Critical Decision Making (322 words)

In the mid-1990s I was an adjunct professor for the graduate program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. I recently had lunch with one of my students from that time—James Welch—and I will report that the student has become the teacher. He is currently working on his doctorate, specializing in the area of critical decision making.

Jim shared with me the idea of first framing the problem and then suggested five important methods which people employ in their decision making process:

  1. Experience, also referred to as shortcut thinking is where one only uses their personal experiences to decide—relying on the idea that based on one’s experience; situation “A” requires solution “B” rather than considering other possibilities.
  2. Best practices of other businesses, very hot today in management circles. In this situation, frequently the decision is made to adopt what others have successfully done, perhaps rather than to adapt the idea to their particular situation.
  3. Reasoning generally alludes to approaching things through a more logical thought process—this is very good. However it is not necessarily strategically aligned to the organization’s goals.
  4. Collaboration among all involved. Jim made it a point to distinguish between cooperation, where people have agreement, and not necessarily emotional ownership, verses collaboration where people will generally bond—big difference in my book.
  5. Strategy based decision making. This is where the overall strategy of an organization is in the forefront of everyone’s mind and the challenge is framed in a way that is understood by all. Strategic thinking should be embraced throughout every organization.

I so much appreciated the student becoming the teacher that I’ve added some of Jim’s ideas into my seminar titled, Let’s Get Along & Be More Productive; Purposeful Interdepartmental Collaboration.

I challenge you to consider the above methods of decision making when you are attempting to resolve your challenges at work, and at home.

Mastermind Alliances to Further Your Career (895 Words)

John F. Kennedy said, “Lofty words cannot construct an alliance or maintain it; only concrete deeds do that.” Partnering and alliances are the terms used to describe mutually beneficial relationships. Partnering is the business paradigm for the next millennium. Relationships are the corner stone of any successful business. Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) are the conduits for successful business growth. More people in business today should make the smart decision and make daily Relationship Bank Deposits, the concrete deeds Kennedy spoke of in 1963. You must make deposits before you can withdrawal.

Throughout my adult life, people have recommended that I should work harder. Some have suggested I work smarter. My choice is the latter, to work smarter. Business is getting more complex, seemingly by the day. Both you and I should continually seek additional solutions to our daily business challenges. Partnering with others to create alliances for various reasons is my answer to the idea of working smarter.

Develop Your Mastermind Alliance

First on my working smarter list is to develop a personal Mastermind Alliance. Mastermind Alliances, also known as strategic alliances for individual development, can assist you in eclipsing your competition. This holds true for both your career and your enterprise. I belong to a geographical mastermind alliance, called Gold Coast Speakers, which consists of other professional speakers and consultants.

We started meeting early in 1989 and continued to get together about once a month or so. This is a confidential environment where each can share their gifts and receive counsel on important business, career and personal issues. I do not believe I would have survived in my speaking career without this relationship. The members of my mastermind alliance are some very special and giving people. The group consists of not more than a dozen members that are geographically close to one another, this allows us to regularly meet. We rotate from home to home, each member having the opportunity to host a meeting. We make it simply for the host by ordering delivered pizza.

Another mastermind alliance success story is the Downtown Palm Springs, CA breakfast club. A couple years ago I interviewed Tim Ellis, general manager at the Riviera Resort & Racquet Club in Palm Springs. The interview was for an article about Palm Springs’ strategic alliance with other California cities to draw tourists to the state. He told me about his downtown Palm Springs mastermind alliance. It consisted of general managers from seven other deluxe hotels, the convention center director and the owner of the aerial tram. They meet every Wednesday and rotate member locations weekly. They discuss issues uniquely important to the hospitality business in downtown Palm Springs.

I recently spoke with Tim. He is no longer at the Riviera. He started his own company, Lathom Hotels. Tim bought one hotel and leased another. The hotels both feature suites with full kitchens. He started his company to serve a neglected niche in town, long-term retired guests. He told me that much of his success comes from the networking relationships in the breakfast club. He said that he could not have picked up and done the same thing in another town. And yes, he still belongs to the alliance.

Mastermind Alliance Core Values

There are five personal core values that I believe are necessary for your Mastermind Alliance members to possess. They are trust, tolerance/ understanding, cooperation/growth, caring/commitment, and synergy/mutuality. Use these values as your guide when making member selections. Too often I’ve heard people talking marriage but really acting one-night stand. This behavior is what I call cotton candy partnering. Like cotton candy, it looks good and tastes great but disappears in seconds. These are definitely not concrete deeds and not the type of members you’ll want in your Mastermind Alliance. In contrast, integrity partnering is what allows synergistic solutions, the concrete deeds.

Use your group as a sounding board for ideas you might have missed, to uncover unnoticed pitfalls in your plans and various other important areas that offer you value. In the group of which I am a member, we spent an entire year dedicating each meeting to individual members for dealing with their specific issues. Wow! It was powerful to have several people focus their energy and attention to a single member’s issues. Giving energy can be as powerful as receiving it. I learn when I am being helped with my issues and when others are helped with theirs.

To make this kind of alliance relationship valuable for all involved the giving or Relationship Bank deposits must be frequent. Additionally, all the members of the alliance must be committed to the alliance itself. When this happens the alliance becomes a living entity and begins to evolve in it’s own direction. While this might seem odd, I have regularly found it to be true.

Benefits and Pitfalls

Inherent while building Mastermind Alliances, you will notice both benefits and pitfalls. The benefits of alliance relationships usually outweigh the pitfalls. Be careful and methodical in the search for Mastermind Alliance partners and in the elements of which the alliance will operate. Remember Caveat Pars (Partners Beware), as the road to successful alliance partnering has roadblocks, land mines and quicksand pits. Knowing how to select the right alliance partners and making good selections is truly a concrete deed, of which Kennedy spoke. Make your relationship Bank Deposits and you will surely develop Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) with your Mastermind Alliance group members.

Mastermind Alliances Are Helpful In Turbulent Times (1177 words)

When the economy goes south and you are looking for answers on how to adjust, to whom do you turn? When times are turbulent, you need counsel and encouragement from people in whom you believe and trust. This is the time when the value of your confidential mastermind group is most noticeable. Alliances are mutually beneficial relationships. Relationships are the corner stone of a successful business and Outrageously Successful Relationships (OSRs) are what mastermind alliances are about.

In 1963 John F. Kennedy said, “Lofty words cannot construct an alliance or maintain it; only concrete deeds do that.” Similarly, to make your mastermind alliance work, all involved need to make Relationship Bank Deposits(RBD) before attempting to receive withdrawals. This is the challenge.

Throughout my adult life, in order to have what I want, numerous people have recommended to me that I work harder. In contrast, a few have suggested I work smarter. My choice is some of the former and more of the latter. Business is more complex than ever before and a soft economy amplifies this complexity. As you continually seek solutions to your business challenges, why not access the synergy of additional views. Partnering with other business leaders to create a mastermind alliance is an answer to the idea of working smarter.

Over a decade ago, I started a mastermind alliance of professional speakers and consultants that are geographically close to me in the Northern Los Angeles area. Over the years we have evolved and grown together. Today, we call ourselves the Gold Coast Speakers and you can check us out at www.GoldCoastSpeakers.com.

We started meeting early in 1989 and continue to get together about once a month or so. While many of us are competitors, this is a confidential environment where each can share their gifts and receive counsel on important business, career and personal issues. I do not believe I would have survived in my speaking career without this relationship. The members, about a dozen, of my mastermind alliance are some very special and giving people. Because we are geographically close, this allows us to get together regularly. We rotate from home to home, each member having the opportunity to host a meeting and make it simple by ordering delivered pizza.

Another mastermind alliance success story is the Downtown Palm Springs, California breakfast club. A few years ago I interviewed Tim Ellis, then general manager at the Riveria Resort & Racquet Club in Palm Springs. The interview was for an article about Palm Springs strategic alliance with other California cities to draw tourists to the state. He told me about his downtown Palm Springs mastermind alliance. It consisted of general managers from seven other deluxe hotels, the convention center director and the owner of the aerial tram. They meet every Wednesday and rotate member locations weekly. They discuss issues uniquely important to the hospitality business in downtown Palm Springs.

I recently spoke with Tim. He is no longer at the Riveria. He started his own company, Lathom Hotels. Tim bought one hotel and leased another. The hotels both feature suites with full kitchens. He started his company to serve a neglected niche in town, long-term retired guests. He told me that much of his success comes from the networking relationships in the breakfast club. He said that he could not have picked up and done the same thing in another town. And yes, he still belongs to the alliance.

Your trade or professional association, when properly executing its charge, acts as a funnel for mastermind relationships. While there are some limitations such as confidentiality issues, discussion limitations based on anti-trust issues, many associations do facilitate smaller specialty groups that function similar to mastermind alliances. Additionally, in your area you can join established commercial (for profit) mastermind alliances such at The Executive Committee (TEC) or Young Presidents Organization (YPO). The downside of groups like TEC and YPO is that there are many limitations on membership and regulations to follow. The up side is you have a paid leader running things for you.

There are five personal core values that I believe are necessary for your mastermind alliance members to possess:

  • Trust
  • Tolerance/ understanding
  • Cooperation/growth
  • Caring/commitment
  • Synergy/mutuality

Use these values as your guide when making member selections. Too often I’ve heard people talking marriage but really acting one-night stand. This behavior is what I call cotton candy partnering. Like cotton candy, it looks good and tastes great but disappears in seconds. These are definitely not concrete deeds and not the type of members you’ll want in your mastermind alliance. In contrast, integrity partnering is what allows synergistic solutions, the concrete deeds.

Use your group as a sounding board for ideas you might have missed, to uncover unnoticed pitfalls in your plans and various other important areas that offer you value. In the group of which I am a member, we spent an entire year dedicating each meeting to individual members for dealing with their specific issues. Wow! It was powerful to have several people focus their energy and attention to a single member’s issues. Giving energy, can be as powerful as receiving it. I learn when I am being helped with my issues and when others are helped with theirs.

To make this kind of alliance relationship valuable for all involved, the giving or Relationship Bank Deposits must be frequent. Additionally, all the members of the alliance must be committed to the alliance itself. When this happens the alliance becomes a living entity and begins to evolve in it’s own direction. While this might seem odd, I have regularly found it to be true.

Inherent while building mastermind alliances, you will notice both benefits and pitfalls. The benefits of alliance relationships usually outweigh the pitfalls. Be careful and methodical in your search for mastermind alliance members and in the elements of which the alliance will operate, as the road to a successful alliance has roadblocks, land mines and quicksand pits. Knowing how to select the right alliance partners and making good selections is truly a concrete deed, of which Kennedy spoke. Make your Relationship Bank Deposits and you will surely develop Outrageously Successful Relationships with your mastermind alliance group members.

Ten Tips to Developing Outrageously Successful Relationships:

  1. Behave toward your alliance partner the way you want them to behave toward you.
  1. It is more important to be a good alliance partner and get things done, then to obsess on the importance of being right.
  1. Make relationship bank deposits before you try to make a withdrawal.
  1. Regularly share relationship value updates with your alliance partner.
  1. Know what your partner needs.
  1. Be clear on what you want from your alliance relationship and what you are willing to do to make it successful.
  1. Be committed, confident and passionate toward your alliance.
  1. Do more for your alliance partner than you promised—exceed their expectations.
  1. Resolve conflict immediately.
  1. You cannot partner with an organization or individual who does not want to be a good Partner.

Getting Results! (728 words)

Getting results is the perpetual problem for employers, employees and those that are self-employed—most everybody. Getting results is arguably the most important aspect of running a business—everything else is secondary.

Goals:

Many experts will site goals as the foremost ingredient necessary for achieving results. I agree that goals are important; providing that the goals are dated and are measurable, otherwise inaction is certain. If one has no idea as to when, or how much; there really never was a goal in place but rather a dream. At my seminars, I handout T-Shirts stating “Ideas are just dreams without implementation” to remind people that it is all about results.

Inactivity Darlings:

Inactivity darlings are those things that we allow to get in the way of our results. They are those things that seem to let important priorities languish.

  • Priorities, for some reason are easily thrown off kilter. When was the last time you caught yourself doing something fun as opposed to some activity that was time critical? I bet you haven’t done anything like this since…well, since yesterday.
  • Value perceptions can be huge disablers if perceptions are flawed. This idea applies on either side of the employment issue to both employees and their employers. Having an honest handle on one’s worth at the workplace helps. However, employers seem hesitant to be straightforward about this issue.
  • Blame, both causes and allows immobilization in the workplace. In work environments where persons are in fear for their jobs and livelihood, blame is all-pervading. Why in the world would any employer create this kind of a culture?

Break Down The Action Barrier!

Are any of the above inactivity darlings prevalent in your work environment? If so, everyone needs a lift. Give your people a passion plug-in which assuredly leads to the taking of some sort of action. You need to develop motivation in the workplace and it matters not if it emanates internally or externally. But, you’ve got to have it.

Passion Plug-In:

A passion plug-in is any activity that gets people excited, that gets them to care, that is uplifting and inspirational. Creating a passion plug-in is easier than you think. Intelligent workplace competitions are very effective passion plug-ins. Company sports teams are effective passion plug-ins. And for the self-employed, a passion plug-in could be something as simple as a reward you offer yourself for achieving an activity by a specified date or time. Recognitions are huge passion plug-ins!

Recognitions:

Recognitions, plural to remind each of us that recognizing an employee’s performance must be a regular journey as opposed to a single destination. In the mid 1990s, I was traveling North America for the Dun & Bradstreet Foundation conducting full-day seminars. For several months I conducted a personal research project on recognition. Asking this question of all attendees, “What is one thing your boss or company could do to improve your loyalty?” Fifty percent of the written responses: RECOGNITION. Recognitions do not have to be expensive; I did not say…incentive. Recognitions must simply recognize one’s behavior, performance or attitude.

Persistence:

Persistence is the final necessity for getting results. No matter how darn good you are; if you don’t stick with it—you will fail. I entered the world of professional speaking on a full-time basis in 1990. I can’t tell you how many wide-eyed would-be professional speakers I’ve seen come and go over the years. Quite frankly, many better than me; however the ones that left didn’t have the “stuff to make it work” didn’t last long. Conversely, I have seen mediocre performers in many fields succeed because they stuck it out—think Forrest Gump and the shrimp boat.

Just being the best at something is not enough. Likewise, being a so-so performer is not necessarily the kiss of death. For years, I served as a referee for the United States Soccer Federation and the common theme, I observed, of winning teams was not having a couple star performers but rather eleven men, women or children that were willing to work together to consistently move the ball up the field.

Working together to achieve a common goal that is dated and measurable is a fabulously effective Passion Plug-In. Plug into what excites you about your industry, organization, or career and you will break past your personal barrier and  inactivity darlings to achieve the results you desire.

Business Is About Results, Not Excuses! (482 words)

Why do some people seem to have the desirable ability to get things done—to get results—while others seem to continually spin their wheels?

I believe that the results getters have three common qualities or traits; great self-talk, great alliances, and great ability. The complexity of these three traits is part of the mix.

  1. Great self-talk is driven my a number of factors including; personal experiences both positive and negative, environment, personal goals, the prices that one is willing to pay for their success, personal desire to continually improve, minimal concern for what others say about them, and a host of other elements. Together, these factors create in a person something that most of us would identify as passion.

The much talked about issue is if passion can be taught or acquired; or does it have to be innate? Many believe one has to be born with passion. I, to the contrary, do not believe this. There are too many negative examples today of religious fanatics that became passionate about their cause after their conversion, or perhaps better stated; indoctrination. This is proof to me that passion can be taught or learned.

If you, or your employees, are not enjoying the results you need or desire; positive self-talk is the first step toward results.

  1. Great alliances appear in many forms; camaraderie, friendship, partnership, networks, collaborative activities, master minds groups, and mentorships, depending on the situation. The relationships you, and your employees, enjoy will affect your self-talk and also your abilities. Great alliance relationships are the glue between the first and third steps to results.

Building great relationships comes natural to some people, however it is a skill that can be taught and learned. Organizations that adopt partnering as a key strategy for growth must learn the skills to develop and implement profitable alliances. The same goes for results driven individuals.

  1. Great ability is more than the sum of one’s God given talents. Ability is the collective body your knowledge, skills, experiences and talent synthesized through your self-talk. The relationships you build greatly affect your ability.

One’s abilities come from their empirical knowledge and experiences. Few people knew how to drive a car upon leaving the womb. Similarly, few people knew how to effective run multi-billion dollar companies when they were in third grade. These skills were taught to them. Ability comes from the gained knowledge and skills garnished from relationships with others—paid or reciprocal, or through trial and error. Trial and error is costly and time consuming.

What does this mean to you? You want results? What do you care about? You can have results; if you are willing to change your self-talk, build better relationships and learn from the people that currently embody the skills you need. Volumes of books have been written to explain the above, yet it is as simple as 1—2—3.

 

Organizational Effectiveness—Whose Rice Bowl Is It? (877 words)

When an organization becomes constipated and paralyzed, chances are that too many persons in the organization have lost their way. This really is loss of focus and it rears its ugly head in many ways. One particularly appalling way is when one gets into another’s rice bowl, aka, sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

In your organization, are there persons that stick their nose in the business of others? Sure there are! When these persons, as I call it, get into others’ rice bowl, the result is usually two fold. First, they do not have time to do their own work well. Second, they greatly upset the person in whose rice bowl they invade, thereby inhibiting organizational productivity.

Not long ago I found myself facilitating a three-day board of directors meeting. The directors had gotten so aggravated with one another, that the entire group had become immobilized, stuck, and angry—each, barely speaking to the others.  What happened? Many of the directors had been getting into rice bowls that they should not have; the rice bowls of others. Need less to say, nothing was getting done.

During this three-day meeting I continually gave the emotionally injured directors permission to tell others to get out of their rice bowl. Funny thing is, say to a colleague, “Get your nose out of my business” and you’d be considered rude. However, use the rice bowl euphemism and people get the message without prejudice.  In giving permission to tell others to get out of their rice bowl really worked for this group, and it might work for you. By the end of the meeting the individual board members truly felt a new empowerment to protect their area of influence, their rice bowl. Additionally, they understood why it would be in their best interest to stay out of other board members’ rice bowls.

There are three basic reasons for a person to get into other person’s rice bowls:

  1. Trust
  2. Jealousy
  3. Stupidity and ignorance

This painful triad only serves the master of failure. Persons getting into the rice bowls of others, along with those that have their rice bowls invaded can easily become organizational saboteurs. What is so darn menacing is that many times the saboteur does not even realize what they are doing to themselves and to their organization. This situation can occur as easily in for-profits as it might in non-profits.

Looking at the trust issue, I have observed far too many supervisors, leaders and executives that train their people poorly and then just can’t understand why their people do not perform. These overseers, as I like to call them, continually are checking up on their people—to the level of ridiculousness. The challenge is since they do not trust their people; they are constantly invading those persons’ rice bowls. The result is the overseer (it really is hard for me to call them a leader) does not have the time to explore opportunity because they are spending all their time fighting fires. As stated above, this dynamic applies both in the world’s on non-profits and for-profits, large organizations and small, and almost always in the corners of Lesser Lords.

Jealousy comes into play when a person feels threatened by another. This negative force of life occurs quite easily in organizations where overseers have not offered a clear vision and path for the persons within. Everyone needs to see they have the opportunity to do more, be more and achieve more. Threatened persons just perceive that everyone else is receiving the opportunity they should have. Their natural response is to stick their nose in others’ rice bowls with the hope of receiving the favor of the overseer simply be being involved. This is never a productive formula for any organization. Have you seen to it that there is opportunity for advancement in your organization?

Stupidity and ignorance stands on its own merits and really needs little discussion. Nonetheless, stupidity and ignorance runs rampant in far too many organizations. Some call it reaching one’s level of incompetence. This unconstructiveness really can be extinguished in most organizations with a modicum of effort. Back in the mid-90s when I conducted full-day supervision workshops for the Dunn & Bradstreet Foundation, one module I particularly liked sharing was about rewards. A point I would always make is that if one allowed negative behavior in the workplace, they were really rewarding the person exhibiting that behavior simply by virtue of allowing it. That isn’t what you want to do, is it?

What can be done about the offenders who so freely get into the rice bowls that they do not belong? Stop them in their tracks! Don’t tolerate it. Help them to see opportunity elsewhere. Train your supervisors and line managers well. In turn, they will train the rank and file employees better and hopefully more people will abandon the painful triad of failure; trust, jealousy, and stupidity.

In closing and regardless of your position in your organization, when your colleagues, and perhaps supervisors, put their noses into your business—I personally give you permission to say, “Please, get out of my rice bowl.” Even if they don’t, it will make you feel a heck of a lot better just for saying it.

Serving Your Customers Well (803 words)

If serving your customers well is the goal of your organization, start with your organization’s ability to execute its core competency. For a retailer that might mean excelling at the logistics necessary to get goods in your store in a cost effective manner and never having an empty shelf. For the service sector, it might mean dispatch logistics on well stocked service vehicles with highly trained service persons. For the manufacturing sector it might be producing defective-free goods on time and shipping the product on schedule.

However, I frequently observe upper management engaging in what I like to call the flavor-of-the-month-management-strategy. This probably doesn’t need explaining; it’s the continuing saga of executives again and again stabbing in the dark for their instant silver bullet solution to the perceived ills of their organization.

Exercise in Senselessness?

It might be that these executives are undiagnosed attention deficit disorder sufferers or perhaps they just like bright shinny objects; whatever it is, they seem not to be able to stay on task but find it more rewarding to bounce from thing to thing. Ask yourself this about your organization, “Was the last program at your organization really effective or was it simply a distraction for some and an exercise in senselessness for most?” If your boss is around, perhaps it would be better for you not to answer the question?

In recent history, consultants, trainers and other program service providers have been made wildly wealthy by executives that just love bright shiny objects—aka, the next flavor-of-the-month strategy to get employees to… Unfortunately, few of these programs focus bettering on the organization’s capability to perform in the area of their core competence.

Per Minute In-Stock Product

Sure, your customers care about the age old business triad: price, quality and service, with selection being part of the quality segment. But, in today’s crazy busy environment, what your customers really care about is: you having what they want when they want it. “It’s coming in this afternoon” is no longer acceptable. Your customers will simply leave and shop the competition.

Do you really think they’re coming back this afternoon? After you spent all your resources to get them in the door, why in the world would you want to shove them off to your competitor? Why is Amazon.com growing while local book stores are falling like flies? Amazon delivers, and it is to that standard to which you are being held in the minds of your customers

Your customers measure you by their mental “per minute in-stock” proposition. So, if your organization’s latest flavor-of-the-month program does not directly help your organization to:

  1. Be in Stock at All Times
  2. Be Competitively Priced at All Times
  3. Be Pleasant at All Times

Then, why are you doing it? Perhaps the answer is a bit like a cartoon I once saw. Here’s the visual; man sitting and looking down. The caption stating, “Busting my rear end around this organization is like wearing a dark blue suit and wetting my pants. It sure gives me a warm feeling, but nobody notices!”

Is your latest flavor-of-the-month program giving executives that warm feeling?

Middle Management Mediocrity

“Hey, go ahead and take the dirt out of this hole and move it over there to that hole.” Sounds pretty crazy doesn’t it? Why in the world would one want to do that other than to punish a disruptive prisoner or unwilling solder in boot camp?

But is it so crazy? How many times have you seen in your workplace people redoing work or activities for very poor reasons? Most likely, more than you’d like to admit. This situation frequently rears its ugly head when an organization experiences communication challenges—well, let’s call it what it really is: they suck at communication. Or, it could be ego, stupidity, and/or stubbornness that caused this needless reworking and resource squandering.

There is also another down side; rank and file employee demoralization. When employees witness what they completely believe laziness or incompetence on the part of their supervisors, do you really think they are motivated to try harder?

Some executives believe that planned chaos keeps employees on their toes. While planned chaos can make things interesting for the lesser employee who needs constant stimulation, however it makes it nearly impossible for the competent and productive employee to remain.

Measure What You Should Manage

Really, do you think your customers care about your dollars per square foot, dollars per transaction, employee costs, or end-of-the-year profitability? They simply want you to have what they want, when they want it. They just want you to be great at your core competency.

Here is the 64-thoudand dollar question; do you measure your per-minute in stock situation or your trip dispatch and service completion effectiveness? Those are the metrics upon which you should obsess.

Organizational Legacy—Leaving Footprints (638 words)

The question that I’d like to pose to you, the corporate executive, “Why are you really at your job; is it really the money—really—or might there be a deeper purpose?”

Money is good and power is alluring, however your legacy is what really matters. Sometimes upper level executives get so wrapped up in the now that they forget about the later. Good chance you already have all the money you need, so why stick around?

Your motivators might be:

  1. Desire to turn the organization over to family.
  2. Desire to be remembered as a conqueror, inspiring leader, builder of something bigger than your self, or various other reasons.
  3. Enjoy being engaged in the “game.”
  4. Desire to be a mentor.
  5. Believe they couldn’t run the company without you.
  6. Just because.

Rule with an Iron Fist

If you enjoy being the conqueror, then perhaps you also enjoy being in control. While being in control is truly an opiate, like other dependencies, the dependent person degrades over time. In a corporate environment this generally leads to organizational failure or the leader becoming a Lord of Lesser Corners—thereby diminishing the Lord’s legacy.

The organizational downside of this paradigm is twofold; first that of encouraging the really great talent to find greener pastures elsewhere and handicapping the talent that does stay. A controlling personality tends to find it difficult to truly mentor, coach, and nurture arising talent.

The reason for this is either the misguided belief that nobody else can do it as well or the paranoia of letting go of control. Either way, the result is always a dysfunctional organization.

What’s a Conqueror to Do?

My first counsel to an iron fisted executive is, “Protect your legacy!” You have spent years building this incredible organization; now protect it from the forces that are intent on tearing it down. Unknowingly, you could be one of those forces. Sam Walton went back to take control of WalMart, not because he needed the money, but rather to protect his child. Michael Dell recently did the same thing.

How do you want to be remembered; as the fool that built it and then watched it being ripped apart? Or would you rather be remembered as the conquering hero that built it and trained the future generations to make it even greater?

But I’m Old and Tired

A conquering hero is never old and tired; they have simply misplaced their passion. You have been so distracted with the static of micromanaging an organization. Stop playing only defense and get back to your aggressive game of building—today, it is building your organizational leaders of tomorrow.

The Juice

Reconnect to your early passion for building something greater than yourself. Understand that the good old days are gone; however the good old days were nothing more than the times in which you had the greatest passion for building. Kids today are the same as they were when you were young. Sure, they have kilos of body hardware emerging from all parts of their body, but what about your long hair in a world of crew cuts? Okay, their bodies are indelibly marked with various pictures and slogans, but what about your tie-dyes and bellbottoms?

Now is not the time to cocoon and reminisce but rather the time for renaissance. If you look at your organization through the window of your legacy, you will plug into the juice necessary for you to help your upcoming levels of executives to carry on your vision. Understand that they will add to your vision to make it their own. It is this process of up and coming leaders adding to the overlying vision that allows them the have the emotional ownership that will deliver to them the same passion you had in your younger years.

 

Effective Interdepartmental Partnering (571 words)

Having challenges with internal departments unwilling to collaborate? Is this lack of cooperation costing your organization time, resources, and money? If so, it’s time to put the “Lords of Lesser Corners” under the microscope.

While I really do not think “Lords of Lesser Corners” needs much additional description, nonetheless we should be clear on the concept. These Lords, persons with some amount of authority in your organization, be they men or women are the emotionally small people in your organization that seems to never be confident in themselves or their department. Their standard method of operation is protectionism. They live their organizational lives in constant fear of losing their job, among other erroneous beliefs.

The Real Cost

The devastation these Lords bestow upon their organization is omnipresent. The protectionism is so insidiously woven into the fabric of their silo’s culture that it is like a cancer in need of chemotherapy.

  1. The very bright talent leaves.
  2. The deadwood lingers.
  3. The bottlenecks are everywhere.
  4. Interdepartmental relationships are severed.
  5. Interdepartmental sabotage is rampant.
  6. Customer deadlines are ignored.
  7. The organization is completely constipated.

What’s a CEO to Do?

Take a close look at your “Lords of Lesser Corners” and explore this question deeply, “Why are you keeping them around?”

  1. Do they possess a talent so specialized that they are impossible to replace?
  2. Are you so understaffed that you are willing to retain employees that impede productivity?
  3. Are they a family member?
  4. Are they blackmailing you?
  5. Is it just too much troubles to make a change?

Strategy for Success

  1. Re-educate the Lord as to your expectations of how they operate in the organization. This is the best option. If you can help your Lords to better understand their place in the greater scheme of things, they might consider a behavior change. However, many times they do not.
  2. Re-organize your company’s silos and relocate the Lord in a section where they will do less damage. This is the easiest path but least effective. Your Lords will still spread their disarray.
  3. Realize you, the CEO, might be part of the problem for allowing the behavior to exist. Allowing negative behavior to continue is no different than rewarding negative behavior. Ultimately, whatever happens in your organization generally emanates from your management style and behavior.

Give ‘em the Tools & Motivation

Relationship management tools will be at the foundation for improvement in interdepartmental partnering. One effective tool is to associate salary, bonus, or incentive pay for leaders with interdepartmental relationship improvement. You can use a number of 360-style measuring instruments—an application you might already own—for measuring improvement. Connect pay to improvement and you’ll be pleased with the results.

An additional collaboration tool is to develop an executive-level “Office of Interdepartmental Collaboration.” I use the term collaboration as it conjures a different vision in the minds of most from cooperation. Cooperation equates to toleration while collaboration equates to willing participation—willing participation will always trump toleration.  This directorate level officer will be charged with, and compensated for, the quality of interdepartmental collaboration.

While you can apply a number of band-aid style patches (feel good programs) on uncooperative Lords of Lesser Corners, and their departments, they are nonetheless just a patch. Your patches will only mask the symptom but never address the core causes of uncooperative Lords. Affect their pocketbook, and you’ll affect their behavior.

Valued Customer or Just a Piggy Bank? (619 words)

Successful interdepartmental partnering will keep your customers coming back.  However, lousy interdepartmental partnering will send them running. In order to transcend beyond just customer service to develop truly satisfied and loyal customers, everyone must work together. In your organization, a particular department or a single person in a department can devastate your hard earned customer loyalty efforts.

On a recent Saturday morning, I took my Chrysler to the local dealer for an oil change and tire rotation. While sitting in the waiting room with a good book, the service advisor came in and sat next to me—nice touch. He started his add-on sales presentation talking to me about a particular factory installed tire that might have problems. I mentioned that that was the kind of tires on my car. He moved into explaining to my why I should pay an extra $150 to have my tires re-balanced and an alignment. “The car only has 16,000 miles—I don’t think so,” I stated. He wasn’t happy. Then he moved off that to a new air filter for $30. I told him to go ahead with the air filter as we had the bad fires in Malibu , CA six months back.

A Four Dollar Bolt?

When I went to the cashier to pay my bill it was about 40% higher than I expected. So I inquired. She wasn’t sure but mentioned an oil pan bolt for four bucks and change. “What,” I said, “the car only has 16,000 miles on it. Why would I need a new bolt?” Then she also noticed that the coupon (that the dealership sent me) had not been applied to my bill. She deducted the coupon amount but had to call the service advisor about the four buck bolt.

The service advisor arrived and stated that the bolt must have been stripped. I replied with, “The car only has 16,000 miles and this dealership is the only one that has touched the car. Why in the world would the bolt be stripped?” He angrily stated that he wasn’t going to argue about a four dollar bolt and told the cashier to take it off my bill.

Let’s Scrutinize the Situation

Who likes to feel that someone has taken advantage of them? Nobody! I had told the service advisor when I brought the car in that I didn’t want to be charged again for two cans of brake dust remover at twelve bucks plus change. He agreed that it was an inappropriate charge, but here we are again with another ridiculous charge ($4 bolt) added to my bill putting but both the service advisor, and myself in an uncomfortable situation. Who caused it? Perhaps the mechanic either damaged the bolt or just needed to add on a couple buck to my bill. Perhaps the service advisor did not take heed to my request not to add “extra” charges to my bill? Either way, I left the dealership feeling uncomfortable having to be a “whiner” in demanding that they not treat me so poorly. That interaction has damaged my relationship with the dealership—all for a $4 bolt—not the money but the principal of the situation.

What About You?

Are your departments working together to keep this type of situation from damaging customer loyalty relationships that you’ve worked so hard to develop? The above situation is quite common at today’s automotive dealerships, the little add-ons that they hope customers will ignore. But what about in your organization, are various departments either protecting themselves or trying to boost their ledger at the needless expense of customers? These little things are the kinds of activities that send your customers to the competition—and you’ll rarely ever know why.