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.

Never Waste a Crisis

I once worked for a CEO who would say, “never waste a crisis.”  I knew what he meant, but it did not really hit home until more recently with the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing.  Whether you are looking for business or have more business than you can handle, you need to adjust now to the “new normal.”  What does the world look like post pandemic and how does your business respond?  You need to prepare now and be thinking ahead to address next steps and not be caught “flat footed” in the new normal.

I recently read a study done by BCG about the 2007-09 Great Recession and the common traits (five factors) global S&P 500 businesses employed to recover.  While this pandemic is different, it is still a valid study to obtain insight into planning for your next steps to thrive and not just survive as you move forward.

The five factors:

  1. Act proactively.  Business that weathered the recession and came out stronger, owned the situation and were forward-looking in their thinking, planning and actions.  No matter what position you find yourself in, there will be a recovery and you have to be ready.  In Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Effective People”, Be Proactive is the first habit.  It is about taking responsibility for you and your company. Do not blame the pandemic, the economy or the government. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.”  They know they choose their behavior and course of action.
  2. Stick to a clear vision. Top performers did not change their vision based on circumstances.  To put it in simple terms… your destination stays the same, but how you get there may change.  In the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), vision is the process of getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going.  As an EOS Implementer, I help companies craft a vision the does not change with the circumstances but is timeless and also for flexibility to adapt.  If you don’t have a clear vision, how do you know where you are going?
  3. Increase demand vitality. Successful companies addressed changes in the marketplace and adjusted accordingly. With the COVID-19 and decreased physical foot traffic, you need to look online and how to adapt to and adjust your model for increased online presence with the ability to market, sell, and service online.  Where are trends and what is best option for you to capture the demand?  How will you best respond to these demand changes?  Assess and then go.
  4. Create supply agility. Businesses that thrived, were able to quickly assess impacts to their supply chains and respond with alternatives.  Too much reliance on one vendor can greatly hamper or impact your business.  You must build adaptation and agility into supply base and supply chain. Fortunately, new supply chain technologies are emerging that dramatically improve visibility across the end-to-end supply chain, and support companies’ ability to resist huge disruptions. The traditional linear supply chain model is transforming into digital supply networks (DSNs).
  5. Build resilience. The top performers knew that they couldn’t avoid future disruptions, so they worked towards a future that could withstand future shocks and, more importantly, anticipate them.  Some questions to ask… did you build a culture of trust and accountability? Did you have enough cash on hand to weather the initial storm?  Were you able to cut cost to “race and not chase” the drop-in revenue? Did you have an IT disaster recovery plan in place?  As a leader, you must anticipate and plan for these.

These five steps will increase the likelihood you will survive and thrive in the future.  Take inventory of where you are now and face reality.  Consider your company’s position.  Once you know where you are, and you start planning for the futures, ensure that what you are doing today will bring about the end of the crisis tomorrow. How must you transform your business to thrive and succeed in the future?

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

Preparing to Open: What I Learned from My Daughter, Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas announced the plan to re-open the State’s economy much to the excitement of many and much to the frustration of others. Those on the open list are really excited. Those on the delayed list…not so much. My daughter is one of the latter. She will have to wait another three weeks to open.

Christy, is a hair stylist and one of the 33 million small business owners that the government has yet to figure out are the real drivers of our economy.

After getting past her irritation at having to wait another three weeks, she already has her plan in place to ensure her clients’ safety and confidence when they come to her salon (making Dad, the business consultant, really proud).  She’s thinking the way she should: “What should I be doing now to not just do business but to thrive in the next economy?”

Christy has created a handout to give to each of her clients when they arrive describing all the steps she’s taking to ensure their safety. It includes a list of the things she’s doing to keep the space and all of her brushes, combs and utensils clean. She’s already sent her existing clients this list along with some suggestions of things they can do to help. One request of them is to text her when they arrive at the salon and then stay in their car until they receive her return text that they are clear to come in. This helps avoid contact between clients.

This lady is thinking!

She’s putting herself into the future and asking:  “Is this enough? What else can I do to make sure I can continue to do what I love?  And do it regardless of what the economy is doing and, definitely, regardless of what the government is saying is being done.”

What about you? Is this your mindset? What are you doing and what can you be doing? Maybe you’re one of the many businesses who has benefited from the PPP or EIDL loans. Or maybe even from the expanded unemployment benefits program. Even so, there is a “now” and there is coming a “later.”

The government programs are a “now”. You are the “later.”

What’s your plan? Are you collaborating with your team and outside advisors in preparation? Is everyone aware of this planning? Do your employees, customers, and suppliers know what you’re doing to ensure their safety as they work with you?

Babe Ruth said: “Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.” Are you still playing yesterday’s game with yesterday’s rules? My daughter sure isn’t. She’s fully into tomorrow’s game and how she’s going to be an active player.

As a leader, you’ve got it in you to be thinking of today’s game and tomorrow’s game and the new rules. If you need someone to collaborate with on the challenges of all of this, feel free to call me. I’m your fellow wayfarer in this.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for a great stylist, let me know. I’ll hook you up!

Blessings my friends.

The Challenge of Working Remotely

Welcome to the world of working remotely. How’s it working out for you?

I’ve been working remotely for quite a while now and it’s been interesting to watch people trying to do it. It is a bigger challenge than you think. It takes more discipline than first expected.

The bottom line is you have to have the mindset of:  “I’m going to work every morning.”

The three things that should be your mantra:

  1. Get up!
  2. Dress up!
  3. Show up!

By now, you’ve probably seen plenty of social media posts of people dressed from the waist up, keeping their shorts or pajama bottoms on.

Funny.

However, here’s the problem with that: your self-image and your attitude are influenced by how you are dressed. You should really be dressed for the occasion. Maybe one level above what your audience expects, whether they are in person or online.

Personally, if I know I don’t have any meetings scheduled, it’s easy for me to dress casually or truthfully super casual for the day. Meaning, weekend clothes and that might even mean yard working or outdoor hobby clothes. But, if I know I’ve got meetings or even a serious working agenda for the day, I’m dressing up for it. It’s what I call “doing the Full Monty” in the morning. Meaning shower, shave, and appropriately dressed, ready for meeting anyone. No shorts, flip flops or sloppy clothes. I’ll admit that this is pretty easy for me because I’ve been doing it for so long. Let me encourage you to get into this habit. Keeping your professional hat on so to speak is going to help keep up your attitude and focus.

Next thing is to have a dedicated work space. Make it look like a dedicated working space, even if it’s just a corner in your dining room. Figure this out. As it is right now, we’ll all be in our home working space for another four to eight weeks. Don’t be sloppy. There are some benefits of doing this:

  • It is a space that when you walk into it, you’ll be mentally preparing yourself for work.
  • When you walk out of it, you’ll be able to leave that work behind.
  • If it’s a space you can close the door on, you can really close the door on it – both when you’re inside it and when you leave it.

Get in the habit of this. Oh, and don’t bring your cereal bowl to work with you in the morning. Go eat, brush your teeth, check your hair one more time, and come to work.

Finally, if you’re anticipating doing more online, face-to-face meetings on Zoom, FaceTime, or other similar platforms, then, for goodness sake, be conscious of your surroundings, especially your background. There have already been so many social media posts of some pretty funny incidents of people doing their online meetings. There has even been one where a lady took her phone into the bathroom and, well,  you get the point. They’re all funny or a bit tragic in this lady’s case. The point is you don’t want to be “YouTube Famous.” Be conscious of your surroundings when you’re doing these calls and meetings.

We’re all going to be working like this for the next while. Let’s make the best of it and do our best at it.

Let me know how you’re doing.

Dave

What Now?

You are facing a downturn in the economy and business. What do you need to be doing right now?

Do you keep people or let them go?

What about your vendors and suppliers?

And what about your customers?

Consider the airline oxygen mask concept. Put your mask on first so you can ensure you’ll be able to help someone else get theirs on. You know this drill.

Your highest priority as a business owner is to protect the life and health of the company. Do everything you ethically can to keep the company alive. It’s like the federal government whose number one priority is to defend the country. It doesn’t matter how the economy and other parts of society are doing. If a foreign adversary attacks us and the government isn’t ready to defend us, then we all lose! Defend your company first!

Not your salary. Not your assets. And, unfortunately, not your employees.

Once you’re committed to this first priority, the decisions on everything else become clear. Notice I didn’t say easier. It’s clear what you must do to keep the company alive. Also be clear on the benefits of this commitment to all concerned once the crisis has passed:

  • Employees have an opportunity to find another job or to file for unemployment.
  • Vendors have someone they can collaborate with and possibly provide some temporary relief to in hopes of saving a valued and long-term customer.
  • Your best customers will be much more understanding than you think and quite possibly be willing to help.

Once the downturn is over and the company has survived, you can:

  • Hire back the people you laid off or new people.
  • Perhaps earn a favored customer status with your vendors.
  • Have customers who have a new respect for you and the company.

The real secret sauce here is to communicate with each of these groups. Go beyond just communicating. You must implement what we call the Three C’s:

  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Cooperate

These are part  of our Core Values here at New Paradigm Advisors. If you apply these three C’s to the situation, we can assure you that your stress level will go down. It won’t go away.  However, it will go down. Apply the three C’s with your people, your customers, your advisors, and your vendors. You will be shocked, yet pleased,  with the results.

Call or email us and let us know your experience. Let’s learn together.

Live2Lead: Chris Hogan and the Inspired Retirement

“Fear may be an effective motivator, but it’s a terrible master.” — Chris Hogan

For all we do to found, build and grow our companies, do we really know what’s next–that is, what’s our next act? Some call it retirement.  And it it something to be feared.  What do others have planned or think about their “next act?”

It is truly amazing what happens when you get a dialogue going between leaders.

That’s what we are doing by hosting and delivering Live 2 Lead to the Dallas business community. This program from John C. Maxwell, scheduled for Friday, October 11, is a closed-circuit television broadcast, live, from Atlanta. Hosted by John C. Maxwell, the morning simulcast will showcase some exceptional leaders from business, industry and media in short (30-minute segments) sharing their experiences and practical ideas.

Chris HoganAs the author of “Everyday Millionaire” and “Retire Inspired,” Chris Hogan is a well-known advocate for financial peace. Chris is on the program to give the perspective of “what’s next” and how that needs to fit a leadership style.  His books are full of inspirational stories of people who beat the odds and, at the same time, found their next act.

Along with the other speakers, John C. Maxwell, Angela Ahrendts, Rachel Hollis and Marcus Buckingham, Hogan’s presentation will help attendees to understand leadership principles, add value to their communities and make new and meaningful connections.

You can read elsewhere on this site about the schedule and generalities of the program on Friday, October 11.  While others around the country are showing and sharing the morning simulcast, it’s our afternoon program that will set ours apart.

The afternoon session is intended as a working program.  Our own experts will help take the lessons and messages from the morning and help attendees develop specific action plans for their own growth and advancement.

Thanks for considering joining at the ACU Dallas Campus on Friday, October 11.  It will be a day well spent.

For tickets, click here.  It will be a day you won’t forget.

“Retirement is not the finish line; it is the new beginning.”– Chris Hogan

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

Exit Planning: Decision

As with any journey, getting to a decision phase is what we all work toward.

After discovering the value of your company and the expectations of your personal finances, formulating a plan, the time or execution of “getting to done” is nigh upon you.

In the decision phase, a business owner, now armed with sufficient data and a plan, can answer that all-important and timely question:

Do you want to continue to grow or get ready to exit the business?

Keeping or selling a business is much easier (if this decision is ever easy) because the owner is much more educated at this point.

Remember ready, fire, aim? There will be none of that now.  You know where you can go, if you so choose.

Beyond this step allows the owner who wants to keep her company to go to and advanced value creation step and process.  By the same token, those who want to sell or leave the business are ready to initiate a selected transaction program.

Each phase or step leads to the next and a final decision.  We look forward to helping you through this process using our Value Acceleration Process.  Call us with any thoughts or questions you might have about this or any other aspect of your business.

 The New Paradigm Advisors team