Action IS the Strategy

Strategy… what is it and why it is important? One of the best definitions I have read is, “an organization’s strategy describes how it intends to create value for its shareholders, customers and citizens.”(1)  Strategy defines the company’s distinctive approach to competing and the competitive advantages on which it will be based. It is important because it answers the question of “why”. It will help you decide where your finite efforts and limited resources are best spent to produce the greatest results.

While strategy and having a strategic plan is crucial, don’t sacrifice being strategic for the sake of not doing something. Founder of Southwest Airlines Herb Keller put it best, “we have a ‘strategic plan’. It’s called doing things.” Action is key. Build Momentum. Move froward. Do something.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” This proverb is very inspirational – both for self-motivation and for motivating other leaders.

The message during this time of uncertainty is to take action! This is not a time to sit back and wait for “normal” to return. Do it now! Not only in our businesses, but in our families and personal lives as well. Don’t look back in four months and wish you had made a decision or taken action instead of waiting. Yes, planning is important, but action is more important.

As you read this post and look back, don’t beat yourself up for not doing anything until now. You cannot change the past and the situation is not hopeless. If the past sets the conditions and probability of success in the future, it is indeed great news! Because in your present lies the past of your future.

That is the essence of the quote – it is never too late to make your company great, Yes it is better to have started 20 years ago, but things can usually still be done now in some form or to some extent, even if you think the time for it has passed. You can act now. You may ask, where do I start?

We work with business leaders to take action by utilizing the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). EOS is a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. Implementing EOS will help you and your leadership team get better at three things:

  • Vision—getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going, and how you plan to get there
  • Traction—instilling focus, discipline, and accountability throughout the company so that everyone executes on that vision—every day
  • Healthy—helping your leaders become a more cohesive, functional, healthy leadership team

Call us and we can help make “doing things” (and doing the right things) a critical element of your company strategy. New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you create a strategy and take action to break out of the old way of doing things and press forward with a renewed passion and focus. Grab hold of your future and work towards getting what you want. Start today! Call us at 214-984-4044.

 

Reference

  1. Robert Kaplan and David Norton, Strategy Maps, (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2004), 4.

Whose Job Is It?

See if you recognize this scenario…

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would  do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

The point of this confusing, but poignant story is simple: no one took responsibility so nothing got accomplished.

It’s a story that happens in organizations and companies and on teams—anywhere there is culture that lacks accountability.

Accountability

Patrick Lencioni talks about building accountability best when he said, “teams (companies) that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decisions and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the team leader as the primary source of accountability, they go directly to their peers.”

Holding each other accountable is difficult, but the cost of not doing so is incredibly high. An avoidance of accountability leads to:
* unintentional lowering of standards and acceptance of mediocrity
* reduced performance, missed deadlines, and wasted time/effort
* strained relationships and weak teams

The good news is, if you’ve been building your company with a foundation of trust, holding each other accountable is accepted, even desired because it leads to greater growth and success.

One of the best ways to build accountability is to utilize a tool known as The Accountability Chart. If you are familiar with EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), this is a “go to” foundational tool. Most people are familiar with an organization chart so what is the difference in these tools?

Organizational Chart vs Accountability Chart

Organizational charts focus on who reports to who, but they typically don’t address one of the major issues most companies struggle with: a lack of clarity around what the major functions of the organization are, and who is accountable for what.

Accountability charts, on the other hand, focus on the structure of the organization. It provides clarity about who owns the major functions of an organization and identifies the primary roles and responsibilities for which they are accountable.

Remember, there should be only one person for all major responsibilities, and everyone should understand who owns what. After all, if everyone is responsible then no one is responsible.

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you create your accountability chart and break out of the old way of doing things and press forward with a renewed passion and focus. We’d love to hear from you.

Best Meeting Ever

Recently we had a meeting totally derailed by one of the participants.train derailedIt turned out to be the best meeting we ever had! This member, who I’ll call “Joe,” was usually an upbeat, confident person, but he was clearly upset about something when he arrived. He said, “I know we’ve got a set agenda for today’s meeting, but I really need your help on a couple issues. If it’s ok with the group, I’d like to throw them on the table.”

The meeting was one of the Business Owners’ Roundtables I facilitate twice a month. Each of the six to eight members is either the owner or most senior executive of their company. Our agendas are typically topic-based around business issues, with a lot of interaction and input among members. Without hesitating, the others agreed to listen and see how they could assist.

Joe had recently begun work on his largest project ever for a client and was nursing it along because it was so complex with a lot of mission-critical elements. He wanted to really impress the client, and he knew the project’s size was going to stretch him and his company. The group had heard about it already and had been encouraging him along the way.

Another development, however, had just thrown a big wrench into Joe’s life and his ability to handle everything going on. His wife had just announced that she was leaving him and the children. The group knew nothing about Joe’s personal life so this was a surprise to everyone.

With two major issues now consuming Joe’s focus – and threatening to overwhelm him, the group became the place for him to vent his feelings and concerns about his family, and his fears and hopes about the new project. In short order, he had to figure out how to be a single dad to two teen age children and balance those demands with his business when it was at a critical inflection point.

These issues don’t have “quick-fix solutions,” but they do benefit from good, strong counsel and a place to get a variety of input. That’s what the group provided. We walked with him through the issues and made addressing his needs the dominant topic in that meeting. He left that day with a little more bounce in his step. Over the following months, we kept tabs on his progress and offered more suggestions to help him on his difficult, but ultimately successful journey.

Why did everyone agree this was our best meeting ever as a group? Because everyone really put into practice a “We live business and we live life together” mindset and felt energized and enriched by it. They had gotten comfortable enough with each other to allow that to happen. Joe also realized the group was a safe place where he could trust the others with his deep, personal concerns and issues, not just with business details.

If you don’t have a group or a friend like this that will let you walk in and throw a personal bomb on the table, then I encourage you to GO GET ONE. If you don’t know where to start, visit one of my Business Owners’ Round Table groups at New Paradigm Advisors. We’re here to help you “live your business and live your life” with others who’ve been there and done that.

Are You Reacting or Responding to Life?

“Imagine going to the doctor for medication and returning for a follow-up visit. In one case the doctor says you are reacting to the medication, in the other case the doctor says you are responding to the treatment.”
-Zig Ziglar

When faced with anything in life, we have a choice… we can respond or we can react. The key to success is often our reaction or response to life.

What is the difference?

To respond is defined as:
1. To make a reply; answer.
2. To react positively or favorably: The patient has responded rapidly to the treatment.

To react is defined as:
1. To act in response to or under the influence of a stimulus or prompting
2. To act in opposition to a former condition or act

As Zig Ziglar’s quote mentioned above, responses are often seen as positive and reactions as negative.

When we react to a situation, it is often a fight or flight action, more often than not it is a defensive mechanism. It is reflexive with little thought of the action or outcome. Reaction is usually a response to an emergency or a crisis. When people react, it seems to be defensive.

Being responsive on the other hand usually involves some thought and reflection. It often involves being sensitive, but logical in ones actions. While it is still an external spur to a situation, responding is more thoughtful and done with reason behind it. When people respond, it seems to be proactive and positive.

In light of the Coronavirus and a future of uncertainty, how are you doing? Are you responding or reacting? The most important thing for you to do right now is to respond appropriately. The most effective method of doing this is taking a break.

For our EOS clients we recommend scheduling a break called a “Clarity Break”. A Clarity Break is a regularly scheduled appointment on your calendar with yourself. You define what regular is – a half hour daily, two hours weekly, a half day monthly. It’s up to you. The doing it, is what matters. This break is an opportunity to work ON your business.

The characteristics of a good Clarity Break are:
* away from your place of business
* at a frequency that you can afford and is helpful to you
* of a duration that allows you to think clearly and achieve some results, and
* generally done without electronic devices

Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS®, takes them one morning a week in a Starbucks. Just him, his coffee, and a yellow legal pad. He often says that at the start he sometimes finds himself staring at the pad, but almost always ideas, concerns, questions arise from the back of his mind and good thinking starts.

Take a Clarity Break and decide to respond, not react.

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you break out of the old way of doing things and attack the new economy with a renewed passion and focus. For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

How to Increase the Value of Your Business by 71%

How much did your home increase in value last year?  Depending on where you live, it may have gone up by 5% to 10% or more.

How much did your stock portfolio increase over the last 12 months? By way of a benchmark, according to Market Watch, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased by around 16% in the last year. Did your portfolio do as well?

Now consider what portion of your wealth is tied to the stock or housing market, and compare that to the equity you have tied up in your business. If you’re like most owners, the majority of your wealth is tied up in your company. Increasing the value of your largest asset can have a much faster impact on your overall financial picture than a bump in the stock market or the value of your home.

I’m fond of asking my clients, “Where do you want to be in 20 years?” I’m always interested in the answer and I’m always surprised at the questions I get back in response. The point I’m driving at is that no matter where you want to be, the value of your business is the asset that will most likely fund that dream.

Let me introduce you to a statistically proven way to increase the value of your company by as much as 71%.  Through an analysis of 6,955 businesses, we’ve discovered that companies that achieve a Value Builder Score of 80+ out of a possible 100 offers received to buy their business that are 71% higher than what the average company receives.

How long would it take your stock portfolio or home to go up by 71%? Years, maybe even decades. Get your Value Builder Score now and you will be able to track your overall score along with your performance on the eight key drivers of company value. Like a pilot working his instrument panel, you can quickly zero in on which of the eight drivers is dragging down your value the most and then take corrective action.

Your overall Value Builder Score is derived from your performance on the eight attributes that drive the value of your company.

  1. Financial performance: your history of producing revenue and profit combined with the professionalism of your record keeping.
  2. Growth potential: your likelihood to grow your business in the future and at what rate.
  3. The Switzerland Structure: how dependent your business is on any one employee, customer or supplier.
  4. The Valuation Teeter Totter: whether your business is a cash suck or a cash spigot.
  5. The Hierarchy of Recurring Revenue: the proportion and quality of automatic, annuity-based revenue you collect each month.
  6. The monopoly control: how well differentiated your business is from competitors in your industry.
  7. Customer satisfaction: the likelihood that your customers will re-purchase and also refer you.
  8. Hub and spoke: how your business would perform if you were unexpectedly unable to work for a period of three months.

To find out how you’re performing on the eight key drivers of company value and start your journey to increasing the value of your largest asset, get your Value Builder Score now:    SCORE-MY-BUSINESS

I’m always interested in where you’ve been as much as I’m interested in where you’re going. So, contact me and let me hear your story. Let’s see what we can do together.

Blessings,

Dave

The Simplest Customer Service Trick in the Book

I really don’t mean to over simplify this, but customer service is really simple. And the number one trick is the one so many of us overlook.

It’s returning a phone call.

To restate it, always take your customer’s incoming phone call.  If you can’t, then always return it as soon as possible.

We are constantly interviewing our clients’ customers and vendors as part of our services. This gives us an unpolished view of our client so that we can get the most street-level picture of how the market views our client. Good, bad, or indifferent; warts or beauty marks.  Every blemish.

On a recent assignment I had an unexpected and unsolicited opportunity to interview a client’s customer. I was having lunch with an associate when he informed me that he was a customer of my client. He bragged on the quality of the work and the level of expertise that everyone there showed. But – and this was a big “but” to him–they were horrible at returning phone calls. After inquiring why that stood out so much for him, he explained his reasoning.

First, a little background: they, both my client and my associate, are in a project-focused businesses where time lines and benchmarks are critical. That means there needs to be constant back-and-forth communication about progress and status of various elements of a project.

My associate, while glowing in his compliments about my client as to his abilities, he was extremely frustrated to the point of considering discontinuing any future work because he just simply didn’t hear back from him when he called. Note that he didn’t say “he got bad service or production or bad results.” He just didn’t get timely information. And many times all it would have taken would have been a call back to say, “I’m still working on it, everything is going ok, but I don’t have any changes to report.”

Simple, right? Well, if it’s so simple, why do I find this to be a common complaint? I haven’t done any real scientific or serious analysis on this, but my practical experience informs me that this is really prevalent across all businesses.

Let me just leave you with this challenge. Return your phone calls, even when you have nothing to report. If you don’t have time for a full conversation, then send an email saying you got the phone call, there’s nothing new to report, and you’ll be calling back shortly–and then do just that.

Hey, this stuff really is simple!  Remember that old line about “90 percent of success is showing up?” This is a variation on “showing up.”

Blessings!

Dave

Singles or Home Runs?

We’re coming up on Major League Baseball Opening Day. Spring time in America! You just can’t beat it!

There’s probably nothing more exciting in all of sports than to see a grand slam home run. The bases are loaded and the batter knocks it into the second level of the left field bleachers. There’s just something about that event that makes the rest of the game almost fade away. You’ll remember that play probably long after you’ve even forgotten the final score of the game.

So what?

Way back in an earlier life, I had the privilege and challenge of working with a company as the vice president and general manager of their computer distribution division. This was early in the computer business and all of us in the market were pushing and shoving and trying to differentiate ourselves. I was fortunate enough to work with a well-funded parent company, so we had the wherewithal to do some creative things–so, we did. Of course, we  were also competing many times with equally well-funded companies and that meant they were doing some of their own creative campaigns.

After trying several different programs, succeeding at some and failing at others, the president of the company challenged me with a baseball analogy (lesson?) that I’ve been applying ever since.

After a particularly costly marketing plan that did not achieve much, he said: “Dave, you’re really good at swinging for the fences with some of your campaigns, but I’d be much more pleased if you’d just give me consistent singles and doubles.”

He went on to say: “If you do that, we’ll make consistent progress and get more growth while the other guys waste their time and effort on their home run attempts.”

It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, even though it’s still in me to want to swing for the outfield bleachers.

As we work with clients, we challenge them to define their ideal client and that then leads to developing a more defined “go-to-market” strategy to best reach those ideal clients. While we’re not marketing experts, we are “go-to-market” experts. Meaning, that we take the “singles and doubles” approach to getting new business and keeping it. No fancy “home run” efforts. Just good old fashioned approach to improving batting averages by doing the right things consistently and repeatedly. This has proven over and over again to result in healthy growth without major investment in unproven marketing or sales efforts. Just the basics of getting a hit most of the time you step in the batter’s box. Which, by the way, happens every day.

So, when you go into work tomorrow, hit consistent singles and doubles. Forget expecting your team to hit home runs. Make sure everyone is doing the basics.

  • Call your prospects
  • Return phone calls
  • Be honest
  • Be consistent
  • Be dependable
  • Be reliable
  • Be responsible

Be the best batter – that’s the one who consistently gets a hit – not the one who occasionally hits a home run. That will grow your reputation and your business more than any other strategy.

Be blessed out there!

Dave

Snake Bit

We changed website hosts recently which meant we were also changing our email server and seemingly a host of other things. If you’ve ever done this, you would agree that I could end this post right now, without ever saying another thing and you’d get the point. But bare with me . . .

Between me and my closest confidant, Paul, we thought  it would be simple enough to do this. Sign up with a new hosting service and then follow the instructions on their site as well as the instructions on the current host’s site and voila – we’re done. A couple of hours, max. Not so much . . .

It seems that everytime I touched something it bounced something that Paul was doing. And then vice versa. So, again, simple enough to fix this. We engaged an expert to jump in and bail the project out and get it done. A week later the website was still not transferred!

While this was extremely frustrating, I joked with Paul, that this was just one of those snake bit projects that we experience every now and then so we just needed to gut it up, press in, and get it done. His reply was, “snake bit?”

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve had more than one of these types of projects. I call them “snake bit” because it’s like you’re in a pit full of snakes and you’re just trying to get from one side to the other – where the ladder is. Every step you take, you step on a snake and get bit. Doesn’t matter which way you turn, or how careful you step, you’re going to get bit. So what’s the solution?

Solution One: Run in place, stomping around angry, screaming at all the snakes. No, that just makes the snakes madder and more of them are going to bite you.

Solution Two: Stand still and hope they will all move away and clear a path for you. Uhh, has inactivity or delaying ever worked for you to get a project to completion?

Solution Three: Admit you’ve been bit, gonna be bit again, take a deep breath and move to the other side. Still going to be painful, but you will get through it and get the project done. The real answer here is to “suck it up!” Focus your time, effort, money, staff, everything on getting done with this project. Don’t cancel it, don’t delay it, get it done and over with. Tell everyone that’s the plan. Don’t let anyone off the hook – and that means don’t let anyone on the team delay it or “run in place creating more mad snakes.” Get it done and get over it.

My point with all this, is we all have these snake bit projects. The only way to get through them is to re-focus on it with a redoubled determination. There will be some hard things to do. Maybe admit to a customer that you’ve failed him or her in some way – but you’re going to fix it. Maybe it’s going to cost you more money than you budgeted. But it’s going to cost you way more if you keep dragging it out. The emotional cost is going to be heavy, too, if you drag it out.

So, snakes or not, when you’re in the pit, renew your and your team’s focus and resources and get to the other side. There’s safety over there. And the lessons learned will be things all of your team will remember and apply in the future.

Blessings!

Dave

Who’s Your Hero?

Where are you going? What are your goals? To whom are you selling? Why are you in business?

These are some of the first questions you can expect to be asked when you begin a new engagement.

The funny thing is, most of us (and that includes me and my company) lose focus on these important questions (or rather the answers) as we get immersed in our day-to-day activities. I’ve told you the story before of when a customer asked me how to set financial goals that were more than just numbers. Well, here’s a bigger picture of how we might address this.

Let’s change the focus.

Who do you look up to? Whether it be in life, sports or business, who is your hero?

Is there a company out there that really sets the standard for what you do? A great competitor that seems to have it all together? Does everything right? Beats you and everyone else in winning business and customers? Maybe you have a vendor or supplier who seems to do everything perfectly. Maybe you have a mentor or an individual you really look up to.

Who is it? What are they doing that is so right? What can you do to imitate them? Learn from them?

I ask this of all of my customers and it always surprises me when they say there is no one. Does this mean they’ve never noticed? They’ve never looked?

To be successful, you must have something beyond goals – and that something is an ideal. An ideal is not a place or a thing. It can be a person. But most often it is a combination of elements that paint a perfect accomplishment; the pinnacle of achievement – for you. It may ultimately not be achievable because it is so perfect.  But if you really believe in it, you’ll strive to achieve it anyway. People like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Tom Brady have all been considered the best ever in their respective professions. But none of them have ever said they reached their ideal. They have the reputation for being the best, but they never ceased striving to be better. In reality they reached it, but, in their world, they were always going to be striving for it. They were (and are) living their lives striving toward their “ideal,” not for some tangible goal. Do you remember the advertising slogan that said, “I wanna be like Mike.?” Mike was not a “goal.” He was an “ideal.”   I wonder how many great athletes that we have today started with the simple ideal of being “like Mike?”

So, how about you? Can you identify and describe your ideal? I bet you can describe your goals: but can you look way past those and identify your ideal?

What is it?

Who is it?

The best goals are specific, definable and measurable. The best ideals are indescribable but can be pointed to. They are livable and will drive you to accomplishment on top of accomplishment. Striving toward your ideal will drive you beyond tangible goals. Your ideal will give you purpose. And a purpose will give you a life worth living.

Be Blessed!

Dave

Sharpen Your Tools

Last week I was reminiscing about my youth and my Dad’s woodworking shop. With your forbearance, I’d like to take you down one more nostalgic trail.

In our shop we had a lot of tools and, as you can imagine, most of them had to have sharp edges. None were sharper than our chisels. While all the saw blades and planers, and router bits and drill bits had to be sharp, none required the sharpness of the chisel and the hand plane. The reason was simple: these were hand tools and, generally, the last tool to touch the wood. So they had to be sharp enough to do the job without a lot of force and they couldn’t leave any extraneous marks.

To this day, when I do any woodworking, there is nothing more satisfying, I’d even say spiritual, than using a sharp chisel or plane across a beautiful piece of wood. As the tool cuts there is a clean shaving and a sweet sound as that shaving comes off the wood. This can only happen with an extremely sharp and perfectly honed tool. And we learned how to do that in Dad’s shop. The interesting thing about our shop, though, was we broke a cardinal rule of most woodworkers: we kept all the chisels in a drawer – with no edge protection. Those of you who relate to this personally just went “ouch!”

But before you discount everything else, hear me out.

We learned how to properly sharpen tools through a series of finer and finer grit stones and then through a stropping process that created super sharp edges. This however was not a one time procedure. Every time we pulled a chisel out to use, we examined the blade and stropped it and made sure it was ready for use. We never assumed that it was ready “right out of the drawer.” So, while we were careless in one sense for keeping them all in a drawer, we were always testing the blades before they were used.

What’s the point? Well I’m glad you asked – that is, if you haven’t already come to it on your own.

You can’t do a job worthy of true craftsmanship, if you don’t, first of all, use the right tool. And second of all: make sure it’s sharp enough to use.

So today’s question is: When was the last time you read a business book? When was the last time you studied up on or sought advice on a problem that was troubling you at work? Not to become the expert, but to become knowledgeable enough to identify and analyze a challenge to determine the best way to tackle it. Do your people follow your example of always studying and learning more about their craft?

If you’re not sharpening your chisels to the sharpest edge, you’re not doing a true artisan’s job. You’re not doing the best you can do. Take the time to do that. Set, and be, the example so you’ll have a company full of sharp chisels ready to do their best.

Blessings,

Dave