The Golf Ball and How Nike Missed The Boat

Leading up to the 2000 US Open tournament, virtually all the golf balls in use, especially by professionals, were of wound construction.  Top of the line balls had balata covers which better golfers beat to shreds.  Tour pros routinely used six balls per round.  The exception was a Titleist ball with an Elastomer cover, the Titleist Professional, which closely resembled the Tour Balata, but with a more resilient cover.

At the beginning of the 2000 season, Tiger Woods, who was a Nike athlete was using the Titleist Professional ball.  Nike in partnership with Bridgestone Golf was prototyping a ball called the Nike Tour Accuracy, which Tiger call “My Ball”, planned for release at the beginning of the 2001 PGA Tour season.  In early 2000 Tiger had narrowed the prototype field down to two versions.  After some additional testing, the final version of the ball was brought to Hamburg for testing during practice rounds at the 2000 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.  In a wind-swept heavy rain, Tiger hit a drive from the first tee with the Titleist Professional ball that the wind caught and push into the rough.  Tiger next hit the Nike prototype on the same starting line. The Nike ball moved about five yards in the wind and stopped in the middle of the fairway.  In May 2000, Tiger switched to the Nike ball, ahead of the original schedule.  Starting with the 2000 US Open, Tiger won his “Tiger Slam” with “My Ball” and changed the golf ball industry in the process.

What does this have to do with business?  During that period, Tiger Woods was the most influential golfer in the world.  That influence resulted in a complete move away from wound golf balls to the new two- and three-piece balls.  To quote Tiger;

“I won four majors with that ball, and the rest is history because wound-ball technology is gone.  Everyone switched.”

Unfortunately, Nike was totally unprepared to capitalize on Tiger’s success using the Nike Tour Accuracy golf ball.  Kel Devlin, Nike’s global director of sports marketing still ponders the circumstances around the ball.

“If we had enough capacity, and I could have gotten the sports marketing folks and Phil [Knight] to buy into the bigger program … if we’d had the ball available to any Tour player who wanted it four weeks earlier than we did …”

Result?  Nike is no longer in the golf ball business and Titleist continues as the far and away best-selling brand of golf balls.

So, I ask you the same question I ask of most of my clients when they are about to begin a new strategy or marketing program,

“What if this works?”

When you do something new, do you prepare for success?  If you are launching a new product or item, do you arrange for timely delivery of inventory on a just-in-time basis?  If you are launching a new service, has your team been fully trained to consistently deliver the service up to the quality you require, while continuing to support (not losing) your existing loyal clients?  To successfully scale your business, it is essential to ask these questions and many more as part of your planning and implementation process.

My ActionCOACH colleagues and I are expert at assisting clients just like you in the development of new products and services and business growth.

*Based on an article in the June 2019 edition of Golf Magazine.

Three Mini Blogs

Effective Delegation – Step 1 I’ve been rereading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.  In 7 Habits, an important distinction is made between “Gofer Delegation” and “Stewardship Delegation.”  I realized that in my ongoing series of blogs on the subject of Effective Delegation I failed to make clear that the series is focused solely on Stewardship Delegation. Aside from deciding to actually begin delegating and having a plan as to what items to delegate, the first step in delegating any responsibility under Stephen Covey’s and my definition of stewardship delegation is defining and communicating the Desired Result.  Once the desired result is clear and understood by both you (the delegator) and the person you are delegating to (the “delegatee”), they are enabled to take responsibility to deliver that result.  It is up to the delegatee to determine how the methods that will be implemented to deliver the desired result.  This mutual understanding of the target is the foundation upon which leverage and success is built.   A Strong Reference to an Article (and Book) In the January 2016 edition of “Success” magazine there is a wonderful article by Amy Morin entitled “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do excerpted from her book of the same title.  Here are the headlines, please read the article or the book for the details:
  1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves
  2. Give away their power
  3. Shy away from change
  4. Squander energy on things they can’t control
  5. Worry about pleasing everyone
  6. Fear taking risks
  7. Dwell on the past
  8. Repeat their mistakes
  9. Resent other people’s successes
  10. Give up after their first failure
  11. Fear “alone time”
  12. Feel the world owes them something
  13. Expect immediate results
I’m sure you will benefit from learning more about this important subject.   Headline in a Newspaper The other day I read the following headline “Pressure on Apple for Its Next Big Thing.”  This headline reminded me of one of the key things I learned when I was consulting at a company in the midst of a turn-around attempt.  The simple lesson is that there is never a “Silver Bullet.”  The company I was working with got into deep financial trouble because they keep searching to the one product that would save the business.  In fact they already had an excellent product offering that they could not reliably and consistently deliver.  One by one their retail customer base stopped ordering from them. You may be thinking that their silver bullet was fixing their fulfillment process.  Their inability to fulfill orders was a result of several factors including poor inventory control, poor bookkeeping and a lack of sales analysis, to name just a few.  One of the main messages of the ActionCOACH 5 Way Formula – Business Chassis is that your business can achieve massive results if you cover your bases and grow your business in balance. My colleagues and I will be happy to work with you to implement any of the concepts mentioned in the blog.

Getting Through Those Conversations You Don’t Want to Have

I was recently reading a great article in Success Magazine by Shelley Levitt about difficult, delicate and distasteful conversations.  Several of the points in the article bear repeating with emphasis.  But first some background.  Many managers, leaders or entrepreneurs work very hard at avoiding these kinds of conversations.   This is a big mistake for a couple of reasons:
  1. As we say in many of our ActionCOACH presentations, the earth is round. Therefore, ignored issues and problems sooner or later come around and bite you in the butt.
  2. And ignored issues usually grow in severity the longer they are not addressed.
In the best-seller Difficult Conversations: How to Address What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen the authors make the point that leaders and companies that can adroitly confront what matters most, “will leave their competition in the dust.”  And a note to those of you who have risen to a level of leadership that requires you to begin to have difficult conversations; you cannot get promoted past having to have distasteful conversations, the opposite is true.  In fact inability to handle these conversations is one of the most common reasons people don’t succeed according to Heen. Here are a few suggestions for having successful professional conversations:
  • Be courageous. These conversations take courage, and there is no perfect time.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait until an issue gets too big to be corrected.  Most of the time it is much more productive to make small incremental adjustments rather than having to correct major problems.
  • Plan the conversation. Pick an appropriate venue.  Avoid a spontaneous delivery fueled by anger or frustration.
  • Be direct and clear. Do not talk in tangents.
  • Be specific. Avoid generalizations.  “You were late returning from lunch three times last week” is much better than “you always come back from lunch late.”
  • Discuss Consequences Not Intentions. “When you are late with KPIs that causes many other delays” not “It seems you don’t think that on-time KPIs are important.”
  • No Buts. “Your suggestion to improve operations is great, but you need to design the next level of details” sounds critical, shutting down creativity, while “Your suggestion to improve operations is great, and you need to design the next level of details.” Is much more likely to open a productive dialogue.
  • Two Ears, One Mouth. Shut down your inner voice and simply listen.  “Listening is the most persuasive weapon” says Heen.
If you wish to get even better at difficult conversations and to accelerate your timeline to success, my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH would be happy to have a complementary, no obligation coaching session with you to better determine how much value we can add to your business.  Simply click the Free Business Coaching Session button near the top right of the screen.

Why You Need Written Plans

“Planning without Action is futile, Action without planning is fatal” Unknown

One of the most profound concepts I have embraced since joining the ActionCOACH team is the many positive results of having written plans.  It is commonly believed that those who have written plans outperform their contemporaries by a large margin.  While the often quoted alumni studies at Harvard or Yale are urban myths, one actual study conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, (to you can read her research summary click here) provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools:
  • Accountability,
  • Commitment and
  • Writing down one’s goals. This study demonstrates that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.
You may fall into the group, along with the vast majority of people, who tried writing a plan on one or two occasions only to conclude that planning does not work.  Perhaps, you bit off more than you could reasonably accomplish, set unrealistic deadlines, did not set deadlines or your plans and goals were not specific enough.  Maybe you believe or concluded that planning is useless because plans are obsolete as soon as they are finished.  Regardless of your reasons for not planning in the past, I urge you to consider planning your business and your life starting now for the following reasons and benefits. First of all, planning is an ongoing process.  The main value of planning is periodically thinking about your business and your life in an organized manner.  When a planning process is followed, several things naturally occur:
  • You attain focus – you weed out the noise that naturally occurs in your life
  • You prioritize – things in a logical order prevent you from over committing (biting off more than you can reasonably accomplish).
  • Your filters open – your conscious and subconscious mind are opened to collect the resources, knowledge and partners you need to achieve your goals
  • You communicate – a plan is a great communication tool to use when you delegate and seek assistance
  • You create a great “rallying point” for your team
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  We all have only twenty four hours in a day.  Effective use of time has a direct relationship to a person’s level of success.  It is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful, in all aspects of life.  Having plans will greatly increase the results you achieve from your twenty four hours. Finally, and most importantly, most businesses develop and grow organically, with little or no planning.  Many grow and reach a “point of no return” where, for example, they may be supporting an inefficient or counter-productive structure, the right people in the wrong roles or the wrong people in the right roles, or worst of all the wrong people in the wrong roles.  Their business may not be able to adjust to current market conditions in a timely fashion.  They might have over-expanded, under-expanded, passed on a promising opportunity or pursued a disastrous opportunity.  These situations become disastrous after a business passes the point beyond which it cannot “undo” and restart without more investment of time and capital than is available.  Thus, it is essential to avoid growing organically and hitting the point of no return by adopting a planning process as early as possible and of course sticking to it.  You can either have a reactive business or a proactive business.

2015 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious – Part 2

Here are some more BFO’s from February’s 2015 North American Business Excellence Forum (#BEF2015) and Awards.  On the second day of the conference, we were privileged to be entertained, motivated and advised by Jeffrey Gitomer (@gitomer facebook.com/jeffreygitomer linkedin.com/in/jeffreygitomer) a well known speaker, blogger, author and trainer focused on sales.  His style is rapid fire; I could barely keep up with him with my notes.  Nevertheless, here are some of my top Gitomer BFO’s :
  • Gitomer Rule #1 – Make the prospect laugh and think within the first minute, or you’ll spend the rest of your time trying to recover
  • People don’t like to be sold, they like to buy – One of his core lessons
  • Tell stories that make you believable, facts and figures are forgotten, stories are TOLD and RETOLD
  • Control and engage a conversation by asking questions
  • Service after the sale leads to both Reputation and Referrals
  • Service response for non-salespeople is more powerful than sales – Everyone is in SALES
  • You MUST be perceived to be EASY to do business with 7.365
  • The biggest barrier to sales is fear of consequences
  • Become known as a person and business of value.
And many, many more. I strongly suggest that you subscribe to Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine newsletter (www.salescaffeine.com) for further insight into sales and selling. Brad Sugars, Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH returned to the stage and spoke about some of the basic concepts that are the foundation of ActionCOACH.  Here are some of my BFO’s from Brad, in no particular order:
  • The ActionCOACH Formula for Change – (D x V) + F > R
    • Dissatisfaction (with the current situation)
    • Vision (what will be after the change)
    • First Steps (make them easy)
    • Resistance (to the change)
  • BE x DO = HAVE – Ever wonder why most multi-million dollar lottery winners become worse off financially than they were before they won the millions within a shockingly short time? The answer is they didn’t have the BEing of a millionaire and therefore didn’t DO what millionaires do and therefore didn’t truly HAVE the millions. You must BE whatever you need to be in order to truly and continually achieve your goals.
  • Living your life above the line of choice
    • Above the line is Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility – have an OAR to steer your life
    • Below the line is Blame, Excuses and Denial – you might as well stay in bed
  • Watch of for the Taps on your Shoulder – Because problems that are unaddressed just get bigger as time passes, you need to tune into the early warnings, the “taps on your shoulder” before you get smacked with a a 2×4, or worse hit by a Mack truck further down the road of life
  • If you build a business to be replicable (even if you have no plans to replicate) it will be stronger and more valuable – Propels you toward the ActionCOACH definition of a successful business A Commercial Profitable Enterprise That Works Without You
  • If it is being done, it can be done, and therefore You/I Can Do It! – A great attitude to have in life
  • Determine what is the highest and best use of your time, and adhere to it
Two more very important BFO’s from Brad Sugars:
  • When you believe in your mission, you have a moral and ethical obligation to follow it
  • Knowledge is not the problem, it is lack of ACTION
Finally, every speaker who presented at the BEF said the following in one way or another: Schedule Time To Think – Those who think govern those who labor

2015 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious – Part 1

Last month I attended the 2015 North American Business Excellence Forum (#BEF2015) and Awards.  I am proud that my client, the Winthrop University Hospital Department of Pediatrics won the 2015 Best Not-For-Profit Business Excellence Award for the combination of their STAR Program for children with special needs, their DOWN program for children with Down Syndrome and their Hempstead Pediatrics practice.  In addition, The Cancer Center for Kids, Winthrop Women’s Wellness, and Women’s Contemporary Care Associates – Maternal Fetal Medicine were all finalists in more than one award category. This year’s forum had some amazing keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs).  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar affect on you.  If I am correct in that assumption, please join the conversation and add your comments to this post. Our first speaker was Jonathan MacDonald (www.jonathanmacdonald.com @jmacdonald), a well known international speaker on perpetual change & how to think differently about the future of business, society & technology.  Here goes:
  • Beat competitors by solving problems faster and/or better than them – simple and straight to the point
  • Establish a balance between rapid growth and tuning – sometimes growth needs to be briefly slowed down in order to fine tune operations in order to continue to consistently deliver.
  • The concept of Phase Shifting – why some companies always seem to introduce new, very cool, innovative products. To state this as simply as possible, a company’s first product may be a phase or step along their journey toward their true goal.  They continually solve the increasing difficulties while adding more value with each step.  Think how the USA was able to land a man on the moon. Or, is the Apple watch the end game or a phase?
Phase Shifting Slide
  • The ideal members of your team are those who have the will to succeed – you can train everything except will.
Our next speaker was Brad Sugars – Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH.  Brad spoke about the 9 Potholes On The Road To Success:
  • Pothole #1 – Superhero Complex
    • Kills more businesses than any other pothole
    • Learn the art and science of DELEGATION
  • Pothole #2 – Scarcity Thinking
    • Move away from Limitations / Lack mindset
    • Move toward how Big is the market or how Big SHOULD my business be to accomplish my mission?
  • Pothole #3 – Doubters
    • They are all around you, learn to filter
  • Pothole #4 – Bad Decisions
    • Learn and move on
    • Always Test & Measure to limit possible damage
  • Pothole #5 – Out of Your Depth
    • Learn to Earn
    • Build a great team and delegate
  • Pothole #6 – FEAR
    • False Expectations Appearing Real – Collect the facts to eliminate the False
    • Failure Expected And Realized – Move beyond your self-fulfilling prophecies
    • Face Everything And Rise
  • Pothole #7 – Short Term Thinking
    • Plan / Execute / Measure / Review / Plan / Etc.
    • Phase Shift
  • Pothole #8 – Overwhelm
    • Break the Overwhelm cycle by taking action – one step at a time
  • Pothole #9 – Self Sabotage
    • Have a good look at yourself in the mirror
To be continued.

We Are Human, We Make Mistakes

I just returned from a family vacation to the Caribbean.  My entire family had a great time, lots of fun, beach, pool, golf and meals.  In addition there were many great conversations about life, family, the state of the world and business, with the family as well as friends, both old and new. Near the end of the vacation, the subject of customer service was brought up after a round of golf with my wife and grandson.  Upon arriving at the clubhouse we were delayed for more than 30 minutes waiting for both my grandson’s and my golf clubs.  It seems that both golf bags were misplaced after our round of golf two days prior. After the delay, we were offered loaner clubs and a couple of balls.  When I mentioned that I had no golf golf glove to the person behind the counter in the pro shop, I was answered with a blank stare.  We started our round of golf and after a few holes the very apologetic starter delivered our clubs.  He explained that they had some new employees who were putting golf bags anywhere they felt like, rather than the bins assigned to them.  Did this golf club miss an opportunity to wow me?  Did they fail to gain positive comments from me when my friends, associates and clients ask me how my trip was?  You bet they did!  They could have offered to credit my round of golf, but they didn’t.  They could have offered me a golf glove in addition to the two balls I was given, but they didn’t.  Any of these offers would have had much more perceived value to me than they would have cost the club to provide.  Instead, they offered me lame excuses and demonstrated that they do not properly train their employees.  More importantly, they failed to give me a reason to recommend their facility to my golfing community.  Simply put, they do not understand how to deliver true customer service. We are all human.  We all make mistakes, as individuals and as organizations.  It is how we respond to our mistakes that distinguishes us from our competition.

Effective Delegation Part 3 – What You MUST Delegate If You Want Your Business To Grow

As part of my on-going series about the art and science of effective delegation, and in response to questions I have been asked, I have developed the following Top 10 List:   The Top 10 Items You MUST Delegate

10. Activities that will speed up your cash flow – This includes collection calls, invoicing on a timely basis, responding to inbound customer inquiries, processing and shipping orders and making it easy for customers to buy from your business, to mention just a few.

9. Tasks that are already streamlined and documented – This is one of the keys to achieving both leverage and consistency in your business. Without leverage and consistency your business will become increasingly chaotic as it grows, if it grows at all.

8. Tasks that involve government or other outside, often-changing regulations – You simply do not have the resources to keep up with regulations. Make sure to delegate to trained professionals whose job it is to be up to date.  For example, a while ago I was introduced to a customs lawyer.  She told me that her new law practice was booming because U.S. Customs is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.  She mentioned she found many companies that have been importing materials for years, always completing the paperwork the same way that are un-wittingly, no longer in compliance.  Worse yet, the potential penalties are many times larger than before DHS was formed.

7. Anything that you want your team to master – You will never achieve leverage in your business if your team does not master operational tasks. Mastery supports consistency.  Consistency is a prerequisite to growth.

6. Tasks where you are the bottleneck – If everything goes through you, your company can only work at your speed and capacity.

5. Areas that are beyond your skill-set or competence – Simply put, if you are not good at it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

4. Anything that you shouldn’t be doing – If you are tempted to do that low-value task that is not time sensitive, stuffing envelopes, shredding out of date documents, etc., you are keeping yourself from adding the most value you can to your business. Remember, all of us ultimately are compensated for the value we add, not for the time we devote.

3. Tasks that keep you from growing your business – The main responsibility of ownership, whether you actually own a company or simply take ownership of your responsibilities, is to develop and grow your business.

2. Anything you hate to do – If you hate it, you most certainly will not do it well.

1. Anything that requires specialized knowledge – You cannot possibly be an expert about every subject necessary to build a successful business. You can never go wrong delegating to expertise on an as-needed, demand basis.

Bonus – Any subject where you can benefit from someone else’s experience – We are not omnipotent; learn from the mistakes of those who went before you.

One very important word of caution: You must not abdicate any of the above; you must learn and practice effective delegation. Please share your experiences and results from delegation or abdication with my growing community.

It Is Not Too Early To Begin 2015

As the end of 2014 approaches a little introspection is in order. As a business owner, some of your fundamental roles include:
  • coaching
  • planning
  • setting goals
  • interviewing and hiring
  • training
  • creating
  • managing
How are you doing so far this year regarding your time in these areas?  Ask yourself a few questions:
  • have you spent adequate, quality time planning the future of your business?
  • have you spent adequate time coaching and developing your team (or having it done)?
  • are you on target for all of your management and self-improvement goals?
  • have you been able to manage your attitudes consistently regardless of what was happening around you?
  • did you see change as your partner and embrace it…or has it become your adversary?
  • are you leaving any unfinished business behind as you move into the second half of the year?
  • have you been communicating your goals, strategies, plans, and objectives clearly to your team?
  • have you handled all of your team member’s challenges successfully, and in a compassionate and timely manner?
  • have you set clear goals for the rest of the year?
  • are you in touch with the realities within your organization and your marketplace?
  • if you could, would you reverse or change any of the significant decisions you made during the first half of the year?
  • if you could begin this year over again, what is one thing you would do differently?
A critical skill necessary for success as an owner is the ability to honestly evaluate your:
  • personal development progress
  • attitudes
  • skills
Work on expanding this list.  Set a target of 50 more questions that will help you get a better handle on your organization and yourself. You might think it is a little early to begin this process, since it’s only the beginning of November…but we all know it’ll be the end of the year before we know it.  How you spend the next several weeks could make or break your goals, your hopes, and the success and direction of your company for the balance of this year and planning for next year. And that’s worth thinking about…

A Survey Shows a BIG Disconnect

My local business weekly newspaper published the results of a July 2014 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of 603 small business owners.  The survey asked the respondents to list the single biggest business challenge they currently face.  In looking at the survey results, I found a couple of concerns that are counter to some core ActionCOACH concepts.  Here are the survey results:

CHALLENGE                                        %

  • Attracting Customers                               13
  • Government Regulations                         11
  • Financial Stability / Cash Flow               11
  • The Economy                                              11
  • Government (general) / Taxes                10
  • Hiring Qualified Staff                                  7
  • Product Improvements / Updates            6
  • Healthcare / Obama Care                           6
  • Competition with Larger Corporations    6
  • Cost of Running Business                           5
  • Credit Availability                                         4
  • Marketing / Advertising                              4
  • Nothing / No Challenge                               2
  • Seasonal Issues                                              1
  • Employee Benefits                                        1
  • Don’t Know                                                     1
  • Other                                                                1                                             TOTAL       100%
  First of all, nearly one third (32%) of the owners are challenged by exactly the same issues (Government Regulations, The Economy and Taxes) that their competitors are faced with.  At ActionCOACH we advise our clients and aspire to live “above the line” of choice, taking Ownership/being Accountable/being Responsible for our results, rather than being “below the line”, Blaming others/making Excuses/being in Denial.  (For additional information about above/below the line, visit ozprinciple.com and/or read or listen to The OZ Principle by Roger Connors and Tom Smith and Craig Hickman).  Regulations, The Economy and Taxes are not challenges to the business owners who operate above the line and refuse to make excuses for their less than stellar results and treat these issues as opportunities to outpace their competitors. The BIG Disconnect I found within the survey results is the 9 percentage point difference between the top challenge, Attracting Customers (13%) and Marketing / Advertising (4%).  This gap demonstrates one of the top issues my colleagues and I find at our prospects and new clients, namely not viewing marketing as an investment aimed at “buying” customers.  It seems that everyone wants more customers, but do not have a realistic attitude about marketing.  It always amazes me how many business owners I meet who believe that simply having a better mousetrap and opening their doors will attract customers.  Today’s market environment is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing due to the greater opportunities to cost effectively reach very large audiences with our marketing messages.  It is a curse due to the tremendous amount of “noise” that there is out in the marketplace.  Our clients who view marketing as an investment, who therefore, establish proper and useful metrics, and are prepared to respond to what their metrics tell them, consistently outperform their rivals. If you are not pleased with the number of customers/clients/patients you have, I suggest that you contact me or one of my ActionCOACH colleagues before you contact a marketing consultant.  If you build the proper foundation and expectations, your marketing will be much more effective when you begin your next marketing campaign.