Interim Executive Resources

Archive for November, 2010

Welcome to Sharper Counsel

Welcome to the new and improved SHARPER COUNSEL LLC website.  We’ve taken considerable time to adopt a new look and feel and to build in the ability to publish significant content of our tools and methods.  We hope the information we provide is useful enough for you to bookmark us and return periodically.

A short description of the site:

HOME — pretty obvious with a basic description of Sharper Counsel LLC
OUR COMPANY– static pages that let you know a bit more about us
COOL STUFF — this is where our intellectual property is posted and organized
BLOG — unstructured information published for your reading pleasure
CONTACT US — the normal feedback page with the not so normal offer for free stuff!

The free stuff we’re talking about is a weeky $50 gift card drawing for the remainder of 2010.  Our way of saying “Thanks for visiting and sending a question or comment!”

Commitment Culture Series: Make an organization “tick”

Do you have a business that is awash with energy and enthusiasm and exceeding objectives time after time?  Or is your business being run by people that put in their hours and call it a day?

I was asked during an interview once upon a time “How do you make an organization tick?”  It is a very good question, and I provided a very good answer about clear definition of objectives, roles and responsibilities, providing adequate resources and support of the team and periodically reviewing progress to make sure works is happening as expected.  But I missed the point about “making it tick” and simply answered “making it work”. 

Making an organization “work” can be done in a business being run by people that put in their hours and call it a day.  But making an organization “tick” brings about a business that is awash with energy and enthusiasm that comes with exceeding objectives time after time.  An organization that “ticks” is an organization that is committed to the success of the business.  Most organizations are compliant to the work requirements placed on them and simply help the business work.

So what brings about the difference between commitment and compliance in an organization?  These two “c”-words with the same amount of letters are miles apart when it comes to organization performance.  Let’s spend some time studying why people come to work to understand better how to achieve commitment and high performance vs compliance and mediocrity.  People work for a variety of reasons and yes, earning a living is a key driver.  Yet underneath the finances there are stronger motivators. 

Some people work to drive their career.  They want to become good at what they have learned and be recognized for their competence.  They want to grow in their profession, get raises and promotions and basically improve their lot for themselves and their families over time.  These are good motivations for working simply beyond getting a paycheck.

Other people come to work because they are part of a team.  They like the people they work with every day and like working towards goals that are larger than themselves.  They affiliate with the social aspects of the job, get along in the team, have fun and add a strong feeling of camaraderie to their work day in addition to getting paid.

Still others work because they have other goals in their life that may have little to do with the business.  They are part of a club or a movement that provides life satisfaction beyond the 40-hour workweek and yes they want to do a good job at work, but they want more to do a good job beyond work and that is the real source of their motivation.

Another category of workers are driven by the profession they practice and identify more with their trade than with their company.  They are motivated towards professional accomplishment number one and whom they work with/work for number two.

And there are still others that work because they have to…no offense to the greatness of your business or the magnetism of your personality, but they come to work because of the paycheck and that’s it…

This is an incomplete list of employee motivations but suffices to describe that there are huge differences across employees regarding what brings them to work every day.  From a performance perspective, how does an organization take these disparate personalities and build them into a high performance system?  How can a company build something that outperforms its peers with such variety in its troops?

The key to moving from a “compliance culture” to a “commitment culture” starts with recognizing that this variety exists and also another key factor – people who work in an organization are volunteers, no matter what the organization thinks of their employees.  They make a choice every day to come back to work to do their job.  The only control an organization has over their employees is their paycheck and that is a very poor leverage point in the scheme of things.

In fact, the key error in the above paragraph is the word “control”.  That very word is a poor selection when it comes to high performance because the very essence of creating a commitment culture is by providing choice, not control.  Since people are basically volunteers and choose to come to work every day, how do you help them move beyond choosing to come to work, to choosing to do an exceptional job on every task, every day for years on end?  And since they are unique individuals all motivated in different ways, how does an organization help these very different people choose to do exceptional work as a matter of course?

If you want a truly high performance organization and you want to have a commitment culture, then recognize that people need to “link” to your business on their own terms.  Your responsibility as a leader in the business is to build an environment where this linking will occur naturally.  And with the variety of people in the organization, this environment is not monoform, it is multi-dimensional.

Provide a clear description of the business so that everyone understands what they are trying to accomplish together.  Describe a future state of the business that shows people what they are going to build through their efforts or where they are going as a team.  Call out standards of conduct for people in the organization and actively manage to these standards.  Provide assignments for the team that  challenges them individually and as groups.  Provide business performance feedback so that people understand how things are working or not working.  Recognize accomplishments across the board and reward people for their hard work in ways that are meaningful to them.  Provide opportunities for career advancement and skill development and help people grow to reach their potential.  And all along the way, have fun. 

Life is too short to spend it slaving away on some meaningless activity, in a place you don’t want to be with people you don’t like and not being recognized nor rewarded for effort expended and the accomplishments made.  That’s a good recipe for compliance at best.

And the day is not long enough when the tasks are aimed at greater goals, the environment is fun and friendly, you grow and get better every day with successes and not-so-successes, and you feel appreciated for the hard work that you enjoy doing.  That’s a good recipe for commitment and for making an organization “tick”…   

Sharper Counsel LLC is an executive short term assignment company dedicated to the improvement of high potential businesses.  In short, we do BUSINESS TUNEUPS.

We provide management consulting to accomplish current business assessment and organizational assessment.  We specialize in business development consulting and are one of the top consulting firms in San Diego.  Our team is always eager to help you improve your business, so…

Give us a call today at 800-280-2452 !

Strategic Cascade Series Overview

A strategic cascade is nothing more than a model used to describe various aspects of your business. By ensuring all the cascade elements work towards a common purpose, the power of an organization can be unleashed. If cascade elements are missing or in conflict, the efficiency of an organization is reduced and it will not deliver to its maximum potential.

Sharper Counsel, LLC uses a six element cascade for describing a business. These six elements are MISSION, OBJECTIVES, STRATEGY, STRUCTURE, PROCESSES, and METRICS. If a business does a good job of describing each of these cascade elements and brings them into alignment with each other, then high performance can be achieved.

The basic theory behind this cascade is simple: MISSION should drive OBJECTIVES which drives STRATEGY which drives STRUCTURE which drives PROCESSES which drives METRICS. There is an inherent hierarchy in the cascade elements which should be observed. For instance, a particular business metric probably should not drive the mission of the business and the way a business is currently organized should not drive next year’s strategy.

Many businesses have been built and are running without a formal articulation of all six cascade elements. In some cases the various cascade elements were co-developed over time and are operating in some form or fashion. It can be quite beneficial from a performance perspective to review strategic cascade elements and look for anomalies.

Here are some useful Strategic Cascade questions from a performance perspective:

  1. Are Objectives for the organization documented and aligned with the Mission of the business?
  2. Is the Strategy to pursue Objectives clear and has it been communicated to the team?
  3. Is the business Structure defined to address the Strategy or has it evolved into being?
  4. Do business Processes exist to coordinate activity across teams towards accomplishing Objectives?
  5. Are Metrics defined and used to measure progress towards Objectives and aligned across the teams that are involved?

Strategic Cascades help a business understand and describe various elements that tie together to meet customer needs. Through articulating the elements and more importantly, by bringing them into coordination and alignment, a business can achieve higher performance levels. Business Objectives can be achieved faster and easier through clearer accountabilities, faster decisions, better business operations and more satisfied employees.

Sharper Counsel LLC is an executive short term assignment company dedicated to the improvement of high potential businesses.

In short, we do BUSINESS TUNEUPS.

We provide management consulting to accomplish business and organization assessments.  We specialize in business development and business process management and are one of the up and coming consulting firms in San Diego.  Our team is always eager to help you improve your business, so…

Give us a call today at 800-280-2452 !

How do we work with SHARPER COUNSEL LLC?

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