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Posts Tagged ‘Excellence with Ease’

Out of the Office and Into Focus

It’s funny to me: time away allows us to both distance ourselves from the day to day details, allowing us to view the big picture, and at the same time bring clarity to those detailed tasks most important for us to focus on upon our return. But let me back up a moment.

Making Time for Game Time

I’ve spent the last 2 ½ days at a business growth event, with top industry experts speaking about social media, building a business around core values, and the hottest trends in media (anyone try ‘audioboo’ yet? Check it out at www.audioboo.com. The value of being in a room full of diverse, energetic business owners is priceless. We defined our 2011 financial goals, verified and re-focused our niche and our messages to them, and looked at fears and beliefs that get in our way.

Yet despite these exercises designed to help us with the big picture view, I’ve come away knowing precisely what I need to do Monday – people to call and technology to implement (look for videos soon!). These days away have also reminded me to play more board games with my kids (an activity we all love) and to keep playing the “high-low” game at dinner.

When you find yourself arguing about whether you can get away from your business, ask yourself: how else can you both view your business from 10,000 feet as well as get down to the nitty-gritty details? Strategic thinking theorists have named this the “helicopter view”, which includes the following three steps:

1.      Look at your situation from a broader perspective, by “zooming out”

2.      Fast forward your situation; ask, “What will this look like in 5 or 10 years?”

3.      Once the most important priorities are isolated, “zoom in” to look at the details.

You can go read theoretical books on the subject if you want. Personally, I encourage you to just go try it out by leaving the office behind, taking with you an open mind and a thoughtful perspective.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Do It Right The First Time

Morgan Stanley down; Wells Fargo up; Goldman Sachs down.Quarterly corporate earnings releases seem like a playground see-saw this week – up and down, shifting at anytime.

I’m no market expert but these announcements make me wonder, “Do these companies really know what is going on in their own financial house? What numbers do I believe?” And with each new financial crisis of the week, it is no surprise that the financial sector has lost consumer confidence like never before.

When I was in the corporate world, I created a “Lessons Learned” journal, making entries after mergers and acquisitions, product releases, anything that created an “Oh, we could have done that better” thought and the occasional pat on the back for what we did well.

One key lesson from the whole journal was to do the numbers right the first time. I encourage business owners to imagine that a very lucrative business purchase offer is right around the corner; would their financial records need any corrections or clean up? For that matter, are there any business practices that would need to be adjusted?

My kids have heard me ask if they would say something they just said to their sibling to their grandmother – we all know the answer to that. The same is true with business practices. How would you behave differently if you knew a potential business acquisition was looking over your shoulder? What would be different about your day? Would you spend your time in the same manner? Would your financial records look the same?

It would be nice to think that these financial companies “did it right the first time.” The daily news stories, however, leads me to a different conclusion. Be better than these mega-businesses. Do it right the first time. After all, your name is on the company door.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Excellence is a habit

Yesterday, my husband’s animal hospital had its recertification inspection with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA – think of AMA but for animals). This optional certification verifies that animal hospitals meet more than 300 individual standards, in everything from anesthesia and pain management to housekeeping and leadership. It is designed to help veterinarians maintain their facilities with high standards of excellence.

Every three years, if a practice chooses to participate in the certification process, an AAHA representative visits for an on-site inspection. The representative visiting my husband’s practice said that this was one of the shorter evaluations because the hospital so easily passed the numerous standards and because they were so organized. She also said that their strong teamwork was obvious.

Organization and strong teamwork aren’t developed overnight. Sure, there were some last minute touch-ups to procedures, but this evaluation could have happened on any day and they would have easily passed. Practicing high quality medicine is not something that can be developed at the flip of a switch , nor can operating a well-run company.

A business built on excellence is developed day by day, in everything that you do. It’s no coincidence, either, that solid teamwork was a key strength mentioned by the inspector. True excellence is possible only when team members know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and work together like a well-oiled machine.

Excellence is created by a commitment to continuous improvement. Ask yourself daily, “What can I do better at today?” and you will build a business of excellence.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Excellence Every Day

At the Chilean miners rescue operation today, Camp Hope was a hive of activity as family and friends (and the media) watch and wait. A makeshift hair salon was set up, friends were polishing each others’ nails, and everyone had on their best clothes, as they wanted to look their best as miners emerged from the Earth.

I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if we made an effort every day to look our best for loved ones?” My mind started rambling and I wondered what I would do differently if I were waiting at Camp Hope, what I would do to be at my best. Why don’t we all do those things that make us at our best every day?

We hear the phrase “Do your best!” so often that we don’t really contemplate its meaning. What does it mean to you?

To me, it’s about how I work with my clients; it’s the words I use, it’s how I spend my time, it’s making the most of my time with family, friends, and my self. It’s treating time as valuable and, when I choose to spend time on something, doing it the best that I can. In short, it comes down to excellence. With this in mind, I had a kick-butt workout this morning and I got a lot of quality work done today.

So here’s a thought: if you are going to spend valuable time on something, why not make it “your best”? Go for excellence.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.