Questions? Call us now at 609-688-0428

It’s Time for a Plan!

by Trilogy Partners on Jun 05, 2018 10:04:50 AM

Companies large and small often deliberate on the need and/or depth for a strategic plan or roadmap. Is there really any reason not to have a formal plan documenting where you are; where you want to go; and how you will get there?

At Trilogy Partners, we guide business owners through the strategic planning process, allowing the organizational leadership to get out of the day-to-day and look at the business from “the clouds” or using the cliché, “working on the business, not in the business.” There is an essential difference between tactics, operational effectiveness, and strategy and we have seen first-hand how strategic planning improves overall organizational performance.

In the past, strategic plans were onerous to develop and often sat on a shelf; dusted off only when the plan was requested by a significant stakeholder. Today, the plans are living documents with magnitude and direction. Although plans are specific to each organization, here are 4 initial steps to consider:

  1. Who should participate in the process? Develop a preparation timeline with accountability.
  2. What are your core values? These are your current values, not the values you aspire to be.
  3. Is your vision or mission clearly defined? The vision is an aspirational description of what the organization would like to achieve in the mid or long-term future. It’s a guide for selecting courses of action. The mission statement defines the organization’s core purpose and overall direction. The vision is the cause or pursuit and the mission is the means to achieve the cause. Many companies are combining the vision and mission into one statement.
  4. Do you understand your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)? A SWOT analysis is a powerful tool to learn more about your business, people, and many other factors.

These four points create the foundation from which your plan will develop.

So, what does this look like? I worked a company on the 4 steps outlined above and from this, we identified that that growth required an investment in their people and their facilities. One year later, they have hired the right people, expanded their facility and have seen an increase in revenue and a moderate increase in profits. They are encouraged and expect that both revenue and profits will continue to grow.

Trilogy doesn’t only help you develop your plan, but we work with you to ensure that it is put into action. It’s energizing to see the results when a roadmap is not just an exercise but rather, a guiding tool that provides focus, unlocks potential and brings about necessary change. With a roadmap in place, purpose is understood, and it is easier to make critical decisions, differentiate your business, and create a more sustainable organization with higher levels of employee engagement.

So, is it time for your plan? For help with strategy and ensuring that everyone on your team is moving in the same direction, call us at 609-688-0428 or email results@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

 

A Business Case for Courage

by Trilogy Partners on Feb 01, 2018 9:11:13 AM

Business growth is directed through strategy.  This should not be news. Most business leaders have varying levels of implementation around strategy, but most agree that something has to be done with forethought and purpose.  But what really fuels this? At Trilogy Partners, we believe that COURAGE leads to passion that inspires growth.

In August 2015, Forbes published an article (A Measure of Courage) highlighting the American Courage Index.  The article outlined business-related questions geared towards courage, as well as those questions that spoke to the social, moral and emotional aspects of courage.  Not surprisingly perhaps, the results showed that business owners are more courageous than the rest of the US population.  And further, emotional courage increases with age.  Conceptually, these outcomes make sense and jive with many of our personal experiences in the business community.

However, not everyone who works for us is a business owner or of a certain age.  What do we do about measuring and developing courage in those folks?

Courage is a difficult trait to measure.  How do we measure fortitude or fearlessness?  What about bravery or gumption?  The metrics for those should be high in those leading organizations through advancement and change.  But how do we know who has it and who doesn’t?

The arc for this type of measurement is best found in situational and behavioral study.  Measuring based upon a range of responsiveness will serve to illuminate those innate skills and aptitudes.  Survey questions are fine as step one in the process, but it should not serve as the final marker.  Those questions should challenge people to face scenarios.  Those situations should force the responder to make a choice; refrain from the “middle of the road” options as much as possible.  By doing so, we can uncover the heart behind the answer.

To reveal the emotional understanding takes conversation.  These surveys ought to foster conversation.  “What did you pick and why?” is a great opening question.  And while this may seem overly simplistic, it is valuable to the natural responsiveness needed.  It won’t be manufactured if the question is open-ended and completely based upon personal action and opinion.  People like to share what they are thinking, by and large.  And having had a written survey already done gives the employee a heads-up as to what will be reviewed.

As a commodity, courage is something to cultivate.  It’s part of the fabric that organizations often are lacking. We’re such a fear-encouraging culture – retaliation, over-compliance, bad press – that we tend to stay in our lanes and avoid risk.  That fear cripples an organization’s growth.  We are even afraid to dream.

It is a business necessity to foster courage and at Trilogy, we tackle the behavioral dynamics that often hold businesses back. We believe competitive advantages are often born out of fearlessness, risk and passion.  It takes courage to walk such a path, and it takes a courageous company to light that path.

Ready to promote and cultivate courage in your organization? Contact us at results@gettrilogypartners.com or 609-688-0428.

Why You Must Over-Communicate

by Trilogy Partners on Jan 03, 2018 2:53:21 PM

When coaching Trilogy clients, I often make a comment that you may find valuable: “In the absence of information, most people fill in the blanks, make up their own story … and usually add negative assumptions.”

As a leader, your life is full and the last thing you’re worrying about is what other people know or don’t know. However, you understand what it feels like to be kept out of the loop. It’s uncomfortable and can lead to a lot of wasted (and wrong) assumptions.

For example, let’s say George has been coming to the office late and leaving early. He’s not himself. He doesn’t seem as engaged as he used to be. He seems a little secretive. What are you thinking?

Is George looking for a new job? Is he having trouble in his marriage? Is he suffering with an addiction or medical issue? Is he engaged in a major conflict at the office? What’s going on with George?

The answer is, “We don’t know because we’re not George.” Until George speaks up and says, “My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has been given less than a month to live,” we don’t know. He’s not looking for a new job. He’s not intentionally letting balls drop at work. He’s just dealing with the shock of losing his mother. Now, consider the time and energy given to wrong assumptions.

So, how do we get out of this conundrum? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Remember that not everyone has access to all the information you have

One of the main reasons why this problem exists is because we fail to remember that people don’t always have the same access to the information we do. They don’t sit in the same meetings. They don’t have the same conversations. They don’t think about the same things. And that’s a problem.

You must remember to frequently communicate relevant information to your team, to encourage dialogue, minimize distractions and keep engagement high.

2. Remember that people often forget

Another common communication issue that plagues many leaders is that they tend to think that once they’ve communicated something, everyone present heard it and will remember it—two very bad assumptions.

You know that just because someone said something in your presence doesn’t mean that you heard it. And how many things have we “heard” that we didn’t remember a few hours or days later, let alone weeks or months.

Don’t worry about over-communicating! The best communicators and leaders stay on point over long periods of time because they know that information is often not processed or forgotten.

3. Remember that Alignment and Focus are rare

While we’d like to think that the “world” is conspiring for us, the reality is that individuals often have their own agenda, including your employees. And unless someone stands up and says, “This is where we’re going” and enforces alignment and focus toward that preferred future destination, many on your team will head in the way that best suits their own self-interest. Every organization needs someone at the top continually over-communicating what’s important so that there is a clarity of purpose, focus and alignment.

So, if you want to maximize understanding, focus and results, encourage communication and set the example. When possible, share information with your team that they might not have access to. Refuse to trust their memory and never assume that saying something once will keep your team in alignment. Instead, over-communicate. Keep everyone in the loop. And don’t allow your people to fill in the blanks. Remember: “In the absence of information, most people make up their own story … and usually with negative assumptions.”

So, what do you need to communicate today? For more ideas on how we can help you elevate your communication skills, contact Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428.

 

Visionary and Integrator: The Most Valuable Relationship in an Organization

by Trilogy Partners on Nov 29, 2017 9:35:25 AM

In October, Hal and I had the opportunity to speak about our Visionary/Integrator (V/I) relationship on VoiceAmerica’s radio program “Operationally Speaking” with Sergiu Simmel.  It was a chance to explain our unique roles at Trilogy Partners as well as showcase the benefits of having a Visionary and Integrator within a company.

The terms Visionary and Integrator are used in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) and are also explained in Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters’ book Rocket Fuel.  Visionaries, generally business owners like Hal, are creative, big thinking, idea generators while Integrators like me are analytical, process oriented and drivers of the day-to-day operations.  Integrators are responsible for implementing the ideas of the Visionary.

A valuable aspect of this relationship is its complimentary yin-yang dynamic.  To put it simply, Visionaries and Integrators have opposing points of view because of their inherent “wiring”.  This healthy conflict enhances an organization since perspective on issues broadens.  When the V/I partnership is in sync, more robust resolutions formulate and, under the direction of the Integrator, lead to realistic goal setting, positive results and ultimately traction.

We at Trilogy have seen many Visionaries who have tried to fill both roles.  While not impossible, we strongly recommend having a V/I partnership since it allows for the Visionary to fully concentrate on his/her own competencies.  Just think about this:  How can a Visionary’s groundbreaking idea take flight if he/she does not have the time, bandwidth or natural skill set to keep it in motion?  As Hal mentioned on the radio program, it was only until he hired an Integrator that he felt comfortable letting go of certain areas within the business and focusing on his strengths.  He also realized that the company could scale at a faster pace with an Integrator’s support which it indeed has.

The V/I relationship is built upon trust, honesty, mutual respect and requires constant communication.   The commitment to adhere to these elements is key to its success.  It is well worth the effort and investment as a Visionary and Integrator working in conjunction with varying capabilities can be instrumental in taking a company to new heights.

Interested in listening to our radio program?  Click HERE.  Let us know what you think.

If you are curious about the Visionary/Integrator relationship and would like to learn how Trilogy can provide guidance, please email me at agrubb@gettrilogypartners.com or call at 609-688-0428.

 

 

 

 

Strategy – What’s your ONE Idea?

by Trilogy Partners on Jul 31, 2017 2:46:29 PM

It may not be a surprise that business owners often juggle multiple strategies when planning for the future. What I have found is that having many strategies can create inconsistency, ambiguity and misalignment within an organization. As an Alliance Partner at Trilogy Partners, I urge owners to focus on one single idea to drive decision making and growth.

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins supports this approach stating that organizations are more likely to succeed if they focus on one thing and do it well. Collins contends that answering three questions is essential to creating an effective, unifying strategy for any company. They are the keys to making a great company out of a merely good one.

#1 – What are you deeply passionate about?  All of us know that to succeed in any business, you must be passionate about it, particularly in the competitive world in which we operate. But what specifically are you passionate about as you lead your company? Is it customer delight? Creating a great place to work? Designing unique products? Achieving operational excellence? The task here is not to create or inspire a new passion – it is to discover what truly makes you passionate about your business.

#2 – What can you be the best at?  No business leader wants to be “pretty good” at their business, but few have a deep understanding of their company’s strengths, core competencies and, most important, potential for greatness. As you create a strategy for your company’s future, you must come to a deep understanding, not only of what you want to be the best at, but what you can be the best at.  This awareness will provide the unique competitive advantage that can propel your company’s growth and prosperity. It will require honesty, courage and determination to make the changes necessary to achieve “best in industry” performance.

#3 – What drives your “economic engine”?  There are countless benchmarks for measuring your company’s economic and financial performance. What is most important is that you must select the single driving economic denominator from which all your strategies and tactics will derive. Is it pure bottom line profit? Profit per product line or per customer? Many possibilities exist based on your operating model, financial resources and long-term goals. Selecting your economic denominator is an essential step in building your growth strategy as your future investment and tactical decisions will be made accordingly.

Trilogy Partners can help you answer these questions to shift your company from good to great. If you need guidance unifying your strategy, contact me at (609) 688-0428 or mhodges@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

 

Shut Up and Lead!

by Trilogy Partners on May 31, 2017 9:38:36 AM

Have you ever thought, this would be a great place to work if we didn’t have any employees? Truthfully, it has crossed my mind on a few occasions over the years. How can any leader have such thoughts about our most valuable assets? The answer is simple, we shouldn’t. John Maxwell states “a leader is one who knows the way; goes the way; and shows the way.” Effective leaders will model the expected behaviors through actions, not words, leading to the concept of “shut up and lead.”

During the early 1990’s, Zenger-Miller published The Basic Principles for Success. Since then, I have adapted these principles as the foundation for professional relationships and the paradigm for expected organizational behavior. The principles are truly basic in concept but often difficult to achieve. They require faithful modeling from the highest level within the organization for success.

Principle 1: Focus on the work process, issue, or behavior, NOT the person. It’s human nature to make things personal in the workplace but this automatically brings emotion into the equation. Principle 1 will drive an objective approach allowing for better problem solving and decision making. My observation is that Principle 1 is more difficult in closely-held and family businesses however the results are often more powerful when practiced consistently.

Principle 2: Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others. Leave sarcasm at the door! It is the greatest form of aggression in the workplace and highly demotivating. Contributing fully and risk taking is easier in a climate of trust and acceptance.

Principle 3: Maintain strong partnerships with your internal and external customers. Everyone knows how they want to be treated as a customer. Think about the potential if every employee within the organization was a customer of each other. How about other strategic partnerships and connections? The possibilities are endless for constructive and effective relationships.

Principle 4: Take the initiative to improve work processes and partnerships. Don’t only take the initiative, encourage others to do the same. Acknowledge and respond to all initiatives so your employees know that you welcome ideas and feedback.

Principle 5: Hold yourself and others accountable for commitments. Make sure there are identified positive and constructive consequences and be consistent in all interactions.

Principle 6: Lead by example. Employees want you to “know,” “go,” and “show” the way through your actions, not words. Leaders have much to gain when they can model the needed actions and attitudes to deal with the demands of business and relationships.

Effective leaders strive to practice The Basic Principles in their daily interactions. I have found that adhering to these principles will allow you to “shut up and lead” more confidently and with greater optimism to achieve your desired results.

If you are interested in implementing these principles to create an atmosphere of trust, cooperation, and positive action, contact Trilogy’s Alliance Partner Bill Ehrhardt at (609) 688-0428 or at behrhardt@gettrilogypartners.com.

Driving Accountability in Your Business

by Trilogy Partners on May 01, 2017 12:05:56 PM

One of the most common concerns raised by business leaders is the desire to strengthen accountability in their organization.  When Trilogy Partners examines this concern with them, we often discover that each business owner has his or her own definition of accountability, and they all have very different views on what accountability looks like.  Let’s take a closer look at what the term means and the leadership behaviors you can focus on to strengthen accountability.

We define accountability as accepting responsibility; disclosing results in a transparent manner; being candid about your actions and the actions of others.  We recognize that defining the term is much easier than bringing it to life inside an organization.  The place to start is to look in the mirror.  Are you creating a team environment where accountability will flourish?

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Advantage, has defined four disciplines to help build healthy teams.  We turned these into four key questions that you should ask yourself as you examine the level of accountability in your organization.  If you can say “YES” to each, you will be driving accountability:

1. Have you built a cohesive leadership team?

To create an environment inside your company that will foster accountability, you must start at the top – by assembling a healthy leadership team.  That is, a team with a high level of trust and mutual respect, a team that lives by a set a well-defined core values and that is comfortable with healthy conflict.  A team with those qualities is passionate about addressing the truly tough issues facing the business and resolving them.  Team members believe in using data to drive their decisions, and they focus on team results more than individual accomplishments.

2. Are you creating clarity?

Have you answered these questions with your leadership team?

  • Why does our company exist?
  • How should we behave with each other, our customers and our vendors?
  • What is our core focus?
  • What does good performance look like? How will we succeed?
  • What is most important to do, right now?
  • Who must do what?

3. Are you overcommunicating clarity?

About the time you feel your answers to those questions have been well communicated, your team is just beginning to hear you.  It is essential that you define consistent answers to those questions and that you never stop asking and answering them.  In Lencioni’s words, you must be your own “Chief Reminding Officer”.

4. Are you reinforcing clarity?

You will reinforce your clear messages if you recruit, hire, orient, evaluate, compensate and reward your team members around the core values you have defined, and constantly discuss the answers to the questions listed above.

If you want to answer “YES” to these questions, contact Trilogy’s Alliance Partner Rip Tilden at rtilden@gettrilogypartners.com or at (609) 688-0428.  We have tackled the issue of accountability with many clients and as one noted, “Trilogy has helped our firm build a culture based on truth, knowledge, constructive debate, a passion to win, and the courage to face and fix mistakes.”

 

Who’s Your Integrator?

by Trilogy Partners on Dec 01, 2016 9:32:47 AM

Whenever I meet someone new, I’m often asked what I do for a living.  I proudly respond that I am the Chief Integrator Officer at Trilogy Partners.  My answer is often followed by the question, “What exactly is an integrator?”.  I first saw the term in Gino Wickman’s 2011 book Traction.  Mr. Wickman defines the integrator as “the person in an organization who harmoniously integrates the major functions of the business” (Sales/Mkt., Operations and Finance).  Simply put, the integrator is the glue that binds the company together.

Most business owners are the visionaries within their organizations, generating ideas about future opportunities and creative ways to expand.  They are big picture, forward thinkers who need the space to brainstorm and explore.  This is the visionary’s unique gift.  All too often though, they try to be the integrator as well by attempting to manage people and tasks.  Unfortunately, this is a recipe for stress since visionaries’ strengths lie outside of those realms.  Structure and processes are not their friends and the more they try to manage day to day functions and gain traction, the more they end up just spinning their wheels.  Sound familiar?

Integrators, on the other hand, are process and detailed oriented; they minimize chaos, set boundaries, communicate effectively and understand the power of now.  Their attributes are in direct contrast to those of the visionary which is a positive since each role is vital in providing balance to an organization.  More importantly, a good integrator can take the vision of the business owner and manifest it into something tangible and expandable.

A well respected, trusted relationship between the business owner/visionary and integrator is arguably a key component to the success of a company.  The visionary should be able to be vulnerable with the integrator who naturally serves as the sounding board.  In turn, the integrator must be comfortable telling his/her boss the hard truth.  When this synergy works, it often leads to company alignment, innovative ideas, focus and direction.  Hence, great building blocks for a solid foundation to achieve personal and professional dreams and goals.

Seems obvious that every company should have an integrator, right?  Well, you’d be amazed at how many companies that are trying to function without one.  So, here’s some food for thought:  Who brings your visionary’s ideas to fruition while also leading employees, creating structure, maintaining accountability and improving processes?  If you’re at a loss or unsure of the answer, contact me at agrubb@gettrilogypartners.com as I can further the conversation and offer deeper insight on the benefits of having an integrator.

Torn Between Loyalty and Future Growth

by Trilogy Partners on Sep 29, 2016 8:00:30 AM

A few years ago I got a call from a close friend who had an issue he wanted to discuss. Steve had recently taken over his family business and was carrying around a big weight.

On the day we met, Steve confessed, “Loida, I don’t know what to do. Joe has worked for our family for over 30 years, and he isn’t supporting the new business growth plan I’m trying to put in place.  He feels that the way things have been done for thirty years is just fine. Honestly, I’m afraid. Joe has so much tribal knowledge in running this business.  What will happen if he’s not around? How will I know where the pitfalls are?  What will the staff think of me if I let him go after all he has done for us?”

Does this sound familiar? Have you felt torn between the past and the future when it came to a loyal employee?  As a business owner how can you support those staff members who have helped build your business, while understanding that some of them may not be the ones to lead you into the future?  Many leaders find themselves faced with this difficult challenge. Though there are no easy answers or quick solutions, there is a proven process for making the necessary changes for your company to grow.

First, ask yourself what do you want?  Based on your plan, what is the timeline you need to follow in order to make your plan work while avoiding the competition getting there first?

Secondly, what is the worst thing that could happen if you let a tenured employee go?  What would that future look like? How can you prepare today? What could be done to have the employee stay, with a place to ‘call their own’ and not feel threatened by all the changes?

Thirdly, can you plan for a team to address the issues you are most concerned about with your current staff?  Where are the gaps when it comes to roles and responsibilities?  How long would it take you to build the team you need to address the vision of your future? How do you want to be seen as a leader?

Lastly, are you being fair to the rest of your company, your family, the employee and to yourself?

Steve and I partnered to work through each of these challenges.  My role was to keep Steve focused on building the future, on making his vision a reality step by step, and to give him the confidence to move forward.

Since that first phone call, Steve’s family business is well on its way to achieving its targeted goals.  After 3 years, they have doubled in size, profits are at a record high, and the family ‘brand’ is anchored in the industry as a leader.  What happened to Joe?  He is happily living in Florida with his wife, visiting his grandchildren, and continuing to offer his “tribal knowledge” as a consultant to help Joe with the logistics of growing even bigger.  A win-win for everyone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing this dilemma, please contact Loida at lwilson@gettrilogypartners.com to hear how Trilogy has helped others resolve this issue.

Do You Play to Win or Play to Not Lose?

by Trilogy Partners on May 27, 2016 8:00:13 AM

While at first blush this question may not seem to be worth your time to consider, the reality is quite the contrary.

Based on someone’s natural thinking style as well as behavioral and risk preferences, people can be characterized as playing to win, known as promotion-focused people or playing not to lose, known as prevention-focused people.

Promotion-focused people are generally optimistic who eagerly set their goals focused on the rewards they will gain as the goal is achieved. They think big and are comfortable with risk, typically work at a quick pace, and can get caught short by missing details. They can brainstorm easily and usually thrive under a forward-thinking, visionary leader.

Prevention-focused people focus their energy and goals on the avoidance of loss. In their mind, not losing is more important than winning. As a result, creative thinking is not usually their strongest suit. They tend to work more meticulously, using analytical and problem-solving skills to help ensure accuracy. They can feel highly stressed under short deadlines because they see goals as responsibilities to be accomplished. The best work environment for them is to serve or support a transactional leader who operates with more defined guidelines and structure, and has a low tolerance for errors. This helps both the manager and employee ensure the status quo will be protected.

What type of industry or jobs do these types gravitate to?

The promotion-focused are likely to be effective in segments of industries undergoing rapid change, where creativity, ingenuity, idea generation, and innovation are sought after, praised and rewarded. These have been dubbed “artistic and investigative” careers with the most common examples being musicians, copywriters, inventors, and consultants.

Prevention-focused individuals will usually be most effective in more stable industries, where avoiding catastrophic error is often the key to success. Work dubbed as “conventional and realistic” is more typical for them. Administrators, bookkeepers, accountants, technicians, and people working on the manufacturing floor are some examples. These occupations require knowledge of rules and regulations, careful execution, and a propensity for thoroughness.

In conclusion, it is critically important to make sure that everyone is in the appropriate roles and working environment. Set it up so all can thrive, with the negative impacts of burnout, unnecessary stress levels, and turnover minimized.

[Authors Note: This concept was originally discussed by Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD and E. Tory Higgins in a Harvard Business Review article in March 2013.]

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