Archive for the ‘Vistage International’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Two World Class Speakers to Address Vistage Members and Guests

June 5, 2013

Vistage Arizona All Member Meeting in Phoenix

brianOn June 5 close to 250 Vistage members and guests will gather in Phoenix for our annual All State Meeting. If you are lucky enough to be a Vistage member or a prospective member guest you will be treated to two of the all time great Vistage speakers. Brian Beaulieu of ITR Economics will talk about strategies for prospering in the coming economy. His last Phoenix talk was worth more than $1 million to one member company. Herb Meyer, former special assistant to the Director of the CIA under Reagan will help us make sense of the international scene. Contact me for more information.

Brian Beaulieu has been an economist with ITR Economics since 1982 and its CEO since 1987. He is also Chief Economist for Vistage International and TEC, global organizations comprised of over 13,000 CEO’s. At ITR, Brian has been engaged in applied research regarding business cycle trend analysis and the utilization of that research at a practical business level. For the past 25 years, he has been giving workshops and seminars across the US and Canada to thousands of business owners and executives. Prior to joining the ITR Economics, Brian was an economist for the US Department of Labor where he worked on the health care component of the Consumer Price Index. Brian is co-author of the book, Make Your Move.

HerbMeyer154pxHerbert E. Meyer served  during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council.  In these positions, he managed production of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret projections for the President and his national security advisers.  Mr. Meyer is widely credited with being the first U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union’s collapse — a forecast for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community’s highest honor.

Mr. Meyer is author of How to Analyze Information and The Cure for Poverty.

Formerly an associate editor of FORTUNE, he has authored several books including The War Against Progress, Real-World Intelligence, and Hard Thinking.  Mr. Meyer and his wife, Jill, are co-authors of How to Write, which is among the world’s most widely used writing handbooks. Mr. Meyer’s essays on Intelligence and Politics have been published in The Wall Street JournalNational Review


PostHeaderIcon Are Your Employee Evaluations Worth the Time and Paper It Takes to Do Them?

According to Denis Wilson, writing in Fast Company, annual evaluations “build up pressure and make feedback sessions feel like indictments. And most importantly, they do little to alter behavior and improve performance and productivity, which should be your goal.” If you’ve read Three Signs of a Miserable Job (if you supervise, manage, or lead—you must) by Patrick Lencioni, one of my favorite business authors, Lencioni asserts that there are three things often missing for most employees that create a great deal of dissatisfaction.

Immeasurement refers to an employee’s desire to know how their performance will be measured. It also hinders clarity regarding where to focus one’s time and attention. Irrelevance refers to an employee’s lack of understanding how their work and performance contributes to the company’s overall success. And anonymity refers to an employee’s feeling of generally not being known.

The boom-surprise-explode cycle of typical annual performance evaluations does little to alleviate these three conditions, although when done well and thoughtfully they can help. Instead, consider how you can transform an annual evaluation into an ongoing conversation that provides regular feedback on performance requirements derived directly from corporate strategy;  promotes alignment with corporate culture; and for those who manage or lead provides important feedback on their number one job—the performance of the teams they lead.

With the turning of the calendar, this is a great time to consider a change in this area. There are many tools available. Our favorite is Evaluate to Win, based on the work of Vistage Member Lee Benson in Phoenix and on the management operating systems designed by former GE CEO Jack Welch.  To read the complete Fast Company article, simply follow this link

PostHeaderIcon Do You Know Your Company’s “Make or Break”

Dan Barnett, former COO of  Vistage International and former CEO of Van de Kamps Seafood is one of Vistage International’s most sought after resource speakers. Some time ago Dan spoke to our local Vistage CEO group on his topic of Make or Break Execution. Simply put Make or Break asks, “What is the ONE THING that you or your business needs to do to deliver on your vision?” In particular, what is that one thing your business must do that matters most to your customers. Perhaps more specifically, what’s the one thing your business must do better than your competition?

At Van de Kamps Dan discovered to his surprise that the one thing that customers valued above all when they chose their provider of frozen seafood was freshness. That’s right, freshness. In response, Van de Kamps launched an advertising campaign to educate customers about the actual freshness of frozen-at-sea products vs. products bought fresh (or at least never frozen).

Once they understood the customer preference their first step was to purchase all available capacity in the factory trawler fleet. This approach helped Dan take Van de Kamps from number three to number one, a change worth, as you would expect, millions of dollars. And it was a market position that endured.

As COO at Vistage, tasked with increasing membership, Dan came to understand the Make or Break was finding and retaining great group chairs. Put simply, great chairs attract and retain great members.

At the recent All Things Digital Conference, Apple CEO  Tim Cook was asked about the potential for Apple’s growth. In particular, the interviewer wanted to know if the growth could continue at the current rate, and if Apple could someday become the first trillion dollar company. His response was perfectly aligned with Apple’s historic approach and with Dan Barnett’s Make or Break. Cook said, “We will continue to make great products and the rest will take care of itself.”

So what is your company’s Make or Break?

PostHeaderIcon Why Peer Advisory Groups are the Next Big Thing

It may seem odd to some that peer advisory groups, which have been around for decades and, prior to that, existed long before anyone probably ever referred to them as such, will be the next big thing, but I believe the time has come for this time-honored practice to take hold as never before.   The perfect storm is here.  In part it’s because the fundamentals of the peer advisory process itself are aimed squarely at problem solving, visioning, and personal and professional development,  but that’s always been the case.  The reason for the perfect storm, however, is revealed in the environmental and demographic trends that make the prospects for rapid growth nearly unlimited.  First, let’s look at the peer advisory model versus what most companies do today:

Peer advisory groups turn the traditional executive development model on its head.  The old model, which people have been using for decades now, is designed to train people to be better leaders with the implicit expectation that it will make a difference in how they lead and manage.  And that somewhere down the line, the company will actually see the fruits of this investment in its corporate culture and financial performance.  The problem is that most executive training is episodic/event-oriented.  Someone goes off to training, learns some interesting new concepts, and within a few weeks time, is back to the same old, pre-training behaviors.  What’s more, the training and the actual work of the company are often so poorly coordinated that measuring its effectiveness and value are next to impossible.

Peer advisory groups work in exactly the opposite fashion. By having a professional facilitator bring peers together, whether they are colleagues from different areas of a large company or CEOs from different businesses, they can work together as equals with the primary goal of meeting difficult challenges or setting a course for the future.   The diversity of the group, coupled with real dialogue, works to create an environment of trust to address larger issues that tend to transcend personal agendas.  By setting specific objectives, it’s easy to measure the ROI.  Peer groups will ask the hard questions and arrive at their own solutions rather than have to comply with recommendations of trainers or outside consultants.  Over time, during this repeated collaborative process of actual problem solving, the participants become better listeners and better leaders.  Great results lead to improved leadership behaviors and the cycle continues.  It rarely happens the other way around.

So sure, the peer advisory model makes perfect sense, but why will it be the next big thing?

  1. Large companies are forced to do more with less and are challenged to create alignment within their newly re-organized organizations.  To do so in a manner that’s effective and measurable, they will no longer be able to rely on the old “executive development” model of training executives to be better leaders and managers, in the hopes that what they learn in training actually finds its way into meeting the day-to-day needs of the organization.   And the continued inability to link training expenditures to producing more competent leaders and better bottom-line results, will result in companies seeking out a more practical way to accomplish both.
  2. Leaders of smaller companies are finding that the world in which they operate is becoming increasingly complex, especially on the international and technology fronts.  The good news is that these challenges are common across industry sectors.  As a practical matter (also challenged to do more with less), CEOs and business leaders will likely turn to their peers for guidance  instead of paying high-priced consultants or investing in leadership training programs.  (And like their larger company colleagues, they’d be wise to do so).
  3. Today’s younger CEOs are digital natives versus digital immigrants.  They grew up with social media and are natural networkers who are much more inclined than their predecessors to engage their peers for advice and counsel.
  4. There’s been a fundamental shift in management education aimed at leveraging the experience of the increasing number of adult learners in the classroom, in both traditional and online education environments.  The practice of andragogy, or learning centered environments geared to adults, is becoming increasingly more popular, replacing pedagogy (a teaching centered/lecture-oriented approach) that relies more on the knowledge of the instructor than in the inherent experience and collective insights of the group.  It’s only a matter of time before it finds its way more prominently into private enterprise.
  5. As I pointed out in my last post, there are many similarities between learning teams and peer advisory groups.  Adult learners who’ve grown accustomed to working in peer groups in school, will seek to continue the practice in the workplace in greater numbers.  Peer groups at work will replace the learning teams they left behind.

Professionally facilitated peer groups simply make too much sense in today’s world not to catch fire – and soon!  Now I understand if you’re skeptical about a Vistage employee making the case for why professionally facilitated peer advisory groups is the next big thing.  Since it is what we do, I might be wary as well.  So I ask you to consider the argument on its merits, offer your comments (positive or negative), and understand that no self respecting advocate of peer advisory groups would ever presume to write such a post without consulting his peers.   This is not my opinion alone.  Thanks to my colleagues at Vistage and Seton Hall University for your contributions to this piece!

Thanks to Leo Bottary at Vistage International.