Why Organizations Fail

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1

Organizations often fail because they focus on the wrong things.

When you see any group (leadership team, functional team, sports team, board, entire organization, family, etc.) stuck and

  • bickering,
  • power struggling, or
  • getting lost in the minutiae,

they are likely focused on how something should be done, who does or decides what, and when these things will get done. Though important, focus on these things leads to dysfunction or destruction unless the group first focuses on the right things.

To succeed, any group must first focus then agree on the answers to these three questions:

  • What is true?
  • What do we want to be true?
  • Why?

Then the detailed arguments about how, who, and when can continue because they will make sense in the light of the right context.


To your continued success,


Meaningful Work and Money

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Good: Your Good Work, Strategy, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1

Meaningful work and money are not mutually exclusive. Not by a long shot.

Having all the money you want is part of the definition of meaningful work for you and/or your organization. It’s called the SweetSpot™.

We just have to work on your likely “yeah, but…” here: “Yeah, but, it’s hard or impossible to find that ideal role, market, career, or strategy that has both money and meaning.” That’s so not true.


To your continued success,


The Best and Worst Ways to Describe a Role

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Hiring, Leading, Strategy, Success
Reading time: 2 min.

“Fit” is such an important driver for people and need for organizations. Everyone–from the big boss to the mail room clerk–in every organization–from the largest multi-national to a sole proprietor–needs to understand where she fits and how she contributes to the organization.

The worst way to define a role is with a job description. A job description lists things like tasks or functions performed in the job, who the job reports to, and the skills required to do the job. Job descriptions don’t guide the person in the role because they are hard to recall, follow, and change as time and business needs change. Example: “The job of special assistant to the associate team leader includes drafting, distributing for comment, and publishing the daily TPS reports.”

The best way to define a role is with key accountabilities. Any role can be described in three to five of these sentences that answer the question, “At the end of the year, what will we see to know that this job has been done well?” Roles defined by key accountabilities are simpler to grasp and easier to manage. Example: For a sales person, the key accountabilities might be “Generate at least $20M in revenue for the company this year,” “Support existing clients; 80% of revenue will come from existing clients.”

Try it. Define your role (or one you have to hire for soon) in three-to-five mostly measurable sentences. Then watch how much easier it becomes to do, hire, or manage that role.


To your continued success,


P.S. Do any companies still have mail room clerks?

The Four Lenses of Success

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Success for you or your organization is simple. You need only look through four lenses described below to see where you have trouble and where you can focus. These lenses act as both a road map to success and a diagnostic.

Lens What’s needed for success Signs of trouble
What A clear, complete, common, and compelling goal. (Because success is always an outcome.) Fuzzy, incomplete, competing, or uncompelling, goals.
We Win-win relationships with all who matter. (Because you can never do it alone.) Tension, politics, lose-win, or win-lose with any who matter.
Can Higher-“buzz” thinking, beliefs, attitude that support you, your organization, your goals. (Because your thinking creates your world.) Lower “buzz” thinking, beliefs, attitude that detract.
Do An easy flow of action to get things done. (Because success is always an outcome.) Pushing, avoiding, lack of results, drained energy.


Every one of these daily notes/posts addresses something in one or more of the lenses. Notes about The Effectiveness Habits, for instance, are mostly about the “Do” lens.  Look for more to come from all four of the lenses.

Meanwhile, try using the above table as a diagnostic. For someone or some organization you know, apply theses lenses to their situation. Can you see where they are well focused (if at all) and where they may be having trouble (if at all)?

Resistance to Discipline

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Hiring, Organizations, Strategy, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

So, have you built your system of lists yet? Have you adopted more than one of the seven Effectiveness Habits yet?

No?! I’m shocked.

Actually, I’m not shocked.I expected you to find it hard if not impossible to add these time management/effectiveness tools to your life. Here’s why…

Most of us will resist new procedures or tools such as the seven Effectiveness Habits. That’s because we tend to see any discipline as an imposition and as an affront to our personal freedom.You will resist suggestions, systems, and procedures from me and others because they appear to be a restriction on you. If you catch yourself thinking things like, “It’s too much,” “I can’t change,” or “I’m overwhelmed,” then you are very likely in a resistance to discipline.

Luckily, if you see value in the seven Effectiveness Habits or any other tools, you can bypass that resistance and adopt the tools. Instead of seeing them as limitations on your freedom imposed by others, see them as habits you freely choose to adopt for the benefits they provide you.

“Freely chosen, discipline is absolute freedom.” Ron Serino

So, now, which of the seven Effectiveness Habits will you freely choose to adopt today?

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

The weight of all your tasks can wear you down. Build resilience and feel good with today’s habit:

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

It’s all too easy to get lost and disheartened in the day-to-day. When we do, we’ve lost sight of what we’re really shooting for and why.

Knowing the big picture and knowing why that big picture is compelling takes away the drudgery and leaves meaning, focus, and fit. It’s exciting to know that what we’re doing contributes. It helps us navigate the quotidian. And we all want to know how we fit into the bigger picture.

To use this habit,

  1. Write down a list of the key accountabilities (3-5 sentences answering, “What results will tell me I’ve done my job well?”) for your main work role.
  2. Write down a list of your and your organization’s goals, objectives, core and aspirational values, and mission.
  3. Review these at least monthly. More often is better. Recall the intent and more importantly the feeling of the intent of these big picture items.
  4. Maintain these lists over time.

(If you don’t have your key accountabilities or your goals, objectives, values, or mission, I suggest you build them ASAP. Drop me a line for some tips.)

Next time you find yourself struggling in the minutiae of your work, remember to come back to these lists and know why what you’re doing makes sense. And if what you’re doing does not make sense for the big picture, consider carefully why you are doing that.

Unstick Your Strategy with an Often Ignored Type of Thinking

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Strategy, Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 3 min.

When getting the right strategy for you or your organization is proving difficult, it may be down to an odd way we all tend to think. To have what your want in your life, career, or organization, use a better kind of thinking when it’s time to think about your personal or organizational strategy.

When what you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

We have been trained to be very good at one type of thinking: critical, problem-solving thinking. We’ve also learned to value it highly. We usually judge whether we or others are smart by how good we are critical thinking. Look at what is considered important in school, at work, in politics to see all of this is true.  And so we use critical, problem-solving thinking everywhere, usually to good effect. Sometimes, however, our habit of using critical thinking gets in the way.

When the future is uncertain–when either the goal or the path to the goal is unclear–critical or problem-solving thinking is not appropriate. In fact, it and our habit of using it everywhere get in the way. What’s really needed when looking to the future is creative thinking.

And, please wait. Before you are tempted to apply the hammer of critical thinking to my above assertion (e.g. “Yeah, but, I’m not that creative” or “Yeah, but, critical thinking is important.”), hear me out.

Creative Thinking and You

Let’s start with these simple, practical definitions of creative and critical thinking:

  • Creative thinking is no more than considering and answering three questions: What is true now? What do I/we want to be true? And, why?
  • Critical thinking is no more than considering and answering these three questions: When? How? and Who?

Can you see how creative thinking is exactly what’s needed when the future or the path to the future is unclear? And can you see how, despite what you may have thought, you and all of us can be very creative thinkers? We just have to answer some simple questions.

Critical Thinking, at the Right Time

Of course, critical thinking is still important. Once we have a direction, a strategy, or some other path to the future, we will tap our critical thinking to help get us there. We just have to use it at the right time and not use it when it’s time for creative thinking.

Hint: if you apply critical thinking when it’s time for creative thinking, it often takes the form of a “Yeah, but…” statement. And “Yeah, buts” have a nasty tendency to kill off good, creative thinking before they even see the light of day. More on that in the next post.