Is Your “Information Flow” Really a Drip?

August 3, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Right now, this very moment, how many of your employees know exactly what the immediate and most critical objectives are for your business? How many know what needs to be accomplished this month, this week – today? How many clearly understand your expectations for their individual performance? Would you describe your company’s “sense of urgency” as fast or slow? The common denominator for each of these questions is “information flow.” With it, there is focus, urgency, efficiency and productivity. Without it, there is frustration, fragmentation and missed opportunities.
Achieving higher levels of organizational performance always requires a change in the collective behaviors of teams. It doesn’t matter if a company is in a crisis situation or striving to reach that next level of success, it’s ability to disseminate key information will determine how quickly behaviors will change. However, too many leaders routinely and grossly underestimate the level of information flow that is required for measureable results to occur. And when information drips rather than flows, the crisis continues. And, the quest to reach the next level morphs into pipedream.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to ensure that information is flowing rather than dripping throughout your company:
* Information flow x 10: What would happen if you took your current level of information flow and multiplied it by 10? The answer is simple; there would be an immediate and measurable gain in the overall performance of your company. Ratcheting up the level of information flow is like putting your company on a GPS heading toward success.
* Find the information flow bottlenecks: Every company has them – and you may be one of them. Yes, leaders are notorious for having high expectations and not backing them up with the necessary information to clarify their expectations. Are one or more of the team leaders a bottleneck? Are there key players on your team with conflicting agendas? The only way you’ll discover the bottlenecks is to spend quality time with your leadership team and employees. If they cannot articulate where the company is going and what its immediate objectives are, there is an information flow bottleneck.
* What, why & how is the score: Everyone needs to know. Everyone needs to play. From daily huddles around the company scoreboard to daily leadership team briefings, the only excuse for not driving information flow is laziness and procrastination. We’re in the information age and we have some amazing technologies to drive it. From conference calls, web-based video meetings and online file sharing, to text messages, emails and alerts in most business software, there is no excuse for anything less than rapid-fire information flow.
* Get into the grove and make it stick: Ratcheting up your information flow systems will require you as the leader to adapt and commit to new disciplines first. Don’t expect everyone else to commit to an information flow system that you routinely compromise. The only way to ensure accountability down through the employee ranks is for accountability to be locked in at the top.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Right now, this very moment, how many of your employees know exactly what the immediate and most critical objectives are for your business? ... Read More

Right now, this very moment, how many of your employees know exactly what the immediate and most critical objectives are for your business? How many know what needs to be accomplished this month, this week – today? How many clearly understand your expectations for their individual performance? Would you describe your company’s “sense of urgency” as fast or slow? The common denominator for each of these questions is “information flow.”…
Read More

Categories: Information Flow

Can you really implement change?

July 27, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Companies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.
Culture shifts are much like the Venus Flytrap. They entice you in with the promise better times, growth and profits until you’re so engaged – it then slams shut and devours you. I’m sure that any leader that attempted a full-blown culture shift will agree with this analogy.
Don’t despair. You can successfully navigate a culture shift – if you’re prepared and understand the dynamics that are involved.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to help you successfully complete a culture shift:
* Culture shifts take time – a lot of time: The amount of time your culture shift will take is based on on three factors:
1. You: Your ability to relentlessly communicate, stay focused and stay the course.
2. The size and complexity of your company: This includes layers of management, departments, divisions and the geographical nature of your company, such as multiple locations or multinational operations.
3. The current state of your company and its culture: Specifically, the more out of balance your business is with respect to The Four Business Outcomes, the more energy and time it will take to move it through a culture shift to no compromise.
* You must be committed to go the distance: It could take 12 to 24 months to completely shift a culture. Repeat: 12 to 24 months. If you’re looking for a quick-fix culture shift strategy, forget it – it doesn’t exist. You must be committed 100% to see this through. A 99% commitment is enough wiggle room to cause it to fail.
* Not everyone is going to survive the shift: Change resisters will get on board, quit or be relieved of their obligation to work for your company. If you allow them to stay, you’re compromising and compromise at the leadership level kills culture shifts.
* Small wins add up: Lots of small wins build momentum and unity in a culture. Celebrate even the smallest of wins. The more you celebrate, the faster the shift.
* Sense of urgency: You can’t shift a culture without it. Find it. Fuel it. Relentlessly drive it.
Caution: I’ve seen companies make wonderful culture-shift strides in a matter of months. However, too many leaders misinterpret these rapid and positive “strides” as being farther along in the culture shift than they actually are. Such misinterpretations can cause you to ease up on the urgency factor far too soon, causing the culture shift to stall. Once stalled, it’s extremely difficult to get a culture shift moving again. It’s simply human nature for old, comfortable behaviors to snap back in a heartbeat when discipline and focus are compromised.
Recommendation: In my book, No-Compromise Leadership, I devote an entire section to “navigating the culture shift to no compromise.” It even includes an 18-month timeline of “must do’s” and “what you should see.” Read it before you hit the launch button.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

change-exit-signCompanies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.... Read More

Companies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change.…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Ten tips for business survival in these crazy times

July 13, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

There is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable.
The key to surviving and thriving in these crazy times begins with leadership and its determination to win the business game. The mandate is simple: if it needs to be done, get it done.
Here are ten tips to help you win the business game:
1. No hesitation, procrastination, blame or excuses: Ignore even the smallest problem today and a bigger problem will be waiting for you tomorrow.
2. All lift – no drag: A business cannot maintain or gain momentum if it’s dragging anchors. Profit-draining projects, departments, services, products, locations and any other business function or entity that’s not performing needs to be fixed or cut. Unproductive employees – get them into the game or cut them loose. You get the picture.
3. Live your cash-flow plan: If you don’t have a cash-flow plan, you and your company are flying financially blind. If you have one, it only works if you’re accountable to it.
4. Have the tough conversations: Every leader has a number of tough conversations that have been waiting too long to happen. Employees need to know where they stand even if it’s not what they want to hear. If you’ve been fighting harder to protect an employee’s paycheck then the employee, it’s time for you and the employee to make a decision.
5. Innovate to grow: A crisis always seems to inspire innovative thinking. But why wait until there’s a crisis? Get you and your team’s creative juices flowing now. Create an environment and culture of innovation by creating think tanks and special project teams. The next new opportunity for your company is waiting to be discovered. Go for it.
6. Inspire a sense of urgency: Urgency is the energy that drives business growth. Urgency pushes leaders, employees and companies out of their lethargic comfort zones. Huddles, scoreboards, deadlines, goals, rewards, celebrations and more are all simple tools to keep urgency levels high. Yes, urgency comes from leadership. It rarely happens on its own.
7. Finish what you start: “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” If this statement describes your company’s track record for getting things done, compromise is alive and well in your culture. This is all about accountability… and it begins with you.
8. Keep commitments: Broken promises or commitments compromise trust and contaminates business cultures. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
9. Find that 20% growth: I absolutely believe that every company has 20% more growth waiting to happen – if it goes after it. There are new customers and opportunities for growth everywhere. The only question is, are you willing to do whatever it takes to go for it? Get out of your comfort zone. Make those extra 10 sales calls. It may even be as basic as holding everyone accountable to existing systems and procedures.
10. Lead with passion: If you truly believe in your company, its people and its mission, then let it show. Leaders that live in fear or feel like a hostage in their own company allowed their passion to fade away. If necessary, fall in love with your company again. Get fired up about the opportunities and rewards that await you. Let your passion out and your people will follow you.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

surviving-2009bThere is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable.... Read More

There is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable. The key to surviving and…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

ACCOUNTABILITY: If it’s what you need, why do you avoid it?

July 6, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for? Why is it that things that need to be done, don’t get done?
In Part One of my No-Compromise Leadership book, I wrote extensively about “leadership blockages” and internal operating systems. Leadership blockages are best described as those situations that trigger discomfort levels that ultimately lead to procrastination. Be it fear, insecurity, self-esteem issues or the need to break out of your comfort zone, leadership blockages ensure compromising behaviors in leaders. Internal operating systems represent your collective thinking and beliefs that autopilot your behaviors as a leader. Just like you upgrade your computer’s operating system to gain more power and capabilities, leaders must upgrade their operating systems with new thinking and higher-level beliefs in people and what’s required to achieve their full potential.
No compromise is a 100% commitment to getting things done. Compromise is something less, much less. Compromise thinking and behavior are the self-imposed speed bumps and stuck-in-your-box constraints that keep you in your current “box” of limited opportunity. Accountability to get things done, no matter how challenging, is the foundation that no-compromise leaders stand on. Accountability is unwavering. Accountability distinguishes world class from average.
Here are some no-compromise thoughts to keep accountability embedded in your thinking and behavior:
* Every commitment is a contract: Breaking commitments breaks trust. If you say you’re going to do something, do it – and do it on schedule. If situations will cause delay, communicate with those on the receiving end of the contract. Accountability and trust only exist when both are present.
* Identify what triggers you to compromise: When you encounter situations that trigger avoidance and procrastination, shift into no-compromise mode and engage. The longer you avoid or procrastinate on decisions, tasks or situations that cause you discomfort, the more difficult it is to engage.
* Manage your time: It’s hard to be accountable when your plate is overloaded. More importantly, focus on priority issues first. It’s amazing how many leaders can get real busy working on low-level projects and tasks. Knock off the big stuff first.
* Get an accountability coach: Getting a coach or mentor that is committed to helping you stay accountable is actually a huge step to becoming a no-compromise leader. If you have a track record of dropping the ball and being inconsistent, you need a coach or mentor. If you just felt a “trigger” of discomfort, that little voice inside you just told you to find an accountability coach.
Accountability is a practiced behavior that gets better the longer and harder you work at it. As a leader, accountability is a non-negotiable.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for? Why is it that things that need to be done, don’t get done?... Read More

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for?…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Do you have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company?

June 29, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or
course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever it is they want to do. Compromise resides within that justifying behavior. Absolute clarity deters this behavior. If it’s not taking the company toward its intended vision, it doesn’t happen.
I just completed teaching a No-Compromise Leadership Boot Camp course. On day one I introduced leaders to the ten tenets of no-compromise leadership. The very first tenet is, “Have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company.” I then challenged leaders to construct their own statement of clarity for their companies. I’m not talking about the construction of standard vision or mission statement. I want leaders, in their own words, to craft a detailed statement that defines their company’s quest for greatness. This clarifying statement must encompass what their company will look like when it reaches the top of the success mountain. As in all previous courses, these leaders found this seemingly simple challenge quite daunting.
On the morning of the second day, each leader presented their statement of clarity to the group. In every case, it was determined that their statements of clarity were far from complete. What they learned from this exercise is that their own lack of clarity, or inability to communicate that clarity, creates uncertainty and confusion throughout the company. Simply put, the vague and unclear destination of the company is open to all sorts of interpretation based on each employee’s perspective. Without clarity, a company can wander off course and get lost, or find itself on a long and inefficient course that may or may not reach its intended destination in time.
Here are some no-compromise thoughts to achieve and communicate clarity:
* Take a 30,000-foot view of your company:  Taking a high altitude view allows you to objectively assess where your company is, what’s working and what needs to change. The point is to get “out of your box” and explore all the possibilities – and do so without limitations.
* Think small – stay small. Think big – inspire change! Having absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company should be framed around a lofty goal. Lofty goals will get you and your team’s innovative juices flowing, build momentum and create excitement. You’re not going to capture the imagination of your team if your intent is to be average. What the heck, think big and go for the grand prize.
* Sell your clarity statement to yourself first: If you can’t get excited about your company’s potential and ability to achieve great things, don’t expect others to get excited. Furthermore, if you’re not committed to go the distance, those you intend to lead will know it. People follow leaders that are committed and passionate about achieving great things. They quit leaders that fear the work true success requires.
* Relentlessly communicate: Here’s a simple formula I use to illustrate how vital information flow is to the growth process. Increase your current level of information flow 100 fold. That’s right, dial up the intensity your communication systems 100 times. Everyone needs to know where the company is going. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Everyone needs to know the score.
In these crazy economic times, having absolute clarity where you’re taking your company is a non-negotiable. To be considered a no-compromise leader, you must have clarity. Otherwise, you may find that you’re leading your company to mediocrity.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever it is they want to do. Compromise resides within that justifying behavior. Absolute clarity deters this behavior. If it’s not taking the company toward its intended vision, it doesn’t happen.... Read More

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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