Whenever a group gets together (whether it’s for a business meeting, conference call, team training etc) there needs to be a plan for what will be accomplished during the allotted time. Without this plan, most of what gets accomplished is the wasting of time.

While many people know there should be an agenda for meetings, that doesn’t mean they take the time to create them.

When creating an agenda, start with the general goal. This is so everyone know what is hoped to be accomplished. If people don’t what is is to be accomplished, chances are they will create their own agenda, which might be much different than was originally intended.

Next, list the participants. If there is a set group this wouldn’t be needed but anytime there is someone different (guest speaker, guest coach etc) it’s good to let people know ahead of time.

Next list the tasks you hope to get through in the order you wish to deal with them

Next, allocate the amount of time for each task,

Finally, include the end time for the agenda.

By creating the agenda ahead of time, it allows all involved to know what to expect and how to prepare.

By sending the agenda to people in advance, it gives the people proper time to prepare which will allow for less wasted time to be spent as a group.

While many would see how this applies to a business meeting, couldn’t this actually apply to most non-social gatherings? If you are a volleyball coach and you posted the agenda for the upcoming training session in the team locker room, wouldn’t this allow the players to mentally and physically prepare for what they are going to be doing? If you are going to have a conference call, wouldn’t this apply just as much as a physical meeting?

Preparing an agenda both saves time and allows you to use your time more efficiently

Have a great day!


Problem Solving 101

Problem Solving 101

1. Admit there is a problem
2. Accept you want to do something to fix the problem
3. Define the problem
4. Create alternative solutions
5. Establish criteria for selection the solution
6. Choose the solution
7. Plan how you will implement this solution
8. Execute the solution
9. Reassess the situation

The process of problem solving is actually quite simple. The problem is, if you skip some steps, chances are you wont be as successful as you should be

Have a great day!


Expanding the boundaries

One of the most over used cliches in the management and leadership field is “outside the box thinking”. The reality is, most people are incapable of such innovative thinking and for that matter most would be better suited extending the boundaries rather than trying to think completely outside of the box.

When one thinks outside the box, the potential is there to “hit a home run” but there is also a great likelihood of failure or even worse, success that results in nothing. An example of success that results in nothing is if a person creates a new type of search engine but either no one ever hears of it, or even worse, people hear of it and hate it. Their innovative thinking might have created a new search engine but if no one is interested, nothing becomes of it.

The alternative is to extend the boundaries. Be willing to take chances, expand your current capabilities while going in the correct direction. An example would be instead of creating a new search engine, improving on the current one. Instead of creating a new business model, improving the current business model.

While true innovators are a vital part of our growth as a people, not everyone can be the innovator. Instead, the willingness to re-brand, redesign and come up with new uses has made many people and organizations extremely successful.

Examples of expanding the boundaries include:

* Post It Note – First created as a bookmark for Bibles but then expanded into what we currently think of Post It Notes
* Listerine – Over the years it has been used as a surgical antiseptic, mouthwash and cold remedy
* Play Doh – First invented as a wallpaper cleaner than branded as the fun clay we all played with as kids
* Internet – The Internet was first conceived of as a way to exchange information amongst some scientists and has been refitted into what it is today

There are many other examples of products, services, organizations etc which started as one thing and by having someone expand their boundaries, have morphed into something much different.

I do believe there is a need for the truly innovative thinkers but for most of us, expanding our boundaries will get us further along in the right direction

There are times when expanding our boundaries does require one to go against traditional thinking but that is the risk one takes to be successful in the long run.

Expanding the boundaries creates a larger opportunity than staying where you are and also helps to make sure you continue to grow in the future

Some people wont agree with this and think that either you think out of the box or you stagnate. They are certainly entitled to that view but I believe there is the third option of expanding the boundaries

Have a great day!


Ask Permission Not Forgiveness

There is a basic belief be many that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

This means, if you have a choice of asking permission to use something or using it without permission knowing that if you get caught you can simply ask for forgiveness, it’s easier to go just do it and then apologize later.

There are three problems with this belief, in my mind.

First, if you choose to live by the “golden rule” you must be willing to accept others doing this to you. You can’t expect others to ask permission when you do whatever you want with the idea you will apologize later.

The second problem is it only works once. If you take something, or use something, without permission and get caught so beg forgiveness, you might be granted this forgiveness one time. However, the second time you do this, you lose all credibility. When you ask permission, and are granted it, people are more willing to work with you again in the future. So the forgiveness idea might work once but if you are trying to establish long term relationships, go with the permission.

The third problem, and to me the biggest one, is the character issue. Just because you can probably get away with something and even if you can’t get away with it, you can beg forgiveness, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Your character shows who you are, and what you do, when no one is watching. If you aren’t in times when you think you can get away with something and honest the rest of the time, you are not an honest person. A persons character is who they really are and if you claim to be a good person than be a good person all the time, not just when you think you can’t get away with things.

Ask permission, treat others as you want to be treated, develop long term relationships and do the right thing….it’s really not all that difficult

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Have a great day!


Leadership vs Position

Many people assume leadership comes from the position a person holds. The reality is, great leaders are able to lead regardless of whether they are in a position of leadership or not.

An example of this incorrect assumption would be on a high school sports team. Players want to be named “captain” so they can be in a position of leadership. Whether the captain’s are chosen by team vote (at which point it’s typically a popularity contest), or the coach assigns the captain (at which point it’s usually the best player assigned to be captain), this does not make the person (or people) named captain a leader.

Looking back in history, there are numerous examples of great leaders who led without being in a position of leadership. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was a tremendous leader long before he was in a position of leadership. While he was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he didn’t receive his ability to lead from that position, if anything, his ability to lead gave that position power. Dr King didn’t wait for someone to bestow him a position, he went out and led based on his individual qualities, beliefs and abilities.

Mother Teresa led through willpower, example, belief and dedication NOT through the power given to her by someone else.

George Washington didn’t become a leader when he became the first President, he became the first President BECAUSE of his ability to lead.

Are you waiting to be put in a position of leadership or are you being a leader on your own?

Have a great day!