How to Get Your Employees to Think Strategically


Studies show that strategic thinking is the most important element of leadership. But how do you instill the trait in others at your company?

What leadership skill do your employees, colleagues, and peers view as the most important for you to have? According Robert Kabacoff, the vice president of research at Management Research Group, a company that creates business assessment toolsit’s the ability to plan strategically.

He has research to back it up: In the Harvard Business Review, he cites a 2013 study by his company in which 97 percent of a group of 10,000 senior executives said strategic thinking is the most critical leadership skill for an organization’s success. In another study, he writes, 60,000 managers and executives in more than 140 countries rated a strategic approach to leadership as more effective than other attributes including innovation, persuasion, communication, and results orientation.

But what’s so great about strategic thinking? Kabacoff says that as a skill, it’s all about being able to see, predict, and plan ahead: “Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning. That means being able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what they are trying to accomplish over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years, to get there,” he writes. “It also means thinking systemically. That is, identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization–including internal departments, personnel, suppliers, and customers.”

As a leader, you also need to pass strategic thinking to your employees, Kabacoff says. He suggests instilling the skill in your best managers first, and they will help pass it along to other natural leaders within your company’s ranks. Below, read his five tips for how to carry out this process.

Dish out information.

Kabacoff says that you need to encourage managers to set aside time to thinking strategically until it becomes part of their job. He suggests you provide them with information on your company’s market, industry, customers, competitors, and emerging technologies. “One of the key prerequisites of strategic leadership is having relevant and broad business information that helps leaders elevate their thinking beyond the day-to-day,” he writes.

Create a mentor program.

Every manager in your company should have a mentor. “One of the most effective ways to develop your strategic skills is to be mentored by someone who is highly strategic,” Kabacoff says. “The ideal mentor is someone who is widely known for his/her ability to keep people focused on strategic objectives and the impact of their actions.”

Create a philosophy.

As the leader, you need to communicate a well-articulated philosophy, a mission statement, and achievable goals throughout your company. “Individuals and groups need to understand the broader organizational strategy in order to stay focused and incorporate it into their own plans and strategies,” Kabacoff writes.

Reward thinking, not reaction.

Whenever possible, try to promote foresight and long-term thinking. Kabacoff says you should reward your managers for the “evidence of thinking, not just reacting,” and for “being able to quickly generate several solutions to a given problem and identifying the solution with the greatest long-term benefit for the organization.”

Ask “why” and “when.”

Kabacoff says you need to promote a “future perspective” in your company. If a manager suggests a course of action, you need to him or her ask two questions: First, what underlying strategic goal does this action serve, and why? And second, what kind of impact will this have on internal and external stakeholders? “Consistently asking these two questions whenever action is considered will go a long way towards developing strategic leaders,” he writes. -BY 

The No. 1 Reason Business Ideas Fail and How You Can Avoid It


I have a friend who has a steady stream of ideas — both great and hair-brained. A lot of times he comes up with viable new product ideas, but only occasionally stays the course required to bring the good ones to market. As a professional innovation consultant and brand developer, for me, this is like nails on a chalkboard.

Most recently, he brought me some samples for a chocolate eggnog he was developing. It was tasty, but the flavor profile needed tweaking and the packaging and marketing needed work. It had potential, if only he kept working on it. But the thought of having to continue in the development process was too daunting, or disappointing, or a combination of both, so he shelved the idea.

And that’s where a lot of inventors fail. They give up too soon.

There are four essential tenets of inventing and product development — especially once the rush of a great idea makes it from your imagination to paper or prototype.

1. Inventing is work that requires passion. Passion motivates us to persevere. Enthusiasm is essential to convince not only others of the worthiness of your ideas, but to convince yourself as well. You are going to have to do a lot of hard work before an idea reaches the point where a consumer realizes it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Truly passionate inventors embrace the flaws in an idea, seeing them as pathways to workable solutions. Many aspiring entrepreneurs, however, are like my buddy, seeing criticism not as the starting point for revisions, but as red lights.

According to psychologist Martin Seligman, we can overcome pessimism by consciously developing our brain’s optimistic side using “self-talk” — a technique that involves actively disputing pessimistic assessments of our situation. This isn’t just a personal pep talk. It’s a rational and impartial way of looking at failure as temporary and fixable, which allows us to move on to new solutions.

2. Question everything. The moment you discover your idea is somehow not working can occur at any stage on the journey. Since I know this from experience, when a new idea pops into my head, I immediately start looking at all the negatives and potential challenges. I know if I uncover problems at the beginning and can solve them, there will be fewer obstacles along the path.

This habit can be frustrating to others who want me to just enjoy the idea, and not be so objective. But I can’t help it. I know that the myriad issues I have to tackle later will be lessened if I can eliminate other structural, marketing or packaging problems as soon as possible.

3. Trial and error is a good thing. There are times when you find you have to go one more round with an idea, create one more prototype, write one more description or marketing message and it just seems endless. You feel like the juices have stopped flowing. This is when you have to “act as if” and just sit down and do what needs to be done.

Going through the motions seems antithetical to creativity, but it’s really not. In fact, thinking — even seemingly “forced” thinking — does fire up our neurotransmitters, and what started out feeling forced may turn out to be your best work ever. Bottom line: push through the resistance.

4. There is no magic answer. Just as there is no one perfect way to live your life, there isn’t just one way to solve a creative problem. My friend, for example, could have gone in several directions with the flavor profile of his eggnog and more than one might have worked.

There are multiple ways to tweak a product to make it better. The one you settle on depends a lot on your purpose, audience and expectations. That’s why I advise innovators to make a product as early and as quickly as possible in order to let people play with it and offer useful user feedback.

Remember: Criticism shouldn’t invalidate your ideas. It should serve to strengthen them. If you really love your idea, you’ll be willing to listen, learn and pivot when necessary.

Seven Ways to Make Your Strategic Planning Relevant

strategy, planning, leadership, budgeting

One of the most important shifts in many companies today is the move toward a capabilities-driven strategy. Companies that define a “way to play,” lined up with a handful of key differentiating capabilities that deliver on that value proposition, have a definite competitive advantage. Your own company may have redesigned your strategy accordingly. Now it’s time to execute.

Undoubtedly, you already have a planning and performance management system—otherwise known as a strategic plan and corporate budget. This is a group of deeply ingrained methods for allocating costs and tracking. Even as the top executive team embraces a capabilities-driven strategy, the planning and performance management system tends to remain unchanged. That’s because traditional budgeting planning practices were designed with other priorities in mind. They tend to foster silo-based thinking and to spread investments across all activities. That makes them irrelevant to your strategy—at best. At worst, they will undermine the development of key capabilities. Yet they tend to be so entrenched, combining so many of the formal and informal drivers of behavior in a company, that you may find it difficult to change them.

A truly relevant planning and performance management system will help you instill the discipline and accountability to make hard choices. It will make it easier, not harder, to assign the lion’s share of investment to your differentiating capabilities. And it will keep things on track with clearly articulated objectives and performance metrics. Here are seven guiding principles that will help you put such a system into place:

1. Emphasize key capabilities in your strategic plan. Look beyond short-term marketplace opportunities and challenges. Articulate what you need to do, different from what any other company can do, to deliver on the company’s unique value proposition. Tie strategic objectives to those capabilities. For example, one bank recognized a major opportunity to build its business by selling across product lines. Developing a robust client analytics capability was a requirement. By naming this capability in their strategic plan, the bank’s leaders forced themselves to lay out the steps needed to achieve their long-term goal.

2. Spell out capability-building initiatives in the plan. Design roadmaps for developing and steadily upgrading specific capabilities over time. Then, in each annual plan thereafter, spell out how you can further advance these capability-building initiatives. The leaders of a mining conglomerate, for instance, realized that they could increase production output by rolling out new standards across their portfolio of subsidiaries. That required a series of initiatives: one each for measurement, reporting, IT, best-practice methodologies, and training. Developing the initiative roadmap provided an actionable plan for the management team to build the capability over time.

3. Manage discretionary and non-discretionary spending separately. A successful strategy concentrates investment dollars where they are needed most: the company’s distinctive capabilities. Traditional budgeting can undermine this goal by allowing individual units to spend discretionary dollars as they see fit—often favoring pet projects, even if they have no strategic relevance. To prevent this, use zero-based budgeting to determine the amount of non-discretionary expenditures needed to “keep the lights on” throughout the company. The rest of your spending should go through a management process, connected directly to the strategic plan.

4. Use cross-functional governance to balance company priorities against the priorities of individual business areas. Governance forums should use a set of clearly defined decision rights on a regular basis to steer the business. A transportation company relied on a common information technology infrastructure across all of its business units. Every year, each business unit submitted IT investment requests to an investment committee panel composed of business unit and support function leaders. Its cross-functional organizational design enabled the panel to best decide how to allocate scarce resources for initiatives that would generate the best return for the enterprise. Some of the enterprise opportunities would not have been captured if business unit leaders were the only decision makers on IT.

5. Create guidelines for evaluating investment demands. Your company is subject to a range of investment demands with varying degrees of relevance to strategic priorities. Detailed investment guidelines will help assess these requests, especially when you’re balancing “apples and oranges” demands (such as regulatory compliance expenditures versus capital spending proposals). Each year, for example, the managers of a moderate-sized but much-used airport have to choose just a few of many investment requests—balancing safety, strategy, operations, and regulatory arguments. Establishing a clear set of communicated guidelines allows the airport leaders to focus on higher-return projects. Knowing the reasons for the choices encourages everyone, including those whose proposals didn’t get funded, to engage and execute with more focus on the winning initiatives.

6. Give leaders cross-functional authority to build capabilities and hold them accountable. Capability-building efforts fail when nobody has the authority to carry them out. Help individual leaders build capability systems across functional lines by making sure others can see that they have the requisite decision rights and position. For example, remember the bank building out its analytics capability. This required coordinating resources to develop a solution across product lines and IT. An empowered leader was authorized to manage resources, initiate investments, and manage delivery across the organization matrix to build the capability.

7. Measure and reward progress. Building a strategic capability can often take months or years. Explain clearly how each initiative bolsters a critical capability. Establish objectives and milestones for each initiative. Use these benchmarks to measure and reward progress toward the ultimate goal: a market-leading capability.

A more relevant planning and performance management system yields significant long-term benefits, because it continuously evaluates your company’s performance against strategic goals. The performance benchmarks tell you where and how external changes are affecting your progress. This provides a real-time snapshot of your capabilities at work in the marketplace. Strengths and weaknesses become clear, informing your investment decisions for the next strategic planning cycle. After a few years, this virtuous feedback loop can become second nature, paving the way for real collective mastery of the capabilities that distinguish your company.  – Matthew Siegel  s+b

A Social-Media Marketing Primer Even Your Mom Can Handle


Digital touch points are going to be a central part of almost any brand’s media plan. It’s important to understand how to navigate the digital world, particularly social media.
The problem is that keeping up with technology is a full-time job in and of itself. So don’t even try, just focus on the marketing part. Digital marketing is a small-business owner’s best friend, so while it’s hard to stay on the tech curve, you can still keep abreast of how to use digital marketing vehicles to your advantage.


In many cases, social media has become the brand experience where customers truly expect to connect. Because there are so many outlets available, don’t try to do it all at once. Start with the big sites first, see if they make sense for your brand, and then expand from there.

Get friendly on Facebook. With over a billion profiles it’s hard to neglect thinking about how to create a brand presence there. This is where friends, family, and your biggest “fans” come to listen to what you have to brag about. There is a cap to how many friends you can amass, so consider creating a public page that is limitless. Facebook is all about loyalty, so use it as a place to post pictures, give updates, promote new initiatives, or simply interact with your biggest fans. It’s one of the best outlets if you want to keep up with your most loyal customers with regular information they will be interested in. That is, of course, if your regular customers use Facebook, which is a simple question you should ask yourself before you begin any social media program.

Show your business savvy on LinkedIn. You will want to create a professional profile on LinkedIn to connect with all the people you’ve professionally come into contact with over the years. You can network with each other, share professional advice, and even recruit new talent. LinkedIn is all about work and working your network of colleagues.

Speak up on Twitter. Twitter is the place where you can exhibit thought-leadership in your field with others who share similar interests, whether you know them or not. It’s about having a voice in what you do, and paying attention to others who you admire. You can learn a lot about how to advance in your field of choice via Twitter.

Engage viewers on YouTube. For me, YouTube is all about pop culture. I use it to keep up with what’s going on in entertainment, which happens to be important in my line of work. If video content is something that works in your field, then consider starting a YouTube channel to create content for your customers. You can then feature this video content in your other marketing as well.

Give Customers a place to be on Foursquare. Foursquare is location-based, allowing users to “check in” to share their whereabouts or to collect special offers from local businesses. If your business relies on traffic to thrive, then Foursquare could be a good vehicle to build it.

Look pretty on Pinterest. Many brands are now just wrapping their heads around how to use Pinterest. If your customers are visually oriented and if your business can be captured in images, then consider using Pinterest to represent what your brand is all about. You can also learn a lot about your customers by viewing their Pinterest boards as well.

This is just a sampling of the bigger social media sites, and there are certainly others without a doubt. I recommend that you start with these, and then move on to others as you expand your social media presence. It’s important to use a few wisely and consistently, rather than racking up profiles that you don’t really leverage with your customers.

Also remember that any of these sites can be an effective tool to learn about what motivates your customers and about what your competitors are doing to connect with them. All of them provide “free” market research 24/7, because they are where your customers are living their lives and sharing what moves them. Learn from them!

By Jim Joseph, Author of The Experience Effect (AMACOM, 2010) and The Experience Effect for Small Business (Happy About, 2012)

The Future is Now – Humanize Your Product or Service or it Simply Won’t Sell

Future, Brand, Marketing, Culture, Selling, StrategyBrands often look to the future for clues on how to adapt to changing technology and culture. But much of what futurists say is coming can be acted upon today (e.g. human-centric branding).

To learn about what the future may bring to digital marketing, Dana Rousmaniere spoke with Gerd Leonhard, “one of the leading media-futurists in the world.”  Here are a few salient points from the from the discussion on the HBR blog of what this futurist envisions.

“You’re going to stop buying things from companies that don’t fit your values, just because you can’t see giving them the money.”

“All of the companies of the future will have one big job: to make sure that the customer feels cherished and safeguarded.”

“Data alone will never be enough. You still need to reach consumers on an emotional level. The bottom line for marketers will be that if a product or service isn’t humanized, it won’t sell – because buying something isn’t an intellectual process of saying “this could be useful”; it’s saying “I really want this.”

Why wait for the future to come?

I believe the future Mr. Leonard is painting is already here – or, at least his insights are ready to be put to use right now. Here’s how:

Make your brand, product, and services better fit with the needs, values, interests, and aspirations of people – so they can see the point of giving you the money.

Go beyond the concept of brand utility to brand feelings – make kick-ass products that solve problems AND do it in a way that make people feel cherished (valued, appreciated) and safeguarded (secure, protected).

Reach out on an emotional level – humanize your brand, products, and services in ways that break down barriers, encourage participation, and clear the path to decisions that benefit your bottom line.

Empathy, purpose, emotion – the keystones of success

Start with extreme empathy – put your business interests aside and come to understand what people are seeking on a very basic human level.

Embrace a purpose – one that takes your ambition beyond profits and shareholder returns and into the fertile grounds of meaning.

Create an emotional aura around your brand, product, or service – a unique set of emotions which make people feel gratified, which they readily internalize, and which influence the way they think, feel, and act on behalf of your brand – now and in the future.   – Jerry Holtaway, Emotivator Brand


Critical Thinking vs. The Analyst


Critical Thinking vs. The AnalystCritical vs Analytical Thinking, Ideas, Turnarounds

I spent the first fifty years of my life thinking that I had not learned a thing from my Dad.  In fact I spent more time wishing he had been someone else and what I had missed out on than taking some time to try and understand the man.  My Dad was a semi-functional alcoholic from as early as I can remember until the day he died and truth be told, we never had even one meaningful conversation.  The most exciting time of his life was his stint in the Navy in WWII and for the rest of his life all I can remember him talking about was the war and how much he hated his job.

He hated the people, the building, the owners, the equipment, his projects, his boss, his co-workers and overtime.  They were mean, they had everything while he had nothing, the sales people were all crooks and liars, his boss was stupid and got promoted for all the wrong reasons, and the owners were wheeling money out the back door in the middle of the night and by God if only they let him run things he wouldn’t be the way he was.

A year or two ago I was being interviewed for a talk show and the woman interviewing me asked me why I saw things differently than other executives; what caused my career to take me to the C-Suite and ultimately to the Chief Executive seat when other better educated or more experienced people were available.  At that moment, in that flash of a second, with that one question from a host whose name I can’t even remember, I saw what my Dad had given me.  He had given me the gift of critical thinking.

My Dad questioned everything, deeply, and he believed nothing. With that as my constant example, without one word ever being spoken about it, he had given me something that people spend thousands of dollars trying to get, (and rarely do), and years of study trying to figure out.  The innate ability to see even the best situation critically while at the same time not being critical of the situation, the people, the organization, or even the outcomes of all or any of those actions.

I relived that moment not long ago when my wife and I were having dinner with a prominent financial guru and having just facilitated a stressful yet successful organizational turn, he asked me the same question; “why are you able to do what you do?”…  My wife, knowing this is a question that absolutely embarrasses me like no other, answered for me.  She said, “Ed just sees things differently.”  She said it so matter-of-factly that it plausibly answered the question.  I spent the rest of the evening running that through my head and trying to come to grips with it.

So let me make an attempt to explain what I see.

Let’s say we go to the Fair.  Everyone is excited, there is music, there is excitement, there are rides, food, animals, shows and exhibitions; lots of unusual noise and movement, some anxiety perhaps over the scary rides.  You are overwhelmed by the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.  Everyone is focused on the experience and fun, the bright colors, the laughter and the camaraderie; the feeling of the event and the in-the-moment experience. Everyone that is, except me.

On the way in I noticed that there was no premier parking.  There was space but it was a service not available.  It would have been worth double the normal parking rate.  Tickets were not sold on line thereby creating a relatively long ticket line. The owners tried to mitigate wait complaints by having a colorful band playing upbeat carnival style music.  Nice but paying one more ticket attendant and getting people into the Fair to spend money was far more valuable than paying a bunch of musicians whose music still did not solve the lengthy wait to enter.  (Mental note to see if the COO of the operation was competent.)  It was a hot day and once inside the gates, you had to walk all the way through the mid-way to find bottled water. (Mental note to have water vendor near front gates.)

I could go on and on like this all day long without the need or desire for any kind of mental break or the need to carry a notepad.  I can be a Grandfather, help my grandkids walk around the Fair, go on rides, have lunch, enjoy the shows, everything, (almost), that everyone else does.  The difference is, the recording device in my head never shuts off and the internal commentary just keep going on and on and on.

My wife will tell you that she has to repeat everything twice; that I am often detached from the experience at hand, and that I over analyze everything.  She will tell you that I can easily miss the emotion of the moment, and that I am incredibly hard of hearing.  She will also tell you that I can fix things faster than anyone she’s ever met, that I can figure out just about everything, and that she’s never met anyone that other people can rely on more for positive outcomes.

I was recently at a Board Meeting for a young entrepreneur for which I provided the angel lift when almost immediately following, the company was purchased by the B group, a combination of Venture and Private Equity money.  They were gracious in terms of asking me to remain on the Board after the deal was done.  In the first Board Meeting I realized that although the resumes for these new Directors were strong enough to field a reunion at Harvard, when you dug in a bit, there was no real operating experience.  In today’s environment, it is not uncommon to have an entire brigade of financially centric Directors and a token operator making up the dynamics of many corporate Boards.  All the financial participants naturally want a seat to protect their interests leaving not a lot of room for operators.

The challenge of the Board was that the young Entrepreneur Founder was a brilliant technologist but like many of his contemporaries, he had never actually operated a business.  In this company, without experience managing the sales channel, things often got away from him.  In this case, that meant that he lacked the focus of defining a target consumption community and sticking with it.  The result was constantly over promising and under delivering on the gross revenue side because the CEO kept moving the target from minnows, to sharks to whales and never executed on any target!

The Board’s reaction was that they loved the idea that the fledgling was attracting the interest of the whales and they encouraged the bravado and expense of going after them.  This lasted two more Board Meetings until a private investor meeting was held and a discussion of the credibility of the young Entrepreneur was called into question.  This was not a question of credibility!  This was simply a question of helping the company attain the focus of client attention and having the sales team focus on landing clients rather than changing the target in hopes of making up revenue lost.  Some quick advice and sound pipeline tracking processes quickly put the entire team back on track.

Seeing things differently has offered me a completely new perspective on my Dad.  In recently trying to put his career together, I am getting to know him better and trying to understand the complications that made his life what it was.  Clearly PTSD played a major role in his outcomes and outlook and while it traumatized his life, it has helped mine.  Maybe that is the most unselfish gift a Father can leave his son.

Ed Jenks is a 25 year C-Suite Executive, a CEO turn-around specialist, Executive Coach and currently Sr Business Strategist at TJGI Consulting.  Jenks resides in Solana Beach CA with his wife and business Partner of fifteen years Sharon who is one of the Nation’s leading Executive Behaviorists as well as a professional canine trainer.

Downsizing May Not Be The Best

Business Partners. Teamwork, Downsizing, Layoffs, Open Book Management, Financial information, Human ResourcesMake Your People Your Business Partners

Everywhere you turn today, organizations are focusing on cost containment.

“When people talk about cutting costs, their first thought is to get the accountants in the room with the top managers to decide how many bodies to get rid of,” according to Dr. Ken Blanchard, best-selling business author and cofounder of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

“But getting rid of people is not the only way to cut costs. There are many, many costs that can be saved if you will make your people your business partners. If you can provide all your employees with information, this open-book policy will unleash a torrent of ideas and commitment.”

Blanchard points to research that shows that companies that do major downsizing don’t perform any better after the process.

“It’s not your people that are always the problem,” he explains. “A lot of times it’s your systems and how you are operating the business. In hard times it is a good time to buckle down and say, “What can we learn? What are we doing well? How are we going to take some of the things that are weaknesses and make them strengths?”

A better approach, according to Dr. Blanchard, is for leaders to take immediate action including sharing information about the current situation, focusing on both people and results, and helping people manage the ups and downs that lie ahead.

Sharing Information

“I think that there is a tremendous need for leaders to be the ‘hope champions’ and also involve your people. Don’t go silent because then everybody is going to be worrying about what is going to happen. Involve your people. You need them.

“More than ever, this is the time to open your books so that everyone knows what the situation is and you can get started with getting everyone thinking about what can be done to cut costs. Is there any way that we can increase revenue? What can we do?”

Sharing information about the situation does a couple of things for your company. First, it helps to eliminate fear because people can see the same information that you are seeing. By sharing it with them, you are communicating that you are being open and honest with them. There is no hidden agenda—here is what we are facing.

Second, it helps to create buy-in. Now that everyone knows what the situation is, people can decide how they can take action to improve things.

As a case in point, Blanchard points to his own company’s experience during 9/11. As Blanchard explains, “We lost a lot of money that month and faced a real deficit if we didn’t cut back about $350,000 a month in October, November, and December.

“We really were very open with everybody in the company. We said, ‘Here’s the situation. We need your help. What can we do? We are committed not to let people go so what can we do?’”

At The Ken Blanchard Companies, the decision was made to have everyone take a salary cut, except for people making under $50,000, who were having a hard enough time. The company also stopped matching 401(k) contributions.

While the pay cut’s immediate effect was to reduce the company’s costs in the critical months to close out the year profitably, the pay cut also brought a sense of shared accountability and responsibility into the equation. With everyone sharing in the pain, people were also equally invested in finding solutions to get the company through the crisis.

Small task forces were organized to look for ways to increase revenues and cut costs. This participation resulted in departments throughout the company finding all kinds of ways to minimize spending and maximize income.

“One of the things that I hope for with our company,” explains Blanchard, “is that when we are having good times, everybody is celebrating and when times are tough, everybody is losing sleep together as well.”

Focusing on Both Results and People

Blanchard points to others who share a similar philosophy.

“I recently participated in a panel at Grand CanyonUniversity that included Colleen Barrett, who just stepped down as president at Southwest Airlines. She feels that leadership’s role in tough times is to give people hope—to say, ‘Let’s stay with what has got us here, let’s keep on going, and we can pull out of this thing together.’

“At Southwest everybody knows that they are committed to their people, they have never laid anybody off—even in a crazy industry.

“Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, says that the great leaders are focused on both people and results—even in tough times. Where leaders make mistakes in tough times is that they forget about people. They start to just focus on the bottom line—how are we going to do this? And they forget this important element—both people and results.

“That’s why I think it is so important to keep communicating with people and not forget who got you there. At the end of the day when everybody leaves the building, your company just left.”

To illustrate his point, Blanchard describes a question he has asked managers for years. “If you had a choice of a fire taking out all of your equipment and your buildings, or all of your people walking out together in one day, which would be worse?

“They all say losing your people is worse. You can always rebuild the buildings but you need your people. And so I think that one of the biggest mistakes is just focusing on results and forgetting about people and not involving your people.

Looking Ahead

Current economic pressures can make it seem like the only option is to choose between people and results. But this is short-sighted, according to Blanchard, who explains that good people can always go somewhere else if they feel that their organization doesn’t balance a concern for people with a concern for results. What works in the short term can end up holding the company back in the long term.

“I think the benefits are that when we pull out of this economy, you are going to really take off because your people have been prepared, they have been working, and they are ready to go. But if you ruined your whole human organization while you are ‘trying to save your company,’ then all of a sudden when you have opportunities again, you’ll have nobody to execute.”