Sunday, June 1, 2008


We completed our SWOT for IT Matters this week in Calgary. Nancy and I are now taking a few days in the Canadian Rockies here in Banff to relax and enjoy the wonders of this world. We saw the Columbia Ice Fields yesterday and took the drive up toward Jasper which is astounding. What an amazing world we get to live in. Tomorrow HTG10 starts in Calgary and I will be joining the folks there for some of their time in the afternoon. Stuart Crawford is leading the charge on this new group and I am excited to spend some time with them looking at their businesses and into their future.

So what did we learn from the SWOT this week. First of all, as is almost always the case, those of us on the team go home with probably more learning than those we came to serve. There is nothing that helps business owners and leaders define their own positions, evaluate their own companies, more than when sitting in a room in the position of helping others take a deep look at their company. I know that many of the things we identified for IT Matters to address are things I need to work on at HTS. So there is always a list of things for us to take back and get after in our own business.

I also learned just how darn talented members of the HTG family are. Brad Schow and Dan Hay are two guys that have their act together and provided fantastic value to the IT Matters team. It is a lot of work to prepare for, sit through, and follow up on a SWOT. That is why we have to do a very limited number of them for very specific purposes. But these guys really dove in and uncovered some key areas that will be valuable for the IT Matters team for years to come. Both of them will tell you they didn't really do anything, but that would be completely wrong. The value we all have for one another is really pretty simple. We need to listen, evaluate, apply our experiences, share our perspective and provide accountability for execution. That is what a SWOT is all about - a more formal way to live like we should live in our key relationships every day. These guys did it well and will be part of future SWOT engagements when it fits their schedules. I will gladly take them, or any of the others who have helped on previous SWOTs - Phil Kenealy, Lyf Wildenberg, Jeff Howard, Ken Shetler - hopefully I didn't forget anyone - it isn't rocket science but it is a willingness to share life and perspective at a deep level that makes a difference.

I do have a new nickname for my two amigos - Bubble Boys. They spent their free moments between sections or appointments addicted to the game on their Windows Mobile phones. Someone needs to write a cases study on the impact of games on WM6 users. Here are a couple you can study as it was good for laughs and competition. I am so pathetic at games like that I haven't even figured out how to play it.

I would be remiss in mentioning that Nancy spent the two days locked in the room with us recording all the interaction. She captured our questioning as well as the responses as that gives us the information to help us provide a clear set of recommendations. The outcome of a SWOT is just that - we did a one hour all staff meeting where we addressed issues we identified and suggested a course of action that needs to be taken by the ownership team. There were a dozen or more items that will be focused on and changes made based on what we shared. The team gets a direct line to the SWOT team to get things clarified and we now begin the task of providing accountability to Rob, Stuart and Tony to get things done. There is nothing worse as an outcome than to fail to perform after that report is presented. All teams get jazzed about the process and the pending outcomes, so it has to happen. That is why the process doesn't end when we leave, it really only just has begun.

Do you need someone to provide some outside perspective on what you are doing? Often it is pretty amazing how quickly people can see things that you have fallen over for weeks, months or years. It may not require a process as deep as the SWOT we do - maybe just inviting another business owner in to take a look for a hour or two will jump start your thinking. But it is important to not run your company in a silo. HTG is designed to help break us out of that tendency to think we need to do it alone. We don't, shouldn't and really can't. Not and achieve the real success we all want. So get involved, get creative, but open up. Often the hardest part of anything like this is admitting things need change. Here is a secret - I already know you are not running a perfect business - so get over it. We all need help. The key is you need to admit it and ask for it!

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