Succeeding for the Long Haul

On May 20, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40+ people fought the Franklin afternoon traffic to attend my session on Succeeding for the Long Haul and purchased a signed copy of my new book, The Language of Excellence. While we covered a lot of the material in the book, Tom Peters and Nancy Austin wrote the punch line more than 30 years ago. In The Passion for Excellence, they wrote the following:
“…there are only two ways to create and sustain superior performance over the long haul. First, take exceptional care of your customers (for chicken, jet engines, education, health care, or baseball, etc.) via superior service and superior quality. Second, constantly innovate. That’s it. There are no alternatives in achieving long-term superior performance…”
Peter Drucker said the only sound objective is the pursuit of excellence; anything else is at best only competent and that leads to marginal.

It is all about the Model for Excellence:

You can only achieve excellence through people who truly care about their customers. Moreover, you do not get to decide if you have achieved your objective. Excellence must be earned through the eyes of those who judge you, your customers. Once you achieve it, you can only maintain it through constant innovation. All that—the right people, superior customer care, and constant innovation—requires a common sense of direction [something I call I-65 North] and in-touch leadership for which traditionally “Management by Wandering Around” was an essential tool. Today social media has provided us with extraordinary new ways for the leadership to stay in touch with customers, employees, vendors, and even competitors—never has in-touch leadership been so easy. Unfortunately, few take advantage of it, and fewer follow the advice of Peters and Austin.

As I made my closing remarks, I was surprised by the appearance of Tennessee State Representative Glen Casada who presented me with a proclamation of the Tennessee House of Representatives recognizing me for my business and literary achievements—a nice surprise.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Eyes Forward

You are not going to get where you want to go looking in the rearview mirror.  Excellent managers keep their Eyes Forward.  They want to know how they are doing, not how they did.  The traditional tool for gaining that knowledge has been MBWA, Management by Wandering Around.  Wandering Around meant you were in touch with your business as of that real point in time.  You were experiencing, up close and in person, the Event Horizon.

Event Horizon is a boundary in space/time beyond which events cannot be observed.  It is real time.  It is how things are right then!  Except for personal experiences from MBWA, every other piece of information available to that traditional manager was looking backward.  The manager in the late 1900s suffered from information overload, but all of it was out of date.  For centuries management was been at a disadvantage because their information systems only told them about events occurring well in the past.  It was all about events that had already occurred.  By the time it got to the manager, it was too late to take any action that would change or improve outcomes of events and transactions reported upon.

Times have changed.  Management by Wandering Around has taken on an entirely new meaning.  Now we can “wander around” through technology and social media.  Excellence companies are hungry consumers of technology that will put them closer to the Event Horizon.  They use social media, blogs, websites, and cloud-based tools to have real time contact with customers.  They track, in real time, customer Internet reviews and comments about the company's products and services as well as the products and services of competitors.  Using technology and wireless communication facilities, excellence companies can and do operate at, and sometimes just over the edge of, the Event Horizon.  Technology, including trend analysis, forecasting, real time tracking systems, and social media monitoring, can show us what will occur if we fail to take action now to alter the future.  Information guides an organization to its targeted goals provided that information is timely, relevant, accurate, comprehensive, and navigable.  And today’s Executive Support Systems (ESS) do just that.  They gather, analyze, and summarize the key internal and external information.  They provide the modern executive with aircraft cockpit-like command and control—with instruments showing the status of all key metrics necessary to “keep the plane in the air” and accomplishing its mission.  Excellent companies keep their Eyes Forward and never go second class when it comes to technology that puts them at the Event Horizon.
Mysteries by Tom Collins include Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest, The Claret Murders.   For signed copies go to http://store.markrollinsadventures.com. Print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes' iBookstore.

Star Salesman

Low Goals, Ceremonialism, Change Groups, and the Hawthorn Effect all depend on effective leadership.  The best change managers are Star Salespersons.  They add drama and pizzazz —they practice Management by Wandering Around (MBWA).  They Communicate by Wondering Around (CBWA)—in person, over the net, with posters, with t-shirts & other apparel, in white papers, in books and booklets.  They are the cheerleader.  But they also have to do their homework.  They understand Change and they are prepared for it.  They determine the knowledge required and develop programs to deliver it.  They understand the importance of attitude.  They never force change.  They don’t utter the words “Do it because I said so.”  They involve the people that will be affected by the change in the decision to change and in planning and managing the change.  They reward accomplishing new skills and they stay involved as needed to assure that those new skills become habit.  They are there from the beginning through the Valley of Despair (the bottom of the Change Curve) and the eventual climb to the targeted new level of performance or benefit.

A little advance planning, disseminating the right knowledge in the right form to the right people, ceremonialism, recognizing accomplishments, paying attention to it can pay big dividends in terms of achieving the desired benefit without costly disruption and frustration.


An iheritance at risk and the discovery of an extraordinary cache of old wines during Nashivlle's history-maiking flood leads to foul play and death in this mark Rollins mystery adventure--avaiable from Amazon.com and e-book editions are available for the Kindle, the Nook and by going to the itunes store for the IPad.