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

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

Ten Tips to Improve Your Online Meetings

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency and shelter-in-place orders, there have been huge impacts to the way we all do business. One of those is the way we meet: these days it is more than likely via video conferencing. I’m guessing in the last few weeks you’ve had at least one, if not several, virtual meetings. It’s time to make these meetings productive.  It’s time to make them great!

In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, one of the principles is “begin with the end in mind”.  With this, the purpose of any meeting is very simple: get things done. You meet to:

  • Solve problems.
  • Get everyone on the same page.
  • Make sure the team is on track.
  • Move forward.

Based upon these objectives, are your meetings productive?

One report found American businesses hold more than 3 billion meetings per year and 11 million meetings per day. That’s a lot of meetings so they should be worth it.   To make the best use of your time, here are a list of 10 tips to make your online meetings as productive as possible and use everyone’s time effectively.

Watch this funny video and then read our list to avoid these common issues.

  1. Have good, reliable internet. Your video should not sputter and/or skip. It’s incredibly distracting, and it’s not acceptable.
  2. Sit on a chair at a table or desk. Don’t sit or lie on a bed or sofa. This is a business meeting. This is the challenge with working from home—it’s hard to transition into work mode. This will help.
  3. Be aware of your background.  Avoid busy or distracting backgrounds, including virtual backgrounds. If you can, use the feature to blur your background, pick a neutral area or hang a sheet to keep focus on you.
  4. Stay in front of camera and keep it at eye level. It’s important that no one goes off-screen to do something else.   Make sure you are in the center of the screen at a distance of 2 to 3 feet.  This will prevent people from leaning in and you will better keep the attention of your audience when speaking.
  5. Test your lighting. Make sure there are no lights behind you and have a light on your face. People need to clearly see you.  Lighting is important.
  6. Make sure your microphone works well. Use a good microphone or buy a headset, if needed. When people can’t hear you, they struggle to pay attention.
  7. No looking at your phone. Have your phone silenced or out of your view.  Be considerate of others and treat this just like any “in-person” meeting.
  8. Don’t mute. What happens is that someone starts talking, not realizing that they forgot to un-mute. By the time everyone lets them know (with hands waving, you are on mute!) and they finally figure it out, you’ve lost valuable time.
  9. Minimize background noise. Make sure you’re in a quiet room with the door closed… no dogs barking and no family interruptions (tell your family you are at the office).
  10. Use gallery mode. Make sure that you can see all of the faces participating in the meeting, at a glance.  Most video conferencing platforms have this function.   This helps everyone stay connectedBe safe and productive!

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

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)

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.

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.

The Opposite of Servant Leadership: Power Leadership

We’ve discussed servant leadership at length, showed you examples and introduced you to experts.  But to truly understand the concept, we should really discuss the opposite of this leadership concept.

Meet power leadership.

Leaders who use power as their main motivator, usually rely on negativism, fear and misdirection to guide or direct an organization the way they see fit.  They typically are not collaborators or team players.

Power leaders tear down.  They thrive in economic downturns because cutting, not adding, is what they do to shape an organization. By cutting budgets, costs and employees, they destroy morale, drain resources and reduce organizations to shells of themselves.  They typically are short-term thinkers.

“Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.”—Seth Berkley

In the mirror, opposite the power leader, is a servant leader.  Servant leaders build up, see downturns as opportunities, and do things up front and in a transparent fashion.  To them, power is in the organization and its people and ideals, not in them.

The four elements of servant leadership are in direct opposition to power leadership:

  1. Servant leaders put service before leadership and are focused outwardly; power leaders are focused inwardly.
  2. Collaboration is central to servant leaders and relies on consideration of what others think; power leaders believe there is an “I” in team—them.
  3. Mentorship is important to servant leaders as it helps grow the team and the organization; power leaders believe all starts and ends with them.
  4. To be a servant leader, you must have foresight and that comes from listening; power leaders only listen to themselves.

Where do you begin to develop and build a culture of servant leadership? Start by looking within and taking stock of what you already have.  And then consider enlisting the aid of a partner.  We are here to help with skills assessments, systems and programs as well as one-on-one advice.

Call or contact us for more information on servant leadership.

The New Paradigm Advisors Team