Are You More Productive Then You Were Five Years Ago?

by Mike O'Reilly

Mike specializes in helping highly-driven, type A business owners and professionals (who usually describe themselves as ADHD). Together, they clarify the growth strategy and outline what's necessary to achieve their objectives in the quickest way possible. As a successful business owner in his own right, he continues to help other business owners and professionals make sense of the challenges in their world. He understands that competing priorities, short deadlines, customer demands, and the need to meet a payroll will all come together at once. Most of his privately-held clients are interested in one of three things; implementing sales and business development strategies that will double their business, strengthening their internal systems and controls so that accountability is increased and more things can happen without them needing to be involved, or being recognized as a professionally run firm so that they get easier access to capital and can grow the top line. Most of his publicly-held and multinational clients are interested in growing the skills of the middle management team and leadership competency of the supervisory level staff or are focused on getting increases in sales and revenues.

This is not a rhetorical question.

On the one hand we have immediate access to infinite amounts of data. You can create a spread sheet simply by clicking your mouse. Response to customer inquiries is now done in seconds thanks to widely used technology.

On the other hand, we are inundated by information but are starving for knowledge and practical guidance. With all the benefits technology brings to our lives, business owners still say "we often feel overwhelmed." Less people doing more work, ever changing demands from our clients are certainly causes of lost productivity and lower morale. In my experience, the biggest culprit of lost productivity is uncertainty.

People simply need to know where the organization is going and how it's going to get there. When you answer these two questions and more importantly, when you communicate your objectives continuously throughout the organization, you can get out of the way and witness employees overcome what once seemed to be insurmountable obstacles.

Why do so few companies capitalize on developing and communicating a long term strategy? There are fires to put out. It is important, but not urgent.

Other companies say they did "this stuff" years ago. We took the leadership team off site. Created a great mission statement, and posted it all over the organization and on the back of our business cards but change was not lasting. This thinking should be discarded quickly. Since we will be spending more time in the future then the past, get rid of this backward, "we tried this before", caveman thinking, now!

It is fair to say that many of us feel like we have just dug ourselves out of a five year earthquake. Having removed the last of the rubble, we are standing tall, dusting ourselves off, and looking at the blue sky again. It's time to clarify what is next? What do we really want to focus on in the next two years? What type of company do we really want to become? Improvement must be a continuous journey. If you desire to be more efficient and effective, then your strategy must continually evolve. You will not have fewer obstacles, but you will get those obstacles out of the way.

My good friend Louis Blaiotta, President of Columbia Elevator Manufacturing Corp. in Bridgeport, CT, shares a compelling case for revisiting strategy now.

"The last few years were very difficult in our industry. Uncertainty is a real energy sapper. The benefits that came from getting started with Mike and Paradigm's approach are we are discovering future opportunities for growth and acting on them. This is not magic. Answering important questions, taking action and seeing results will make the difference. Momentum happens when you continually communicate with your people; what will work, what isn't, and watch them get excited about the future. When you make the time to look forward, you become a better leader."