What’s your Critical Number THIS Quarter?

How Home Care Assistance Tackled a Bottleneck to Business Growth

What TOP¬†“bottleneck” or choke point keeps¬†you from scaling up your business in a meaningful way?

Bottlenecks are often resistant to simple hacks and half-measures. Removing your biggest bottlenecks is an ALL HANDS EFFORT, and takes SINGLE-MINDED FOCUS for a FIXED PERIOD to CHANGE THE SYSTEM.

Lori Wengerd, Owner and President of Home Care Assistance¬†Columbus, is setting out to change the way the world ages. Her firm provides premier live-in and hourly care for older adults to ‘age in-place’. Last fall, she determined that her biggest bottleneck to growth was the frequency with which her caregivers needed to reschedule their work at short notice (“call-offs”). While clients continued to receive great service, handling each call-off was costly to the organization in many ways. If not addressed, growing the business and adding caregivers would only make the situation worse.

The Critical Number is simply a business measure or KPI that tracks early and ongoing progress removing the big bottleneck. Leaders set a Company Annual Critical Number and supporting Company Quarterly Critical Number. In a given quarter, EVERYONE is focused on ONE THING to help scale up the company.

Lori attended our one-day¬†Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop in October, 2016, where she built a One Page Strategic Plan‚ĄĘ, and set a Critical Number for Quarter 4, 2016 – “percentage of call-offs” – measured weekly. In the balance of the quarter, Lori and her team reduced weekly percentage of call-offs by as much as 75%, seriously reducing internal drama and opening new opportunities for profitable growth!

Lori reports: ‚ÄúI regularly read books on business growth and am good at¬†implementing ideas that fit my business model. However, it wasn’t until I attended the Scaling Up Course led by Jon Iveson and Gary Ralston that I finally learned how to put a plan in place that is both solidly grounded in core business values and fluid in its implementation.

In the short time since I attended, I’ve already led my team to undertake dramatic shifts in our planning process, and improve staff accountability and bottom-line performance.‚ÄĚ

The Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get right: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. You and your leadership team will invest a full, productive day focusing ON your business rather than IN your business.

You will receive a series of powerful, simple one-page tools, including the One-Page Strategic Plan‚ĄĘ and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist‚ĄĘ, which more than 40,000 firms around the globe have used to scale their companies successfully – many to $1 billion and beyond.

Running a business is ultimately about freedom. Scaling Up shows business leaders how to get their organizations moving in sync to create something significant, while enjoying the climb to success!

Join us for our next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop in Columbus, OH on November 8, 2017, 8am – 5pm

To learn more and register your team, go to http://ScalingUp.cvent.com/ColumbusOH or contact Ann Ralston, events@ralstonconsulting.com or 614-561-5273.

РGary Ralston, © 2017 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Sunday, February 5th, 2017 Article Archive, Business Insights, Main Page, Process Improvement, Scaling Up Comments Off on What’s your Critical Number THIS Quarter?

2017 – A Brand-New Ending!

– Ann and Gary Ralston
© 2016 Ralston Consulting Inc.

Watercolor by Ann Ralston
(click on image for larger version)

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Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Art and Inspiration, Article Archive, Main Page, Photos Comments Off on 2017 – A Brand-New Ending!

Three Brilliant Podcast Series to Make You Think!

Podcasts rock!¬† I’ve stopped listening to NPR and even music when I drive. Instead, I‚Äôm enjoying and learning from podcasts.

If you haven’t explored the world of podcasts, you are missing out. You can find just about anything!

The bad news for beginners: you can find just about anything. :-(( ¬†There are so VERY¬†many podcasts, with lots of clutter and noise, so let’s start you off right!.

Three podcasts in particular continue to change how I think about and perceive my world:

timferrissshowart-500x500The Tim Ferriss Show

On his podcast, author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, “deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.¬† This includes favorite books, morning routines, exercise habits, time-management tricks, and much more..” ¬†His guests are amazing and DIVERSE. Actors, Athletes, Artists, Doctors, HIGHLY successful entrepreneurs, soldiers, writers and researchers. I’ve gone back to listen to MOST of over 100 shows.

Josh Waitzkin – A Chess Prodigy on Mastering Martial Arts, Chess and Life

Josh was the basis for the book and movie,¬†Searching for Bobby Fischer. In the process of life as a chess prodigy, world champion in Tai Chi Push Hands, he has perfected learning strategies that can be applied to anything. Author of the incredible book,¬†The Art of Learning, Josh now spends his time coaching the world’s top performers, whether Mark Messier, Cal Ripken Jr., or elite hedge fund managers. Josh also appeared on Episode #2, but this is the place to start…

tony-robbinsTony Robbins – Several Episodes!

I’ve not been a huge fan of Tony Robbins in the past, yet I really enjoyed all of these episodes:

cal-fussmanCal Fussman – Master Interviewer, Writer and Storyteller.

Oh, the stories! Cal is a New York Times bestselling author and a writer-at-large for Esquire magazine, where he is best known for being a primary writer of the ‚ÄúWhat I Learned‚ÄĚ feature.¬†The Austin Chronicle has described Cal‚Äôs interviewing skills as ‚Äúpeerless.‚Ä̬†He has transformed oral history into an art form, conducting probing interviews with the icons who‚Äôve shaped the last 50 years of world history: Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Woody Allen, Barbara Walters, Pel√©, Yao Ming, Serena Williams, John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, and countless others.

revisionist-history-gladwellRevisionist History with Malcom Gladwell

Malcom Gladwell, a brilliant storyteller “reinterprets something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.¬†Again, my favorite three, each a¬†must-hear:

  • The Lady Vanishes
  • Generous Orthodoxy
  • The Blame Game – I hope it helps us¬†reflect on how much the news media distorts information, and sadly, how quickly we believe them. We simply take what they say as truth, when it can be far, far from it.

abundancebookcoverExponential Wisdom with Peter Diamandis and Dan Sullivan

I found this podcast after our work with (and subsequent certification in) the¬†Exponential Organizations¬†Masterclass.¬†The podcast holds “Insights from Dan Sullivan and Peter Diamandis¬†on the Human-Technology Relationship”.¬† This is a fascinating conceptual playground, as the speed of change is outpacing our ability to govern, learn and understand the impact on our future world. Diamandis’ fundamental premise is that we are entering a time of abundance, globally, thanks to technological advances, with evidence that counters the media’s negative, sensationalist biases.

Diamandis and Sullivan offer a¬†deeper understanding of topics such as Brexit, Artificial Intelligence, longevity, healthcare, education… each one fascinating! Go back to the earlier podcasts – even episode one – for the best flow.

I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the podcasts in these series. ¬† Hope you enjoy!

РAnn Ralston,
  © 2016 Ralston Consulting Inc.

Join us for our next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop in Columbus, OH.

To learn more and register your team, go to http://scalingup.cvent.com/columbusoh or contact Ann Ralston, events@ralstonconsulting.com or 614-561-5273.

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Friday, September 23rd, 2016 Article Archive, Book and Media Reviews, Executive Productivity, Main Page, Personal Mastery Comments Off on Three Brilliant Podcast Series to Make You Think!

Learn Even Faster From Podcasts – Overcast.fm app

overcast-itunes-logoxparentOvercast.fm is a podcast app for iPhone and iPad that saves me more time than any other player I have used, without sacrificing comprehension, and perhaps improving it!

By now, most everyone knows you can save time by speeding up playback of audiobooks and podcasts, and even web videos (see below). But after a point, increasing playback speed reduces comprehension. I can easily listen to 1.25x playback speed, and even up to 1.5x, but I start to fatigue beyond that as the words and phrases get too compressed.

The ‘Smart Speed’¬†effect analyzes the podcast and intelligently removes silence between spoken words and phrases.With the playback set to 1.5x, effective playback¬†speed increased to 1.8x, 2.1x or faster depending on the material, and I experience much less fatigue. The result is more intelligible speech in less playback time. A win-WIN!

The Overcast app is also a great podcast manager. Subscribing to podcasts has been seamless. Automatic downloading just works. If you sign up for an optional online account, Overcast.fm synchronizes your record of what you have listened to across your iOS devices and even offers a simple web-based podcast player.

BONUS TIP: If you have a spoken-word mp3 file you want to listen to faster, you can upload up to 2 GB of files it at https://overcast.fm/uploads .

Overcast.fm. Get it. Learn faster. Have more time to put it all into practice.

videospeedcontrollerscreenTip: Accelerate HTML5 Video Playback

Video Speed Controller is our new preference for watching HTML5 video on Chrome on our desktop computer. It is particularly useful in speeding up videos from our executive education partner, the Gazelles Growth Institute.

– Gary Ralston
© 2016 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 Article Archive, Executive Productivity, Main Page, Personal Mastery, Technology Comments Off on Learn Even Faster From Podcasts – Overcast.fm app

Why is Scaling Up Your Organization so HARD?

Much like¬†our own body weight, organizations have a ‘set point’ they gravitate to, be that $5 million, 10 people, $50 million, 100¬†people, $250 million, and so on. And much like our own body weight, organizations can be quite stubborn about deviating from that set point. This is obvious at a gut level (*ahem*) to¬†anyone who has tried to change either their weight or their organization’s size, relying only on sheer grit and willpower.

If we¬†don’t change the underlying systems and structures, first, and in the right sequence, any change¬†we¬†achieve through willpower will be short-lived.

Fortunately, UNLIKE our bodies, we can dramatically change the fundamental, underlying systems and structures so that the organization can rise to a new, desired set point. Of course, one can do a lot of damage to an organization by changing the wrong systems, or changing things in the wrong sequence.

Learning to Scale Up an organization is not necessarily hard, but to be effective requires specific knowledge, skills, processes and discipline in four key domains: People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.

Check out this short (2 min 14 sec) video, then chat with Ann or Gary to learn more about how you can more easily and effectively Scale Up your organization.

Join us for our next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop in Columbus, OH.

To learn more and register your team, go to http://scalingup.cvent.com/columbusoh or contact Ann Ralston, events@ralstonconsulting.com or 614-561-5273.

– Gary Ralston
© 2016 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, September 1st, 2016 Article Archive, Business Insights, Main Page, Scaling Up Comments Off on Why is Scaling Up Your Organization so HARD?

2016 ‚Äď We will open the book‚Ķ


– Ann and Gary Ralston

Watercolor © 2015 Ann Ralston
(click on image for larger version)

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Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 Art and Inspiration, Article Archive, Main Page, Photos Comments Off on 2016 ‚Äď We will open the book‚Ķ

ExO Drivers of Change: Elon Musk Talks Climate Change Solutions at COP21


source: Scripps Center of Oceanography

Leaders of Exponential Organizations (ExOs) must be masterful at harnessing (surfing?) exponential drivers of change. There may be none bigger than our reliance on carbon-producing fuels, as can be seen in this chart of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the past thousand years.

Elon Musk, whose company, Tesla, is among the Top 100 ExOs, spoke to a group of college students at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, discussing climate change and his view of what policymakers participating in COP21 can do to help the world transition to a sustainable future.

His message is not new, yet I appreciate how Musk frames the issues in a clear and simple way, forwards a solution that acknowledges the needs of both business and society, and (hopefully) avoids polarizing debate. This video is worth watching and sharing.

As ExO leaders, of course make plans to adapt to this driver of change, but after watching this video, ask yourself:

  • What is my preferred future?
  • How could¬†my¬†organization’s Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) help¬†shape that future?
  • What is my¬†people strategy?¬†How do the MTP, and Values alive in my¬†company today,¬†align¬†and resonate with the A-Level talent, Community and Crowd I¬†must attract and retain to achieve that future?

In this post:

  • The video (Musk begins at 3:29)
  • A summary of Musk’s¬†key message
  • A link to a full transcript¬†(Thanks to Green Car Reports for making this available)

Musk’s Key Message: Tax Carbon Appropriately

Here is a summary of Elon Musk’s¬†message, in his words, edited for clarity.

A Hidden Carbon Subsidy

53TSubsidies_for_fossil_fuels“The reason that transition is delayed or is happening slowly is because there is a hidden subsidy on … all carbon-producing activity of enormous size – $5.3 trillion a year, worldwide, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [source: Trucost.com]. … The net result is 35 gigatonnes of carbon per year released into the atmosphere.

This is analogous to not paying for garbage collection. It’s not as though we should say, in the case of garbage, have a garbage-free society. It’s very difficult to have a garbage-free society, but it’s just important that people pay for the garbage collection.

A Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax – a Non-Partiasn Issue

The solution, obviously, is to remove the subsidy. That means we need to have a carbon tax and to make it something which is neither a left nor a right issue. We should make it probably a revenue neutral carbon tax. …

Give Industry Time to React

…Moreover, in order to give industry time to react, this could be a phased-in approach so that maybe it takes five years before the carbon taxes are very high, so that means that only companies that don’t take action today will suffer in five years.

A Clear Signal from the Rulemakers

There needs to be a clear message from government in this regard because the fundamental problem is the rules today incent people to create carbon, and this is madness. Whatever you incent will happen. That’s why we’re seeing very little effect thus far.

5 to 10% of the Earth’s Land Mass Underwater = 2 billion people displaced

The net result is if we don’t take action, we could see anywhere from 5% to 10%, maybe more of the land mass absorbed by water, which maybe doesn’t sound like that much, but about a third of humanity lives right on the coastline or in low lying countries. We’d be talking about maybe 2 billion people being displaced and their homes being destroyed and their countries being gone. I think we should take action.”

– Elon Musk

– Gary Ralston
© 2015 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 Article Archive, Business Insights, Corporate Social Responsibility, Exponential Organizations, Main Page, Sustainability Comments Off on ExO Drivers of Change: Elon Musk Talks Climate Change Solutions at COP21

New Video and Course: Understanding the Impact of Exponential Organizations


Watch Yuri van Geest’s mind-blowing webinar from December 4 2015

We are excited to introduce you to Yuri van Geest, member of Singularity University and the co-author of the ground-breaking book, Exponential Organizations, published in the fall of 2014. (The book is now required reading for all practitioners at the prestigious consulting firm, McKinsey and Company.)

Yuri hosted a webinar focused on the real cases and experiences he has seen over the past year and the challenges companies have overcome.¬†Ann and I¬†just¬†completed the webinar, and we were BLOWN AWAY at the rate of innovation reported, worldwide, especially in China!¬†Yuri, who tracks¬†emerging technological breakthroughs for a living, reports,¬†(11:01) “In the last six to twelve¬†months since the launch of the book, the pace of change of technology is accelerating more than ever before.”

Recent innovations include:

  • Solutions for¬†Cancer, Alzheimers Disease (your lost memories come back!!) and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • A quantum computer of mind-boggling processing power to be released December 8, 2015 that will disrupt existing solutions.
  • Artificial Intelligence more advanced than Deep Mind and IBM Watson that can ask and answer its own questions.

On the rate and number and variety of technological breakthroughs in the last 12 months, Yuri¬†says:¬†“These quantum¬†leaps I have never seen in the last 10 years – this is a new phenomenon…” “…and all these technologies are converging for the first time.” (Self-teaching AI + powerful quantum computer = Skynet??)

Watch Yuri’s presentation¬†now.

Yuri van Geest ExO Webinar 2015-12-04

Register for the Exponential Organizations Master Practitioner course, starting December 10, 2015

Ann and I are registered for (and anticipating) the Exponential Organizations (ExO) Master Practitioner course starting next week. The 10-week hybrid program includes video, workbook, live group sessions with Yuri and his co-author, Salim Ismail, and discussion forums for participants. We will be exploring and applying new ways to help our clients in both business and social sectors accelerate growth where it matters to them, be that in profits, social impact or both.

This course is really important to us Рtruly a framework for ventures and social causes in the 21st century. We think the Exponential Organizations work is a match for many of you in our extended community of changemakers. We hope you will join us!

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Ann or Gary, or sign up now through this link to gain prompt access to the course materials and videos!

Enough said. We have a world to change…

– Ann and Gary Ralston

© 2015 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Monday, November 30th, 2015 Article Archive, Business Models, Exponential Organizations, Main Page Comments Off on New Video and Course: Understanding the Impact of Exponential Organizations

2015 – Full of things…


Wind over fresh snowfall yields¬†a field full of ¬†‘snow logs’.

photo: Ann Ralston
(click image for larger version)


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Thursday, January 1st, 2015 Art and Inspiration, Article Archive, Main Page, Photos Comments Off on 2015 – Full of things…

Thawing to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Ann Ralston taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, 2014-08-20Until last night, I watched the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (#alsicebucketchallenge)¬†with mild¬†interest and curiosity. What would inspire people to dump a bucket of¬†ice water on themselves, or stand still while others dumped it on them? Wouldn’t the normal response to be to RUN AWAY?

I watched a few YouTube videos and Facebook postings of people dousing themselves with ice-water, and sat up a little more when top tennis players, including¬†Novak Djokovic¬†and Roger Federer, were challenged.¬†I thought it was great that athletes, business moguls and past presidents, and even my awesome nephew, Alex, were making a positive statement about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

I was interested in the implications for the disease and research, given this massive infusion of funding, and how the organization could continue to be successful with this radical change. I wondered how we could create something so simple and so viral for causes and organizations that we support.  I was interested in all this in an intellectual kind of way.

Two things happened to changed my involvement.

It became emotional.

Then it became personal.

First, I heard an interview on NPR, which aired August 20, 2014. They of course mentioned the funds raised Р$31.5 million from July 29-August 20, 2014. They contrasted that with about $2 million raised during the same period in 2013, an impressive increase by any standard. 

Now¬†wrap your head around this – by the time I posted this entry,¬†one day later, donations had increased by $10.3 million to $41.8 million. That’s a 33% increase in 24 hours.¬†That’s¬†viral. [Update: $53.3 million as of 2014-08-22; $88.5 million as of 2014-08-26 ]

But what¬†really¬†struck me was the description of the illness that “essentially traps someone in a glass coffin. You can think, but you can’t move. You can’t speak. And that happens so rapidly, over the course of a couple of years.‚ÄĚ ¬†I reflected how much of¬†my¬†life is movement. From working on my computer, to my recent participation in a triathlon, I¬†move!

The second thing that happened was a challenge thrown down by MaryAnne, a longtime friend and former colleague from Riverside Methodist Hosptial.  Her challenge was in memory of a mutual friend and former Riverside colleague, Elliot, who died of ALS.

Elliot was a role model for me as I travelled through a divorce. He demonstrated the possibility of taking apart a relationship in a way that served the kids long-term, and preserved the dignity of the parents. He modeled that people could co-parent, stay civil, and in fact, be friends. That kind of post-divorce relationship, healthy and healing, was what I hoped for (and that we subsequently created!)

I was struck by the thought of Elliot, a bright, caring and vital person, in that glass coffin.

So I picked up a bucket of ice water…

My hope is that through my actions, and through this post, I’ve added my voice and contribution to increase awareness of and funding for research for ways to treat, and ultimately cure, ALS.

If you are inspired to donate, or want more information on ALS or the #IceBucketChallenge, go to www.alsa.org.

‚Äď Ann¬†Ralston
© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014 Article Archive, Corporate Social Responsibility, Main Page, Marketing, Values Comments Off on Thawing to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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