Great By Choice

10 Exers

I have read Jim Collins diligently for many years. While there are  numerous business books….Collins’ books have to be read….because they  give significant insights into what makes some companies great….and some mediocre.

Collin’s is thorough with his research….”10 Exers” are companies that beat their industry’s averages by at least 10 times.

10 Exers….display three core behaviors:

  • Fanatic discipline
  • Empirical creativity
  • Productive paranoia

Like other ideas….the key is to translate Great by Choice into a business/organizations day-to-day world.

Get Results

Write a letter

What gets results….texting….email….tweet? Writing a letter means putting thoughtful effort behind the letter’s comments.

Over the past year….I wrote to a Town of Cary department with a specific request. The issue was addressed and the request honored.

Good businesses/organization respond to well-written letters….while it may be “old school”….letters get read. 


A good model

A recent story in  the News Obsever:

about a local family that operates several Chick-fil-a’s. The important aspect of the story is that the each owner-operator does not own the real estate but leases from Chick-fil-a….and in turn pays the company a $5,000 franchise fee and share of profits and sales.

And most importantly….each owner-operator is at the business on a daily basis….and operates the store within the Chick-fil-a culture….which seems to be a good model to follow.


The Big Picture

The Zite news magazine (iPad App) refreshes continuously….and that is the problem….there is an ongoing flow of information. It is very easy to get fixated on all of this data/news and lose sight of a businesses/organization’s – Big Picture.

Focus on what’s important….a great idea….yet often hard to put into practice. Even years ago in the family business….it was difficult at times to stay focused. We had to read The Wall Street Journal…. Furniture Today….everyday!

One solution  is to put filters in place….read this….don’t read that. We operate in an information overload time….always waitng for the next “Breaking News”.  Focus on what is important for your business….look at the “Big Picture” and learn to skip the rest.



Allan Webber wrote:

Companies, organizations, all kinds of institutions know themselves to be profoundly important–even essential–to everyday life. But the problem is, they’re just not relevant to us, the people who are living that everyday life.

Webber outlines three steps to achieve relevance and ends the post with:

Three steps to relevance, but they all start with one giant leap: into marketing.

Good stuff from Allan Webber –


Gallup publishes a survey of: What the Best Organizations Do Differently

Here is what  award-winning companies do differently to create great workplaces:

  • Managers and individuals are accountable for making engagement a part of everyday work,
  • Leaders set a positive example for the rest of the organization by helping their teams thrive.
  • There are unique coaching and training opportunities for both top- and bottom-performing managers.
  • Mission and purpose clear throughout the organization to connect the front-line workers with the organization.
  • They identify key business issues and desired outcomes at the start of every initiative.

For many organizations, a certain culture creeps in….and it becomes difficult to make significant changes. The recent example being….high risk and high loses in investment bank trades.

It takes strong leadership to shape an organization and then to have that mindset work its way through-out the business. Yet those organizations that have exceptional leadership are the ones that consistently are the best. In the past I did some consulting at Herman-Miller. Max DePree made Herman-Miller what it is today.

Stand Out

Not the same as everyone else

If every business/organization did the same as the other….what would be the difference between businesses. The competition for take-out pizza between Dominos….Pizza Hut….Papa Johns is that each does something different.

Standing out means that price is not the only reason for choosing one business from the other. 

From the E-myth Point of View:

Positioning begins with you. Lead your company according to the vision and message that lives within you. With this shift, you are automatically differentiating your business from competitors who are resigned to conformity and mediocrity 

Common Sense

It’s a responsibility

Being a leader/manager is an honor and a responsibility. Years ago….I realized that not all leaders used common sense. In the air force….Colonels were highly regarded….yet some seemed to lack common sense.

A recent story in The Military Times indicated an army Colonel (and West Point graduate) exercised zero common sense. This it not the way to end a 20+ year career! Even at 0-6 and above….there is always a situation that arises when common sense is not so common.

When folks are in responsible leadership positions….it’s a responsibility to earn the trust of others….using common sense….otherwise this is not the place for them.


Where’s the energy?

What makes a business/organization better/different?

That answer has been the main focus of the TrueNorth Blog. Yet, often it is difficult for some organizations to maintain/create the energy to be better/different.

After a meeting with a group….I came away wondering where was the energy. It didn’t seem to be present. While the mechanics get done….the energy….enthusiasm….certainly intangibles were missing.

In a few months….this groups efforts will be ready to go….with (I hope) much enthusiasm.


 Be Ready!

“It’s always Showtime”

Any business/organization has to be ready to be at it’s best. People expect that….there can’t be an off day. The very first things we did in opening the business each morning –  clean the glass door….vaccuum the carpet….sweep the outside (or shovel snow!).

By getting those things done….it said to us we were ready for the new day….new customers….new sales….new products.

After all….It’s Showtime.