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Business Reality

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.

I’m going to approach my 2014 Goals differently….

My primary Goal for our firm for 2014 is to continue to expand our platform exponentially. To continue to take our proven methodology and tools to bigger and bigger audiences and to let go of the obstacles that have prevented this in the past.

Of course, the biggest, oldest, toughest obstacle or barrier to growing The Halpin Companies has historically been me, Katharine Halpin. I am very pleased to report that this longstanding obstacle has finally been moved aside.

Every new client that comes to us has engaged our firm because I have asked them one question. After they share their vision and goals, I ask them, “do you want to approach this the easy way or the hard way”?

Invariably, they respond, “of course, the easy way!”

Then we get started.

If I know this and can facilitate, what I call quantum leap results for our clients, why haven’t I been able to utilize this approach and let our firm do things the easy way?

My commitment is to use the easy way in 2014 methodically and consistently, as a team! For me, the team approach is an absolute requirement. It is the only way for me to be successful.

We are going to achieve our goals the easy way by utilizing the same methodology and tools our clients learn from us…

1. We will focus as much on the process we use to drive results as we we will on the desired results.

By this I mean I will take the time, in advance, to share my vision and specific goals with the team and spend as much time as is required for them to own this vision and our plan as their own. We will then employ a variety of interim checkpoints to assess and revise our plans regularly. We will do this step for every project, new initiative and endeavor.

2, I will get the right people in the right roles, based on each individual’s strengths.

3. When we miss an opportunity or a deadline, I will take time to articulate what was missing. I will do this first for myself and then with the team.

Were we missing a collective commitment? Or, was one of us missing an individual commitment?

Were we lacking the skills?

Were we simply lacking the structure such as a detailed plan of action and some interim checkpoints?

When I am consistent in maintaining this strategic mindset The Halpin Companies enjoys exponential growth and success. More importantly, this success comes to us strategically and without a lot of effort. We rarely experience much stress when we follow these critical steps.

As we enter our 19th year, don’t you think it’s time I walk my talk consistently?

What obstacles could you remove or move aside in order to achieve your 2014 goals more strategically and more effortlessly?

Driving Results! It’s Just Not That Complicated IF You Sustain the Right Mindset

When was the last time you were frustrated, overwhelmed, or fatigued?  For me that was yesterday!  Because of some family commitments, I had not had a day for rejuvenation in two weeks.  I was tired and my mindset was not positive.

Once I had an afternoon of relaxation, time soaking in the hot springs here in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and a good night’s sleep, my perspective was much more balanced and clear.

The key to getting into and sustaining the right mindset is to adopt the perspective of a Scientist.  To maintain an attitude of, ‘I am just experimenting. I am collecting data and learning from every iteration.  I am developing new plans and approaches from these learnings.  Most importantly, I am developing myself both personally and professionally because of the learnings and the experiments.’

To sustain that mindset of a Scientist allows us to be grateful for the good times and the hard times.

To be able to be grateful for our situation and circumstances is one of the most powerful approaches to having a life, family, community, company and career you love.  Once you have this gratitude and appreciation, its easier to build on what is working and create more of that.

This provides the opportunity to be generous with yourself and others.

Then all the good experiences tend to multiply and the limiting, frustrating situations tend to melt away.

Where you could you adopt the mindset of a Scientist today?

Driving Results! It’s just not that complicated…..

What are the factors that drive results?

Certainly getting the right people in the right roles is Priority #1.  Without this fundamental in place, you’ll always be in reaction mode.

Once you have the Right People in The Right Roles, you are ready to drive the Right Results.

When  someone is not being successful in driving results, it is typically because one of 3 things is missing:

1). Their own personal commitment, or their will to succeed

2).  Their skills (see above)

3).  The structures that the organization provides.

99.9% of the time it is because the structure is inadequate, incomplete or not easy to follow.

The very best tool I’ve found in my 40+ year career is a Jack Welch tool, Execute to Win:  www.etw.com

This ideology, methodology and cloud-based technology aligns your people to strategy and measures not just results but objectively measures each individual’s performance and results related to the culture.  For more information about this revolutionary tool or to schedule a demo, email me at [email protected]

Freedom and Independence from Our Judgments

Happy 4th of July to our US-based readers. I hope you all get an experience of real rejuvenation over this 4-day holiday.

I find that most of us benefit from regular periods of rest and relaxation.  As a matter of fact, I believe we all experience overwhelm on a regular basis and most of us cannot articulate this experience.  Our colleagues and loved ones just find us to be crabby periodically!

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the enormity of your challenges and the obstacles in front of you?

Do you even experience a recurring sense of fatigue from your obligations?

Consider for a moment that all of this might disappear easily and, even permanently, if we could find a way to let go of the shoulda, woulda, couldas.

Do any of these mindsets resonate for you?

* This situation (fill in the blank) should not be this way!

* This guy doesn’t get it!

* This team is never going to perform!

When we allow ourselves to linger in these perspectives, mindsets, and judgments, we severely limit our effectiveness.

We put up barriers to our best thinking and actions.

We put up barriers between ourselves and our colleagues.

We limit the potential for a positive, productive and timely outcome.

The key for all of us is to maintain the mindset and perspective of a Scientist who is conducting multiple experiments everyday.  We want to gather data and the facts. We want to conduct experiments to prove or disprove our theorems and hypothesis.  We want to learn from every iteration of every experiment.  “Boy, that approach sure didn’t work with Bob!”

The key is to remain curious and fascinated.  We cannot let ourselves go to the place of becoming judgmental.  Bob will sniff it out as quickly as a dog sniffs fear.

If you have clear evidence that Bob is, in fact, a real idiot, please review our Blog Posts on gratitude.  If you like this approach, you might enjoy our free e-book at www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

I hope you get to celebrate your new-found freedom and independence from the judgments that weigh us down and cause fatigue, worry and ineffectiveness.

The Hard Way or The Easy Way: Decision-Making

Decision-making is one of the most important responsibility of leaders, second only to getting the right people in the right roles.  Unfortunately, very few leadership teams know how to make decisions that will withstand the test of time.  How can we all make better decisions?

They key is to start with the hard facts, objective data that is well organized and easy to understand.  Once we have the facts in front of everyone, it is more difficult for any one of us to make up stories based on our own agenda or perspective.

The next step is to establish a process and timeframe for making a decision.  The process should specify roles for each team member (facilitator, context provider, decion-maker, etc) and the desired outcome.  Everyone should have a clear understanding of the problem to be solved.  The process should include enough time and discussion to ensure everyone buys in to the problem statement and objectives.  Otherwise, team members might unintentionally sabatoge decisions down the road.

Decision-making like all aspects of leadership is not difficult.  But, with all components of effective leadership, it requires getting out of our comfort zone, getting out of our typical distracted states and focusing in a strategic and proactive manner.

The Hard Way or The Easy Way: Deciding Where to Focus?

I woke up this morning early because I was still energized by my busy Thursday.  I started with an 8 am breakfast with a CEO client.  We’ve worked together since 2005 and now our consultations occurs at The Ritz Carlton over breakfast.  He shares the successes his 1,200 person company is enjoying as well as some significant solutions in his son’s family owned business.  How does this leader determine what to focus on?  He is guided constantly by his commitment to excellence in business, of course, but also by his commitment to a high standard of gracious living and success for his community, his company, his people and his family.  He knows what is important and how to allocate his time and resources accordingly.

I got a voice mail a little later in the day from a former client in DC.  He so values connections with others that he stays in touch and reaches out when important events occur in my life.  This, from one of the most knowledgeable and influential people in DC in his industry.  An industry bombarded with intense pressure to provide higher quality of services at much lower costs while under tremendous regulatory scrutiny.

I ended my work day with my colleague, Barbara Ralston, in a meeting with a long-time client and one of his new executives.  This client has been an inspiration to me for over a decade because of his commitment to his people and his family.  He shared about coming back this week from the East Coast after taking his high achieving grandson to tour an Ivy League college as well as several other colleges and Universities and NYC, DC and Baltimore.  This leader knows how to make time for what is most important to him.

What gives these extraordinary leaders, at the pinnacle of their careers, the ability to take time out to think strategically with me, to celebrate successes and to invest time in growing their businesses, other family members and themselves?  They know their values and they use this self-knowledge to guide their day to day activities, their goals and their aspirations for others.

They do not allow themselves to be consumed by the challenge of the day!

What is missing in your life, career, business, and  calendar that prevents you from focusing on what is most important?

The Hard Way or The Easy Way: You Get to Choose

Do you find yourself reacting to the ‘challenge of the day’, putting out fires constantly, never having a minute to think about the big picture?  Okay, so none of us are like this all day, everyday but many of us spend too much of our time in this reactive mindset.

If we want to use The Easy Way, we have to use a different, more proactive mindset.

First we must get out of our comfort zone and use new and different approaches.  What got you here, won’t get you there, as they say.

Then we have to get the right people in the right roles driving the right results.  We have to do this right now!  We cannot transform  the culture of an organization from The Hard Way to The Easy Way(tm) without creating a sense of urgency and energy.  If you are working too hard, I guarantee all your people are not engaged with energy and enthusiasm.  Creating this energy and enthusiasm is the first step.

People are motivated and excited about winning.  The Easy Way makes the wins come frequently, consistently and strategically.

I will be blogging about this topic over the next few weeks so make sure to check back in to hear more about The Easy Way to Win(tm).

Gratitude Week – A Powerful Example of Using Gratitude to Control Our Own Destiny – Karen Perry’s journey from loss to gratitude

In an effort to not offend my friends and colleagues who chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but focus on celebrating with their loved ones a Fall Harvest Celebration, I hesitate to say, “Happy Thanksgiving”!

I am with family and friends in the mountains of Northern Arizona with amazing weather and time for real rejuvenation.

This week I have been writing about aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all. In yesterday’s AZ Republic, Pulitzer prize-winning, columnist, Laurie Roberts, shared the amazing story of Karen Perry. Karen is the mother from Mesa, AZ that lost all 3 of her young children last Thanksgiving eve.

Her story is a powerful testimony to resiliency, gratitude and moving forward powerfully. She really is controlling her own destiny after devastating losses.

Please take the time this holiday weekend to read the full article at www.azcentral.com to read Laurie Robert’s 11/21/12 column on Karen Perry.

A search for Laurie Roberts will bring up yesterday’s column. Give your self the gift of this inspiring account.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!