(Time to read this Blog is about 4.5 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking or smiling:

  1. My Biz Quote of the week:  
    “In business, everything that happens between intent and delivery is ‘process’.  Process ain’t sexy…but I don’t want to fly on an airline that doesn’t have it.  It’s process that stops those planes from falling out of the sky.  Which of your processes need improving?  Make a list and get to work.”
    …Donald Cooper.
  2. Quick Biz Tip:
    Do you have an effective follow-up system? 
    You have hundreds of things on the go.  How do you keep track and follow up? The world is run by those who follow up.   Without follow up, there’s no accountability.  When people know you won’t follow up, they know they don’t have to do what you need them to do.
    So, do you have an effective follow up system…and do you use it?
  3. The ‘Cranky Corner’. Some things make me ‘cranky’.  Right now, it’s the graffiti that defaces almost every flat exterior surface in the city of Toronto. With a few rare exceptions, this is not artistic expression or a political statement…it’s mindless vandalism.  It makes every part of our city look like a slum.
    What does this defacement of our public spaces prove or accomplish?  If you’re ticked off with problems or injustice in our society, volunteer at a Food Bank, or teach art to young kids …but stop vandalizing our city. 
    We spent three wonderful weeks in Japan last Spring and did not see one bit of graffiti.  No one!   And, we saw just one piece of litter in three weeks.  Also, bikes and motor bikes are neatly parked everywhere, with no locks on them…and none of them gets stolen. It’s a cultural thing.  It has to do with respect.
  4. Credit Card companies love late fees. US credit card companies collect about $12 billion a year in late fees.  That’s ‘billion’ with a ‘B’.
  5. The compelling value of being the ‘Caring Coach’.  Sheridan Nurseries, with 6 locations in the Toronto area, understands the value of being the ‘Caring Coach’.  I’ve just received an email from them promoting their October 14th Seminar, at each location, titled, ‘Expert Advice on Fall Garden Care.’  They’re charging $25 to attend, but giving you a $25 Sheridan Gift Certificate…so the Seminar is actually free. This is brilliant.   Of course it only works if you have an extensive and up-to-date customer database.
    What could you do coach your customers and prospects how to more wisely choose and effectively use the products or services that you sell?  What are they confused or stressed about?  What do they need to be informed about, or reminded of?  What a great topic for your next Team meeting!
  6. Shameless Promotion:

    If you or your Industry Association have a Conference coming up in the next 12 months, perhaps we should talk. As a thought-leader on management, marketing, staff engagement, value delivery and profitability, I deliver bottom-line business insights in a way that informs, energizes, engages and inspires. 

    To quote one recent attendee, “Best, most real, insightful and entertaining management session I’ve attended in 30 years.  Bring this Cooper guy back!”

    Our most requested topics are:

    1. “Accelerate Your Business…the ‘straight goods’ on how to sell more, manage smarter, grow your bottom line…and have a life.”
    2. “Winning the Talent Wars…8 essential steps to attracting, leading & engaging a top-performing team.”
    3. “Implement Or Die…how to improve clarity, commitment, urgency, accountability and profitability in your business.”
    4. “Vision Critical…how to manage, innovate and thrive in a very different tomorrow!”
    5. “Succession Planning & Exit Strategies…preparing your business and yourself for the most important financial transaction of your life!

      I’m happy to chat about possibilities at 416-252-3703 in Toronto…or by email at donald@donaldcooper.com


Now, to this week’s important topic:

Cooper’s 4 steps to fixing what needs fixing in your business:                                                              

As you start focusing on how to make 2024 your best year ever, there will be some things that need ‘fixing’ in your business.  In working with business in over 40 industries throughout the world, I’ve discovered that there are 4 clear steps to fixing what needs fixing in any business.  Here they are…

Step #1:  Awareness:  ‘Awareness’ is simply knowing that some part of your business isn’t ‘right’ yet.  You’re not yet where you want or need to be to be a profitable market leader, to achieve world-class operating efficiency, or to become your future Vision.

Perhaps some of your products or services aren’t the best they could be.  Or, you’re falling short in delivering the customer experience that you’ve promised.  Perhaps you’ve not created the internal business environment (culture) required to attract, engage and keep the best people. Perhaps you’re falling short in planning and budgeting, control, accountability, profitability or implementation and follow-up.  Your shortfall could be in technology, systems or communication. It could be that you’ve not yet met your commitments to your community or the environment or that there are non-performing or toxic employees that you’ve not dealt with.

‘The beginning of wisdom is the recognition of reality.’ Are you aware of the specific areas in your business that aren’t ‘right’ yet?   Can you list them and prioritize them?   Without ‘awareness, there will be no improvement.  To quickly determine which areas of your business need work, click here to download our Key Challenge Audit Sheet.  This insightful 1-page business tool takes just 4 minutes to complete and has helped 1,000s of our clients to ‘get real’ about what  needs fixing.  Read the instruction page carefully.

But ‘awareness’ alone will get you nowhere!  Which brings us to…

Step #2: Taking ‘ownership’ of the problem…and a passionate and urgent commitment to fix it:  Many business owners and managers refuse to take ‘ownership of their problems.  They blame something or someone else. They blame a competitor, a supplier, the government, the weather or the Chinese. We’ll never solve a problem that we don’t first take ‘ownership’ of.  For example, if they’re having a problem attracting and retaining top performers, they may just proclaim that ‘you can’t get good people anymore’ when the truth is that the best people have to work for somebody, it’s just that we have to deserve them.

Other businesses know where they’re falling short, know it’s their fault…but lack the ability, energy, urgency or passion to fix it.  They’re over their heads, burnt out, or just don’t give a damn.  Years ago, my father drove a Jaguar XJ6 with the world’s most unreliable windshield wipers, which he thought rather odd, given that it was built in the UK, where it rains all the time.  By chance, father met the Chairman of Jaguar at some big-shot business event and when he mentioned that he was a Jag owner, the Chairman enquired, “And how do you like your Jag?”

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to go right to the top with his problem, my father told the Chairman about his huge frustration with the windshield wipers. To which the Chairman offhandedly replied, “Oh Jack, we don’t seem to have that one quite right yet, do we!”

Clearly, the Chairman was aware of the problem.  He had arrived at Step #1.  But, judging by his offhand remark, there was no passionate or urgent commitment to fix it.  Are you taking ‘ownership’ of the problems in your business or department and are you passionately committed to fixing the things that need fixing?   And, do you have a competent and committed Team to work with you in solving some of these challenges?

Step #3:   Analysis / Creativity / Decision / and an Action Plan:  Here’s where the real work begins.  For each thing that you’re committed to fix or create in your business, work through the stages of problem or opportunity analysis / creativity / decision making / and committing to an Action Plan that states clearly what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what outcomes, measured how and rewarded how. 

  1. Analysis:  Get the facts!  If it’s a problem you’re solving, get to the real root cause.  Don’t just attack surface problems.  If it’s an opportunity you’re pursuing, make sure that you have all the important facts. Either way, if your analysis is wrong, your action will likely be wrong…and your outcome will be wrong. 
  2. Creativity:  Encourage creativity within your organization and know when to ‘rent’ creativity from the outside.  Ask your Team, your suppliers and your customers for their ideas. In doing so, you’ll learn from them…and you will honor them.  Find out who the real experts are on what you’re trying to fix or create.  The good ones will save you a bundle and the bad ones will cost you a fortune.
    Don’t try to ‘reinvent the wheel’.  What are other successful businesses doing about whatever problem or opportunity you’re working on…and then figure out how to do it even better!
    What has never been done?  What ideas, when implemented, would blow your customers away or give you a big operational advantage that would transform your bottom line?
    Ask the ‘wonderful’ question which is, “What would be the most wonderful thing that we could do in solving this problem or creating this opportunity?”   Years ago, in our ‘almost famous’ lady’s fashion store, we came up with ‘wonderful’ in the form of a choice of 7 free beverages; 4 hooks in the change rooms; electric massage chairs for husbands and boyfriends; a pirate ship play area for kids; change tables with free diapers, diaper wipes and cream in the customer washrooms, and an invitation to “Please take as many items in the change room as you wish!”.  We came up with all these great ideas simply by asking the ‘wonderful’ question.
    So, get creative.  What are the possibilities?  What would be a ‘BIG IDEA’ here?  BIG IDEAS ‘grab’ your customers, clearly differentiate you from your competitors, make you famous and grow your bottom line.
    Finally, what are the costs and the benefits of each of your ideas?
  3. Decision:  Don’t analyze and create forever. Commit to a course of action in a reasonable time frame.  There’s more money lost through indecision than wrong decision.  Nike’s slogan is NOT, “Just talk it to death!”  Don’t over-analyze. 
  4. The Action Plan:  Document specifically what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what outcomes, measured how and rewarded how. Involve all those whose support you need, or who are affected by in the implementation process.  Make sure they understand why this project is important to the business and to them.  Determine from your team what additional information or resources they’ll need to be successful, and make sure that they get what they need.

Step #4:  Effective implementation and follow up:  Get it done!  Businesses don’t die from a single shot to the head…they die, slowly but surely, from a thousand uncompleted tasks!   Effective implementation is one of the biggest challenges in most businesses today.  Here’s the simple solution:  Every time you assign a task to someone, or a Team, agree on a specific date by which it will be completed, or an update will be delivered.  Document that commitment and always follow up.  Then, hold people accountable, celebrate success, reward performance and deal firmly but fairly with non-performance. 

So, there you have it…4 simple but powerful steps to fix what needs fixing in your business. Realistically, where are you in the 4-step process?  First, are you aware of what needs fixing?  Then, are you passionately and urgently committed to getting on with it?  Is it the analysis, creativity, decision making or planning where you need more focus?  Or, is it in the implementation that you need to improve?  How will you use the insight of these 4 clear steps to fix what needs fixing in your business so that 2024 is the best year ever in your business or department?  


That’s it for this week…

Live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.


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