Who Is Accountable?

In businesses today accountability is a crucial concept, but it’s often misunderstood.  Many people can point to accountability when they see it in action, but have a hard time nailing it down.

According to Webster’s dictionary, accountability is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”.   This is a great definition, but if we take this one step further, consider the following  definition of accountability: “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”

Based on the New York Times bestseller The Oz Principle, accountability is the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”  Furthermore, according to The Oz Principle, “only when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results can you direct your own destiny; otherwise someone or something else will.”

This newer definition includes a mindset or attitude that requires a level of ownership that includes making, keeping and answering for personal commitments. Such a perspective embraces both current and future efforts.  As a result…

  • accountability separates the wishers from the action takers.
  • accountability means taking ownership of the results (or the outcome).
  • being accountable means that you are “answerable” for your actions.
  • accountability cannot be delegated

Importance 

So why should you care about accountability?  Accountability is crucial to achieve results and staying competitive in today’s business environment.  Accountability can help:

  • Strengthen the Culture –  “Without accountability execution suffers… accountability becomes embedded into corporate culture by making it everyone’s responsibility… empowering everyone on the team and celebrating successes together.”
  • Build Trust – “Accountability breeds trust. Managers need to have open communication and stand by their decisions and actions, so that all members of the team know the rules, know they will be applied equally to all, and have transparency.”
  • Breed Excellence  – “The best way to encourage positive business outcomes and discourage unfavorable ones is to reward excellence, while correcting performance that doesn’t live up to your expectations.  I’ve found that in operating in this manner decision makers are able to achieve the greatest results.”
  • Set Expectations – “In order for a team, particularly a team of highly competent professionals, to work at maximum capacity, each person must be held fully accountable for their assigned tasks.”
  • Ensure Ownership – “Accountability is important since it results in a highly efficient and productive team. The key point is having each member take full responsibility on a given task or goal from A to Z, which eliminates confusion and saves a lot of time and resources,”

Accountability vs Responsibility
Once we know what it means to be accountable and why it is important, we want to make sure you do not confuse being accountable versus being responsible.

Accountable: “subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.”

Responsible: “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management.”

Responsibility is an action or activity you can delegate while accountability is your role and it’s something you can’t give away.

While responsibility is associated with clearly defined duties and roles, accountability is the proactive, dynamic, and forward-facing process of exercising one’s agency in order to achieve a goal.

In addition, we believe there is an important and fundamental difference between accountability and responsibility—a night and day difference. We appreciate and respect the notion of responsibility and the need for it, but we know from decades of experience that accountability is something truly empowering, not something consequential.  When people use these two words synonymously, this misapplication can unintentionally create tendencies to blame, add unnecessary confusion, cause disengagement, and lead to poor performance.

Remember that you delegate responsibility and hold accountability.

In summary, responsibility can be given or received, even assumed, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee that personal accountability will be taken. Accountability is a choice. If that choice isn’t made, it’s possible to have responsibility for something or someone bu still lack accountability.

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

The Ultimate Strategy Question

“If we decide to do this, what are we choosing not to do?”

I asked this in a meeting once and was surprised with a very strong push back. The conversation that followed was pretty tense because at first glance it was perceived that I had a project that I thought was more important. Once it was determined, though, that I had no such agenda, that I was simply challenging the strategy of adding one more new project to an already full plate, the conversation became much more productive. However, we had to first explore the accuracy of such a premise.

The person at the head of the table was the primary challenger. He, for some reason, took offense to my statement that saying yes to one thing meant saying no to something else. His impression was that I was rejecting his next new idea when in fact I wanted to make sure we all, including him, understood what we were committing to. How about you? What is your reaction to this statement? Why do you think I call it the ultimate strategy question?

This question is more complex than it sounds, which accounts for its potential. To begin with, what you’re really asking people is to be clear and committed to their “yes”. The question brings their commitment out into the open. It brings things into even sharper, bolder focus. Let’s explore the “no” side since the no gives the “yes” its boundaries and form.

There are two types of “no”:

  1.  The “no” of omission. This is fairly straight forward. An example would be if you say “yes” to staying late at work, you’re simultaneously saying “no” to going to your child’s baseball game that’s being held at the same time.
  2. The “no” of commission. This is more intense. A different way to understand this is, “What you now need to say or do to make the “yes” happen?” In this instance, you will have to create the space and focus, energy, and resources that you will need to truly do the “yes”. Examples using the 3 P’s of Projects, People, and Patterns:

a. Projects:

i. What projects do you need to abandon or postpone?
ii. What meetings will you no longer attend?
iii. What resources do you need to divert to the “yes”?

b. People:

i. What expectations do you need to manage?
ii. From what Drama Triangle dynamics will you extract yourself? See: The Drama Triangle
iii. What relationships will you let wither?

c. Patterns:

i. What habits do you need to break?
ii. What old stories or dated ambitions do you need to update?
iii. What beliefs about yourself do you need to let go of?

The next time you’re excited about a new idea, a new initiative, or maybe a new product, consider this strategic question with your team. You may find that it’s a great decision as is or you may find it’s a great decision if you commit to it by dropping some previous great decision. When you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Drill into this. You’ll end up with a better decision and a stronger commitment to either the new decision or the older one. That’s what we mean by a New Paradigm!

We are here to help. We can help you with a strategy to focus your business and increase value. We help business owners make sure your “Yes” is a “Yes” and your “No” is a “No”. Call us today at 972-979-3976.

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.

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

EBITDA or EBITDAC?

The term EBITDA is common practice in the financial world. The term is also frequently used by business owners, without a financial background, but do we really know what it stands for?  EBITDA means Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization.

The term is used as the standard for the operational cash-flow a business generates over a certain period, without taking into account the financial result, taxes, exceptional income or expenses. As we talk about cash-flow the non-cash costs as depreciations and amortizations are also excluded.

But what about EBITDAC… Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization and Coronavirus?

How has the Coronavirus affected you, your employees, vendors, and customers?  It is safe to say that at some level COVID-19 has impacted every business owner and their bottom line.  As restrictions ease and we return to some level of normalcy, it’s important to look back and reflect on what learnings we can glean from this and how to prepare for the future.

As an EOS Implementer, I help companies focus on three timeless principles regardless of the circumstances. EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, 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 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.  Does everyone in the organization know where you are going and how to get there?  Is it clearly stated and communicated?  You and your leadership team should articulate or refine your vision to reflect who you are, why you exist, what you do and where you are going.  It gives you (and your company) a road map to follow.
  • Traction®—instilling focus, discipline, and accountability throughout the company so that everyone executes on that vision—every day.  This is where he “rubber meets the road” and your strategy becomes actionable.   Your people must focus on what needs to be done, you must have the necessary processes in place to act and then you should manage outcomes to get results.
  • Healthy—helping you (and your leaders) become a more cohesive, functional, healthy team.  In the book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lecioni, to be successful, you need to be both “smart” with strategy, marketing, finance and technology AND “healthy” with minimal politics and confusion, high morale and productivity, and low turnover.  Are you building a culture that is healthy and helping you thrive?

In the midst of this pandemic, your problems and issues only get magnified.  Don’t ignore them, recognize and address them.  Once we are on the other side of this and you report EDITDAC, let us help you build a business that is ready for both the good times and bad times.  A business that allows you the freedom to balance both work life and family life, increasing in value, and gives you a future to accomplish your dreams.

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.

Michael Visentine and 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.

Sharpen Your Tools

Is your calendar this week like mine? Loaded up with all kinds of webinars and on-line meetings. All of them seeming to be valuable and important. But how many of them will really help me? Why am I watching and participating in all of them?

This line of questioning causes me to reflect on a very important principle: “Take the time to sharpen your ax,” as the saying goes.

Or, in my case, my chisels. Let me explain.

Our History Sometimes Defines Us

I grew up working with my Dad and brother in my Dad’s woodworking shop. We had a lot of tools in that shop and, as you can imagine, most of them had to have sharp edges. None were sharper than our chisels. No tool required the sharpness of the chisel and the hand plane. The reason was simple: these were, generally, the last tools to touch the wood. They had to be sharp enough to do the job without a lot of force and they couldn’t leave any extraneous marks.

The Satisfaction of Sharp Tools

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.

We learned how to properly sharpen our 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, stropped it, and made sure it was ready for use. We never assumed that it was ready right out of the drawer. We were always testing the blades before they were used.

The Right Tool, Constantly Sharpened

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. Our leadership skills, our management skills, and our technical skills all have to be constantly sharpened. We can’t assume that they are as sharp today as when we first learned them or pulled them out of the box. All of these – let me correct that – some of these webinars and online training sessions offer us the opportunity to do that.

How About Now?

Right now is a great time to be honing your chisels, your skills. You can’t do everything that’s being offered. However, I’m willing to bet, just like me, you’ve been wanting to get better at something and just have never found the time or dedicated the time to learn that new skill. Well, since you’re not spending two hours a day commuting, how about spending that time getting sharp?

Consider All of Your “Tools”

Take the time to do it. As an extra benefit, you’ll be setting an example for your team. By your example, your team will see the benefits of learning something new and you’ll have a company full of sharp chisels ready to do their best.

Dave

(Updated from a blog post that initially appeared on January 13, 2018)