Rhythm Blog

Alan Gehringer

Alan Gehringer
Alan is a Rhythm Consultant. He has years of experience helping clients get into a strong Think Plan Do Rhythm to profitably grow their business with purpose. He is an expert meeting facilitator, critical thinker, lifelong learner and a good listener. He is committed to helping clients reach their business goals by drawing on his experience and family business background.

Recent Posts

Using Zoom to Facilitate Your Strategic and Execution Planning Meetings for Stellar Results

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Feb 12, 2021 @ 11:03 AM

As in the past many years, I entered 2020 with a full schedule of strategy and execution planning work with my clients. Then the pandemic hit, and I was not sure what that was going to mean and how I was going to take good care of clients. The good news is that nearly every session went forward virtually. Other consultants in our firm had the same experience. I give our clients a lot of credit for having the trust in us to run the sessions virtually using Zoom, and the courage to work with their teams this way. A couple of CEOs expressed concern and doubt up front, but they knew that moving forward with planning was mission critical; their teams needed to work on their strategies and develop strong execution plans that would ensure people would execute on the right priorities.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Effective Meetings

3 Things to Do when Planning for the New Year

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 @ 11:03 AM

 

2020 was an extraordinary year on many fronts. Most people I know are very glad it is behind them, and now that it is and we are a month into the new year, it is the perfect time to reflect and make sure you are poised to make 2021 a great year.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

21 COVID 19 KPIs to Monitor Now

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 @ 12:03 PM

These are crazy times we find ourselves in right now. I have heard more than one person say that they have never experienced anything like this in their lifetime—and a few of the folks are a bit more senior than me! That being said, I am so proud of the companies I work with and the friends that I have that run their own businesses. Everyone is doing everything they can to take care of their employees and service their customers to the best of their abilities. Most are doing a really great job despite the social, environmental and supply chain challenges.

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

21 Manufacturing KPIs and Metrics Updated for 2021 to Improve Production KPI Performance

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

It is important to grow the top line of your business on an annual basis, but you also need to make sure the bottom line is healthy which can help fund that growth. This is particularly important if you are a manufacturing company and need to be efficient in your production process. In most cases, the two biggest expenses in your manufacturing business are labor and raw materials. There are exceptions, of course, in machine intensive automated manufacturing plants, but let’s focus on the former. So how can we make sure the production line is running at peak performance? One very effective way is to put the right balance of production KPIs in place. Some of these are leading indicator KPIs that help provide insight into future performance and some are results KPIs that tell you how you have done. It is good to have both, although I always prefer giving my production managers a good set of leading indicator KPIs as these manufacturing metrics drive the results.

Download our free KPI Guide to help you drive results with KPIs.

Here are some of the most effective manufacturing KPIs and metrics:

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

Power SWOT: Harness the Power of a 2021 SWOT Analysis!

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 @ 12:31 PM

A common tool used in planning sessions is the SWOT analysis.  The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  The tool was developed by Albert Humphrey of the Stanford Research Institute in the 1960’s.  Although we typically use this tool for strategic planning purposes, it can also be used to evaluate a person, product, market, industry or business opportunity.  Typically during quarterly planning, we focus on the external market by looking at opportunities and threats to ensure we are looking outside the organization as we plan and develop priorities.  During annual planning, it is more common to conduct a full SWOT analysis by also looking at the strengths and weaknesses internally to aid in our organizational development and strategic thinking. 

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Productivity vs Efficiency in Manufacturing: What's the Difference in 2021?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Two key concepts in manufacturing that often get misconstrued or even used synonymously are productivity and efficiency. Do you know what the difference is? Despite these two words pertaining to improving the production process of a manufacturing, agriculture, or service sector company, they refer to different things. Once you think about the differences, you can better utilize productivity and efficiency in your business. Read this blog to better understand productivity vs efficiency and how it impacts your manufacturing business. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Hedgehog Concept Examples: How a Hedgehog Supports a BHAG

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Nov 27, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Does your who do what? It sounds somewhat funny, but this is really a serious question. Many people know what these terms are, but for those that do not, here is a brief refresher. These terms come from author and management consultant Jim Collins in Good to Great.  You can find some great BHAG examples on our middle market CEO blog that can help you take your company from good to great.  The main gist of the hedgehog concept is to find where the intersection of your passion, financial drivers and where you can be the best in the world in your organization.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

How to Be a Fit Mid-Market CEO for 2021 and Beyond

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Nov 26, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

To give your business an edge against the competition in 2019, you might be considering some ways to level yourself up in the process. Instead of looking for extra hours, more meetings, and hiring new personnel to help you tackle it all, have you considered using fitness to your advantage? The benefits of being physically active and healthy are many, but for the business-minded, the boost in mental productivity, creativity, and optimism are three tools you need to increase your success in the coming year. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Planning for an Uncertain 2021: Tips to Create Plan A and Plan B

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

We recently held our 6th annual Breakthrough Conference, although it was our first ever virtual conference, and I want to share a few ideas from one of the two sessions I facilitated: Planning for an Uncertain 2021.

These are extraordinary times we are living in right now, and traditional approaches need to be challenged. As we enter into the busiest time of the year for annual planning, I hope you will find these tips useful.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning

5 Tips to Win and Retain your Core Customers (Updated for 2021)

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Sun, Nov 15, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Customer retention is a routine, where you rinse, repeat, and rise to perfection over time. In 2018, winning new customers and keeping their business is going to get more challenging now that new trends, like enhancing user experience through content and emphatic marketing, are on the rise. Therefore, if you want to win and retain core customers in the new year, you are going to have to fine tune or make adjustments to the customer programs you have already implemented. 

Here are 5 tips to help you succeed: 

Know Your Brand

The secret that many companies continue to miss when attracting customers is having a clear vision of what their brand stands for and how it is communicated in the market. You need to know what wins customers over to begin with. To do so, you have to answer the following questions: 

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Topics: Increasing Sales, Strategies for Growth

How Middle Market CEOs Execute on Strategy for Success (Updated for 2021)

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Sun, Nov 1, 2020 @ 10:03 AM

Most Companies Fail Due to Poor Strategic Execution

As a fan of Blue Ocean strategy, you already know how important it is to have the right strategy. But, a great strategy executed poorly produces lackluster results and missed targets. Unfortunately, most companies and top executives focus their efforts on developing a strong strategy but spend very little time converting those strategies into “execution ready” plans that clearly define the actual work team members need to do to bring the 3-5 year strategic plan as determined in your planning process to fruition.

 

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning, KPIs & Dashboards, Strategy Execution, Mergers & Acquisitions

Do You Need a Strategy Refresh?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

There is no better time than the present to work on completing your strategy. You may have wanted to nail down your work on core customer, brand promise or brand promise guarantee. You may need to review your core competencies and refresh the short list. Maybe you are getting close to reaching your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and need to envision a new one.

As many people continue to work virtually, it creates the perfect opportunity to set aside time and schedule a virtual planning session or two. Working virtually allows more flexibility by allowing you to break sessions into 4-hour increments, if desired, and you can schedule the work over several weeks.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning

One Page Strategic Plan Template (OPSP) for the Rockefeller Habits

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 05:52 PM

I have recently been involved in a few conversations with clients that are new to the Rockefeller Habits or to long-range planning. The questions that keep coming up are "Where do I start?" and "Should I first establish my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), 3-5 year strategic plan, Core Values, etc.?"  

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

What is the Difference Between a Primary Customer and Secondary Customer?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

I have written previously about the importance of identifying your core customer because I have seen far too many companies waste their valuable time and resources selling to and serving the "wrong" customers.  They haven't taken the necessary steps to identify their most valuable customers that purchased the primary product and were highly satisfied.

Your core customer is the one who values what you offer at a price and quantity that is good for both you and the customer and will take you into the future successfully. This is the individual that uses the product, the one you look in the eyes and can put a name to and the one you can’t live without. Knowing who the core customer is will impacts sales in a positive manner.

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Topics: Increasing Sales, Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

Strategic Planning Tips: 17 Tips to Create a Winning Strategic Plan

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 10:57 AM

So, you had a great planning session with your team. Everybody left the 3-day session pumped up and ready to hit your targets for the year and move the company one step closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and other long term strategic goals. You've done the strategy work extremely well?  What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, even with everyone’s good intentions, running the day-to-day business can get in the way of making progress on your annual and quarterly rocks if you are not intentional about your execution or operation planning of all of your important projects to help you achieve your vision.  These strategic planning tips should help you execute on your 3 year strategic plan while keeping track of your day to day activities.  As the experts in mid market planning facilitation we are often asked for our best strategic planning advice, so here you go!

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Aug 31, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

We are coming into that time of year where a lot of companies are gearing up or doing their annual planning to prepare for next year. In preparation for that, we are presenting a webinar in conjunction with the Association for Corporate Growth, ACG, to highlight some of the mistakes companies make and three very important lessons that can help you avoid those mistakes and the failure that accompanies them. Did you know that on average, only 50-60% of companies actually hit their annual performance targets?  The stats are not very good, and even worse if you have just participated in a merger or acquisition. Team members involved in a merger or acquisition want to know two primary things: where is the company going, and what do you need me to do today?

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Mergers & Acquisitions

Quarterly Rocks: The Difference Between KPIs and Quarterly Rocks

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Aug 31, 2020 @ 09:30 AM

What's the difference between KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Quarterly Rocks? This can be a very confusing question, especially for companies who are new to using the Rockefeller Habits or Rhythm's Think Plan Do as a methodology to grow their company and drive their execution. It can be confusing at first as there are some similarities between the two. Both use clear success criteria to measure results or desired behavior, and quarterly rocks (often called priorities or projects) can often influence the success of the KPIs and metrics you are monitoring.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, KPIs & Dashboards

Don’t Let COVID-19 Disrupt Your Strategy and Execution Planning Cadence!

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Aug 12, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

Most companies we work with are still operating in a virtual or semi-virtual world, and fortunately, employees are adapting well. It is amazing what technology can allow us to do these days. Can you imagine working virtually twenty years ago? As an unforeseen benefit, companies are taking a fresh look at their businesses to evaluate how they can take advantage of this trend to structure the business more efficiently from the standpoint of both employees and companies. I think the landscape of how we work will forever be changed—and in a good way.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Effective Meetings

10 Questions to Determine if Your Team Needs a Virtual Planning Session

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 @ 04:34 PM

I facilitate a lot of strategy and execution planning sessions throughout the year. The majority of the time, I do this on-site with a client at a hotel or at their facility. Meeting face-to-face is great if logistics, timing, cost and the environment support it. However, there are times when everything does not align for that to happen, and it is more effective for the team to meet virtually. Current environmental conditions have created one of those times. Keeping people safe and healthy has never been more important.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Leveraging Your Core Competencies to Create a Competitive Advantage with Examples

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

I have helped many companies identify and leverage their core competencies through the years, and doing this can really make a difference in the products or services you provide to your customer. Core competence is a concept introduced by C.K. Prahalad, professor at the University of Michigan, and Gary Hamel, management expert and founder of Strategos. They define it as “a harmonized combination of multiple resources and skills that distinguish a firm in the marketplace.”

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Personal Accountability Exercises - How Does Your Team Stack Up?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 @ 09:30 AM

Quite a few years back, a good friend of mine introduced me to John Miller and his book “QBQThe Question Behind the Question.”  I had the opportunity to hear John speak and have referred to his book off and on through the years.  John has built a complete program on this concept and has helped companies exercise more accountability throughout their organizations.  Since we work with our clients at Rhythm Systems to get focused, aligned and accountable, I thought it was worth looking back through the book to see if there were some nuggets of wisdom to share. 

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Core Customer: 3 Steps to Identify and Define Your Core Customers

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

Philip Kotler implores us to do a better job of understanding “who” our valuable customers are and then to deeply please them, rather than trying to please everyone.  It is much better to serve your Core Customer completely and fully, than to try to be everything to everyone.  It will create a core market that you can please and creates a loyal fan base.  The core customer value to your business is immense, so the better you understand them the better the return on your investment.

Every company should have a brand promise that it makes to its customers. The promise should differentiate you in your market and support the sales process by making it easier to close deals. The first step in developing your brand promise is to identify and define your core customer. The better job you do with this step, the more effective your brand promise is going to be and the more likely your prospects are to purchase a product.  This is needed for business to business and business to consumer companies.

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Topics: Increasing Sales

Personal Path of Progress: The Secret to Reach Your Full Potential

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 @ 12:14 PM

I have made it a priority to be a lifelong learner which aligns well with one of our company’s core values of “Keep Smart.” As an employee, it is your personal responsibility to continue to grow and gain new knowledge, skills and expertise. Just like a business, if you are not growing, you are in decline or becoming irrelevant.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Leadership Team Alignment: How to Keep the Executive Team Aligned

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Jul 20, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

If you have ever downloaded any tools or other resources on our site, you know that we usually ask you about your Biggest Business Challenge in our forms. In response to your feedback, we are featuring a blog series on your biggest business challenges! This post is a response to the challenge “aligning senior team around clear goals."

How much can your leadership team really take on this quarter and accomplish well?

We have all heard the saying, “Less is More.” I try to exercise this concept in my personal life when it comes to toys, although my wife would tell you I am more successful some years than others. I do like the acid test of “will it make my family’s or my life better” when contemplating a new purchase. 

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Why an Execution System Can Drive Your Strategy and Get You Results

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

I have been helping companies develop their strategies for growth and profitability for over twenty years. As with many consultants, I started helping companies plan in a very traditional manner by developing 3-inch thick plans that would make any coffee table or bookshelf proud. I am being a bit sarcastic, and I know sarcasm is not a true form of humor, but bear with me for a moment as I make my case. It is not that the work we did together did not produce valuable plans with real substance. Actually, part of the problem was that there was too much substance in most cases, so the plans became overwhelming and extremely difficult to execute. I would come back quarterly, or in some cases annually, and as we began to the review the plans, I would hear comments like, “Oh yes, now I remember talking about that in planning.” Laughs would emerge around the room, but the truth of it is that it was not really that funny, considering the lost opportunity and lack of results.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

Strategies for Effective Listening in Four Easy Steps

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

One of the things I have to do as a business consultant is to be a great listener. This is a key leadership and communication skill for anyone. Sometimes effective listening can be a challenge because, like most people, I can fall into the trap of thinking about my response and how I would like to help the individual with whom I am communicating. One of my pet peeves has always been that many people begin developing their response as soon as the other person starts speaking rather than truly listening to the message spoken to them. As I was going through some information this weekend, I came across a great one-page paper on four steps to effective listening, a key tenet of developing accountable leaders and teams. Permission was given to use the information as freely as possible and so I am sharing the main points with you.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Have You Defined Your Company Core Purpose Statement? CPS Examples

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 @ 08:48 AM

Peter Drucker stated that ”the best and most dedicated people are ultimately volunteers, for they have the opportunity to do something else with their lives.

One of the best articles I have read on Core Purpose is Jim Collins and Jerry Porras article titled “Building Your Company’s Vision.”  The authors explain that a well-developed vision consists of two parts, core ideology and an envisioned future.  The core ideology consists of two components, Core Values and Core Purpose.  The envisioned future has two elements, The Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and a vivid description of what it will look like when you achieve your BHAG.  The former should never change, while the latter may, once you have accomplished your long term 10-20 year goal.  These should be your guiding purpose to go above and beyond the status quo.  As we hear more and more companies becoming purpose driven organizations to attract and keep A-Talent having a well defined Core Purpose is the first step in the process.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

On-Time Delivery KPIs: Goals, Culture, and Habits to Improve On-Time Delivery Manufacturing

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 @ 11:05 AM

I previously wrote a blog titled 21 Production KPI Examples to Improve Manufacturing Performance, and many people were interested in learning more about how to measure and improve on-time delivery, one of the specific KPIs I mentioned. I am often asked how to improve on time delivery in manufacturing companies.  The on time delivery KPI time as one of their most important Key Performance Indicators as it is directly related to customer satisfaction and repeat orders.  So, let’s dig a little deeper into effective ideas to improve on time delivery.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, KPIs & Dashboards, Strategy Execution

Employee Engagement: 6 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Jun 15, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Financial rewards are just the beginning of what keeps employees active in their job role. Another, more overlooked factor, is job satisfaction. Just like you want to be a part of the company and commit to the success of it, so too do the workers. But, you are also the main character in the story who can either band these individuals together or break them apart through engagement or lack thereof.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Sales KPI Examples and Leading Indicators That Drive Revenue Growth

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, May 29, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Driving new sales revenue is a common theme that comes up with the clients I work with. In fact, I can’t think of many companies that have more sales activity than they know what to do with, and most are always looking for ways to build or grow their sales pipeline.  One of the first places we start is taking a look at their Sales KPIs to ensure that they are measuring the right metrics to grow their revenue by producing enough qualified leads for their sales managers to distribute to the team. 

There a lot of variables that go into building a great sales pipeline, and marketing plays a big part in developing marketing qualified leads (MQLs), but another big variable is measuring the right behavior that drives the right results with a great sales KPI dashboard. To do this, we must put the right leading indicator KPIs in place. It’s one thing to measure results indicators like Revenue booked, but unless the right activities are taking place, you are not going to hit your targets and your stakeholders are going to be disappointed regardless if they are internal or external. You need to develop the right sales leading indicator KPIs for your team to track your customer acquisition.

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Topics: Increasing Sales, KPIs & Dashboards

Meeting with Yourself: The Key to Personal Productivity

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, May 20, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

If you do not operate your business using Rhythm or the Rockefeller Habits, you might be asking yourself "why would I have a meeting with myself?"  Let me explain, because I know we have all heard the old saying, it is okay to ask yourself questions, just don’t answer them!  Let me start with some background that will help set the stage.  The fastest way to fix your weekly team meeting is to set the expectation that everyone come prepared, no excuses!

Effective companies develop 3-5 year plans to help them achieve their 10-25 year Big Hairy Audacious Goal  (BHAG).  In addition, these companies develop robust annual plans and quarterly plans to continuously work on the right priorities to reach their long-term goals.  In order to have effective quarters that consequently lead up to effective years, we have to run great weekly team meetings (you can get your weekly meeting agenda there too!) with our executive teams and supporting groups.  The only way to have an effective weekly meeting is to prepare for it before hand.  How many of you have attended meetings where people show up unprepared and either try to think on the fly or lack the information they need to contribute effectively?  I have participated in many of these meetings through the years.  In order to avoid this, we need to have a meeting with ourselves each week to prepare for the meeting with our team.  This is effective whether you use Rhythm, the Rockefeller Habits or neither.  Let me tell you how we do it.

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Topics: Effective Meetings

How to Scale Growth

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Sat, May 9, 2020 @ 11:04 AM

Your business is experiencing strong growth – now what? Double-digit growth brings with it a host of new challenges, particularly how to effectively scale as you grow without imploding.  Often growth and scaling are used interchangeably, but scaling means growing your revenue faster than your costs - IE profitable growth.

I had the opportunity in my early thirties to work for a very fast growth company. I remember hearing the founder say, "We can be as big as we want to be and grow as fast as we want to." I felt like I was riding the biggest wave you could imagine and what a thrill it was!

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

How Do I Sell More to My Core Customer?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

Great question right? But before we get to that, let’s define what a core customer is. Robert Bloom, author of The Inside Advantage, defines it as the customer most likely to buy your product or service in the quantity required for optimal profit! Your WHO is the customer you can’t live without and who will help you be successful into the future.

So, in order to sell more to your core, you need to clearly define who they are and understand their deepest needs, not just their wants. 

One thing to consider about your core customer is that he or she is a real person, with wants, needs and fears – not a lifeless profile on paper. Your core customer is alive and is just like you and me – AND has specific reasons, emotions and interests in your product or service.

According to a joint study by Bain and Harvard Business School, “(we) showed that in industry after industry, the high cost of acquiring customers renders many customer relationships unprofitable during their early years. Only in later years, when the cost of serving loyal customers falls and the volume of their purchases rises, do relationships generate big returns. The bottom line: Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”

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Topics: Increasing Sales, Strategies for Growth

Employee Engagement in Manufacturing Companies: 10 Ways to Improve (Video)

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

I grew up in a manufacturing family. My grandmother had her own manufacturing company, and my father was a partner in a local manufacturing company. I still have very fond memories working in and running the business. It was like one big happy family - most of the time, that is. We had employees that stayed with us pretty much from the beginning and that would be close to forty years in some cases. How do you get employees to stay with you for the long term and contribute to the best of their ability? One of the answers is to ensure they are treated with respect, appreciated, and given the opportunity to be fully engaged in their work environment. Employee engagement for factory workers is the key to creating a high performance manufacturing culture.  Being fully engaged means different things to different people, but here are some key approaches to consider for manufacturing workers.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Achieve Synergy with Your Team: A Tribute to Sir George Martin

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Feb 28, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Synergy is an often overused term, although incredibly effective when actually achieved. Merriam-Webster defines synergy as "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or effort)." Achieving synergy is not as easy as it sounds, however I will provide four steps to help you achieve team synergy.

I write this blog with a bit of sadness. The great Sir George Martin has passed away. To some, he was known as the fifth Beatle. George Martin was an incredibly talented man, a classically trained conductor, a record producer, an audio engineer and a musician, who used his orchestral style to help the Beatles compose some of the most enduring rock’n roll music in history. I have been a fan for a very long time as I received my first Beatles album, “Meet the Beatles,” from my aunt when I was one year old. I still enjoy their music today and spin some when I need a feel-good antidote.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

23 KPIs Every CEO Dashboard Should Consider

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

Having the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on your dashboard is very important to ensure you are driving the right behaviors in your business, monitoring the right results, and making the right adjustments to grow your business and hit your targets. I often get the question, particularly with new clients that do not have KPI dashboards established, “What KPIs should we be tracking?”

And here comes the time-honored consultant response, “It depends.” I know—I am being a bit facetious, but it really does depend; it depends on the type of business, the maturity of the business, what problems you are trying to solve, what things you are trying to improve as well as who your stakeholders are. I could go on, but I am sure you get the point. That said, there are some KPIs that I believe should be on most CEO or leadership team dashboards.

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

5 Signs That I Need Executive Coaching

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 31, 2020 @ 12:57 PM

The greatest athletes and business leaders in the world have coaches. No matter how good you are,  and you are probably really good, there is always an opportunity to grow personally and professionally if you have the desire to do so. So, let’s take a look at 5 signs that might signal it’s time for you to act.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Creating A Culture of Innovation: 5 Ways CEOs Can Drive a Culture of Innovation

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 31, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

We have all heard the saying "A fish rots from the head down," right? Not that I am comparing my CEO friends to fish, but it does drive the point home that creating a culture of innovation starts with you as the leader of the organization.

Peter Drucker, one of the fathers of modern business theory, said if an established organization is not able to innovate, it faces decline and extinction. I could not agree with him more, for in all of my years helping companies, I have witnessed far too many that wait until they are in decline or experiencing shrinking markets, stale product offerings or products that are being commoditized to begin innovating. They usually do not have the resources once in decline to be successful, which is why it is important to build a culture of innovation while your business is strong and healthy.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, KPIs & Dashboards, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Have You Validated Your 3-5 Year Strategic Plan?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Thu, Jan 30, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

You had a great annual planning session.  You worked hard developing your 3 year strategic plan for revenue growth and profit (scaling up) for the growth strategy next 3-5 years.  You brainstormed multiple strategies that have the potential to double your business revenue in the next 3-5 years.  You used your best estimates and available market knowledge and made certain assumptions in order to prioritize these potential 3 year strategic plans (winning moves) using the following criteria: 

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Does Your BHAG Connect to Your Company's Hedgehog?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 08:05 AM

I recently prepared for an annual planning session with a client and one thing the client wanted to work on was their Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). The best way to develop your BHAG is to first discover your Hedgehog. If you have not read much of Jim Collins' work, you may be asking yourself, what does a Hedgehog have to do with my BHAG and long-term goals for the company? The term comes from the famous essay by Isaiah Berlin titled “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” The crux of the story is that the fox is cunning and knows many things while seeing the world in all of its complexity, but the hedgehog knows one big thing and simplifies a complex world into a single organizing idea.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Effective Meetings? 27 Tips to Help You Improve!

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Tue, Jan 28, 2020 @ 09:30 AM

I recently spent time facilitating a two-day Annual Planning session for a client.  During the process, we begin the first day by reviewing our “Starts, Stops and Keeps.” One “Stop” that came up several times was to stop having too many ineffective meetings. This is an issue we have all experienced at one time or another, and there have been numerous books written on the subject. So why is it so difficult to run an effective meeting

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Topics: Effective Meetings

3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 17, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Has your growth stalled or have you missed your revenue and profitability targets the last few years? 

There is a solution. But before we get to that, think about if you have ever heard a dialogue like this or even told yourself these same stories. Play along with me here for a minute as I share the following pattern.

How is business ? Good, good, having a strong year. Busy.

How has your growth been the past three years? We really have not grown much, but maintaining or just a bit behind last year.

How are your margins, increasing, decreasing? Well, they have been decreasing, a lot of pressure from the competition. We are in somewhat of a commodity market. It’s tough.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

20 Mile March: My Introduction

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 @ 06:46 AM

I am a big fan of Jim Collins and have used his book “Good to Great” as a business tool for many years. I was recently introduced to the concept of “The 20 Mile March” which Mr. Collins discusses in his 2011 book “Great by Choice.”   At Rhythm Systems, we work with a lot of fast growth companies that sometimes experience erratic growth patterns.  Managing this growth can be very difficult from a priority, cash and people standpoint.  The concept of the 20 Mile March may give us some insight into how to manage growth more effectively. 

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Does Your BHAG Inspire Your Team? Put It To The Test

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 @ 09:30 AM

Lately, I have had a quite a few clients ask me to help them work on their BHAG.  BHAG is a term coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book titled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.  The acronym stands for big hairy audacious goal.  The idea behind a BHAG is to develop a visionary goal that is strategic and emotionally compelling that helps align your team to work toward a long-term 10 to 30 year goal.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Use Smart Thinking to Innovate and Solve Problems

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 10, 2020 @ 11:26 AM
I recently watched an interesting webinar by Art Markman, PhD, explaining the highlights of his book “Smart Thinking.  I found the concepts interesting and thought they were worth sharing as they align with one of our core values of “Keep Smart” and my personal belief in thinking outside the box to find opportunities to innovate and solve problems.  I believe that lifelong learning is essential.

 

4 Smart Thinking keys to solving problems, innovating and getting things done are:

1.  Develop smart habits

2.  Acquire high quality knowledge

3.  Use that knowledge when you need it

4.  Leverage expert generalists

We have the impression that only smart people can innovate, but in fact, the research shows that IQ scores, SAT scores, GMAT scores, etc. have very little influence on how intelligent an individual is.  Causal knowledge is the key to smart thinking.   Causal knowledge allows us to connect the facts, beliefs and knowledge through underlying and connective series called causal chains.  This leads us to ask the question “Why” and allows us to solve new problems and gain new knowledge.  We use the “5 Why” exercise often with clients to get to the root of a question or concept. 

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

When is the Last Time You Audited Your KPI Dashboard?

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 10, 2020 @ 10:00 AM

Have you performed a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) audit in the past quarter or two?  This is something I recommend to clients on a routine basis.  Quarterly planning is a good time to review your KPI’s and see if there are indicators that have outlived their usefulness because the project is complete, the process is under control or they relate to a quarterly or annual theme that is no longer relevant. 

As a rule, most dashboards consist of leading and lagging/results indicators.  While both types of indicators are necessary, leading indicators are much more powerful and give you the opportunity to make adjustments that will produce the results you desire.  Results indicators tell us if we hit our targets, but are historical in nature.   The goal is to balance results indicators with leading indicators.

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

3 Must-Do's for Strategic Planning (and 1 Thing You Should Never Do)

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Wed, Jan 8, 2020 @ 11:51 AM

Planning is very important to set your company up for a successful year. You have probably heard the saying, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." This is essentially a paraphrase of an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

5 Steps to Integrate Your Employee Culture After a Business Acquisition

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Tue, Jan 7, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

You just completed an acquisition in business, time to celebrate and break out the champagne. For some companies, acquiring businesses is their top growth strategy. Unfortunately for most companies, acquisitions fail to meet their objectives in the first year if at all. This can also be one of the most difficult ways to grow your business. That said, failure is not imminent if you do the right things to make the acquisition a success. One of these things is to focus on integrating the culture of the new company with the mothership. It sounds easy and straightforward, although integrating cultures is one of the biggest challenges and failure points after an acquisition. It takes a lot of time and effort to do it right. This is one reason that you should do your best to acquire companies that have good alignment with your Core Purpose and Core Values already to make the merger integration of the target company happen more smoothly.

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Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions

Richard Branson's Business Strategy: Proper Risk Taking

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 3, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

I have this great book I picked up ten or so years ago titledThe Book of Entrepreneurial Wisdom edited by Peter Krass. It is full of short excerpts from some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. I pick it up from time to time when I need a bit of inspiration. This time, I turned to the chapter Richard Branson wrote on “Risk Taking.” I have long been a fan of Sir Richard and the approach he takes to life and business. I thought I would summarize the key points he makes. Richard Branson has won on a lot of the bets he has made and lost on a few as well. One thing for sure, he is not afraid to take risks, and he has a strategy for how he goes about it. 

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Supercharge Your Sales Revenue with Core Customer & Brand Promise

Posted by Alan Gehringer on Fri, Jan 3, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

How much time, money, and energy are you wasting trying to sell to the wrong customers?  

Determining who your core customer is and developing the right brand promise can really supercharge your sales engine.

We are gearing up for our annual Breakthrough Conference in Charlotte in October. This year’s event promises to be even better than last. And last year was amazing, as so many of our attendees commented. We have several keynote sessions planned, from our own Patrick Thean and Cathy McCullough, one with Dr. Stephen Vogt from BioPlus, and one with Joseph Grenny, author of Crucial Conversations. Along with the keynotes, we have a great schedule of breakout sessions developed by our team and presented by our expert consultants.

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Topics: Increasing Sales, Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

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