How To Maximize Your Success with Strategic Alignment 

The time has come to combine all Top 5 Success Factors into an integrated system to maximize your success, a system we call Strategic Alignment™. StrategicAlignmentStrategic Alignment is best illustrated with this diagram:

Here you see the 5 Key Success Factors arranged in what looks like the crosshairs of a rifle or a radar screen. The point is to demonstrate that all factors are aligned, with Operations (what we do all day) in the center. But actually it does not matter how you position the 5 factors, since all are interrelated and important. Here’s how this concept can help you:

1. Your organization functions as a system, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, whether you want it to or not. All the parts are connected and interdependent. Read More

Finances and Facilities – Success Factor 5

The Top 5 Success Factors of All Time
Part 5: Finances and Facilities

finance-facilties-400852_sOur topic today: The fifth success factor, Finances and Facilities. The two are closely intertwined, since owned facilities are both financial investments and financial assets, and rented facilities are a major expense. We don’t claim to be financial advisors, but we’ve worked through several recessions and seen a lot of companies have similar problems. So here are a few timely financial success tips from one who’s been on the firing line.

1. Cash flow is king. It doesn’t matter much how Read More

Operations – A Top 5 Success Factor

The Top 5 Success Factors of All Time
Part 4: Operations, Or What You Do All Day

teamwork300pxRecently we conducted a Customer Value & Satisfaction Survey for a small-business client. His customers told us that they were generally satisfied with the company’s people and professionalism, but they felt improvements were needed in quality control, attention to detail and follow-through. These are common operations issues, though by no means the only ones, concerning what your people do all day. In this post I’ll share with you what I’m telling my survey client, and what I’d tell you if you want to improve your operations and success.

1. Improvements must be driven from the top. Operations Read More

Customer Value – A Top 5 Success Factor

The Top 5 Success Factors of All Time
Part 3: Customer Relations and Marketing

Top5SuccessFactorsCoverThe first job for any business, as the great guru Peter Drucker once noted, is getting and keeping customers. Whether you call this marketing, selling, customer relations or external communications, this, as we like to say, is where the money comes from. This is also the area where we have had the most personal experience, and we have written more on this topic in our book, The 5 Key Success Factors. But for now we’re going to focus on the really, really important components we should all keep in mind and practice if we want to be successful.

1. Managing Customer Value. If you haven’t read the marvelous book by that name (see link below) by Bradley Gale, I highly recommend it. It has had a huge impact on the marketing profession and my practice. “Customer value” is the whole package of what customers want from you — generally some combination of quality, price and service, but always uniquely expressed by each customer or market segment.

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Managing People – A Top 5 Success Factor

Key Success Factor No. 2: People

Top5SuccessFactorsCover“People” are the key to business success, as all us people know. But “people” as a success factor is like the weather – everybody talks about it, but no one does anything about it. Since our previous post reported the impressive people-management principles of First, Break All The Rules, we will try to share with you added-value content we’ve gained from experience, as we continue our series on the 5 Key Success Factors of Business.

I recall seeing an interview of legendary GE Chairman Jack Welch on the Charlie Rose show. It was interesting that, while GE aspires to be No.1 or No. 2 in every market it competes in, Welch claims that their core competence is developing people. GE and a few other big companies have cultures that strongly encourage effective management and people development, but in the vast majority of companies, that does not happen. Here are a few key truths about people as a success factor which may be helpful for you:Read More

Strategic Focus – Key Success Factor 1

Over the years we have devoted countless hours to exploring answers to the question, “What are the most important success factors that enable one organization to succeed while others stumble or fail?” For at least the past 20 years, specifically since Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence in the early ’80s, thousands of other authors and consultants have attempted to answer that question, too. The challenge, of course, is to identify success factors that really make a difference and that will stand the test of time – not be the fad of the moment.

Over this and the next four posts, we would like to share with you what we consider, after 33 years of experience with many organizations, to be the most important, reliable, powerful success factors of all time – at least the “current era” since World War II. These posts will run a little longer than the others, but this is very important stuff, so please bear with me.Read More

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Knowing-DoingGapWhy don’t more people do what they know they ought to do?

This is not meant as a moral question, as asked by the Apostle Paul, but a business question that challenges every manager and leader. It’s one thing to give people knowledge, and quite another to get them to turn that into action.

That question was a particular challenge to Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, prominent professors at Stanford Business School. Together they recently completed The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action (Harvard Business School Press, 2000).

They found through extensive research that there are several main reasons why the gap persists:

*People talk about the problem but never take action. In fact they talk so much they sometimes don’t even realize that they’re not taking action.

*Memories of “the way we do things” and other traditions rooted in the past keep people from thinking of new and better ways.

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Discover Your Strengths

NowDiscoverYourStrengthsWithin days of writing about “First, Break All The Rules,” we encountered the sequel, “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton (Free Press, 2001). As Peter Drucker says on the inside flap, “Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer.”

Buckingham and Clifton have identified 34 themes from the extensive research which led to “First, Break” as well as other sources over a 25-year period. They used advanced statistical techniques to pull these themes from their enormous data pool so they, and we, could be confident of their significance. What’s really neat about their system is it was designed to be administered over the Internet. When you buy the book, you get a unique code. You log on to, enter your code, and answer a series of questions. The program identifies your five top themes, in descending order, with the strongest first.

Themes include Achiever, Activator, Empathy, Futuristic, Strategic, and one I found creative, Woo (the ability to woo other people). Read More