Friday, April 4, 2008

Peer Coaching - Improved

I recently read about an interesting company – The Alternative Board. They provide facilitated peer coaching for business owners and Presidents.

I think this is a great idea. I’ve have good experiences with peer coaching. A group of bright, experienced business people with diverse backgrounds can figure out anything. The only downside for me is that sometimes these groups can go off the tracks. The conversation gets high jacked by one person, or the topic of the day does not really get covered, or all the great contributions don’t get shared.

It seems to me that adding an experienced facilitator would not only maximize the contributions, it would also maximize the benefits to all the participants.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Full Process Review or Quick Fix?

Lately we seem to have so many consultants interviewing for so many opportunities it's hard to keep track of all the details. We do have some tools in place but they're not enough. When the "pain" gets to be too much we've been creating quick fixes to relive the particular difficulty we're having at the moment.

In a casual hallway conversation, we were just about to do this again, when it dawned on me that we had not really looked at our end-to-end process and inter-relationships between Sales and Consultant Services in a while. Certainly not since our business volume has picked up. My Software Development background kicked in and I suggested we take a step back and do just that.

I know that when we're moving so fast, it can be tempting to just address the immediate issue, but sometime a more holistic approach is the way to go. The trick is in knowing the difference. I think, just like in Software Development too many quick fixed can create a mess really quickly. In this case, we had been doing the quick fix thing for a while and it just seemed like time to look at the big picture.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Value of Business Planning

Today begins our fiscal year. We're just finishing up our third business plan as a team. Not only does it get easier each year, the business plans just keep getting better and better - more realistic, more detailed, and more actionable.

When I was running development projects, I never proceeded without a plan (ok, well almost never). The value was apparent, we needed to know what to do, what we could do by when, and how we were going to do it.

Our business plans have been much more challenging. Certainly, the scope is much broader than even the largest development projects. The subject area is much more diverse, and the external factors (i.e. will anyone buy what we're selling) play a much more critical role.

But the value is indisputable. We execute better and better each quarter. Having those specific objectives and initiatives really focuses us, and the three of us have been great at keeping each other on track. It's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day and forget that we want to move our business forward. The business plan (1 year and 5 year) is the best way we've found to keep moving towards our long range goals. I'd advise any leadership team of any size to develop some sort of plan to help them balance the short term and the long term.