We usually think of business strategy as some sort of aspirational market positioning statement. Doubtless that's part of it. But I believe that the number one "strategic strength" is excellence in execution and systemic relationships (i.e., with everyone we come in contact with). Hence I offer the following 48 pieces of advice for creating a winning strategy that is inherently sustainable:
• "Thank you." Minimum several times a day. Measure it.
• "Thank you" to everyone even peripherally involved in some activity—especially those "deep in the hierarchy."
• Smile. Work on it.
• Apologize. Even if "they" are "mostly" to blame.
• Jump all over those who play the "blame game."
• Hire enthusiasm.
• Low enthusiasm. No hire. Any job.
• Hire optimists. Everywhere. ("Positive outlook on life," not mindless optimism.)
• Hiring: Would you like to go to lunch with him-her. 100% of jobs.
• Hire for good manners.
• Do not reject "trouble makers"—that is those who are uncomfortable with the status quo.
• Expose all would-be hires to something unexpected-weird. Observe their reaction.
• Overwhelm response to even the smallest screw-ups.
• Become a student of all you will meet with. Big time.
• Hang out with interesting new people. Measure it.
• Lunch with folks in other functions. Measure it.
• Listen. Hear. Become a serious student of listening-hearing.
• Work on everyone's listening skills. Practice.
• Become a student of information extraction-interviewing.
• Become a student of presentation giving. Formal. Short and spontaneous.
• Incredible care in 1st line supervisor selection.
• World's best training for 1st line supervisors.
• Construct small leadership opportunities for junior people within days of starting on the job.
• Insane care in all promotion decisions.
• Promote "people people" for all managerial jobs. Finance-logistics-R&D as much as, say, sales.
• Hire-promote for demonstrated curiosity. Check their past commitment to continuous learning.
• Small "d" diversity. Rich mixes for any and all teams.
• Hire women. Roughly 50% women on exec team.
• Exec team "looks like" customer population, actual and desired.
• Focus on creating products for and selling to women.
• Focus on creating products for and selling to boomers-geezers.
• Work on first and last impressions.
• Walls display tomorrow's aspirations, not yesterday's accomplishments.
• Simplify systems. Constantly.
• Insist that almost all material be covered by a 1-page summary. Absolutely no longer.
• Practice decency.
• Add "We are thoughtful in all we do" to corporate values list. Number 1 force for customer loyalty, employee satisfaction.
• Make some form of employee growth (for all) a formal part of values set. Above customer satisfaction. Steal from RE/MAX: "We are a life success company."
• Celebrate "small wins." Often. Perhaps a "small win of the day."
• Manage your calendar religiously: Does it accurately reflect your espoused priorities?
• Use a "calendar friend" who's not very friendly to help you with this.
• Review your calendar: Work assiduously on your "To don'ts"—stuff that distracts.
• Bosses, especially near the top: Formally cultivate one advisor whose role is to tell you the truth. Regularly!
• Commit to Excellence.
• Talk up Excellence.
• Put "Excellence in all we do" in the values set.
• Measure everyone on demonstrated commitment to Excellence.
You'll find a longer version of this as a PDF—it includes two Appendices.
(Above, windblown trees near Farewell Spit, NZ.)
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