Is there Gain without Pain in Strategic Planning?

We’re almost through the first month of 2020, and many of us may have already given up on the gym. But not all goals can be dropped so easily. Like getting (or keeping) your business in shape. That’s one you’re probably determined to stick to.

Like hitting the gym though, strategic planning has a reputation for being rather painful. There are sensitivities between departments. Competing priorities. Challenges building consensus. And baking buy-in into the plan is always easier said than done. All of these things can not only slow down the strategic planning process, they can grind it to a halt.

But the fear of pain is no reason to avoid tackling your plan head-on. Because let’s face it. With no plan at all, you’re just inviting a whole different dose of pain. So, what’s the solution?

The answer all comes down to approach. Having worked with everyone from small non-profits to some of Canada’s largest corporations, I can tell you that the pain...

Continue Reading...

Top Tried-and-True Tips for Better Strategic Planning in 2020

We’ve taken on our fair share of corporate strategic planning retreats over the past few years, and we’ve learned a lot doing it. One thing I can say unequivocally is that doing it right is tough.

You have limited time. Participants often come with their own agenda. And corporate sore points often creep into the discussion and bog things down.

But there are a few tried and true tips we always stick to when developing our strategic planning workshop. Together they help guarantee we keep on track and build a plan both on-time and on point. Here are our top three as we head into 2020:

1) Focus on Only a Few Priorities

You can’t boil the ocean. And you can’t be the best at everything. So pick your lane. Working on achieving just a few key priorities are more than enough to level up your 2020. We like three as a number, but it’s okay to have four if it’s really called for. As long as you have the resources to focus on them correctly and build...

Continue Reading...

Going From Complex to Clear with Frameworks

As leaders, we spend a lot of time explaining things. Very often those things get lost in translation which results in squandered time and money while also causing frustration amongst team members.

I have yet to find anything more valuable than the use of frameworks to quickly communicate concepts and processes. At its most basic, a framework is a simple structure that represents the “how” of a process that leads to a result. (Bonus points for being able to illustrate it visually!)

Two key words above are “simple” and “result”. I have seen more than one framework that looked like the map for the Tokyo Metro. Unless your audience is all engineers, you’re not likely to get a positive response. You need to begin by breaking it down into the essential steps. If you have a tendency to get lost in detail, just going through this exercise is an excellent way to force yourself to identify what truly matters.

As for result, it needs to follow a...

Continue Reading...

Finding Mastery

Over the years, and across the many domains in which I’ve worked, I’ve been blessed to have been exposed to many people who have achieved mastery.

There was a consistent quality they all possessed - humility This trait gave them access to what seemed to be the key to their mastery - they never, ever, ever, stopped learning.

That thirst for knowledge kept them open to being challenged and therefore willing to change. They would constantly read, train, and seek out perspectives from those younger and less experienced. This was always done with a genuine belief in maintaining a “beginner’s mind”.

It’s not about life or work hacks or some other tactical application, it starts with this core belief that we are all in a constant process of “becoming” - personally and professionally.

If you would like to dig further, I can’t recommend Michael Gervais' podcast, Finding Mastery, enough. It is interesting how consistently you see the same...

Continue Reading...

Faster Decisions Using The 70% Rule and Filter Sets

A coachee was having trouble with his decision-making speed as it was causing conflict with colleagues that moved faster.

On further questioning, he revealed his slowness was rooted in fear, not process (this is often the case). Most telling it didn’t translate into better outcomes, just more time.

I offered two things for him to work on - The 70% Rule and Filter Sets

In my book, Barn Raising for Business, I include a quote from Jeff Bezos: "Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow."

I then suggested he create a list of ten must haves (a “filter set”) in order for him to move forward on a project. If he reaches 7 out of the 10 he both knows he can move forward as well as areas that need to continue to be worked on to increase his confidence further.

What is your process for making decisions?

Continue Reading...

Making Organizational Decisions with Love?

Several years ago, I went to a talk by Anita Moorjani, the author of Dying to Be Me. After reaching the point of organ failure brought on by cancer, she had a near-death experience and returned from the brink. Inexplicably, she was released from the hospital within weeks, completely cancer free. The doctors can’t explain what happened.

During her talk, she brought up a concept I had heard discussed before. She believes that decision-making, at its core, is a binary process.

You are choosing either fear or love.

And every time you choose love you move closer and closer to becoming the best version of yourself. And every time you choose fear, you move further away.

I bucked against this thought at first. It can’t be that simple!

It is.

And it should be the final filter that our decisions have to pass through.

In an organizational context, what if the last thing you thought about before you unleash a decision was love and not fear?

Too often, organizations are built on a...

Continue Reading...

Master of None or Master of Many?

We’ve all heard the expression “jack of all trades, master of none.” Expressed differently, there’s fierce debate as to whether you should strive to be a generalist or a specialist. Frankly, there are excellent arguments on either side.

Myself, I’m a polymath. That, of course is just a fancy way of saying, “I do a lot of different stuff.” Though I must confess a particular fondness for a term that has fallen out of usage - Renaissance Man.

What I’ve been thinking about this week is if that’s actually true.

Is it possible to be a specialist in a passion instead of a function?

When I look back over my career, the common thread has always been a passion for helping people change. Whether it was shifting perspectives through telling stories as a filmmaker, helping men transition into single fatherhood as an author, or aiding organizations in embracing new and effective ways of solving problems.

To follow this passion, I’ve had...

Continue Reading...

Can You Define Your "Purpose" in 7 Words or Less?


Though they're treated as obligatory, mission and vision statements seldom work. They may sound nice, but it's rare anyone is able to connect these often wordy and clichéd statements to their actual day-to-day work.

In this short whiteboard video, I explain how you can create something called a "Touchstone" - a clear, concise statement that sums up your reason for being in 7 words or less.

Continue Reading...

“We’ve Always Done It This Way” – Re-think Your Game Plan for Your Next Strategic Planning Session

I had lunch several weeks ago at a well-known spot in an area of my city that I don’t normally frequent. An extremely popular lunch destination that often wins “Best Of” polls in local papers, this family-owned business has been there for almost 20 years and boasts an extremely loyal clientele. Clearly, they are doing some things right to be able to still exist in the tight margin world of restaurants. The food was pretty good.

And I am never going back there again.

Success in Spite of Chaos

From the moment I stepped in, I was surrounded by chaos. The cooks behind the line were tense and overwhelmed staring at handwritten order slips. Customers that were not regulars stood around looking confused, unsure of when and where to pay. The person at the cash had no idea who ordered what and would shout out the names of different dishes, which resulted in even more confusion as many people had ordered the same thing. There were dirty plates on many of the tables. All...

Continue Reading...

Mission & Vision Statements: 3 Reasons They Fail and One Trick to Make Yours Succeed

Mission and vision statements are serious business. Once companies are determined they need a new one, it’s remarkable how much time, effort, resources and consultation they can mow through to bring them to life. What’s worse, that effort can often result in mission and vision statements that are unused and forgotten. Why?

As a facilitator and consultant with a deep expertise in communications, I’ve seen many such statements come and go, and I’ve helped craft more than my fair share. From what I’ve learned, here are 3 of the most common reasons they fail and what you can do to make sure yours doesn’t:

Mistake 1: Mission and Vision Written for Form, not Function

Ask a CEO of a medium to large organization what their mission and/or vision statement is. Most of the time they can’t tell you or will paraphrase something that mildly represents it. That’s because most are jammed with too many buzzwords, are far too generic, or just plain too...

Continue Reading...
1 2

50% Complete

Newsletter Sign Up