Accelerating Business Growth

Sunday, July 30, 2006

How good are you at creating focus?

In today’s fast paced world it’s so easy to loose focus – not just on a monthly or weekly basis – on a daily basis.

Our ability to truly focus on the things that really make the difference in our lives can be the difference between hitting our goals and being massively off track.
What if we had a simple tool which we could use to capture all the important things we needed to do. A tool which would take only minutes to review on a daily basis – however would keep us absolutely focused and on track with where we want to be. A tool which looks at the behaviours we need to demonstrate daily. Not just what we need to stop and start doing – but also look at what we might want to minimise, do more of or perhaps most importantly maintain or keep doing. After all the goal in life is to catch ourselves and others doing it right… not catch ourselves doing it wrong!

Well that tool is called the Focused Five.

The Focused Five…

It’s been said that the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask ourselves.

The Focused Five is based on 5 quality questions.

They are:

What will I stop doing? (Stop)
What will I do less of? (Minimise)
What will I keep doing? (Maintain)
What will I do more of? (More)
What will I start doing? (Start)

Let me give you a framework for these questions. You and I are certainly busy people. People whose lives have many facets. Work, home, family, friends, colleagues, partner and perhaps children as well! So many calls on our time. And over the years, no doubt, some activities have crept in, almost unnoticed, that use up that precious time.

I’m sure the same is true for your team members.

Perhaps - now is the time to step back and take a fresh look at what you and your team do and how you spend your lives.

These five questions can definitely help.

This is how I use the Focused Five firstly for myself and also secondly how I run an exercise with my team using the tool to focus specifically on the business.

The Template…

The Focused Five template is just one page – turned landscape. Imagine 5 columns with a maximum of 6 boxes in each column. The first column is headed STOP then moving left to right MINIMISE, MAINTAIN, MORE and START.
You can either create this for yourself or alternatively if you want a copy of my template just drop me an email and I’ll send it to you.

This is how to run the exercise with your team:

Accelerator Exercise 1…

With your team ask the questions and immediately ask them to write down whatever their minds tell them are the answers. Then of course – having considered the consequences and their beliefs and values about the answers – help them to agree on the actions they need to take.

Accelerator Exercise 2…

One month later organise with your team to share the contents of their Focused Five template with each other and to answer the following question – What, if anything would they add to each other’s Focused Five?

Also keep your personal Focused Five up to date – ask your team to provide feedback on the actions they feel you could add.

This exercise will bring out numerous strategies to improve everyone’s overall performance – sometimes the way colleagues see each other is a powerful motivational tool. We use this at Pti within the Director team and have found it to be an invaluable personal development method.

Accelerator Exercise 3…

Use the Focused Five to capture all the key actions from your team meetings. This will then create your team action plan.

Accelerator Exercise 4…

The Focused Five is also a great coaching tool to use on field visits - identifying key actions that the team member needs to take in each of the five key headings.


Use the Focused Five template weekly or whenever you feel you or your team are losing their way, getting tied down with detail and avoiding the tasks that will really drive the business forward. A simple and very effective team and self-management tool that takes only minutes to complete – creating laser beam focus.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

“How the 80/20 principle applies to your team!”

One of the questions I’m often asked when speaking at Leadership events, seminars or during consultancy days is:

What’s my take on the amount of time that should be spent with top performers in my team versus the underperformers? Or…

What’s my view on differential performance and how do you manage it?

Both are great questions - questions that we could spend hours debating.

However, I’ll give you my thoughts on this from my own experiences and also the practical experiences from the hundreds, if not thousands of managers and leaders with whom I’ve interacted over the years.

Before I do, here’s a brief overview of where the 80/20 rule came from. If you don’t want the history then you can skip on a few paragraphs to the heading:

How the 80/20 Rule Can Help You…

The History…

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, Dr. Joseph M. Juran inaccurately attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto's Principle.

Where It Came From…

After Pareto made his observation and created his formula, many others observed similar phenomena in their own areas of expertise. Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph Juran, working in the US in the 1930s and 40s recognized a universal principle he called the "vital few and trivial many" and reduced it to writing. In an early work, a lack of precision on Juran's part made it appear that he was applying Pareto's observations about economics to a broader body of work. The name Pareto's Principle stuck, probably because it sounded better than Juran's Principle.

As a result, Dr. Juran's observation of the "vital few and trivial many", the principle that 20 percent of something always are responsible for 80 percent of the results, became known as Pareto's Principle or the 80/20 Rule.

What It Means…

The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. In Pareto's case it meant 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth. In Juran's initial work he identified 20 percent of the defects causing 80 percent of the problems. Project Managers know that 20 percent of the work (the first 10 percent and the last 10 percent) consume 80 percent of your time and resources. You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world.

You know 20 percent of you stock takes up 80 percent of your warehouse space and that 80 percent of your stock comes from 20 percent of your suppliers. Also 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your sales staff. 20 percent of your staff will cause 80 percent of your problems, but another 20 percent of your staff will provide 80 percent of your production. It works both ways.

How the 80/20 Rule Can Help You…

So back to the focused questions:

What’s my take on the amount of time that should be spent with top performers in my team versus the underperformers? Or…

What’s my view on differential performance and how do you manage it?

Actually my immediate response to both questions from a Leadership and Management prospective is that the 80/20 principle needs to be broken down further. Managers need to assess their people and separate them into 3 categories in terms of performance.

Let’s imagine you have a team of 10 sales people. This is how I dissect the team based on the 80/20 principle:

It’s more like:
  • 20% are your top performers
  • 70% are the hearts and souls of your team and…
  • 10% are the disruptors
The toughest part for Managers is then acting on the distinctions and adjusting their style accordingly.

I was with a team of Managers just last week we were talking about this very subject. Once I’d run through the above breakdown I posed the following question:

As a Manager where do you spend most of your time?

The responses were mixed – however the majority were unanimous in concluding most of their time and effort was focused on the 10% disruptors or underperformers.

After a heated debate about how HR and the business procedures made it necessary to invest vast quantities of time in this area we stepped back and analysed the 80/20 principle further.

Because actually the 70% can be broken down as follows:
  • 20% are the future top performers
  • 40% are the hearts and souls and…
  • 10% are the potential disruptors
This is how I summarized it for the team.

The top 20%...

The top 20% are probably the team members who year on year deliver consistently. They need little management – you set the goals point them in the right direction and they’re off. They have a great attitude, are self motivated and know precisely what they need to do in order to exceed their targets and goals.
If you need quick wins or to squeeze more results from the team these are the people who’ll rise to the challenge.

Contact with your top 20% is key – not focusing on the specifics of what they are doing – just to communicate with them – keep them updated and informed and most importantly giving them the praise and recognition they desire.
There is no mistaking the stars at a company that differentiates. They are the best and are therefore treated that way.

Next the 70%...

The hearts and souls of your team and enormously valuable to your business. 20% of these have the potential to be your future Superstars. What are you doing to firstly identify them and secondly nurture and develop this talent pool?
40% are the hearts and souls – they will deliver the results. They need managing more closely, training, regular contact, focus and tactful goal setting – but they’ll either hit or get close to their targets.

A word of caution. You need to keep your eye on this group to prevent them from becoming sliders. During the course of the year you might see differential performance in this group as they’re motivation levels fluctuate or external distractions dilute their focus and drive.

Spotting this is the key as a Manager and coach and knowing when you need to invest quality time to make sure you can re focus them and get them back on track.

10% are the potential future disruptors –. The people who do just enough. You question their attitude, commitment and values. Do they really want to be here?

Do they really want to be part of a team?

Managing the 70% is about identifying people with potential to move up, and cultivating them. Everyone in the middle 70% needs to be motivated and made to feel that they truly belong.

The 70% is where the majority of your time and effort should be spent and where you’ll see the greatest returns.

And finally the 10%...

The disruptors – There’s no sugar coating this – most of the time the people who fall into this category are just not right for your business. If you have a business with clear performance expectations and a systematic review process – then the people in the bottom 10% know who they are.

When you tell them, they usually leave before they’re asked. One of the best things about a business where you manage through differentiation is that people in this bottom 10% usually go on to successful careers at other companies. You’re actually doing them a favour!


So, there you have it – the 80/20 principle related to team dynamics and managing through differentiation - a simple model and effective way of thinking about your people.

Do you currently have the right people on your team? Who are the stars? What’s the make up of the 70% - who are the hearts and souls and who are the future stars who need nurturing? And finally who are the current and future disruptors? Be bold and deal with them now. Don’t let it fester. You’ll feel better and will actually be doing them a favour.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"People respond to a genuine/perceived scarcity which exists in the market place"

You know – one of the things which has always fascinated me is the Principle of Scarcity…

“People respond to a genuine/perceived scarcity which exists in the market place!”

Let me give you a couple of examples:

Tonight on the news the presenter announces there’s going to be a sugar shortage. What do most people do? Yes - go immediately to their local store, corner shop or supermarket and stock up on their supplies of sugar!
What’s happened to petrol prices over the last couple of years? They've gone through the roof haven't they – Mostly created by the perceived shortage of oil resulting from wars and natural disasters – for example the hurricanes.
Are you a member of a wine club?...

…Picture the following scenario:

A mailer lands on your door step – printed on the envelope are the following:

Strictly Limited Stocks…
…By Invitation Only

Limited Release Offer

Your Personal Invitation – Open Today!

A Dozen French Favourites…Special Price

PLUS Order Early And Receive A State Of The Art Corkscrew! (worth £19.99)

Look familiar?

The mailer inside reads as follows (précised of course)…

“We’ve scoured the world and managed to find this tiny little vineyard in the southern corner of France. Immediately on hearing about it we sent our leading specialist there to sample the wine.

We have some fantastic news for you.

We’ve managed to secure the only 200 cases of wine to come out of the vineyard this year – and guess what they’re available for you exclusively as a member of the Sunday Times Wine Club.

But wait – we haven’t opened this offer yet to all our members what we’ve done is identify our platinum grade members and I’m pleased to inform you that you qualify for this category.

However, in order to secure your case/s of wine please make sure you respond within the next 7 days as we only have 200 cases and orders will be processed on a first come first served basis.”

What's that all about? – MASSIVE SCARCITY!

Scarcity is all around us in the market place and companies are using it all the time to persuade their customers… with integrity of course to buy more from them – more easily and… more often!

Now, you can create scarcity around 3 things:

Products and services

So let’s look at these 3 areas relating to the example of the wine club – both the copy on the envelope and also the précised copy from the mailer inside.

You’ll see I’ve highlighted in bold all the key words which impact this principle of scarcity.


Your Personal Invitation – Open Today!
PLUS Order Early And Receive
To come out of the vineyard this year
Respond within the next 7 days


Immediately on hearing about it we sent our leading specialist there to sample the wine.

In most businesses I always think of Resources as being human capital – one of the most important assets within any business.

I’m sure you’d agree finding and retaining the best people in the market place can be a challenge. Once we find them we need to use this to our advantage. Positioning our resource as being scarce is a key way of differentiating ourselves in the eyes of customers and clients.

Products & Services…

Strictly Limited Stocks… Only have 200 cases PLUS Order Early And Receive A State Of The Art Corkscrew!How many of those corkscrews have you got in your draw at home? I think I must have a dozen by now!!!


I’m sure you’re already thinking of ways you can use this powerful technique to gain the edge in your business and market place.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

“Discovering the inside track on how motivation really works!”

There’s been a great deal written regarding the subject of motivation – so today I wanted to give you the inside track on how it really works.

You and I both know you can’t motivate anyone – sometimes we have enough trouble motivating ourselves.

We’ve all been there on that cold winters morning, sticking that toe out of bed only to find the heating has broken or… the alarm clock has gone off and you proceed to hit the snooze button for the next half hour – why – because…

“Motivation is a personal choice – people do things for their own reasons not your reasons!”

You can’t motivate someone to do something they don’t want to do.

All we can do as effective communicators is understand what are the motivational triggers we can press in order for somebody to become…self-motivated. After all it’s all about the WIFM factor – what’s in it for me?

In order to ‘demonstrate’ my thoughts and how it works I’ve created a model called the WHY Triangle. You can imagine a picture of a triangle in your mind - The WHY being at the base – the WHAT on the left side and the HOW on the right.

Feedback from clients and my personal experiences tell me we tend to spend most of our time in the WHAT and the HOW. Here’s a couple of examples of this idea in action in the commercial world.

Example 1…

You’re working with your sales team and running a series of one on one sessions at the start of the year – perhaps to go through the sales targets - (in the why triangle model) the what…and most of the time that’s where the discussion stops – in some instances we might move on and explore some ideas on how they can do it – however most of the time it stops at the what.

A key thought for you…

How much time do you spend in the why? – The why being the foundation the platform the base of the entire process.

Now who’s great at asking why questions – children of course. Go and tidy your room – Why? Go and put your jacket on as we are going to the supermarket – why? Children are so intuitive – always asking the why questions – why this why that.

I believe one of the challenges when we get into adult life – is life conditions us to stop asking the why questions of ourselves why we do what we do and of others. We loose that child like instinct. Perhaps now is the time to get that back by asking more why questions.

Back to the example…

What if at the start of the process when coaching with the sales person we started with what are your personal goals for the year?

What is it you want to achieve?

Why do you want to achieve it?

How can I help you achieve those goals?

What financially do you want to earn?

Why do you want to earn it?

Now we start to understand the why from the individuals prospective. I think one of the keys for creating a motivational atmosphere or environment for our people is to understand clearly their personal goals and how work can be one of the vehicles in order to help them deliver those goals.

The moment we help create the bridge in their mind - the link between their personal goals and business goals - then self-motivation kicks in.

One of my client was so excited by this idea he went and sat down on a one to one base with all his people to understand what they wanted to achieve and why and how through working with him he could help them do just that.

One of the team wanted to earn a £10,000 bonus in order to go take his wife and two children to Disney world. Here’s the important part, it’s not the money that is the critical factor – it’s what that money allows them to do in their lives.

Once the manager knew the why he then could talk about the what and most importantly the how - what high performing weeks need to look like in order to get to Disney world.

He then bought a mini Mickey Mouse and positioned it on the corner of the guy’s desk. When he was doing well and on his game he would go over and point to the Mickey Mouse and say well done – you’re another week closer to Mickey and Disney world. When he was not performing he would go over and point to Mickey and say our activity needs to improve if your going to get to Disney world and then proceed to run a coaching session with him on what needed to happen (the what and the how).

The Mickey Mouse became the anchor – the hook – the motivational trigger

Example 2…

You’ve been out with your PARTNER over the weekend and happened to call in at a new housing development and you’ve fallen in love with your dream house.

On Monday morning you call your bank manager excited and bubbling with enthusiasm – and proceed to tell him the story and ask him for a mortgage (the what).

The normal scenario…

The manager then launches into his usual scripted patter about fixed rate and variable rate mortgages and interest only or repayment (the How).

However when he starts with the WHY the conversation takes on a whole new meaning at a far deeper level in the communication process

“Tell me what the mortgage is for?”

“Well I was out with my PARTNER at the weekend and we called into a new housing development and we’ve found our dream house”.

“Tell me what’s great about the house?”

“Well our children are getting bigger and need somewhere to play and our current house is on a main road and we’re worried about them playing on the street”. Motivational trigger 1

“Anything else?”

“I’ve always wanted a conservatory and this new house has one on the back”.

“Fantastic I bet you can’t wait to sit in your conservatory reading your paper whilst your kids are laughing and playing in the garden”. Motivational trigger 2

"Anything else?"

"well I’m working from home much more and this new house has its own study". Motivational trigger number 3

You can see how you can build the picture for the customer – engaging with them at a deeper level than ever before in the communication process – really understanding the why from their prospective – knowing you have the triggers to press every time you need into ignite their self motivation.

Now a couple of key points…

1. It’s not the money which is the important part it’s what that money will allow the customer to do – recognising we’re all in the business of benefits. (this is a subject we’ll be talking about in more detail on a future business accelerator ezine)

2. The key is engaging with the clients at an emotional level in the communication process – not just a logical level.

Emotion V Logic…

Back to the picture of the triangle in your mind. Imagine adding a horizontal line two thirds of the way up your triangle with the word logic above the line and… the word emotion below the line.

In all buying decisions emotion is far more important than logic.

In fact it is my firm view that all decisions are made emotionally... not logically.
And if someone believes that they are making a logical decision it is only that they have far more emotion about that logic.

Therefore it is essential, when we are selling, that we appeal to the emotions of the buyer.

I like to think of it as a pendulum swinging from side to side.

Logic one side and emotion on the other.

And when explaining a particular point to use both facts and figures - the logic, and then tell a story or paint a picture using emotion.

Sometimes you can use the process in reverse... tell a story and then explain the logic or facts and figures.

“It’s the emotion that creates the motion - moving the client to action!”

So what are the Actions you can take away from this session?

Perhaps it’s to ask yourself the question;

Do you really know the WHY for your customers and prospects and are you appealing to both the logical and emotional sides of their brain in all of your communications?

For all future interactions with customers whether on the telephone or face to face - as part of your planning make sure you ask yourself these focused questions…

1. What is the WHY for my customer?
2. What are we talking about doing?
3. How is it going to work?
4. How do I appeal to the logical left-brain in my communication?
5. How do I appeal to the right brain emotion knowing this is the REAL catalyst for action?

And personally – find out the ‘why’ for the key people in your life – knowing someone’s WHY and helping them get there creates relationships that last a lifetime.


website hosting count: