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Current Business Reality: Do You Have the Courage to Confront It?

Courage to Confront the Current Business Reality

Martin Luther King eloquently shared his “I have a Dream” speech and inspired all of us to not just focus on what is possible but also the current harsh reality of racism in the 1960s in the United States.

Peter Senge, the noted management and leadership scholar coined the phrase, creative tension, to inspire all of us to focus simultaneously on both our vision and our current business reality. He said that if we only focus on vision, others could consider us to be too optimistic and naïve. Dr. Senge said if we, however, only focus on our current reality, we could become discouraged and doubtful of ever achieving our vision and goals. How does this affect our current business reality?

Dr. Senge encourages us to focus on both; our vision for what is possible for our teams and our organizations as well as simultaneously focusing on the current business reality so we are not in denial or delusional.

Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, writes about a conversation he had with US Navy Vice Admiral and aviator, James Bond “Jim” Stockdale who shot down over Vietnam in 1965 and was a prisoner of war for the next 7.5 years. In this discussion, Collins asked Stockdale about his coping strategy during this period of captivity. Stockdale reported, “I never lost faith in the end of this story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

When Collins asked Stockdale who did not make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. They they’d say, “We’re going to be out by Easter.” And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.” Stockdale then added, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end-which can never afford to lose-with the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Jim Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.

I’ve seen leaders who lack the courage to confront the current business reality. Sometimes they don’t want to deal with the harsh facts or they remain naively optimistic about other people’s capacity to drive positive results regardless of the situation.

I worked for a leader early in my career that was absolutely delusional about the professionalism of his key leaders. He trusted but did he not verify. He let some of them bully him. He did refuse to acknowledge the high cost to the organization. The new leaders at all levels did not feel safe to share their concerns or even observations but he could not connect the dots to his key leaders and their styles. He hired change agents but then he allowed their peers to withhold information and resources so their success was limited or painfully prolonged. He never found his voice with his key colleagues, or at least he never demonstrated this when I worked for him.

When we remain in denial or even delusional, we tend to create a lot of chaos and confusion within our teams. When we have the courage to confront the brutal facts and take action based on those facts, we are able to create alignment at all levels. Then we find our business reality.

The key to having the courage is to focus on the facts and the data. Without the facts, it’s human nature to make up stories and put our own spin on these stories. “I know next quarter will be more robust”. “I know Bob and I know Bob didn’t mean to blow up that way in front of the team.” “I know everyone is committed to the same things.”

In order to build alignment, grow organizations and exponentially increase shareholder value, we must:

  • Get the facts backed up by data
  • Articulate to ourselves our values, our vision and our commitment to this organization
  • Find our voice so we can articulate all of this to others clearly, concisely and consistently
  • Demonstrate the courage to install consequences for bad behavior.

If you are interested in an executive dashboard in a cloud-based platform that supports everyone in staying focused on the facts in a positive, productive way let me know. We’ve analyzed them all and can give you a balanced perspective on the best ones.

Katharine Halpin has been facilitating transitions and M&A transactions since 1995. Long before that, however, she was able to identify leadership and management gaps and became a change agent leading efforts to close all those gaps.
The clients of The Halpin Companies consistently report they make more money and work fewer hours as a result of using our proprietary, proven methods to build alignment at all levels and grow shareholder value by a factor of 2-3 consistently and quickly.

The High Cost of Not Taking Action….

338 Words
Less than 2 minutes to read:
In times of great challenges or change of any kind, it is easy to hunker down, withdraw and attempt to white knuckle it.
“Our run rate doesn’t allow any investments at this time.” 
“Our revenues can barely service our debt so we have to wait until more debt is retired before we can make investments.”
“We have to fill 1-2 more key positions and then our team will be ready to take on new strategic initiatives.”
Yes…all these excuses, justifications and rationales make sense if you want to continue to do what you have always done.
However, if you are ready for transformational growth, ready to use new and different approaches, ready to shake folks out of their comfort zone then let’s talk.
The only sustainable approach to transformational growth is by building alignment at all levels.  If you delay making the investment to shake things up, you delay the growth potential.
In order to build the degree of alignment that will establish a solid platform for growth, we must be willing to get out of our own comfort zone, create environments for our colleagues to feel safe getting out of their comfort zones and be open to using new and different approaches, regardless of the risk.  High risk equates to high rewards.
Until we get everyone focused on our top 3 strategic growth priorities, communicate this clear focus in a way that engages every employee, contractor, supplier and vendor and get the right people in the right roles, we will never be ready because we will never have a solid foundation for transformational growth.
As Walt Disney said so eloquently, “The only way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Don’t wait another day to start to build the foundation you need so you can achieve the profitable, sustainable growth you deserve.
The Halpin Companies have been facilitating mergers, acquisitions and management/leadership transitions since 1995.  Our clients experience transformational growth that results in greater shareholder value.  For a complimentary, confidential consultation, contact Katharine Halpin at [email protected] or 602-266-1961.

What’s needed today? A balanced perspective!

Meg Whitman, CEO Of Hewlett Packard said at the 2016 Davos World Economic Forum “My view is that the future belongs to the fast”.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce says frequently, “Speed is the new currency of business.”

I say yes, of course.  But at what cost?

Yes, we must all be agile, nimble and able to pivot quickly but how has this intense focus on responding to emails 24/7 and making quick decisions, cost us in terms of the quality of our decisions?

I’m pleased to see Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey, and his colleagues have analyzed the benefits companies realize when they take a long-term perspective.

Today, our world is moving faster than ever. This pace and intensity requires leaders to be more grounded in the long-term view, what is important to them as individual leaders and what is most important to their organization, shareholders, their customers, their suppliers, and their employees. This grounding allows them to be agile while still making decisions in a consistent, disciplined manner.

McKinsey’s research indicates the increased value delivered by organizations with a long-term focus in terms of revenue, earnings, and economic profit translated into higher market capitalization: organizations with a long-term focus added $7 billion more in market capitalization on average than other firms between 2001 and 2014.

See their full report here by clicking here:

We have all been subjected to poor quality decisions made in haste. The world is moving faster than anyone could have imagined, even a decade ago. Strategic Planning is done in 18-month increments because none of us can predict beyond that short amount of time.  Because of this intense pace, leaders need the structure, discipline and accountability that occurs when they hold a long-term perspective.

I have seen the high cost that these short-term decisions made on the potential long-term success, as well as the current environment related to people, productivity and focus. Front-line leaders lose too much sleep when they experience unnecessary volatility in their focus.   The world around us presents volatility everyday. However, if leaders can maintain a long-term perspective, we can minimize this disruption to our people and our progress.

When a team takes on an 18-month project to build a better mousetrap and those team members sacrifice the quality of their lives and their time with their loved ones to purse their passions inside of this project, they do not take drastic change well.

When C-level leaders have a narrow perspective focused on this Quarter or next Quarter they tend to make volatile decisions that impact the viability and success of these longer-term initiatives.

A short-term focus invariably diminishes morale and employee engagement. Productivity, profitability and long-term success all take a hit as a result.

If I could dictate one thing to ever leader on the planet it would be to prescribe one hour of uninterrupted think time for every person currently in or aspiring to be in any kind of leadership role.

With this one-hour of strategic think time each day, consistently taken, leaders would start to have greater awareness about the red flags and key indicators that are always present but often overlooked.

This one practice would move leaders out of a frenzied and reactive mode into a strategic mode with a long-term focus, a broader perspective and a more consistent leadership style.

We must consider the unintended consequences of our actions and reactions. We cannot achieve a broad perspective without regular intervals of high quality solitude to think and then act strategically with a broad perspective about our long-term vision and goals.

Our economy depends on leaders who make decisions based on a longer-term perspective. McKinsey’s analysis indicates the organizations that held a longer-term perspective added nearly 12,000 more jobs on average than other organizations between 2001 and 2015.

Had all organizations created as many jobs as these longer-term focused organizations, the US economy would have added more than five million additional jobs over this period.

This suggests a potential value to our economy of more than a $3 trillion through 2025. This significant potential can be realized if we can support leaders in giving themselves the gift of regular intervals of strategic think time.

 

Katharine Halpin has been facilitating transitions in organizations of all sizes since 1995.  She founded The Halpin Companies to fill a void she saw everyday in her CPA career.  “Transactions and transitions fail to accomplish the forecasted shareholder goals simply because no one is focused on harnessing the power of the original enterprise.  Legal and Financial goals become the focus.  By focusing on leveraging the original enterprise by getting the right people in the right roles focused on the right priorities, organizations can grow by a factor of 200% to 300%”.

Katharine and her team have amassed a suite of tools and proprietary methods to exponentially increase shareholder value during a transaction or transition.

For a complimentary consultation, Katharine can be reached at 602-266-1961 or via email [email protected] To buy Katharine’s e-book about building in these reserves of time to think strategically, click here.

 

 

 

 

Alignment for Success – a 5-Part Book Review

I wrote my book, Alignment for Success; Bringing Out the Best in Yourself, Your Teams and Your Company in an effort to spread the word about my unique methodology for being a Strategic Leader.

 

I am thrilled with the response and feedback to this important book.  Jerre Stead, Chair and CEO of IHS, Inc. (who has served as CEO of 7 publicly held companies over his career) gives the book as a gift and tells people “this is what I believe”.

 

Jason Pistillo, President of the University of Advancing Technology, asked me to bring my book into their advanced curriculum because, as he stated, “we want to use the most contemporary thinking about leadership.”

 

And just recently Abbie S. Fink launched a 5-part Book Review.  Abbie is a leader in the business community in Phoenix and frequently reviews books for their blog at HMA Public Relations.

 

I’m so pleased to share Part 1 of her Book Review with each of you here:

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-1-alignment/

 

Here’s Part 2 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-2-driving-force/

 

Here’s Part 3 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-3-make-meeting-time/

 

 

Here’s Part 4 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-4-attitude-gratitude/

 

Here’s Part 5 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-5-creating-culture-high-performance/

 

 

Thanks so much Abbie for this extraordinary contribution to making work work for everyone!

Strategic Execution – If it was easy everybody would be good at it!

I so loved the recent NYTimes Corner Office interview by Adam Bryant with Chirsopher J. Nassetta, President & CEO of Hilton Worldwide. He reported that, with over 300,000 employees and lots of silos, his first job at Hilton was to build alignment. Can’t we all benefit from that transformational concept?

He described culture as guard rails. He expressed his belief about culture as this, “The culture of the company is what you stand for, essentially the ground rules so that people know how to operate. You give them a direction and boundaries. The trick is having an intense alignment around vision, mission, values and the key strategic priorities. My job as CEO, simply stated, is to create the right culture, set the tone, the high-level strategy.”

How are the guard rails in your organization? Do people know what the directions are, that is, can they all articulate the company’s top 5-7 strategic initiatives for 2012 or 2013?

What about boundaries? Do they know what behaviors work and what behaviors do not work? Are your teams aligned or do you have individual’s putting their self-interest in front of the team’s interest?

Today would be an outstanding day to get out of the office and go for a walk. Give yourself this gift of time to reflect on how you might buff up the guard rails in your organization. Let us know what actions you decide to take. Let us use your good ideas as our own R&D (rob and duplicate)!

For the full interview, click here.

Hilton Worldwide’s President & CEO of Simple Philosophy

If you know me, you know I love the NY Times’ Corner Office in the Sunday Business section. Since my definition of R&D is to ‘rob and duplicate’, I always love to steal the best ideas from successful leaders.  This weekly column by Adam Bryant is always full of great ideas.

On Sunday, October 14, the CEO of Hilton Worldwide, Christoper J. Nassetta, shared some real gems.  He articulated the appropriate role of a CEO succinctly and eloquently.  He said he has one simple philosophy…keep steady hands on the wheel.  I so love this.

To read the full interview click here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/business/christopher-nassetta-of-hilton-on-focusing-its-values.html

Think about your organization for a moment.  Are you driving results with such velocity that your colleagues feel intimidated or overwhelmed? Are you so innovative that they don’t know how to strategically capture all the potential opportunities for your company?  Or, if you’re like me, they all may have a warm fuzzy feeling about you and your company but they may not be clear about their Top 3 Strategic Initiatives for this quarter.

Whatever the opportunity, give yourself the give of ‘think time’ and see how you might, today, keep the steady hands on the wheel.  This way, you’ll be the strategic leader who is developing other strategic leaders.