Tag Archives: strategy

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gone sideways

Gone Sideways and Self-Help For Your Efforts

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Have you ever felt like the project took a wrong turn? Have things gone sideways? Maybe you don’t even notice it, yet?

Committed people sometimes do some very strange things. Onlookers wonder why the commitment sticks even when there is evidence clearly illustrating it’s failing.

In all likelihood, there are multiple angles or points of view. One of the common yet somewhat unrealized traps is staying committed because of all the effort already put in.

It’s often hard to make the right choice. Someone wants to abort the project early and someone else wants to hang in there because, “We’ve already invested so much.”

Everyone recognizes hindsight often tells a different story, either way.

The right now is not hindsight and it’s also not foresight.

What should you do?

Gone Sideways

For the customer, you need to do the right thing. For the team and even your community, you must do the right thing.

Yes, even for yourself, you must make a good decision now.

Many people believe that every day they are in a tactical firefight at their workplace. So many things happening so fast, so many loose ends, and so much drama.

What do they do?

They fight the fire. They address problems as emergencies and face the wrath of whatever unfolds next.

Problem-solving is a key skill for leadership. If you are good at it, you should be proud. However, when tactical firefights are so commonplace that you fail to execute strategy everyone loses.

The project gone sideways either needs to stop, start again, or redirect. Stuck won’t work and neither will additional wasted effort.

The same is true with poorly performing employees.

Learning from the past is powerful. It goes hand-in-hand with knowing when to pivot.

A strategic focus needs a tactical approach.

Tactics only, without a vision for the future, are sure to send you sideways.

You don’t have to believe it now, but you will when you check your data.

Commit to the strategy. The tactics of getting there may need to be adjusted.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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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second thoughts

Are Second Thoughts Just Part Of The Decision?

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You’re facing a big decision. You feel like you’ve decided. Suddenly you have some second thoughts. Is this a bad sign?

Some people suggest that there are always second thoughts about the marriage, if not by the couple, by the onlookers.

It is also true for the home buyer, the new car purchase, or while you wait after ordering from the menu.

People often view second thoughts as the beginning of a wrong decision. What if second thoughts are merely part of the process?

You can analyze many different angles about second thoughts. You can bring confidence into the equation and with that comes past experiences or even ignorance. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

Have you agonized enough? Thought it through, over and over again? Listed the pros and cons, yet still feel uncertainty?

Second Thoughts

Making the best choice often comes down to belief. Do you belief in the path in front of you? For employee teams, do they believe?

One of the greatest challenges of leadership is to develop a belief in the followers. It is not trying to develop a belief in the leader, it is about trying to develop a belief in the follower. Big difference.

Things will always change. A decision to leave your home without an umbrella can turn out the wrong way later within the same day.

When you make decisions in the present, or for the future, you’ve made the best decision you can make.

At that time, at the exact moment, it often is the right decision. Sometimes later, after things have changed, it is easy to suggest it was a poor decision.

Second thoughts shouldn’t always occur. They also shouldn’t always be dismissed.

Second thoughts are often a test that you’re still on the right path.

In life and in business every day is a fluid experience. Things ebb and flow.

Maybe it really means that you’re heading in the right direction.

Keep going.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. 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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mismatched expectations

Mismatched Expectations Will Get You Every Time

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Disconnects in customer service happen all the time. It happens for new hires, and it happens for the project. Mismatched expectations don’t mean that everything is lost.

As a young boy my son always loved my mother’s pot-pie. She had a special home-made recipe of beef pot-pie that seemed like the best comfort food on the planet.

When my son was in his early teenage years, we visited a restaurant and on the menu was pot-pie. Much to my surprise, instead of a burger and french fries my son ordered the pot-pie.

After the meals were brought to the table, I noticed him picking at his dish. He seemed displeased. It wasn’t the pot-pie that his grandmother made. It was a poor imitation.

The restaurant was very popular and served fantastic food, but to him, the dish seemed barely eatable.

Similarly, in high school, I had some friends who loved the boxed macaroni and cheese that their mother often prepared. What they didn’t realize that she often bought a low-priced generic brand. One day she splurged and bought a well-known and popular brand. My friends hated it.

In life, or in food, what you experience is often embraced or rejected based on your previous best experiences.

Have you ever had mismatched expectations?

Mismatched Expectations

It is true for the food you eat. It’s true for the new marketing plan, the process improvement, and even your job.

It is also true for everyone else, only sometimes in the opposite manner.

Often there may be room to compromise, negotiate, or allow for a fluid process. Of course, the level of satisfaction will always be compared to what was the previous best experience or taste.

Thus, the saying, “Those are big shoes to fill.”

Navigating your job, career, or the customer may not always be easy. It is a dance between your best delivery and the expectations of someone else.

When they align, everything feels like the right fit. When they don’t, the impulse is to discard it.

Keep in mind though that the right fit for someone may be the rejected mismatch by another.

Sometimes the best option is just on the other side of your expectations.

The challenge then is breaking the cycle.

It is a test of sorts. A test for the reliability and authenticity of the disambiguation, what you see is what you get.

-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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project details

Project Details Bring It All To Life

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Are you working on a significant project? Have you revealed the project details?

In the seventh grade, it wasn’t okay to only have the correct answer on the Algebra exam, the teacher insisted that you show your work. On the vocabulary test, you had to express the exact verbiage. Skimpy answers didn’t show comprehension.

In your workplace, giving answers, much like giving your statements about your beliefs, is not always enough. Proving the concept or theory behind the work justifies its validity.

Bringing your ideas forward in the product development meeting, marketing meeting, or the strategic planning session may be more factual and justified when you provide the details. Sometimes the vision for the finished work is hard to believe unless you know the details.

Certainly, there are many situations when it is important to only provide the highest level. Details take time, require energy, and of course, comprehension.

Project Details

When you present the details, you’ve proven your work. Others can follow the logic and get committed because they see what you see. Once they understand, they believe.

Sometimes it isn’t always about history. Sometimes it has never been done before. When you help others follow the logic it brings the picture to life.

Logic often develops from best practices. Components that can stand on their own, and when combined, create a new end result.

Standards apply too. Standards have been proven and feel safe. Outcomes feel more certain and less like an enthusiastic guess.

In many cases the new project isn’t rejected because it was a bad idea or simply won’t work. It is rejected because no one believes in the outcome.

-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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Planning tomorrow

Planning Tomorrow, and Every Day After

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Does your day start with a plan? Will what you do today include planning tomorrow?

You can plan for tomorrow or you can make part of your daily routine planning tomorrow.

Perhaps there is a difference.

Jobs and Careers

When someone starts a new job, begins a career, or finishes their primary education, they may need some tools.

One person may need a laptop, another a tool chest with relevant hand tools, and still others will need a uniform, appropriate footwear, and some personal protective equipment.

Having the tools is part of what is needed to operate within that system. It doesn’t mean the system will work or will last. It means at some level you are prepared.

Another level of preparedness is knowing how to actually use all of the tools.

Having a laptop doesn’t mean you can create elaborate formula’s using Microsoft Excel. It doesn’t mean you can update or create a website. Simply, you have one of the tools of the trade.

What is next for your life or career? Do you have a plan?

Tools, Trades, and Professional Careers

Many people move about their career carrying a tool chest.

They have some education and they have experience. Those credentials don’t always intersect. A degree in accounting may not matter much if your daily job is creative advertising.

The average job doesn’t have a very long shelf life. The average career is longer, yet still not always permanent.

If you feel uncertain about this, ask a typesetter, switchboard operator, or your local video store owner.

Why do so many people view it as they are all set, they’re completely prepared, now where is the work?

Planning Tomorrow

Planning tomorrow means that you’ll have the tools and the work. You’ll have accountability and reasonable expectations for your future.

It’s hard to know for certain.

Consider what you do know.

Tomorrow will be different from today.

Plan appropriately.

-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 proof

Workplace Proof, Do You Believe It?

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If someone told you that sales are going to explode beyond your wildest imagination in the next quarter would you believe it? Workplace proof often requires evidence. Does it also require imagination?

Change is a constant. Sometimes it is more accelerated and sometimes it is more gradual.

Do you believe in the change when you hear about it, or do you need to see it to believe it?

Buy-in is critical for navigating a changing environment. Change is driven by forces. Internal or external those forces will drive change.

As we are about to enter late summer and fall 2020, everyone likely recognizes we are in a presidential election year. Political opinions are everywhere on social media, on television, and perhaps even in your postal system mailbox.

What do you believe? You are influenced by those around you, your friends, and your family? What are your own individual beliefs?

It may be hard to pinpoint exactly what drives your personal beliefs. However, there are little triggers and reminders of what is important to you.

They may give you all of the proof that you need.

Workplace Proof

In the workplace, it isn’t that much different for how you’ll decide what you feel about the next change. You’re influenced in multiple ways about what will happen next. Whether you like it, believe in it, or think it is total garbage.

Role models will provide some of that influence. That influence will be entwined with your level of trust and respect for those modeling new behaviors or strategic plans.

You’ll also observe what others are doing and saying. You may have tendencies towards either leading or following, and much of that may depend on your comfort level, past experiences, and of course, your values and beliefs.

For most people, change requires proof.

Is your job changing? Are economic conditions pushing you towards a change? Do you need your team to pivot to a new direction?

To be committed to what happens next you may first have to decide what you believe?

That belief starts with what you consider to be proof.

-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 deadlines

Workplace Deadlines and the Need It Now Movement

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Excuses are problematic. So are urgent deadlines that aren’t real. How are you navigating workplace deadlines?

When do you need this?

I need it now.

Is it the top priority?

I need it before the meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Two things often happen in these scenarios. The first is that the diligent and caring employee drops everything to conform and make the deadline. And, the second is that the meeting is postponed, the boss doesn’t show up, or it never makes it to the final agenda.

Your work is about psychology. Employee commitment and engagement boil down to basic human needs. Everything from survival and providing for yourself and your family, to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and your career.

It all circles back to leadership.

Leaders who give urgent deadlines and then work produced gets wasted or deemed unnecessary is at a minimum discouraging the team.

At first glance you could definitely cite trust issues. Absolutely, they are likely present. Digging beneath the surface there are additional long-term consequences.

Employees may feel:

Is this deadline real?

Should I put in my best effort? They probably won’t even use the results of my work.

My work doesn’t matter.

He or she feels I’m not qualified or incompetent to produce the work.

I made one mistake, one time, now I’m treated like a little kid.

It is absolutely true that in our fast-paced world of work that what appears needed today, may not be needed tomorrow. Sometimes we work really hard on something only to not have the opportunity to call upon the outputs later.

Being proactive and prepared is a strategy. Carelessly suggesting that everything is a priority because it feels urgent to the boss at this moment is a downgrade in leadership.

Workplace Deadlines

High-efficiency systems are important. Due dates, ship dates, and customer expectations matter. Leadership is as much about accountability as it is about inspiration and engagement.

How leaders engage with the team, get buy-in, and build trusting relationships are all about the psychology of work today.

A system of fake deadlines won’t get you very far.

Sharing the why of any urgency will help with the distinction between strategy and carelessness.

Agreement to keep the promise of a deadline is a psychological contract.

Understand the difference between wasted effort and strategy.

Build better teams.

-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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certainty

Certainty Is What You Are Looking For

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What decisions are you trying to make about the future? If you are looking for a slam dunk of certainty, you may not find it. Of course, you may be surprised how certain you really are.

Unprecedented times. You’ve read the headlines, heard it in the news, and watched it on TV. You’ve also been living it, every day since sometime in March 2020.

Most decision makers are trying to make comfortable decisions. Decisions that come with a guarantee. If no guarantee, you probably have a backup plan. A chance to punt, regroup, or pivot direction.

One of the reasons that many people and businesses lack action today is because they can’t decide. They are not confident in choices or directions. There seems to be no certainty of what will happen next.

What will you do? How will you spend your time? What is certain?

On a personal level, you could update your LinkedIn profile. You could make some new connections, rekindle some older ones, or find an article or video that provides some inspiration.

For your department you could look at your budget, compare it with expenses, and determine if your project or contributions are still making sense.

For the small business owner or entrepreneur, you could update your website add some new options or change something that has grown stale?

Are any of these things a waste of time?

Discovering Certainty

Some may argue.

LinkedIn has too much sales activity and I’m not looking for a new job.

Our department is here, we’re working, we’re just waiting to see what the new direction is going to look like.

Why update the website, it is hard to know what direction things are going to go.

Uncertainty.

Yet, one thing is likely for certain.

You’re still going to desire a LinkedIn network in the future.

Your department may benefit from right-sizing expenses with budget and impact given what you know today.

That glorious website can always be better, more attractive, and provide higher value.

Those things are all, certain.

-DEG

H/T to my friend Mike Moran for igniting the idea of certainty for me.

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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problem fixers

Problem Fixers Are Proud Contributors, 10 Questions

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Are you in the group of problem fixers? Problem fixers are important but are they stuck in the mode of tactical assault or productive for the team?

Many workplace employees take great pride in being a problem solver. In fact, they may boast that they spend their day fighting the metaphorical fires.

Problem solving is a good and important skill but is it the answer for strategic momentum?

Unlikely.

Problem Fixers

I still remember the CEO of a group I was working with several years saying in a brainstorming session that, “We’re too big to fail. We have too much history and too much momentum to ever worry about that.” (Yes, he was serious and, yes, this did actually happen.)

Things changed for that organization on a dime about 18 months later. I’ll spare the details but it got really messy fast.

That same group took great pride in the concept that they were expert problem solvers and often spent their days tackling whatever problem popped up at the moment.

They were problem fixers.

Strategic Questions to Ask

Absolutely, problem solving skills are something that every person, especially leadership team members, need. However, when you don’t really have a strategy and you’re only executing tactically, you probably are headed for some problems you didn’t expect to find yourself trying to solve.

The questions you need to ask are the ones that are often hard to answer.

Teams should consider questions like:

  1. How long has this problem existed?
  2. Are we trying to fix the problem at the root?
  3. Are there similar problems popping up and we aren’t even aware?
  4. What is this problem costing us?
  5. Are these problems hurting our brand, image, and customers?
  6. What are we overlooking?
  7. Is this problem unique to our organization?
  8. What is this problem costing in productivity and efficiency loss?
  9. What is the specific challenge about this problem?
  10. Is the problem causing other problems?

Perhaps the best way to solve problems is to incorporate strategy so that the problem is eliminated and will not happen again. Drama filled problems or problems not solved at the root create an endless cycle of firefighting.

Be proud that you can solve problems but execute strategy every day. Firefighting is a tactical approach that should be used in emergencies.

If your day is filled with emergencies you probably aren’t being strategic.

-DEG

Small non-profits to large for-profits, do you want to think differently about strategy? Contact me to start a discussion.

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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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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