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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Performance? Results? It's The Activities That Really Matter!

I tweeted on Twitter (oh dear, how very crass that sounds) last week to say that I was looking forward to hearing US speaker Dan Barnett speak at my Vistage 10 group meeting on Tuesday last.

I most certainly wasn’t disappointed.  Dan gave a masterful exposition of his technique for success in business which simply emphasises the importance of activities versus the accountants’ approach of running the business against results.

The whole point of the exercise is that emphasising the rush for results is backwards looking whilst concentration on activities is forwards looking.

That seems simple and in essence it is.  The route to success lies essentially in a chain of events starting with the vision for perhaps the next three to five years.  In many ways this is the province of the leader but why not involve the top team in developing the measurable vision for the business.

The next link is perhaps the most important.  Dan says that there is one factor in every business which can make or break it and it is essential to identify that factor.  It ican be defined as the one thing that must be done to achieve the vision.

From there the team assesses the measurable activities that lead to the make or break and from the evidence, there is no doubt that the results will follow.

That is, of course, an encapsulation of a three hour session which captivated and inspired the group (and me) and I have no doubt that they will put his ideas into action.

It is most refreshing to be liberated from the chains of “results, results, results” and to realise that the most important things in the business are the activities which drive those results, which will inevitably happen.

It is not easy to make the transition from the traditional to the radical but it is well worth the attempt.  Nothing in business is easy but everything is possible.  Thank you Dan!

To contact us, email to ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk
Twitter: ivanjgoldberg

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ivan’s Blog’s Birthday - One Hundred Not Out!

When my left brain kicks in which is does occasionally, I actually enjoy looking at and assessing statistics.  The subject is usually immaterial but the numbers can be fascinating.

Somewhat to my surprise, I noticed this week, that this post will be the hundredth since I started writing the blog.   At the beginning it was rather intermittent but at the Vistage conference in 2009, I, with others in our breakout group (that’s conference speak), made a commitment to something for which we would be held accountable.

Having started the blog it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to write it on a regular basis and consequently, it has appeared every week since then.  Sunday is my usual day with occasional Mondays when we have a Bank Holiday weekend.

So what about the statistics?  Total page views since I started amount to 4,763 at an average per month of about 240 visits,  However, I was pleased to see that in the past month the total page views were 553 so it does seem that the blog is gaining some momentum.

Readership is about 76% in the UK, 15% in the USA, 6% Germany and the balance from Australia, France, Russia, Canada, Israel, Slovenia and Iran.  How’s that for a miracle of global communication?

So what can I learn from all this?  Firstly, I am determined to continue to write the blog and on a weekly basis.  It has become my first job on a Sunday and I was recently taken to task by a reader for being late one week after a computer problem.  I’ll see that it doesn’t happen again, I promise.

Secondly, it is the power of commitment and determination.  Rather to my surprise, I have been doing it for so long now that it has become second nature and I try not to let anything get in the way.

Thirdly, somewhat self-indulgently, I enjoy reading the comments that several of my readers take the time to write – thank you!

So, on this Father’s Day, it’s a double celebration for me to have hit the hundred blogs.  Note, this was never an objective but for me it has been an achievement and that is very motivating.

I now intend to get my head down a la Boycott (a cricketing allusion for my overseas readers) and set out for the next hundred.  We have a wonderful Chairman in Vistage USA, Pat Hyndman, who is well over ninety and still running a group. He says that he intends to continue until they carry him out on his own flip chart.

Not a bad way of looking at life.  Retirement at 66?  Forget it , get your head down, take guard again and bat on.  Now I have an objective – the next hundred!

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
Email to ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Physics, Biology, Maths? No, It;s The Chemistry That Matters!

Some time ago, in the dim and distant past, when Vistage was known as TEC, we had a wonderful speaker from the USA called Ed Ryan.  Ed is an HR specialist particularly in the sphere of recruitment and I have mentioned his strictures many times before.

His particular point, as I recall it, was that the most important factor in ensuring successful recruitment, especially at senior level, was the need to ensure that the individual fitted into and subscribed to the company’s culture.
In other words, was the person likeable?   Ed suggested that the acronym of TEC should be reversed so that the most important factor was C for chemistry.   E for experience may or may not be relevant and T for technology (whatever function of the business that implied) should frankly be a given.  We wouldn’t, for example, recruit a sales person to be financial controller (or the other way round for that matter).
I recall a colleague of mine once recruiting a salesman and I asked him: “What sort of a person is he?”
“Oh” he said: “He’s horrible but he will do a great job for us”
The salesman lasted six weeks and caused chaos and consternation in the business.
It does seem very simplistic to say that we need to like a person before hiring them but beneath all the facade of leadership and management we are merely human beings and we do tend to work better with people with whom we get on.
How often have we heard that “we need to get the right people on the bus”?   Defining the “right people” needs to start with “Do they fit in to our ethos and culture, do they and will they get on with others and do they smile more than they frown?”
After that the experts can come in and decide on the best candidate but only after the list has been comprehensively filtered to eliminate the horribles.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
To contact us, email to ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk
Twitter: @ivanjgoldberg

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Forget The Story, Just Gimme The Facts, Man!

Some years ago when I was working as a specialist product sales engineer I had a call late on Friday from our Leeds branch manager with whom, to put it mildly, I didn’t get on.

He said, rather abruptly: “I want to see you in my office, 9.00am Monday morning – all right?”

It wasn’t a matter for discussion and I said that I would be there.  The rest of the weekend was pure hell.  I went through every possible scenario as to why he wanted to see me.  What terrible error had I made in his area?  Which of his major customers had I annoyed? Had he had enough of our relationship?
I went into what I now call negative logic which starts with the issue, then works out all the negative consequences finishing up with a quick leap off Beachy Head, this being the only logical conclusion to the story.
I arrived as demanded at 9.00am in Leeds (pre-motorway days) and my antagonist said :”Thank you so much for coming; I have a terrible problem with a customer and you are the only one who can solve it”.
I suppose that I should have felt pleasure at that but the sensation was largely one of felling foolish, some relief and irritation that I had wasted a great deal of emotion over the weekend.
So what is the point of the story?  Story is the relevant word, of course.  We tend, when presented with a problem of some sort, to look at the issue and weave stories around it, making assumptions that are almost always negative.
One of my Vistage group members and Vistage speaker in waiting, David Roberts, ran an excellent session recently using the Deming Red Bead Experiment as the basis.  In the debate following, he made the point that we make more of the stories around a problem when what we should do is just to consider the facts.
It demands a cold look at what is actually happening without making assumptions, probably negative, as to what might happen as a consequence.
There is, of course, value in assessing what options may be available as potential solutions as long as they are based on the facts of the case.
Remember Nigel Risner’s mantra – Event (fact) plus Response (fact) equals Outcome (likely fact).
Keep the stories for children’s bedtime, better.

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.maa-uk.co.uk
To contact us, email ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk
Twitter: ivanjgoldberg