Most Executives Now Believe That Important Information Flows From The The Core10 Growth Principles For Maximizing Individual And Organizational Success

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The Core10 Growth Principles For Maximizing Individual And Organizational Success

We propose that companies do not want to change, they want to grow. Think about this for a moment. If you were to ask a group of executives, how many of you would rather change or how many of you would rather grow? What would you propose their response would be to this question? We have literally asked thousands of executives this very same question and have received a unanimous response – they want to grow!

Unfortunately, that process cannot be accomplished without change. The key here is that we are talking about positive change. The Core10 Growth Principles offer a structured process to create growth (positive change) in individuals and organizations.

Envision

To Envision is to create a mental image of possibilities, grounded in reality awareness and nurtured by meaningful purpose.

Envision is to have a mental image of what can be. Great leaders have this ability. They are often described as having discernment, perception, or intelligent foresight. They see possibilities. As desirable as it is for a leader to have such ability, it is not enough. If an organization is to grow, everyone within it must share the vision and see the possibilities.

In many organizations an attempt is made to mobilize the collective effort by defining the vision or publishing the dreaded mission statement. When these efforts are conducted only by the leader or by a selected committee, the results are always less than satisfying. We have all seen the impressive looking plaques that read, “The Acme Company will be the global leader in blah, blah, blah…” These are usually hung in every office of the company, yet if you ask the employees to tell you how it impacts their daily job, you are likely to experience an awkward moment of silence. A great vision is one that is mutually created and implemented by the people that will do the actual work to make it happen. In terms of organizational growth, the only worthwhile vision is a shared vision.

Even if the vision is considered ground-breaking, or appears to be “unreachable”, that’s why the second step exists in Envision. It takes conceptual creativity to create that mental image of possibilities. The whole idea behind Envision is to have that grand idea that everyone can embrace. When we accomplish that, and follow the subsequent core10 growth principles, we will find that we have given others that meaningful purpose, which is a catalyst for having the motivation to take continued action along the core10 process.

Enlist

To Enlist is to surround yourself with a network of strength by inviting and committing the involvement of the right people.

A network of strength is defined as a core group of interpersonal connections that positively impact your sense of self, complement your skill-set, or provide some other form of added value to your life. How would you like to feel if you could truly say that you had a network of strength? Would this lead to added self-confidence? Would this have a direct impact on your ability to create personal and professional results? Would this network of strength change your personal or professional reputation? The obvious answer to these questions is YES! Having a network of strength is an added value benefit to life in general. This is constant with us throughout all life stages. For instance, new babies need to fill the comfort of loving parents, children need to fill the acceptance of peers as they go to school, teenagers are heavily influenced by their peer group as they go through adolescent years, and then as adults get into their careers the network of strength becomes ever so important in establishing a solid foundation professionally.

A powerful benefit of surrounding yourself with a network of strength is the addition of beneficial skills. I’m sure you know somebody that in the case of getting a leak in a faucet in their home are very quick to pick up their cell phone and call a person they know that can quickly and easily (and at no cost) fix the leaky faucet. This is a valuable resource – almost like having a toolbox full of people who each possess skill and knowledge that exceeds your own. You might also know a person who seems to have a personal contact for any situation. For instance, when they have a complex printing job, they simply call their “printing guy,” when they need a new car, they call their “car guy,” or if they want to cater a lunch in their office they simply call their friend who happens to own one of the most popular restaurants in town.

Communicate

To Communicate is to convey ideas that instill conviction and establish relationships of trust.

In considering the importance of Communicate, we must maintain the essence of conveying an idea. Otherwise, why call it communicate? The purpose of Communicate is exactly that – to transfer information. However, to Communicate in such a way that creates growth, one must focus on the delivery, not just on the content. In other words, it is to convey ideas in such a way that the very exchange is able to instill conviction. To instill conviction is to somehow transfer the passion, the belief, and the commitment that one possesses to another person or group.

This conveying of ideas is also critical in delivering the vision to those that have been enlisted. Increased information flow is a key element of managing change and many other organizational processes. So just how well is management doing in this regard? Not so well! Just 15% of the US workforce report that senior management provides a clear picture of where their organization is headed (2007 Growth Survey). Why is it that management is safeguarding their vision, future plans and priorities? By keeping people in the loop, the chance of getting buy-in, commitment, and solid performance from employees is exponentially higher.

Every business today is a relationship business. The quality and impact of your work, and the profitability of your business, depend upon relationships — with customers, co-workers, and competitors; with suppliers, distributors, and support services; with direct reports, senior managers, and boards.

Clarify

To Clarify is to attain focus by identifying priorities and converging efforts toward a specific direction.

Clarify is more complex than it seems. It requires a process. There are four important components: feedback, collaboration, prioritization, and articulation.

– Feedback

An essential part of Clarify is to ask for feedback. Employees want to give their opinions. They want to share their expertise. They want to use their experience as a yardstick against which they can measure the new ideas of the leaders. They want to invest in the growth of the company. But in many organizations such opportunities are rare. Employees often feel that the top people are in a very small watchtower, on a high perch, drastically removed from the day to day realities.

– Collaboration

Another component of the Clarify process is collaboration. The underpinnings of collaboration are discussion and analysis. It is a genuine opportunity to involve people. It allows a forum for bringing together the feedback from multiple sources. We tend to believe that the skills necessary to collaborate are intuitive. Unfortunately, they are not. Collaboration is a skill that must be learned if the organization is to move forward.

– Prioritization

One of the outcomes of collaboration will be the determination of what ideas should be embraced and those that should be abandoned. Of those that are retained, they cannot all be accomplished at one time. Therefore, the process of clarification requires a determination of priority. This provides a direction and a sequence of action that mobilizes the workforce. It gives order to chaos and turns the workers toward achievable goals rather than random acts or trivial pursuits.

– Articulation

After feedback has been received and priorities have been identified through collaboration, the results of these efforts need to be clearly communicated. This is the time to articulate. To articulate is to vocalize clearly. There may be clearly stated written goals, and there may be well-defined lists of tasks. But these are not enough. The clarification process helps employees to express the vision and the priorities.

Strategize

To Strategize is to use insight for considering options that will lead to the achievement of projected results and a position of advantage.

Strategize allows for selection and creativity. It is a think tank opportunity. It is the time to place choices on the menu of potential courses of action. It is the process of analyzing those choices and debating their likelihood of success. It is a time when “devil’s advocates”, can take upon themselves a “saintly” role, questioning and challenging and confronting the ideas being considered. It is a sorting and a sifting process. It is an essential precursor to Design.

It should be noted that because the term Strategize is so often linked with the term, “strategic plan”, people often confuse the product with the process. The process produces options for consideration. The product or plan is part of the Design.

Design

To Design is to prepare a blueprint of action that assigns responsibility and provides structure, while allowing for innovative flexibility.

Have you ever attended a strategic planning meeting? Increasingly, such a meeting is viewed as a necessity, the emerging panacea for all organizational ills. The plans that are produced from such meetings are often detailed and complex. The pages are usually bound and labeled. They make a lovely placeholder on high unreachable shelves. This is often the Design product that is supposed to guide the organization’s growth. Is it any wonder that many organizations fail to grow?

Why are such Design efforts so ineffective? First, the process that precedes the development of the plan is often short-sighted. We live in a world characterized by the “instant soup” mentality. Just boil the water, pour the contents of the package into the water, and the soup is ready! Strategize is an essential pre-requisite, often rushed and frequently avoided. Second, there is generally no assigned responsibility to accompany the Design. Without such designation, the Design becomes a victim of its own ambiguities.

A “blueprint of action” is the term we use for effective Design. The erection of a building is dependent on a blueprint. The architect must finally use all of his personal expertise and all of the input he receives from others to specify what is to be built. Even after everyone agrees on a design for the building, there will inevitably be changes, based on cost or preferences.

Organizations need architects, skilled professionals that listen to all stakeholders as they contribute to the Design. They analyze the input and then frame the Design in terms of actions, specific and measurable. These components provide necessary structure.

Implement

To Implement is to activate the design in a manner that is consistent with the defined vision.

Some people have said before that a good idea and a quarter will buy you a cup of coffee. What they’re trying to say is that a good idea, in essence a good vision, is worthless without having the capability to do something about it. Implement is about the day-to-day activities that will create the basis for growth. It is the execution of everything before it, and the catalyst for everything after it.

You will spend more time in the Implement stage than any other, and you never really ever leave it. When you go through the previous stages of the core10 growth principles, you are preparing for Implement, and the subsequent stages of the core10 help you revisit the things you have already implemented. If there was a keystone to the core10, Implement is it.

The Growth Principles Company has found that only 40% of US workers reports that they think their organization practices their core values (2007 Growth Survey). What they are really say here is that few people are practicing what they preach. It’s not difficult to walk into almost any corporations building, and see signs, posters, buttons, banners, and other items that publicize what their vision, mission statement, or goals are. What is difficult however, is to find companies that actually Implement and have a system to put those visions and missions into place.

It is probably becoming increasingly clear how absolutely fundamental each one of the core10 growth principles is to a person or organization. At first glance, someone may say, “well why would Implement be so far down the list? Isn’t business about simply getting things done?” Here’s the bottom line, if you are having difficulty with Implement, and it’s not happening as well as you had hoped it would have, then you have to go back to one of the other core10 growth principles. Did you not Enlist the right type of people? Did you not Clarify what people’s roles were well enough to give them the ability to Implement with ownership? When the previous core10 growth principles have been well addressed, Implement should be a natural and a smooth stage, for the individuals as well as the organization.

Evaluate

To Evaluate is to appraise the significance of progress and identify opportunities for improvement through a formal assessment of predefined benchmarks.

Identifying opportunities for improvement can only come, in a valid way, through a formal assessment of predefined benchmarks. These benchmarks must be predefined and not created at the time of performing the evaluation. Peter Drucker once said “If you don’t know where you’re headed, any old plan will do.” Evaluate must be based on exactly what you’ve defined as where you’re headed and the plan that has been implemented. Evaluations can take either a qualitative or quantitative approach.

Qualitative approaches are based on the significance of the outcomes more than on whether or not predefined benchmarks are reached. Consider for example a department that is unrolling a new program that aimed at improving customer service. So, the bottom-line goal of the new program is to increase customer service ratings from a 4.2 to a 4.5 average rating by customers on a five-point scale. After three months of implementing the program, customer satisfaction is formally evaluated and the outcome is a 4.35 average. Quantitatively speaking, the department did not achieve their goal. Complete failure, right? Not so fast! When you speak to customers they seem more content, more loyal, and on a more significant level, SALES ARE UP! So could it be that qualitatively speaking, the new program actually did reach its goal? In other words the significance of the progress and the outcomes of the new program are positive. The decision should be made in this case to continue on with the program even though the 4.5 average rating by customers was not met.

On a less structured note, Evaluate is the process of discovering new opportunities to become just a little bit better, more efficient, or more profitable.

Adjust

To Adjust is to refine a course of action in response to identified needs in an environment of expected positive change.

China’s most famous teacher and philosopher Confucius once said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” To Adjust is to be willing to make changes in our efforts to reach our vision, however drastic they may be. The reason that these two principles, Evaluate and Adjust are separate however, is because sometimes people may be willing to Evaluate and take an outside look at their efforts, but be unwilling to actually Adjust and change. Business is full of examples of companies that failed to adjust and adapt to the changing trends that affected them, and therefore failed completely. Some changes and adjustments may be minor, and sometimes we have to have the strength, capacity, and willingness to adjust our efforts or goals.

There are two key elements to Adjust. The first is to identify, and the second is to measure. After the process of Evaluate, we should have the ability to see what is working and what is not. Unfortunately, just because a company may Evaluate and know that their 3rd quarter numbers are down compared to the previous year, that doesn’t mean that they have identified what needs to be adjusted. Too often, companies or managers will try to make wholesale changes to a department or a program, and they end up “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. It is important to have the patience enough, and the leadership that allows you to Evaluate individual areas, and individual programs or efforts which may be affecting the undesired results. One of the greatest things a company can do is to have the humility to actually be able to go to their consumer base and say, “We know that this latest version of our product failed to meet your expectations. Why?” That single step alone can save endless time and frustration trying to identify on your own what needs to be adjusted.

The next key element in the process of adjust is to measure. After we have identified what needs to be adjusted, we need to measure how much adjusting needs to be done. Once again, as established earlier, we are not trying to change simply for the sake of change; we want to know how much we need to change, and in what direction. Many people have experienced those moments in the shower when they want to change the water temperature, realize that the slightest adjustment of the handle can have a dramatic affect on the temperature. So it is with business. We don’t often times have to Adjust to the degree that we “over-correct” our vehicle. Before we Adjust, we need to measure what impact those sometimes slight changes may cause. But when those changes are drastic, we need to have the fortitude and leadership to bring that to fruition. That’s when the core10 growth principles can be applied specifically to the area of Adjust in order to take your company or organization into a new direction.

Increase

To Increase is to embrace continuous improvement by exploring new ideas that expand the vision.

To increase is to never quit the process of growth. Although it is important to find satisfaction and happiness in the things we accomplish; it is also important to remember that much of our happiness comes from being anxiously engaged in the process of growth and success. Increasing is simply about saying, “What’s next?” This creates the spherical nature of the growth principles because when we ask what the next steps are and where we can go from here, it causes us to go back to the beginning and pursue the visions and principles that got us to where we are now, and where we can be. The more we accomplish, the more we realize our natural ability to continuously grow.

The Japanese have a concept called “kaizen” which is translated as “continuous improvement”. The term was made famous in 1986 by Masaaki Imai, in his best-selling book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. Kaizen is a good way to understand what the step of increase is, because it creates a culture of continued growth. Increase helps companies avoid the “plateau” that often stagnates new visions and ideas. Many companies simply get to the point where they are using all their resources and efforts just to keep up and maintain.

Many organizations like to think that they have a culture that allows for the cultivation of new ideas, which is certainly admirable. The key to Increase however, is to have a system to actually do something with those ideas. This is where the whole core10 process returns to the beginning and gives individuals, managers, or organizations the ability to ask “What’s next?” The answer to that question becomes the new Envision process.

The great benefit to this strategy is that it helps those within the organization to maintain what we like to call a Kaizen Focus. Most individuals, and therefore departments have a limited amount of time where they can focus energies and passions before it simply becomes too routine to evoke any significant effort. It also helps companies to avoid the negative thought process of changing “for no reason at all”. When people look at their favorite sports teams towards the beginning of a season, they certainly expect and many times welcome with open arms the steps their team is taking to ensure victory. That is the same mentality that Increase can help to instill within your organization, that leadership, management, and employees are anxiously engaged in the process of growth and success.

Through the process of the Kaizen Focus, individuals and organizations will soon look at Increase not as an end to a project or program, but the beginnings of the next successful stages the company will embark upon to find their continual growth.

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