Thinker-Uppers

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I was talking to a friend who is a retired senior partner in a very successful advertising agency. We were discussing what drives profit and growth acceleration in companies. He explained that there are three kinds of people in companies: doers, getter-doners, and thinker-uppers.

Doers are those who execute – important certainly, but you can find and develop doers relatively easily. Getter-doners are those who make sure the work gets accomplished, setting priorities and project managing to ensure quality goals and deadlines are met. These people are harder to find, but again, can be developed or hired as needed.

The third type is the rare breed, the thinker-uppers. These are the people who develop innovative approaches, generate imaginative ideas and often use disruptive thinking to create new ways of doing things. These people are hard to find.

Senior executives are responsible for assuring the presence of all three kinds of people in the organization. Without doers, the work never gets done. Without getter-doners, the priorities are lost and the work drifts. Without thinker-uppers, profit and growth won’t accelerate.

Do you have the right people on your team? If you lack thinker-uppers, do you use outside resources to help accelerate profit and growth?

© 2018 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Don’t Be Average

FreeImages.com/Jason Antony

Many companies use benchmarking as a means to drive process and productivity improvement. Most industries publish benchmarking data including financial, productivity, asset, market growth, and other criteria for comparing your company to others of similar revenue or asset value in your industry. The most common measure is industry average.

The problem is, by comparing yourself to others and to industry averages, you’re accepting average as a goal. Shouldn’t we strive to be better than average?

Rather than emulating others, be innovative and adopt a strategy that moves you beyond what others are doing. And don’t just try to be better than average, be way above average. The Risk Management Association (RMA) book is a great source of comparative financial information, and provides not only averages, but also top quartile information. This way you can benchmark yourself against the top performers in your industry.

Are you and your company striving to be average, or to be industry leaders?

© 2018 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Thinker-Uppers

I was talking to a friend who is a retired senior partner in a very successful advertising agency. We were discussing what drives profit and growth acceleration in companies. He explained that there are three kinds of people in companies: doers, getter-doners, and thinker-uppers.

Doers are those who execute – important certainly, but you can find and develop doers relatively easily. Getter-doners are those who make sure the work gets accomplished, setting priorities and project managing to ensure quality goals and deadlines are met. These people are harder to find, but again, can be developed or hired as needed.

The third type is the rare breed, the thinker-uppers. These are the people who develop innovative approaches, generate imaginative ideas and often use disruptive thinking to create new ways of doing things. These people are hard to find.

Senior executives are responsible for assuring the presence of all three kinds of people in the organization. Without doers, the work never gets done. Without getter-doners, the priorities are lost and the work drifts. Without thinker-uppers, profit and growth won’t accelerate.

Do you have the right people on your team? If you lack thinker-uppers, do you use outside resources to help accelerate profit and growth?

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Planning to Win

Raevyn Rogers, a freshman at the University of Oregon, helped her team win the 2015 NCAA Women’s Track and Field Championship by winning the 800-meter sprint, contributing 10 points to her team total. She did it by setting ambitious but achievable goals for the season and having a race plan that she stuck to, to win.

She didn’t panic when a competitor started fast and built a big lead. She ran her own race, and knew exactly when to pour it on with a sprint at the end that carried her to victory.

Having goals and a plan are critical to success in business as well. For example, Lean initiatives often don’t yield the results companies expect, failing as much as 70% of the time according to research by McKinsey and others. One of the problems is a lack of context for the initiative in the form of goals and a race plan. Having a strategy and structure within which to execute will put you on the road to success.

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Conceptual Agreement Leads To Successful Partnerships

As I develop relationships with potential clients, I take the time to set the foundation for a relationship by developing trust with the buyer. As we discuss their needs, we aim to reach “conceptual agreement” on the project’s objectives and set measures so we’ll know we’ve achieved them. Conceptual agreement is more than just agreeing to some points; it’s a mutual understanding of the objectives and measures for our partnership in improving conditions for the client’s company.

Partnerships of any kind, whether between companies and suppliers, between departments within a company, with customers or with communities need to be based on trust and conceptual agreement on what the partnership is going to accomplish and how the partners will know it’s done. Paying lip service to the agreement doesn’t work. Clearly understanding the objectives before presenting a proposal makes the goals easier to achieve and the end results much better.

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.

Five Ways to Create Powerful Teams

Teams are a key element of continuous improvement. A team is a group of people linked in a common purpose. This is different from a committee, in which each individual often has their own agenda. In my experience, many companies think they have teams but in fact what they have are committees.

Here are five things you can do to strengthen the teams at your company:

1. Hire for intrinsic traits

Many managers focus on technical skills when hiring new people, but it’s more important to hire people who have the traits that will let them thrive in your business culture. Traits such as hard work, flexibility, ethics, communication and teamwork are important foundations for success in team environments. Technical skills can be taught to the right person.

2. Pay well

Pay is known as a de-motivator, not an element of motivation. In other words, paying too low demotivates people, while paying very well does not motivate people. Except in cases where the work is highly repetitive, studies suggest that motivation is more likely to come from recognition, being on a great team, and providing exceptional customer experiences than from pay. Try to keep your pay scales at or slightly above the mid-point of the market, then focus on great benefits, recognition and an excellent work environment.

3. Provide clear objectives

A team is a group with a common purpose. The purpose and objectives need to be clearly defined.

4. Give autonomy

This goes beyond empowerment. Autonomy is independence to create a work environment. With clear objectives, autonomous teams can yield powerful results.

5. Focus on progress and improvement

Track progress toward goals, not just goal attainment. World-class athletes strive to get better. If your teams are goal focused, when they attain the goal, they don’t know what to do next. If they focus on progress, there is no finish line.

Have you used any of these methods to build teams in your company? What other ways have you found to create strong teams whose results are sustained over time?

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Don’t Be Average

Many companies use benchmarking as a means to drive process and productivity improvement. Most industries publish benchmarking data including financial, productivity, asset, market growth, and other criteria for comparing your company to others of similar revenue or asset value in your industry. The most common measure is industry average.

The problem is, by comparing yourself to others and to industry averages, you’re accepting average as a goal. Shouldn’t we strive to be better than average?

Rather than emulating others, be innovative and adopt a strategy that moves you beyond what others are doing. And don’t just try to be better than average, be way above average. The Risk Management Association (RMA) book is a great source of comparative financial information, and provides not only averages, but also top quartile information. This way you can benchmark yourself against the top performers in your industry.

Are you and your company striving to be average, or to be industry leaders?

© 2015 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

The Cheesy Thermometer

A client wanted to cut their inventory from $6.5 million to $4.5 million this year. We devised several strategies to do that, and then I suggested they put a “United Way” thermometer on the wall of the purchasing department to track progress toward their goal. One of the people in the department took a poster board and created a nice thermometer and hung it on the wall. Each week they posted the total inventory balance on the chart, and whether the total inventory actually went up or down. My client referred to it as their “cheesy thermometer.”

The impact was amazing. Simply being able to see the score had a big impact on people’s activities toward inventory reduction and the results have come quickly. Just last month they reduced inventory by $1.2 million. They’ve had a few reversals, but seeing the score prompted an even stronger resolve to hit the goal. They’ve identified where the final reductions will occur, which should put them past their objective, and when that happens, the CFO has agreed to buy them all dinner. Maybe they’ll have cheesy pizza to celebrate.

© 2014 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Urgent or Important?

The concept of “The Tyranny of the Urgent” has been around for a long time, yet many people get caught up in the urgent every day. Charles E. Hummel wrote the booklet Tyranny of the Urgent in 1967. That was followed by The Time Trap by McKenzie and Co. and then The Seven Habits…. by Covey. Time management is clearly a concept that captures many people’s thinking, especially those who find themselves trapped by urgency.

I’ve seen many companies get caught up in urgency (get it shipped!) without focusing on importance (quality products, on time, complete – the “Perfect Order”). If you focus on what’s urgent, it feels like you’re running a sprint all the time, out of breath, never getting everything done. It’s frustrating and stressful.

The definitions of urgent vs. important actually go back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States. He defined urgent as a task that requires immediate attention and is often performed in a hurried, reactive manner. Important is a task that contributes to long-term values and goals and is performed in a responsive mode that leads to new opportunities. Just the sound of “important” feels good.

Clearly, getting away from a narrow focus on urgency and prioritizing importance allows for accelerated growth, profitability and cash flow for your organization. Do you focus on the urgent? Are you trapped in the tyranny? Have you defined what’s important?

© 2014 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.

Suppliers Are People Too

Executives at most small and middle market companies have goals and objectives that are often very personal in nature – providing a great product or service to their customers, living a good life contributing to their own well being as well as that of their employees and community, perhaps accumulating a good number of “toys” or that house in the mountains or at the beach. Many want to make a good profit, make a name in the business community and build their company’s reputation among their peers. People define “success” differently, but their business is almost always a key part of the picture.

Your suppliers have the same goals and objectives. Many companies treat their suppliers as someone with whom to negotiate a better deal, to beat into submission and to use until they can no longer perform, only to replace them at the drop of a hat. Perhaps if more buyers and supply chain people treated their suppliers as they would like to be treated, (hmm – I’ve heard that somewhere before) the result might be better than one could ever imagine.

Suppliers are people too. Treating them as partners in your business (and you in theirs) can yield amazing results.

© 2014 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved