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Strategy Library

Strategy is tossed around pretty loosely these days, but we’re trying to lend some structure to those conversations. In this section, you will find helpful articles differentiating vision from mission, separating strategy creation from implementation, as well as other articles to help you create, sustain and execute your strategy.

Please check out the Featured Articles from our Strategy Library to get you started.

4 Simple Ground Rules to Make Sure You Reach the Mountaintop

How often have you set an ambitious goal … but failed to achieve it?

There’s a good chance that you failed to create the timelines, milestones and deadlines to go along with it.

This Article Could Be About Many Things

Today is one of those occasions when I’m going to let you decide what this article is about.

Is it about resolve, our ability to persevere, to vigorously pursue an idea, uncover its value to our business and set out to relentlessly apply it?

Or, is it about execution, our ability to follow proven processes to implement sustainable change in our business?

Didn’t Mom Teach You to Take Small Steps?

We probably didn’t realize it at the time, but our Moms … and Dads, too … laid the groundwork for this lesson many moons ago.

Keep reading to learn the 4 Simple Ground Rules to Make Sure You Reach the Mountaintop …

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Thrilled That Your 2017 Plan is Finished? Any Chance It Might Get Implemented This Year?

Finishing your 2017 plan feels great … but if you’re not working it with intense and relentless focus, it’s DOA.

The harsh reality is that the so-called strategy formulation part is important … and as challenging as it may be, it’s by far the easiest.

For some reason, it just won’t implement itself.

Your 2017 Plan is just the Starting Line

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. ~Dwight Eisenhower

I know you’ve seen this quote before … because I use it like they vote in Chicago – regularly and often.

Why?

Because it captures the essence of the planning activity that so many executives miss. THat includes the CEOs and senior executives who complain that the exercise of creating an annual plan is basically … worthless.

They usually say something like,

“ It’s a waste of time to create a plan every year … and a budget and a forecast to go with it … because the future is unpredictable and it never turns out the way we plan it anyway.”

Military strategist Helmuth von Moltke is famously known for this simple quote in response:

“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

What’s your experience?

Keep reading so you don’t miss the 6-Pack of Annual Plan Success

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There’s a simple one-word formula to Achieve Excellence

PREPARE to Win … or get ready to get your butt kicked!

I n our travels, we’ve seen plenty of obstacles to success, from making the tough decisions to staying focused on execution.

As if all that isn’t enough, there are still a few more barricades around the corner.

Lack of preparation is one of them.

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How many people have the will to lose?

How many of us have the will to lose?

Few, I’d guess, probably between zero and none.

How about the will to prepare?

The determination to do the unrelenting hard work to prepare to win … maybe not a lot more … and yet that’s exactly where the rubber mallet hits the lobster claw. Keep reading to embrace the key to success

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Will You Be Talking about How You Will Implement This Year’s Plan … Next Year?

Strategy Execution Not Working?

A re you still trying to cobble together a plan to actually implement your strategy this year?

Last week, we talked about the inevitable slowdown in strategy execution. The summer slows us down, some of these initiatives have cooled down, some of them have worn us out and we wish they’d just go away.

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We still get to ask this question:

If the execution of a company’s plans is an avowed priority, critical to the success of both the CEO and the business, why aren’t CEOs spending enough time on it to make it successful?

Continue to read the full article ….

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Hope Springs Eternal … but it’s not enough!

How’s that strategy execution coming along?

I ’ll bet things are starting to drag about now, aren’t they? Summer’s here, you’re dialing it back a little, taking some well-deserved vacation. You launched the year full of promise … but many of your initiatives seem to be stuck, people have too much on their plates, the plans you made may not quite make it to the finish line …

How do you get your initiatives back on track?

The gum does kinda lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight, doesn’t it? Even though you’re about to round the clubhouse turn toward year-end, you’re discovering that it’s much easier to start than to finish.

You struggle to keep the engine stoked with the same energy that propelled your launch at the beginning of the year.

You may be feeling some of the air coming out of the tires, and begin to wonder … “where did all of our energy go”?

What’s that whimpering sound?

Keep reading …

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Do You Follow a Routine – Or Just Full Speed Ahead and Hope It All Gets Done?

If you’re like me, you realize that there are a lot of “little things” you need to do every day that often “leak out” in the maelstrom that surrounds your normal routine.

A re you diligent about keeping track or have you just given up?

imageIf you’re like me, you realize that there are a lot of “little things” you need to do every day that often “leak out” in the maelstrom that surrounds your normal routine.

It’s usually those things we’ve promised someone we would do that day FOR SURE … a small thing, easily done … but then, in the firestorm at the office, we completely forget about it until we hit home and are gently reminded about our oversight … again.

Yes, it could be very minor but it’s often one of those nagging little nuggets that keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

What is a Routines List?

what should be on your routines list? Keep reading …

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Accountability | The 4 Key Principles of Powerful After Action Reviews

After Action Reviews are a powerful force to learn from what went right … and what went wrong.

L earn these 4 Principles to make it work for your team and organization.

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Many years ago when we lived in the Midwest, we became very good friends with a young couple down the street.

He was a fellow fraternity brother, from another college, but I remember him as a super bright physician with a unique ability to describe complex medical subjects in layman’s language.

After Action Reviews are for Learning – NOT Blame

One day, he asked me if I’d like to go to work with him on Saturday. He’d show me around, we’d have lunch, hang out.

He couldn’t leave for lunch, but he would bring along some homemade sandwiches, bologna with lots of ketchup, he said, and I could sit in his pathology lab as he performed an autopsy … and while he was cutting and sawing, we would enjoy our lunch together.

It was when he started laughing that I realized why my vision of an overloaded bologna sandwich, dripping with ketchup alongside an autopsy table, was kicking up a firestorm in my gut.

Keep reading to capture the 4 Key Principles of After Action Reviews

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The Four Common Features of Equally Successful but Different Cultures

We’ve been exploring the impact of different cultures and how they affect our organizations.

W hat are the common threads shared by these radically different cultures that you can apply to make your company equally successful?

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“Lary, give this customer a call. We’ve just received an unauthorized return, and I want these shoes sent back. Funny how the green shoes they bought don’t fit and the red ones fit perfectly.”

It wasn’t uncommon for the Chairman of company North (remember, “N” for “Nasty”?) to stop by my office with a message like this. His remarks were actually a code:

“The red shoes sold well but the green ones the customer bought aren’t selling … so now they’re claiming they don’t fit so they can return them. We’ve had no other such complaints. Tell them we won’t accept them and ship them back.”

I made a note to contact the customer, figuring I’d call them after lunch when I would be more likely to catch them three time zones away. No e-mail back then.

Unexpectedly, the Chairman returned to my office 20 minutes later to ask,

“What did they say?”

The first few times this happened I asked,

“Who?” …

failing to make the connection he expected.

While I learned the nuances of merchandising economics with these examples, what I finally realized was that the Chairman expected me to drop everything and call them immediately.

He wasn’t happy,

“What else are you doing?”,

and after a few unpleasant encounters, I finally caught on.

Don’t miss the 4 Common Threads that bind successful companies

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The Devil IS in the Details – But These are Details Worth Finding

Every business goes through its ups and downs and cash is particularly precious when things aren’t going so well.

W hile it absolutely helps to have a financial professional nearby, there are certain steps you can take – they’re FREE – to get underneath the hood and diagnose some key issues that can make a big difference.

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Here are 3 of the Most Powerful Tools I Have Used.

Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant. ~ Colin Powell

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard ad nauseum, but yes, the devil’s still in the details.

So, how do you keep your perspective on the more strategic elements of your company while capturing and controlling sufficient details to calibrate and validate the execution of that strategy?

Here are a 3 powerful and proven methods to uncover and gain insight into some of these intricate details.

Keep reading to learn the THREE FREE tools to find extra cash

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