Discipline makes Daring possible.

From dictatorship to democracy in a single generation

From dictatorship to democracy in a single generation

In business, our view of succession is not unlike that of royals.    An heir apparent is selected, carefully trained, and groomed to take the helm when we leave.

This approach is fraught with difficulties.

First, as regnant monarch, we put off the selection, training and all that, because we’d rather not face our own mortality, and because to do all that takes time out from running the business.

Next, the heir we select may not wish to be chosen – even if they are family.   They may not wish to shoulder the risk of destroying their inheritance.   They may have other ideas on what to do with their life.

The people we’ve overlooked may resent that, and start to at least detach themselves from the business, or undermine it, or worse decide to fight over it.

Finally, there may not be an obvious heir.

There is a more rational, modern approach.

  • Build your business around a clearly defined customer experience (an OurScore ), that gives people the confidence to know what they are doing without constraining their personality and individuality.
  • Give people clear roles to play.  Put all the resources they need to play them well at their fingertips.  Including the feedback that will enable them to improve both the customer experience and their own ability to deliver it.
  • Train them to perform more than one role,  so they can have variety of work, you have redundancy in the system and the customer learns that they can happily deal with anyone in the business.

Built this way, a business more or less runs itself.

It gives you far more options for succession, because anyone who works in it can be your heir, if they want.

Or everyone.

A transition from dictatorship to democracy in a single generation.

That would be a legacy to be really proud of.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.

Taking ownership

Taking ownership

One day, the child in this photograph might expect to inherit her parents’ motorbike.

She couldn’t expect to use it until she’d learned to drive it safely, keep it in good order and register it with the appropriate authorities.  If that seems like too much trouble, she might very well sell it, run it into the ground, or simply leave it to rust.

Handing over your business to your employees (or your children for that matter) isn’t enough to ensure that it will thrive afterwards.  Transferring ownership transfers power, but not the ability to use that power responsibly.

Of course your people might have that ability already, but if you’re the boss of a 5 or 10 person business, it’s unlikely that you or they know that conclusively.

After the sale is almost too late to find that out.  You’re not the boss any more.

So, if you’re planning to go employee-owned, or to pass your business on to your children, make sure they know how to run it before they take ownership.

  • Spell out your Promise of Value, so everyone know exactly who the business serves and what it really does for them.
  • Document your desired customer experience with an OurScore , so everyone can see the context of the business as a whole.
  • Let people learn and play multiple parts of that score, so they feel how it all fits together.
  • Give them responsibility for living up to the Promise in all the parts they play, and the autonomy to interpret it, to enhance the audience experience.
  • Automate admin and the collection of feedback from each performance.
  • Get everyone used to regular practice at using that feedback to improve both the OurScore and their own playing skills.

This takes effort, but not as much as you might think.  Like most things, the sooner you start, the better.  But you could do it while the legalities of transfer are being worked out, or even include it as part of the transfer process.

The upside is you’ll have something even more worth handing over, and for all the new bosses, the ability to truly cherish it as your legacy.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.

10 good reasons to disappear from your business

10 good reasons to disappear from your business

Here are 10 positive reasons why you might want to disappear from your business:

– You want to spend more time with your family.

– You want to start a family.

– You want to write a book.

– You want to go into politics.

– You want to start another business.

– You want to follow a passion.

– You want to start a charity.

– You want to take a sabbatical.

– You want to retire.

– You want to sell your business.

And here are 3 very positive reasons why you should do it before you need to:

– You want your business to make a bigger impact now. Serve more customers, better, support more people working in it, and make that work more meaningful and fulfilling for them.

– You want your business to become an asset, not a job. The source of your pension, an income for your family, an income stream for your next venture. To sell it for more money.

– You want your business to take on a life of its own. To become your legacy, continuing to make an impact long after you’ve gone.

Bonus:

– You still get to do whatever you want to do.

– You can still enjoy working in your business if you want to.

A modest amount of Discipline when you’re a team of 3 to 5 people, makes all this Daring possible. More quickly than you think.

Ask me how.

What is this thing we call ‘The Boss’? The team’s view.

What is this thing we call ‘The Boss’? The team’s view.

‘The Boss’ is a monster.

It makes us Hyde when we want to be Jekyll.

It makes us owls when we want to be flowers.

It makes us angry and resentful when we want to please.

It makes us defensive when we want to improve.

It makes us sullen when we want to co-operate.

It makes us passive when we want to be proactive.

It makes us jobsworth’s when we want to take responsibility.

It makes us dot i’s and cross t’s when we want to be making a dent in the world. A dent that matters.

We can’t ignore ‘The Boss’. We spend all day watching it, second-guessing how it feels, how it will react, covering our backs by passing jobs up. It feels like we care more about ‘The Boss’ than we do about our clients.

It’s everything we hate about being employees – the workflows, the time-sheets, the endless check-ins, the inability to fix things we know are wrong, never getting to see the big picture – everything that gets in the way of doing a great job. Everything that stops us focussing on what really matters – the client.

No wonder we can’t wait to get away of an evening.

‘The Boss’ is a monster.

 

We know exactly who it is.  And we don’t care who knows it.

 

It’s not a monster.

It’s just a gap.

When you close it, ‘The Boss’ will disappear.

And everyone will be free.

 

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Two heads are better than one

Two heads are better than one

If you’re lucky, you start your business with someone else, or maybe even as a trio.

Two heads, three heads are better than one.

Being a co-Boss helps you share the hard work of getting going, gives you a sounding board for ideas, and brings additional valuable resources to the business – whether that’s talents, time or even money.

But good things do come to an end, often perfectly amicably.  People grow, their circumstances change, their talents call them to new things.

That’s fine, if people need to move on, they need to move on.

The problem lies with what they take with them, locked inside their heads, no longer accessible to the business they’ve left.

Perhaps they were the operations person, who just made everything work.  Perhaps they were the sales wizard, effortlessly charming clients aboard.  Or the finance pilot, keeping a firm hand on the money tiller. Or perhaps they were the ideas person, driving the forward movement of the business.

Obviously, if you’d known this was going to happen, you’d have found a way to pull all that accumulated know-how out of their heads before they went.  But if not, how do you reconstruct that missing part?

 

The good news is that although what your co-Boss knew is still inside their head, it’s actually also inside the heads of everyone else in the business, and, crucially, inside the heads of your clients.

It may not be written down, but it is there, and can be re-constructed into an explicit Promise of Value, along with the Customer Experience Score that follows from that, turning buried knowledge into a practical, usable, evolvable asset.

Only, once you’ve dug it up, don’t keep it to yourself.  Share it with everyone in the business.  Then share the work of living it so everyone can become your co-Boss.

Because many heads are always better than one.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Even if a Boss has already disappeared.

 

Ask me how.

 

 

Moving on

Moving on

If you want maximise your chances of selling your house, you have to de-clutter and tidy it up.  Obviously.  It pays to make sure it’s in good repair too.

But in order to make it as attractive as possible to as wide a range of buyers as possible, you may well have to re-decorate and re-style it too.

To show off its potential.

To take the ‘you-ness’ out of it.

To make it look like you’ve already left.

 

The advice for selling a business is similar.   De-clutter, tidy-up, make sure it’s profitable, show it has growth potential, take you out of it.  Make it look like you’ve already left.  Go corporate.

But what if it’s you that makes your business amazing?   What if that’s what keeps your clientele coming back?  What if that’s what drives the recurring revenue?

My advice?

By all means take you out of the business, but keep the ‘you-ness’ in.

Go further, embed your ‘you-ness’ into the business so firmly that only like-minded people would want to buy it.  They’d love it so much they’d pay extra for the ‘you-ness’, because for them it’s also ‘me-ness’.

Become a Disappearing Boss.  Build the ‘you-ness’ (actually the ‘we-ness’) into the fabric of the business, into the way it works, so that it can never ‘go corporate’.  Not even as it grows.

Go even further, don’t sell at all.  Let it instead.  To people who love it the way it is and can see how to take that unique potential forward as your legacy and theirs.  Who will want to keep it in good condition, and even replicate its success in other locations.

By then, you’ll have those people in your business already.  They will have helped you build it.

 

Discipline makes Daring possible

Ask me how.

Letting go of the tiger

Letting go of the tiger

During that tiger-riding phase of growing your business, when you’re growing fast, when new opportunities are coming at you thick and fast, and it feels right to take as many of them as you can; it can feel like everything is out of control.  It can feel like nothing is working as it should, so you have to be everywhere, supervising everything, checking everything, or the tiger will run away with you.

You might think that this would be the worst time to start writing down your Customer Experience Score.

You’d be wrong.

Because, by giving yourself space to get your music out of your head, you also give yourself space to think about how ‘doing things right’ can be made easier to achieve.  Sometimes ridiculously so, with a ridiculously simple change, such as creating a Prop for others to use that literally helps them see through your eyes.

Because, as you write down what till now has only been playing inside your head, you see how the part you wrote for the violins is very close to what the violas will need, and the oboes, and with a few more tweaks, the clarinets.  Suddenly, the job of getting it all down is much smaller than you thought.

And because, as you write the first few parts, and see how easy it is to get your Orchestra to play them beautifully, even when you’re not in the room, you realise that the next part you write is likely to work just as well, and the one after that, and the one after that.   Suddenly, the job of getting it all down is far less urgent than you thought.

And so you realise that you can loosen your hold.  That the tiger isn’t going to run away with you.  That you can spend time building her a generous and beuatiful reserve in which she can flourish.

You’ll never be done of course, but now you know how easy it is, you can enlist your team to help you.

And once they know as much as you do about how your business should work to make and keep its promises to customers, you can step back and enjoy watching your tiger become a streak.

 

Discipline makes Daring possible.

It also makes it easier.

Ask me how.