Monday, September 27, 2010

Plan Your Work: The Intricacies of Strategy - Part # 1

THEME: Fall 2010 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable Report

FOCUS: Plan Your Work: The Intricacies of Strategy - Part # 1

Monday morning: September 27, 2010

Dear friends,

We were sitting in the Board Room after the meeting when the CEO turned to me and said, “We’ve lost our joint purpose. Everyone is so busy and so wrapped up in the minutia of the moment that we’ve lost our sense of direction. It is all day, every day put out fires and hurry on to the next crisis. We are disconnected from what is most important.” It was a sad and sobering moment in the organization’s journey.

C.K. Prahalad in his last article before his death called “Why Is It So Hard to Tackle the Obvious?” in the June 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review wrote, “During a corporate transformation, the forgetting curve is sometimes more important than the learning curve.” As he explained, past success creates a distinct corporate ideology. An example of this is The Toyota Way, which contains specific information about how to compete, how to measure performance, organization structure, specific ways to problem solve plus whom to reward and why. In essence, past success creates “that’s the way we do things around here.” Nevertheless, when it is time to change, leaders need to decide what to preserve and what to discard.

From my perspective, past success can at times be the enemy of strategic planning. It can blind people to current reality. They do not see the need for change, because they can not “receive” the information related to it.

Furthermore, past success leads to an unconscious translation of strategy. People do what they are doing but do not understand anymore “why” they are doing it in that specific manner. They just do it because “it works” and it is “the norm.”

Next, past success in combination with no brutal facts, using a Jim Collin’s term from his book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. . . and Others Don't. HarperBusiness, 2001, no applicable metrics, and no regular strategic reviews does not create a strategic mindset. Instead, it creates an operational mindset of “get’er done” and “do not piss off anyone off in the process.”

Finally, past success does not create ownership; it creates habits. A habit is a collection of unconscious actions, i.e. an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation. When this happens, past success does not generate new strategy. It often prohibits the development of new strategy. Past success can generate constant support for status quo. In sum, past success can perpetuate tactical or technical problem solving.

This week as you prepare for the challenges of 2011, remember past success can become a source of many problems.

Have a super week,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Search For Now

THEME: Some Thoughts On Current and Emerging Trends

FOCUS: The Search For Now

Monday morning: September 20, 2010

Dear friends,

Years ago in the popular psychology literature, the term “inner child” was coined and referenced by many people. Having walked in the world of people, organizations and change for many years, I now believe the inner child has grow into the inner adolescent. I also believe they are an adrenaline junkie.

With the arrival of iTunes, Droid phones, iPads, Twitter, iPhones, YouTube, Hulu and many more technological devices and websites, we now live in a world where everyone is digitally distracted and everyone can seek new adrenaline highs. In this new “all me, all the time” world where “drive me to the mall now” is replaced with “drive me to hot, new and fancy web sites,” every second of every day people are looking past today and seeking more and more bling to take them to a greater sense of “me”.

As history is rewritten with a sound track and a theme song, and marriage ceremonies, proms and high school sports are PR events that need DJ’s, sound tracks and lighting experts, the image of change, success and clarity are more important than the actual journey of commitment, effort and understanding. Instant everything is taking over. As one young person told me recently, “e-mail and Facebook are so yesterday.”

The impact of this world on business and leadership is profound. In order to gain some perspective I am reminded of a key concept in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. . . and Others Don't, HarperBusiness, 2001. Here, he talked about how great companies have a mirror and a window. As he writes, “Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility. The comparison CEOs often did just the opposite - they looked in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.” Currently, I believe we live in an all mirror all the time world where self is the center of everything.

In order to be successful in the long haul, we need to have mirrors where reflection on our thoughts and actions takes place. We also need windows where we regain perspective about ourself and the the world. But I also think we need candles so we can stare into the flame and quiet the self, quiet the world and see beyond the constant rush of new and possibilities. We need to rediscover the truly miraculous moment of living in the now.

Currently, we live in a world of hand held everythings such as head phones, ear pieces and wireless devices, all of which take us away from now. Always connected and always streaming, twittering and downloading, we miss the actual life experience of living now, being now, and experiencing now. We live more on the Internet, resulting in a life of any where but here and now experiences.

When we miss the miracles of now, we miss simple experiences and comments of support, unconditional listening or kindness. We miss the beauty of a sunrise, the taste of biting into a cool crisp fall apple, the feel of sweat and accomplishment after a day of hard physical work. We miss the joy of holding hands, unconditional love, and a walk around the neighborhood. These are now moments in world so addicted to change, speed and sound that they are regulated to non-moments.

This week, I hope you can reconnect to now and live into now. And when you do, I suspect you will discover a way to move and live which is most rewarding.

Have a wonderful week,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Need For Health, Healing and Wholeness

THEME: Some Thoughts On Current and Emerging Trends

FOCUS: The Need For Health, Healing and Wholeness

Monday morning: September 13, 2010

Dear friends,

It was interesting earlier this year to watch the healthcare debate rage on in Congress. People on all sides of the issues where fired up, and as the November elections roll around, people are still fired up about issues related to healthcare.

I remember one day last spring talking with a Doctor who told me that at the heart of this debate was a problem. From his perspective, people were calling it healthcare reform when it was actually health insurance reform. The focus was not on health but really on coverage.

Having done this work since the 1980’s, I have watched issues of health enter into the workplace in many different ways. First, there was the widespread and fully embraced notion of wellness activities. Here, we were to walk more, stretch more, eat better and generally just have an improved attitude. Companies offered wellness classes and many people signed up.

Then, some where in the 90’s, companies embraced a more medical model approach to wellness. Then, health analysis was the key to success. Thus, the business community ran employees through tests such as Body Mass Index (BMI), blood work, and diet analysis. Then healthcare professional analyzed the results and made recommendations. In between this, we witnessed programs on mind/body health and holistic health. This year the Harvard Business Review published another article on the importance of managing energy instead of time. Whatever the pathway, the goal was to improve personal health and reduce healthcare insurance expense on the business side.

But with rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, we have not made great progress. While there are pockets of success, we are not seeing the healthcare revolution that so many people were wanting to take place so many years ago. I think the problem falls into two categories.

First, we do not comprehend and embrace the notion that we are the programmer and the program. When it comes to our bodies, we do have many short and long term choices we can make. I recognize that bad things happen to good people and getting a serious illness is not your fault, but how we care for ourselves on a day to day basis is our choice. Some grasp this but choose to follow a different path. As I continue to remind clients, awareness is not understanding.

Second, many work place health improvement programs fail to be successful over time because they do not understand the world of change. As John P. Kotter in his book, The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, Harvard Business School Press, 2002, wrote, “The single most important message in this book is very simple. People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.... The flow of see-feel-change is more powerful than that of analysis-think-change.” People need to see results, and experience short term wins more than just receive detailed analysis.

If we seek to create a healthier work place, we need to create more see-feel-change experiences. This week, think about this and recognize that insurance reform is only part of the picture.

Have a fantastic week,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Power of Joyful Service

THEME: Some Thoughts On Current and Emerging Trends

FOCUS: The Power of Joyful Service

Tuesday morning: September 7, 2010

Dear friends,

Regularly now, I am finding more and more people who lack passion and joy about the work they are doing. Years ago, some one told me that “it is only work if you want to be some place different.” Right now, it appears that more and more people want to be some place different. They are not happy and they are not passionate. It is just another day at the office, doing another day’s worth of paperwork. It is another day of watching the clock and hoping the day will be over quickly. The sad part about this situation is that more and more people are experiencing this and thinking it is the new normal in business.

It is time that we rekindle the experience of making a difference at work. We need to enjoy what we are working on and be more engaged. We need to rekindle a sense of purpose and passion which unites us to rise to our current challenges and meet them head on.

Gallup research in the book, Married To The Brand: Why Consumers Bond With Some Brands For Life, Gallup Press, 2005, points out that “engaged employees create engaged customers.“ Given the current economy, we need as many engaged customers as we can get. But we must realize that the source of engaged customers is more engaged employees. The later happens before the former happens. And the former happens when we have more engaged leaders and managers. But many leaders and managers are overwhelmed and unimpressed by how their organizations have responded to the current economic challenges and subsequent organizational changes. Routinely, they witness status quo trumping innovative strategic solutions.

As a strategic planner, I have observed a change to this situation in certain organizations. In these unique work places, their strategic plans have one element that many others do not have, namely organized community service and regular philanthropic actions. Recognizing that we live in a very interconnected world, these companies choose to invest staff time and corporate dollars in helping others in their community. They recognize that we live in an interconnected world where service to others is not only good for the receiver but also good for the giver. As James C. Hunter in his book, The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership, Crown Business, 1998, wrote, “Long ago a man named Syrus said that it is of no profit to have learned well if you neglect to do well.”

For us here today, doing well means reengaging in the communities where we live. We need to seek out opportunities to make a difference and reengage in the life of our communities. By doing this on an on-going basis, it will be good for our communities and good for the company. But most important it will rekindle a sense of passion and joy in the lives of those who we work with on a daily basis.

This week, support volunteer community service and recommit to regular philanthropy.

Have a great week,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257