Strategy is Destiny?

Strategy is Destiny? – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Strategic plans and tactical plans for facility and asset managers is a big part of my business.

So, I asked myself: why are they not always effective?

In an interview, Richard Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, suggested that what actually provides success and what is difficult to copy is not so much knowing what to do (deciding on the right strategy), but the ability to do it.

He had repeatedly argued that organizational culture and the ability to operate effectively (successful implementation) is much more important to organizational success than to have the right strategy.

How true is that!

The culture of action in an organization directly drives results.

He goes on to say, “I could leave our strategic plan on a plane, and it wouldn’t make any difference.  No one could execute it. Our success has nothing to do with planning. It has to do with execution.

Our actions – not our intentions – measure our success.

• Start doing those things you could and should do in the plan
• Start doing more than expected of you in the plan
• Start doing important things daily in support of the plan

Successful execution is destiny achieved.

How Many Leadership Secrets Are There?

How Many Leadership Secrets Are There? – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Good question!

I looked on Amazon and found there are over 29,000 books listed about leadership, nearly 8,000 listed about the ‘Secrets of Leadership’!  There are nearly 85,000 books listed about management alone.

By the time this blog is posted, more will have been added.

No wonder we are confused.

Larry Winget in his book It’s Called Work for a Reason writes: “There are books that talk about the seven secrets, the eleven secrets and the four secrets . . . . How many leadership secrets are there?  Here’s an idea to try: Lead.  Get out in front of your people and give them something to follow – just lead!”

Now there is the key!  Did you see it?

“Get out in front of your people and give them something to follow.”

Sounds easy.  But is it?

At a one of my leadership principles workshops recently, I asked the question: “what does a good leader look like?”

In a quick brainstorm, the group came up with:
* a person who is honest;
* someone who follows ethical principles;
* a leader is authentic and consistent;
* my idea of a leader puts others ahead of self;
* leaders are helpful.

See! No secret!

The same things that it takes to be a good leader today are the same things it has taken to be a good leader throughout history.

People want someone to follow.  Set the example.

We’ve always done it like that!

We’ve always done it like that! – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Now I would bet that every manager has heard that at least once in his career: “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”

This thinking is based on the premise that it presumably has worked in the past!

This example in Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense (a great book, by the way) really struck me….

Suppose you went to a doctor who said, “I’m going to do an appendectomy on you.”  When you asked why, the doctor answered, “because I did one on my last patient and it made him better.”

I think you would not be happy and promptly leave that office – because you know that the treatment ought to fit the disease, regardless of whether or not the treatment helped the previous patient.

Strangely, that logical thought process happens more often than we might care to admit in our businesses and in our communities.  We blindly follow others’ advise or simply repeat history.

In this changing world, the process ought to fit the market or the customers needs regardless of whether or not the old process worked.

It requires us to know the foundational principles of management, leadership and human behaviour and apply that knowledge to tailor a custom process for each unique situation.

If you’re hoping to grow your business – what got you here won’t get you there.

Think about this the next time someone says “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” and reach out to someone with proven experience and leadership knowledge to help you develop a solution-oriented mind-set.

The Law of Vibration

The Law of Vibration – by Arnie Wohlgemut

At a training event, Paul Martinelli, one of my mentors spoke of the “Law of Vibration”.

The law maintains that everything in this world is either in a state of growth or in a state of decay.

As I sat there and listen to him explain, I came to realize that this applied to nearly everything I do in my business.

We have all heard the quote “You may be on the right track, but unless your moving in the right direction, you’ll get run over.”  Or the success quote “What got you here won’t get you there.”

Here’s what I took away. Action is critical: do something; learn something; try something new.

Think of the world around you.  If a tree is not growing or cut off from its source of nutrition, it starts to die and decay.

The very building you live in or work in, unless it is maintained, decay happens. Paint peels, roofs leak, bricks fall and mortar falls out and carpet wears out.  It’s a fact of life.

The challenge for you today and everyday is this:

……….• What courses have you taken in the past year to help you reach your personal growth goal?  (Do you have growth goals?)
……….• Have you read 5 books that stimulate your mind towards personal or professional growth?  (Have you read a book?)
……….• What research have you done that will help your family, your relationships and your friendships?  (Research?)

“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind.  You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” ― Zig Ziglar

Are you growing?
If not – well, think about the Law of Vibration!


Wildcard – By Arnie Wohlgemut

My favourite card game is called “Wizard”.  In the deck there are two special cards in each suit.  The Jester is worthless with the Wizard having the highest value.  Either can be played at any time, regardless of the suit.

In games, using a wildcard strategically can help you win.  In life, being a wildcard – not so much.  What do you mean you ask?

Being a wildcard means you’re not predictable.  Nobody knows when and what you will do.  It might be entertaining for a while.  It’s hard to have great relationships when you are like that.  I wonder if it’s hard living like that!

Being authentic means that your head, mouth and feet are all going in the same direction.  I’ve heard it said another way: your head, heart and mouth are in sync.  Trust me it is not always easy to do, especially with all the pressures, stress and high expectations in work environments today.

Being authentic is being real. 

A real person is:
– a person people can identify with;
– being consistent;
– setting an example by putting your words into action;
– being predicable.

Knowing the boss and depending on their predictability builds trust.  If they say what they mean and mean what they say, they are in sync.

Are you in sync?


Jellyfish – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Jellyfish are interesting creatures. They float nearly invisible in the ocean waters. They don’t look the least bit threatening. But if part of your body touches them, well, let’s just say it’s not very pleasant. I understand it’s a self-protection response against predators. Yet if you hold them in your hand, they don’t sting.

I’ve met a few jellyfish in my life.

Jellyfish coworkers are those that float around and appear to be harmless. But if trouble gets too close, watch out! They leave their mark. Hold them “in your hand” and things calm down. All they really want is respect and to be left to do their job.

In management, I found that one of my challenges was to figure out how to get the “jellyfish” to participate. To work along with others yet give them the space to float along at their own speed and be successful.

We all have jellyfishes in our lives. Heck we may have been jellyfishes ourselves. I for one found that the minute I started to encourage, mentor and empower my jellyfishes, I was rewarded with the pleasure of success.

Portraits of your Success

Portraits of your Success – By Arnie Wohlgemut

It’s been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  That could be true. However, a picture doesn’t tell the whole story of who we are!

A portrait or snapshot only captures a moment – it does not capture a person’s full experience that have led up to that moment or follow that moment.

Great leaders never are content with one snapshot.  They are looking for a gallery of images reflecting experience.

One the dangers that every leader faces is thinking that their own experience is unique – treating every management challenge as something “no other organization has ever faced”.  This leadership mindset can cost you valuable time and impact revenue.  Without a question, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to learn from the mistakes and setbacks of others than repeating the mistakes yourself.

Great leaders understand that behind each successful business, and each successful person is composition of events in their work experience, their shared history and in their lives.  These events shaped and inform them.  They develop habits and practices that most people never see.

So, continue learning from other’s experiences.  And dig deeper.  Study great leaders to understand the “why” behind the actions and success you observe to really know how someone’s experience will help you be more successful.

What’s the ROI?

What’s the ROI? – By Arnie Wohlgemut

Those of us in business have heard that question time and time again.  What’s the ‘Return On Investment’?

But it’s not just a business term.

Local and upper levels of government build it into proposals and rational for projects and new programmes.  The public at large wants to know how their tax dollars are being used – and what the return on our investment really is!

In our private lives, we want to make the best our investments and put our savings in the highest return bucket.  After all – it’s our future we’re preparing for.

ROI is deeply entrenched in our lives.

But a term we rarely hear is ROR — “Return On Relationships”.

Strong, healthy relationships empower us and give us confidence.  Take the relationship between parents and a child.  Both the patents and child grow and change within that relationship and there is benefit on both sides.

In a workplace, a poor relationship between management and staff can be devastating.  Poor moral, poor performance, high stress, staff turnover – need I go on?  Three (3) out of four (4) people report that their boss is the most stressful part of their job!  Ouch!!!

I recently read that 65% of workers would rather have a new manager than a raise.

Wow – that’s a bit stunning.

Why?  Their boss was unable to collaborate and be a team player.  That reflects the leader’s ability to build strong work relationships.  As a manager, supervisor or CEO you have little chance of improving performance if you do not build strong relationships across the organization.  Interestingly enough, this also leads to a better return on investment.

What’s your ROR?

Relationships matter.


Signals – By Arnie Wohlgemut

When I was a young boy I learned to skate.  My brother and I would spend hours playing hockey on the public rink across the street.  Mom instituted a signal system.  This way we knew when to come home for supper or bed.  It was quite simple.  She or my dad would turn the front porch light on and off until we were on our way.

In our lives, there are often times when we see “a signal”.

Maybe it’s to step back from what we were doing.  Maybe it’s time to stop talking!  Ouch.

Or maybe it’s a good time to start that new idea.  Timing is everything.  I know from experience!

There were times when my ego or stubbornness caused me to ignore the signs.  Let me tell you, putting both feet in my mouth is not pleasant.

But here’s a trick I learned early in my leadership experience:

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  We’re about to make two lists.

On the left side, list some good decisions you have made.  On the right side, list some bad decisions you have made.  Really – do this now. I’m not asking you to share 🙂  I just want you to reflect on your experiences.

Now take a look. How many good decisions were a result of your intuition?  Good because timing was great?  Are there any bad decisions where you missed the signal?  Good idea – bad timing?

“Reflection turns experience into insight.”  John Maxwell

Reflecting on our experiences is important.  That’s how we can learn to follow our instincts.  It builds our intuitive skill and timing.

Gratitude and Recognition

Gratitude and Recognition – By Arnie Wohlgemut

“I appreciate you.” “Thank you.” “Nice job”  Many kind words we don’t hear that often.  When they are said with sincerity, they can inspire someone to keep going and, more than that, to thrive.

I was enjoying the sun.  The sky was blue and the sand was white.  An elderly gentleman was working to clean up the beach, picking up after all the ungrateful tourists.  I bent over and picked up my empty cups and passed them to him.  He smiled politely and held open the bag.  He was doing a job many of us would not do, at least not by choice.  As I watched his face, he seemed so happy to have a job, no matter how menial it was.  I instantly reached into my pocket and passed him a tip to thank him for a job well done.  The reaction was priceless.  In a raspy voice he said, “God Bless You.”

I tell you this not to impress you, but to impress upon you that we should always recognize people — wherever you are, no matter how small the job, no matter the season.