Archive for February, 2014

If I were to recommend only one business book, this would be the one!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t is a book that resulted from a study done by Professor Jim Collins and a group of graduate students at Stanford University’s Business School. The study aimed to discover what highly successful publicly traded companies did that enabled them to outperform their competitors and sustain those superior results over time. What makes the book so compelling is that its findings are based upon empirical evidence, unlike so many other management books that are based upon theory.

Summarizing the book’s seven major principles:

“Level 5 Leadership: Every good-to-great company had Level 5 Leadership during the pivotal transition years. “Level 5” refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top. Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves. They are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They display workmanlike diligence – more plow horse than show horse.”

“First Who, Then What:  The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. The key point is that ‘who’ questions come before “what” decisions – before vision, before strategy, before organization structure, before tactics. First who, then what – as a rigorous discipline, consistently applied.”

“Confront the Brutal Facts: “All good-to-great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts or their current reality. When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self-evident. It is impossible to make good decisions without infusing the entire process with an honest confrontation of the brutal facts. A key psychology for leading from good to great is the Stockdale Paradox: Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

“Hedgehog Concept: To go from good to great requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles representing “What you are deeply passionate about,” “What you can be the best in the world at,” and “What drives your economic engine,” translated into a simple, crystalline concept:

  • The key is to understand what your organization can be the best in the world at, and equally important what it cannot be the best at – not what it “wants” to be the best at.
  • The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal, strategy, or intention; it is an understanding.”

“Culture of Discipline: Sustained results depend upon building a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles. A culture of discipline involves a duality. On the one hand, it requires people who adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system. A culture of discipline is not just about action. It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.”

“Technology Accelerators: Good to great companies avoid technology fads and bandwagons, yet they become pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies. The key question about any technology is ‘Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept?’ If yes, then you need to become a pioneer in the application of that technology. If no, then you can settle for parity or ignore it entirely. The good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.”

“The Flywheel and Doom Loop: Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough. The comparison companies followed a different pattern, the doom loop. Rather than accumulating momentum – turn by turn of the flywheel – they tried to skip buildup and jump immediately to breakthrough. Then, with disappointing results, they’d lurch back and forth, failing to maintain consistent direction.”

Good to Great is the most interesting and compelling business book of all the many that I’ve read.  It presents a model for any company or organization that aspires to success.  If I were to recommend only one business book to others, this would be the one!

The book is:  Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, Jim Collins, HarperCollins, New York, 2001

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Structure for “the Groove” and Avoid “the Rut”

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Every new General Manager has tackled the challenges of their position with vision, vigor, and enthusiasm to address the expressed concerns of the board or owners and the perceived needs of customers/guests/members.  It’s something we’ve all experienced – analyzing the operation, discovering the problems, formulating a plan of action, winning the support of employees for the new agenda, and executing to completion.

While there are few things as satisfying as overcoming obstacles to improve a hospitality operation, the larger challenge that never goes away is how to keep the spirit of renewal alive over time.  This is so because it seems that despite whatever progress is made, things still fall apart, old habits die hard and new initiatives, no matter how exciting, grow stale and uninspiring in short order.  It is just too easy for your “in-the-groove” operation to backslide into that same ol’, same ol’ rut.

So what is the conscientious manager to do to break through the seemingly endless cycle of groove and rut?  The simple answer is to instill a strong sense of constant renewal in the enterprise’s culture.  While this is easily said, the reality of making it happen is far more complex and challenging requiring a significant degree of organizational structure and focus.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Make ongoing renewal a priority in departmental expectations and departmental plans, ensuring that department heads spell out goals and specific steps to keep each operation’s events and activities fresh and compelling.  Tools:  Annual club planning, individual work plans, measureable accountabilities, and accountability for performance.
  • Focus on the fundamentals of service and service delivery with ongoing reminders to managers and employees alike.  As Mac Anderson says, “The three keys to inspiring . . . service – Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce.”  Tools:  On the Go Training, Daily Huddles, Notable Quotables
  • In each department encourage employee feedback on what works and what doesn’t.  As prominent technology and entrepreneur blogger Bill Robinson says, “To be able to regularly solicit, capture and execute upon the strong ideas of those on the front lines who really know what the customers want will be the panacea for the 21st century business world.”  Act on the information your employees bring you to continually improve all aspects of the operation – organization, planning, execution, training, service, and service delivery.  Tools:  Continual Process Improvement
  • Using the principles of Service-Based Leadership, work continually toward the power of employee empowerment.  An entire staff that understands what must be done, how to do it, and acts without fear of making mistakes and repercussions will bring far more to bear on success and renewal than the efforts of a handful of managers and supervisors.  Tools:  Leadership on the Line, The Power of Employee Empowerment
  • Use every opportunity of interaction with employees to reinforce organizational values and the culture of service.  Whether it’s pre-shift meetings, the habit of daily huddles, or casual conversations and direction throughout the workday, managers must constantly “spread the gospel” by word AND deed.  While the message is important, there is no substitute for example – not only in how leaders interact with customers/guests/members, but more importantly how they interact with their employees.  There is no substitute for the example of leadership.  “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”  Tools:  The Bully Pulpit, Daily Huddles, Notable Quotables, Service-Based Leadership
  • Seek the feedback of your customers/guests/members.  Ultimately it’s their perception of your operation that guarantees success.  Feedback comes in many forms – formal surveys, departmental comment cards, personal interactions, AND benchmarking customer spending habits within each department.  All of these will clearly point to customer boredom or dissatisfaction with your operation.  Tools:  Surveys, scored and benchmarked comment cards, daily interactions, monitoring and analyzing spending habits.
  • Take time for analysis, exploration, and reflection.  Most managers stay busy all the time.  Many simply react to daily and weekly crises.  Some only give infrequent and passing thought to the strategic direction of their operations as if everything runs well enough on auto-pilot.  Without blocks of time set aside on a regular basis to consider their operations and the ongoing or dominant issues that impact their business; to analyze the ebb and flow of their business; to read, research, and reflect on operational ideas and best practices; and to work continually to improve all aspects of what they do, the enterprise will reflect in systemic ways their disinterest and neglect.  Ongoing reflection, analysis, and engagement are essential.  Tools:  Benchmarking and review; structured set-aside time; professional reading lists; ongoing review of trade journals and other publications; adequate time off property for perspective; relationships developed with other managers to discuss, compare, and brainstorm issues and solutions.
  • Make wow factors a significant part of your team’s effort.  It stimulates the creative juices, breaks the tedium of habit, and can be fun for your staff while thrilling to your customers.  Tools:  Wow Factors – read What Have You Done for Me Lately?
  • Make time for constant renewal – Arrange and organize your operation to handle the fundamentals routinely.  The less effort you and your staff have to spend to execute the basics, the more time and focus you’ll have to conceive and execute the extraordinary.  Follow the Pareto Principle to organize your operation so that 80% (the fundamentals) happens routinely, allowing you and your staff to focus on the critical 20% of customer service and satisfaction.  Tools:  read The Quest for Remarkable Service

Bottom Line:  Get your operation “in the groove” with organization and structure.  Then focus on ongoing renewal with continual process improvement and wow factors to avoid being “in the rut” of stale, uninspired programming, service, and service delivery.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Guest Blog: Goals for Setting Priorities

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Top 10 things every Club Manager or Department Head needs to know when setting your priorities in business and in life with projects, priorities and deadlines.

1. Narrow your objectives.

You probably won’t be able to achieve every goal you’ve ever dreamed of. So identify your goals clearly and why they matter to you, and decide which are most important. By concentrating your efforts, you have a better chance of achieving what matters most. Remember; once you develop a plan on how you are going to get there, your mind automatically goes to work in figuring out ways to achieve your goals, even when you are asleep. I like to refer to the “5 five P’s” – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance! If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. Like golf and life, if we don’t keep score, then we are just playing a game but we are really not in the game to win.

2. Focus first on the goals that matter.

To accomplish primary goals, you will often need to put desirable but less important ones on the back burner and focus on what’s most important at this very moment. If your boss is asking you where you are more than once about a project, then most likely, this project is critical to him, so what’s the delay?

3. Be prepared for conflicts.

Even worthy goals often conflict with one another. When faced with such a conflict, you should ask yourself questions like: Will one of the conflicting goals benefit more people than the other? Which goal will cause the greater harm if it is deferred? What happens if I don’t achieve a certain goal? What is the negative impact? Learning how and when to shift priorities is the sign of a good manager. If you are one that cannot juggle priorities, then you may be in the wrong leadership role. Perhaps what you are doing isn’t your cup of tea?

4. Put time on your side.

The most important ally you have in reaching your goals is time. Time when lost will never be regained. So, you must learn the value of time and understand time wasters in your day and eliminate them. Are you working enough hours in the day to accomplish your priorities? Are you productive in those hours? Do you work on less important projects first, because they are simpler? Think about what you are doing on an hourly basis, keep a time log / study and learn from it.

5. Choose carefully.

In drawing up your list of daily personal and business goals, you should look for things that will help you feel like you have accomplished something in the day, feel secure, happy or fulfilled. Some of the items that wind up on such lists include goals and objectives that cast out a big net and touch many people. So, choose carefully, what matters to you, may not be the right priority, especially in business.

6. Include Team Members.

If you have a team member who you feel confident in, who you can run things by, perhaps if you are having difficulties in making the right goal setting decisions, you should ask them for their advice. Or, if all else fails, just ask your boss and I know you will receive support from this individual as well. Make sure that that this person is vital part of the goal-setting process.

7. Start now and don’t delay.

The longer you wait to identify and begin working toward your goals, projects, priorities and deadlines, the more difficulty you’ll have reaching them. Don’t procrastinate, “Do It Now!” Because, now is the time to achieve your goals! Remember; “Inch by inch, anything is a cinch, and yard by yard, everything is hard!”

8. Sweat the big stuff and keep on task.

Once you have prioritized your list of goals, keep your time allocated to your goals on course. Whenever you find yourself spending too much time on any particular goal, (especially the big stuff) you need to back up and reassess to make sure that you are still on task. Don’t let one single priority consume all of your time, preventing you from achieving any of your goals.

9. Don’t get sidetracked.

If you find yourself sidetracked, don’t get down on yourself, just pick back up where you left off and reprioritize to see if you are on track or not. Don’t be afraid to mention to your supervisor that you are behind and you need more time. However, if you ask for too many pardons, you will not be looked at favorably and could be subjecting yourself to an unwelcomed review.

10. Be prepared for change.

Projects, priorities and deadlines may change daily, so it is advisable to constantly review your priorities, just to see where they stand and alter your work schedule and action list based on what you are seeing.

In summary:  Our lives are busy, whether we like it or not. With social media and computer technology, our members and residents and our “bosses” have the ability to reach us all hours of the day, including past regular working hours. So, let’s face it, if we don’t learn how to manage our time, our time will manage us. The adverse view to this statement is that we will ultimately find rest when we are laid to rest. However, as for peace of mind, we can have that immediately, once we organize ourselves and learn how to take control, better prioritize our projects, deadlines and priorities and accomplish what’s important in our lives.

The choices that we can make are in our control and they can have a positive impact in our lives, if we will make these decisions with prudence, diligence, focus, timeliness’ and with genuine care and concern. The ability to shift priorities and refocus on what’s really important and what really matters is key. We must not get bogged down in trivial details, or needless conversation, but instead we need to focus on the details that matter. If you struggle often, with “Analysis to Paralysis” type of thinking, trying to be perfect, then you are no good to anyone because you will without a doubt reach gridlock and then you will become ineffective. There is a real balance to reaching this level of achievement. The aforementioned top (10) ten ideas will complement your abilities, freeing up enough time for you to have balance in your life without compromising your ability to get things done at work and at home in a timely manner.

Article written by:  Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!