Do your employees wait for you to tell them what to do? Do you
have trouble managing your own time? Do you spend a lot of time
getting people moving in the right direction? Is your business just
not operating in the way you would hope?
No matter what your problem, set your foundation!
In my work, I see a lot of new groups and a lot of new companies. The first thing I do in most cases is create a mission and a vision. Many times the manager or business leader that I am working with will squawk, "That isn't my problem." But it is the problem that is causing the problem. Most problems in the operation of a business are tied to a lack of a clearly defined and well communicated mission and vision.
No matter where you are, set your foundation!
I also get a lot of mid-level managers complaining to me, "My exec are dragging their feet in creating a vision." You can create a mission and vision wherever you are. Don't wait for anyone above you, become the leader. And if your exec finally creates a vision, go with the flow and adapt yours to support his.
What is so great about a mission and vision?
The mission and vision form the foundation for all actions. The mission answers, "Why?" And the vision answers "How?" With the answers to these questions clearly in mind, everyone can act in ways that align with the business.
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About business performance improvement
A client asked me for some assistance in the planning for an upcoming workshop. Not to long after I joined his team's discussion on the objectives and agenda for the meeting, I realized that several individuals were troubled - they were frustrated about the lack of progress in planning and several members of the workshop planning team were no longer contributing. This blog entry identifies a very quick way to levelset a team on the scope of a process or near-term deliverable and put a plan in place for success.
I'm not sure what comment triggered the thought, but Systems Engineers and Process Designers utilize a very simple tool to quickly define the scope - an IDEF0 Process diagram. I hadn't ever utilized the tool to manage the scope of an agenda or to levelset a team on a near-term objective, but the key concepts of managing objectives and team tasks is certainly covered in many texts.
A short time later the following blank template was on the white board and the team was levelset on the deliverables from the workshop and the strategic (and compelling reasons why the deliverables were needed.
OK, I didn't lay it out quite as clearly as shown above. The real issue the team was facing was the scope of the meeting - how much work could really be expected to be completed in the allotted time for the workshop (40 people flying into town for 3 days). The first version of the "agenda box" was actually titled "Magic Happens Here!"
The "Magic" was clarified as the team went through a process of discussing the current state of the necessary inputs, and defining the activities that could occur prior to the meeting (building straw-man) inputs for the team to revise during the workshop.
My next success was that somewhere in the discussion, an individual in the team started talking about an idea - when I claimed confusion and handed off the white board pen, the team really took charge and worked out the final version of the "process flow" diagram that looked something like this and a corresponding action plan. The team also found a way to add several team building exercises to the agenda of the workshop.
For some additional resources for facilitating teams, the following book is suggested.
This book contains fun activities & ideas to break through the barriers people bring to meetings and strengthen team member bonds. Having fun in a workshop is encouraged.
I wish you well in your leadership learning,
Process Guy for a Day.
I was talking to a friend of mine today about what has made him a success for so many years. I was amazed when he looked at me and told me that he didn't tell most people because their eyes glaze over. If you know me, I was all over that. What principles was he using? Is there any
uncommon wisdom in there?
He started off by explaining that many businesses prepare to fail. In fact he did until he learned to take small steps in implementing a new plan. He explained to me that no one knows for sure how much customers will purchase until a test has been run.
Well, I knew that. I was about to turn off my brain, but I am working on my listening skill. My associate, Steve Dightman says that everyone has valuable insights to share if one is just willing to wait and listen. I am all about learning, so I waited and listened.
Was I amazed? Yes. He started to tell me how there are small companies out there that don't have a lot of money to spend, but are looking for a competitive advantage. And there are large companies out there that have a lot of money to spend, but are only interested in proven solutions. Now I knew what I didn't know: "How to sell to a big company and make a lot of money when you have a new product."
Ok. I didn't really get it yet. The key he said, is to have a strategy. The strategy is partner with the small company and prove a solution a little piece at a time. That way, over time you have a proven solution to sell to a big company.
He said that he doesn't just go to a small company and say, "here is everything I have... will you please use it?". In stead, he approaches a small company with a deal, he puts in some money and they put in some money. He also has three criteria for the project.
1. How much money the project will generate.
2. How satisfied his customer will be. And
3. How much new technology can be developed by the project.
With this formula he has built up quite a lot of business with large and small companies, and he has created opportunities to extend and integrate his solution suite.
My friend said he found the information on strategy in the book "Crossing the Chasm".
The best foundation of information on marketing and testing are in the following books.
Adam J. Betcher
Iconoclast and Intellectual Rogue