Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Lion And The Gazelle

I heard an interesting story the other day, and it goes like this:

In the jungle, the gazelle goes to bed every night knowing that, in the morning, he must run faster than the fastest lion in order to stay alive.  Meanwhile, the lion goes to bed at night know that, in the morning, if he is going to survive and eat, he must be faster than the slowest gazelle.  In the morning, both are off and running in the pursuit of survival.

Is that how you feel most nights before you go to bed?  Do you feel like you are running for you life – and sometimes like you are the proverbial hamster on the wheel?  Do you wake up in the morning exhausted because you know the chase that awaits you as soon as you step outside the front door?

What is it that drives the feelings of anxiety in so many people?  Why do they feel like they are on a treadmill that is going nowhere?

I think one of the most basic answers to these questions is that we confuse activity with productivity.  We falsely assume that just because we are busy, that somehow means that we are being productive – and, quite frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.

A lot of my time as a business and personal coach is spent helping people become truly productive.  Last year I was speaking to a group of people on the topic of time management.  One of the men in the audience commented that he had worked with a personal coach for some time and that all he had gotten from the experience was “another to-do list from hell”.  He asked me what I thought of that.  My response was simply, “Shame on your coach!”

As a business and personal coach, my job is not to give my clients more to do.  Many of the problems they are facing in life are the result of having too much to do already.  My job is not to add stuff to plates that are overflowing and overwhelming people.  My job is to get them focused on doing the right things.

Focusing on the right things requires knowing what you want from life – spiritually, financially, physically, emotionally, and relationally.  Once you have that part of things nailed down, it serves as a filter that separates all of the “stuff” in your life into two categories – those things that are essential and those that are wasting your time.

Are you overwhelmed?  Do you feel like the gazelle who is about to be taken by the lion?  Or do you feel like the lion who is chasing the gazelle of life and success all day only to lie down at night hungry and defeated?  If so, CALL ME!  I can help you get focused on the most important things for your life and begin controlling life instead of letting life control you.

Six Keys To Organizational Success

As a business consultant, I am constantly and consistently talking with business leaders about the success of their organizations.  Many are focused on their key metrics (Key Performance Indicators) like sales revenue, quality, on-time delivery, and profitability.  Don’t get me wrong – having KPIs is crucial and needed in every business.  But the question I often ask business leaders is, “What about human KPIs?  Do you have a measure for those, too?”  All too often, the answer is no.

The following six suggestions for organizational success apply to everyone in the organization – from the top leader down to every employee.  Use them for your organizational health and success.

Morale.  You do not raise morale in an organization.  It filters down from the top.  True leaders are morale generators – through the examples they set by being involved, casting a vision, creating employee buy-in, and caring for those in their employ.

One Person.  When an organization gets in trouble, it turns to one person.  Are you that person?  Have you cultivated both the credibility and the trust of your employees such that they naturally look to you in times of difficulty?  If not, what are you doing to change their opinion and become that go-to person?

Learning.  Are you a lifelong learner?  You need to learn as much as you can about the business in which you are involved and then think about what you can do to make it better.  I have seen secretaries and clerks in organizations put forth some of the most amazing, world changing ideas – and so can you if you work at it.

Become Outstanding.  Be outstanding at one particular kind of work.  As much as having a global knowledge of your business and markets is important, knowing where your job function fits in and doing your work with excellence is equally as important.

The Cargo or The Crew?  Do you want to be part of the cargo or part of the crew?  Remember that when the seas get rough, the cargo is what gets jettisoned.  Determine to be a major contributor to your crew and do it with all of your heart.

Be A Leader.  A leader is a planner, a thinker, and a doer who accepts responsibility for his own situation and future.  He knows that he will reap what he sows.  He also knows that we ultimately succeed or fail as individuals, not in groups.

May you be blessed with success as you consider and implement these suggestions.

Personal Development – 3/29/14

3/29/14:  Initial broadcast that establishes the framework for personal development, including such topics as the falsehood of instant success; the timeliness of both business and personal development; personal development begins with personal responsibility; success and it’s relationship to evangelical Christianity; your attitude and it’s impact on your personal success; and how many people are just running for survival like a gazelle being chased by a lion.

Four Keys To Effective Continuous Improvement

I was interviewed recently by the producer of a TV series on business development.  Marti Glass of Enterprises TV called me to talk about productivity and efficiency improvements in business.  In particular, she wanted to discuss why so many organizations are not able to achieve the improvements that they, in many cases, so desperately need.

I told Marti that, in my opinion as a business consultant, too many organizations become enamored with the “flavor of the month”.  They hear about Lean Principles and they embrace that concept for a short period of time.  Then someone convinces them that “Six Sigma” is the methodology that will solve all of their problems.  And on and on the story goes.  In some cases, it has almost become a mindset of looking for the latest craze – as if management thinks that someone is going to waltz through their door, wave a magic wand, sprinkle some pixy dust, and all their problems will be solved.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  One of my statements to Ms. Glass was that most of the problems that businesses and their leaders face today didn’t spring up overnight – and they are not going to go away overnight either.  Permanently eradicating business problems requires an organized, methodical approach that is applied consistently over an extended period of time.  That does not mean that some issues cannot be resolved immediately, but it does imply that correcting many business and leadership issues requires a change in organizational culture – and that can only be done over time.

All of this begs the question –

What are the key elements of effective continuous improvement?

Consider the following:

  1. Continuous improvement begins at the top.  Leadership must commit to the process and be unwavering in their stance and support.  Continuous improvement must be from the top down before it can be from the bottom up.
  2. Flavors of the month don’t work.  All improvement methodologies have some value, but flitting from one to another, like a bee flying from flower to flower, is not productive.  It never gives any methodology a chance to work, and employees lose confidence in management as a result.
  3. Your approach must fit both the needs and culture of your organization.  One of the ways that I differentiate myself in the marketplace is that I don’t use a canned approach – ever.  I have all of the tools at my disposal, but I am focused in their application.  I first want to understand things like the needs of the business, leadership & communication styles, skill sets of employees, and company culture.  Then I can design an approach that will effectively solve problems while being minimally invasive to the organization.
  4. Communication is vital.  Nothing works well in any organization without effective communication at all levels.  This is extremely true when it comes to continuous improvement – especially if various approaches have been tried in the past and then abandoned.  Honest communication is vital to restoring trust, getting buy-in, and creating an achievement oriented atmosphere.

If your organization is struggling with implementing an effective continuous improvement process, call us.  With our free, no obligation consultation, you can easily learn how we can help you move your business forward to a successful and profitable future.  You can reach us at 203.599.1467 or via email at info@optechs.com.