There are five population areas around the world where people live longer than the average US citizen by almost 25 years. They don’t just live long, they live well, remaining vibrant and healthy as they age. They are called Blue Zones and researchers study them to find commonalities. (more…)
Look around you. Listen to the conversations. Read pretty much any meeting agenda. What will you find? Lots of people discussing, reporting, communicating, and reviewing – activities described by what I call treadmill verbs.
Why do I call them that? (more…)
I am one of those people who can’t go to sleep at night until a problem is solved. I discovered this in math classes long before majoring in the subject in college. Heck, I discovered this as a small child every time I got my hands on one of those tangles of metal that can be separated into two parts only with the right twists and turns. As a software engineer, I continued to solve problems. All night long, if necessary. As a consultant, I am still solving problems, though now the problems involve business challenges, often quite twisted and tangled! And I’ve got to tell you, no matter how good I’ve gotten to be at solving problems, I still pay attention to process. Actually, let me flip that around. My success at solving problems is undoubtedly a result of using disciplined process.
If you want to solve problems effectively, especially when working with others, a disciplined process is invaluable. My SPOT™ Remover for Problems will save you time and help you avoid ‘solutions’ that aren’t really solutions because they don’t work! (more…)
Welcome to the Clarity Quiz!
Smart, effective problem-solving can be described in four basic steps. I’ve captured those steps using the acronym SPOT™, as in SPOT Remover for Problems™.
Which step(s) of the problem-solving process do you think people most often short-change?
- Specifics – The first step is to determine the specific conditions under which the problem does and doesn’t occur in order to find the cause. Do you see people short-changing the process of identifying those specific conditions?
- Potential Causes – The second step is to identify potential causes that explain the specific conditions under which the problem does and doesn’t occur. Do you believe most people give enough attention to identifying enough potential causes? Or do they come into the problem with preconceived notions about the cause? Or perhaps they are already thinking about their preferred ‘solution’?
- Options – The third step is to identify your options for eliminating the cause. Do you think people are too quick to glom onto a preferred ‘solution’ and never really consider other options?
- Test – The final step is to test the most promising option to see if it really does eliminate the cause of the problem. How often do you see these tests performed? Or do people find their preferred ‘solutions’ so exciting that they rush ahead without taking the time to test?
Make your selection and then continue to see if you are correct!
A good strategic framework provides focus by limiting the number of directions the organization runs. You’d be foolish to try to extend all your products while simultaneously expanding all your markets while also ramping up capacity or shifting your business model to include new types of production, sourcing, sales, delivery, and partnerships. This isn’t just an issue of capacity. It is also an issue of risk, learning, complexity, and credibility. (more…)
The RFP (Request For Proposal) process used by non-profit organizations has got to stop. It is inefficient and ineffective. There is no way it is in the best interests of your organization. Furthermore, there is no one in my global network of excellent consultants willing to participate and I’m sure we are not the only ones opting out.
Let’s start with the inefficiency (more…)
The biggest problem with the way organizations think about strategy is they confuse strategy with plans. They aren’t the same thing. Strategic planning is an oxymoron. It is also the reason why strategic planning often misses the mark and why I always work extra closely with prospective clients to clarify expectations before I even agree to work with them.
Let’s start with a definition (more…)
The assignment was to produce an agenda for a list of topics. I got a C.
There were no discernible objectives and no way to mine for intentions. I broke all the traditional rules—format, timeslots, responsibility assignments—by responding only with questions. The instructor wanted me to recognize how generous she was to give me a C. (more…)
I am frequently asked about goal setting and how to know if expectations are reasonable. The norm these days is long To Do lists and insufficient time. Managers push their employees hard, but don’t know what constitutes pushing too hard. Employees are proud and eager to be valuable and appreciated, but they feel stressed, are running full tilt, and often work late and on weekends. So how can anyone know what is realistic?
There is only one way to be sure expectations are reasonable and that way usually fails.