How can I diagnose the challenges of my company or business unit?

“Gradually, over the years, I fine-tuned the questions and compiled them into a coherent questionnaire. It’s a powerful tool I call the ‘request for materials,’ or RFM. It’s powerful because, by the time I’d get the RFM answers back, all of the information from those answers would give me roughly ninety to ninety-five percent of what I needed to know in order to design necessary change… In weak business units, however, few if any employees know the unit’s mission or business definition, which answers the question ‘What is your business?’ or ‘What is the nature of your business?’ or ‘What is the essence, function, and purpose of your business?’”

Manage It Right! Chapter 6, Diagnostics

I know my business needs to change, but how?

“Change design is finding and designing the new business architecture, organizational structure, and investment portfolio to implement the business-unit strategy… And whereas diagnostics is about problem finding, change design is about problem solving—a lot of it.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 9, Change Design

What does team building have to do with the success of my business?

“One of the reasons business units don’t perform well is the lack of quality lieutenants. Another is not having enough of them. Sometimes it’s an issue of both… The first issue is reviewing the qualifications of your unit’s lieutenants and key employees, and assessing their strengths and weaknesses against the challenges defined. It’s not unusual for underperforming business units to have three categories of personnel: the good, the bad, and the average… Recruiting for a business unit under pressure is both critical and difficult. Candidates are reluctant to join a ‘loser’ unit. An outsider may have the right skills but not know your corporate system. In contrast, an insider may know your system, but may not be equipped with the right skills to succeed on the job.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 15, Team Building

Why do processes fail?

“Sometimes, processes are needed as part of the business management discipline. They look simple when they work; but what happens when something goes wrong? Processes require a continuous search for individual excellence, since it is the only way to achieve success and avoid crisis… Process success is defined when every step of the process is completed on time, at cost, and with acceptable quality.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 18, Why Processes Fail

Who can originate an action item?

“Anyone in the organization can originate the idea or suggestion for an action item. It is both a right and an obligation. Whoever has the authorization to launch an action item is responsible for that action item. Therefore, it’s critical that you develop a very specific set of rules for your subordinates to follow about what they can or can’t authorize on their own. Otherwise, they’ll create a lot of waste and problems that you’ll have to clean up.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 25, Action Items

Are year-end evaluations fair to my managers and employees?

“Meetings are the best place to evaluate lieutenants and employees—to discern between those who can play ball and those going down to the minor leagues. Meetings can be used for individual practical evaluation, especially when the agendas are properly developed and managed. It’s the best stage for real interviews. There is no better way to assess the value of an employee than to observe him or her during a meeting.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 24, Target Audiences

Are my business unit’s goals and objectives aligned with the company’s goals and objectives?

“Upper management is not always available to investigate and optimize the process of cascading G&O to the lower ranks. In many instances, middle management perceives the integrated cascading process as a threat instead of an opportunity. It all depends on the culture of the place, its history of compensation incentives, recognition methods, retaliation policies and precedents. It should, however, be one of the most important responsibilities of any CEO and his management teams.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 35, Alignment

When is the right moment to pursue growth?

“… now that many of the strategic issues are finally known in detail, your core team has been upgraded; new leaders have emerged and operational issues have been clarified. It’s time to prepare the organization to move from defense to attack. During the next months, we’ll discuss the issues of performance, metrics, alignment, and how to use the alignment method to design compensation incentives.”

Manage It Right! Chapter 32, Preparing for Growth