Most business leaders recognize the importance of having the right leadership in key roles. They also know the influential role that technology plays in business, especially now that we are in the “Digital Age” and Digital Transformation is reshaping industries. So why do some business leaders settle for an ineffective technology leader that can drag down their operations and the competitive position of their entire company? The common misconceptions and justifications I’ve heard are:
An independent, comprehensive review of the company’s technology organization will provide valuable insight into the gaps, hidden issues, root causes, technology leadership effectiveness and potential risks of the current state. Successful companies have engaged excellent technology leaders, and you can too once you have the right plan of action and a better approach.
For more than thirty years I have served both as the CIO/CTO that’s leading the technology organization, and I’ve also served as a global technology advisor to CEOs that are seeking to transform their under-performing technology organization. Business leaders often know that they need more from their technology organization, and they are looking for the right place to start the improvements.
Having reviewed many technology organizations over the years, the common finding is great technology leaders produce great technology organizations, and an ineffective technology leader will produce a struggling, ineffective technology organization. Just as great companies have great CEOs, the same is true for great technology teams being led by great CIOs.
If your company is struggling with your technology, it’s time to review the technology organization and it's leadership. Regardless of the size of your company, your organization must have the right technology leadership, and there are new, excellent, affordable options available. Don’t settle for less, and don’t let traditional thinking get in the way of success.
A common challenge for small businesses is finding the right leadership resources for key roles. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
One of the business functions most commonly impacted by this dilemma is technology. Technological capability can be a great strength and advantage for companies, but it can also be very costly and damaging if it’s not properly executed. Poor technology decisions can leave a business leader struggling to play catch-up and paying for very costly missteps.
Fortunately, there are firms that offer a great option to address these challenges, in the form of virtual or fractional leadership that contract on an as-needed basis.
In this article, we’ll focus on the solutions available to solve constraints for your technology leadership, but it’s important to note that similar solutions are also available for marketing, sales, human resources, and other core business operations areas.
Let’s review some common scenarios business leaders may face, and outline how working with a fractional or virtual leadership firm can help:
Often small businesses start out just hiring someone to support their PCs, network, phones, and basic technology operations. As the business grows, a higher level of expertise and strategic thinking is needed. Your business needs resources and expertise, but you can’t afford to pay the cost of a high-quality full-time Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Fortunately, there are firms that can provide a fractional/virtual Chief Information Officer that has the right expertise at a fraction of the price of a full-time employee. Whether you need them onsite 2 hours a week or 40 hours a week, these firms can tailor their services to fit your specific needs and budget. You get the expertise you need, when you need it, and at a cost that fits current business. This approach can save a business more than $100,000 per year over hiring a full-time employee.
Imagine that your business needs expertise for a very critical decision, a specific initiative, or a peak demand period, and/or to help you ensure your technology organization and technology investments are appropriate for your goals. However, whatever expertise you pay for, it must be affordable and a great fit for your specific needs. Fractional/contracted leadership is a perfect solution for these situations. You get to work with someone who has the specific expertise and experience you need for your challenge, but instead of paying a full salary, you only pay for advice as needed.
Don’t settle for less:
Too often, companies settle for a department leader that lacks the correct experience and/or expertise just because they feel that they can’t afford a better fit. Whether you are recruiting for a new leader, or evaluating a current leader in your organization, don’t settle for less. Remember the old business saying, “The resources that brought you to this point probably aren’t the right ones to take you to the next level.” While you greatly appreciate the efforts of the personnel that helped you get the business started, you need to improve the caliber of leadership in order to be successful.
If you find yourself in this scenario, it may be time to consider engaging a technology leadership expert or firm that can provide the best talent for your company’s specific needs, while also staying within your budget. Don’t just settle. Instead have the right, proven, accomplished expert on your team. It will make a big difference.
Need immediate expertise and can’t waitBusiness leaders may find themselves in need of advice, but they can’t wait the 6+ months necessary for a full recruiting and placement cycle. In the fast pace of today’s market, that six-month period represents the potential for a lot of missed opportunities or missteps. Fortunately, there are firms that provide world-class expertise to address your needs immediately. Instead of waiting through the grueling 6+ month process of a traditional recruiting process, you can make meaningful and informed decisions quickly.
David vs. Goliath:
You need high-quality expertise to compete with your larger competitors. They may have larger budgets, but when you apply this innovative leadership approach, you can take advantage of world-class leadership talent with a far more affordable and agile approach. The best talent at a significantly lower cost: that’s how David conquers Goliath.
Savvy business leaders are now tapping into this new approach and using it to their advantage, as it quickly allows them to access proven experts that are tailored to their specific business needs and budget. Evaluate your improvement opportunities and determine whether your business may benefit from this better approach.
Digital Transformation will reshape your industry and significantly impact your business. The age of digital transformation rewards early adopters (and a few super-fast followers), leaving others to play catch-up and struggle to survive. It’s vital for business leaders to have a clear understanding of Digital Transformation and the right way to approach it. Too many companies get caught in the hype, are misled by the wrong guidance, and don’t really understand the true business value and the right approach. Let’s clear up some of the common misconceptions.
Digital Projects vs. Digital Transformation:
Some companies mistakenly think that implementing a digital project, such as a new ERP, CRM, or financial system, is the extent of digital transformation. While those projects may provide an incremental improvement, they’re far from the full potential a digital transformation can provide. Merely implementing a technology/system is not the same as Digital Transformation. Let’s better define Digital Projects and Digital Transformation, and take a closer look at the differences.
Technology initiatives typically take the form of either digital projects or digital transformation. These different directions deliver two very different types of results in value:
Improving the operating or business model is the key to achieving business-changing value and changing a company’s competitive position. At the same time as a company designs and builds its digital platform, it must reengineer its operating model, including their mindset, resources model, customer experience, organizational structures, and end-to-end processes.
A recent cautionary example:
For an example of how digital transformation affects businesses, let’s look at the retail industry. Years ago, local family-owned retail stores dominated most of the market. Then Walmart came along with their “just in time” inventory system that facilitated lower prices and an ever-growing network of stores. They looked unstoppable… but along came Amazon. Though at first it seemed like just an online bookstore, Amazon had ambitions of expansion and a well-thought-out digital transformation plan.
As a result, the once-dominant Walmart has been significantly impacted, and has closed stores across the country. In this instance, Walmart has been relegated to the role of “superfast follower.” In an effort to compete, Walmart purchased online retail startup Jet.com and revamped their leadership team to fast-track their plans to catch up to Amazon.
Amazon’s digital transformation has changed the way the retail industry works, and they’ve left big-box retail stores struggling to stay in business. All it takes is a look around the empty shopping malls and shuttered outlet malls to see the impact of digital transformation on the retail industry as a whole.
There are similar examples in other industries, and eventually every industry will be impacted, including your industry.
Seize the opportunity
Which role will your business play: the digital transformation market leader, or the straggler? What should you do now to make sure you are in the right market position?
The following recommendations can help you get on the right track:
Identify and acquire the required resources
To win this digital transformation race, you need to have the right tools, expertise and team. Assess your ability to execute your digital plan with the resources you currently have. Typically, the technological solutions that brought you to this point won’t be the same ones that will drive your future success.
You also need to determine whether your current internal resources can continue to run the day-to-day aspects of the business while effectively driving your digital transformation. Engage a seasoned digital transformation expert/advisor who can provide an unbiased review of your current systems and operating model, identify opportunities, and drive timely execution. Digital transformation is a new concept for most people, and many companies struggle to figure it out on their own. The right advisor can help your company avoid missteps on the road to a timely and successful outcome.
Act and execute like your future is counting on it… because it is. Amazon didn’t gain their advantage in the retail industry by merely implementing a new system or developing a great plan; they crafted a comprehensive digital transformation plan and executed the plan in a more timely and more effective manner than their competitors. Innovation and business opportunities have a window of opportunity. Make sure your digital transformation advisors and leaders understand the difference between technology projects and digital transformation, and they are prepared to serve as change catalysts. They must provide in-depth digital transformation expertise, challenge traditional thinking, identify needs, gaps, and opportunities, drive changes where needed, and consistently execute the plan. Take action now, start fast, and execute to win this race.
Article originally provided to and featured by the Business Bank of Texas: www.businessbankoftexas.com/business-resource-center/10-signs-that-you-need-to-evaluate-your-business-information-technology?utm_campaign=Q1%202017-%20BRC%20Business%20Owner&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=67812255&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_3Ijyjrn7y_qXbKbV9nfknJH98Uz-NKoASCvR6Zu4MyMrI0XUZWH_IZaqu_AzHAYsZ8-r8zfcO4AlltGdjhgkODIE6og&_hsmi=67812255
Technology plays a key role in every modern business. If it’s been a while since you’ve assessed your business’ information technology practices, there’s never been a more crucial moment to get up to speed. Digital transformation continues to reshape the business landscape, meaning digital leaders will capture new market share and laggards will struggle to gain traction.
While cutting-edge technology can provide significant business advantages, it can also pose serious risks. Whether it’s due to a breach from inadequate cybersecurity or missed opportunities from an obsolete solution, the results of an unexamined information technology program can be devastating. Furthermore, when your technological solutions are down or inaccessible, you not only risk lost profits, but lost customer confidence as well.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a comprehensive, independent evaluation of your company’s information technology, there are most likely many issues that you’re not even aware of. Here are some signs that it’s time to assess your information technology (I.T.):
This article is the fourth and final part of a series on the technological challenges business owners face in 2018. In past articles, we’ve looked at cybersecurity measures, getting ahead of the technology skills shortage, and building agility into processes. Today we’ll look at how businesses can incorporate smart processes with technological solutions, or to put it simply: digital transformation.
In order to improve operations and deliver more value to customers, businesses need to effectively integrate the right technologies. All too often, company leaders are lulled into thinking they can maintain the status quo and continue to perform well. But recent history is full of examples of companies that fell into this mindset; by the time they finally responded, it was too late.
Times have changed. The age of digital transformation rewards early adopters (and a few super-fast followers), leaving others to play catch-up and struggle to survive.
A recent cautionary tale
For an example of how digital transformation affects businesses, let’s look at the retail industry. Years ago, local family-owned retail stores dominated most of the market. Then Walmart came along; their “just in time” inventory system facilitated lower prices and an ever-growing network of stores. They looked unstoppable… but along came Amazon. Though at first it seemed like just an online bookstore, Amazon had ambitions of expansion and a well-thought-out digital transformation plan.
As a result, the once-dominant Walmart has been significantly impacted, and has closed stores across the country. In this instance, Walmart has been relegated to the role of “superfast follower.” In an effort to compete, Walmart purchased online retail startup Jet.com and revamped their leadership team to fast-track their plans to catch up to Amazon.
Amazon’s digital transformation has changed the way the retail industry works, and they’ve left big-box retail stores struggling to stay above water. All it takes is a look around the empty shopping malls and shuttered outlet malls to see the impact of digital transformation on the retail industry as a whole.
How to stay ahead
Which role will your business play: the digital transformation early adopter, or the straggler? What should you do now to make sure you are in the right market position?
The following recommendations should help you get on the right track:
Identify and acquire the required resources
To win the digital transformation game, you need to have the right tools and team for success. Assess your ability to execute your digital plan with the resources you currently have. Typically, the technological solutions that brought you to this point won’t be the same ones that will drive your future success.
You also need to determine whether your current internal resources can continue to run the day-to-day aspects of the business while effectively driving your digital transformation. Engage a seasoned advisor who can provide an unbiased review of your current systems, identify opportunities, and drive timely execution. Digital transformation is a new concept for most people, and many companies struggle to figure it out on their own. The right advisor can help your company avoid missteps on the road to a timely and successful outcome.
The Right Plan
Some companies mistakenly think that implementing a new ERP, CRM, or financial system is the extent of digital transformation. While those tools may be a piece of the overall plan, they’re far from the full potential a digital transformation can offer. True transformation involves internal processes, customer experience, delivery of services and products— essentially the full continuum of your business. Make sure your digital transformation leaders understand the difference and are prepared to serve as change catalysts. That means challenging traditional thinking and identifying needs, gaps, and opportunities.
Act and execute like your future is counting on it… because it is. Amazon didn’t gain their advantage in the retail industry by merely crafting a great plan; they also executed the plan in a more timely and more effective manner than their competitors. Innovation and business opportunities have a window of opportunity. Take action now, start fast, and execute to win this race.
Below is a graph illustrating how the list of the world's largest companies by market cap has changed in just the past 15 years.
It's interesting to note that only 1 of the top 5 from 2001 is still in the top 5.
If you go back to 1955, the top 10 list includes General Motors, US Steel, Chrysler, Amoco, CBS, Goodyear, Firestone... and NONE of the these companies make even the top 20 list today.
We live in a rapidly changing world. So, why do once thriving companies fall from their market position?
1. The Status Quo: Company leaders get too comfortable with the status quo. I have frequently heard company leaders state "this is the way we have always done it in this company". Well, that may be, but eventually someone with a more progressive view will change it. For example, Kodak failed to transform their business to digital in a timely manner, Kodak's market dominance in camera film lulled them into ignoring the market shift. By the time they finally acted, their competitors had captured the new digital market and Kodak was no longer a top contender in the new digital camera/film market.
2. Narrow Perspective: Company leaders often rely on just their fellow company leaders and people in their same market for guidance. While it is comfortable to talk with people that think like you and have the same perspective as you, it is also a risk. You need to a broader view to consider all the factors and fresh new options. Business leaders should engage experts from outside their comfort zone to get a broader view and progressive ideas. If you don't, a competitor will.
3. Change: Once you determine your plan of action, it must be executed in a timely manner. Often companies talk about change and progressive ideas, but fail to fully execute. Do you have the right "Change Catalysts" on your team?
Whether you are a market-leading, multi-billion dollar company or a small company, these business principles apply. Currently, Digital Transformation is reshaping every industry. How is your digital transformation going? Will your business be gaining market share or loosing during these rapidly changing times?
Invest in the right Thought Leaders and Change Catalysts to help you craft your company's future.
Market-leading companies fully leverage and optimize technology to improve their operations and deliver more value to their customers. When your technology fails, you’re not only losing profits, you’re also losing customer confidence. Businesses are currently in a Digital Transformation race that rewards the first movers and most agile, and leaves the others playing catch-up to survive. Inadequate cybersecurity can expose sensitive information and put your business at risk. If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your company’s technology, most likely there are many issues that you’re not even aware of.
The following are signs that it’s time for an independent review of your Information Technology (“I.T.”) organization:
If you observe any of these signs, it's time for an Information Technology assessment.
Xtrii performs comprehensive, cost-effective technology assessments that are conducted by proven technology experts that have helped some of the world's best companies achieve extraordinary success.
The following is a written transcript of an interview of Mark Johnson, Chief Executive of Xtrii, conducted by Exec Tech.
Technology plays a key role in all businesses today. The right technology can provide a competitive advantage and be a valuable asset for your business, and conversely, the wrong technology and/or an unsuccessful technology implementation can be devastating. So, before you make that key technology decision, consider these key points in selecting the right technology guidance:
Information Technology ("IT") is rapidly changing. The type of initiatives, the timing and pace, the right expertise and required resources, the available solutions, the way you procure and host the solutions (SaaS, Cloud,...), and other variables have changed and will continue to change. Over the past 25+ years, I have worked as a global CIO, as well as a trusted technology advisor to CEOs and other C-level executives, including CIOs and CMOs. I have found that some leaders get it, and others don't. Some leaders understand the changes and fully embrace and leverage them, and others are still holding on to the ways of yesteryear.
Often I find that Chief Marketing Officers are the ones that really get it, and are doing the best job of leveraging the new information technology landscape. They start with the CUSTOMER in mind... not the tech. They set goals that are bold, creative and extraordinary. They can clearly articulate the right business value of the I.T. initiative, and get the full buy-in of the stakeholders and executive team. They quickly define the goal and set a plan that will produce timely results. They understand that innovation and the advantage of creative I.T. is a limited time window. In understanding this window of opportunity, they look across all potential resources and find the best expertise that could produce the right results in a timely manner. They don't limit themselves or the initiative to just internal resources, they find external, trusted partners that can augment them and/or can provide the targeted turnkey solution within the required time frame. They get the new business environment for IT... they get the "new IT".
In contrast, too often I see Chief Information Officers that are stuck in the old paradigm of "command and control". They insist on everything being controlled by internal IT resources, but complain that they don't have the time or necessary resources to deliver what the customer demands. They have inadvertently set themselves up to be a barrier and/or business constraint, which causes tension within the organization. CIOs and IT organizations must evolve, reexamine their approach, and be open to alternatives. Yes, having been a CIO myself, I do understand the importance of security, integration, and the other concerns that IT leaders throw out for why they can't consider alternatives. But the truth is, you can successfully execute the timely approach being applied by CMOs that I described in the previous paragraph, AND also do it in a manner that is secure and integrated. Now I do know many progressive CIOs that get IT... we just need a lot more that get the new IT.
The pace of business and information technology will continue to increase. Windows of opportunity will continue to shrink and become tighter. To be successful, leaders must adapt, continuously take a new look at their approach and options, fully leverage ALL the resources and expertise available, and understand the "new IT".
Having worked in the healthcare industry for more than 25 years and serving as the CIO and CTO for healthcare organizations, I have seen a lot of information technology challenges in the healthcare industry. There was Y2K ... upgrading the extensive list of legacy systems and ensuring information systems, biomedical systems and devices, and the wide-array of technology used in the healthcare system was not impacted by Y2K. That challenge was successfully met by most healthcare organizations with little to no impact thankfully. Then there is "Meaningful Use", which has driven a rush for organizations to implement Electronic Health Records and other systems, which again placed a major impact on internal Information Technology organizations. And of course there have been others, which have all kept healthcare CIOs and their I.T. organizations very busy for many years.
But now there is a swirling of many simultaneous I.T. initiatives that could become the perfect storm that crushes many healthcare I.T. organizations. Many healthcare organizations are still in the midst of their system implementations and other activities driven by Meaningful Use. Now along comes the required ICD-10 updates, which must be completed by October 1, 2015. The work required to successfully switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 should not be underestimated, which unfortunately some organizations inevitably will do. And as if those simultaneous, major initiatives aren't enough to keep every CIO and CEO awake at night, the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obama Care") and the new healthcare exchange is generating new I.T. initiatives and an I.T. surge in demand within most healthcare organizations. And then there's also the pinned-up demand for the I.T. projects that were put on hold in the past in order to focus on Meaningful Use and the other initiatives I mentioned.
And with all those challenges to juggle, healthcare organizations need to also focus on Cybersecurity. Healthcare is now a top target for hackers, and most healthcare organizations are not properly prepared and have inadequate cybersecurity.
So, as you can see the next year will be extremely busy for most healthcare I.T. organizations.
Like all industries there will organizations that will be well-prepared, and there will be those that are not. The difference is, in healthcare the impact can be more than just financial, it can impact patient safety and lives.
1) Augment internal I.T. resources with the "right" external resources that can contribute immediately. You don't want to just throw "bodies" at such a challenge. This situation requires resources that know healthcare and I.T. and can make a meaningful contribution with minimal supervision. The challenge CIOs and healthcare leaders will face is the race to acquire these resources. Since everyone is facing the same deadline(s) and similar challenges, the will be a scramble to acquire these scarce resources.
2) Unfortunately, some CIOs and IT organization will follow their historical approach of trying to just do it all themselves. Good luck! While heroic efforts may have worked in the past, this unique combination of initiatives hitting at the same time will bury those that don't take the right actions. This tsunami is too big!
As an technology leaders we need to encourage and assist those fellow technology leaders that are facing these challenges. It's bad for all of us, when one fails. Leverage your network to find the right resources, set the right plan(s), and take action now!
This image shows the impact that storytelling has on the human brain. It's a great example of why your presentation should include storytelling.
So next time you prepare your presentation, don't create the same old boring, bullet-point style presentation ... instead, think about how you can create a great STORY that will engage and leverage the affects that storytelling has on the brain of each of your audience members.
After an extensive review of successful business leaders, professional athletes, Olympians, and other success stories, it was amazing to note how they had instrumental people, such as a coach, mentor, advisor, or some influential person, that they learned from along the way.
“It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes,
but an even wiser man to learn from others.”
- zen proverb
The road to excellence and extraordinary results is very challenging. So, even though you may have extraordinary talent in one particular area, rarely is someone excellent is every area, nor do they become excellent overnight. It’s a journey, and the journey is much more productive with expert guidance along the way.
When Michael Jordan stepped on the basketball court, he had to know more than just how to shoot a basketball… he needed to know how to execute the game plan, how execute his role, how to handle certain situations, and how to respond to ever changing challenges from opponents. Even with his great natural ability, and years of experience, Michael still seeked guidance from coaches and advisors to continuously improve his game and ensure that the game plan, his performance and the performance of the team were on target. Fortunately, he had some of the very best coaches/advisors along the way. In college, he was coached by legendary coach Dean Smith. Dean Smith is considered one of the best college coaches of all time. Once Michael turned pro, he was fortunate to be coached by one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson has 13 NBA championship rings!.. 2 NBA championship rings as a player, and 11 championship rings as a head coach! So, as you can see Michael Jordan had excellent coaches and mentors that helped him achieve his extraordinary results.
Steve Jobs, the admired entrepreneur and technology innovator, is described by many people as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented advisors and teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: "Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say "Wow, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas." Even as brilliant as Steve Jobs was, he still surrounds himself with brilliant technology experts and leveraged all the talent to develop and execute innovative products and extraordinary results.
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers, has long been credited for his ability to find and surround himself with extraordinary talent. Even in the early days of Dell, he would assess where he needed additional insight and talent, and then took action to surround himself with the best talent that would supplement his capabilities and help address his business needs.
The Challenge: While the results and the need to learn from others is well documented, still people resist getting help from others. Why?! The reasons range from ego, pride, insecurities, or other misplaced thoughts. Successful leaders have learned to put away those fears, and realize that their success, and their organizations success will be far better off with the help of other talented people. None of us are experts at everything. Asking help from others doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you… typically the advisor’s value is they have more experience and insight in that one particular area due to their background or specialty, which can be tapped to fast-track the knowledge transfer to you and your initiative. Supplemental expertise allows you to achieve results far faster than you could by yourself.
So who are you learning from right now? No matter what your age, status, or position, everyone should be continuously learning from others. A good start is to look at your current challenges, projects, or concerns and find people that are experts in that area. Adding the right expertise is a catalyst to success. You may need the resource for a day, a week, or many months… whatever the time period, when it produces value and increases the pace of success, it's a great investment. Think about how you and/or your organization good benefit by learning from others.
This article is part 6 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
I really appreciate all the positive feedback that I received on this series. Follow the other factors for excellence that are included in this series, make sure you clearly set your goal, apply the incredible power of visualization, and learn from others. I hope you put these factors for excellence into action and achieve extraordinary results!
Excellence doesn't come easy! It requires an unwavering commitment and an unwavering pursuit of the excellence. Why? Well, the unfortunate reality is, the majority of people are comfortable with the status quo. They will see being “ordinary” as OK… and become uneasy when someone takes actions that are extraordinary. So, when you start making changes to achieve excellence, and initiate the actions to move from ordinary to extraordinary, it's not surprising that some people will become uncomfortable with the “change”, and there will be some push-back. Such a situation required real leaders with the heart, commitment, and energy to drive the relentless pursuit of excellence.
Let’s take a look at some successful leaders and their journey in pursuit of excellence.
So, even for some of the most successful leaders, excellence didn't come easy, but the characteristic they share is their unwavering commitment and pursuit of excellence.
The critics and naysayers: For more than 25 years, I have been hired by companies to transform under-performing teams and help them achieve their stated goal of excellence. While such initiatives typically start off well, once we enter the stage that requires changes and/or challenges, you often start to encounter the “critics” and “naysayers” of the organization. Suddenly their comments change to “maybe the goal was too lofty”, or “this company is different, maybe it won’t work for this company”, and various other excuses..... This point is a moment of truth… if you want to achieve excellence, you must overcome these excuses and push forward. Leaders must step up and lead, and they must demonstrate their unwavering commitment to pursuing and achieving excellence. So before you start such an initiative, make sure you have that unwavering commitment up front, and take the necessary steps to sustain that commitment along the way.
Excellence doesn’t come easy, which is why so many fail to achieve it. But when you do achieve excellence, the results are extraordinary. The unwavering commitment and pursuit of excellence is the foundation of great people, great teams, great companies, great nations, and great accomplishments. Don’t settle for anything less!
This article is part 5 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here. I really appreciate all the positive feedback that I received on this series, and look forward to sharing the final part of this series with you next week.
A great idea, innovation, excellence, and many things in life have a “window of opportunity”.
Timely action and executing the right plan in the window of opportunity are key to success.
To achieve extraordinary results, you will need the right plan, the proper preparation/planning, discipline, meticulous execution and the other factors described in this series. But too often, the one element that people/teams get hung-up on is “execution”… you must take timely ACTION. Too often people get “paralysis by analysis”, and fail to execute in a timely manner. In today’s fast-paced world, you must execute in a very timely manner, or you will miss your window of opportunity. Innovation and things that can provide you a competitive advantage typically have a tight window of opportunity, and once others are doing the same thing, you start losing the advantage.
A window of opportunity applies to everyone, including market-leaders. Apple’s first iPhone was innovative, which provided them a competitive advantage at that time. The next innovative version of the iPhone was released a year later, and also was perceived to be innovative. But over time, competitors caught up and produced competitive products that caught the attention of many smartphone buyers. Those competitors also started releasing their new phones on a more frequent basis in order to be the first to market with the new, innovative features. As a result Apple’s “window of opportunity” is now being squeezed, and they will be challenged to shorten their action plans and execute in a more timely manner.
Information technology organizations are also being squeezed to deliver more timely results. Years ago, it was common for information technology projects, such as software development or a global ERP implementation, to take 12 to 18 months... but not any more. With the availability of quickly deployed, cloud-services, low-cost, easy to acquire apps, and more solutions that can solve a business need in timely manner, technology users demand a timely solution and timely action. Leaders must adapt and adjust to be successful.
Seizing the moment: Michael Jordan was a great basketball player, but if he never took a shot, he wouldn't have achieved excellence. And if his shots weren't on target, or poorly timed, or not aligned with the game plan, he would have failed. He understood the importance of “seizing the moment”, and executing the right actions at the right time.
Executing as a team: Even with Michael Jordan's extraordinary talent, he understood the importance of the overall team and each member playing their role. And they knew that the team had to execute better than the competition, in order to win. Steve Jobs was a brilliant, innovative man, but his achievements at Apple were accomplished with a great team around him. He knew the importance of assembling the right talent, leveraging that talent, taking action and meticulously executing as a team.
Often, when I’ve been engaged as a trusted Advisor to diagnose and transform under-performing teams or failing projects, at the core of the issues is a lack of proper, timely execution. Their decisions are getting bogged down in numerous, ongoing committee meetings, and/or there is a lack of decisive, effective leadership. While a solid plan is definitely necessary, you have to find balance, and the leader must know when to move from the phase of planning, analysis, feedback gathering, consensus building, etc., and move things forward with a decisive actions and timely execution.
If your idea, project or organization is bogged down, consider bringing in a proven performance catalyst that can quickly help you evaluate the situation and find the solution to move things forward. Even with the most talented and capable leaders, when you are there in the situation day after day, it is easy to get consumed, and a fresh perspective and the voice of an unbiased, external, trusted Advisor can be just the catalyst needed to move forward and achieve timely, excellent results.
This article is part 4 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
The Secret Sauce, #3, Visualize and Believe.
To achieve excellence, “visualize” and believe that you can be the best. While each of the 6 factors for excellence play a pivotal role, this factor is the one that is most often overlooked, and is also one of the most powerful influences. Over many years of extensive, in-depth research, I have often seen people and/or organizations that actually did many of the other factors listed, but failed to perform this vital factor, which greatly impacted the results.
Visualization techniques are incredibly powerful and influential! It’s not good enough to just say you are going to achieve an extraordinary goal, you need to SEE yourself performing and achieving the goal. If you are saying all the right things to achieve your goal, but in your mind you are seeing fears, potential pitfalls, and lots of uncertainty, in the end the results follow what the mind sees. Therefore, proper visualization of success is vital.
Over many years of reviewing numerous interviews and conversations with some of the world’s greatest athletes, business leaders, and prominent influencers, there was one amazing, common thread that they all shared… they all had an incredible ability to visualize greatness.
Visualizing success and firmly believing that you will be successful has worked for these renowned influencers, and thousands of others. If done properly, it will produce extraordinary results for you too!
If you are the leader of a team or organization, make sure you do the same for everyone on your team. Help them visualize success and firmly believe that the team will achieve the goal. How often have you seen leaders, just state the goal for the team, but nobody on the team buys in or believes that they will really accomplish it?... we all know how this type of scenario turns out, the team fails to meet the goal… the results reflected their state of mind and what they visualized.
Once you master visualization techniques, you will be amazed at the change in results. It is so important that you master this factor and effective visualization techniques. There are firms that conduct seminars and training sessions to help you fast-track the development and mastering of this skill, and the payback is big and ongoing. Among all the training I have delivered over the years, this topic has produced some of the most enthusiastic feedback. They contact me with their enthusiast praise on the incredible impact of this factor, and the positive change it has produced. Put it to work for you!
Follow the other factors for excellence that are included in this series, make sure you clearly set your goals, and apply the incredible power of visualization to achieve extraordinary results!
This article is part 3 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
#2, Passionate, Focused Leadership. In the previous article titled, "Transforming Ordinary Into Extraordinary", I listed the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. This article is part 2 of a 6 part series that will be published over the upcoming weeks, which will provide a more in depth discussion of each of the factors.
Passion for excellence drives extraordinary results. Have you ever looked at an extraordinary achievement, and thought “Wow! How did they do that?”, and hopefully, “How can I do something extraordinary?”.
When you watch Michael Jordan leap through the air to score the go ahead points in a basketball game, you can see his passion! When Tom Brady, renowned quarterback for the New England Patriots, needs to lead his team to victory at the peak of a football game, you can see his passion for excellence all over him… his intense body-language, leadership of the team, and in the way he instills that passion in all of his teammates. They are determined to score, determined to win, determined to be the best!
When you watched Steve Jobs deliver a speech or talk about a new innovative Apple product, you can FEEL his passion. His meticulous attention to detail, emphatic demands for excellence, and push to be “extraordinary” is well-known. He has passion for what he is doing and what his company is doing. His passion and quest for excellence makes him extraordinary, and his accomplishments extraordinary.
When you watch, Joel Osteen, the pastor of the largest church in the United States, you can feel his passion. So, why does Joel Osteen fill stadiums with followers every week, and have the largest congregation in the U.S.? He is not your “ordinary” preacher that talks about the same ordinary things, in the same ordinary way that other preachers have done for many years. His message is positive and inspiring, his approach is innovative and modern, and his audience can feel his passion for doing great things, and they are being inspired by his passion for excellence.
" Without passion, you don't have energy; without energy, you have nothing. Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion"... quote from prominent, billionaire businessman, Donald Trump.
Focused Leadership: While having passion is very instrumental, that passion needs to be focused. If the passion is wondering or unfocused, it can be disruptive and unproductive. Therefore the passion needs to be focused and directed towards the goal/target. You must know how to properly channel that passion in a way that supports and energizes the drive to the goal/target.
Find your passion for excellence! While you may not be the next basketball or football superstar, or you may not invent the next amazing technology, each of us have talents and something that makes you feel passionate… you just need to find what that quest is for you. If you don’t have it in what you are doing currently, keep looking. Pursue how you could ignite the passion for excellence in what you are doing,, and if it is not possible in your current endeavor, then it’s probably time for a change. My company, Xtrii, conducts seminars, presentations, and one-on-one sessions to help people, teams, and companies find and ignite their passion for excellence. If you or your organization is searching for the catalyst to help you achieve your best, invest in proven expertise to help you find your passion for excellence.
Passion for excellence is contagious, but the lack of it is also. When a Leader sets a lofty goal for the team, the team is impacted by more than just the words that are spoken, they also watch the body-language, the tone and conviction in the leader’s voice, and their level of passion for excellence. Great leaders inspire the team, and their passion for excellence is contagious. Make sure your passion and actions, match your words and goals.
Pursuit of Extraordinary: At Xtrii, we founded the company with a single mission in mind, helping our customers achieve extraordinary results… or as we call it, "Xtrordinary results". Please join us in this pursuit. Let’s challenge “ordinary”, instill passion for excellence, and start transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.
In the previous article titled, "Transforming Ordinary Into Extraordinary", I listed the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. This article is part 1 of a 6 part series that will be published over the upcoming weeks, which will provide a more in depth discussion of each of the factors.
#1: Target to be the best - to some this factor may seem obvious and simple, but you would be amazed how often people, including people that are designated to be a "Leader", starts off an initiative with the wrong target. They inquire as to "what has been done in the past", or "what is everyone else doing", or other language that is setting the tone to be "ordinary".
If you want to be the best, you have to target to be the BEST. You must clearly and definitively set your target, and the target for all participants, to be the best.
When you set this target to be the best, expect some push-back. Some people are uncomfortable with "extraordinary", or things that are outside their ordinary, comfort zone. You will either have to help them get on-board and fully embrace this target, or remove them. As we will discuss in more detail in another upcoming article in this series, there must be a unwavering commitment by all.
In today's ultra-competitive market you better be "extraordinary", "remarkable", and "excellent", or you will get lost and soon overtaken by a competitor that has set the right target. Today's market is also fast-moving, so if you are targeting what competitors have done in the past, you are playing a loosing game of catch-up. Don't target where the market has been, or where it is today, shoot for where it is going, and where you need to be to stay ahead of your competition, and be the one that customers see as the "Innovator", "Market-Leader", and "Standard of Excellence".
Pursuit of Extraordinary: At Xtrii, we founded the company with a single mission in mind, helping our customers achieve extraordinary results… or as we call it, "Xtrordinary results". Please join us in this pursuit. Let’s challenge the status quo, set the target to be the best, insist on excellence, and start transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.
What’s the difference in “ordinary” vs. “extraordinary”? Whether you are talking about people, companies, products or services, there are common factors that drive and determine the difference. Most of them will only achieve ordinary. Why? Well, most of them think ordinary, they get guidance that is very ordinary, they set the same target as everyone else, they take the same cookbook actions that everyone else is taking, and they perceive that they are playing it safe by doing so. But actually, being ordinary is not safe, and is definitely not the best bet.
Only a very few will ever achieve truly extraordinary results. Extraordinary requires that you think and act different than the ordinary. Factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results include:
1. Target to be the best.
2. Passion for excellence.
3. Visualize and believe.
4. Action and execution.
5. Unwavering commitment and pursuit.
6. Learn from others.
History provides examples: While achieving extraordinary is challenging, sustaining it is even harder. History is full of great examples of companies that were once the prominent, market-leader, such as Kodak, Xerox, and Nokia, that became complacent, and over time they became “ordinary”, which ultimately led to their fall from grace. Even renowned companies that were dominant and once looked unstoppable, like Microsoft, Dell and Apple, are now facing criticism and challenges about their recent lack of innovation or lack of new products that are extraordinary. Don't let your organization be the next example.
Call to action: We need bold leaders that will step up, challenge the ordinary, and become the catalysts that drive us to achieve "extraordinary". Be leery of companies that propose the same old products and cookie-cutter, “ordinary” approaches. Assess whether they have all the factors for extraordinary results that are listed above.
Pursuit of Extraordinary: At Xtrii, we founded the company with a single mission in mind, helping our customers achieve extraordinary results… or as we call it, "Xtrordinary results". Please join us in this pursuit. Let’s challenge the status quo, instill passion for excellence, and start transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.
Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive at Xtrii. He is a proven, 10x CIO, renowned, global technology advisor and business leader.