Business Insights

Core Values – The Key to Attracting and Retaining A-Players

A Virtuous Talent Cycle

‚Äú I‚Äôd love being a business owner, if only I didn‚Äôt have to deal with so many¬†people issues!‚ÄĚ

We often hear this from our clients when they are frustrated by not having the right people in the right seats, doing things right.

If they seem to have an adequate talent development process, but they still struggle to get, keep and grow A-Players, two questions pop up for us:

What are your organization’s Core Values?

How well would your employees say that you, as an owner, live and breathe these values?

When we talk about values, we’re not talking about slogans, tag-lines or other customer-facing messages. We’re not talking about feel-good, self-focused, morale-building platitudes or inspirational posters. We are talking about the decisions and actions that define character.

As an owner, YOUR values drive the organization‚Äôs values, which are the engine for just about everything to do with your people, culture and long-term success. Who you hire, how you treat people, the kind of workplace you create and your reputation or ‚Äėgravity‚Äô as the place for A-Players, all flow from your values.

Hire GREAT People

In the absence of clear values, organizations hire on the technical ability to do the work.  While that’s a good place to start, the heart of a great hire is an alignment of values with the organization. If you aren’t clear about your values, how will you decide who is right for your company? How will a candidate decide if you are right for them?

For example, ¬†Nike knows exactly the kind of people it will (and won‚Äôt) hire. They want people who¬†create, take risks and¬†pursue greatness¬†within their company – people who can ‚Äėshatter limits daily‚Äô. While a message such as this will¬†attract A-Players, only companies who can deliver on the promise will¬†keep A-Players – and Nike does.

Learn more about hiring great people

Create a Great Place to Work

Creating a great place to work is the first step in keeping the great people. Your values drive HOW you treat your people, the kind of work you take on, the environment people work in and how you celebrate success and failure.

Your values show up in the daily actions of your organization.

  • If you value people seeing the impact of their work, create a metric that helps people see their impact on success.
  • If you value autonomy, create the boundary conditions and measurable outcomes so your team can make independent decisions, and know when they are successful.
  • If you value learning, recognize people who are learning. Make it safe for people to fail and make mistakes on the path to greater success.
  • If you value a variety of interesting work for your people, be selective about the kind of work you take on.

Consistently recognizing and celebrating values in the day-to-day actions of your leaders and team reinforces their importance in your company.

KEEP Your Great People – Help Them Grow

Equally important is helping your people grow.¬† The trend in organizations is to do many small coaching moments throughout the year, focusing on the work ahead of you, versus the backward-looking ‚Äėperformance reviews.‚Äô As described in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, The Performance Management Revolution, traditional performance reviews ¬†‚Äúhold people accountable for past behavior at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future.‚ÄĚ

Great leaders are coaching people on the skills, talents and values they need to advance, through immediate, constructive coaching in the day-to-day work of the company.  An excellent book for helping you improve your skills in coaching your team is: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier. There are now interesting web-based applications, such as Threads (threadsculture.com) that help you and your employee document and improve alignment between the values of the organization and delivery of results.

Create a Virtual Bench of Future Talent

Create and groom a list of people who you would like to have work for you. The list might include a former intern who will graduate in a year or two, someone your clients mentioned as a superstar in another organization, or a referral from one of your employees. One way of mining the network of connections already within your organization is to sit down with your best team members and work through their personal contact list in a process called ‘guided recall’.

The strategy here is to stay connected.  Get creative. Share information about your company’s culture and values. Host continuing education events. Invite your employees to bring prospective candidates to a social event, like a craft beer tasting, or through social media like Facebook or LinkedIn. Find ways to add value to those on your bench. When it’s time to look for great people to add to your team, the candidates will be looking for you.

Learn more about creating a virtual bench

Keep Your Values Real

Keeping it real means observing and naming the values you and your organization already live and breathe, today.

How do you test that one of your values is ‚Äėthe real deal‚Äô?

  • Can you point to a person in your organization who¬†embodies¬†the value?
  • Will you take a financial hit / turn down a deal as you stand for the value?
  • Is repeatedly violating the value a firing offense?

Keep your company‚Äôs Core Values front and center ‚Äď keep them¬†real¬†and¬†alive. They are a powerful magnet to get, keep and align a great team, and ultimately, to amplify your organization’s¬†success!

Learn more about Core Values

РAnn Ralston, © 2017 Ralston Consulting Inc.


Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.

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Monday, April 3rd, 2017 Book and Media Reviews, Business Insights, Leadership, Main Page, Personal Mastery, Scaling Up, Values Comments Off on Core Values – The Key to Attracting and Retaining A-Players

Biomimicry – How Nature is Inspiring Radical Innovation

How can Biomimicry help my product or service gain a competitive edge?

Nature has already solved virtually every problem that humans are facing and in considerably better ways than anything humans have achieved.

Biomimicry is a rapidly growing design discipline that provides breakthrough¬†strategies for solving business and technical challenges.¬†At the center of this growing movement has been award-winning inventor and biomimetic entrepreneur Jay Harman, author of¬†The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation.

A 2013 Fermanian Institute report determined that by 2030, bioinspiration could account for $1 .6 trillion in total GDP, including $425 billion of US GDP. Savings in reduced resource depletion and pollution could amount to an additional $0.5 trillion worldwide.

There is not a business or product today that can’t improve profits, reduce liability, or solve intractable problems through the application of biomimetics.

“The Shark‚Äôs Paintbrush reveals how nature is inspiring design to be more efficient, effective, resilient, and beautiful.

In Nature’s 3.8 billion years of design experience, the roughly 99% of designs that didn’t work got recalled by the Manufacturer. The 1% that survived can teach profound lessons about how things should be made, how they work, and how they fit.

Jay Harman‚Äôs immersion in and curiosity about the natural world have made him one of the best biomimetic designers. The Shark‚Äôs Paintbrush is a masterly field guide for all designers and entrepreneurs who aspire to help the world of the made work like, and live harmoniously with, the world of the born.”

‚ÄďAmory B. Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

Resources

  • asknature.org: explore or search for solutions by function, strategy, or organism

Articles

Books

To reach Jay Harman:

Email: jharman@paxscientific.com
Facebook: @TheSharksPaintbrush
Web: thesharkspaintbrush.com


This article ¬©2016 gazelles.com, from a program guide for The Fortune¬ģ Growth Summit, October 25 and 26, 2016, Dallas, TX, held in partnership with Gazelles.com.

Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.

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Friday, March 17th, 2017 Article Archive, Book and Media Reviews, Business Insights, Corporate Social Responsibility, Main Page, Process Improvement, Scaling Up, Social Enterprise, Start Up, Sustainability, Technology Comments Off on Biomimicry – How Nature is Inspiring Radical Innovation

Develop a Continuous Scan for Disruptive Tech Trends

Our top sources for harnessing exponential and disruptive technology trends

We follow these sources every day – high-quality, can’t-miss information feeds. They are written in plain language, and discuss social and business implications of the technologies and discoveries.¬†

Peter Diamandis in Zero-Gravity

Peter Diamandis – diamandis.com

Technology Blog
Abundance Insider Blog
Exponential Wisdom Podcast (with Dan Sullivan)
Top 10 Tech Trends Transforming Humanity¬†–¬†EBook published January 2017

Why do we pay attention to what he says?

Bio: Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space.

  • In the field of Innovation, Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight.
  • Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan.
  • Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity‚Äôs grand challenges.
  • In the field of commercial space, his¬†mission is to open the space frontier for humanity. Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and prospecting of asteroid for precious materials. Also¬†Co-Founder of Space Adventures and Zero-Gravity Corporation.
  • New York Times Bestselling author of Abundance ‚Äď The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD ‚Äď How to go Big, Create Wealth & Impact the World.
  • Undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics, a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from MIT, and M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

Ray Kurzweil – KurzweilAI.net

Subscribe

One extremely smart and accomplished inventor and futurist.

Bio: Ray Kurzweil has been described as ‚Äúthe restless genius‚ÄĚ by The Wall Street Journal, and ‚Äúthe ultimate thinking machine‚ÄĚ by Forbes. ¬†Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the ‚Äúrightful heir to Thomas Edison,‚ÄĚ and PBS selected Ray as one of 16 ‚Äúrevolutionaries who made America,‚ÄĚ along with other inventors of the past two centuries. He is considered one of the world‚Äôs leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a 30-year track record of accurate predictions.

  • Principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
  • 20 honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.
  • 7 books, 5 national bestsellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines was the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in science. The Singularity Is Near was a New York Times bestseller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy. His latest New York Times bestseller is How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.
  • In 2012, Ray Kurzweil was appointed a Director of Engineering at Google, heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding.

MIT Technology Review – technologyreview.com

10 Breakthrough Technologies list – 2017
Subscribe to The Download 

In their words:

“Every day, we provide an intelligent, lucid, and authoritative filter for the overwhelming flood of information about technology. We do this with serious journalism, written in clear, simple language, by a knowledgeable editorial staff, governed by a policy of accuracy and independence.

We do this in features, news analysis, business reports, photo essays, reviews, and interactive digital experiences that invite our readers to probe deeper, examine data, and get to know experts and their opinions to see, explore, and understand new technologies and their impact.”

We agree.

Futurism.com

Alright, love-hate time. This source is the breathless fanboy of technological advance. Highly-visual format, interesting infographics, but sensational headlines. Put up with it, and the Toyota Prius-sponsored reality-video pieces, and there is really good stuff underneath. I roll my eyes on occasion, but I do keep reading.

Input from my colleagues in the ExO Network 

I asked my colleagues what they were following, and discovered a range of other sources.

The Exponential View¬†– Curated by London-based researcher, Azeem Azhar. Exponential change: technology, business models, political economy & society. Recommended by¬†Kaila Colbin: “One of my absolute favorites,¬†a weekly curated collection of links, with a brief phrase or sentence as to why each one is interesting. I never miss an issue, and it usually generates a couple hours at least per week of worthwhile content.”

Tech.EU Рa European-focus tech newsletter, covering some of the more obscure emerging markets outside the major EU tech centers. Recommended by Pedro Pinho.

CB Insights –¬†Our team comes to work every day to build technology that helps corporations guess less and win more. We aggregate and analyze massive amounts of data and use machine learning, algorithms and data visualization to help corporations replace the three Gs (Google searches, gut instinct and guys with MBAs*) so they can answer massive strategic questions using probability not punditry. Backed by the National Science Foundation and venture capital investors. Recommended by Pedro Pinho:”great BI in my opinion, comprehensive maps of startups per industry available for free which give you an index of companies to explore further.”¬†

The Millennium Project РFounded in 1996 after a three-year feasibility study with the United Nations University, Smithsonian Institution, Futures Group International, and the American Council for the UNU. It is now an independent non-profit global participatory futures research think tank of futurists, scholars, business planners, and policy makers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities. Recommended by Evonne Heyning, Paul Epping

Future of Life Institute – With an advisory board that includes Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Morgan Freeman, Alan Alda, the co-founder of Skype and others, it is worth a visit for certain. “We are currently focusing on¬†keeping¬†artificial intelligence¬†beneficial¬†and¬†we are also exploring ways of reducing risks from nuclear weapons and biotechnology.”¬†Recommended by Paul Epping

Singularity Hub Рpublished by Singularity University, Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs, players, and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world. Recommended by Evonne Heyning

The Economist Technology Quarterly Рdeeper analysis in plain language. Recommended by Nicole-Anne Boyer

Sites requiring a bit of sifting for the good stuff

As recommender, Eduardo Labarca points out: “Please consider that today there are a lot of “science” websites that distort news only to get more readers. We should filter and evaluate.”¬†Great reminder!

Medium¬†–¬†Every day, thousands of people turn to Medium to publish their ideas and perspectives. Leaders. Artists. Thinkers. And ordinary citizens who have a story to tell. Posts range from scrutinies of world affairs to deeply personal essays. Medium sifts the best of these for you and delivers them directly onto your home page.¬†Recommended by¬†Tony Manley, who comments: Although the articles on Medium¬†can be varied, the good ones tend to bubble up to the top pretty quickly. They often provide useful insights from people working with the technologies. Obviously, you need some idea of what you are looking for in order to get the best out of it.

Quartz¬†–¬†Quartz is a digitally native news outlet, born in 2012, for business people in the new global economy. Our coverage of this new global economy is rooted in a set of defining obsessions: core topics and knotty questions of seismic importance to business professionals. These are the issues that energize our newsroom, and we invite you to obsess about them along with us. Recommended by¬†Evonne Heyning.

Thank you to all our contributors!

Biomimicry / Biomimetics

See our blog post: Biomimicry РHow Nature is Inspiring Radical Innovation

What are your go-to sources for your ‘future-scan’?¬†

Contact me and I’ll add to the¬†list…


Innovation by itself turns out
not to be the trump card we expected;
more important is the ability to scale innovation,
to blend creativity with discipline.

– Jim Collins
author, Great by Choice:
Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck
– Why Some Thrive Despite Them All


Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.

РGary Ralston, © 2017 Ralston Consulting Inc.

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Thursday, March 9th, 2017 Article Archive, Business Insights, Drivers of Change, Exponential Organizations, Main Page, Scaling Up, Start Up, Technology Comments Off on Develop a Continuous Scan for Disruptive Tech Trends

Eliminate Distortions in your Business Books

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree - Kindle EditionWhy your Profit & Loss Statement is not worth the paper it is printed on

It is not uncommon for every business owner to start a discussion about their Profit and Loss Statement (P&L; Income Statement) with ‚Äúwell, that net income number is not correct,‚ÄĚ then go on to list all of the things they would change, but their accountant makes them do it that way. Business owners need to take back responsibility and control of their financial reporting and follow these simple principles to make their P&L a useful document, again.

Distortion #1 ‚Äď Owner compensation distortion.

You should get paid a market-based wage for what you do, and a return (dividend) for what you own. Most entrepreneurs mix their ownership with their job role in the business, not realizing that it creates significant distortion in the true profitability of the business.

If you are an S-Corporation, you may be motivated to avoid payroll taxes on wages and just take distributions. Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) knows about that and will eventually get around to you, giving you a nasty payroll tax bill and a headache to boot.

If you have multiple shareholders working in the business, make sure everyone is being paid for the ‚Äújob‚ÄĚ they do and not getting a paycheck based on their ownership. As an owner, you get to pick any job you want to do, but the market picks your pay. You may choose to over- or under-pay yourself, but all that does is create distorted net income on the P&L.

Take Action:

Stop thinking small and pay yourself the right salary so your P&L tells you the true economic output of your business.  If you need to take distributions beyond your wage, we need to discuss why you are consuming more than you make!

Distortion #2 ‚Äď Revenue is vanity!

When entrepreneurs get together, I notice that they all talk about revenue, but rarely about profit. I want you to stop talking about revenue internally and become a ‚ÄúGross Margin‚ÄĚ talker. My definition of Gross Margin is Revenue minus any Direct Costs that do not include labor. Most direct costs are really ‚Äúpass-through‚ÄĚ costs that you are¬†paid in advance, or get terms from the vendors such that you essentially do not pay for them until you get paid.

Think of a construction contractor. They may tell you they did $20 million in revenue, but they actually had $17 million in material and subcontractor direct costs. Really, they are a $3 million services business. The same would be true for a marketing firm. I want them to celebrate a $50,000 services contract that uses no freelancers (so $50,000 Gross Margin) more than a $100,000 contract that uses $80,000 of subcontractors (only $20,000 Gross Margin).

It may hurt your pride a bit to talk about Gross Margin instead of Revenue, but you will start to realize that Gross Margin is the true top line of your business engine. If you identify your best customers as the ones yielding great Gross Margins, your marketing strategy will be much simpler and more effective. Most important, your team will understand their performance is measured in relation to Gross Margin, not Revenue.

Take Action:

Teach your team to think Gross Margin. If your accounting data does not report on Gross Margin now, adjust your bookkeeping process to never report on Revenue without Gross Margin, even if you have to use a ‘good-enough’ estimate.


Our guest contributor is Greg Crabtree, CEO of Crabtree, Rowe and Berger, and author of “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!www.SimpleNumbers.me .

When Ann and I help a client to significantly scale up their organization, we must be able to count on their financials. If there is any doubt, we bring in Crabtree, Rowe and Berger to help cut through financial clutter and confusion to reveal the undistorted story, and help us calibrate just how fast the company can afford to grow.  РAnn and Gary Ralston


Get Scaling Up on Amazon!

Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.


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Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 Business Advisors, Business Insights, Cash, Main Page, Scaling Up Comments Off on Eliminate Distortions in your Business Books

10 Questions: Company Health Check

Elevate Your Game!

You work hard, you’ve invested in growth and¬†yet you still feel like there’s opportunity to elevate your company’s performance. What‚Äôs missing? How can you amplify your game?

Below are 10 questions to help you assess your company’s¬†overall health and readiness¬†to scale up:

1. Do you have a clearly written and communicated CORE PURPOSE, shared by everyone?

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 makes money, and how they influence the bottom line?

4. Does your whole team know your 1, 3 to 5 and 10 year targets?

5. Who is your CORE CUSTOMER and are you reaching them effectively?

6. What 3 ‚Äď 5 attributes differentiate you from your competition?

7. Do you have the right people in the right seats?

8. Do all team members have priorities with KPIs that are tracked weekly, quarterly and annually?

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.


scalingup-book-cropNext Actions:

Do-It-Yourself

Scaling Up Public Workshops

4dgiccert-logorgb100x72Custom Engagement

– Gary Ralston

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Monday, February 27th, 2017 Article Archive, Business Insights, Main Page, Scaling Up Comments Off on 10 Questions: Company Health Check

Get Your Free Scaling Up One-Page Growth Tools!

Simple, Practical, Actionable – and Downloadable Right Now!

Get Scaling Up on Amazon!Scaling Up Growth Tools are designed to get to the point and get results, helping you and your team scale up your organization like never before.

Based on Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t [ read¬†| listen ], is your definitive manual for learning and applying these tools to scale up your venture.

Three types of one-page tools are available:

11 Growth Tools for Business РIf you are the do-it-yourself type, here are 11 core tools you can download and use in your business, in conjunction with the Scaling Up book. These tools are also featured in our Scaling Up Public Workshops (see below for our next course).

11¬†Growth Tools for Social Sector –¬†Your¬†Social Sector venture is¬†not simply a Private Sector outfit with a different tax return! These tools are tuned to the specific needs of Social Sector organizations, using¬†language that resonates with your board, staff, volunteers and stakeholders. Ask about our Scaling Up Social Sector Workshops‚Ķ

50+ Growth Tools for RCI Clients Рas one of our Business or Social Sector clients, we access over 50 (and growing!) powerful one-page tools to help your organization begin, advance and master Scaling Up! Call us to discuss if this route is right for your venture.

Sample One-Page Strategic Plans (OPSP)

All this talk of One-Page Strategic Plans – show me some examples!


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

Best regards,
Ann and Gary Ralston

Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.

© 2017 Ralston Consulting Inc.

Shortlink to this article: http://bit.ly/RCIgrowthtools

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Saturday, February 11th, 2017 Article Archive, Business Insights, Main Page, Scaling Up, Social Enterprise Comments Off on Get Your Free Scaling Up One-Page Growth Tools!

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!

Supercharge business growth! Learn from 14 brilliant thought leaders in 2 days at the Scaling Up Summit presented by Fortune Magazine May 23 and 24, 2017 in San Antonio, TX. Choose from in-person and live remote streaming options.

Learn more and register at https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-2017/ Choose Ann Ralston or Gary Ralston as your coach for a significant discount.

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?

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.


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.

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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?

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

AtmosphericCO2-1000yr-Chart

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

Did Weird “Al” write YOUR Mission Statement?

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FAST FACTS: biggest-selling comedy recording artist in history – over 12 million albums. Estimated net worth – $16 million

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.
http://bit.ly/RCI-MissionStatement


 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.

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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 Article Archive, Business Advisors, Business Insights, Humor, Main Page Comments Off on Did Weird “Al” write YOUR Mission Statement?

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T 614-761-1841 ext 3
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