There are books that help tie everything together and this is one of them.  This is an easy-to-read history of the idea of corporate strategy, which, in fact, turns out to be a relatively new idea, going back only a few decades.  Author Walter Kiechel chronicles the impact of strategy titans such as Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Michael Porter (who the Harvard Business School faculty voted to deny promotion to assistant professor).

What is missing is a description of the strategy in the non-profit space.  While certainly not as developed as in the corporate space it has grown over the past few decades.

In reading this book I was struck that ideas that we consider obvious today were radical only a few decades ago.  And it makes me wonder — what are the “obvious” concepts of the future that we are currently resisting?

So many leaders that I coach just can’t say no.  They cant say no to …

  • Reviewing the work they delegated so they would not have to worry about it
  • Sitting in meetings they don’t need to be at but were requested to “put in an appearance”
  • Micromanaging a slew of unimportant details
  • Trying to make sure everyone is happy all the time
  • Listening to proposals they know can never work
These leaders are making a bigger mistake than simply wasting time and wearing themselves out.  They are missing huge opportunities to positively impact their organizations.  They make the mistake of thinking that being busy (over-busy) must mean they are being productive.  But this busyness often causes them to miss huge opportunities. They can’t slow down enough to get perspective on where their organization is.  They don’t have time to launch and lead creative new initiatives, to identify new sources of revenue/funding or build alliances with key partners.

The only way to get that kind of time is to say No to the trivial and unimportant.  And that is not easy, but you can do it if you remember what you are saying Yes to!

Yesterday I was working on a proposal for a client.  I completed nearly all of it very quickly.  But the last little – the spell check, formatting, and other little items to get it ready to send out took much more time than I anticipated.  This always happens and it always frustrates me.  And then I realized “This is the Pareto Principle!”  You are probably thinking – what is the Pareto Principle?

As the image above* shows, the Pareto Principle basically says that 20 percent of your effort results in 80 percent of your output.  That has huge implications for individuals and organizations.  What is it that you are doing in the “productive 20 percent?”  Can you increase it?  And can you decrease the “unproductive 80 percent?”  What are the time-wasters and policies that you can eliminate?

It all starts, as is the case with so many things, with close observation of what you and your organization are doing…

* Image Source:  http://www.exponentialprograms.com/professional/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Pareto-Principle.gif