What is Success Anyway

One of the most important things I need to establish with my clients is their definition of success because I can’t help them achieve success if I, or they, don’t know what they mean by it.

I did hear an amusing definition of success the other day which was: success is the happy feeling you get between the time you do something and the time you tell a woman what you did … well I thought it was amusing!

From the point of view of my existing clients, success could be defined as: more sales, more profit, more ideas, more time or sometimes, less stress, fewer problems, or lower expenses. Whatever my clients decide is their definition of success I will work with them, on a regular monthly basis to achieve their ideal.

A final key point here is that once you have defined what success actually does mean for you then it’s far easier to recognise it once you have achieved it and then you can celebrate it… before moving on to decide what the next definition of success (for you) will be

Anyway, if you know the owner of a small business who wants to become more successful, then please refer them to me and I’ll help them to both define it and achieve it.

The IBM Success Story

There is a story attributed to Thomas J Watson (snr),  the man who took a collection of debt-ridden time recording and tabulating companies and turned them into the colossus that is the modern IBM and who, when asked what made the company so successful replied:

IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream – my vision – was in place.

The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.

The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realised that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.

In other words, I realised that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.

From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for that difference.

Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not to doing business.

We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one.


Practical Tips for your business success

Not sure where to start with “seeing” the success of your business? Need some practical help with how to proceed? Well, here are some practical tips for you to use and if you’d like some more help or would just like to talk through your business thoughts and ideas then don’t forget to speak to me, Dave Baker, your Charting Success Business Coach on 01284 330400

1.     Start with the end in mind. Close your eyes and envision where you really want to be with your business in one, three or five years’ time. Think of it as a “Dream Destination”. Write it down so that you can come back to it again and again and remind yourself of where you ultimately want to be.

2.     Be clear about your dream. If you think about it as a Dream Destination then use the “DREAM” part as an acronym to enable you to be really clear about it. i.e.

D – Determinate – Be specific, not fuzzy. You want to achieve annual sales of £xxx by a specific date, or you want to have at least x% market share by a specific date.

R – Realistic – Don’t set impossible goals. They need to be challenging but they have to be achievable.

E – Exotic – It’s a Dream Destination remember; dreams should never be mundane. Think sun-drenched Bahamas not Bognor Regis (no offence to Bognor Regis intended).

A – Agreed – This Dream Destination is a company goal so it’s likely to involve other people. Make sure you do involve them and win their support in reaching the Dream Destination

M – Measurable – You must be able to measure your progress towards your Dream Destination so that, if nothing else, you know when you’ve actually arrived!

3.     Review your dream regularly. Just as with planning the ultimate holiday where you might take out the colourful brochures and read them again and again, imagining yourself actually on that holiday soaking up the sunshine or skiing down the piste; do the same with your commercial Dream Destination. Review your dream at least once a month, make sure that it is still something that excites you and that it is still a valid destination. After all, you wouldn’t continue with your plans of an ultimate holiday if your proposed destination was ravaged by a hurricane or involved in a war (well, at least, most people wouldn’t) so you may have to modify your commercial Dream Destination if it is affected by factors outside your control.

Dyson – A Study in Successful Innovation

(Dyson history excerpted from Dyson website – http://www.dyson.co.uk)

You know the feeling when some everyday product lets you down. ‘I could have designed this better myself’, you think. But how many of us turn our thoughts into actions? James Dyson does. He is a man who likes to make things work better. With his research team he has developed products that have achieved sales of over £3 billion worldwide.

James Dyson’s first product, the Sea Truck, was launched in 1970 while he was studying at the Royal College of Art. A few years later came the award-winning Ballbarrow that can go where no wheelbarrow has ever been before. Then there was the Wheelboat and the Trolleyball. Even the integral hose, seen on most upright vacuum cleaners, is a Dyson invention.

In 1978, James Dyson noticed how the air filter in the Ballbarrow spray-finishing room was constantly clogging with powder particles (just like a vacuum cleaner bag clogs with dust). So he designed and built an industrial cyclone tower, which removed the powder particles by exerting centrifugal forces greater than 100,000 times those of gravity. Could the same principle work in a vacuum cleaner? James Dyson set to work. 5 years and 5,127 prototypes later, the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner from Dyson arrived.

Considering it took James Dyson over 14 years to get his first product into a shop, it’s heartening to know that you can now buy Dyson products in 22 countries worldwide. You can also see them in many other places: Science Museums, Victoria & Albert Museum in London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne; Zurich Design Museum; Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris; Design Museum in Lisbon and Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, to name a few.

Practical Innovation Tips for Your Business

Here are seven tips as to how to foster that innovation.

•       Be receptive to all ideas and suggestions. Listen to and encourage everyone in the organisation to make suggestions and describe their ideas. Don’t be negative or dismiss any ideas offhand even if they are ‘off the wall’.

•       Reward the best ideas and suggestions especially if the company benefits from them. Ensure that the rewards given are commensurate with the value of the idea or suggestion. If one of your employees comes up with an idea that earns the company many thousands of pounds then reward them with a small share of the extra profit – if you don’t, then their next good idea may end up being used by your competitor!

•       Look for ideas in other areas. Be aware of what’s going on in other market areas because you may be able to adapt a new idea from a completely different business or industry to your advantage. Go to different places; read different newspapers and magazines; meet different people (and listen to what they have to say). Encourage adventure in yourself and others around you.

•       Look for innovative ways to combine existing ideas or products into something new. Some classic product examples of the success of this approach are: the mobile phone/camera, the clock/radio, the snowboard and the Swiss army knife.

•       Don’t always go with the first idea. Talk it over with others in your organisation or friends and relatives because someone may be able to think of ways to improve or perfect it (with the obvious caveat that you don’t want anyone else to steal your idea!).

•       Take calculated risks. Research and discussion is all very fine but sometimes you just have to ‘do’ something to see if it works or is better. Sometimes you will get it wrong as well but as some anonymous person once said “In order for you to profit from your mistakes, you actually have to go out and make some”.

•       Visualise the success of the idea. Close your eyes; think how the idea or suggestion will affect the company (and you). Try to imagine what the future will be like because of that idea or suggestion – and whilst you’re about it try to think of any “If only I’d…” situations (as in “If only I’d done this or not done that then the idea or suggestion would have been even more successful”) and do them.

Innovation is, in reality, a little like gardening; with the right conditions (fertile soil, good weather, careful husbandry and judicious application of fertiliser (careful how you visualise this analogy!)) you can grow the most wonderful things – and continue to do so year after year.

Walt Disney – A success Story

The film maker and theme park creator Walt Disney once stated:

“The story-man must see clearly in his own mind how every piece of business in a story will be put. He should feel every expression, every reaction. He should get far enough away from his story to take a second look at it…to see whether there is any dead phase…to see whether the personalities are going to be interesting and appealing to the audience. He should also try to see that the things that his characters are doing are of an interesting nature.”

Walt Disney’s ability to connect his innovative creativity with successful business strategy and popular appeal certainly qualifies him as a genius in the field of entertainment. In a way, Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterises the fundamental process of all genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way.

The simple yet worldwide appeal of Disney’s characters, animated films, live action features and amusement parks demonstrate a unique ability to grasp, synthesise and simplify very basic yet quite sophisticated principles. Disney was also responsible for a number of important technical and organisational innovations in the fields of animation and film-making in general.

It is clear that one of the major elements of Disney’s unique genius was his ability to explore something from a number of different perceptual positions. As one of his close associates pointed out:

“…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”

Robert Dilts of the NLP University in California, worked with Disney, and converted this strategy into something useful and powerful, which we can all use to realise our dreams.

Below is an abbreviated form of the strategy that you can use which involves the three different points of view of Dreamer, Realist and Critic (Spoiler).

Select the problem you are going to deal with – it can be as difficult as you like. Do not think about it yet. Choose three places in front of you that you can physically step into. One for your Dreamer, one for your Realist and one for your Critic


The Dreamer

Everything you see around you is the result of somebody’s dream. Once there were no chairs, no windows, no glass, no buildings – until somebody dreamed up the idea, and carried it through. People dream supposedly impossible things (for example, Leonardo da Vinci dreamed about helicopters in the 15th century) and other people may take it upon themselves to ridicule these dreams – but that is their problem!

When you have dreamed your ultimate dream, step out of that space, and choose another space.

The Realist

In the realist’s space, you are going to become the logistics expert. What needs to be done in order to achieve this dream? What resources will you need to provide? What modifications need to be made to the dream, in order to make it achievable?

In this space, you will be detached from the dream and have your feet firmly on the ground. You are dealing with the practical questions here.

When you have worked out the plan of how to achieve each step and made all the necessary modifications to the dream, step out of the realist’s space and move to the critic’s space (an equal distance from the dreamer and the realist – in other words, the critic’s space forms the third angle of an equilateral triangle)

The Critic

The critic has a very important job. In this space you are there to make sure you don’t make a complete fool of yourself; lose all your money; get sent to prison, and so on. The critic’s advice is vital; the critic’s job is to keep you safe.

Most of us try to ignore our critic, thinking of him/her as a nit-picking misery-guts – which he or she may well become if ignored. Whatever you say or do, your critic will persist in trying to keep you safe, so it would seem sensible to pay attention in the first place!

The critic’s job is to think up everything that can possibly go wrong with your master plan (and every possible bad side effect) so that you can be prepared for anything.

In critic mode you are detached from the dream but, most importantly, it is the dream you are criticising, not the dreamer.

Listen carefully to everything that comes up, and be prepared to modify the dream still further.

Now continue to step through each of the three spaces until your final plan fits each one.