The Excellence Dividend: Fundamentals 2018+
It's not that I'm trying to produce an orderly summary of my book The Excellence Dividend. What I am trying to do is present its substance to you—for your use!—in as many ways as I can think of. One way is the six presentations/papers attached to this Blog.
Here goes ...
#1 THE FIRST IS THE "BIG ONE"!!
I have been working on it pretty much non-stop for the last two months (or, you might say, the last 50 years). PowerPoint is my presentation-vehicle-of-choice. My PPT included here ("Fundamentals 2018") encompasses all the principal topics in the book, The Excellence Dividend, and then some—and runs to 819 slides. Of the 819, some 298 are annotations/commentaries; I'd guess they amount to about 20,000+ words. Which is in turn to say that "Fundamentals 2018" is a standalone document.
I obviously hope you like it—and to prove that you like it I hope you steal me blind. THAT IS THE POINT OF THIS EXERCISE!
(REPEAT: THIS IS THE BEST I CAN DO. EVERY OUNCE OF ENERGY WAS EXPENDED PUTTING THIS TOGETHER. ENJOY!!!! AND USE!!!!!!!!!)
#2 The second attached piece is called "The Excellence Dividend: The Eighteen 'Number Ones.'" [Ed.: Also in PowerPoint] THE OBJECT HERE IS TO GET EVERYTHING I'VE BEEN WORKING ON FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS ON ONE PAGE. Herewith the summary-of-the-summary:
THE EIGHTEEN "NUMBER ONES"
*Investment #1: TRAINING
*Asset #1: PORTFOLIO OF FIRST-LINE MANAGERS
*Core Value #1: LISTENING EXCELLENCE!!!
*Obsession #1: EXECUTION/"THE LAST 95%"
*Job #1: ESTABLISHING/MAINTAINING "60/60/24/7/365" A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE-BY-PUTTING-PEOPLE-REALLY-FIRST
*Calling #1: LEADING IS A HUMAN-POTENTIAL-MAXIMIZATION ACTIVITY—THERE IS NO HIGHER CALLING.
*Value-Added Strategy #1: DESIGN EXCELLENCE/RADICAL HUMANIZATION
*Success Credo #1: "ARE YOU GOING TO COST CUT YOUR WAY TO PROSPERITY? OR ARE YOU GOING TO SPEND YOUR WAY TO PROSPERITY?" "OVER-INVEST IN OUR PEOPLE, OVER-INVEST IN OUR FACILITIES." "COST CUTTING IS A DEATH SPIRAL. OUR WHOLE STORY IS GROWING REVENUE."
*Organization Effectiveness/$$$$ Payoff #1: WOMEN BUY EVERYTHING (Consumer/ Commercial)/WOMEN HAVE ALL THE MONEY/WOMEN ARE BETTER LEADERS
*Missed Opportunity #1: OLDIES/RICH, MEGA-NUMEROUS, IGNORED—PLENTY OF TIME LEFT
*Economic Cornerstone #1: SMEs RULE (create all the jobs, are responsible for the lion's share of innovation)/Motto: "BE THE BEST, IT'S THE ONLY MARKET THAT'S NOT CROWDED"
*Innovation Strategy #1: WTTMSW/WHOEVER TRIES THE MOST STUFF WINS/Extended: WTTMS(ASTMSUTF)W/WHOEVER TRIES THE MOST STUFF (AND SCREWS THE MOST STUFF UP THE FASTEST) WINS
*Personal Habit #1: READ. READ. READ. READ. READ.
*Time Management Must #1: SLOW DOWN
*Making Things Happen Dictate #1: LUNCH!!!
*Daily Activity #1: MBWA/MANAGING BY WANDERING AROUND
*Commandment #1: EXCELLENCE IS THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES.
*Axiom #1: HARD (NUMBERS, PLANS, ORG CHARTS) IS SOFT. SOFT (RELATIONSHIPS, CULTURE, LISTENING, EXCELLENCE) IS HARD.
#3 There are significant similarities between this list and the prior list. Nonetheless, herewith, "THE EXCELLENCE DIVIDEND/"THE 25 RULES"
(1) The "all-important last 95 percent": EXECUTION!!!!! ("Execution is the job of the business leader."/"Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics.")
(2) Giants (inevitably) implode. SMEs MATTER MOST. SMEs = #1 job creators! SMEs = #1 innovators! SME winners: "Be the BEST. It's the ONLY market that's NOT crowded."
(3) People (REALLY) First: Branson/"Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives or it's not worth doing." ("Your customers will never be happier than your employees.")
(4) Herb Kelleher on Hiring/THE RIGHT STUFF: "We look for listening, caring, smiling, saying 'Thank you,' being warm." (Pharmaceuticals CEO: "We only hire nice people.")
(5) TRAINING = INVESTMENT #1 (Most bosses see training as an expense: STUPID!)
(6) Full cadre of 1st-Line bosses = ASSET #1. ("The sergeants run the Army!")
(7) WOMEN ARE THE BEST LEADERS!! ("Research [McKinsey] suggests that to succeed, start by promoting women." McKinsey: Balanced gender Boards: +56% operating profits.)
(8) Innovation = NUMBERS game/WTTMSW/Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.
(9) FAILURE: "CELEBRATE"/Bezos. "Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes." (WTTMSASTMSUTFW/Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins.)
(10) DIVERSITY (on any and every dimension!!) = 2018 Strategic Innovation Imperative!! (ESPECIALLY AT THE BOARD LEVEL—where it is typically [very] AWOL.)
THE (wildly successful) COMMERCE BANK/METRO BANK MANTRA
"Are you going to cost cut your way to prosperity? Or are you going to spend your way to prosperity?" "Over-invest in our people, over-invest in our facilities." "Cost cutting is a death spiral. Our whole story is growing revenue."
(11) Tech tsunami/MORAL Imperative #1: DEVELOP PEOPLE (ENABLE RADICAL PROFESSIONAL/PERSONAL GROWTH = Requirement. Lack thereof = Firing offense!)
(12) DESIGN: Value-added Attribute #1. Applies to one and all. Beyond beautiful/ functional: CREATES POWERFUL/LASTING EMOTIONAL CONNECTION.)
(13) It helps to be helpful—KEEP ADDING SERVICES!! (UPS becomes United Problem Solvers [service mark]. Package tossing to comprehensive client logistics-systems oversight.)
(14) Focus on "TGRs"/Things Gone RIGHT. LITTLE>>BIG. LITTLE TOUCHES LINGER IN THE MIND/HEART/MOST IMPORTANT DIFFERENTIATORS!!! ("Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."/Henry Clay)
(15) EXTREME HUMANIZATION/RADICAL HUMANIZATION: The best way to avoid the grip of encroaching AI is to humanize!
(16) Go after the two GIANT and WILDLY UNDERSERVED markets: WOMEN/Women buy EVERYTHING. OLDIES. Oldies have ALL the money /NET WORTH 65+ 47X<35.
(17) SOCIAL BUSINESS = EVERYONE'S BUSINESS. (A wildly successful financial services CEO: "I'd rather trade tweets with one customer than buy a Super Bowl ad.")
(18) Ed Schein's Golden Rule: CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST. (Culture Development & Maintenance is CEO Job #1. [60/60/24/7/365.])
(19) Tom's Golden Rule I: MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around. EVERYDAMNDAY.
(20) Tom's Golden Rule II/Circa/EVERYTHING ALWAYS DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS! Relationship development/nurturing takes time!!! ("HARD—NUMBERS, PLANS—IS SOFT. SOFT—RELATIONSHIPS, CULTURE—IS HARD.")
(21) Dov Frohman's Golden Rule: Leaders/50% UNSCHEDULED TIME.
(22) Doug Conant's Golden Rule: 10 years/30,000 handwritten "THANK YOU" notes. And you?
(23) ACKNOWLEDGEMENT! "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."/William James. Leader/Four most important words: "WHAT DO YOU THINK?"
(24) L-I-S-T-E-N-I-N-G ("Fierce listening"/"Aggressive listening") AS CORE VALUE #1. (Dean Rusk/"The best way to persuade someone is with your ears.")
(25) EXCELLENCE is not an "aspiration" or a "hill to climb." EXCELLENCE IS THE NEXT 5 MINUTES. (Or nothing at all.) (E.g. EXCELLENCE is the next email—believe it!)
#4 This essay is titled "The Speed Trap: When Taking Your Time (Really) Matters." The point is that the standard 2018 mantra—fast, faster, faster still—is largely stuff and nonsense. Yes, an unprecedented sense of urgency is required—but the bedrock of an organization that works and shines and sustains, yes, in 2018, is the likes of an effective culture—and there are no shortcuts to establishing and maintaining such a culture.
In summary: Here is a partial list of strategic activities—that underpin both personal and organizational success—which cannot be accomplished in a flash:
*BUILDING/MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS ... take time.
*RECRUITING ALLIES TO YOUR CAUSE ... takes time.
*LUNCH ... takes time.
*BUILDING/MAINTAINING A HIGH-PERFORMANCE CULTURE ... takes time.
*READING/STUDYING ... take time.
*WAITING (per se) ... takes time.
*FIERCE/AGGRESSIVE LISTENING ... takes (lots of!) time.
*PRACTICE & PREP FOR ANYTHING & EVERYTHING ... takes time.
*MBWA/MANAGING BY WANDERING AROUND ... takes time.
*SLACK IN YOUR SCHEDULE ... takes time.
*HIRING/EVALUATING/PROMOTING ... take time.
*THOUGHTFULNESS/INSTINCTIVE SMALL GESTURES (SMALL>>BIG) ... take time.
*EXTREME HUMANIZATION/RADICAL HUMANIZATION ... takes time.
*GAMECHANGING DESIGN (Steve Jobs spending "hours and hours discussing
corners") ... takes time.
*YOUR NEXT EMAIL ... takes time.
*"THE LAST 1%" OF ANY TASK OR PROJECT ... takes time.
*E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-C-E ... takes time.
#5 This paper, titled "The Excellence Dividend: 28 Short Takes," was put together for social media posts when the book appeared in April 2018. Herewith a sample:
(1) Ask a general. Or an Admiral. Or a football coach. Or a police chief or symphony conductor. TRAINING IS INVESTMENT #1. Alas, the average business boss sees training as an expense rather than an investment. DUMB. ("Train 'em and they'll leave." DUMBER.)
(2) Navy captain Mike Abrashoff called it ... "AGGRESSIVE" LISTENING. A leading business coach called it "FIERCE" LISTENING. I insist that Listening Excellence should be an enterprise's Core Value #1. (And listening TRAINING requisite for one and all.)
(3) Sergeants run the Army. Chiefs run the Navy. FRONT-LINE LEADERS TAKEN AS A WHOLE ARE AN ORGANIZATION'S ASSET #1. They are the culture carriers—or not. They are the chief determinants of productivity, retention, quality, and customer service. (Act accordingly.)
(4) I call it "WTTMSW": Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins. WTTMSW is Key #1 to INNOVATION success. The longer version: WTTMS(ASTMSUTF)W. Got it? Whoever Tries The Most Stuff (And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest) Wins. An ironclad guarantee goes with this idea!
(5) It's first on my leadership success traits list: MBWA. Managing By Wandering Around. Starbucks chief Howard Schultz visits 25 shops ... EACH WEEK. Being in touch with the work and the workers where the work is done is a must—and, alas, often goes by the wayside on busy day after busy day. My command: DOYOURMBWAEVERYDAMNDAY.
(1) In Search of Excellence in Six Words:
My first book, In Search of Excellence, can be summarized in six words:
Hard is soft. Soft is hard.
My next fifteen books can be summarized in six words:
Hard is soft. Soft is hard.
My eighteenth book, just out, The Excellence Dividend, can be summarized in six words:
Hard is soft. Soft is hard.
The translation is simple, though the execution is apparently not so simple, or perhaps more people would have bought in:
"Hard" (the plans, the numbers, the org charts) is "soft." Plans are more often than not fantasies, numbers are readily manipulated—case in point, super-"quants," ratings-agency geniuses, and others of their ilk cleverly packaged and gave high safety scores to "derivatives" (and derivatives of derivatives and …) consisting of valueless mortgages—thus spurring the multi-trillion-dollar financial crash of 2007-2008++. And org charts: In practice, they have little to do with how things actually get done.
"Soft" (people, relationships, organization culture) is "hard." You get things done, for example, on the basis of your patiently developed network of relationships. You imbed a captivating and effective culture by living and reinforcing "the way we do things around here" day after day after day, in fact hour after hour after hour—forever. And the focus on people? Here's the thing, an organization is nothing more and nothing less than "people (our folks) serving people (our customers and communities)." And for the leader, who is full time in the people business, it's all about "people (leaders) serving people (our folks) serving people (customers and communities)."
(2) SOFT IS HARD: GOOGLE GETS A (B-I-G) SURPRISE+
I can honestly say that this staggered me. It is, of course, what I have been saying/screaming for a long long (long) time. But to see it with the authority of a Google "Big Data" analysis behind it is, yes, staggering. To wit:
"Project Oxygen [data from founding in 1998 to 2013] shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google's top employees, STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others' different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one's colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas. Those traits sound more like what one gains as an English or theater major than as a programmer. ..."
"Project Aristotle  further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments. Project Aristotle analyzes data on inventive and productive teams. Google takes pride in its A-teams, assembled with top scientists, each with the most specialized knowledge and able to throw down one cutting-edge idea after another. Its data analysis revealed, however, that the company's most important and productive ideas come from B-teams comprised of employees that don't always have to be the smartest people in the room. Project Aristotle shows that that the best teams at Google exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. ..."
(3) WHAT REALLY MATTERS:THE WISDOM OF THREE MASTERS
"Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives ... or it's simply not worth doing."—Richard Branson (In 2016, I produced a 17-chapter, heavily annotated 4,096-slide compendium I called THE WORKS: 1966-2016. This Bransonism earned pride of place, #1 among those 4,096.)
"Business was originated to produce happiness, not pile up millions."—B.C. Forbes, September 1917, first issue of Forbes
"I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people."—John Wooden
(4) EXCELLENCE = SHORT-TERMISM!
EXCELLENCE is not
- a "long-term" "aspiration."
EXCELLENCE is the ultimate short-term strategy.
EXCELLENCE is ... THE NEXT 5 MINUTES.*
EXCELLENCE is your next conversation.
EXCELLENCE is your next meeting.
EXCELLENCE is shutting up and listening—really listening.
EXCELLENCE is your next customer contact.
EXCELLENCE is saying "Thank you" for something "small."
EXCELLENCE is the next time you shoulder responsibility and apologize.
EXCELLENCE is pulling out all the stops at warp speed to respond to a screw-up.
EXCELLENCE is the flowers you brought to work today.
EXCELLENCE is lending a hand to an "outsider" who's fallen behind schedule.
EXCELLENCE is bothering to learn the way folks in finance (or IS or HR) think.
EXCELLENCE is waaay "over"-preparing for a 3-minute presentation.
EXCELLENCE is turning "insignificant" tasks into models of … EXCELLENCE.
Excellence is conventionally—in fact, almost without fail—seen as a long-term aspiration. I disagree. Vehemently disagree. Excellence is not a destination at which you arrive on a glorious sunny day after years of brutally hard work.
Excellence is a way of life that sustains us and inspires us day in and day out. There is no "long term." There is only the way we act when we step out into the corridor after a meeting—or, yes, the quality of your next 4-line email.
(5) THE EXCELLENCE DIVIDEND: TWITTERIZED
The Excellence Dividend <280 characters: Best way to deal with tech onslaught is tech as support tool (rather than supplant tool), Extreme Humanization of products/services, fanaticism about every employee's growth (& your own), and no less than Excellence, ever, especially in "small" acts ("the next five minutes").
(6) The Excellence Dividend: THE EIGHTEEN "NUMBER ONES" *Investment #1: TRAINING *Asset #1: PORTFOLIO OF FIRST-LINE MANAGERS *Core Value #1: LISTENING EXCELLENCE!!! *Obsession #1: EXECUTION/"THE LAST 95%" And, see #2 above, 14 more ...
(7) THE "SOFT STUFF: SMALL>>BIG
"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."—Henry Clay (epigraph to my 2010 book, The Little Big Things)
"Let's not forget that small emotions are the great captains of our lives."—Vincent Van Gogh
"Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grow."—Ben Stein
(8) Beyond AI: A Winning Strategy: Extreme Humanization/Radical Humanization
Epigraph/The Excellence Dividend
EXCELLENCE: THE TRIUMPH OF HUMANITY*
"Janet Dugan, a healthcare architect, took inspiration from her recent experience having an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) scan. While she was lying still and waiting, she noticed a small mirror that had been placed below the head support piece. It was angled so that she could see through the barrel to the radiology technician and make eye contact with him. 'What a small thing,' she told me. 'And yet what a difference it made. I felt less alone. I was connected to another person at the very moment I needed support. And even though I'm not claustrophobic, it calmed me some to be able to see out of the barrel ... I [saw] that the technician was friendly and that the nurse went out of her way to make me laugh. ... I firmly believe in the power of design to contribute to the healing process—that architecture can shape events and transform lives. But that day, in that experience, the thing that really gave me comfort was a tiny mirror about as big as a Band-Aid.'"—Tim Leberecht, The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself
(*I now—post publication of The Excellence Dividend—call the likes of the tiny mirror Extreme Humanization/Radical Humanization. I dearly wish those terms had come to mind a year ago! [I'm hunting for a way to use my two domain names: ExtremeHumanization.com, Radical Humanization.com. ) (Hypothesis: It will be a long time before AI can imagine the power of a tiny mirror! [I think?? And you??])
(9) THE EXCELLENCE DIVIDEND/ONE PAGE/THE 25 RULES
#1 The "all-important last 95 percent": EXECUTION!!!!! ("Execution is the job of the business leader."/"Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics.")
#2 Giants (inevitably) implode. SMEs MATTER MOST. SMEs = #1 job creators! SMEs = #1 innovators! SME winners: "Be the BEST. It's the ONLY market that's NOT crowded."
#3 People (REALLY) First: Branson/"Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives or it's not worth doing."("Your customers will never be happier than your employees.")
And 22 others.