Saturday, July 28, 2012

Two Certainties

Leave it to Benjamin Franklin to voice simple truths.  He understood the two certainties in life and business.  We are always judged by others, and change is constant.  He put it in simple terms of the day—taxes and death.   A tax being the assessment or judgment of government and death represents the ultimate human change.  Belief in the concept of Two Certainties—that we are judged by others and that change is an inevitable and a continuing part of business and life—is a prerequisite for success.  Unless you are guided by that principal, you will not experience purposeful success.   Yes, it is possible to experience accidental success—your fifteen minutes of fame—but never long-term sustained success.

For purposeful long-term success, an enterprise must be solidly anchored by a belief in the Two Certainties—we will always be judged by others and change is constant.  What we are is determined through the judgment of others, and either we purposely change to improve or natural forces erode and change us for the worse.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Pursuit of Excellence is the Only Sound Strategy

Tom Peters in A Passion for Excellence gave us a model for achieving excellence.  Excellence, represented by the top of the pyramid in this icon, can only be achieved through the eyes of those who judge us.  We can only achieve excellence in the eyes of our customers through people who truly care about those customers.  And once we achieve excellence, we can only maintain it with constant innovation—continuing innovative change.  Accomplishing both, customer care and innovation, takes a common sense of direction (I-65 North) and in-touch leadership for which management (and communications) by wandering around has been an essential tool.

When Peters wrote A Passion for Excellence, communication tools like the Internet and web were not around.  We didn’t have websites, blogs, online meetings and collaboration tools, or business-class instant messaging systems.  Peters observed that "excellence companies" practiced Management and Communication by Wandering Around (MBWA and CBWA) to achieve an in-touch state and a sense of common direction.  Today organizations have a wonderful array of tools for communication among and between team members and customers.  But the essential element is constant communication. When team members and customers have to start questioning an organization's direction due to a lack of communication, the battle is lost.  Communication is never a one way street and it must always be honest.  It must flow in all directions and that includes communication to and from customers.   It must be consistent throughout the organization from the top to the bottom of the organization chart and that can only occur when every member of the team is confident that they understand I-65 North and the organization’s core beliefs system for traveling I-65 North.

What do I mean by I-65 North?  It is a metaphor for my philosophy about business and life. We are on a journey, one that involves constant change and where success is determined through the eyes of those who judge us. The role of a leader get people moving the same direction— to provide a clear sense of direction (North) and how we are going to get there (I-65).  It is a symbol representing an organization's goals and objectives and it's a core set of beliefs (the rules of the road) for pursuing those goals and objectives.