Below are 10 questions to help you assess your company’s¬†overall health and readiness¬†to scale up:
1. Do you have a clearly communicated CORE PURPOSE,¬†shared by everyone in the company?
2. What are your CORE VALUES? How well do you reinforce them throughout employee hiring and¬†development?
3. Can everyone on the team articulate how your business grows profitably, and how they influence the bottom line?
4. Does your whole team know your 1, 3 to 5 and¬†10 year targets – and their individual priorities in¬†achieving them?
5. Who is your CORE CUSTOMER¬†and¬†are you reaching them effectively with an offering they care about? Does your top-line revenue reflect this?
6. What 3 ‚Äď 5 attributes differentiate you from your competition? Do you know your X-Factor, giving you a 10 to 100x advantage in your market?
7. Do you have the right people in the right seats? Are they all A-Players? Is everything operating without drama?
8. Do all team members have priorities with KPIs that they track and share¬†weekly, quarterly and¬†annually?¬†Do do they have¬†current, accurate relevant financials to navigate¬†by?
9. Do you have a MEETING RHYTHM that keeps your teams synchronized, focused, learning, aligned and motivated?
10. Do you have a ONE-PAGE-STRATEGIC-PLAN,¬†and¬†is your team aligned around it? Is it yielding¬†the growth you want?
If you are struggling to answer any of these questions (or you don’t like your answers), we can help.
- Get and read Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It‚Ä¶ and Why the Rest Don’t¬† [Audible Edition]
- Download the Scaling Up One-Page Growth Tools
- Run your own planning retreat [instructions, here]
Scaling Up Public Workshops
- Bring your leadership team to our next¬†Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop,¬†held in Columbus, OH October 6, 2016. For more information or to register your leadership team, please visit¬†http://ScalingUp.cvent.com/Columbus .
- Outside the US Midwest,¬†please visit¬†https://gazelles.com/g/growth-workshops for workshops near you.
- Talk with¬†Ann and¬†Gary Ralston¬†to discuss options to¬†more easily and effectively¬†scale up your¬†organization. Gary is certified¬†with Gazelles International Coaches to deliver Scaling Up programs.
– Gary Ralston
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.
Our next Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop will be held in Columbus, OH October 6, 2016. For more information or to register your leadership team, please visit¬†http://ScalingUp.cvent.com/Columbus .
– Gary Ralston
¬© 2016 Ralston Consulting Inc.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Is this new music video a comedy¬†or a tragic cautionary tale to corporate leaders, strategists and consultants?
Music parody master, Weird “Al” Yankovic, has loosed¬†his incisive wit on¬†corporate-buzz-speak, in a video from his just-released¬†album, Mandatory Fun.
Mission Statement, is composed in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, playing¬†against¬†an RSA-like whiteboard animation (which apparently took 10 months to produce!). The production quality is brilliant, and I found myself smiling and wincing in equal parts.
WARNING: This video is NOT recommended for anyone who has written¬†a mission statement¬†in the past decade. Showing this to your¬†CEO or board chair may shorten your career.
But seriously, Ann and I¬†are not¬†fans of mission and purpose statements, even though we’ve had a hand in creating more than one in our day.
Our friend, colleague and mentor, Robert Fritz, writes:
“Which would we rather work for, a company that had a purpose statement but didn‚Äôt have a purpose, or a company that had a purpose but didn‚Äôt have a purpose statement?
Of course we would all choose the real thing over the propaganda. But even an organization that has a true purpose can rob that purpose of its power by reducing it to a slogan.” *
So please, enjoy the video, and then commit yourselves to eradicating corporate-buzz-speak wherever you can – we promise to do the same!
‚Äď Gary Ralston
¬© 2014 Ralston Consulting Inc.
¬†A special thanks to Jerry Marselle at our client, SMBH, for turning us on to this gem!
*¬†Fritz, Robert (2011-01-04). The Path of Least Resistance for Managers. Newfane Press. Kindle Edition.
More Weird “Al”:
- Great background info in this¬†post on the Wall Street Journal¬†
- Video: Word Crimes – a cry against bad spelling and grammar.¬†(I liked this video even more, but then, my mom is an english teacher and editor -G)
‘Brewing Up a Business‘ by Sam Calagione, the owner of DogFish Head Brewery, was recommended by one of my sons, so I downloaded the audiobook. He¬†brews his own¬†beer as a hobby, and I thought – at best – I was getting into a book about craft beer¬†counter-culture¬†and start ups.
- about dedication and belief in what you are creating,
- of commitment to your people,
- of how the personality of an individual can shape a culture of¬†innovation.
The company was built on creating innovative (and sometimes bizarre) products – which with craft beer means a combination of distinctive taste and ingredients, an evocative name, and a great story. (Liquid Breadfruit Ale, anyone?).
They maintain a¬†constant awareness (and openness to) ideas that may be the germ of a new offering – and in some cases, rescue offerings in trouble.¬†¬†Sales for the then-failing¬†DFH Beer Shampoo Bar¬†only turned around¬†after¬†they discovered that¬†professional dog groomers loved it, and so repositioned it as a pet care product!
I think the thing that most struck me was their¬†connection to and understanding of their¬†customers. We all talk about knowing our customer, but how does that translate to action throughout a company? Calagione sets a great example, and I could see and feel his¬†commitment to this principle, woven through every story he tells.
If you are looking for a down-to-earth¬†and delightfully “off-centered” point of view on leadership, you are in for a great¬†read (or listen!)!
– Ann Ralston
¬© 2014¬†Ralston Consulting Inc.
A TEDx video featuring Simon Sinek, author of the book: Start with Why, came to my attention as we were scanning for engaging pre-session material for a client project. From TED.com:
Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers …
In essence, he observed that while most will tell you first WHAT they do, HOW they do it, and then WHY, great leaders reverse the order. He asserts this works because our brains evolved that way. While I’m not all the way on board with that part of his theory, Simon is a great storyteller ‚Äď upbeat, interesting and thought-provoking. Really, really thought-provoking.
After taking the video in, Ann and I set out to re-draft the story of our company, starting with Why, and were surprised at the result. We hope you enjoy the video, and then invite you to part two, where we share our latest draft message and ask you for candid feedback!
At a recent strategy update retreat with one of our clients, we introduced scenario planning as a front-end to their strategy process. The improvement was dramatic! One of the partners even queried us if we had been actively using scenario planning at the time we’d done their original strategy session. (We assured him that we hadn’t, that it was a new offering, and we had NOT been holding out on him!) He thought it added tremendous value and insight, and maintained that it should be part of their strategy process from here on out.
Much credit for the tremendous improvement between the two sessions goes to our associate, Nicole-Anne Boyer, founder of Adaptive Edge LLC. Since 2009, Ann, Charles and I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Nicole. From the start of our association, our strategic planning offering has been turbo-charged with the addition of robust scenario planning, strategic foresight and futures thinking. While I had thought I knew something of scenario planning before, I have been learning at a furious pace to come up-to-speed on the state of the art in scenario planning.
Scenario planning has been around for a very long time, but took significant strides forward, notably in the planning department at Royal Dutch Shell, and at the Global Business Network. It is now used widely in planning processes in business.
‚ÄúAccording to Bain & Company‚Äôs annual survey of management tools, fewer than 40% of companies used scenario planning in 1999. But by 2006 its usage had risen to 70%.‚ÄĚ
‚Äď The Economist, September 1st, 2008
I have been learning that there are as many forms and methods of scenario planning as there are practitioners, but there has been a clear evolution in the purpose and motive for scenario planning.
- Inform Planning: Use the output of a scenario planning exercise to inform a conventional ‚Äúout-think the future‚ÄĚ strategy session.
- Adapt to Future: Scenario planning becomes part of 1) a way of thought for leadership, and 2) an early warning system to help a company to adapt to future changes. One of the funders of modern scenario planning framed it so:
‚ÄúThe test of a good scenario is not whether it portrays the future accurately but whether it enables an organization to learn and adapt.”
‚Äď Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View
- Shape the Future: The scenario planning process might be taken beyond the walls of the organization and involve the wider system we are trying to influence. The scenario planning process is then a catalyst in a broader, generative effort to shape our desired future. Put another way:
‚ÄúThe best way to predict the future is to invent it.‚ÄĚ
‚Äď Alan Kay, Scientist and Apple Fellow
In our work at Ralston Consulting Inc., we have always focused on helping our clients develop the orientation and capacity for generative change to create their desired future. Our collaboration with Nicole has given our mission a tremendous boost!