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A client CEO was struggling to get firm commitments from his team to get tasks done on time. Here were my 2 recommendations.
Know Thy Time
How my client managers learn to spend a greater percentage of their time performing high-leverage, high-value tasks.
Cut yourself some slack!
Build in 10% of your time each week as slack/buffer time or you run the risk of being “short-term efficient, long-term ineffective”
Walking 1 on 1 Meetings
When I managed a consulting team in the USA, I would periodically conduct walking 1 on 1 meetings with my staff. I found this format particularly helpful when coaching poor performance.
What is your Leadership Hurdle Rate?
Just as my goal as a consultant is to maximize the value of each available consulting hour, your goal as a leader is to maximize the value of each available leadership hour. What is your “Leadership Hurdle Rate”?
The Forgetting Curve
The Forgetting Curve (also known as the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve) represents the decline in memory retention we experience over time if no attempt is made to retain the information. Here’s how to beat it.
The 3-Week Surge
A one-time “clearing conversation” with an employee often creates a temporary spike in performance, the so-called “3-week surge”. But invariably, without further coaching, the person reverts back to their default mode of operating.
Deal With The Monkey First
Identify the monkey (the hard problem) when scoping a project and solve that problem first. Don’t spin your wheels on the easy stuff. Deal with the monkey first.
The 2 Leadership Gears
“Hierarchy mode” (the leader calls the shots) or “Flat mode” (the leader shares power)? Effective leaders know when to toggle between these 2 leadership gears.
Don’t Hog the Mic
The process I use when facilitating strategic planning sessions to encourage all team members to speak, without letting anyone “hog the mic”
Turn The Ship Around
The book “Turn the ship around” by David Marquet has much to recommend about it. However, I have some caveats when applying this military solution directly into a business environment
Personal Annual Review
As we move into a new year, I find it useful to conduct a personal annual review exercise with my executive coaching clients. I have seen it be a life-changing exercise on more than one occasion, with people making bold decisions that took them in new directions.
Business Lessons from Rock Lobsters
I use the lobster analogy when I think of personal growth and organizational growth. Eventually, we bump into the limits of our current shells If we want to progress to the next level, we must break free from the old shell that binds us, and grow into a new, bigger shell.
MBA Guest Lecture on Strategy Execution
Overview of the Strategy Execution content I delivered in my lecture for University of Canterbury MBA program
Workshop Presentation Lessons
I presented 3 workshops for an inspiring group of New Zealand business founders. Here is my “After Action Review” of my workshop presentation lessons
People Need 3 Things From Their Leaders
Allan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford said people need 3 things from their Leaders: 1. Who are you? 2. Where are we going? 3. Do you see me?
Inconvenient Truths About Teams
Good teams take time, 6 to 8 people is optimal, they need to work closely together, and the leader needs to be focused
Playbook to Survive a Downturn
Playbook for how to Survive a Downturn – excerpts from an article by Pete Flint
KPI Best Practices from Amazon
Summary of a chapter from the book “Working Backwards”, about how Amazon uses metrics – key performance indicators (KPIs)
The Triple Peak Workday
A Microsoft study shows the average workday has expanded by 1 hour, and 30% of people resume work after dinner
Asynchronous Daily Huddles
How to run an asynchronous daily huddle with geographically dispersed teams to coordinate work and coach people more effectively
Do I Need to Attend That Meeting?
Managers get invited to a lot of meetings, but not every meeting is important. Use these rules to figure out which meetings to attend
Why Do Strategy Anyway?
Why do strategy anyway? The case for and against strategic planning.
Leadership Productivity – The Magic 2 Hours
My number 1 leadership productivity lesson: Carve out and fiercely protect 2 hours of uninterrupted time every day to do “The One Thing”
The MAYA Formula
MAYA is an acronym for “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. To sell something familiar, make it surprising.
The Trust Equation
Use the “Trust Equation” to determine, diagnose, and repair trust in your organization
American “Hustle Culture”
American “Hustle Culture” and its impact on work hours
Military Strategy vs Business Strategy
How applicable is Military Strategy to Business Strategy?
How to Write Better Emails
Communicate clearly, avoid misunderstandings, and save time. Making time to craft a better email saves time (for everyone) over the long run.
6 Psychologically Damaging Things to Say
6 Psychologically damaging things parents (and managers) say, and what to say instead
Insights from Alchemy
Insights from the book Alchemy by Rory Sutherland. Hat tips to big thinkers Tom Morgan and Jim OShaughnessy.
Who is Believable?
Cedric Chin and Ray Dalio on believability. Why many business books and Ted Talks are full of B.S.
Business Lessons from a Champion Bodybuilder
Business lessons from competitive bodybuilding: Setting a BHAG, Core vs Non-Core Activities, Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Annual Strategic Review
A proven process to run your annual strategic planning meeting and create a winning strategy that will set you up for future success in your industry
How to be Great At Work
Adopt these 7 “work smart” practices which have been shown in the research to be the key drivers of performance
Business Lessons from Team of Teams
McChrystal is a controversial character, but there were great takeaways in this book. Here is my summary of the key business lessons from Team of Teams
Overcoming Cognitive Bias
In this article, I focus on a selection of cognitive biases and provide suggestions for how to inoculate ourselves from them
The Meeting Facilitator’s Role
The meeting facilitator’s role is to optimize meeting productivity and support the decision-making process
Survivorship Bias – Don’t Believe the Hype
Survivorship bias is our tendency to study the people or companies who “survived” or were victorious while ignoring those that failed. Learn why this is a mistake.
Business Nantucket Sleighride
Beware of chasing large enterprise “whale” customers lest they drag you on a business Nantucket Sleighride
Business Lessons from Navy SEALs
My summary of the book Extreme Ownership and the key business lessons from Navy SEALs
Face to Face Tandem Interview
The Face to Face Tandem Interview is a 3 hour interview. 1 person asks the questions and 1 person observes the candidate’s body language and takes notes
Reference Check Interview
Reference check interviews must be conducted before any hiring decisions are made. Implement a hiring policy: “No reference checks = No job offer.”
How to Hire A-Players
My summarized version of the Topgrading methodology that will significantly increase your chances of hiring A-Players for every role
Measure Results, Not Hours.
Measure results, not hours. It’s not about face-time at the office (or virtual equivalent), it’s about delivering visible results.
No excuses culture
To create a high-performance, no excuses culture, start by implementing these management best practices.
Does writing down goals really work?
The 1953 Yale goal setting study is a myth. Does writing down goals actually work? Yes, but with provisos.
Open vs Closed Door Management
Carve out 2 hours of uninterrupted time to get “The One Thing” done every day. Then set aside “open door” times for team members to speak with you.
The 70-20-10 Ratio
The 70-20-10 ratio has several applications: Time allocation in meetings; Resource allocation for driving innovation, Job training
The Tyranny of Metrics (Book Review)
The side-effects of poor metric choices. Beware of letting measures replace your good judgment of “What is the right thing to do here?”
What is a Strategic Project?
A client asked, “What is the difference between a Strategic Project and a regular Project?” Here are my definitions:
Lessons In Culture From The All Blacks
Core Values. The All Blacks call this “Inventing your own language”. You create a vocabulary that binds your culture together.
Closing The Strategy Execution Gap
I have a saying, “Successful Business Execution is 20% getting clear about what needs to be done, and 80% following up to make sure it actually gets done”
How to Grade and Coach Your Team
A process for grading the performance of your team members to create a coaching plan for each person.
Create Your Own User Manual
How to create a “manager user manual” to clarify and communicate your personal expectations and preferred working environment with team members
Career History Form
Rather than look at resumes, send a survey called a “Career History Form” that asks the job applicant to tell you exactly what you want to know.
Less is More
Less is more. It is better to do less and do it well than to take on too many things and spread yourself too thin. Focus on less to achieve more
How to Create Role Scorecards
The Role Scorecard is more than a job description. It is the checklist against which everything must be ticked before making a hiring decision
How to Set SMART Goals (The Right Way)
How to set SMART Goals that everyone clearly understands, is happy with, and fully committed to achieving.
The Dark Side of Transparency
McKinsey article, The Dark Side of Transparency describes extreme edge cases and does not negate the benefits of running a transparent organization
One Page Strategic Plan Benefits
My top 3 one page strategic plan benefits: Get everyone on the same page. Focus on what is truly strategic. Teach strategy to your staff.
The Cadence of Strategy Execution
The Quarterly Strategic Review and the Annual High-Level Strategic Review form the core of the cadence that drives strategy execution
The Real Difference Between Leadership and Management
Leadership and management are functional roles to be performed, not a statement about what sort of person you are. Both functions are vital to business success.
One Page Strategic Plan Overview
An overview of the strategic decisions and content you need to capture on a one-page strategic plan for your business
Managing Up – How To Manage Your Boss
Managing up involves clarifying expectations and making sure your performance is aligned to the goals and wishes of your boss
How to Give Feedback to Top Performers
It’s counter-intuitive, but you gain more management leverage and better long-term results by spending most of your time coaching your A-Players.
Giving Feedback To Top Performers
The higher the performer, the more frequently you should be giving feedback. You gain more management leverage coaching your A-Players
Don’t Be Agile, Be Smart Agile
A winning strategy is not about being agile, it’s about being “smart agile”. It’s about making wise strategic choices, not changing fast.
Implementing Projects and Tasks
A Task is a single unit of work that needs to be accomplished within a Project. Here are best practices for driving project implementation.
How To Delegate
A proven 7 step delegation checklist that many managers find useful when learning how to delegate.
When To Delegate
If you do not delegate effectively as a manager you become a bottleneck to company growth. You must learn how to get things done through others
Radical Transparency Drives Business Execution
With radical transparency, everyone can see how the team is performing, and everyone gets treated fairly according to their performance
Traffic lights and Performance Thresholds
How to use the red, yellow, green traffic light concept to color-code the performance of your Metrics KPI scores
Numerical Targets / Strategic Milestones
Numerical Targets – the numbers that measure progress toward your BHAG and long-term 3 to 5 year strategic moves
How to Create your Brand Promise
Your Brand Promise is supported by your 3 key benefits and tells your target market customer what they can expect to receive from your brand
How to Strategically Position Your Brand
Your Strategic Position (brand position) is the concept you want your target market customers to think of when they hear your brand name
Core, Context, and Non-Core
How to choose which Products, Services, Activities are Core and which are Non-Core when it comes to implementing business strategy
Identify the Key Benefits of Your Brand
How to identify and communicate the three key benefits of your brand – functional benefits, economic benefits, emotional benefits
Growth Stall Points
Most company growth stall points are preventable and are related to the strategic decisions you made in the past.
The Manager’s Role
The Manager’s role: Increase the output of the team. Spend most of your time performing tasks that only someone in the manager’s role can do.
Metrics For Roles That Are Hard to Quantify
Every role should have a Metric? Easier said than done. Here’s my recommendations for metrics for roles that are hard to quantify
Are You Playing To Win?
My personal take on the “Strategy Traps to Avoid” lessons contained in the book “Playing to Win” by Roger Martin
Burn The Boats to Implement Change
Burn the boats means people must understand that change is going to happen, and more importantly, there is “no going back” to the old way
How To Make Good Decisions
To give people full autonomy to make and implement decisions, I recommend the decision making approach recommended by Peter Drucker
The One Thing
Focus on less to achieve more. What is “the one thing”, the most important task that can be completed this week to achieve the goal?
Strategic Projects | How to Choose Your Big Rocks
Strategic Projects – how to choose the big rocks aligned to your 3 to 5 Year Strategic Moves and address the issues contained in your SWOT analysis.
The Right Way to Create a SWOT Analysis
SWOT Analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. SWOT is an assessment of your current reality
The Strategy Sniff Test
Could doing the opposite also be a valid strategy? The strategy sniff test is a useful tool to determine whether or not you have made real strategic choices.
What is the Difference Between KPIs and OKRs?
OKRs are not KPIs. OKRs are not strategy either. OKRs are goals (objectives) with measurable outcomes (results). Learn the difference between KPI and OKR here
Business Leadership Is Not A Democracy
Business leadership is not a democracy and decision making by committee is a recipe for mediocrity
Do You Have A Real Strategy?
Creating a real strategy is just the beginning. The true leadership challenge is the successful execution of your strategy.
Top 5 Finance KPIs (Metrics)
I was asked to write articles on my top 5 Metric/KPI recommendations for various business functions. Here are my Top 5 Finance KPIs.
Top 5 Operations KPIs (Metrics)
I was asked to write articles on my top 5 Metric/KPI recommendations for various business functions. Here are my Top 5 Operations KPIs.
Critical Success Factors (Tropical Island Metrics)
Here are my Top 5 Company Metrics (KPIs) – the Critical Success Factors for the overall organization. I call them “tropical island metrics”
Top 5 Sales Team KPIs (Metrics)
I was asked to write articles on my top 5 Metric/KPI recommendations for various business functions. Here are my Top 5 Sales Team KPIs.
BHAG Best Practices
A BHAG is a goal, so it must include an easy to understand measure. Every quarter ask yourself, “What progress have we made toward our BHAG?”
Top 5 Customer Service KPIs (Metrics)
I was asked to write articles on my top 5 Metric/KPI recommendations for various business functions. Here are my Top 5 Customer Service KPIs.