When I was on vacation last week, I had the opportunity to read a very interesting book. Six Disciplines for Excellence, by Gary Harpst is a great example of how to use common sense to build a business. The book is written with small businesses in mind. In fact, it's subtitle is Building Small Businesses That Learn, Lead and Last.
The six disciplines are:
- Decide What's Important
- Set Goals That Lead
- Align Systems
- Work the Plan
- Innovate Purposefully
- Step Back
If you think that these six disciplines are similar to my 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations -- 1) Clarity of purpose and direction, 2) the sincere commitment of everyone in the organization, 3) skillful execution of the things that matter, 4) mutually beneficial relationships with key outside constituencies -- you're right.
Both models attempt to integrate a variety of best business practices into simple to understand and use tools.
Six Disciplines begins by describing what the author calls the "six fundamental barriers to lasting excellence:
- Poorly understood strategy
- Weak strategy execution
- Unchecked organizational entropy
- Lack of a systematic approach
- Impractical implementation methods
- People are not engaged.
He then goes on to show how the six disciplines, when applied rigorously, break down these barriers.
I don't want to give away all of the secrets in the book, but to whet your appetite here's a look at how to put the six disciplines into play in your organization. You'll have to read the book to get the complete picture.
Discipline 1: Decide What's Important
- Renew your mission
- Renew your values
- Renew your strategic position
- Renew your vision
- Define VFOs (Vital Few Objectives)
- Agree what to stop
Discipline 2: Set Goals That Lead
- Define measures
- Define targets
- Define initiatives
- Engage the team
Discipline 3: Align Systems
- Identify misalignments
- Align processes
- Align policies
- Align measures
- Align technologies
- Align people
Discipline 4: Work the Plan
- Define IPs (Individual Plans) quarterly
- Review IPs weekly
- Rate IPs quarterly
- Prioritize daily
- Monitor measures
Discipline 5: Innovate Purposefully
- 100 point exercise
- Quick ROI analysis
- 5-Step problem solving
- Champion your ideas
- Recognize contributions
Discipline 6: Step Back
- Review externals
- Review internals
- Recap SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
- Review individuals
That's all?, you say. There must be more to it than this. These ideas have all been around for a while.
True. However, the power of this book is in how it integrates these time tested, common sense ideas into a useful whole. And, as the author points out, "the problem for most of us isn't knowing what to do; it's doing it".
Six Disciplines for Excellence is available from the Six Disciplines Leadership Center www.SixDisciplines.com.
That's it for today. Thanks for reading.
For more common sense ideas on building a business, log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com.
I'll see you around the web, and at Alex's Lemonade Stand.
PS I'm always interested in new books that espouse a common sense approach to business. Please pass along any sugestions you have.