Forget for a moment what you think and focus for a bit on how you think. The way you think about things shapes the way you act on those things.
Stinkin Thinkin – Thinking that is corrupted by untruth or that produces counterproductive outcomes. Alcoholics Anonymous has talked about this for years. It involves convincing yourself A will produce B when it has consistently produced C! Einstein said the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results!” Stinking Thinking in business includes, expecting a poor performer to get better with no intervention, seeing your company as better than it really is, and committing to a way of behaving that actually hurts your chances for success.
Stagnant Thinking – Thinking that is static, blind to new information, and that resists creativity and innovation. It is easy to get stuck in a rut. It takes work to pull yourself out. Many people and companies are on thinking autopilot! Examples of stagnant thinking include, assuming the way you did things in the past will get you into the future, not believing you can ever be bested, and getting stuck in redundant processes and not thinking your way out of them.
Strategic Thinking – Thinking that produces a plan based on a purpose. Strategic thinking overcomes barriers, forges new roads, and creates new worlds of opportunity! It is focused and creative thinking about things that make you better. Strategic thinking breeds success! Companies and people that think strategically are perpetually unsatisfied with roadblocks and think to overcome them, intrigued by how to do things better and faster, and are continual improvers.
Action: Listen for a week and make a mark beside each kind of thinking you hear at your company. If it is not heavily strategic, let’s change that!
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” Robert Heinlein
Do you spend more time working in or on your business? If you don’t spend time on your business you may not have to worry long about working in it! A professional sports team would not dream of walking on the field without a pre-determined game plan/strategy. You should not dream of running your company without doing the same!
Where to start?
When I conduct a strategic planning session for a company it is staggering how much clarity and direction they walk out with from a few hours of thinking strategically about their business!
Words are incredibly powerful. With your words you can inspire, educate, empower, convince, and move people to change. You can also discourage, misinform, confuse, and dis-empower people. To be effective, you must have a good command of language. This does not mean that all successful people are highly educated or have big vocabularies. It does mean that they know how to use what language they possess for maximum impact. Whether speaking to a your work team, interacting with your boss, or negotiating a major contract, it is important that you use the spoken word effectively and powerfully.
Power Words: Some words have more power than others. This is true in advertising where words like free, sell, new and improved, have been used for years to attract attention. Using language for impact requires knowledge of the power of words as well as a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. The right word is always better than many not quite right words.
Things to avoid include…
Over Talking: In many cases “less is more”. When you use the right words you do not have to belabor your point. People become suspicious of the veracity of your claims if you ramble on and on.
Overinflated Words: Avoid using big words just to sound smart. “Utilize” and “use” mean the same thing. Why utilize the word utilize when you can just say use?
Talking Yourself Out of the Deal: Don’t negotiate against yourself. You need to make sure that you are not your own worst enemy in the negotiation or communication process. In many cases, the person who is most comfortable with silence will win the day.
Charged Words: If you use emotionally charged words make sure it is on purpose and with your audience in mind. Otherwise you end up blocking your message and antagonizing your audience.
The Power of Positive
Words and phrases that emphasize the positive tend to have a better immediate and long-term impact than words and phrases that are negative in nature. Glass half full people tend to draw people to them and have more influence than those who are always looking for the negative. I said once about a person that for them, “not only was the glass half empty but it was poisoned!” For some it takes practice to fight against their mindset of negativity. Develop the habit of speaking positively and it will pay big dividends.
**Excerpted from the upcoming book Real Change Now – Secrets to Becoming a Change Master, Daren Martin, PhD
I am a long time Apple computer user. I have no intention of switching to a PC. So when years ago Microsoft introduced Office for Apple it seemed like a match made in heaven. I got to use my computer platform of choice and have access to the most used and robust office tools reserved previously only for PCs. Awesome, right? I get to have my cake and eat it to! Seemed great in theory but there were some major flaws centered mainly around the mail program. For some bizarre reason, Microsoft released the Apple version with Entourage as their mail server rather than the business standard Outlook. This meant that a major piece of the Office solution for Mac users was out of sync with the rest of the world. Entourage was ok but had limitations when compared to its big brother Outlook.
Entire the iPhone (moment of silence please)! This is where the fun begins. On an Apple the iPhone will only sync with Apple’s calendar and address book. So if you are using (at the time) Entourage for those functions good luck getting all your information transferred from your laptop to your phone. Problems included it syncing multiple times (I would have 25 Christmases on my calendar), multiple duplicates, not syncing period, and losing contacts (at one point I lost everything). Most of the time it just didn’t sync period. A visit to the genius bar to try to solve these issues was consistently met with “That’s a Microsoft product, we can’t help you with that”. Thus began several years of frustration looking for solutions on line and elsewhere. Step by step tedious instructions sometimes worked but only until I made some kind of change or updated the system.
Enter Office 2011 for Mac with Outlook! At last, this will solve all of my problems. The powers that be have finally seen the light and have come to the rescue. No such luck! Outlook will NOT sync with the iPhone – Google it! Doesn’t work. So we have a major Office tool provided on an Apple platform whichis supposed to interact with dominant cell phone and they won’t play nice or even play at all?!
One of two things is going on. 1. Apple doesn’t want it to work so you are forced to wean yourself off of Office and switch to their solutions (address book, iCal, mail). I would gladly do this but Apple’s suite provides the most anemic, limited, featureless, unimproved over years, solution for these functions! 2. Microsoft doesn’t want it to work hoping Apple users will become frustrated and switch to PC where they are the dominant player. Either way, it doesn’t work and hasn’t for a while now. You cannot tell me that these two software engineering giants cannot easily engineer their “joint” offering to work!
When voicing my complaints at an Apple store recently the Apple employee referred to Apple and Microsoft’s relationship as being “frienemies”. Friends and enemies. They work together out of necessity but neither of them is happy about it. This is a horrible business solution no matter what the companies. In the meantime, Microsoft sells a premier product on a platform which doesn’t work. Class action lawsuit? Evidently something like that is the only way to get these “frienemies” to make their products work together. Googles online solutions are looking better everyday.
Consider these questions when evaluating your company culture.
At our company we:
How does your company culture rate?
The prevailing thoughts, beliefs, and allegiances that drive processes and behaviors at any given company. – DM
Your company has a culture. It is either happening by design or by default. Half way through leading the failing IBM to a new start Lou Gerstner concluded, “culture is everything!” If you don’t change a company’s culture, you will never change the company. Your company’s culture drives how you evaluate success, shape employees, interact with customers, deal with change, and every other aspect of business.
There are many ways to evaluate a company culture but consider these two just to get you thinking. Do you have a Performance or Political Culture?
Performance cultures reward you for what you know, have little time for bureaucracy, believe the communication chain should be based on the best way to get the job done, and reinforce performance at every turn.
Political cultures reward you for who you know, are mired in bureaucracy, insist on strict communication channels even when it hurts the business, and reinforce conformance over performance.
Shaping your company culture is vital to your future success!
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” – Robert Heinlein
Do you spend more time working in or on your business? If you don’t spend time on your business you may not have to worry long about working in it! A professional sports team would not dream of walking on the field without a pre-determined game plan/strategy. You should not dream of starting 2011 without the same for your business!
Where to start?
When I conduct a strategic planning session for a company it is staggering how much clarity and direction they walk out with from a few hours of thinking strategically about their business! Plan for 2011 and you will accomplish big things!
My friend and I popped into a new upscale sports bar to try it out. We were enjoying a relaxing drink at the bar when one of the customers bellowed at the top of his voice, “scoooooooooooooooore”. Maybe he had too many drinks and thought it would be cute, maybe he is one of those dudes that thinks all eyes in the bar should be centered on him, maybe he is just situationally unaware. Regardless of the circumstances, it was downright obnoxious! We returned to tranquility a little rattled. Minutes later, he erupted into another yell of “scooo….” only this time, mid shout, the bartender looked at him sternly and said, “Stop that!”. The shouter paused with an impish grin and said, “aw, come on”, poised to continue the yell. The bartender said, “No I’m serious, stop that!” Now, the bartender could have used a little more finesse but massive kudos to him for understanding when the customer is wrong and sparing the rest of the patrons! His decisive action converted us from a “won’t be back” to “maybe”.
Culture Question: Are your customer’s ever wrong? How are you trained to respond?
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for endless immensity of the sea.”–Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote is at the core of effective communication strategies particularly those intended to initiate change. Many company messages fall on deaf ears because they are passionless, tedious, and fail to paint a vision. They get presented as a shift in policy or procedure without any real explanation of why a change is even necessary. If you want people to drive the change themselves vs just following orders, you have to paint a picture, give them a vision of what the change will accomplish, make them restless, and inspire them to long for the sea! Do that and you won’t have to worry about motivating people to change. They will motivate themselves!
A basic understanding of the 4 Social Styles is crucial to being effective with people. It is the single best model I know for learning to effectively speak other people’s language so that you can maximize your interactions with them. I taught a brief Styles overview at Southwest Airlines to 100+ of their project managers and they said it was the best program since they started the forum. The four styles are Analytical, Driver, Amiable, and Expressive. Each of these styles have different likes, communication patterns, priorities, work habits, etc. By understanding the four languages you can communicate with anyone using their language. The impact on sales, managing and leading people, communicating your message, conveying a vision, and many other areas is astounding.