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Balance – Optimism and Facing the Brutal Facts

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Oct 28, 2013

Working with our client’s one critical element to make sure a business does not get out of balance is making sure when you choose your priorities you balance your productivity measures with a people or relationship measurement.  describe the image  It’s your critical number that assures your effort to build more productivity doesn’t hurt the relationships with your customers, employees or shareholders.

To demonstrate the need for balance between productivity and relationship (Two Drivers) I frequently tell the story of General Motors or Enron to emphasize this point.  Companies that measure only one of these 2 areas tend to go out of balance and it can damage the company’s results (productivity) or relationships (people). Consider these two examples – during the recent recession, the unions working with General Motors resisted concessions that would keep the company afloat. As a result, the company declared bankruptcy and was bailed out by the Federal Government.  The company was too out of balance focusing on its People that it lost its Productivity health. Contrarily, Enron is an example of an organization whose top management was so focused on results – Productivity – that it broke the law and damaged its People (shareholders, employees and customers). It is vital for the healthy growth companies to consistently measure both Productivity AND People indicators. 

Most business will choose a productivity measure as their One Thing.  It can frequently be sales growth, revenue or profit.  When you fail to measure the opposite driver, (relationships in this case) you can have an imbalance that hurts that side of the business. 

Delta Airlines provides a great example of the need to use counterbalancing critical numbers. Delta was driving hard to improve their on-time departures metric. But they focused so hard on on-time departure (Productivity Metric) that they forgot about the People they were trying to serve. By focusing only on on-time departures, they started cutting corners and frequently were unable to load all of the bags on each plane. This left the most important People – their customers – without their luggage and feeling rather angry. So Delta began measuring missing customer bags and overall customer satisfaction along with on-time departures, and it forced the company to figure out how to provide on-time departures without cutting important corners. That’s why we suggest having critical numbers that balance People and Productivity priorities.

As I mentioned in What Are Your Accountability Standards? I plan to address some answers to the questions Dr. Silverman provided me at my clinic appointment last Wednesday which also confront this issue of balance.

Michelle, my wife, asked Dr. Silverman now that I’ve passed the one year mark from my transplant has the odds of survival increased?  It was a good question to ask, especially in terms of discovering the brutal facts about my condition.  Dr. Silverman agreed that yes my survival chances had increased.  In terms of percentages she said they had increased from about 15% to 25-30%, and that the longer I continued to be healthy these numbers would increase, especially once I reached the two year mark. 

Those numbers surprised me!  I’ve known these numbers for a long time.  In fact when I first learned of my Acute Myeloid Leukemia and the ensuing discovery that I had monosomy 7 these numbers dropped from 10% to less than 5%.  I’m not sure what they were or if they changed, after five chemotherapies failed, and we needed to go to a clinical trial

I lived with this uncertainly or grim brutal facts and yet I can tell you that never once did I feel hopeless.  Was it foolish optimism?  My One Thing is my health, yet it's always been balanced with a productivity goal for my business.  I am blessed with clients who were willing to continue to work with me through my illness.  I missed only one day of meetings with my clients despite the severity of my condition.  Was the focus of continuing to work, focus on productivity priorities, the balancing factor that allowed me to have a goal that kept me positive about my outcome? 

Certainly the disciplines I created through my Health (One Thing) priority helped me feel that my chances were 100% for recovery.  Never once did I ever consider myself among that small percentage that wouldn’t survive.  I was the 100% of whatever that number was that was going to survive. 

Was I not confronting the brutal facts, or was I simply recognizing the brutality of my situation and focusing upon that which I could control, my attitude and mental health, in order to do everything possible to survive?

I’m not sure what the answer is to that.  As I stated, while I’ve been perfectly aware of the odds of survival, the numbers Dr. Silverman provided did surprise me!  Not in what they are, but in the fact that I never consider that I’m 70% likely to not make it.  Rather I’m 100% sure I will!  I choose to believe that and am committed to doing everything in my power to live my life toward achieving it.

At times I’ve been asked why you are still working.  Why don’t you relax and spend time getting healthy and with your family? 

One thing I’ve discovered through all of this is clarity of what my purpose is.  I’ve received what I feel is a miraculous gift to have survived and been able to work through this entire challenge.  My purpose is to Discover, Inspire, Ignite, Purpose and Passion.  Through my first 40 years I was uncertain what my mission was.  I discovered it through the Primary Aim process when my E-Myth coaching opportunity started.  I lost my way at some point, and my passion became more of a burden than an inspiration.  The discovery of my cancer re-ignited my passion and helped me to re-establish and identify what it is.

Am I facing the brutal facts and choosing to be too optimistic?  Or am I balancing my brutal facts with a desire to live my life to the fullest in the present?  Perhaps you can judge this better than I.  

I’ve made conscious choices to spend more time with my family, particularly my wife, Michelle who has been so dedicated to my health and survival.  The opportunity to present the Rockefeller Habits Four Decisions Workshop on November 12th is another opportunity for me to offer how valuable these principles are and have been in my survival and recovery.  I used these principles to help me beat cancer.  There is no one that has a stronger belief that these principles and disciplines can be effective in building your business as well. 

IF you’d like to be sure your business can succeed in 2014 bring your team to this Workshop.  Be prepared to hear stories of success and be willing to work and plan for the future.  There’s a small risk for me to be in public.  It’s diminished greatly in the past few month as my immune system recovers.  You can be assured I’ll be prepared to protect myself in this environment.  I love this work, and I love sharing the principles.  Hope you will join me in learning how success is predictable when you follow the right disciplines. 

Next Blog a movie I love and the lesson it offers on culture and executive team harmony.  

Topics: Acute Myeloid Luekemia, One Thing, Process/Productivity Drivers, People/Relationship Drivers, Mono Somy 7, Balance, Balanced Metrics, Michelle Wick

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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