The Achiever | Optimization Solutions Consultingtop
MARCH 2011

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Welcome to this issue of "The Achiever," a monthly newsletter brought to you by Optimization Solutions Consulting!

This months focus is on the Decision Making, Marketing, and Performance Improvement considerations that are essential to building a thriving business.


Walter Swindell, II - President
Optimization Solutions Consulting, LLC  
In This Issue...

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article1Decisions, Habits, and Attitudes
Decisions, Habits & AttitudesEvery day we are bombarded by decisions ... what to do, what to eat, what to wear, what to read, what to watch or listen to, what to buy, what to say ... the decisions are never ending.

The never-ending process of making decisions continues throughout your workday. Every time an employee asks you a question like, "Can I leave early to go to my son's lacrosse game, or Mary just called off sick and we need her part of the project today, what do we do?" You are making decisions that impact your team or department's results.

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article2Planning and Building a Sustainable Business
Sustainable BusinessBuilding your business and developing yourself are both growth processes that will occur over time. Building a business implies having to develop your skills and/or manage other people who can build the necessary processes to perform necessary business functions. While many people equate success with working, truly successful people attribute their success to working smart. In the beginning, you will need to do both. And if you do both, in the end you will find you have built something that will endure.

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article3Determining and Improving Performance Gaps
Performance GapsHuman capital is a top priority in today's organizations. In fact many organizations are faced with the reality that they need to get more results through smaller and perhaps more fragmented teams. As your employees have added and shifted roles, positions, and responsibilities, how do you know you have the right people in the right positions in order to maximize your organization's efforts and outcomes?

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article4Marketing: Your Brand is About More than Just Good Looks
First let's clear up a common misconception of what a "Brand" really is. A brand is more than just your company's name or logo. It's more than just a particular type of product you offer such as Q-tips brand of cotton swabs. It's more than just the look of the packaging of your product. In a nutshell your "Brand" is the culmination of everything your prospect's 5 senses can pick up on about you.

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article1_contdDecisions, Habits, and Attitudes (continued)

Fortunately, most decisions require very little conscious thought. In fact, we actually made many of the decisions a long time ago, and we're simply executing them now out of unconscious habit. For example, we spend little or no time deliberating what driving route we take to work, what errands need to be accomplished over the weekend, or what clothes you throw on after getting home from work.

The emotional intensity of decisions depends upon the perspective of the decision maker. To a corporate executive, a decision that involves millions of dollars can seem routine, while the president of a local service club might agonize over luncheon arrangements for 15 members. A married couple might spend considerable time and energy deciding what color to paint their living room, while a marketing executive might design packaging for an entire product line in a very short time. Your attitudes and habits influence your actions and thoughts. You can improve your decision making skills by becoming aware of the existing attitudes and habits that have shaped your decisions in the past.

Take a few moments to list some of the important decisions you made in the past five years. Evaluate the quality of those decisions.


Did they produce the results you wanted? Are there any decisions you would change?

Next examine your decision making style. Did you tend to make the decisions impulsively, or did you take time to examine all of the facts? Did you involve others, or did you decide alone? Did you make the decision in a timely manner, or did you procrastinate? Did your decisions align with your goals, or were you swayed by external influences and other people's opinions? Were there any decisions on your list that you made against your better judgment? Perhaps you had a hunch about what you should do, but you disregarded it. How did those decisions turn out? Write down your observations. Can you identify the habits and attitudes that either helped or hindered your decision making in the past?

Over the years your personal experiences and your daily application of formal knowledge have given you a sixth sense for what will and will not work in given situations. Intuition can serve you well in decision making. Research has revealed decisions based on instinct are frequently more accurate than those based strictly on factual analysis. Your best decisions will draw upon both the logical and the emotional facets of your personality. Listen to your inner voice and be sure your decisions pass the test of plain common sense.

Passing the common sense test is an important component of making a sound decision. However, for more complex decisions there is a proven decision making process which includes six key steps.

1. Identify and define the problem: You must clearly define the problem before you can solve it. Problems that remain vague resist resolution and create anxiety. Hazy, vague issues are impossible to deal with, and they often create a periphery of new problems. Crystallize the issues so you can deal with them one at time.

2. Gather and analyze information: You must have accurate information to solve issues appropriately. If in your haste to find a solution you short-change this part of the process, you can create unnecessary delays and unintended results. The more information you gather about a particular issue, the more likely you will be able to reach a satisfactory decision.

3. Develop alternative solutions: If a solution to an issue surfaces quickly, it's tempting to simply do it. The first solution you come up with, although acceptable, may not be the best. Take time to develop alternative solutions even when you don't think you need them and be creative.

4. Choose the best alternative: Most problems have several acceptable solutions. Picking the best one becomes a matter of degree. Narrow your choices down to a few of the best alternatives by evaluating your options. Consider how the solutions aligns with your goals, how it affects costs, what time is required, what are the risks, what do others you trust think, etc. After evaluating all alternatives, choose the one that best solves your problem.

5. Take action: Now that you have weighed all of your alternatives and have chosen the best course of action, it's time to act.

6. Evaluate the decision: Finally, you should structure in-progress reviews and a final evaluation in order to gauge progress and evaluate final results.

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article2_contdPlanning and Building a Sustainable Business (continued)

The value of your business lies not in what it can do with you, but in what it can do without you. If no one else can do what you can do, then you don't have a business that will endure. You have a business that is restricted by its inability to use its creative juices and expand into something bigger and more successful. Business is and should be a systematic series of processes linked to the overall goals of the organization disciplined to exceed internal and external customer expectations. Each aspect of your business should be process mapped, so that in theory, other people could perform it. These functions and processes should be crystallized in writing.

When activities can be accomplished by others or the process is systematic, then your creativity can be utilized for continuous improvement, increased sales, improved market share, and new business development. Recognizing an opportunity and being in position to take action is one of the keys to success. If you are busy doing, you may be too busy to take advantage of opportunities, and chances are you working harder and not smarter.

The benefits of planning are many. Planning helps to prioritize your activities. You already know you will be wearing several hats and the functions you will perform under each hat are different. Planning helps you to see beyond the immediate issues and remain focused on the desired outcomes. This will help to ensure that day-to-day activities are in line with your long-range objectives and vision. It will help you avoid getting involved in seemingly endless crises, and even prevent crisis-stimulated activities that seem to be important and necessary but in fact may be neither. With this understanding you are better able to focus your energies on getting where you want to go. A comprehensive plan is the important tool you can utilize to build a successful business.

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article3_contdDetermining and Improving Performance Gaps (continued)

The reality is, in some cases you do have the right team members in right places, and in some cases you probably guessed wrong, as we all have. Companies forced to reorganize made quick decisions resulting in people landing in the wrong roles. Likewise, companies that have experienced intense growth have ended up with similar results. Diagnostic assessments can help you to determine performance gaps and help your company to effectively understand and align the talents, behaviors, and motivators of every employee. Having the right employee in the right position is as critical to the individual's success as it is to the success of the company.

The first step in bridging performance gaps is for management to be committed to a people development process for employees. It should be based on the skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to do their jobs successfully. If the size of the organization is large enough it can be HR implemented, but the objectives and strategies of developing employees and how those employees are going to help drive results needs to be driven by management.

After the commitment is in place and the objectives have been identified, diagnostic assessments can help specifically and individually determine performance gaps, as developmental issues will be employee specific. Assessments can also be the secret tool for creating skill development as well attitudinal and behavioral improvement while eliminating resistance to change.

When working with clients, we focus diagnostically on the whole person as defined by these three key areas:

WHAT natural talents do your employees possess? How do they make decisions and interact with the world around them, as well as how do they perceive themselves?

WHY are your employees motivated to use their natural talents, based on their personal motivators and drivers? Everyone has their own unique mix of personal drivers and motivators that help guide them toward success. Understanding what really drives a person is a crucial part of success.

HOW do your employees prefer to use their natural talents, based on their preferred behavioral style? Since each individual has their own unique preferences and habits for how they like to behave, this understanding is crucial when working with team members, as a leader or manager, or in an environment that requires conflict resolution.

Establishing new behaviors requires the employee feel able to adopt the behavior and feel comfortable doing so. A well-designed people development process focused on objectives using diagnostic assessments drives long-term change. We consistently see 80-100% in adaptable change after the completion of a development process with sustainable results that remain a year later. 

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article4_contdMarketing: Your Brand is About More than Just Good Looks (continued)

It's the image you present at all times. From the company's logo and color scheme all the way to the manner in which your employees dress.

It's what your prospect hears from and about you. From what they hear about you in the media to how your customer service team handles incoming complaints.

It's the feeling your prospect gets in all their dealings with you. From their satisfied or unsatisfied interaction with you to the relationship building activities you carry out.

It's the pleasant or unpleasant scents that get associated with you covering everything from the scent of your product or facility, to even your employees.

And lastly it's also the tastes that get associated with you. From the taste of your product (if it's a product meant to be tasted) to the quality of coffee or tea you serve.

As you are probably beginning to see the picture I am painting for you, your brand encompasses everything about you. Hence you can see why it's important to always put your best foot forward.

Let's take this one step further. Even more important than being perfect in your eyes, is being consistent in the prospect's eyes.

Consistency is the key to branding. It is terrible branding practice and just plain unacceptable to offer great service one day and bad service the next. You are better off being consistently mediocre. Then at least the customer knows what to expect and is generally more satisfied. Another example of bad branding is having a different look and feel for your website as compared to your other marketing collateral (e.g. business cards, brochures, etc.). Ultimately, your prospect should be able to recognize you at a quick glance - just by colors, design style, logo, etc.

For instance, let's take the fast food retailer McDonalds. They have done a spectacular job at branding. Their food tastes consistently the same no matter which location you eat at - essentially around the world. What you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste are pretty much consistent and acceptable across the board.

Bottom line, branding is essential to establishing your identity in the marketplace and consistency is the key to effective doing that. Prospects want consistency! Consistency breeds comfort and comfort is an aspect of relationship building-a key marketing strategy.


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All Articles By: Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in business and management consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching, and youth leadership. For more information visit or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

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