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"The average organization when someone asks when you want something, they pull out a calendar, but in a good organization, they look at their watch and we really got to get that way." General Stanley McChrystal, US Army
Many of us will never confronted with the challenges of General McChrystal managing the war in Afghanistan where procrastination and delays in taking action could be measured in lives lost. However, as business leaders we are engaged in battles that are fought by our organizations each day. Successful outcomes of major or minor engagements is often a function of the sense of urgency that key people apply to each situation. We have all heard the proverb "For want of a nail, . . ." where permitting a small undesirable situation will allow a gradual and inexorable worsening that in business results in lost business, margin erosion, lower profits, marginal quality, etc.
What is the answer?
As the leader of your organization you are responsible for setting the example and leading the way. Here are some questions that you should try answering which will indicate how effective you are in promoting and modeling a sense of urgency in your organization.
- When something needs to be done do you search for your calendar or look at your watch.
- Do you put off until tomorrow decisions and actions that could be completed today?
- How hard do you fight throughout the day to make sure you make your commitments or re-prioritize as soon as it becomes obvious that a targeted task can not be completed, set a new date and communicate the change to those involved?
- Are you able to transfer the excitement that you feel for your work to those around you so that they become individually motivated like you?
- Do you publicly recognize those who are demonstrating a sense of urgency in their individual jobs or as teams of people?
Urgency as an end all is not the answer. Working is a highly urgent mode for too long can create stress and lead to job dissatisfaction. Too many urgencies is an indication of a fundamental problem in the organization that needs to be addressed.
The key lies in knowing when and how to respond to demanding conditions accordingly. Hopefully putting the right people in key positions, providing adequate training and operating procedures and support infrastructure will help everyone work effectively. An organization that adopts an "urgent" profile by doing the above, leader included, will find it meeting or exceeding customer expectations on a regular basis.
Four Principles of Apple’s Successes (and Failures) by Chris Morrison
We often look at Apple as a company that cannot make a wrong decison. In this artcile Chris Morrison reveals the failed joint venture with motorola on the way to the spectacular swuccess of the iPhone. Apple does take advantage of its mistakes and that is the lesson we can learn from this article and the four principles (see below) that Chris Morrison descibes that governs the creative process that fuels Apple's success.
Principle One: Don’t Follow Your Customers; Lead Them
- Apple tends to place less emphasis on evidence than on intuition, under the theory that consumers can’t tell you they want a product or function if they can’t yet envision it.
- Principle Two: Temper Engineering With Art
- Apple has succeeded by making sure its top decision makers all subscribe to a minimalist philosophy in product design.
- Principle Three: Focus on the Few to Sell to the Many
- Apple strives to make each item in its relatively small stable as perfect as possible. Over time, that helps differentiate the products and build customer loyalty.
- Principle Four: Be Your Own Toughest Critic
- Apple succeeds because it not only beats its competitors but also strives each year to beat itself.
If these principles work for Apple can they work for you?
Personal Foot Note on Apple Support: A Life Saver
I recently did a no-no on my quad processor Mac Pro that I spent weeks adding software and configuring. I will not bore you with the details leading to the incident or complexity of the mess that I created. To say the least I thought all was lost. I went to a discussion forum that in the past had provided good advice and direction in dealing with much smaller issues. But this time no cigar!
I happened to notice a new feature on the Apple Support page which promised that you could speak to an expert. My first impression was how much would that cost but I was desperate by this time as deadlines were beginning to press in on me. I clicked on the link and within a few pages, which collected information on my circumstances, I was now at a button which said that talking to an expert was just one click away and that they would call me in one minute - right! I was game. I had not been asked for my first born yet (she is now 36 and a lawyer so they would have had a real problem) so I clicked . . . and in approximately one minute my phone rang. An auto dialer then asked me to wait while it connected me and I expected to then enjoy the traditional, too loud, music typical of support calls. Seconds later I was talking to a very competent and professional technical guy who handled the knowledge of what I had done to my machine in a non-condescending manner. Between the two of us (more him than me) my machine was brought back to life. I was able to discover that I had not completely shot myself in the foot and I was able to get back to 99% of where I was before my incident.
I still have some cleanup to do but it looks like the overall integrity of the machine is sound, I thanked the very professional representative profusely and my day improved dramatically.
Thanks Apple Support!
Help for the manager that is having trouble managing conflict with others.
3 Steps for Confronting Without Conflict
Here are three techniques that make uncertainty more manageable — and less perilous. There are three proven strategies developed by pilots, risk managers and entrepreneurs for navigating short- and long-term uncertainty..
Three Tools to Manage Uncertainty
Are you or your staff addicted to the Blackberry environment? Are you or they really that productive by letting your Blackberry intrude upon your business and personal life. Read this to see if there is a better way.
Enforce The No BlackBerry Rule!
If you are considering an off-shore strategy or revising your current off-shore relationships you need to read this. While a narrow geographic concentration of off-shore delivery centers may result in lower labor costs at the outset, the overall risks are higher. When a delivery center in a large Indian city grows beyond 3,000 employees, costs spiral and performance begins to deteriorate.
Rethinking The Model For Offshoring Services
Is recruiting a board of directors really worth it? Absolutely -- if you want your company to grow. For a private company struggling to navigate its way through the challenges of fast growth and the often treacherous capital markets, a strong board can provide valuable assistance in all kinds of ways. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are so worried about control that they either opt for no board at all or pad their boards with longtime friends or family members.
Building the Board
Succession planning is a huge issue for companies. Many don't to it properly, if at all, resulting in disruptive management transitions that are bad for morale and ...
How can you use the crisis to work for you and your organization? Bill George raises many of the right questions that can help his readers locate their own right answers.
7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis
by Bill George, HBS Professor & former Medtronic CEO
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