Friday, June 26, 2009

Times - They Are A'Changin

I received an email today from an associate of mine - it went something like this:

"I'm in need of your expertise. I'm finding that my industry and its culture is changing - getting more business like. Where in the past, to move up in management, you needed to know your trade very well. Now they are bringing in managers with other outside experience to help manage operations. I always feel like I'm behind the 8 ball. I need to clear my head, and hopefully my future?

This was my response...

Whether its fitness, healthcare, auto manufacturing, or finance the tectonic plates of business and society have shifted with the economic earthquake of 2008. The aftershocks continue and the landscape is forever changed. In my opinion things have changed permanently and will continue to change at historically unprecedented power and speed.

I suspect two skill sets are necessary for success going forward.

The first are clearly considered and well anchored principles, values, and fundamentals (in life and business) that will not only endure over time, but actually appreciate in value. A skill set that transcends a particular industry and has currency in multiple sectors.

The second is an entrepreneurial perspective and skill set that looks at each day with fresh eyes – the ability to see what new opportunities are ripening and which ones are ready to pick – even what fruit is likely to be in season next and perhaps what genetic changes are likely to evolve.

The shelf-life of new business opportunities are becoming more like wild flowers than sequoias.

As a result career stability and longevity is likely to continue to erode. Change is a permanent feature that needs to be not only accommodated but even embraced.

If I was to go hunting, fishing or prospecting I would increase my odds for success by frequenting geographical areas where edges meet and intersect – those are places where a greater range of options exist and where opportunity is created and found. They also tend to be aggregation points and traffic corridors where one is more likely to "stumble" on what one is searching/hoping for.

The same applies to business and careers. The greatest opportunities are found at the interfaces of business sectors, domains, technologies, professions, disciplines and expertise. Think about likely and unlikely juxtapositions.

This means developing multiple skill sets and competencies. It means always having three balls in the air – an opportunity that is winding down (late-harvest – pick what’s left but minimize time and expense), an opportunity that has peaked (early-harvest – get to work and invest time and resources to fill the silo), and an opportunity that is in early development that has promise to produce in the future (planting time – explore and experiment quickly and inexpensively).

The fuel for such a career is curiosity, imagination, learning, experimenting, networking, prudent risk-taking, and patience. An element of control also comes into consideration - the ability to make decisions that align with aspirations and the commitment of resources over time.

I’ve had quite a few professionals approaching me over the past year with similar questions, concerns, and requests for support. As a result, I have begun to provide mentoring support (coaching if you will) for select clients using a modest retainer arrangement. The focus is on identifying options, developing strategy, implementing plans, exploiting opportunities, and optimizing performance in business and life.

If any of this is of interest, I would be happy to talk with you.

In the meantime keep your paddle in the water and maintain your forward momentum and go with the flow. As with kayaking, one cannot steer without doing so.


(c) Copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Wednesday, June 17, 2009


"A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves." - Source unknown

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Performance Matters - Idea #27

OK, so its time to hire someone new or perhaps promote someone not-so-new. What's your strategy going to be to determine whether the candidate sitting in front of you is likely to perform well and contribute to success?

How does one get past the superficial? How does one get past the rehearsed responses? How does one get inside the candidates head to find out how they think, how they problem solve, and how they ultimately get things done? Are they a team player? Will they fit into your culture? Why not find those things out before you start paying them?

Perhaps the best strategy is the use of situational scenarios. Using this technique, the interviewer sets up a series of scenarios that are typical of the the kind of challenges that come with the position being filled. Scenarios can run the gamut from developing a budget, to handling an explosive customer complaint, to resolving an employee demand, toinnovating, to implementing a new program, to deciding amongst strategies, to addressing an ethical issue... Perhaps the scenario is one the candidate suggests that illustrate how they handled a particular type of challenge in their past experience.

Situational Scenarios allow candidates to show their stuff while providing the interviewer with an inside look at how the candidate is likely to approach challenges or problems. You can learn more about a candidate in an hour of scenarios than in several hours of traditional interview questions. Listen carefully to their responses - to their biases, assumptions, priorities, sequencing, time frames, political and financial sensitivities, etc.

Situational scenario interviewing is a potent tool for what is a managers most important responsibility - to find the right people for the right position and keep them. Next time you interview a candidate try spending at least half of your interview time allowing the candidate to respond to situational scenarios that you have designed. Give it a try! I think you're going to like it!


(c) copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Wednesday, June 3, 2009


This headline came across my desk today...

"The number of uninsured Americans will balloon another 6.9 million next year, stretching the number of uninsured to 52 million, according to a report released this week in the journal Health Affairs. The results are further evidence that when the price of health insurance goes up, the number who can afford it goes down." - Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 29, 2009

The article went on to point out that this latest prediction did not take into account those who would lose their health insurance due to the economy and job losses! Thus, the real number is expected to be even worse. Some 17% of the US population without health insurance! Then of course there are those who have insurance but are worried about keeping their jobs and thus defer health related services to avoid deductibles and co-pays.

So what?

For providers who depend on third party reimbursement this is a big deal and things are only going to get worse. It means fewer people who can afford healthcare, discretionary services will be deferred, more people will be sicker, and provider competition for those those with insurance will increase.

This is not just a statistic. This is about real people in your community in crisis - they have real problems that they can not afford to address in the current healthcare system. Their solution is not in "the box" of traditional providers and services. What is need is a solution that is out of the box... There is something you can do about it!

With crisis comes opportunity... let's talk!

(C) Copyright 2009
Performance Builders