3/30/2012 10:14 AM
Since 2005, the Six Disciplines blog offers posts about performance excellence, strategy execution, business coaching, leadership development, innovation, and business process improvement. With more than 18,000 visitors monthly, this blog has received prestigious awards for leadership and management, and has been syndicated by several major media sources.
By Nate on
3/7/2014 8:30 AM
The Six Disciplines strategy execution program integrates the business-building elements of strategy, planning, organizing, executing, innovating and learning, and offers a systematic way for organizations to continually improve and achieve lasting business excellence.
You can think of the Six Disciplines Methodology as a series of annual, quarterly, weekly and daily repeatable cycles which, with each successive pass, helps individuals to be accountable, align their activities with organizational goals, and consistently execute on strategy.
So, what are the Six Disciplines?
Discipline I. Decide What’s Important. The foundation of all strategy formulation is deciding what is most important to your organization (and by implication what’s not important) so the allocation of resources—time, money and creativity—can all be aimed toward this end. In this discipline, organizations regularly review and renew their mission, values, strategic position, vision, their most vital few objectives, as well as agreeing what to stop doing.
Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead. Well-defined goals are among the most effective communications tools available to any leader—yet most leaders don’t know how to set goals that lead their people in the right direction. The purpose of this discipline is to produce annual goals that are clear and measurable. Pursuing these goals will lead the people in the organization to align their activities with the vital few objectives set in Discipline I. The result is a brief company goals statement that every team member can understand.
Discipline III. Align Systems. One of the greatest barriers an organization faces in pursuing its goals is itself. For many businesses, the systems that make up the business are often at cross purposes with the priorities of the company. Why? Because most organizations do not have an organized approach to keep their systems aligned with their strategy. Discipline III, taps the knowledge of the whole workforce to identify the areas where the company will get the greatest return on its investment in policies, processes, measures, technologies and people.
Discipline IV. Work the Plan. One of the greatest organizational learning tools ever invented is the quarterly Individual Plan. In this discipline, every person in the company works with his/her team leader to develop Individual Plans for the upcoming quarter. These goals are reviewed and checked for alignment with company goals. This quarterly plan serves as a timesaving template for a Weekly Status report. The result is that every individual in the company learns how to set goals, understand company priorities, takes responsibility for their own activities, and reports progress regularly.
Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully. Innovation is just another name for problem-solving, and everyone in the company has the ability to solve problems. This discipline is unlike the rest in that it provides tools and principles that are used throughout the other disciplines to help people set clear goals and eliminate barriers to progress.. These goals will align with company priorities, and then employees use their innate creativity to meet or beat those goals. Empowering principles, such as Embracing Constraints and Taking Informed Risks, plus tools like the 100-Point Exercise and 5-Step Problem Solving, are but a few examples of what’s included in Discipline V.
Discipline VI. Step Back. This annual discipline helps the whole organization to step back from the pressure of everyday business and gain perspective on the factors that affect business performance. This is achieved through a series of “discovery exercises,” exploring externals (competitors, industry, economic) and internals (goal performance, stakeholder feedback, measures, etc.). In addition to the organization as a whole stepping back, all individual team members are encouraged to do the same by providing input on each other’s performances. This is achieved by completing a 360° and an annual performance appraisal for each team member.
BOTTOMLINE: The Six Disciplines are described in detail in the award-winning book, Six Disciplines for Excellence, available here from Amazon.
By Nate on
3/5/2014 8:08 AM
Most organizations suffer a major disconnect between strategy formulation and its execution.
And while it's more pronounced in larger enterprises because of complexity, smaller organizations need to make sure they do something (anything!) to remove the barriers to execution.
Unfortunately, the research doesn't bode well for most of us. Consider the following:
- 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.
- 60% of typical organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget.
- Two-thirds of HR and IT organizations develop strategic plans that are not linked to the organization's strategy.
- 85% of leadership teams spend less than 1 hour per month discussing strategy.
- Only 27% of a typical company’s employees have access to its strategic plan.
- 70% of middle managers and more than 90% of front-line employees have compensation that is not linked to the strategy.
- Most devastating, 95% of employees do not understand their organization's strategy.
Strategy must be managed explicitly, like any other major process in an organization. In most organizations, this process either does not exist or is incomplete. However, 70% of organizations that used a formal process to manage strategy out-performed their peers. What formal process are YOU using?
By Nate on
2/28/2014 8:10 AM
Here's a profound observation from management guru, Gary Hamel:
"If you want to understand the real strategy, look at what people are doing!”
Indeed, more often than not, there are disconnects or gaps between the strategy that is formulated by the senior leadership team, and how the strategy is executed by the rest of the workforce.
Why the gaps?
Could be for a number of reasons:
Most likely, the recognition and reward system that drives the daily activities and behaviors of each person in the workforce is not aligned with the strategy of the organization. How to combat this situation?
- The strategy is not accessible/available to the workforce
- The strategy is not sound
- The strategy is not well understood
BOTTOMLINE: What people spend time on should be based on how well your strategy, goals and initiatives are articulated. Reward and recognize workers based on how well goals were achieved (results), not on how much activity took place.
- Make the strategy as transparent as possible. The mission, vision, values and strategic position of the organiztion MUST be transparent and available to everyone within the organization.
- Establish Vital Few Objectives (VFOs). Most organizations have 2 to 5 times as many projects and initiatives going on than they can possibly address. Reduce the number of key objectives. Keep the VFOs simple - financial, customer, production, people - and let everything else go. Be very focused on a few things, and do them well.
- Make the VFOs measurable. Define measures, targets, and create a small number of initiatives that support the VFOs. Assign responsibility and accountability to someone for each VFO.
- Define an Individual Plan for each person. On a quarterly basis, develop a plan for every individual, assigning activities from each initiative. Have each person track time and progress toward achieving the stated outcomes. Measure progress and update status weekly.
- Align recognition and rewards based on the achievement of outcomes. Recognition and rewards systems are not to be based on activities, but results.
By Nate on
2/21/2014 8:46 AM
Here's a real shocker:
In a survey of 3,300 senior managers and human resource professionals reported by Rob Lebow in his Washington CEO magazine
- 75% of all organizational change programs fail
Why is change so hard
Most organizations say their most important assets are their people, but few behave as if this were true. Change initiatives typically devote most budgets to structural issues such as technology and processes, not staff issues. There is still a whole notion of focusing on tangible assets and their impact on the bottom line, rather than the intangible assets, which are people
.Organizations don't adapt to change; their people do
Constant change in the organizational environment mean that leaders must not only learn about change and its impact on people and systems, leaders must be able to master the process of implementing change
, just as their employees must learn to accommodate change.
Why do most change efforts fail? Here's an analogy: As with a transplanted flower, it initially wilts after the transfer. However, in time with proper care, it stands upright again. With continued good care, it blossoms. The same holds true with the introduction (transplant or transfer) of a new system (a new idea, business-building method, best-practices, business improvement processes), the productivity curve drops (wilts) - but given proper support and care, the productivity curve loops upward on a continuous positive trend.
is little understood by business leaders, but it is a fact of organizational change.
Some misread the downward curve (wilt) as failure, often triggering inappropriate actions; rather then understanding it as transition trauma that is a normal readjustment, realignment and adaptive phase of change
that requires trust, patience and on-going support.
By Nate on
2/14/2014 8:34 AM
What is the difference between a business coach and a consultant?
A consultant completes projects for you based on their own technical expertise. Often, a consultant will provide suggestions and direction for what needs to be fixed, however, rarely will they help the business leader actually implement the fix.
A business coach guides you in growing your business:
BOTTOMLINE: Not every business needs a consultant, but EVERY business needs a business coach.
- Business coaches provide business leaders with awareness, education, and accountability through regularly scheduled coaching sessions and other proven, best-practices business performance tools.
- Instead of getting paid for billable hours or project work like consultants, business coaches get paid for the value they deliver to clients.
- Business coaches help business owners become aware of their blind spots, and leads them to discover the possibilities in their business.
- Business coaches provide information to help build business best practices and close the gaps and accountability to meet performance objectives.
By Nate on
2/7/2014 8:12 AM
Many of the top-performing organizations we work with every day - have expressed a real need to build accountability into their organization.
Take a quick minute – and consider the following key questions:
- Does each of your team members understand exactly what they are responsible for?
- Does your leadership team set consistent expectations for accountability?
- Do your new team members know exactly what’s expected of them – Day 1?
- Are all of your team members self-managing?
- Do you have a standardized way of monitoring progress? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly
- Does your hiring process focus on attracting individuals who can be self-managing?
Here are some steps to consider when considering organization-wide accountability:
- Understand your company's core competencies
- Validate your team members
- Create a culture that grows and develops its people
- Identify the systems and processes that are now in place throughout your company and rely on your team members to make the systems and processes more efficient and more effective
- Get the right people in the right place
- Get all team members to understand that what they do affects everyone else in the company
- Build a strong second-tier management team that can take the company to the next level
- Hold everyone, including yourself, accountable
- Raise the bar by bringing in top talent
By Nate on
1/31/2014 8:24 AM
Scott Cleveland reports that a managing director of the Palladium Group (think: balanced scorecard) conducted a survey that compared two groups, one with and one without a formal strategy execution process in place.
A formal process in their terminology means "strategy maps, derived projects and process improvements from it, and associated key performance indicators (KPIs) with targets reported in scorecard dashboards and cascaded down into the organization."
- 70% of organizations WITH a formal process were exceeding the performance of their peers in their industry, while in contrast only 27% of those without a formal process were.
: The overwhelming majority of businesses (and particularly, small and midsized organizations) do not have a formal process for strategy execution. They do not have strategy maps, derived projects, process improvements and associated key performance indicators (KPIs) with targets reported in scorecard dashboards and cascaded down into the organization.
What kind of strategy execution process is your
By Nate on
1/24/2014 8:49 AM
Is your organization "drowning" in too many strategic initiatives?
If you're evaluating far more opportunities than your team can realistically handle, it's time to do a serious screening of those initiatives.
According to Robert W. Bradford, President/CEO of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, your organization should only take on between 3 - 10 strategic opportunities, depending on the size, breadth of your team and its resources. (We've found the fewer, the better.)
Bradford recommends a senior team exercise in which you simply ask the team to rate each opportunity on two dimensions – resource requirements and strategic impact on the organization.
- For resource requirements, you may want to anchor the rating on a one to five scale. In a medium sized company, a one might indicate resources commensurate with an individual employee’s initiative – requiring little management of either manpower or money. A two could correspond with departmental level resources, a three with two or more departments, and a five would indicate a need for co-ordination of resources across the entire company.
- For strategic impact, we used one for “nice to do”, three for “important” and five for “critical to our future”. Note that we do NOT rate on a purely financial basis, and in practice, opportunities with a strictly financial payoff were generally given a three impact rating – that is, a simple boost to profit is not enough to earn an opportunity high marks on strategic impact.
BOTTOM LINE: "If your organization is plagued by a surplus of incremental projects or “just do it” items that are overwhelming mid-level management, this approach to opportunity screening may give you one more way to rationally say “no” to things that will impede your strategic progress."
By Nate on
1/17/2014 8:24 AM
Are strategic thinking and strategic planning - the same thing?
While they certainly related and complementary, thinking strategically and planning strategically are two different concepts.
Let's first consider strategic thinking
, which involves viewing your organization from a holistic perspective.
Research has determined that strategic thinking can be explained through seven dimensions:
- A vision of the future
- Strategic formulation and implementation
- Managerial role in making strategies
- Managerial role in implementation
- Strategy making
- Process and outcome
Strategic thinking is extremely effective and a valuable tool, and requires developing skills in creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking. The good news? It's a skill that can be learned.
Steps in building strategic thinking skills:
- Critically examine and evaluate the existing situation. Understand what is being done, if it needs to be done that way, and fight hard against the "we've always done it that way" mentality.
- Look at your business as a holistic system. Strategic thinkers view their businesses as a whole: its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Focus on the future. Strategic thinking is future-oriented. Before considering the viability of ideas, consider their potential contribution to the future of your organization.
- Continuously ask for feedback from your customers. Strategic thinking cannot be effective if done in a vacuum.
- Get realistic data for confirmation. Strategic thinking requires making predictions about the future and forecasts must be realistic. Gather reliable data to justify and confirm your predictions.
- Align your thoughts to your organization. Review your organizational structure to determine if the organization and key leaders are in place to fulfill your vision, otherwise it's a pipe dream.
- Be ready to consider change and unexpected challenges. Flexibility is a critical element of strategic thinking.
Strategic planning, on the other hand, is a continual planning process that relies on strong strategic thinking. When done correctly, strategic planning is not a one-time or annual event. It's an on-going process, reviewed quarterly, that affects the organization's initiatives, plans, and activities.
: Both strategic thinking and strategic planning are important - even vital to your organization - and neither can be ignored.
By Nate on
1/10/2014 8:17 AM
“Why is strategy execution so difficult? …Let’s look at managing change. It should be hard: success means growth, growth means change, and change means uncharted territory. If these more obvious changes aren’t enough, every individual in your organization is growing and changing, too. Also the industry and your competitors are growing and changing—and you can’t afford to be left behind. “Without change,” warns C. William Pollard, Chairman of The ServiceMaster Company, “there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
But, in the midst of all this change, how do you keep everyone on the same page? (My family of five can’t even agree where to go for dinner!) When we consider each business individually, we might conclude that the obstacles to executing strategy aren’t just complex, they are downright daunting.”
- Six Disciplines Execution Revolution by Gary Harpst.
Management leadership is one of five levels of leadership that Six Disciplines helps organizations develop. To learn more about the impact that Six Disciplines has on the five levels of leadership, Click Here
By Nate on
1/3/2014 8:30 AM
While the Baldrige framework offers proven characteristics of world-class organizations, it doesn't provide you with an implementation model that shows you how to develop and maintain these characteristics, behaviors, and processes.
To achieve the benefits of Baldrige faster, Six Disciplines provides the perfect complement to the Baldrige framework, by showing you exactly how to implement a performance excellence program.
By using Six Disciplines, you get the benefits and the value of Baldrige in one unified program: leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement, analysis, and knowledge management, workforce focus, operations focus, and results.
EXCLUSIVE: Watch an extended interview with the CEO of a Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence award-winning organization, as he describes the journey and how Six Disciplines helped along the way.
By Nate on
12/20/2013 8:48 AM
Six Disciplines® is a total performance excellence program. By integrating a proven best-practices methodology and innovative Outlook software, we help you to build an effective culture of continuous improvement, enabling you to achieve predictable and measurable growth.
The desired end result is different for each of our clients, but it's usually centered around growth, higher productivity, improved profitability and greater overall goal accomplishment.
We're often asked by prospective clients about the ROI of the Six Disciplines program. The best answer is to look at our clients. Their results speak for themselves.
In a recent interview with Eric Kurjan, President of Six Disciplines NWO, he shared just a few of his clients' improvements that can be directly attributed to using Six Disciplines during 2011. (the names have been changed to protect the successful...)
- Company A (Mfg)- 110% achievement of Revenue and Profit, 79% achievement of all 2011 Goals
- Company B (Mfg) - 110%+ achievement of Revenue and Profit
- Company C (NFP) - 87 % achievement of all 2011 Goals
- Company D (Service) -100 % achievement of all 2011 Goals
- Company E Mfg) - from 2007 to 2011 - increased Revenue for $35M to $56.5M and Profit from 4.5 % to 8.8%
- Company F (Mfg) - from 2007 to 2011 - increased Return on Assets of 5.6% to 15.4% and Profits from 4.8% to 11.4%
- If these results from Six Disciplines clients don't tell a compelling enough story, try this one.
According to a study conducted by Quality Progress Magazine, the results reveal that those organizations that followed a defined process, (in this case TQM) Total Quality Management made a marked improvement in their quality but also their financial performance. The article makes a direct correlation between a solid process implementation and their significant success in numerous areas - Operating Income, Sales, Total Assets, Return on Sales, Return on Assets. These improvements are a result of following a systematic performance excellence approach.
The study points out that this systematic approach (a method) to planning and execution (a holistic, total approach to performance excellence ) works. In the study, they examined over 600 company's results over 10 years.
What the results showed was that it doesn't depend as much on what system they have, but that they HAVE a system.
- It doesn't depend on the industry. This study covered over forty 2-digit SIC codes.
- It doesn't depend on size, as both large and small companies were examined in the study.
- And it doesn't depend on capital intensive or non-capital intensive businesses.
Following a systematic approach to performance excellence results in huge differences in performance. Let's begin to have the conversation with your organization - today.
By Nate on
12/13/2013 8:14 AM
Those who have worked both in small and large organizations have a much better appreciation for how fundamentally different large companies are from small ones. Each has its strengths, and the savvy small business owner understands what those are and takes advantage of them aggressively. They include:
1. Connecting People to Purpose
People are creatures of emotion and reason. The best performers want to belong to an organization that’s on a mission, and they need to see how they’re contributing to that mission. Small businesses have an enormous advantage in their ability to help people connect to the purpose of the organization, AND enable them to see that what they’re doing is contributing to that purpose in a meaningful way.
This importance was hammered home to me in a lunch meeting with “Sandy,” who recently moved to a much larger organization. She commented, “It’s just not the same. I feel like a number. It seems like nothing I do will make a real difference in anything. And if it did, it probably wouldn't be noticed.”
Another businessman understood how to use this advantage. He set up a 50% profit-sharing program in which a portion of the profits was retained by the employees themselves and the remainder was given away by the employees to charitable causes. This small team was one of the most productive, spirited and lively groups I've ever known.
2. Effective Communication
Someone wise once said, “The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”3 The larger the organization is, the greater this illusion becomes. As organizations grow, communication challenges grow, as well; in fact, they grow dramatically faster (exponentially) than the organization headcount does. To illustrate this, the following table shows that when there are only three people in an organization, there are three possible communication combinations (persons A&B, A&C, or B&C). However, if you grow a 3- person organization to 25, there is an 8-fold increase in the number of people but a 100-fold increase in the communications combinations! A 100-person organization is 33 times the size of a 3-person organization but 1650 times more complex from a communications perspective.
Organizations respond to this increased complexity by creating business units, divisions, departments, groups, etc. In other words, more layers. When you add to this challenge the fact that experts believe that 55% of communication takes place through nonverbal body language, it becomes clear how great an advantage it is to be able to gather everyone together in one place quickly and easily.
3. Timely Decision-Making
Decision-making is also dramatically different in smaller organizations. As organizations increase in size, the leadership team moves from generalists to specialists who are responsible for a particular business area. Because top decision-makers in a larger organization are more insulated from the day-to-day activities of the company, they no longer have the first-hand knowledge to make decisions without the input of several other specialists. The result is slower and often lower-quality decisions.
In small businesses, however, there are fewer decision-makers, and they’re so close to customers, employees and daily operations that they can get a sense of whether a decision is right or wrong very quickly.
4. Customer Intimacy
In smaller organizations, a much greater percentage of employees work with customers directly. This includes the leaders in the organization, who frequently are still involved in closing sales or supporting clients. This kind of closeness to customers means the people in the company know customer issues and they can spot changing market needs earlier. And because their decision-making is more timely, they can act on those trends earlier.
5. Attracting Team Members
Small businesses don’t have to take a back seat to larger organizations when recruiting top people (and they shouldn't). The advantages already discussed—connection to purpose, effective communication, timely decision-making, and customer intimacy—when explained very carefully to all candidates, can provide a great draw to the most talented prospects. It’s important to recognize that many people who haven’t worked in large companies may not understand these advantages. Yet for people who are experienced in larger organizations, the advantages will be obvious and often quite welcome.
The point of all this isn't that small businesses are better than big businesses, but that they’re different than big businesses. And learning to leverage differences is what competitive advantage is all about. Yet many small businesses don’t consciously develop strategies that use their advantages. As you read on, you’ll begin to see how the Six Disciplines Methodology helps small businesses systematically take advantage of their strengths.
-From Gary Harpst's Six Disciplines for Exellence
By Nate on
12/6/2013 8:17 AM
Even though small businesses collectively generate $5 trillion in sales in the U.S., the biggest challenge of an individual small business is “survival.” 80% of all new business start-ups are out of business within five years. And if that doesn’t get your attention, 80% of the 20% that survive the first five years don’t survive the second five!2 That means, on the average, 960 out of 1,000 businesses that start this year will not be around in 10 years. This is proof that you’re in an elite group if you’ve just survived (let alone “thrived”)! What makes it so hard?
After working with thousands of small businesses for many years, we’ve learned that the top issues small businesses struggle with can be grouped into the following general categories:
- Financial Issues. Includes finding adequate funding, getting billings out on time, collections, and credit management. In a word, a top problem is CASH.
- Customer Issues. Includes understanding what the customer really wants, finding enough of the right kind of customers and keeping them happy, so they don’t turn to competitors.
- Production Issues. Varies by type of business. In general, businesses of all types struggle with being able to give customers what they want, when they want it, at the price they want it, and at the highest quality levels. Doing this predictably and repeatedly is a tremendous challenge.
- People Issues. Includes finding the right people, keeping them happy, compensating them, motivating them, training them, and getting them to deliver quality work.
- Limited Resources. Small businesses usually don’t have large cash reserves, dedicated research departments, fully-staffed IT functions, strategic planning functions, etc., to address challenges or opportunities.
- Growth. Growth brings the challenge of change. It’s one thing to get good at something when you can hone your skills through repetition; it’s a completely different challenge to get good and stay good when the rules of the game keep changing with regard to competition, customer expectations, globalization, people issues, finance, technology, etc.
At times, these challenges can be daunting, indeed overwhelming. It’s encouraging to know that the struggles we encounter every day are normal. All small businesses face them. And like other “heroes,” we continue the fight because the cause is worth it.
Check out the Six Disciplines Organizational Performance Assessment to benchmark your small business.
Get started now - satisfaction guaranteed!
By Nate on
11/15/2013 8:12 AM
On the National Baldrige Performance Excellence website, there's a great article entitled "Why Take The Baldrige Journey?"
Organizations everywhere are looking for ways to effectively and efficiently meet their missions and achieve their visions. Thousands of organizations use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to guide their enterprises, improve performance, and get sustainable results. This proven improvement and innovation framework offers your organization an integrated approach to key management areas:
- Strategic planning
- Customer focus
- Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
- Workforce focus
- Operations focus
Improve Your Performance
The Baldrige Criteria can be adapted to fit your unique challenges and culture and help you evaluate performance, assess where improvements or innovation are most needed, and get results. By taking the Baldrige journey, you become part of a national effort to improve America’s performance and its competitive standing in the world. You can be proud to know that your employees, customers, board members, and other stakeholders are all better off—and that America is better off.
Need help implementing Baldrige criteria in your organization? Six Disciplines helps organizations implement Baldrige - faster
. Watch this short video
and contact Six Disciplines today.
By Nate on
11/1/2013 7:18 AM
The Six Disciplines Solution
By implementing the Six Disciplines Total Performance Excellence program, Hollington says it allows CapitalWorks the ability to have a productive owner/manager relationship without micromanaging each acquisition.
Six Disciplines’ program combines continuous business improvement methodology based on proven best-practices, an innovative add-in for Microsoft Outlook, and coaching services to increase self-leadership effectiveness. One of the initial steps in the Six Disciplines process is analysis of the Business Performance Assessment (BPA) service. BPA is one of the most powerful methods available for determining an organization’s health and planning for improvement. It brings clarity about the performance of an organization; identifies strengths and “at risk” areas; and gives immediate focus and attention to a problem area that needs to be fixed and a way to correct the issue. CapitalWorks companies have seen a significant increase in each organization’s level of performance excellence.
Eric Kurjan, President of Six Disciplines, said BPA maps directly to the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award Performance Excellence criteria and is the quickest, most effective way for a leadership team to rate its organization’s performance on the dimensions of: leadership/culture; strategy; customer focus; measurement/results; people; process; and key metrics.
In all seven categories, Bluffton Motor Works has seen a marked improvement. One of the largest areas of growth is the key measurables category where Bluffton scored a 13 in 2010 and is now at 40 out of a possible 60 score. In the leadership area, Bluffton currently achieves a 23 out of a maximum 25 score. Prior to starting the program, Bluffton scored at 15.
Kurjan says the BPA allows for immediate outcomes by identifying strengths and weaknesses as the process identifies priority areas for improvement. After identifying the shortcomings, those areas are prioritized and solutions determined.
While Bluffton Motor Works has several years of data to analyze and measure results, the other CapitalWorks companies—KKSP, Gallo and Magna-Tech—are in the beginning stages of the process, but have already seen a steady climb in numbers.
For Hollington, the proof of the importance of Six Disciplines philosophy is easy to measure.
“The difference between Six Disciplines and other strategy consulting firms is their focus on execution and accountability. They achieve this through their software tool that creates a management tool to track progress and their ongoing coaching. This keeps the strategy from collecting dust on the shelf and teams execute their plans," Hollington said. “It is not an easy process to undertake and takes a significant commitment from the CEO and leadership team of the business. With that commitment, there are substantial results. I highly recommend their process for organizations aspiring to improve performance.”
By Nate on
10/24/2013 3:32 PM
Bluffton Motor Works in Bluffton, Indiana, is a global leader in custom-engineered fractional electric motors. The company serves a wide variety of OEM manufacturers and industrial production facilities.
KKSP Precision Machining in Glendale Heights, Illinois, is a manufacturer of high-volume, precision made-to-print automatic screw machine products for automotive, medical/veterinary, appliance, HVAC and aerospace markets.
Gallo in Cleveland, Ohio, is a marketing communications company providing design, engineering, production and service of three-dimensional exhibit and digital displays for museum, tradeshow and traveling exhibits.
Magna-Tech in Muncie, Indiana, is a premier provider of vacuum impregnation of castings for automotive, marine and electronics markets.
Bluffton Motor Works has been involved with the Six Disciplines program for the longest period of time, implementing its program in the beginning of 2010.
In the first stage of ownership by CapitalWorks, performance strategies were developed internally, but never really put into practice. Then, the Six Disciplines program was initiated and continuous improvement of the manufacturing operations, the commercial sales strategies and the development of the sales force have taken place.
“It is very hard for CEOs to stay focused on these kinds of things because there is so much that demands their attention,” Hollington said. “Management teams need to continue to stay focused on a plan. It’s one of the things Six Disciplines does best, monitoring progress and results to make sure the path is clear, well defined and within reach.”
David Nussear, President and CEO of Bluffton Motor Works, agreed.
“Several other companies provide strategic planning services. Most of those help you develop the plan and leave it with you,” Nussear said. “With Six Disciplines, it’s a process. They not only help you develop the plan, but they stay with you during execution of the plan. It’s easy to have a plan, but not always easy to put it into practice. The coaches are great as they help you crystalize a plan and execute it.”
With 300 employees, Bluffton Motor Works relies on strategic planning daily.
“The Six Disciplines plan creates alignment throughout the entire organization. It creates a unified vision and goal,” Nussear said. “We are all busy and this ensures we are all working on the same goals. We have a 10-15-year vision that is broken down into segments. We have an annual strategic review, monthly reviews and weekly goals that all go back to the master 10- to 15-year plan.”
By Nate on
10/18/2013 6:58 AM
CapitalWorks, a private equity firm located in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, has found its niche in the Midwest market. Primarily focusing on acquiring manufacturing and distribution companies in the lower end of the middle market, CapitalWorks learned it needed to offer a management program to help these acquired companies achieve growth and success. They have found measurable success with Six Disciplines’ Total Performance Excellence program.
Dick Hollington, CapitalWorks President, is the first to admit it is sometimes difficult for the management teams of the acquired companies to develop and successfully execute strategic plans for growth.
“Our belief is that many of the businesses we work with are under-managed,” said Hollington. “A lot of what we can bring to the table is management discipline. We want them to develop a clear strategy and hold them accountable to that strategy. Six Disciplines provides one of the best coaching programs out there.The program allows for development of a strategy and mentors the tools on how to execute and monitor the results. “
Currently, four CapitalWorks portfolio companies have implemented strategies by Six Disciplines with impressive results. All portfolio companies are presented the option of working with Six Disciplines, but it is up to each individual company’s management team to make the commitment to the process and program.
Learn more about how Six Disciplines is easily implemented Here
By Nate on
10/11/2013 7:04 AM
Excellent small businesses should have three primary attributes. First, they should be learning organizations. Individuals in the organization should be like members of an Olympic team, where the best keep learning how to get better.
Second, excellent organizations should have clearly defined areas in which they have chosen to be leaders, and they should be relentless in their pursuit of those areas.
Third, the ultimate mark of business excellence is the ability to sustain success—to handle the difficult times well and to continue to grow stronger and better. As you read on, you’ll learn a step-by-step approach that helps your organization learn, lead and last.
Over the next three weeks, I will be going more in-depth with these three attributes.
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By Nate on
10/4/2013 8:25 AM
Excellence, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Different people have different standards of excellence. If you’re serious about pursuing excellence, you must decide what excellence means for your organization. You also need to be prepared to have your definition change, because as you learn and grow, your expectations will change as well. For businesses, it’s useful to think of excellence in terms of two broad categories. The first is customer excellence and the second is business excellence.
Customer excellence has to do with those attributes that are of direct interest to customers, such as quality, price, reliability, taste, speed, etc. This is the type of excellence that wins product reviews and is featured in advertisements and promotional material. One of the primary functions of business strategy is choosing the dimensions of excellence in which the company will pursue leadership. For example, some businesses may focus their efforts on price leadership, some on full service, or some on convenience.
In contrast to customer excellence, business excellence is more transcendent and includes characteristics which are valued and highly desirable, regardless of business type: growth, profitability, predictability, longevity, etc. Business excellence and customer excellence are mutually dependent, because neither can be sustained without the other. In other words, satisfied customers drive business success and business success enables investment to satisfy customers.
We can learn much about achieving excellence—not only for our customers, but for ourselves—by taking a lesson from franchises. The franchising concept has been wildly successful over the past 40 years. The appeal of a franchise is rooted in two promises. First, there’s a very clear promise to the customer that’s reflected in the brand. What comes to mind when you think of Starbucks?
Second, there’s a promise to the business owner (franchisee) of a well-considered and proven business model that delivers on the customer promise. The result is two-fold. It delievers something of excellence to the customer—a steaming hot, fresh-brewed cup of coffee. It also delivers something of excellence to the business owner—a predictable return on investment, established business procedures, employee training, staffing plans, marketing strategies and interested customers.
The point isn’t that all businesses should be franchised; the point is that all businesses would benefit from taking the same holistic approach to excellence that franchises take. Franchised businesses recognize that there really are two products—the product or service which the customer buys, and the business which the investor buys. The goal of Six Disciplines for Excellence is to help business leaders work on their businesses so they can be as satisfied with their businesses as their customers are with their products.
-Gary Harpst in Six Disciplines for Excellence
By Nate on
9/27/2013 7:11 AM
A methodology, or method, is another name for any step-by-step approach to getting something done. We have methodologies all around us at work and at home, even though we may call them by different names. A recipe for baking a cake is really a methodology. The design and construction processes for building a house constitute a methodology. Most professions have a variety of standard practices to follow to arrive at long-term success. Software developers, architects, engineers, even physicians all have standard, repeatable practices they follow to complete their work successfully. These tried-and-true methods usually emerge as a result of best practices, standards, rules, and procedures developed over a number of years.
Just as the purpose of a home-construction methodology is to build excellent homes, the purpose of a business-building methodology is to build excellent businesses. In Chapter 6, we pointed out that customer excellence caters to the end-user or the customer. In the home-construction example, an excellent home caters to homeowners’ preferences, including style, comfort, energy efficiency, and price. Similarly, a business building methodology caters to the goals of business owners: profitable and predictable growth, engaged employees, strong reputation, and a large and loyal customer base.
The initial success of a business depends primarily on the ability to build top quality products or services. An organization’s enduring success depends on building the business itself, in addition to its products and services. Understanding this distinction is critical. You must use a methodology that’s designed for whatever it is you’re building if you expect to achieve consistent results.
- Six Disciplines Execution Revolution by Gary Harpst.
Click Here to learn more about the Six Disciplines Methodology.
By Nate on
9/20/2013 7:45 AM
The critical question for every business leader is, “How do I build an organization that consistently executes its strategy?” Or to rephrase the question using the business excellence model, “How can we spend the maximum amount of time in Quadrant II, balancing the right directional choices with the ability to get there.”
The answer: it takes a complete program. The reasons other approaches do not last is that they are missing key elements. Technology alone is not enough. Training, by itself, is not adequate. Simply reading best-selling books won’t do it. New leadership by itself is not the answer. Retaining better people won’t make the critical difference. Hiring an executive coach by itself will not overcome this challenge. No, the answer lies in taking a more profoundly holistic approach. Our field research has shown us that singular piece-meal approaches just don’t last. Sustainability, the capacity of an organization to maintain the necessary balance between strategy and execution, and doing so while overcoming the Expertise hurdle, economics hurdle, and the Human Nature hurdles, requires a complete program consisting of four tightly-integrated elements.
· A Repeatable Methodology to drive organizational learning and understanding
· Accountability Coaching to nurture and nudge to stay the course
· An Execution System to engage everyone, every day in real-time alignment
· Community Learning to share and reinforce best practices and accelerate learning
Different experts may use alternate terms for these concepts, but rather than fixating on terminology for now, it’s better to focus on understanding the underlying principles.
Six Disciplines has been able to create a program that contains all four of these elements. Click Here to learn more.
By Nate on
9/13/2013 7:12 AM
"In the pursuit of excellence, figuring out the right things to do isn't nearly as difficult as continuing to do them over the long term. One of the most persistent challenges we face as humans is to narrow the gap between knowing what needs to be done, and actually doing what needs to be done. In fact, as business leaders, we collectively know quite a bit about what needs to be done. We've read the books, taken seminars, and listened to management gurus. We've even earned business degrees in understanding what needs to be done. Yet the challenge to somehow bridge this gap continues.
Think about this knowing-versus-doing gap in your own life, and how it relates to dieting, for example. Or let’s consider the 40-year old business called Weight Watchers, which generated worldwide revenues of $3.0 billion in 2006. The core of the Weight Watchers approach is the weekly meeting that promotes weight loss through education and group support, in conjunction with a flexible, healthy diet. Each week, 1.5 million people attend approximately 50,000 Weight Watchers meetings, led by 15,000 classroom leaders around the world.
In the Weight Watchers business model, the counselors talk to you, weigh you, and educate you through group involvement about food and exercise. Essentially, they give you the kind of advice that you probably learned in grade school. And, you pay them for it! In my experience, its money well spent, because when I stop going to the weekly meetings, I gain the weight back. My point in this example is simple. What happens at Weight Watchers are things we already know how to do—in other words, we already know to eat right, exercise and weigh ourselves. Yet on our own, do we?"
- Six Disciplines Execution Revolution by Gary Harpst.
Click Here to learn about the Six Disciplines Implementation Approach.
By Nate on
9/6/2013 7:01 AM
For the Execution Revolution to occur in small and mid-sized businesses, the acquisition cost equation for adopting a strategy execution program based on proven best practices must be proportionate to its outcome. No program can be practical if the cost to implement it is prohibitive.
Larger businesses spend about two percent of sales to maintain their IT operations. Assuming this same rate of investment, a $10 million company would invest $1 million over a five-year period and a $1 billion company would invest $100 million. Clearly, there is much more opportunity to invest in best practices when the budget is large.
Remember that investments in software and technology are, in essence, investments in more effective business best practices. Small and mid-sized businesses simply don’t have the economies of scale to invest in the array of technologies and programs described in Chapter 4, not to mention the expertise to integrate and utilize it effectively.
The sobering conclusion is that mastering even one of these business improvement disciplines requires a substantial investment. None of them comes cheaply, and there are no shortcuts. In the past, taking your company from good to great in one or more of these disciplines required money, time (maybe decades) and expertise (in-house experts or external consultants). And until now, these developments were only affordable to big business.
- Six Disciplines Execution Revolution by Gary Harpst.
Click here to learn more about the how investing in software and technology can help businesses thrive.
By Nate on
8/23/2013 7:17 AM
Coaching is a mainstay of corporate organizational development and has experienced a long evolution since its beginnings in the late 1950's. Growth of the coaching industry was rapid in the 1980's, when it was hailed as a management tool for improving work performance and for building teams.
In a 1996 Newsweek article, Thomas Leonard, considered to be one of the fathers of business coaching, estimated there were 1,000 coaches nationwide. In 1999, the first year that member numbers were recorded, the International Coach Federation (ICF) had 2,122 members. By 2008, ICF membership exceeded 14,000.
Executive coaching services are an extension of the coaching industry, and their growth in popularity can be explained by our modern-day business environment. Executives are required to manage greater complexity, risk, and pressure at a faster pace than ever before. In order to perform effectively, they need a way to accelerate learning, improve performance, and modify behavior accordingly. Of the executives who have worked with an executive coach, 93 percent reported that it was a positive, sometimes life-changing, experience.
Despite the preference by some business coaches to conduct their services by phone, clients express a strong preference to do so in person. Sherpa Coaching released a study that showed an overwhelming 96 percent of those who had worked with an executive coach say in-person coaching is the best.
Unlike stand-alone training programs that cover a particular issue or topic, coaching is an ongoing, consistent process that focuses on specific performance-related goals. As an Ivy Business Journal article expressed in 2000:
Coaching simply speeds up a process of change that would most likely occur anyway, if an individual had enough time. Without a coaching program that forces a client to focus and make time, people sometimes miss the real issues they need to focus on.
In 2004, a Harvard Business Review report summarized the reasons why executive coaching works:
• Executive coaching engages with people in customized ways that acknowledge and honor their individuality. The essentially human nature of coaching is what makes it work—and also what makes it nearly impossible to quantify.
• In most organizations, lasting change usually occurs slowly, one person at a time, gaining momentum as more people buy in.
• To accelerate change and make it stick, they recommend systematically coordinating one-on-one coaching interventions that serve a larger objective.
• There’s another advantage of starting at the top: once senior leaders have changed their behavior, it’s easier for them to influence the rest of the workforce to do the same.
Related to the executive coaching industry are CEO advisory groups such as Vistage International, TAB (The Alternative Board), and, more recently, online CEO groups such as PeerSightOnline.com. These advisory groups use a peer CEO coaching framework to offer support and advice among their members. As such, the participants, themselves, are essentially CEOs helping other CEOs. In a way, it’s peer to-peer business coaching. There’s much to be said for this approach, since as peers, fellow CEOs can offer a beneficial “been there . . . done that” perspective. There’s a level of trust and belonging within these CEO peer groups that is difficult to gain in other ways. Business coaching has emerged as an industry that has proven its value. The model of bringing outside expertise and accountability to organizations and individuals within organizations works.
- Six Disciplines Execution Revolution by Gary Harpst.
Coaching is one of the core tenets upon which Six Disciplines Execution Revolution is built on. Click here to learn more.