“Don’t mistake activity...

progress-measuring-device-color-tachometer-speedometer-icon-performance-measurement-symbol-scale-arrow-colorful-infographic-177784451 What are your new leadership best practices?
...for achievement.”Just over 20 years ago, I wrote one of my many papers for my MBA on telecommuting. In it, I outlined my thoughts on how telecommuting would impact organizational leadership based on the world as we knew it then and with an eye towards the future. Given the societal lockdown due to the pandemic, I recently re-read what I wrote in late 1999 and was surprised at how the ideas still hold up as relevant in an era where we now refer to it as working from home, mobile workforce or anything but telecommuting!The pandemic added social distancing as a new term in our day-to-day vocabulary. While society practiced physical distancing, the greater challenge is maintaining the social proximity we wrote about several months ago. In our ongoing work with corporate leaders, non-profit leaders and business owners, several key points from a 20-year-old paper still resonate.How to Lead – We...
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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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“It is not Balance you need...

process-adaptability How are you ensuring your core processes are adaptable?
...but Adaptability”One of the underlying benefits of this new reality is it provides a stress test for business continuity plans and the core processes that keep businesses moving forward. Based on what we are seeing, there is plenty of opportunity for process improvement as we now know what worked coming out of last year is likely not going to achieve desired results going forward!Process improvement has two major moving parts. The first key part is how well the processes are documented. This is crucial as it provides a common set of instructions for the entire team, business and/or agency to follow. It also provides a baseline for any adjustments necessary when the underlying business conditions change. The second key part is by what methodology does the team, business and/or agency keep these core processes evergreen? In other words, how is each core process objectively reviewed to ensure it is still relevant...
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The Best Teacher…

try-fail-try-again-till-succeed
…is Your Last MistakeWhat is your attitude towards failure? We ask this question, or a variation of it, many times when coaching leaders at all levels of an organization. Interestingly enough, we get more absolute answers from front line managers and supervisors and more broadly defined answers from senior management. Said differently, our experience tells us we see less leeway for failure on the front lines to the point of wanting to be stressfully perfect to a different attitude towards failure where it is a means to learn and grow. I am not suggesting these experiences are scientifically representative, merely what our experiences are with the topic. The question is, why the difference at all?It’s amazing how frequently we hear about the lessons we learned from our mistakes along the pathway of life. Learning how to walk, riding a bike, driving a car and all the other things that people learn...
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"Every Obstacle is Destroyed...

…through Rigor.”January is that time of year where many organizational and individual leaders trot out new goals to advance their businesses and themselves. Their process of setting these goals can be simplified down to basically two steps. Step one: identify the goal itself. Step two: identify the action steps to accomplish the goal. If there were a third step it would most likely look like: hope it works! Sad, but true, in far too many cases.Rarely do I ask a prospect or new client what their goals are first. What I ask first is what their goal planning process is to achieve their goals. This question, which rarely gets a confident and definitive answer, is much more foundational to success than what the actual goals are. Without a process, the goals themselves mean nothing!Because goals are top-of-mind this time of year, I would propose components of a goal planning process that...
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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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“There is nothing so useless…

We-are-too-busy
…as doing efficiently what should not be done at all.”I spend a good bit of time in my practice working with businesses on their business planning and people development initiatives. A few of these clients have also invested their time in what is likely the least appreciated part of achieving sustainable success in business ~ process improvement! Peter Drucker’s quote above is a reminder to all business leaders, regardless of size of business, industry or profit status, that everything we do is a process and we should well be aware of whether we are doing the right things well versus just doing anything well.All successful organizations use the same basic processes regardless of whether they sell services, products or both. Their core processes are the ones that directly influence revenue acquisition and the supporting processes are those that have an indirect influence on revenue acquisition. These supporting processes included functions such...
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Leadership is responsible for 94% of quality problems...

business-quality-control How are you gaining 94% improvement in your organization?
...so it is leadership's responsibility to help people work smarter, not harder.These words by W. Edwards Deming are a call to action for today’s leaders to help them focus on the right business goals to execute their business strategies. You may recall Deming as the statistician who made popular the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle and considered the father of modern quality control. It is also relevant we consider his thoughts as today’s leaders address the challenges of achieving their business strategies in an unstable economy, an uncertain regulatory environment and untapped globalization.Against this backdrop are elements of the alignment process that fall between Strategy and Goals in the Business Alignment Maturity Model. These layers often go unnoticed and unattended by leaders until it is far too late. The focus here is the Structure layer of the Business Alignment Maturity Model. The Structure layer prompts leaders to look at their People, Processes and Technology...
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There is never enough time to do something right…

…but always enough time to do it again! During my corporate career, we used to joke that anything that began with “re…” was a bad thing.  Specifically, we were referring to re-engineering, re-work, re-bid etc.  The premise was to keep our focus on doing what we needed to do the right way from the beginning.  While the concept seems so obvious, it amazes me how leaders continue to struggle to avoid the re-peat performance! Based on my own experience with leaders across many different types of organizations, there are three key ideas to address this challenge of getting it right the first time.  They are Dealing with Time Pressures, Making Good B+ Decisions and Understanding the Context of the Business.  Let’s take a deeper look at how dealing with each one helps optimize doing it right the first time. Time pressures are very real!  Gone are the days when we might...
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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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Are we there yet?

How many times have we heard that refrain from our children (or maybe from our significant other!?!) when their impatience got the best of them? Or maybe we’ve said it ourselves in different situations for the same reason. In most cases, it is because they don’t have a sense of time or speed relative to setting correct expectations of arrival.In the business sense, whether for-profit or non-profit, we find ourselves either half way through our operational year or possibly just beginning a new one. We are likely compiling data telling us how well our business has performed over the last 6 months because of that natural halfway or transition point. Or are we? This issue focuses on the all-important role of measurements as a crucial element of effective business alignment. We are talking about not only what we measure on a regular basis, but also how we measure what we do...
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