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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Insanity Check

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This often quoted statement has been attributed to a variety of people (including Albert Einstein), but it provides a good motivation to begin your new year.

    With the beginning of 2015 many people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. What do they want to accomplish this year? What do they want to do differently? Even for those who swear off such annual declarations (many of which are only kept for a month or two), most people still take the time to pause and consider what they want to experience in the New Year.  Whether or not you advocate setting resolutions, it is important to periodically assess your activities to make sure they’re properly focused to support accomplishing your objectives.

    Insanity CheckSo take an insanity check. This is the time to evaluate your personal, professional and organizational strategies and make the necessary adjustments to ensure not only progress, but attainment of your goals. In what areas are you sticking to the same plan, but expecting different results? What isn’t working…yet? Where are you or your organization struggling? Where are you and others frustrated? Here are several keys to your insanity check.

    Build Momentum

    The change initiatives you have started may take time to build momentum until you actually see visible progress. You’re laying the groundwork for improvement, building a foundation, and driving beliefs and values that will spill over into behavioral changes. You may be personally impatient, or stakeholders may be pushing you for quick results. But make sure your plan is solid and that you’re on track in following it. Stopping or pausing will undermine your momentum and you’ll almost literally have to start over. So keep pushing, and build momentum, your goal is in sight.

    Pull The Lever

    Identify the critical lever for change and focus on it. This critical lever is at the center of the problem, and supports and reinforces what is not working. Like a house of cards, if you pull it, everything that it supports will collapse, and that may be a good thing. Pulling the lever may require repositioning your team, changing your structure, developing a different strategy, or shifting your own leadership style.

    Manage Time

    Time is one of the most valuable resources you have, so use it wisely. Rather than succumb to the many demands on your time, control how you spend it by prioritizing those activities that add value to what you’re trying to accomplish. I admit that I can get caught up reading business books and articles that are really interesting, aren’t necessarily relevant to the project that I’m working on. , so I have to refocus myself as well. Determine what activities add the most value; find the ones that are really drivers of significant change, and adjust your time accordingly.

    Decide Now

    Deeply embedded problems require tough decisions. You must be willing to let go of people, processes, or products that you previously invested in, but now are not providing sufficient return. Further delaying these decisions means that you’re expending and wasting valuable time in areas that won’t payoff. You likely know what you have to do, but you’re avoiding the unpleasantness of doing it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive outcomes.

    Move your people to positions where they can add more value, or provide a bridge for them to transition outside the organization where they can find a better suited opportunity. If they’re not delivering, they typically know it and are feeling some level of stress related to that. Avoiding the obvious issue only makes the pain worse over time.

    Your team or customers will tell you the processes that aren’t working (if you don’t already know it). Set an aggressive and almost impossibly quick timetable by which they need to be fixed or eliminated. Others will thank you for it and be relieved that you finally addressed the problem.

    Unprofitable products or services draw resources from the rest of the organization and literally pull others down with it. Think of a rose bush that through careful pruning of dead or unfruitful branches enables the remainder of the bush to receive the necessary nutrients to bloom beautifully. Such products and services may have a legacy with the organization, or be a favorite of some leader, but culling them quickly will add value to the remainder of the organization.

    Remember…working harder on a bad plan doesn’t make the plan good. Doing the right thing at the wrong time won’t achieve the desired results. Smart moves at the right time are key to getting what you want.

    Picture courtesy of Google Images

    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

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    Who’s In Your Garage

    There’s a story that someone once asked Bill Gates where his greatest competition was. The expectation was that he would mention another major high tech company competing for the same business.  Instead, Gates said he was more worried about two guys in a garage; quite the antithesis of the presumed response. Why should he be concerned with two guys in a garage?

    Because there are people like John Nottingham and John Spirk, who founded their namesake company in 1972, in a garage (several years before Microsoft was born).  After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art, they declined offers from well-respected and established companies to instead strike out on their own and form their namesake company. Their objective was to design products using a different business model.  Instead of creating products and then trying to sell them to other companies or customers; they invited companies to bring their product predicaments to the Nottingham Spirk Innovation Center.  They then engineer solutions for these companies and receive payment in the form of royalties on sales, or a flat rate up front.

    Today they’ve moved from the garage to a converted church building in Cleveland, Ohio, where with a small team of 70 people, they’ve amassed over 900 patents to their credit. This includes repackaging Purell hand sanitizer, developing the Twist and Pour paint can for Sherwin Williams, developing Dirt Devil products, Scott’s Snap Lawn Spreader, the Unilever Axe Bullet, Swiffer SweepVac, and the Crest Spinbrush.


    Garage Thinking

    One obvious question is why companies like these weren’t able to solve their product dilemmas internally.  My guess is that they needed an external perspective and focus; literally, someone to help them think outside their corporate box or mindset. They needed to be able to think like they were in the garage by starting from the beginning and taking a fresh and different approach.

    Think about it. As leaders, how many times have we had a product or process dilemma where we needed a simple, but elegant solution? We come at it from every angle we can think of. We brainstorm, use mindmaps, and other elaborate problem solving techniques.  But when we casually mention the issue to someone totally unconnected to our organization, they quickly come up with a new perspective on how to solve it. Sometimes their suggestion is so simple that we initially dismiss it, because after all they don’t understand the complexities, rules and processes of what we do. But in reality, the customer needs uncomplicated answers, not encumbered by the back office complexity of how we got there.

    Sometimes we find a need for this in our personal lives. How many times have you been thinking though a major decision, or wondering how to handle a situation.  You labored with it, until one day you mentioned it to a friend, loved one, coach or even a total stranger.  Maybe they only asked you one question, but it was so perceptive and insightful that almost instantly, you had the answer. You knew what to do.

    The Magic of a Garage

    So back to the two guys in a garage.  There’s a slew of companies that started out in the proverbial garage like Amazon, Disney, Apple, Hewlitt Packard, Google and Harley Davidson. A couple of guys and gals, slogging through a problem that no one else perceived as a problem or took the time to resolve.  They took risks because at that point they had nothing, so there was nothing to lose. They had few predispositions as to how their project should operate because it had never been done before. There was no bureaucracy or lengthy decision making process impinging on their activity.  The boundaries of imagination were wide, and the possibilities for development and integration of technology were unlimited.

    Sometimes, in the midst of all the business challenges and demands on our time, we need to find time to become two guys in a garage.  Find that spot where we can innovate, concentrate, create, and view situations from the perspective of a learner to come up with an answer.  Or find a few people on our team who can work on the issues without being encumbered with an expected solution; who can innovate, inquire, and integrate to arrive at the best answer. So who’s in your garage?


    Read the Forbes article for more information on the Nottingham Spirk Innovation Center

    Photo courtesy of IStockphoto

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