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.

Are you a Strategic Thinker?

I learned about strategy while working with a very successful, 100-year-old business in Chicago. This $600 Million company was very entrenched in their historical business and had in the previous five years become a major player in two new industries. This was an exciting time, as I learned lessons about strategy with this company few will ever experience. Let me tell you more. It’s a story of when strategy will trump the business plan of even successful and profitable divisions.

In one of the industries, the retail computer software/hardware industry, we were the 5th largest national distributor with approximately $60 Million in annual revenue. It was pretty healthy by most standard metrics…revenue, profit, EBITDA, ROI, you name it. We were kicking it. BUT! We were only in 5th place and a very long way from being number one. And this conflicted with the corporate strategy which was, “We must be number one in whatever industry we are in.” The catch phrase we were using at the time was, “If we can’t be the big dog on the street, we choose to get off the street and focus our efforts on other things.” The result? We closed the division and put our efforts on another division. Note – we didn’t sell it, which we could have but that would have required us to continue to operate it until we found a qualified buyer and then go through the extended time of negotiation of the sell. This would have continued the distraction from the larger corporate goal and strategy. So – we closed it. But to this 100-year-old company, the larger strategy – the one reflecting the Infinite Game attitude, it was a pretty straight forward decision.

So What?

I’m telling you this to challenge you to take a look at your company from a strategic view. Now admittedly, not many of us are in a situation where we can or would simply close a $60 Million profitable division because it doesn’t meet the objectives of our strategy. But we can lift our heads from the day to day grind and take a much longer term and a much higher view of our business. By doing so, we may find new and creative ways to address and profit from our market. It’s almost impossible to do this if you’re caught up in the focus of one-year plans and next year budgeting. You must shift your paradigm. Get a “new paradigm”! Hence the name of our company.

If you’re playing the game of business like you’ve always played it, you might be happy and profitable; but; you are most likely never going to be the “big dog”. Even if you don’t ever care to be the “big dog”, you need a good strategy to at least become a bigger dog. You might need to be playing by Different Rules.

When you’re ready to take a look at your strategy – to change your paradigm, we’re here for you. In the meantime, here is some help on strategic thinking. Let me know what you think about these.

Oh and by the way, that company in Chicago through strategic growth, mergers and acquisition is now over 130-years-old and is the”big dog” in all the industries they play in.

How can you tell if you are a strategic thinker?  The following comparisons of attitudes and scenarios can help you determine your thinking style and identify areas you can improve upon.

Strategic thinkers:

  • Look towards and embrace the future, whatever it may hold.
  • Are willing to work hard today to reap the benefits tomorrow.
  • Don’t limit themselves to the ‘tried and true’ or ‘best practice’.
  • Assign greater importance to ideas with the greatest impact and return.
  • Change their approach to a problem or situation according to circumstances.
  • Are lifelong learners who actively seek knowledge and share it with others.
  • Are best described as ‘creative’ individuals who think outside the box.

Non-strategic thinkers:

  • Tend to be reactive: they wait for guidance and rarely present new ideas.
  • Are introspective and rarely take an interest in anything beyond their immediate responsibilities.
  • Prefer the status quo and don’t always take the time to think about long-term goals.
  • Usually approach all tasks the same way, without being affected by urgency or impact.
  • Are hesitant about changing their strategy even when doing so could yield better results.
  • Remain content with their current capabilities and are not motivated to learn more.
  • Are predictable individuals who prefer to follow a set path.

For personal reflection:

  1. Which of the attributes of “Strategic Thinkers” above strikes you the most? Why?
  2. Which of the attributes of “Non-strategic Thinkers” above strikes you the most? Why?

 

References:

  1. Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game, (New York, Portfolio/Penguin, 2019), 241.
  2. Andy Andrews, Bottom of The Pool, (Nashville, W Publishing Group, 2019), 176.

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.

Where’s My Million Dollars?

Advertising can be both entertaining and informative.  But what about when it is downright depressing?

Take the series of ads in print, digital or radio/audio/TV that are from some financial institution telling us all that to retire comfortably we have to have $1 million in our retirement savings.

Really? Well, where’s my million?

What they are talking about could very well be already within our reach in the form of our business.  However, before you can realize that wealth, you have to determine what is is and can you access it.

And you aren’t alone.

With 10,000 adults in the U.S. turning 65 each day, that’s a lot of retirees.  Couple that with the fact that 70 to 80% of all privately held businesses are owned by this same age group, and you have an even bigger and faster moving chunk of equity hurtling toward some kind of uncharted finish line.

This picture gets even more complicated by the fact that most of these business owners are contemplating some kind of cash out and have grossly inflated the value of the business in their mind.

What’s all this mean to you?  As a business owner, you need to have a reality check on the value of your company coupled with a realistic plan of attack on how to realize this collected wealth. That’s where exit planning comes in.  Particularly the work of the Exit Planning Institute.

In our previous blog series we’ve discussed our EPI Value Acceleration Methodology.  This approach prepares a business owner by educating them about their goals and the value of their company.  And it is all fact-based and results in an executable plan.

That might just be where your million comes from.

For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Summarizing the Four Drivers

We’ve talked in this space individually about the four drivers of a successful transition.  Let’s finish this series up by putting the four all in one place and tying them together.

As you recall from earlier blogs and a recent workshop, the four drivers are:

  1. Creating a future vision for your company and you.
  2. Building a structured environment that is flexible.
  3. Detaching yourself from the organization and affirming that position.
  4. Fashioning a team environment.

The order is significant as well: create a vision, build an environment, detach yourself, and put the team in charge.  While there is some overlap and some of the work you do in each of these areas is concurrent, the outcomes should be the same if you pay attention to the specific sections and concentrate on the end result.

In fact, the vision is most likely an on-going refinement exercise, once you get the key elements down and in place.

Truthfully, the structured environment is most likely there, it just has to incorporate flexibility.  And, as we noted in that specific post, is an organic process that relies heavily on teamwork and simplicity.

The detachment piece is probably the hardest element of this process for the founder-owner-entrepreneur.  Letting go and watching “your baby” thrive without you usually takes some getting used to.  But countless business owners have done it and do it well.

And, finally, having the team in place to keep everything moving forward and into the future.  Remember the team includes not just your internal team (employees and staff), it includes your suppliers and partners and your customers.  The well-oiled machine has many moving parts.

Good luck with your transition.  Should you have any questions or would like to explore this topic further, contact us.

 

Could Having an Operating System Help Your Business?

Operating systems are the heart and soul of whatever they power.  The drivetrain for your car. The OS in your computer.  The processes and procedures by which you run your company.

Wait. What’s that last one?

Oh, you hadn’t thought of your company as needing an operating system? Or, if it had one, it would be called that?

Without an operating system for your company, your organization can’t function. If you’re struggling to get your business under control, it’s time to consider implementing an operating system in your company.

One of the premiere sets of tools to help entrepreneurs to get results and build their organizations is the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS®.  One of the components of EOS® is establishing processes and creating plans and systems for organizations.

Truthfully, everyone needs a plan.  And everyone in a company needs to have the same plan for that company to succeed. You know that old adage, “plan your work and work your plan?” Yes, it applies to the infrastructure of your company.

This idea isn’t new.  Nor is there just one way to approach this challenge.

This is about getting your business under control.  And it fits hand in glove with the philosophy of New Paradigm Advisors:

  • Freedom. Processes help companies run without their founders.
  • Value. Having a culture and roadmap helps companies grow their value.
  • Future. Everyone (including the company) has a future if there are processes in place.

Taking these concepts and matching them up to those of EOS® and you have a set of tools that helps companies of most any size and age and in any industry excel.  The EOS®system relies upon:

  • Instilling a vision organization wide on where you’re going, and how you plan to get there
  • Giving a focus to every day for the entire team to execute on the vision.
  • Creating a healthy, functional, cohesive leadership

Starting a company is one thing.  Having it progress, grow and thrive over time is quite another.

Contact us to get your organization positioned for increasing value and getting result for long-term success.

 

 

Freedom and the Business Owner

The image of Mel Gibson as Scottish patriot William Wallace in “Braveheart” running around shouting “freedom” might be a little over the top, but maybe not too farfetched.

Especially if you are a business owner and feeling chained to that business.  Then you might want to scream every now and then about wanting to be free.

In all seriousness, being free of your company doesn’t really mean running off and abandoning the enterprise.  It is more about wanting to be free of certain aspects of your business so you can be free to work on the business rather than in the business.

In so many examples with our clients, we have encountered and worked with business owners in just such a set of straits.  The engineering services company owner who is really the only guy in charge. The 60-ish architect wanting an exit plan when he doesn’t know where to start. The automotive parts company who is seeking direction at a critical time in the lives of the owners.

In each case, these owners were so wrapped up in their companies that they couldn’t break free from the day-to-day operation to take the next step—building value in their companies.  And, beyond that, envisioning a future for themselves, their family, and their company.

Starting with freedom, business owners find themselves at a moment that causes them to make decisions.  It gets them focused on taking action and not falling back on the mundane and the comfortable.  Truly, to make the most of your hard work—and the enterprise you’ve built—you need to step out of your comfort zone and take action.

In this case, take the action of seeing how you can free yourself of your business in a way that will be, long term, productive and about meeting specific goals and milestone.

Are you ready to break those chains and step into that space called freedom from your business?  Call us. You’ll get the results you’ve been searching for.

#freedom #value #future

*photos courtesy of Upsplash and Kristina V; and IMDB

Always Traveling But Where Are We Going?

Zig Ziglar had a saying that the reason we’re never at peace or satisfied is that we’re always “traveling. “

When we’re at work, we’re thinking of the things we should be doing for our family or friends.

When we’re with our family and friends, we’re thinking of what we should be doing at work.

We’re never present in the moment — we’re always “traveling.”

We talk to a lot of very successful business owners and they are typically some serious travelers. The interesting thing is that they don’t see themselves that way.

Are You Chained to Your Business?

While they enjoy their work and their lifestyle, almost to a person they feel chained to their business.

Some part of their mind is always on the business. They’re always traveling back to the office.

Is there anything that you can do about it?

Absolutely.

What Can I do About It?

First, let’s accept the fact that, as an owner, you’re going to be traveling. There’s no getting around it.

And it’s OK! But, since you’re going to be traveling anyway, the best thing to do is to be clear on your destination.

When was the last time you reflected on this question, “Where do you want to be in 20 years?” This is more than what are your goals for this year. It’s more than your three-year or five-year goals. It’s what are you expecting to do after your business career?

Pause and Reflect

When was the last time you really focused on that?

While it should be blatantly obvious, the answer to this is supremely important. The answer is important.  However,  in order to answer it, we must fully understand the depth of the question. This is way more than our immediate goals. This is what are we doing and being “next?” Because there is a “next”. Everyone’s answer to this is unique to them, so let me tell you some destinations that don’t typically work:

  • Playing golf or tennis everyday with your friends
  • Fishing
  • Settling into our lake house and taking life easy
  • Traveling
  • Fill in the blank

Will Any of These Work for Me?

Think about it.

You’ve been going fast and furious your entire career.

Building your business, juggling not only your balls, but everyone else’s. Spinning more plates than anyone could imagine. It is and has been an exciting life.

Now you’re just going to stop? Step out of that race car and go sit on a golf cart? Or fishing boat?

Not for long you won’t.

What’s Next?

There’s been purpose in your life up until this moment. What’s going to be your purpose in the next phase of your life? If you don’t know or you’ve been thinking along the way of the things I’ve listed, let me challenge you to rethink it!

We’re going to be talking about this over the next few months. We call it your “third act.” Come along with us and let’s figure this out together.

Dave

When you slow down long enough from your “travels” take a moment to take this quiz to help assess what’s next.

 

*Photos courtesy of Upsplash photographers Kaley Dykstra and Joshua Ness

Your Third Act

What is your end game? Your next act? What do you intend to do when you are finally done doing what you’re currently doing? Retire?

It’s your “third act”.

If you’re like me, it’s difficult to think of it as a third (or last) act. After all, we’re doing great right now: we’re contributing to a retirement fund and this is our life and we love it. Why do we need to think of anything after this? There isn’t anything after this. Is there?

Well, maybe so — if you plan for it.

There are so many reasons to be planning your third act.  The biggest one is being able to afford to do what you’ve been planning on once you’re no longer the business owner. This is a different perspective than the typical financial planning question of how much do you want to retire on. Let’s use an example.

Let’s say, you desire to buy a full-size motor home to drive around the country seeing all the national parks and monuments that you’ve always wanted to visit. You’re planning on spending three to six months every year on the road doing this. Have you done the math on this? Have you figured out the financing on this? You may have figured your financial plan based on what it will take to maintain your life style – or maybe even lowered that so you can downsize. But what about this motor home thing? This is in addition to your normal life-style costs. You must add this to the total and when you do, you’ve got to be targeting that new number as your new goal.

No matter what you want to do if it’s anything other than sitting around the house watching TV all day, it’s going to be “plus” your expected normal living expenses. So, calculate it and begin now planning on it. If you have a qualified financial planner, they can assist you with this (If you don’t have someone with this capability, we can recommend one). Once you have this revised figure, now you can begin to look at what it’s going to take to achieve that number.

So, what’s going to be your third act? What’s going to keep you living? Literally. If you intend to exit your company vertically at some point in the future, what will be your next great adventure?

I’d like to hear your next story.

Dave

Where will the resources come from for that motorhome? Take this quick quiz first.

*photos courtesy of Junior Moran and Tyler Callahan