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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Crossing the transition line in a close-knit group

by Rick Baker
On Mar 27, 2017

Every time I take on a new succession-planning project I stop and think about the best ways to share what I have learned. While some may approach succession as if it lends itself to a pre-planned set of procedures, I don't view it that way.  Succession is one of those extremely personal things, and by 'personal' I mean succession is wrapped up in the needs of more than one person. And, we have to face the fact – people’s needs can be multi-faceted, nuanced and complex. 

I found myself comparing success to sports. I concluded it would definitely fall in the zone of some sort of endurance competition…an endurance competition involving a team…perhaps, an amazing race. As I was thinking along that direction I thought of bicycle racing teams like the Tour de France. A big problem with that analogy is only one person gets to win the bicycle race.  In successful succession projects all the players on the team have to win. Another big problem is, if it's done right succession planning really isn’t a race at all. It isn't a contest that lends itself to stopwatches or time-clocks. In fact, when it is run against time-clocks succession falls short of full success, creating at best some winners but also some losers.

After spending some time thinking about the various sports analogies, I decided there is no real-life sport that can be used to explain business succession. The closest I could do was to create a new sport which would go like this: 

  • there's only one team playing it, so external competition is not a key factor – on the other hand, internal communication is a critical factor; 
  • every player on the team takes turn piggybacking other players, carrying them from time to time for various distances, exerting strength to offset others’ weaknesses;
  • all of the players must cross the transition line as a close-knit group, within arms-length of one another; and,
  • the final requirement is after the transition line has been passed everyone on the team feels good about themselves and each of the other players on the team.

Doesn’t that sound like an interesting sport...a wonderful thing to experience!

Strategic Planning - keep it simple, get it done!

by Rick Baker
On Nov 30, 2016

Strategic Planning does not have to be a frustrating, time-consuming, or boring process.

A quality strategic plan does not have to be lengthy.

After all, the real value of planning lies in 3 areas:

  1. the positive things people gain as they do the process of the planning,
  2. the simple plan, which guides future action…the clearer and simpler the better, and
  3. the focused action people will make - aimed at the desired goals/results…the more focused action the better.

To accomplish (1) the process must be enjoyable, thought-provoking, and laced with quality communication.

To accomplish (2) the process must be focused and definite.

To accomplish (3) the result must be `user-friendly`.

So – we designed the BIG PICTURE strategic planning process. 

Tags:

Business Plan: Writing Plans | Succession

Taking another SWOT at strategic planning

by Rick Baker
On Jul 6, 2015

Recently, I created the following [SWOT-grounded] table to help organize thoughts for a mid-year Strategic Planning session.

This 'SWOT activity' brought back fond memories of time spent with Don Peart...as captured below, in the Fall of 2013 Don Peart introduced our CFFB roundtable group to his broader perspective on SWOT. Don's message was an exceptional improvement on SWOT. Don's recommendations meshed perfectly with Talents & Strengths thinking and with solutions-focused thinking...i.e., thinking progressive business leaders need to embrace. Ever since that morning with Don, every time I think of SWOT I review his messages and how they can help individuals put their Talents to good use and do their work with a positive, solution-aimed attitude.

I work at creating simple tools to help expand the use of SWOT. For example, the following simple table helps focus thinking and discussion on S & W & O & T while also considering what has changed since the last strategy session.

Of most importance:

  • What lessons have we learned from the changes? and 
  • Why did those changes happen?
 

 

  

The following was first published October 28, 2013

STRENGTHS: The Gallup people presented Strengths as a combination of Talent, Knowledge, & Skills. Talent is not enough on its own. It must be coupled with Knowledge. We clarify that the Knowledge must be specialized, focused, and consistent with what it takes to achieve goals. Talent coupled with Knowledge is not enough...it is essential that Skills be practised until tasks and processes are mastered. Only then can one possess and vent Strengths. On top of that Gallup wisdom, we added Opportunities. That's where leaders fit in. Leaders recognize Talent, provide access to Knowledge and training & development in the form of practising. In this way, leaders provide the Opportunities for the development of Strengths.

P=2S+O: Bosses exist to delegate tasks and processes and manage the people who do those tasks and processes. That being the framework for business, bosses really don't want to hear Problems. Bosses only want to hear Problems when the Problems are used to introduce Solutions...and, every once in a while, Opportunities. That's the P=2S+O philosophy. That's why we created the P=2S+O tool.

SWOT is a strategic planning tool developed a couple of generations ago. It can be used to sort thoughts about business processes & business situations. And, as was recently brought to our attention by Don Peart, SWOT can be used to sort thoughts about people.

Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations.

The thinking around SWOT's application for business Processes & Situations is on the record. Just Google 'SWOT' and you will find much theory and practical advice.

The first 3 thoughts that came to me when Don Peart talked about applying SWOT thinking to People were:

1.     There's a lot of common ground shared by SWOT and our definition of personal Strength.

2.     P=2S+O is a practical tool, designed to cause people to focus on Solutions while keeping their minds and eyes open for Opportunities.

3.     When recruiting we could use SWOT thinking as an umbrella over our definition of Strengths and our P=2S+O philosophy.

 Here's the picture...

 

Why Put Off To Tomorrow What You Can Put Off To Someday?

by Rick Baker
On Mar 4, 2015

 

 

 

On the other hand...

 

1.  Planned exits bring more money


2.  It’s best to sell when buyers want to buy


3.  It’s best to deal 1-on-1 at the ‘C-level’


4.  Creative deal structures bring more money


5.  Good accountants and lawyers deliver ROI


6.  Deals get done when:

  • You know exactly what you want
  • You learn exactly what the buyer wants
  • You compromise and agree on ‘middle ground’
  • You engage ‘specialists’ after it’s a done deal

Tags:

Succession

On Mentoring

by Rick Baker
On Jan 21, 2015

As a general rule, people of strong character do not complain about people they truly like. Certainly, people of strong character do not voice repeated complaints about people they like.

A mentor must, at the very least, like the person being mentored. A true mentor-mentee relationship goes far beyond just liking one another. Such relationships are founded on mutual respect and built on shared trust.

So, if someone says they are mentoring a person and in the next breath complains about that person then you know there is no true mentoring relationship. What the person is doing is simply complaining about another person. And, if the person is complaining about an employee then the person is simply criticizing an employee's performance. The situation is not about mentoring…it’s just another boss complaining about another employee....it's nothing special...it's common fare...it's just a destructive bad habit.

When a mentor is mentoring an employee the mentor uses criticism most sparingly if at all. In addition, the mentor refrains from sharing those criticisms with other people. That would violate the mentor-mentee relationship. A true mentor would not complain about a mentee to others. And a true mentor would use (at the very most) private and gentle criticism in performing the role of mentoring. The essence of mentoring is helping and good mentors know criticism is destructive.

So, a boss who complains to others about an employees is not able to mentor that employee. The complainer is just a struggling boss. The person lacks for one reason or another, the ability to constructively inspire and influence the employee to perform in a manner deemed satisfactory. The complaints about the employee is a cry for help from others, whether the complainer knows it or not. That is the essence of the complaints. Needless to say, the employee is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Tags:

Criticism: Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron | Leaders' Thoughts | Succession

Nurture and develop a successor for your business. Mentor this person. Partner with this person.

by Rick Baker
On Aug 6, 2014

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Make sure this person knows he or she is your most-trusted business ally. Make sure this person wants to be in that role. Do not assume…talk openly and regularly about succession…talk openly and regularly about needs and aspirations, both yours and theirs.

Tags:

Influencing | Succession | Thought Tweets

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