Archive for 2012

In 100 Words: Live “Beyond Yourself”

Friday, December 14th, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

Scott McNealy, cofounder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems, once commented that those in highly visible leadership roles must live beyond themselves.  In other words, leaders must demonstrate a clear willingness to set aside individual desires, motives, and preferences, consistently acting in a manner of transparent character and integrity – not just at work, not just in front of employees, but every moment of every day, in public and in private.

These are intense expectations, but employees are more likely to be disciplined in their work when they see discipline modeled by their leaders.  Are you willing to live “beyond yourself?”

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.”  (Aristotle)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: Do You Know Your Team?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

You work with your team every day, but how well do you know them as people?

Author Patrick Lencioni encourages the sharing of personal histories as a safe way to build trust among team members.  Have everyone share simple information about their past.  Where were you born?  How many siblings did you have?  Where did you fall in the birth order?  What was your first job?  Worst job?  Name a particular challenge in growing up.  Who was/is your role model?

Most people enjoy sharing stories from their lives, and as a result, team members learn to better understand each other.

“Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.” (Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: Team Book Assignments

Friday, September 14th, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

One effective way to improve the performance and bonding of your team is something you may not have done since high school: book assignments.

Team book assignments are a great way to prompt conversations on outside ideas that could impact the business (an emerging trend, a different process, an idea from a different industry, etc.).  Everyone has an opportunity to offer input, and teams often find that the planned discussion of new ideas quickly leads to practical implementation and growth in their organizations.

Click here for a list of suggestions to start.  Feel free to contact me for additional ideas.

“Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: 3 Ways to Increase Time Efficiency

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

3 Ways to Increase Time Efficiency*:

  1. Log your actual time to the nearest quarter hour.  I guarantee your time efficiency will be lower than what you think it is.
  2. Begin each day by jotting your 3-5 most important priorities for that day on a note card.  Carry that card with you all day.  It will free your mind from less important to-dos and keep you focused on driving the most pertinent organizational goals.
  3. Each week, look at your time log and identify one activity that should be delegated to someone else.  You might even ask your team what you should not be doing.

*These tips are pulled from “Leveraging Leadership” by Ben Anderson-Ray.

“Management is doing things right.  Leadership is doing the right things.”  (Peter Drucker)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: Return on Luck

Friday, June 15th, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

Success comes from a combination of shrewd judgment (strategy), hard work (execution), and good fortune – the last of which often plays a larger role than we would like to admit.

Every company, no matter how disciplined, is susceptible to seemingly coincidental events outside of its control.  We call it luck.  Sometimes it’s good.  Sometimes it’s bad.  It can never be predicted, and it is not obligated to “play fair.”

The critical question is (as Jim Collins writes in Great By Choice): do you get a high return on luck (both good and bad)?  Add that to your list of metrics!

“Luck is not a strategy, but getting a positive return on luck is.”  (Jim Collins)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: Focus on Process

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

Success derives from two components: strategy and execution.  Notice what’s missing from the list: results.

Results tell if you’ve been successful, but they don’t show how to be successful.  In fact, poor results may occur despite the best possible decision based on what was known at the time.  Similarly, great results might occur in spite of poor decision making.

The real key to understanding success is found not in the decisions, but in the decision making process.  Regardless of outcome, get in the habit of examining your process of strategic thinking and strategy execution.  Refining that will lead to success.

“Whenever someone says, ‘We have the right strategy, we just need to execute better,’ I make sure to take an extra-close look at the strategy.”  (Phil Rosenzweig)

Click here to have “In 100 Words” delivered to your inbox twice each quarter!


In 100 Words: Capitalizing on Complexity

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

Business complexity continues to increase.  A challenge?  Certainly.  An opportunity?  Absolutely!  Here are four ways to capitalize on complexity:

  1. Prioritize.  Focus resources on the best few initiatives.
  2. “Procedurize.”  Simplify processes.  Create repeatable steps and/or integrate activities.
  3. Reorganize.  The structure that worked before may not fit the current reality.
  4. Monetize.  Share solutions to complexity issues with other businesses for a service fee.

Don’t shy away from complexity, and try not to just pass the costs to your customers.  With a little fortitude and creative energy, you can capitalize on complexity to benefit both you and your customers.

“The only legitimate form of discipline is self-discipline, having the inner will to do whatever it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult.”  (Jim Collins)


In 100 Words: Difference Between Purpose & Value Proposition

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by AdvisorCatalyst

Purpose and value proposition are not the same thing.  Purpose is primarily an internal message that aligns employees; value proposition is an external message that tells customers how you will meet their needs.

Customers may admire your purpose, but they buy your value proposition based on how it meets their needs.  For example, I personally admire Southwest Airlines as an organization, but I typically fly with another airline that better meets my particular business travel needs (even though I have far less admiration for their company).

Let your purpose drive you, but let your customers’ needs drive your value proposition.

“A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them.  We chose a different path.  Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”  (Steve Jobs)