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Executive Coaching: Why Bother? Why Now?

COVID-19 is spiking, Oregon’s Governor Brown just declared a two-week freeze, and businesses are scrambling to determine what the 2021 landscape will look like. Some predict the virus’s spread will worsen and further shutdowns will be necessary, while others anticipate a return to quasi-normality following the introduction of a vaccine. In any case, uncertainty is the name of the game.

As a leader, you need to be prepared for not just the present, not just what’s around the corner, but what lies beyond the foreseeable future. Instead of lamenting potential revenue losses during these fragile times, begin to think of this pause as an opportunity to deepen your and your team’s knowledge, skills, and vision so your company is resilient enough to withstand and even triumph during times of crisis.

To give your organization the best chance of surviving—and thriving—you need to focus on your own growth, sanding down the rough edges while equipping yourself with a toolkit for success.

Co-Active Coaching

Executive coaching can take you there … but not just any type of executive coaching. Capiche leans on co-active coaching techniques like those taught at the Co-Active Training Institute, which emphasize clarity of communication, conversation, awareness-raising, and concrete actions.

A co-active leadership coach partners with you to reveal your strengths and push you toward greatness. Together, you will identify problem areas and strategies for addressing those weaknesses. Be prepared to be inspired—and held accountable.

Are You Ready?

Before you dive in, ask yourself, Are You Ready to Be Coached? Don’t fool yourself—the co-active coaching process is hard work. But that hard work yields exceptional results.

Growth can be painful. It may require you to examine aspects of yourself you’d rather leave hidden. Exposing those vulnerabilities, however, can divest them of their power over you and enable you to rise above them.

Co-active coaching is a creative, experimental process. You need to enter it with an open, willing mind to fully benefit from the experience.

You also need to let go of perfectionism—waiting for the perfect moment to start, the perfect moment to pursue a new idea, the perfect moment to resolve issues that have been festering underneath the surface. The perfect moment is NOW.

What Do You Get Out of Co-Active Coaching?

Honing your emotional intelligence (EI), strengthening your willpower muscle, developing true grit, deepening your humility, heightening your sense of responsibility—all of these occur as part of the co-active coaching process and ultimately result in your becoming the finest leader you possibly can be.

Perhaps the best-known executive coach in the world, Marshall Goldsmith has conducted extensive research on what drives leadership success. As discussed in this Capiche blog post, the level of employee engagement is not the responsibility of the employees but rather their managers. It is when leaders accept that responsibility that their team begins to mirror that behavior back. You need to model the type of person you would like your team members to be.

Is it worth the effort? If you care about your company, your team, and yourself, then the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”

In this Forbes article, business thinker and author Erika Andersen outlines the following benefits of executive coaching:

  1. It helps you see yourself more clearly.
  2. It helps you see others more clearly.
  3. It teaches you new ways to respond.
  4. It illuminates how to leverage your existing strengths.
  5. It enables you to build more productive relationships.
  6. It gives you the tools to achieve what you want.

It’s Time

So you’re convinced. You realize it’s time to stop procrastinating and to commit to co-active coaching. How do you find the right fit for your personality, needs, and goals? Read this blog post for starters. Then contact Chris Cook at chris@capiche.us or 541.601.0114 to schedule a complimentary phone or video consultation so you can discover if she is the right co-active leadership coach for you.

True Grit Revisited

What’s the strongest predictor of success in life—at the office, in school, on the field, or in relationships? Is it IQ, EQ, socioeconomic background, leadership skills, or talent? Actually, it’s none of those. It’s grit. This realization came back to me in full force amidst the non-stop, ever-changing COVID-19 predictions, and the whirlwind that has invaded our daily lives. When I first posted this blog in April of 2016, the world was a different place. Yet the premise has never rung more true. Please read on, and let me know if you agree.

From spelling bee finalists to Westpoint cadets, athletes to rookie teachers, scholars to salespeople, MacArthur fellow and University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found two consistent predictors of achievement: grit and self-control.

Duckworth discusses the pioneering research on grit she and her colleagues have been conducting at the Duckworth Lab in the following TED talk.

What Seventh-Graders Taught Duckworth

Having left a lucrative job in management consulting to teach seventh-grade math, Duckworth started noticing something funny. The students with the sharpest IQs were sometimes the lowest achievers, and those with poorer IQ scores sometimes outshone their more talented peers.

None of the typically assumed factors for success accounted for the patterns she was seeing. What did those who excelled have in common?

After five years of teaching, Duckworth got a PhD in psychology to find out. She shares these discoveries in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. A fast-rising #1 bestseller in Educational Certification & Development at Amazon, the book explores why focused persistence gets us further than raw ability.

It’s Not How You Succeed—It’s How You Fail

Those who glide through life don’t get a chance to develop the stamina and chutzpah that help them overcome obstacles when they do arise. Grit is not about skating by but rather about doggedly bouncing back every time you stumble.

Authentic Happiness author and positive psychology luminary Martin Seligman is part of the team heading up the Growth Initiative, which focuses on the subject of growth through adversity.

Seligman and his colleagues are interested in identifying how and why some people thrive following tragedy while others wither. Their goal is “to better understand the conditions under which people can experience positive behavioral changes after going through highly stressful adverse events.”

Japan: A Case Study in Post-Traumatic Growth

Just as a scar thickens the skin, trauma can build the resilience necessary to weather future calamities.

A case study in post-traumatic growth, the nation of Japan flourished following the physical and psychological devastation wrought by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Written following the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis, this New York Times article argues that it is Japan’s very history with trauma that would enable it to heal from the latest onslaught.

In the article, authors Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland outline the five necessary conditions to cultivate in the face of mass trauma:

  1. a sense of safety;
  2. calm;
  3. a sense of self and community efficacy;
  4. connectedness; and
  5. hope.

We can carry those lessons over into our individual lives as we learn to cope with—and grow through—adversity.

An Undercover FBI Agent Shares Her Secrets

Former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent LaRae Quy shares these five tips for building the confidence needed to succeed in an informative article:

  1. Don’t fear failure. Taking risks, challenging yourself, and making mistakes give us an opportunity to learn—and grow. In other words, it’s what Homer Simpson calls a “crisitunity.”
  2. Value feedback. Quy cites recent Leadership IQ research indicating that lack of coachability accounted for 26 percent of failed new hires. Those who seek out and embrace constructive feedback are more likely to evolve.
  3. Practice. It gets you to Carnegie Hall for a reason—the more familiar you are with a task, the more effortlessly you will be able to execute it. You will also recover from a misstep with more grace.
  4. “Only connect.” Having the support and mutual respect of colleagues will bolster your confidence and strengthen your sense of community.
  5. Build grit. We’ve already learned the value of grit from Duckworth. There is no pearl without the sand.

How Much Grit Have You Got?

Find out by completing the Grit Survey available at Authentic Happiness. Registration is free, and you’ll gain access to tons of goodies.

How have encounters with adversity led to your growth? Are you ready to up your game?

Chris Cook can help you develop the necessary grit to achieve your goals. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris today.

Note: This is an updated version of a previously published post.

Business Not As Usual: The Most Important Thing to Do Now to Prepare for an Uncertain Future

Now’s the time to plan for the new normal when we’re back in business. Things are different now and will be different then. Expectations are different. And your modus operandi had better be different if you want to retain, recapture, and attract customers.

Do it now. Create—or update—your strategic plan.

Now’s the time to look around and get in touch with the new competitive landscape. So much has changed and is still changing. Especially customer expectations. Like it or not, it’s true—a privilege once granted becomes a right that’s expected.

Even if you have a strategic plan in place, there’s no doubt it will need a massive re-imagination as the competitive landscape has experienced an earthquake with numerous aftershocks (many still to come) resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a nutshell, strategic planning identifies the purpose of an organization (vision and mission), what it will do, how it will perform (goals and measurable objectives), and under what terms it will operate (values).

It specifies baseline capabilities as well as real or potential constraints that may exist or be placed on an organization, delivering a set of goals and requirements to achieve desired outcomes. A strategic plan enables an organization to establish direction and priorities while focusing on the critical actions necessary to implement and achieve the mission. A strategic plan improves resource utilization, reduces redundancy, and allows an organization to both create stability and seek opportunity.

What are your competitors offering? What are consumers expecting? For grocery stores, delivery and curbside pickup are the new normal. For wineries, free shipping is the new normal. How will you stand out from the competition and stay true to your brand?

Start with SWOT

Revisit that SWOT analysis you did or create one now. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in this new business landscape? Are there strengths in your customer base, market position, products, sales channels, or profitability? Are there weaknesses in your financial resources, staffing, or competitive vulnerability? Are there opportunities to enter new markets, form alliances, pursue M&As, and launch new products? And how are the threats surrounding the economy, lack of financial resources, loss of key staff, and more aggressive competition affecting you?

With this information at hand, you can answer these four key questions.

1) Why does this organization exist?

This can be answered in the refinement of the organizational vision, mission, and values, which define the purpose and function of the organization.

2) What should be the major work of the organization?

This is answered in the development of strategic goals, which are based on the critical issues and needs facing the organization.

3) How will the work of the organization be completed?

Here’s where we drill down to department-level objectives. Your strategies and tactics will be developed with specific details of implementation written in an action-planning format with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timebound).

4) What are your staffing, budget, and financing needs?

With all the departmental needs defined and quantified, we round them up to a centralized plan with an organizational structure and budget. If your financing is not at the required level, there are two solutions: either decrease the plan to a level you can afford or raise the capital required to achieve the full plan.

Together Yet Apart

You may be thinking, “But we can’t all get together to do this, and I can’t imagine a daylong ‘meeting’ online.” Well, true. Capiche is working with a model that uses the Zoom platform in shorter sessions—I’ll outline below.

Using breakout ‘rooms’ and collaboration tools, this format has the potential for even better outcomes than a daylong marathon session.

For example, at the first session, you can complete the SWOT analysis and set the stage for what’s to come. Each of the following sessions could focus on answering one of the four questions outlined above.

These shorter sessions are easier for your team to schedule since they can participate from their own home. You’ll find that you can keep things moving, interesting, and completely interactive with skillful use of the many online communication tools available. I’ve found a comprehensive review of these items in a recent blog post by Lucid, and I selectively use these tools to enhance processes and outcomes. They include:

  • collaborative document editors
  • simple sticky-note applications
  • dedicated group brainstorming and decision-support software
  • virtual design spaces and visual management tools

These tools make the process easy and FUN! Actually, it’s way better than spending a day or two cooped up together in a room slogging through the typical process.

For each of the Zoom planning sessions, I like to use this format—and it works both in-person and online:

  1. Discuss topic context and background.
  2. Engaging in individual brainstorming during which each person writes their ideas on separate notes.
  3. Share ideas with the whole group—posting to the group space.
  4. Group or cluster underlying concepts.
  5. Enable voting on priorities.
  6. Create a working draft.
  7. Determine next steps.

Get Started Today

Capiche is currently working with organizations remotely with great success, and we can do the same for you. Let’s get started on your organization’s new strategies for success as we all find our way toward the future. Call 541.601.0114email, or use our contact form today.
Now’s the time to plan for the new normal. Click To Tweet

The News Is Making Me Sick—and Killing My Business!

Accidents. Scandals. Deaths. Lawsuits. Layoffs. Pandemics. All of these events—and others you’ve never imagined—can impact your business. Do you have a crisis communication plan?

With the coronavirus sweeping the country, I’m getting email blasts from businesses far and wide—with varying messaging. From a nonprofit group: “We’re writing to inform you that the …  Conference Steering Committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s conference.… We make this decision out of an abundance of caution and in the best interest of current public health concerns.”

And from my residence, Ashland, Oregon: “On March 12, 2020, Governor Kate Brown announced urgent new rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Oregon based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon public health experts, epidemiologists, and health professionals. This includes the cancellation of all large gatherings over 250 people statewide effective immediately for four weeks. As a result, venues that host large public events, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Angus Bowmer and Thomas Theatres, will be closed beginning March 12, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Why Have a Crisis Communication Plan

Michael Turney, professor of communication at Northern Kentucky University (with a robust communication strategy related to the virus and its implications to the campus community), likens having a crisis communication plan to auto insurance.

“Most of us purchase automobile accident insurance even though we’re statistically more likely to not have an accident than to have one,” Turney states. “So, buying insurance is also a way of planning for something that may not happen, and most auto insurance policies sit in drawers gathering dust. Despite this, clear-thinking drivers do not forego car insurance, and knowledgeable communicators do not try to get by without a crisis communication plan.”

The time to create your plan is before you need it. However, necessity is often the mother of invention.

Elements of a Crisis Communication Plan

1) Identify critical stakeholders, such as:

  • employees
  • shareholders
  • donors
  • vendors
  • media

2) Define tasks:

  • Who makes the decisions and directs operations, keeping the team updated?
  • Who keeps employees—and possibly their families—updated?
  • Who will serve as the spokesperson, publicly announcing new developments, articulating the organization’s positions, and handling media interviews?
  • Who will assist with arranging interviews and distributing background information to the media? How might this person help with fact-checking to support the spokesperson?
  • Who will communicate with investors, especially if the situation results in financial uncertainty?
  • Who will monitor phone calls, emails, and social media posts to appropriately route crisis-related messages and responses?

3) Create a crisis communication team roster that identifies specific people who can take on each task.

  • Be sure contact information (cell phone, email, home address) for each person is current. If the organization is large, include current job titles and departments.
  • Add at least one or more people who can back-fill for each task.

4) Share the plan with all employees and update it with every change in personnel.

5) Create (or gather) boilerplate information about the organization that can be available to the media.

Are You Ready?

In this crisis, do you need immediate assistance with communication to your stakeholders and the media? Do you need help developing a crisis plan for your business? We can quickly step in to help with practical, actionable advice. Call 541.601.0114email, or use our contact form today.
The time to create your plan is before you need it. Click To Tweet

Yes, It’s BiG—a BiG Fail! 5 Ways to Avoid a Colossal Campaign Clunker

At the end of each year, many publications “celebrate” the worst marketing campaigns of the year. Less than 40 days into the new year, and there was already a regrettable fail that hit my mailbox. Earlier this month, I published this to my Capiche.wine blog. While I was at the Oregon Wine Symposium last week, several of my readers remarked that they’d been appalled by this example of a marketing fail—so much so that I decided to share the story on this site as well. Here ya go!

The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium has moved from downtown Sacramento to Cal Expo—the state’s fairgrounds. This was a great decision as it centralizes the entire three-day event. “It’s Going to Be BiG” was a good marketing theme. The location change will give 14,000 wine industry members the opportunity to network and visit the 700+ industry suppliers without having to travel throughout the downtown.

BiG Unified Wine and Grape Symposium Wine Spectator Cover

“It’s Going to Be BiG” is a PR nightmare! Because of the way the circular is folded, there is the appearance of a massive breast, complete with an areola, with the tiniest squirrel positioned in front of what looks like a nipple. The acorn is about 16 times larger than the squirrel, hence the “BiG”—except conference organizers (and worse yet, their graphic design team) didn’t look at the circular in its folded format, or so they say.

We called both sponsors of the event—the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG). One organization was understanding and concerned. The other was more defensive.

Ideally, your organization and the marketing team and graphic artist will look at every ad as it will be delivered. We were told this didn’t occur. Seasoned marketing professionals know to do this. We would like to believe there was never the intent to produce an offensive ad, but this was a colossal fail. And the defensive response from one organizer compounded the problem.

Five ways to avoid a colossal clunker:

  1. Consider your audience—will the messaging resonate with them (or, in this case, disgust them)?
  2. Be sensitive to cultural references and stereotypes (e.g., H&M).
  3. Review timing so as not to cause confusion with unrelated activities that may be added with your campaign (e.g., Milwaukee Bucks).
  4. Involve others in your organization in the review process—different perspectives can reveal problems before it’s too late.
  5. Test content in all formats—online mobile, tablet, and desktop; printed flyers (folded and not), print ads, and so on.

How to recover:

So, what do you do if you have a colossal failure? Get out in front of it. Pull it off the web, out of the publications, off the walls. Issue a public apology and move on with a more appropriate campaign. Ironically, this “bad” attention gives your organization a chance to self-correct and look “good” in the public’s eye. And they’ll pay more attention to the new campaign as a result. But don’t use this as a PR tactic—it’s better to have a strong campaign to begin with, and that should be every marketer’s goal.

Note: This post was originally published at our sister site, Capiche.wine.
What do you do if you have a colossal failure? Get out in front of it. Click To Tweet

Management and Intuition

How will you manage in 2020? Is it time to shift your usual protocols? Here are some thoughts you may find useful. Thank you to my friend and colleague John Lamy for this post.


Why Intuition in the Age of Management Science?

Starry Night by Vincent van GoghTwo reasons: First, intuition is a prerequisite for real insight, meaning a fresh understanding of the situation, seeing a reality that you hadn’t noticed before. “Wow, our company is overlooking a major market!” Insights like that are pure gold.

Second, intuition is the primary ingredient of creativity. If you want your organization to truly thrive, you need a continuous stream of innovation in your products, marketing, operations, hiring, and on and on. Otherwise, you’ll be lumped with the lackluster has-beens on the closeout rack.

What Is Intuition?

Intuition usually starts as a subtle feeling in your body, followed by a preverbal stirring, and then you notice a very quiet voice in your head. The whole process is ethereal, way below the radar.

Example: You finish your cup of coffee, and your mind feels quietly present. You stroll out onto the factory floor. You see the latest run of product—50 instruments lined up and ready for packaging and shipping. Then, you feel a little quiver in your gut … you notice that quiver … hmmm. Suddenly: “We could promote our product in the industrial refrigerant industry! It’s huge, we’ve never played there, and we would help reduce climate change!” For you and your company, that’s an intuitive breakthrough! Now go check it out.

How Can You Develop Intuition?

Employee Working with Gantt ChartRational thought is not the enemy of intuition. They are actually vital allies. In fact, intuition’s mortal enemy is our prevailing compulsion to fill every moment with physical or mental activity. We often do that under the banner of efficiency and productivity.

To cultivate your intuition, begin by setting aside a few moments, several times a day, to do nothing at all! Truly feel your body, drop your preoccupations, and let your thoughts go. Open a welcoming space for that quiet little voice to speak up; and when it speaks, listen gratefully. And … just know that intuitive insights aren’t always sweetness and light!

Three caveats here: first and foremost, learn to distinguish your biases and old hurts and angers from something authentically new. Just let the old stuff go, without judgment or feeling bad about it. Second, after your intuitive leap, go back to your old friend rational thought. Is this insight really right? Doable? Risky? Think about it.… Third, studies consistently show that real intuition works best when you have solid knowledge of the underlying field. Even though it can feel good, don’t just opinionate in a vacuum and attribute it to intuition.

All this takes a while. Don’t expect instant results. Enjoy the ride!

Note: This post was originally published at our sister site, Capiche.wine.
Rational thought is not the enemy of intuition. They are actually vital allies. Click To Tweet

11 Ways to Bring Your Web Presence to the Next Level

First impressions can create a lifelong ambassador or a disappointed grumbler—and those impressions can spread exponentially for the positive or negative, depending on the customer’s experience. Whether it’s your label design or website, this is your chance to woo prospective patrons. Before that can even happen, though, they must be able to find you online.

Here are 11 ways to bring your web presence to the next level so you’re not only reaching a wider audience but ensuring those who find you have an enjoyable, memorable experience.

  1. Be unique. If your website doesn’t currently align with your branding (or your branding itself needs honing), it may be harming rather than helping your online presence. You don’t want your website to look like another cookie-cutter template users forget as soon as they bounce but rather a reflection of your unique culture and graphic identity. Ideally, it will wed aesthetically striking design with seamless functionality to create a gratifying user experience that inspires visitors to explore—and come back.
  2. Make it mobile-friendly. The number of people accessing websites via mobile devices increased 222% from 2013 to 2018, and that upward trend is only growing. If your website is not responsive (adapts according to screen dimensions), users on mobile devices will have trouble navigating it—and, worse, Google will penalize your site in its search engine rankings.
  3. Lock it down. Google recently announced that Chrome will start blocking insecure elements on sites with mixed content, beginning with a disconcerting warning to visitors about insecure content in an upcoming Chrome release with full blocking of insecure elements (e.g., images, scripts, stylesheets, or pages) by January or February. That means sites with http elements instead of https (secure/SSL) may appear broken or be altogether inaccessible to people using Google Chrome as their browser. Try viewing your website in Chrome and take a look at the url bar—if there is a lock next to the url on all your pages and posts, you’re good to go. An information icon (circle with an ‘i’ inside) indicates mixed content, whereas that same symbol followed by “Not Secure” warns all of the content on that page is insecure.
  4. Streamline images. Google has been placing growing emphasis on the speed of page loads in its search engine algorithm, and that has become heavily weighted in recent years, especially in the context of mobile devices. One of the ways to accomplish a significant speed boost without compromising image quality is to convert images to the new WebP image format recently introduced by Google.
  5. Track conversions. Ever wonder how traffic flows through your site, where it comes from, and whether these referrals result in valuable actions? You may be paying for a directory service or advertisements but have no idea whether those investments are worthwhile. Setting up conversion funnels and tracking will help you make decisions that garner the best bang for your buck.
  6. Scope out the competition. An SEO expert can conduct a competitor analysis to identify challenges, tease out unique opportunities, and recommend how to make your website rise above the rest. A one-time investment in in-depth SEO research and analysis can pay huge dividends when it comes to crafting and implementing an effective online marketing strategy.
  7. Make it accessible. Getting an ADA compliance audit can help you determine whether your website is accessible to those with disabilities—a concern that has escalated with the rise of ADA lawsuits, including winery websites. This is one of those situations where an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure as it potentially saves thousands in lawsuit costs.
  8. Build buzz. There’s no denying the power of social media, and harnessing that power is crucial to the success of every business these days. If you’re not regularly posting to Facebook and Instagram (and to a lesser extent, Twitter), you’re missing an opportunity to broaden your fan base, encourage engagement, and create faithful followers who happily spread the word about your business.
  9. Reach out. Whether it’s a Facebook post, Instagram story, or Google ad, geotargeted ad campaigns can zero in on the precise demographics best-suited to your products or services, making your brand visible to thousands who may otherwise be unaware of your company.
  10. Keep in touch. Your mailing list is one of your most precious assets. These are folks who have already expressed interest in your business and want to keep up with the latest news. By providing valuable dynamic content through regular blog posts and sharing that content via e-newsletter campaigns, you reward existing customers with pertinent information and draw new users to your website through compelling blog topics. Philip vanDusen’s Brand•Muse and Keto Savage’s 7-Set Sunday are two exceptional examples of engaging, authentic, valuable e-newsletters that follow consistent patterns so you can always jump to your favorite sections—or read top to bottom to savor every morsel.
  11. Control your Google presence. Do you have a Google My Business page, and if so, is it up-to-date? When you do a Google search, the relevant Google My Business page is displayed in the righthand sidebar. It provides a synopsis of the business/service provider, contact info, relevant images, and a link to your website. Setting up a Yelp page is also essential for those with brick-and-mortar establishments. Both Google business and Yelp pages inspire greater confidence and contribute to a professional, unified online presence.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Don’t panic—Capiche can help you with all of the above services and more through our affiliate Michaels & Michaels Creative, LLC. We can create a custom plan tailored to your particular needs and budget. Don’t hesitate to email Michaels & Michaels Creative and ask for the Capiche discount of $200 on combo packages featuring four or more services. We look forward to helping you bring your web presence to the next level!

Note: This post was originally published at our sister site, Capiche.wine.
First impressions can create a lifelong ambassador or a disappointed grumbler, and those impressions can spread exponentially. Click To Tweet

The 3 Dimensions of “The Big Goal”

Below is the next in a series of guest articles by Capiche friend and colleague John Lamy.

The research is conclusive: teams perform better when they’re shooting for a Big Goal. Jim Collins (of Built to Last fame) called it the BHAG for Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

But then what? Here’s a handy way of thinking about goals for your group. Consider three interlocking scales:

  1. Push the Envelope or Hold the Fort. You’ll want one big goal that will carry your organization to a new place: “Introduce the new gigulator to the market by October 1.” Excellent. But in the meantime, you’ll also need a few goals just to keep the lights on. “Meet Production Commitment of 750 current model units shipped by the end of the year.” You’ll want to track that Hold the Fort goal as well. The idea is to balance the two kinds.
  2. Stretch Goals. I personally don’t like them. The definition is that we’re only 70% likely to achieve them. I think stretch goals can burn people out and be demoralizing when the team falls short. But the research finds that organizations perform at a higher level with stretch goals than with easier goals that everyone is 100% committed to. Go figure. I still vote for Committed rather than Stretch.
  3. Distributed throughout the Organization or Focused on just one or two departments. In my Silicon Valley experience, I found goals shared by the whole company were much more fun and effective. In the mid-80s, Hewlett-Packard focused the entire international company on improving the reliability of our electronic instruments by a factor of 10. Yes! A big, big goal. But we did it, and it truly brought out the best in the whole corporation.

I think setting out a Big Goal is one of the best, most energizing things you can do to move your company forward. If you decide to do it, keep these three dimensions in mind. That will be one more factor that will help you succeed.

The Transformative Power of “The Big Goal”

Below is a guest article by John Lamy, a friend and colleague who will be writing a series of guest blogs for Capiche in the coming months.

The Big Goal

Here’s a common situation:

  • The management team puts in 10-hour days, running around like crazy, fixing mistakes, putting out fires;
  • most of the non-management folks are less than fully engaged, seem a little lackadaisical, and don’t really understand the operation’s strategy or goals; and
  • you have the gut feeling that the organization is underperforming. Everyone could be doing much better!

You can fix that! It’s not insurmountable, but it takes real focus and effort to get it right.

One proven approach is to establish a robust process for setting and achieving a Big Goal. I call that process the Execution Framework. This involves three steps.

The Big Goal Diagram

The Goal

Start with your:

  • Core Values
  • Strategy
  • Current Issues

Then concoct a single Big Goal that aligns with these three key drivers and spans throughout the organization. Creating and articulating that Big Goal is not easy. It’s as much art as science. In fact, I think it actually requires a little bit of magic!

The Tactics

Step Two can be a little tedious. Figure out the specific set of Tactics (or tasks) that must be executed to realize the Big Goal—department by department, person by person. Write them down; assign them to people; and put measures, targets, and due dates on each Tactic.

The Tracking

Step Three: Meet with your entire team on a cadence (maybe once a month) to make sure you’re on track. What are the problems? Who can help whom? Do you need to pivot? Let team members speak, especially the more junior ones—this is a great opportunity for their personal development.

If you set up your Execution Framework correctly, three amazing things will happen:

  • You’ll hit your Big Goal, and your financial performance will show it.
  • You’ll build a culture that hits your Big Goals, year after year.
  • Your folks will love it, word will spread, and it’ll be easier to hire outstanding people.

The process works. You really can achieve awesome results. Give it a try!

If you are interested in learning more about John, please contact him—and let him know I sent you! If it’s marketing consulting you are interested in, please reach out to me, Chris Cook. I would love to talk with you about your ideas!

What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Fail?

In October 2011, I posted one of my first blogs on my then-new website. Countless posts later, I am often reminded of these questions posed by Dr. Robert H. Schuller.

So I ask you these three simple questions:

  1. If you knew you could not fail and those around you would wholeheartedly support you, what would you do?
  2. Are you doing it?
  3. If not, then why?

Oh, and one final question …

If your reason for not doing something is that you’re afraid of failing or being judged … how much worse would that be than never having tried?

And remember: it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.
It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly. Click To Tweet (If this kind of questioning feels helpful, perhaps it’s time for you to start working with a coach. I have two openings for coaching clients at this time, so give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email me and let’s start a conversation.)