?
...of Our Capability.A frequent topic of discussion in our leadership coaching practice in the last several months is how to manage burnout. When we explore the topic more closely, a common theme arises to the surface. It seems despite the many issues of the time (great resignation, post-pandemic uncertainty, global supply chain, etc.), leaders are still trying to achieve their original goals as if these issues simply didn’t exist.In truth, every business, for-profit or non-profit, public or private, large or small, operates on two related and interdependent variables: Capacity and Capability. Capacity consists of the assets and inputs, both tangible and intangible, the organization has on hand or can be readily acquired. Capability consists of the collective skills, knowledge and attitudes the organization leverages to conduct their business strategy and effectively compete in their markets. All businesses must assess their competitive strategy through the lens of their executable capacity and their...
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“I Love It...

strategy_-thinking-journey What does it look like when your next plan comes together?
...When a Plan Comes Together!” Many might remember this often-used phrase from the fictional character Hannibal Smith, the leader of “The A-Team” from the mid-80’s TV series (or the 2010 movie). In many cases it always seemed there was no plan, but in the end, things worked out for the team eliciting his infamous phrase while lighting the obligatory cigar! Suffice it to say, most, if not all, plans for 2020 were shot to hell due to the pandemic. However, as business leaders adapt to the new reality and start to put 2020 in the rearview mirror the narrative becomes, “What’s next?”The 4th Quarter of 2020 is shaping up like no other in recent history. In addition to the lagging effect of the pandemic, the effect of schools in various stages of openness, continued social unrest and a very contentious national election, what is a business leader to do to plan...
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"Priority is...

Context-Matters How are you creating knowledge for your next key leadership decision?
…a Function of Context”It occurs to me as I reflect on the last few months there exists a glowing opportunity to improve our collective ability to make more effective business decisions. In the last few months, leaders have been bombarded with reams of data and information about the pandemic. In the last few months, leaders have also misinterpreted or misunderstood the difference between good information and total BS bringing the title quote from Stephen R. Covey to mind.If we agree that effective decision-making is a crucial soft skill (it is!) for leaders to have, then we have to also agree it is crucial to having the full understanding of how to do it well. In today’s fast paced, technology-infused world we live and work in, it is critical for leaders to cut through the noise and make effective knowledge-based decisions. In our experience, these guiding principles apply when making key business...
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“Profit is a By-Product…

loyalty-ss-1920-800x450
…of Serving Clients Exceptionally Well”Every once in a while, we get into a conversation with leaders about profit and how to improve profit margins and profitability. Before we get too far into the discussion, I make sure we are in agreement on what profit is in the context of leadership. Without that level-set, the conversation can dramatically bypass the key decisions needed to truly enjoy the profitability the leader is looking to achieve.Because we’ve had several of these conversations recently, it made sense to share what I believe is the essence of sustainable profitability. The title quote comes from Katherine Mauzy, the Head of Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition at Edward Jones. For context, earlier this year Edward Jones was named one of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”, the 20th year they’ve made this list! Let’s go ahead and break down her quote from a leadership perspective.Profit is a...
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Soft Skills...

BAMM_20190626-150042_1
…are the new Hard Skills.”Our conversation around the emerging importance of soft skills has, to this point, focused on their impact to the individual leader and in general terms of the impact to the organization which the leader leads. In this issue, we will directly address the importance of soft skills in the context of achieving sustainable organizational success using the Business Alignment Maturity Model© (BAMM) outlined in our “The Missing Piece…” series of books.As a quick refresher, BAMM is an organizational business model outlining the five stages of business alignment necessary to create sustainable success. Whether you are a small business leader/owner, a leader of a corporate business unit/team or a non-profit leader, your organization must align all its moving parts in order to achieve the desired results – over and over again! So let’s explore how soft skills factor into this sustainable organizational success:Creating a Compelling Vision (Stage 1)...
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“Strap yourselves in…

…we’re going to jump to light speed!”I still remember the audience’s reaction to this scene in the Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. We had never seen anything like it on the big screen until then and, of course, now it seems almost archaic! Today’s 21st Century Business environment can feel very much like everything is moving at perpetual light speed. It is also this metaphor we use to highlight the first of five Keys to Success initially mentioned in last month’s newsletter (click here to read). The first Key to Success is Get Ready to Warp (another name for Light Speed). Simply stated, it is not the ability to adapt that matters as much as the speed at which the leader is able to adapt in order to stay relevant. Here are three things a 21st Century Leader can do to stay relevant: How well do you know your...
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“Adapt…

Organizational-Culture How would you characterize your culture and how is it contributing to sustainable success?
…or Die” I was recently reintroduced to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch’s book by the same name as the title.  I have always liked the bluntness of the message, especially as it applies to Organizational Culture. The importance of the value and impact of culture begins with understanding what culture really is and that it has multiple moving parts.  Once we define what culture is, we can then look at how culture affects organization execution externally as well as how culture impacts organizational operations internally.  As leaders continue to fully grasp the nuances of 21st Century Leadership with all its changes, one truth remains constant; Culture will ultimately determine whether success is fleeting or sustainable! Culture is defined as the system of shared values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that develops within an organization and guides the behavior of the members.   Culture exists on some level with or without leadership doing anything at all...
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The invention of the ship…

…was also the invention of the shipwreck!Effective Leadership involves among other things a sound decision making process. As it is a process it involves looking at not only the decisions immediate impact but the longer-term effects as well. As this quote from French Philosopher, Urbanist and Cultural Theorist Paul Virilio suggests, there is casualty in every leadership decision. For context, the decisions discussed here are primarily focused on the ones with the broadest impact to the organization and the strategy. Understanding the impact the decisions have in a broader sense is the challenge every leader faces multiple times a day! There are always Pros and Cons – The first thing to understand is that every decision has pros and cons. Seems obvious, yet I routinely see leaders making decisions only based on the upside of their decision and falling victim to their own confirmation biases. A common occurrence is a case...
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A Business Does Well…

…what its Leaders MeasureOne of the challenges in today’s business environment is the ability to show measurable progress in whatever endeavor the business is involved in. Entrepreneurs wear so many hats, they struggle with where to focus their metrics. Non-profit leaders get caught up in activities without understanding their measurable impact. Corporate leaders create a false sense of security because all they see of the business is through report-driven metrics. All of this to answer the simple question of “How do you know your business is achieving desired results?”For me, the best answer has always included using the Balanced Scorecard approach introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in their 1996 book, “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action”.  However, whichever measurement tool and/or philosophy you use, there are two tenets we use in helping clients identify areas of process improvement and quality that belong in any discussion of measuring success....
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Leveraging What Was...

goal-setting What will next year be for you and how will you create it?
... to What Will BeThis is the time of year, for better or for worse, many of us take stock of the last twelve months and determine on some level what the next twelve months will look like.  While ultimately I personally favor a rolling goal planning process that is continuous over shorter intervals, most people still favor using the down time during the holidays to do their annual goal setting.  Most studies show the success rate for New Year’s Resolutions is less than 10%, so regardless of whether we set our goals annually or more or less frequently, how do we approach the process of reflecting and resetting?  The following is a structure anyone, regardless of business, markets served, title or level of experience can use to set themselves up for a successful 2017!What was……accomplished in 2016 that advanced your business? Before we dive into the things that did not...
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You Don't Know SWOT!

swot-analysis-2 What does your SWOT say about your organization’s priorities?
Of the many lessons I’ve learned throughout my career, one that has generated sustainable success is the effective use of the SWOT Analysis.  For those readers who are not familiar with the SWOT Analysis, it is a flexible tool that helps the leader identify internal Strengths and Weaknesses as well as external Opportunities and Threats (hence the acronym).  It can be used to assess individual circumstances and/or organizational situations with a very straightforward process.  The challenges for both frequent SWOT users or those leaders just getting started with the tool is that most fail to realize the full value of the SWOT process.  Most only realize half the value by ignoring the most effective part of the tool!In a traditional SWOT Analysis, the leader creates four lists containing the collective insights on the internal Strengths (list #1) and Weaknesses (list #2) along with the external Opportunities (list #3) and Threats (list...
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When things start going wrong…

Flying-in-Alaska How is your current leadership altitude and course heading?
…do not forget your main goal is to fly the plane.”When I was learning to become a licensed pilot in Alaska as a teenager, part of the process is learning what to do when something goes wrong with the plane. Only instead of talking about what we would do in a given situation, you actually had to demonstrate what you would do in any given emergency situation and show the flight instructor you could do the right thing. That way, when you are faced with the reality of trouble, you know exactly what to do. Practicing how to recover from stalls (when the plane won't stay in the air) and emergency landings are a normal part of learning to fly. No matter what the challenge, one thing a pilot can never forget while troubleshooting the problem; keep flying the airplane!So too, does a leader when faced with challenges and issues in...
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Strategy…

…is a series of expedients Helmuth Von Moltke was regarded as one of the greatest military strategists of the late 19th Century.  In the military context, his statement above meant no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.  Strategy becomes one of extensive preparation for all possible outcomes.  Flash forward nearly 150 years and business and military leaders alike find themselves in a similar environment where the key success factor is adaptability.  It is still about successfully preparing for all possible contingencies they might encounter in their area of engagement. So what does it take to plan for a series of expedients?  In my experience in the military and in business, I’ve found 3 common elements of successful adaptability: Know Your Environment – The military continuously updates threat assessments based on changes in enemy activity.  Successful businesses routinely update their environmental assessment and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis.  While...
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Entrepreneurial DNA

For many entrepreneurs, a metric of success is staying in business for five years or more.  Having successfully crossed that threshold, one of the reasons is being aware of, and managing to, our strengths and weaknesses as entrepreneurs.  This month’s book review is from someone who is a resident expert on entrepreneurial styles or DNA.  In "Entrepreneurial DNA", Joe Abraham explores the four key profiles of entrepreneurs and why it is important to understand not all entrepreneurs are created equal. My favorite section is Part 2 (of 3) where he takes the reader through an in depth profile of each DNA style and then strategies to optimize your business based on your style.  After reading this section, you will be sure to recognize your primary style and possibly a secondary style. You will also better understand how to leverage your strengths and execute strategies to minimize your entrepreneurial blind spots. Enjoy...
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"If You Can’t Describe What You Do as a Process...

...You Don’t Know What You Are Doing." These words from W. Edwards Deming, considered the godfather of organizational process improvement, are a great way to introduce the third element of the Total Leadership Model. To put it in perspective, we previously introduced Strategy as the foundation of the model and have discussed Leadership Development as one of the two key supporting elements of the model. This month we look at Operational Improvement, the Process side of Total Leadership, as the other supporting element crucial to being an effective leader in today’s business environment. Everything we do in our organization be it public, private, non-profit, large or small is a process. Everything we do has inherent interdependencies with what happens before during and after each task and function we execute. And because each task and function we execute has an outcome, it becomes a point in which we can measure the desired...
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"If You Can’t Describe What You Do as a Process...

...You Don’t Know What You Are Doing." These words from W. Edwards Deming, considered the godfather of organizational process improvement, are a great way to introduce the third element of the Total Leadership Model. To put it in perspective, we previously introduced Strategy as the foundation of the model and have discussed Leadership Development as one of the two key supporting elements of the model. This month we look at Operational Improvement, the Process side of Total Leadership, as the other supporting element crucial to being an effective leader in today’s business environment. Everything we do in our organization be it public, private, non-profit, large or small is a process. Everything we do has inherent interdependencies with what happens before during and after each task and function we execute. And because each task and function we execute has an outcome, it becomes a point in which we can measure the desired...
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Hope is Not a Strategy!

We cannot hope for success! Yet how many times a day do we say so without even realizing it? In what has become one of my all time favorite quotes, this title of Rick Page’s book is a constant reminder to me that whatever we successfully do as leaders, we have to do with a defined purpose that leverages all of our available resources to achieve our goals. In the nearly 20 years of applying this idea to a plethora of businesses, I have come to realize how important business alignment is to achieving sustainable success. In “The Missing Piece: Achieving Sustainable Success Through Business Alignment”, business alignment is defined as “…the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives.” The real question is “How do we do that in our business, especially in today’s challenging business environment?” The first step...
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Are you aligned with your customer’s business and how do you know?

Last month we took an internal view of business alignment using the Pittsburgh Steelers and a celebrity chef as examples of how everything within our business must be in sync, or aligned to produce superior results. In this month’s issue we will take an external view of business alignment. This view uses the same principles of the Business Alignment Model and applies it to your customers, suppliers, distributors and anyone else outside your business you depend on for your success. For the moment, let’s focus on your customers. Every customer you have, whether business or consumer has a purpose and/or strategy behind their buying decisions. They look to achieve their own results by way of goals establish to succeed in whatever circumstances brought them to you. A business customer may have a more deliberate and pronounced Strategy, Structure and Goals whereas for the consumer customer these may be more implied, but...
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