Action IS the Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reference

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

Whose Job Is It?

See if you recognize this scenario…

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

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

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

Accountability

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

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

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

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

Organizational Chart vs Accountability Chart

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

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

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

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

Best Meeting Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Reacting or Responding to Life?

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

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

What is the difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

Your Next Act: Where Do You Go From Here?

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

This is a question I asked a business owner, James, recently.

James has owned a very successful business for over 25 years and starts and ends everyday thinking of the business and what he needs to do to keep it successful. When I asked him where he saw himself 10 years from now, he was immediately stumped. His response to me was, he really hadn’t thought about it. He was just expecting to continue doing what he’d been doing – running the business. But when pressed, he admitted there would be some kind of transition out there in the future; but he just hadn’t put any real thought into it. So, what to do about this?

Immediately, there are four objectives for James:

  1. Consider that there really is a future transition event for him and the business.
  2. Determine an accurate value of the company as it is now.
  3. Determine what that value needs to be to support James’ retirement or what I like to call his next act.
  4. What can be done now to begin increasing the value of the company to meet objective three?

Let’s take these one at a time:

Is there really a future transition event? Understand that there really is a future transition. Pretty obvious but just because it’s obvious, it doesn’t mean we’ve developed a plan for it. Let’s be plain spoken here. You will exit your business one of two ways. Either horizontally, or vertically. It’s best that you do it and plan on it vertically.

Determine an accurate value of the company. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to engage a formal valuation company who will do a review of your company and the market and derive a fair value of your company as it is viewed through similar companies and transactions in recent history. A second way to do this is through a less formal but still in-depth analysis and assessment of the business utilizing a business consultant experienced at growth and strategic planning.

Determine what that value needs to be. What do you need out of the company in order to fund your next act?  This is going to take some real personal reflection and planning. It will include collaboration with your spouse and all the other important influencers in your life.

What can be done now? Start now increasing the value of the company? The first thing to do is to change your paradigm from owner/operator to buyer. Step back from your position as the owner and take a look at your business the way a buyer would look at it. What would the buyer see as valuable and worth buying? What would he see as not worth buying? What would he have to invest in immediately to make his investment worth-while?

You’re at a crossroads. Continue on in the direction that you’ve been driving. Or begin looking at your business differently and begin to develop the strategies and tactics that will increase the value of your company so when you reach the major destination of your transition, you’ll be able to afford all the things you’ve always dreamed of.

Call us and let us help you with these next steps. Also, here’s a link to a great short article in Entrepreneur Magazine: entrepreneur – preparing to sell about this topic.  See what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

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.

 

Building an Environment of Structural Flexibility

Every organization needs to have some structure.  If, for nothing else, to allow for how things get done.  But the days of rigid structure in an organization are gone.

Particularly if you want to be able to not have the organization be too dependent on any one person.

Gee, sounds like a recipe for being able to break those chains and allow your enterprise to operate without you.  “You proofing” at its finest.

Where does one start? Well, if they want to create and then operate an organization that is an environment that allows for competent decisions as well as being flexible, then start with these attributes:

  • Allow it to be organic. That is, let decisions and decision-making come naturally to the leaders.  Don’t let the organization get in the way of the work.
  • Make sure it is flat. In other words, remove layers of management.  Without middle management, employees become more self-reliant and empowered. Too many layers slow down decision making.
  • Let it be part of a larger network. This means that if sometimes the work can be done outside the organization most efficiently, then let it.
  • Ensure that it coexists with your team. Besides, if your team is formulated to support your company, it should integrate symbiotically with your flexible, flat organization.

What this all boils down to is this: build a functional yet simple organizational structure then populate it with an empowered team.

It will free up the leaders/founders/principals to either work on the company, plot its future or depart. Freedom first, then value, and, finally, future.

Call or contact us should you want to explore this topic further.

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.

 

 

Creating Value in Your Business

When was the last time you emptied out the change in your pockets?  Or do you still collect coins after cash transactions? The thing is, did you collect the change, give it away or put it in a jar to add up later?

Whatever you did, you had value slipping through your fingers—and maybe you didn’t realize it.

Fact is, most business owners are in the same position as this metaphor—not realizing the value that they have right in front of them in their own company.  Or maybe not taking the opportunity to build it.

All companies have a certain value—assets, liabilities, product inventory, real estate, and the intangible—people, culture and customer loyalty.

Once you’ve established you can be freed from your business, the next step is measuring or creating value in your company.  This is the second step in our process that, ultimately gets you to a future—both for you and your company.

The value portion of the equation is about taking stock of what you have and realizing what you can build or build upon.  Have real, tangible value in a company will be the bridge to that future.

As the list above points out, value can be measured and understood in a variety of ways.  While there are many ways to get to a bottom-line number, however you choose to get there is up to you.  But it is really to your advantage to find a partner or advisor who can help define the list and then fill in the blanks.

When you need help filling in the blanks, come see us.  We have the forms with the blanks and the sources of information to fill in those blanks.  Then we have some questions.  We will help you get there.

*photos by Samuel Zeller from Upsplash; and Paul E. Maynard

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