Voting is the Hallmark of Freedom

In the United States, we are privileged to have the right to elect those who represent us in our federal, state, and local governments. This hallmark of our freedom, however, is not without a price. To protect this right, we must give of ourselves and our time by voting in our free elections.

And so on this Election Day, the StrategyDriven Contributors and Staff encourage all those who can vote to vote. We believe the strength of our country rests with our commitment to freedom. By voting, we honor the sacrifices for freedom made by all those who came before us and pass along the gift of freedom to the next generation of Americans.

All the Best,

StrategyDriven Contributors and Staff

Jeffrey Gitomer

Decisions, decisions – how good at them are you?

Decisions – either by you, your coworker, your boss, your family members, or your customer – drive your success, your lifestyle, and your attitude.

As you’re contemplating what to do, or how to decide, there are stream-of-conscious thoughts that affect the final choice and the resulting outcome. Whether you’re buying something, working on a project, parenting, or making a sale, there are decisions you have to make that will determine the outcome. Your job is to make the best one, the right one.

Most people think decisions are made based on economics. The price. Most people are wrong. Decisions are made based on a myriad of elements, and price is only one of them. Perceived value is way more of a factor than price.

The majority of decisions you make are based on existing emotion and perception, combined with previous experience – UNLESS you’re in politics, or corporate politics.

Those (political) decisions are made based on what’s popular, what’s likely to be approved, what’s safe (nobody ever got fired for buying IBM), or what’s politically expedient – and almost NEVER based on what’s best for the whole of the country or the company.

If you’re willing to think deeper about the decision making process for yourself, it may help you understand how others make their decisions. Especially if you’re in sales and your income and career are based on the decisions of others. The easiest way to understand the situation and other people is to first understand yourself, and how you make decisions.

Regardless of the decision at hand – yes, no, put off, act, buy, don’t buy, date, or reject – the questions below will help your conscious and sub-conscious mind understand your decision making process AND help you understand the decision making process of others.

Here are some of the thoughts that enter your mind AS you make choices:

  • What’s the circumstance?
  • What’s the reason?
  • What’s the motive?
  • What’s the risk?
  • What are the potential consequences?
  • What are my fears?
  • What’s the reward?
  • What’s the real issue?
  • What’s the real barrier?
  • What’s the money?
  • What’s the perceived value?
  • What’s the measurable value?
  • What’s the social value?
  • What’s the objective?
  • What is my desired result?
  • What am I hoping for?
  • What is the outcome likely to be?
  • What if it isn’t?
  • Who gets hurt?
  • Who benefits?
  • What are the elements?
  • What has been my past experience?
  • What is my experience-based knowledge?
  • Should I counsel anyone?
  • Do I have to decide now?
  • Is this temporary or permanent?
  • Do I trust the other person?
  • What’s the deadline or the urgency?
  • What is my gut telling me?

Keep in mind all decisions involve some sort of risk. Risk involves and creates fear. The greater the risk, the more measured, deliberate, and collaborative the process. It’s always a judgment call, and fear often interferes with sound judgment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The decision to buy is made emotionally, and then justified logically. You make the decision, and then defend it – sometimes to a fault.

The words ‘no brainer’ have always bothered me in the decision-making process. When someone says, “It’s a no brainer” to me, I become alarmed. What they’re saying is, “Don’t think about it, just do it.” Not good. All decisions are ‘brainers.’

To help you on the positive side of ‘decide,’ ask yourself:

  • Am I doing what’s best for myself, or my company?
  • Am I taking the high road?
  • Am I choosing the best value?
  • Am I at peace with myself?

On the negative side of ‘decide,’ ask yourself:

  • Am I making an excuse to do it, even though I doubt the validity of it?
  • Am I justifying it before the facts are gathered?
  • Am I justifying it after the fact, and I knew it was a mistake?
  • Am I procrastinating?
  • Am I saying, “It’s the lesser of two evils?”
  • Am I only getting buy-in before the fact to mitigate blame?

NOTE WELL: Fear of loss is greater than desire to gain. Fear of being wrong is more powerful than risk of being right. SIDE NOTE: Leaders emerge as they become fearless.

As you’re trying to get others to decide on you and your product or service, keep top of mind how you make your decisions. The better you understand yourself, the more powerful you’ll be at ‘getting a favorable decision.’

If you’d like the list of thoughts that enter into the decision making process, and a list of why people DON’T decide, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the word DECISION in the GitBit box.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business: Putting Budgeting Into Perspective, The Bigger Picture of Strategic Planning

Frame of reference is everything in business. Different people within the same organization have contrasting views as to the Business They’re Really In.

The term Budgeting gets tossed around in many ways. Budgets get blamed for gridlock. Budgets get politicized.

Budgets get more attention than the umbrellas under which they rightfully belong: Strategic Planning and Visioning.

Budgeting by itself is a minor piece of business strategy. By itself, Budgeting does not constitute full-scope planning and business strategy. Budgeting is a peg in the process.

Questions to follow in Budgeting as part of Strategic Planning and Visioning processes include:

  • Does this process increase your accountability to funding sources and to the public?
  • Are budgeting measures used to manage performance?
  • Is the performance management system focused upon outcomes?
  • Are the key measures the best representation of progress of the institution?
  • Can the benchmarking information be accessed regularly?
  • How well can management interpret and apply findings to the decision process?
  • Does your strategic plan adequately describe what you do?
  • Does the strategic plan provide necessary guidance to the activities you will measure?
  • How diverse is the planning committee?
  • Do performance measures provide an early warning system for problems?
  • How do you handle crisis management and preparedness?
  • Have you prioritized and fully defined key measures and non-key measures?
  • Have you done scenario planning of measures beyond your immediate control, i.e. external factors which profoundly impact your livelihood?
  • Do the measures address both internal management and external perceptions and accountabilities?
  • Performance measures should be included in contracts with all resources, such as adjuncts, vendors, suppliers. Supply chain management should be implemented. Quality management should be implemented.
  • Adjustments must be periodically made to target markets, definition of terms and modification of strategies.

Organizations start out to be one thing, but they evolve into something else. In their mind, they’re one thing. Other people think they are something else. Priorities change. Dedicated providers of the service stated in the original company mission become frustrated when they don’t understand the reasons for shifting priorities.

Most often, what organizations say they do in external promotions to potential customers actually ranks low on the actual priority list. That occurs due to the agendas of individuals who guide the organization…departing from the core business for which founders were presumably educated and experienced. Add to that the harsh realities of doing business and staying competitive.

Here is an average priority ranking for companies-organizations:

  1. Revenue volume and its rewards (bonuses for key management).
  2. Growth, defined as increasing revenues each year (rather than improving the quality of company operations).
  3. Doing the things necessary to assure revenue (billings, sales, add-on’s, marketing). Keeping the cash register ringing… rather than focusing upon what is being sold, how it is made and the kind of company they need to be.
  4. Running a bureaucracy.
  5. Maintaining the status quo. Keeping things churning. Making adjustments, corrections or improvements only when crises warrant (band-aid surgery).
  6. Glory, gratification and recognition (for the company and for certain leaders).
  7. Furthering stated corporate agendas.
  8. Furthering unwritten corporate agendas.
  9. Courting favor with opinion leaders.
  10. Actually delivering the core business. Making the widget itself. Doing what you started in business to do…what you tell the customers that you do.
  11. Doing the things that a company should do to be a good company. Processes, policies and procedures to make better widgets and a better organization.
  12. Customer service, consideration or follow-up beyond the sale.
  13. Looking after the people, in terms of training, empowerment, resources and rewards.
  14. Giving back to those who support the company.
  15. Advancing conditions in which core business is delivered.
  16. Walking the Talk: ethics, values, quality, vision.
  17. Giving back to the community, industry, Body of Knowledge.

People in the organization who do things below the top nine priorities have vastly different perceptions of the organization, its mission, their role and the parts to be played by others:

  • Some jockey for position… to make their priority seem to advance higher.
  • Some keep people on the low rungs in check, assuring that their priorities remain low.
  • Some become frustrated because others’ priorities are not theirs.
  • Some build fiefdoms within the organization to solidify their ranking.
  • Some do their job as well as possible, hoping that others will recognize and reward their contributions.
  • Some don’t think that they’re noticed and simply occupy space within the organizational structure.
  • Some try to take advantage of the system.
  • Some are clueless as to the existence of a system, pecking order, corporate agendas, company vision or other realities.

7 Steps Toward Getting Budgets Accepted More Readily:

  1. Commitment toward strategic planning for your function-department-company.
  2. Know your values.
  3. Refine your values.
  4. Control your values.
  5. Add value via internal services.
  6. Take ownership of your values.
  7. Continue raising the bar on values.

7 Stages in Making a Case for Business Funding:

  1. Link to a strategic business objective.
  2. Diagnose a competitively disadvantaging problem or an unrealized opportunity for competitive advantage.
  3. Prescribe a more competitively advantaged outcome.
  4. Cost the benefits of the improved cash flows and diagram the improved work flows that contribute to them.
  5. Collaborate with others.
  6. Maintain accountability and communications toward top management.
  7. Contribute to the organization’s Big Picture.

Rules for Budgeting-Planning:

  1. Use indicators and indices wherever they can be used.
  2. Use common indicators where categories are similar, and use special indicators for special jobs.
  3. Let your people participate in devising the indicators.
  4. Make all indicators meaningful, and retest them periodically.
  5. Use past results as only one indicator for the future.
  6. Have a reason for setting all indicators in place.
  7. Indicators are not ends in themselves…only a means of getting where the organization needs to go. Indicators must promote action. Discard those that stifle action.

Base Budgets on Value, Not on Cost

  1. Readily measurable values:
    • Time and cost of product development-service delivery cycles.
    • Reject, rework and make-good rates.
    • Downtime rates and meantime between downtimes.
    • Meantime between billings and collections.
    • Product-service movement at business-to-business levels.
    • Product-service movement at retail levels.
    • Product-service movement in the aftermarket (re-sales, repeat business, referrals, follow-up engagements).
  2. Values in terms of savings:
    • Time and motion savings.
    • Inventory costs.
    • Speed of order entry.
  3. Values in terms of efficiencies:
    • Meantime between new product introductions.
    • Forecast accuracy, compared to actual results.
    • Speed, accuracy and efficiency of project fulfillment.
    • Productivity gained.
    • Continuous quality improvement within your own operation.
  4. Values which benefit other aspects of the company operation:
    • Quality improved on behalf of the overall organization.
    • Creative new ideas generated.
    • Empowerment of employees and colleagues to do better jobs.
    • Information learned.
    • Applications of your work toward other departments’ objectives.
    • Satisfaction in your service elevated.
    • Voiced-written confidence, recognition, referrals, endorsements, etc.
    • Capabilities enhanced to work within the total organization.
    • Reflections upon the organization’s Big Picture.
    • Contributions toward the organization’s Big Picture (corporate vision).

About the Author

Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.

Recommended Resource – The Pivot Point

The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change

by Victoria M. Grady
and James D. Grady

About the Book

The Pivot Point by Drs. Victoria and James Grady is a business novel presenting a unique perspective on effectively implementing organizational change based on group and individual psychodynamics. Within their book, Victoria and James examine decades of research into the ways individuals cope with loss and then relate these principles to the business environment. They conclude by providing methods for identifying and dealing with group and individual loss factors and reactions such that the desired organizational change can be implemented with a minimal loss of organizational effectiveness and productivity.

Benefits of Using This Book

StrategyDriven Contributors like The Pivot Point for its unique perspective on the group and individual psychology associated with organizational change. Victoria and James’s point of view is deeply rooted in decades of sound academic research and refined by real world experiences. Not only did we find their assertions compelling, they matched our decades of group and individual observations and experiences.

The Pivot Point also provides methods for better dealing with these psychological challenges of change. The book prescribes implementable methods to address both the group and individual resistance factor in a constructive manner that is respectful of organizational personnel while at the same time progressive of the needed change. In some instances, however, change tools such as change readiness surveys appeared to lack the detail necessary to be immediately implementable and instead would require the services of Drs. Grady’s organization to complete. We would have preferred to have had the book be more complete in these areas.

The Pivot Point provides a refreshingly new perspective on making effective organizational change that is well aligned with the philosophies espoused by StrategyDriven. For this reason, The Pivot Point is a StrategyDriven recommended read.

Linda Henman

Leadership Lessons from Zombies

Sometime in the past two years, perhaps while we were distracted by the vampire craze, zombies started presenting a more menacing presence. Scores of television programs, movies, and books have seemingly sprung from nowhere to teach us to survive a zombie attack. For example, Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, has dominated the best seller list with his Zombie Survival Guide, a must-have for every survival-conscious home.

But there’s another must-have for any professional library: A Zombie’s Guide to Getting A Head (sic) in Business. This book will help you take both your leadership and strategy formulation to new heights. No survival guide, this book offers concrete tips about how to excel in the hot seat by acting like a zombie. Using the author’s zombie expertise as a foundation, here’s what I suggest:

  • Stop dithering and start lurching forward. No one has to cajole a zombie to act, which clearly contrasts them to many leadership teams who dither rather than decide. These teams often opt for indecision, failing to recognize that not deciding is a decision – a decision to fall victim to the changing environment and other things you can’t control. You don’t write strategic objectives in stone; you put them in a Word file. When new information surfaces, you can change directions. But not having a clear direction and path for getting there will curse you to rest on your laurels and continue to settle for the success you’ve always had. Or maybe not. Maybe the economy has changed so drastically in your neck of the woods that what you’ve done to get here won’t get you anywhere else.
  • Crash trough the glass ceiling like a zombie breaking through the walls of a farm house. So many leaders embrace limiting ideas. They settle for what they’ve always done, the status quo, sunk costs, and every manner of excuse not to change. A very successful consultant who is in her early fifties recently told me she thinks she’s getting too old to do consulting work. I said, “Are you nuts? You’re barely old enough to do it! Clients value experience.” Her limiting idea is my motivating idea. What limiting ideas hold you back?
  • Turn your weaknesses into strengths – a missing arm or leg never stops a zombie. Some great company changes have started with a failure or weakness. Legend has it that a restaurant owner created fried ravioli, a St. Louis favorite, when he accidentally dropped the ravioli into the French fryer. What opportunities lurk in your organization? The 3M Company, formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Minnesota. With over 80,000 employees, they produce more than 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products, car care products. But the company founders didn’t set out to give us Post-It-Notes and Scotch Tape. They originally planned to sell the mineral corundum to manufacturers in the East for making grinding wheels. However, innovation and a willingness to learn from mistakes allowed the company to morph into what it is today.
  • Trust your instincts. In the nocturnal hunt, or any hunt, the first impulse is usually the right one. If you suddenly get the feeling that a swath of swampland is mined against zombie attacks, it probably is. And if the whacky new product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to your mission, vision, and values. These will help you force the tradeoffs that will help you avoid both implosion and explosion.
  • Ignore that which is already dead. An error that many executives make, that no zombie ever makes, is wasting valuable time on sunk costs and things that are no longer priorities. Check the egos at the door. When it comes to setting strategy, only the future counts.
  • ‘Bite once.’ A zombie’s bite transmits everything salient it has to contribute. It immediately ‘infects’ the other with zombie characteristics. No more need for follow-ups, emails, status reports, or ‘circling back.’ Bite and move on.

No matter where you want to go, and regardless of the daunting and difficult nature of the journey, a zombie has been through worse and ‘lived’ to tell about it. By incorporating the traits of a zombie, you too can become dynamic, brave, and unstoppable as any member of the legions of the living dead. Inside every zombie and effective executive reside core impulses to harness power. The first quarter of 2012 lies behind us, but the remaining three quarters remain. Arise from the grave of ineffectiveness and get ahead.


About the Author

Dr. Linda Henman, the catalyst for virtuoso organizations, is the author of Landing in the Executive Chair, among other works. She is an expert on setting strategy, planning succession, and developing talent. For more than 30 years she has helped executives and boards in Fortune 500 Companies and privately-held organizations dramatically grow their businesses. She was one of eight succession planning experts who worked directly with John Tyson after his company’s acquisition of International Beef Products. Some of her other clients include Emerson Electric, Avon, Kraft Foods, Edward Jones, and Boeing. She can be reached in St. Louis at www.henmanperformancegroup.com.