Tag Archives: strategy

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productive way

The Productive Way is the Only Way

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Are you doing things the productive way or do you find yourself stuck? Are your workload demands overwhelming?

You are not alone.

Becoming more productive is an interesting challenge. Productivity may depend a lot on exactly what and how you measure it.

Productivity or Strategy?

For the person who rushes to work with a bagel in one hand and a coffee in the other, are you productive? Does rushing illustrate productivity?

For the person who applies makeup while driving in your car on the way to work, are you productive? Are you distracted or focused?

And for the person listening to a sports podcast while working on the next marketing campaign for your company’s latest technology product, are you productive?

The measurement of productivity is often very subjective.

Workforce generations may also add to the mix of subjectivity. OK boomer, you grab a book and I’ll watch a video.

It is likely that all productivity, regardless of generation, comes down to the ability to get out of your own way.

Productive Way

Everyone can feel busy, be distracted, and lack focus. Everyone can be running late, facing adversity, and blindsided by an unexpected problem.

Trying to do two things at once is a sure sign you’ll feel busy.

When you step back and recognize that being busy is not the same as being productive, you’ll likely view your opportunities differently.

Tactics will matter, but tactics aren’t strategy. Resources, learning, and risk have a lot to do with productivity.

Sometimes the most productive way, is to get out of your own way.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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future energy

Future Energy Spent Today is More Productive

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Do you have a full plate? Are you spending your future energy on something meaningful? Are you fighting today’s fires with little regard to what will matter next year?

Often work feels daunting. It is easy to get stressed out when pressure is applied. Anxiety levels go up and often your feeling of being able to cope with the rising challenge goes down.

What are you stressing about today? What is on your plate for this week, next week, and the coming month? Have you considered what emergencies might arise?

Strategic Outcomes

In your workplace, a sense of urgency can sometimes be helpful. It keeps people focused and gives a specific purpose to accomplish specific work in a specific timeline. Focus is good, it always beats the alternative.

How are you spending your energy? Is anxiety eating you alive or do you feel more in control?

Outside of a life changing event, can you remember any of the things that made you nervous or anxious a year ago? Is the analogy of fighting fires wearing you down?

For most people, looking back, they couldn’t tell you about a specific time when they were running late, had a typo in the client proposal, or blurted out something in a meeting that they later regretted.

Yet in those moments, a year ago, you spent a lot of energy worrying about those outcomes. Yes, the outcomes still matter, and yes, we should learn from mistakes and try to improve. Yet, there may be a better way to spend your energy.

Future Energy

The short-run game can be dangerous. It is a fire-fighting approach. When the emergency happens, we react.

Certainly, within the bounds of your strategy the short-run game is executed. Your strategy should allow for some fluidity, and as changes pop-up you’ll have to pivot.

The other end of the continuum is the long-run game. Strategy for the long-run game leverages future energy today.

Instead of looking back and wondering what mattered last year and then asking yourself, “How did I get here?” It may be better to ask, “What impact can I make today, that will still matter, or be even more important next year?”

Long-run games require more patience. They also require commitment and focus.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Organizational purpose

Organizational Purpose is a Planned Path

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Organizational purpose is the single most important aspect of getting to where you want to go. It is an expectation of leadership. Does everyone know your plan?

Create buy-in for the change.

Get everybody on-board.

Rally the troops.

One way to struggle is by not making the path clear. Another way is to state what you want as the end result, only the end result doesn’t connect with any specific mission.

Workplace leaders are sometimes baffled by the lack of understanding among employee teams.

Plan the Journey

When you board a plane headed to Dallas, Texas, you expect to touch down in Dallas, Texas. Where the plane is headed is announced in advance, your ticket matches, and you are usually briefed from the cockpit or steward.

It makes sense. You arrive in Dallas.

A different way is to decide you want to go to Dallas, only there isn’t a clear plan or path. You recognize you’re going to get on a plane, yet there is no specific way you’ll get there. You may decide to swing by Nashville, Las Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago.

Cost of this undefined trip isn’t known or understood. Timing is flexible or undetermined. You need to end up in Dallas, and you’ll get there but no one is sure of when.

When the purpose or the end result is unclear or when the objectives are not connected to the measurement of time anything can happen. It often does, or perhaps, a surprising outcome, nothing happens.

When you pick a movie from Netflix, you’re usually aware of the genre and the approximate length. Sign up for the workshop and you know the date, time, and location. You’ll also have an idea of the topic and length. Even your navigation system in your car sets some expectations.

Organizational Purpose

When your organizational purpose is more like a slogan don’t expect momentum to carry you through the tough spots.

Make lots of money.

Please every customer.

Just do it.

Slogan’s are important and are typically flexible by design. They are not a mission or a road map. They are more all encompassing rather than specific. A catch-all.

Don’t count on your organizational purpose being defined by a slogan.

Worse, who knows when or if you’ll ever achieve it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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promoting workplace change

Promoting Workplace Change Starts With You

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It probably won’t take long to get agreement that everything around us is changing. Promoting workplace change is often a forced situation. It often feels more like push and not pull.

What is necessary to get change started?

If I said that climate change is real, would you believe me?

If I said that climate change is not real, would you believe me?

What if I said George W. Bush, was the best President? Barack Obama? Donald Trump?

You may find argument for any one of these scenarios. Largely it is based on our individual beliefs.

Believe It or Not

Our beliefs are often responsible for what moves us, what sparks efforts to change, and what keeps us going when there are bumps in the road. If you want change, you have to establish belief.

Around the workplace there is often and expressed need for more sales, higher quality, and better customer relationships.

Some of that starts with having the right products, establishing a better brand, and making sure you can logistically serve your customer.

All of these things may require occasional, or as some may see it, constant change.

Will your employee teams change?

It probably depends on what they believe.

Do they believe that better quality is achievable? Are they convinced that you are providing the best products or services at the right price? Do they find reason to value and build better customer relationships?

Are your employee teams driven by data and facts, or are they driven by commands sent down from the C-Suite?

Promoting Workplace Change

If you want the academic to believe you, you’re probably going to have to show her the research that proves it.

For the plumber, you’ll need proof that the sealant holds.

The architect may need a scaled model.

When you want to change something in your workplace it may require a little bit more than just commanding it. You may have to be compelling and create belief.

Nobody wanted to try Life Cereal until Mikey liked it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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sales distraction

Sales Distraction Inhibits Goal Achievement

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We all sell. Even those who are not officially in a sales role, sell. What sometimes seems like prospecting may be exactly what is causing a sales distraction.

Movement and motion are important, yet results are what matter the most.

Motion Isn’t Selling or Buying

People browse the internet, watch videos, and search eBay or Amazon. They don’t always buy; the activity of the search is a distraction. It’s window shopping.

In the summer, in suburbs or rural communities, there are often yard sales. People scatter their junk on tables and under canopies. The neighborhood gets involved, often there are cardboard signs, parking problems, and rubberneckers.

People who engage often don’t spend much, but they have some fun browsing. It gets them together with a friend or two, doesn’t cost much, and is more of a distraction rather than buying.

The same is true for many festivals, auctions, and community fairs. More of a distraction than commerce.

Those selling have a different role. Their strategy is to move the product, make a dollar, and improve their situation.

It may be for charity, to remove some clutter, or even a hobby business.

Sales Distraction

In the workplace, when trying to sell people sometimes seek an excuse or a distraction.

They claim they are prospecting, knocking on doors, and making calls. Yet, performance data still illustrates a pattern of coming up short.

There is blame towards a lack of collateral, the outdated website, or unfavorable economic conditions.

Sales tactics can become an activity. Check the box, do the labor, fulfill the role.

Have the goals been met?

Boxes checked are not always the same as goals achieved.

Rocking in a rocking chair gets you moving, yet you really aren’t going anywhere. It’s just motion.

Don’t get distracted.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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long run strategy

Short Run Savings or Long Run Strategy

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What tactics drive your business outcomes? Are you looking for efficiency, effectiveness, and low cost? Do you expect to be around for a while? Using a long run strategy may help.

Short Run Savings

A CEO buys a new full-size SUV every few years. It has a big engine and she runs the lowest octane gasoline. Washing, waxing, and maintenance are a low priority.

The logic may be that saving twenty or thirty cents per gallon add ups. The tank size is twenty-five plus gallons, so every time at the pump it is a few bucks less.

Washing and waxing are a waste of time and expense. In a day or two it will rain and just be dirty again.

Oil changes happen, but only when it is convenient. The warning lights or messages are just that, a warning, you have a few hundred more miles.

This is a short run game for a vehicle that may have a life span of fifteen, twenty, or more years. The argument may be that cheaper gas runs the same, washing and waxing are overrated, and maintenance is optional. The concept may be, this is money not spent, it is money saved.

Until the check engine light and the rust spots start to appear.

Long Run Strategy

As people we often do similar things with our technology products, our appliances, our homes, and even our health. We use and consume based on a short-run game.

In business, we can cut corners, save money, remove safety equipment, maintenance less, and push harder. In the short run there may be less expense, but are you doing it for the short-run game?

A couple of pennies saved may mean dollars wasted.

The long run strategy is what seems to make the most sense. Throwing away the slightly used to replace with new, just because you can, is an option. It is also a short-run game.

-DEG

“Ooh, I want to tell you, it’s a long run” Eagles (1979)

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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listing strengths

Listing Strengths and Weaknesses

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Do you recognize your strengths? What about weaknesses, are you aware and motivated to do something about them? When you start listing strengths and weaknesses your next move is either change or denial. What will it be for you?

Self-Assessment

What do you see first? Do you see the strengths or weaknesses in your own performance? You can’t be great at everything and you probably aren’t terrible either. Do you care enough to make changes?

Many managers and organizations become (subconsciously) focused on weaknesses. In their effort to be effective at problem solving and firefighting they learn to approach deficiencies with rigor and flare.

You must wonder, which is better, focus your energy and effort on growing strengths or fixing weaknesses?

Grow Talents?

If I am the football coach and I observe the excellent skills of a quarterback do I try to make him a defensive tackle? I’m not suggesting that is impossible, but honestly, would it make much sense? If blocking and tackling isn’t his thing should we fix it?

Sometimes we must focus on growing our talents and not on fixing our weaknesses.

Certainly, some people would like to approach their strengths and weaknesses with balance. Place some effort on both areas. Capitalize on strengths and talents and build or improve some of the deficiencies. Perhaps a good plan.

Listing Strengths and Weaknesses

Still others may consider that self-assessment and reflection doesn’t really matter all the much, just jump in and get something accomplished. In their mind, deny the importance of assessment in the first place, and let’s just get moving sounds like the best plan.

If you don’t know where you are at, or where you are going, it is going to be hard to express where you are headed.

Create your list, know it well, build a personal strategic plan and make sure you aren’t in denial.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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wide focus

Are You Using a Wide Focus or Narrow?

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There is a mindset today, more is better. Certainly, more can make a difference but it may not always be the path to greatness. Is your focus wide, big, or for everyone? What is better a wide focus or narrow and targeted?

Wide Focus

Bernie Sanders wrote a book and sold a lot of copies. Part of his recently self-proclaimed millionaire status seemingly developed from book sales.

Someone creates a YouTube video and they hope that it goes viral bringing fast notoriety and perhaps some wealth thereafter.

It is also true for many social media posts, the podcast, and the daily blog. More hits, a bigger audience, and therefore, success.

In some of these cases, the popular approach or thought is, “Go as big and wide as possible, attract everyone!”

It seems to make sense. Create a sensation, a wave, and an overnight success.

Is Narrow Better?

If mom and pops dinner, with seating to accommodate 75, suddenly had 250 people show up for breakfast, it would be a problem.

When the small bar in Nashville reaches capacity, those who can’t enter have a different experience.

When the Boeing 737-800 reaches 162 passengers, no more will fit. The flight may be oversold. Anxious and angry passengers are the result.

Imagine the disappointment for all the kids who didn’t get a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Teddy Ruxpin, or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle because the stores sold out during the holiday season.

Wide or Narrow?

The work that you are doing right now may feel like it needs a wide focus. Yet there will still be many people and businesses who focus narrower.

The commitment is different, they scale differently, the goals and objectives hint more about quality than about quantity.

The mom and pop restaurant may win big by always being near capacity but not over. The flying experience for passengers is probably better when the flight is slightly less than sold out.

Sometimes being just right is better than being too much.

Just right will probably win the long game.

What is your plan?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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spend money strategy

Do You Have a Spend Money Strategy?

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The spend money strategy, does this describe your business philosophy? Cost conscious is very important, but cost develops from both short-term and long-term actions. What outcomes are your decisions creating?

I need a haircut. Do I try to do it myself or go dump a few bucks at the barber or salon?

My car has a check engine light illuminated. Do I try to fix it myself or take it to a mechanic?

Our company just received notice of a lawsuit. Since I studied business law in college should I handle this internally or spend money on an attorney?

There are arguments either way, correct? Some will try to do it themselves and have reasonable success, others will stay in their lane.

Do It Yourself Approach

Many businesses try to do it all themselves. It is especially evident in leadership roles when the leader believes their personal level of talent is deep.

The feeling may be, “I know something about marketing. I’ll create our new brand and advertising campaigns.”

Should they tackle this or outsource it and stay in their lane? Certainly, it may depend on many factors, but have they self-assessed about their true talent? How is their time best spent?

Spend Money Strategy

Tight budgets cause leaders to avoid the spend. The thought is, we (or I) can do it ourselves.

It happens with marketing, advertising, and strategy development. It happens with employee training, coaching, and organizational development.

Some leaders have these talents and it is a good use of their time. It can perhaps conserve a few dollars. It may be in their lane.

Largely though, leadership talent doesn’t run that deep. Money invested in outsourced talent makes more sense.

In the short-run it feels costly. In the long-run staying in your lane may have the most value.

Sometimes a spend money strategy saves money. Know your lane.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace innovation

Workplace Innovation is Peanut Butter and Chocolate

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Have you ever wondered who first connected peanut butter with chocolate? Perhaps it was the other way around chocolate with peanut butter? How does this connect to workplace innovation?

You must wonder sometimes, how does real innovation occur? Is it by luck, by chance, or perhaps an accidental connection?

Exploring Different

Who decided to put ketchup on potatoes, cheese with eggs, or little tiny marshmallows in cereal? Was it all intentional, or was it an accident?

When someone takes the chance, takes a risk, and is willing to explore it changes the norm. It creates the unexpected. Somewhere deep inside the unexpected exists the breakthrough.

When we want to make something different happen the belief is that we need a plan. People and companies develop a plan. They form a strategy, design tactics, or establish a new procedure.

Does that happen by chance?

Workplace Innovation

Most of our plans develop through brainstorming. A strategy discussion, an idea dump, a throw things on the wall and see what sticks.

When you are looking for a breakthrough you can’t expect to color within the lines. You can’t expect a rigid system to have enough flexibility to allow for innovation.

A plan or a system strives to eliminate surprises. It is a rigid guideline for creating an anticipated result.

There isn’t much room in rigid systems for innovation.

We don’t get peanut butter with chocolate unless someone breaks the status quo. There isn’t an opportunity to spice up our potatoes, add a little cheese to an omelette, or find the marshmallow in a breakfast cereal.

If you’re looking for workplace innovation, seeking to find a breakthrough, or to change the results, you’re first going to have give up the rigidness of the current plan.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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