Three signs that your strategic planning process is incomplete and won’t get the results you expect

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A good strategic planning process includes three components. If your organization skips or poorly executes one of these components, it is unlikely to get results from its strategic plan.

There are huge costs associated with an incomplete planning process:

  • Erosion of leadership in the market and a sense of falling behind;
  • Failure to achieve desired financial and operational results;
  • Frustration throughout the organization and the perception that strategic planning is a waste of time; and
  • Loss of credibility of the leadership team.

A sound strategic planning process includes the following three elements. If your organization does a poor or incomplete job on any of these areas, your strategic planning process is incomplete and won’t get the results you expect:

One: Answer the “big” strategic planning questions – but without jargon or by spending a fortune on a consulting firm. The big questions include: Who are our customers and how can we better serve them? Who are our competitors and how can we beat them? What do we do best and how can we build on that edge? How can we prepare the organization to defend against threats and seize opportunities? What are potential scenarios that we need to consider for the future, and how will we prepare for them?

Unfortunately, many organizations debate these issues with academic discussions and confusing jargon. They are like philosophers trying to decide how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At the same time, some organizations come up with brilliant answers to these questions, but can’t quite take them to the point of clear initiatives that get done.

The big strategic planning questions are worthless if they don’t result in a few clear, compelling strategic initiatives to strengthen the organization.

Two: Set a few clear priorities and an overall strategic theme. The most important outcome of the first part of the strategic planning process is to identify the most important priorities for the organization. Starting with a long list of potential priorities, the organization discusses the relative value of each, and hones in on only a few key priorities. This discussion can also lead to greater clarity about the big strategic planning questions, especially about what the organization should do best.

Once a list of no more than three to five priorities is agreed upon, the organization can come up with a strategic theme. This is a one-line statement that conveys the overall strategic push for the organization. Examples could include: “Beat Google!” “Expand to China.” “0% medical errors.” “Become a magnet for talent.”

During this phase, many organizations settle for a long list of priorities. This has the benefit that nobody feels excluded or insulted. However, it makes it highly unlikely that the organization will get anything done completely.

Three: Implement. The biggest complaint we hear about strategy is that it never seems to get executed. There are a few reasons why:

  • Neglecting to commit essential resources to the strategy, including capital, training, technology, and people.
  • Failing to take things off the plate of busy employees, and instead just stacking more work on them.
  • Having lack of will to stop old initiatives that compete with the new.
  • Not setting clear roles, responsibilities, accountability, and rewards systems.
  • Giving up after a few setbacks or initial resistance.

A sound strategy spends as much time on implementation planning as it does on the more glamorous work of answering the key strategic questions and setting priorities.

Which of the above areas is weakest in your organization? Some organizations are strong at asking the big picture questions, but fail to follow up. Some set too many priorities, and can’t say “no” to good ideas, despite limited resources. Others are strong at executing, but lack the vision to develop compelling strategic initiatives.

I can help. I have a proven 3-part strategic planning process that is simple for you to implement, and gets results efficiently.

To learn more, download my Strategic Assessment by clicking here or contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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If You Just Listen, You Will Find What You are Looking For

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I can still close my eyes and hear fiddler crabs scurrying through the reeds, mullet jumping to escape a hungry predator, pelicans splashing as they dive-bombed schools of baitfish as I walked in to my favorite fishing hole in north Florida. It’s amazing, but those sounds are what let me know that I was in the right place.

Recently at a fishing seminar my friend Capt. Sally Black ( talked about the number one thing all fishermen should do is listen. If you listen the fish will tell you what they are doing. In business it is exactly the same thing. Our customers and staff will let us know if we are doing the right or wrong things.

As a business coach I see so many people who are in denial about what they hear. Whether it’s from me, their staff or their customers! I know that sometimes the truth is the hardest thing to here, but in order to be successful people need to put their ego away and just listen to what people have to say. Some will have to be taken with a grain of salt, but most will be real useful feedback.

The next time you are heading to your favorite fishing spot or into a meeting, I suggest just taking time to listen. You will find what you are looking for.

 Would you like some suggestions on what to listen for?

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15 Questions to Evaluate Your Team’s Alignment and Performance Level

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Despite a plethora of books about building effective teams, leading and participating on teams remains a significant challenge in most workplaces. Following are fifteen questions team leaders and participants should be asking in order to maximize their team performance:

  1. What is the specific, measurable goal that defines team success?
  2.  How aligned are the values of each team member with each other and the organization?
  3. How does the team recruit absolutely top notch people?
  4. How clear are expectations about what each and every team member is supposed to be doing and achieving?
  5. How well do team members know and trust each other?
  6. How clear is the path to results?
  7. What are opportunities for early and ongoing small wins?
  8. How well does the team anticipate, avoid, and mitigate risks?
  9. Is communication open, honest, and transparent among team members?
  10. How well does the team acknowledge each other as well as celebrate success?
  11. How effectively does the team clear up and move forward after setbacks?
  12. Does the team know the conversations to move things forward from vision to result?
  13. Do the leaders of the team effectively motivate each team member?
  14. How well does the team handle transitions of team members out of the team? How well does the team help new team members ramp up and achieve performance quickly?
  15. How effectively does the team learn about how it can work together better?

These are crucial questions, and the answers are not always obvious.

To learn more, we invite you to download one piece of our approach, which is a simple assessment to evaluate the conversations different team members are having, and whether those move the team forward, backwards, or at a standstill. We guarantee it will open up some new ideas about making your teams more effective and efficient. Click Here to get this free tool now.

To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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The 2 Keys to Success in Business and on the Water: Confidence and Patience

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If you fish a lot like me you have probably fished with the guy that changes his lure every 10 to 15 minutes, he knows that the fish just aren’t eating what he is throwing. In business this is the person who keeps coming up new business and marketing ideas and they never seem to reach their full potential. This person lacks the two most important keys to business success; Confidence and Patience.

I know that if I ever head back home to fish for salmon in Lake Michigan I will fish with a green Northport Nailer spoon with green prism tape, I haven’t fished there in over 10 years but I know they will work. I have absolute confidence in the lure because I have caught a lot of fish on it in the past. I will also use it much longer than other lures in my tackle box because of that confidence.

In business people tend to move from idea to idea because they lack confidence in what they are doing and because they are impatient. In business you need to do the right thing, at the right time with the right people for a long enough period of time. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers he states that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to master something. Whether it be fishing, golf or business nothing can help you overcome obstacles like practice and determination.

I have friends here in Texas who are professional fishing guides. These individuals throw the same lures every day from January to April, they know through experience that their quarries food choices switch at this time and then they another lure from April to September and change again. They do this because they have spent enough time on the water and have the confidence what they are doing. As a coach I have seen so many start-up business owners quit after 2000 to 3000 hours of work. They have not mastered their craft and they do not have the patience to continue. They start something new and the same process starts over again.

My questions to you my reader are these:

  1. What skill set do you have complete confidence in when it comes to your business? How long did it take you acquire it
  2. When you wanted to quit, and I know you did. How did you keep moving and how did you stay patient with the process?


To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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Seven Conversations Every Leader Needs to Master to Be More Influential

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Do you ever wonder if you are as influential as you could be? Many leaders are one-trick ponies when it comes to influence. They use one approach in every situation. Sometimes this works, the same way a broken clock is right twice every day. However, by developing greater flexibility and range, you can be even more effective.

By associating different parts of the body with different influence styles, you can quickly assess whether you have the full toolkit of conversations that a leader needs to influence people in almost every situation.

Left Brain

The left brain is the seat of facts, logic, analysis, information, and data. When you are an authority, or when you know facts that matter to the other person, relying on the left brain can help you convince someone that an idea makes sense. However, most leaders overuse the left brain, especially in Western society. There are limits to facts and logic. For instance, it is hard to win over someone’s heart with a PowerPoint presentation.

Right Brain

The right brain is where we process images, stories, metaphors, and pictures. It is the gateway to the subconscious. By using more stories and images, leaders can reach people at a different level than with the left brain alone.


The gut, or “hara” as the Japanese call it, is our center. It is where we go when we take a stand, negotiate, assert appropriately, create a contract, or set boundaries. When we influence from the gut, we tell someone what we like and don’t like about their performance, tell them what we expect, and offer incentives to encourage them to comply.

Heart. In situations where we want authentic commitment and not just compliance, it is not enough to tell or assert. We have to be a little bit vulnerable. Here, the conversation shifts to asking for advice and help, listening to the other person’s aspirations and goals to craft a solution, and being flexible about how things get done. The leader doesn’t have to be wishy-washy, especially on the final goal, but is open to new ideas about how he or she can be better, and how to get to the goal.


The spirit is about our shared values and experiences. Here, we appeal to our common ground and the bonds that hold us together. Use this approach to form a team and create a feeling of alignment.


Vision is about where we are going. Here, the leader paints a compelling, inspiring picture about where we can go together, and then invites others to jump in and build on the vision. This is the approach to use for a team that is kicking off, or when a push is required to get people to move forward despite challenges. If you combine the right brain, spirit, and vision together, you can make a compelling case that gets a team aligned in a powerful, authentic way.


The legs are used when conversations start to go poorly, for instance when the other person gets emotional or when your strategy isn’t working. This doesn’t mean that you give up and retreat, but does mean that you take some time to excuse yourself, let both parties rethink their positions, and come back together. The Harvard Negotiation Project calls this “Going to the Balcony.” It prevents a meeting from spiraling downwards.

Would you like to learn more about these approaches, and how to use them to achieve your goals and influence others almost effortlessly? Contact us anytime.

Also, we invite you to download our FREE influence planning tool by clicking here. We also have Bonus Download available for you.

To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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Why Do 20% of the Fisherman Catch 80% of the Fish? It’s Only 3 Things!

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Recently I attended a fishing seminar hosted by Saltwater Sportsman Magazine and my friend, George Poveromo. In fishing, like business, it is a smart idea to learn as much as you can from the experts. I love to learn and then see how I can add my own personal twist to what I have learned.

In the seminar, George had several local guides there to teach us the secrets to catch trophy sea trout and redfish on Texas Gulf coast. My two favorite presenters were James Plaag and my friend Sally Black. Both are local legends and both know how to keep things simple. Just like in business, simplicity leads to success and complexity leads to chaos in fishing and James and Sally kept things simple.

One of the main reasons the professional fishing guides are better that this than the rest of us is very simple. They fish more than we do. They are on the water over 200 days per year and we are not. Most of us weekend anglers are lucky to fish 20 to 30 days per year. So Repetition is one thing that makes those 20% more successful. If you have ever read anything by Malcolm Gladwell, you will know that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. The professionals have those 10,000 hours plus under their belts.

The second key to angler success is Patterns. If you are on the water every day you will be able to predict how the fish react due to the conditions. In business you should be able to predict how your customers will react to your advertising and marketing. That is, if you measure how they react to it! Recently I met a lovely young lady who was doing some advertising for a local car wash. She was attending several networking events each week and handing out coupons for a free carwash. I asked her how she knew what coupons came from which event, and she had no idea. So how could she track the pattern? There was no way. I had her grab all of her coupons back and then she wrote a code on the back. Now if that coupon comes back, she knows exactly where it came from and she can start to track what advertising was driving clients to her business.

The last key that I learned from James and Sally was you have to have a Contingency Plan. We have all heard the famous quote “the best laid plans of mice and men”. Well in fishing and business, that is so true. For some reason the weatherman is never right, the wind blows when it’s not supposed too, and it rains when it is supposed to be sunny. Your client is supposed to show for a meeting and for some reason they forget. If you do not have a backup plan your time is wasted. These backup plans can save the day and lead to more success than you have ever thought possible.

The funny thing I noticed that there really is only one key to success, Persistency. Be on the water as much as you can, meet with your clients as much as possible. Get to know what the fish and clients like under different circumstances and you will become a REEL SUCCESS.


To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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From Vision to Tactics: How to stay focused on what really matters

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The biggest issues that leaders face today are burnout, stress, and overwhelm. Leaders must do so much with limited resources, while keeping up with technology, managing a virtual and global workforce that spans multiple generations, and do it all in an incredibly volatile economy.

For all of these reasons, leaders can benefit from a tool that keeps them focused on what really matters.

The Leader’s Dashboard is a simple one-page tool that summarizes the most important things on the leader’s plate.

It includes a succinct summary of:

– The organization’s vision.

– The organization’s purpose and mission.

– Values.

– Strategic edge.

– Top 3 initiatives.

– Key performance indicators to track success.

– Relationships.

– Top strategies to build organizational capacity.

The leader can also create a career/professional dashboard covering the same areas, except for his or her own career. That way, it becomes clear whether the leader is aligned with the organization’s direction or not, and steps to take if there are gaps in alignment.

Perhaps most importantly, everyone in the organization can create their own dashboard. When this exercise is done properly, everyone is aligned, focused on what matters, and accountable. Each dashboard rolls up into the larger whole – using only a single sheet of paper!

The process is extraordinary because it is so simple, practical and powerful. No expensive software is needed. No teams of consultants need to swoop in. Rather, with a little bit of facilitation and coaching, each member of the organization gets clarity about what really counts.

In today’s world of super complicated algorithms, virtual communication, and gut-wrenching volatility, it is refreshing to have a tool like the Leader’s Dashboard.

For more information about the Leader’s Dashboard, and to take our free self-assessment about how aligned and accountable your organization is, click here.


To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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For more great tips and ideas, be sure to follow my Teach Your Business To Fish Facebook page


Oh the Places You’ll Go, But first you must move! Identify, Act, Evaluate

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The Waiting Place

I have recently made it a point to read Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go” to my soon to be 3 year old daily. This children’s book has the road map to success we all need and we can actually read it in less than 20 minutes.

I recently had a very good friend of mine let me know she was changing her life mantra to change her life. As a coach my first question was; so where do you want go? This is one of the most important questions that I feel needs to be asked. My second was so how are you going to do it, her answer was something I anticipated. She said she was thinking about it.

Now back to the good doctor, he says the following:

You can get so confused

that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or a No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.


That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape

all that waiting and staying.

You’ll find the bright places

where Boom Bands are playing.

This is all about action, too many people come to me and say they are going to do something great, once they figure out what it is. They get stuck in the “Waiting Place” and they don’t even recognize it.

Becoming successful is a very simple process:

  • – Identify what you want,
  • – Start to act in a way that will take towards what you desire,
  • – Then take to evaluate what you have doing and see if you really are moving in the directions you want, if not make adjustments.

With banner flip-flapping,

once more you’ll ride high!

Ready for anything under the sky.

Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

If you have not really taken time to read this story, I would recommend reading it several times and let me know what you think, how true is it? I know what I think I and can’t wait to hear about you!


To learn more, contact us at 713-201-5559 or you can

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For more great tips and ideas, be sure to follow my Teach Your Business To Fish Facebook page


Seven Simple Questions that Every Leader Must Answer for an Engaged Team

business leadershipEngaging and mobilizing employees can feel like a daunting challenge. However, we have found that a few simple behaviors can make a huge different to improve engagement.

It is frustrating to have to read minds

For instance, many employees are frustrated because they feel like they have to read their manager’s mind. They don’t know how they are doing and how they can do better. The annual performance review is sometimes their only chance to find out, and that event is so stressful and formal that the environment is not conducive for improvements.

Spans of control contribute to the problem

This situation is not completely the fault of management. In some organizations, spans of control have become so large that managers have to complete another formal performance reviews every three or four days.

The solutions are simpler than you might think

There are many simple strategies to engage and mobilize employees. They cost almost nothing to implement, can be put into place immediately, and have huge impact.

For instance, one opportunity that many leaders have – even at the C-level – is to give more frequent, informal feedback about how each employee is doing. That way, everyone in an organization knows what is expected of them and how they can get better.

The seven questions

There are seven simple questions every leader must answer and communicate to employees. As with advertising, frequency counts. Small, informal conversations about performance go a long way – especially when they include teachable moments about different situations and details. The questions include:

  1. What do I expect from you?
  2. What are you doing well?
  3. What, if anything, can you be doing better?
  4. What, if anything, do I want you to do better?
  5.  (If appropriate): What will happen if you improve (e.g., more responsibility, more time with leadership, more desirable assignments)?
  6.  (If appropriate): What will happen if you don’t improve?
  7. How can I help?

While all of these questions are important, the last question is especially important. It shows the employee that the leader cares, and is not merely abdicating responsibility or shifting blame.

For more information about engaging and mobilizing employees, and to take our free self-assessment about how well you are engaging and mobilizing, click here.



Business Lesson’s from a Fly Fishing Great, that He Didn’t Even Realize He Taught (Part 3)

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The Fish is the Fish, Because of its Environment

There seems to be so much debate with what is more important, the Journey or the Destination?

I happen to believe it is both. Without having a great destination to travel to, there is no reason for the journey. But for unlimited success to abound, the proper environment must be in place.

As a fisherman, we all have our dream destinations:

• The Great Barrier Reef in Australia for 1000lb Black Marlin

• Guatemala for a shot at double digit Sailfish releases on a fly

• Alaska to catch the mighty Tyee Chinook Salmon

• The Bahamas and Belize for their pristine Bonefish flats

• The rivers of British Columbia for the legendary Steelhead

• Scotland to fish in birthplace of fly fishing

• The Amazon River for record Peacock Bass

• And on and on

The places where the fish of our dreams live are generally some of the most beautiful places in the world. Every one of these fish become much more memorable because of the particular environment where the fish is found and each one takes a journey to get there.

When Chico Fernandez spoke about his favorite fish to catch (redfish and snook in the Everglades) all he could talk about was the occasional struggle to get to some of his favorite fishing holes deep within this brackish swamp. He told the story of poling his son through cuts that were so narrow that their canoe could barely fit. But once they reached their destination the mangroves parted and a fishing oasis appeared.

These back ponds are areas that rarely see fisherman and the fish have seldom if ever seen the flies he and his son would present. The fish may not be the biggest of their species but the journey to get to the particular environment/destination was crucial for success for both the fish and the fisherman.

In business we need to provide environments where people want to work and do business. We want young bright minds to set out on a journey to work with us; we want clients to seek us out because of what we can offer.

Tony Hsieh has created such an environment at Zappos. People compete for jobs like no place else and clients do business with them to the tune of $2 billion/year. Tony created an environment that became a destination for both customers and employees.

I challenge you to create an environment of success and watch the people flock to do business with your and your team.

If you would like a complimentary one-hour environment check up please contact me at and let’s get you on course to your dream destination.