Categories for your one page plan

I’m a strong advocate of building a one page plan, either for business or personal use.  It’s just a document that outlines what you value and how you’re planning to get to your hoped-for future.  Here are some sample categories.  Choose those that are relevant for you, fill in the blanks, and use it at management team meetings to align your team.  There are lots of duplicate ideas, don’t use them all.

Why do you exist?
Why, How, What?
Why you exist along with how you do your thing and what you do exactly.  Also called mission and vision
Core Values
How should people around here behave?
What do we believe deeply?
Brand promise
What can our customers count on us to deliver to them every time (no more than 3)
Unique Selling Position
Same idea as above
Our perfect customer
By demographic and psychographic
Our ‘big hairy audacious goal’ 10+ years out
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and trends
Top strategies
For the year, for 3-5 years
SMaC list
Our ‘specific, methodical and consistent’ recipe for success – rules we will not violate as an organization
Key habits
That the organization will practice
Top corporate goals
For the year, for 3-5 years
20 mile march           
Our consistent growth goal.  Not a dream, but the law
Key measurements
By year, by quarter.  No more than 6 measures that indicate the health of the organization
Challenge game
Some organizations play quarterly games to align the team
Parking lot issues
Things to remain on the radar that we can’t deal with right now
What is the scope of our operations (geographically or by product offering, or…?)
Personal Accountabilities
What is each person on the team accountable to do by (insert your time frame here)

Every organization must know where it plans to go, how it plans to get there, and what each person’s role is in making that happen.  Does yours?

Have a great week!

Never tell people how to do things

There was a time when the American military had no use for independent thinkers. That changed in WWII, and General George Patton played a big part in the change.  “Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what you want done and they will surprise you with their ingenuity,” he wrote.

David Petraeus had the same philosophy in Iraq, looking for leaders who “were flexible and able to think independently.”  While he was in command, violence plummeted and he was given overall command of the Iraqi theatre.

William Coyne, Senior Vice President of research and development at the famously innovative 3M, described it this way:

“We let our people know what we want them to accomplish.  But- and it is a very big but – we do not tell them how to achieve those goals.”

Maybe it’s time to re-think your command and control structure and let your people surprise you.

Have a great week!

JFK and the danger of harmony in decision making

Good Morning,
John F. Kennedy’s first major decision as president was a disaster.  Rumours of an invasion of Cuba by the U.S. was reported on the front page of the New York Times three months before the ‘secret’ operation was launched.  When soldiers were finally landed at the Bay of Pigs, they were quickly rounded up and imprisoned.  It was a disaster from beginning to end.

An inquiry was ordered into the decision making process, and discovered that the problem was… HARMONY!  The leadership team was in perfect agreement over the decision.  There were no dissenting voices.  They were collegial and got along very well.  The term ‘groupthink’ originated from a book written about this decision (Victims of Groupthink by Irving Janis).

The decision making process was altered and introduced these changes:

  • Contrarian experts were brought in who were known to hold opposite opinions
  • Everyone was encouraged to question everything, even issues outside of their area of expertise
  • Hierarchy was set aside.  Everyone’s opinion counted equally
  • The president would leave for long periods, knowing that the presence of the top leader could squelch disagreement

When the Cuban missile crisis came around, the very same planning team had a very successful outcome, because they encouraged disagreement.  JFK was set on a missile strike as a minimum, but didn’t state his opinion.  He let the team come up with other options, one of which (blockade) changed his thinking and successfully ended the crisis.

Is harmony hurting your team?

Have a great week!

7 ways to reward your stars

Good Morning,
Retaining your star players is key to success.  There are several ways that you can reward them so that they stay with you, and remain happy in their work.  Here’s a list:

  • Money – this is the one we think of first, but it’s not the only one by any means.
  • Recognition – of a job well done.  Praise them privately and in public.  Give them awards.
  • Personal Growth – This includes conferences, external coaching, funded education opportunities and book allowances.
  • Status – Think titles, nicer offices and good parking spots.
  • Autonomy – Let them make their own decisions (if they’re not already).
  • Access – Let your stars have a taste of the inner circle. Invite them to part of a management retreat.  Ask them for their opinion on big decisions.
  • Personal Attention – I’ve interviewed several high-level stars over the past few months that are leaving because they feel ignored by top management.

Right now, someone is plotting to steal your stars.  Maybe it’s a customer, a supplier, a competitor, someone they know socially, or someone they met at a trade show.  What’s your plan to hold them when they are tempted with a better offer?

Have a great week!



Develop insultants

Good Morning,

It’s annual planning season for many companies, and I’ve been leading many two-day retreats with leaders and their management teams.

One exercise that I enjoy leading involves having each person identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and then sharing them with the group and asking if they’ve gotten it right or if they’re missing something – if they have any blind spots.

The responses to this exercise are endlessly interesting.  In organizations where leaders aren’t interested in hearing a lot of honest feedback, it doesn’t take very long.  There are a few safe, softball generalities lobbed (you’re amazing, but maybe could work on communication) but no one gets too specific and no feathers are ruffled.  And there are no huge take-aways either.

But in groups with high trust, there are some hard things said.  Things that sting.  Sometimes the room gets quiet.  Sometimes ears turn red.  And without exception, they remark afterwards that it was extremely helpful to hear what close colleagues are thinking about how each participant actually shows up at work, good and bad.

My tip today is to develop insultants around you.  People who care enough about you and the organization to tell the truth as they see it.  You do this by encouraging people to express their true opinions, and to thank them when they do it.

The greatest sign of trust on a team is when each person can own their areas of strength and weakness.  Don’t fall into the ditch of forcing artificial harmony on your team.  Mine for conflict.  Draw people out and make it safe for them to tell you the whole truth.

Have a great week!

I work with amazing, motivated people who run businesses that are in fast growth.  If that’s you and you’re looking for ways to increase and sustain growth, drop me a note.

“Choosing to work with Trevor has been one of the best investments of time and money that we have made at Frontline. From helping us salvage the business from a partnership dispute, to working with us to put the right people in key seats in the business, to introducing us to the concept of a “Small Giant”. Most recently we have been able to get our whole team aligned on a strategy based on a simple one page plan, based on the coaching from Trevor. The results have been outstanding, as the company experienced 52% revenue growth while sustaining a healthy margin and improving our team unity, focus and purpose. Trevor is very trustworthy and relates really well to everyone in the business. For our young leadership team, it is like having an experienced CEO on retainer while we gain the necessary experience to lead a great business.  ”

Justin Mitchell

Frontline Real Estate