Author Archives: Jillian Taylor

The Wise Ones: Jim Schell

First in The Wise Ones Series:

jim-schellJim Schell is a successful entrepreneur, published author and turn-around expert.  He was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bend Chamber of Commerce.  I'm fortunate to serve with Jim on the Looking Forward team, where we seek opportunities to connect business leaders in traditional and new economy sectors.

JT: How do you define having a good “work ethic?”

JS: I define a GOOD work ethic as one which balances work and play in an equitable manner. The work part of the equation is the old, reliable stuff: being accountable, showing up on time, being results oriented, etc. The play thing is taking the time out of every day, week or year to take care of your personal needs for relaxation and family.

JT: Why is having time to play important to a work ethic?

JS: No play makes you dull, in every way.

JT: At this point in your career, do you rely more on instinct or experience to make decisions?

JS: I think instinct and experience combine to become wisdom. I define wisdom as intuition grown old. Wisdom is what happens when you’ve tried a lot of stuff for 80 years and watched some of it work and some of it fail.

JT: What do you believe new economy leaders can learn from traditional leaders?

JS: The number one thing is the importance of community. Community is where their businesses will succeed, their kids will grow up, and their family will prosper. The new economy folks need to learn to volunteer time, energy and yes, money, to help their community keep up with the expanding needs of its citizens. (This is especially true in Bend, where it’s expanding so fast.)

JT: What do you believe traditional business leaders can learn from new economy leaders?

JS: How to get the most out of their time.  New economy leaders, mostly through technology, get more work, or at least information, out of an hour then traditional folks do. Related to this is their penchant to be able to work anywhere, not just in the office.

JT: What has been the hardest leadership lesson for you to learn?

JS: The hardest lesson I’ve learned in my career is to delegate. Most serial entrepreneurs have this problem because they don’t want to supposedly waste time teaching someone else to do the job when they can do it faster and, they think, better by themselves.

JT: So what is the benefit of delegating?

JS: Leverage is my favorite word.  Delegating allows leaders to leverage their skills, time and assets to build something bigger.  One dentist can only take so many patients, but one dentist leading a team of ten can build a profitable company.  And that is also, by the way, why I love connecting people.  When good people get together they can accomplish so much more.

JT: What legacy do you hope to leave?

JS: I want to make the region and community in which I live a better place to live, work and play. I know I can’t measure it but I can feel it.

For more about Jim's accomplishments, check his LinkedIn profile.

Do You Need a Strategic Plan?

Strategy [strat•i•jee]: a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

Years ago I worked for large consulting firm where I was responsible for implementing organization-wide changes as directed by the Executive Team. True to form, I got myself into trouble more than once by asking the question “why are we doing this?” and “how does this connect to our goals?” I sensed something bigger was missing. We were reacting to opportunities, challenges and (frankly) trends, but without a clear sense of where we wanted to be long term. “Bigger. More profitable. More market share.” Those were our guidelines. But the connection between new HR practices or IT initiatives was vague, at best…

Years later I had the pleasure to partner with business experts, who taught me the basic framework of the Balanced Scorecard model for strategic planning. Implementing this model within a small consulting firm, the approach connected a clear vision statement and an organization’s values to specific financial, service, infrastructure and capabilities goals (the four components of the Balanced Scorecard). Most importantly, this allowed our clients to identify a critical path to their vision, and prioritize their investments of time, money and people. Rather than reacting, they could be intentional. And therefore, strategic. Finally, the missing link!

Do you need a strategic plan? If you want to make sure you are using all of your resources on the highest priorities to achieve clearly articulated goals, the answer is clearly, yes.

Top Five: Implementing Your Strategic Plan

A ton of your time, money and energy can go into a strategic plan.  Once the plan is “done” there will likely be momentum for achieving key outcomes.  But as the weeks slide by, and you and your colleagues are busy keeping up with everything that was already on your plate, the ideas that came from strategic thinking can dissolve in both urgency and engagement.

Working closely with businesses large and small, here are some guidelines that I’ve found can keep your strategic initiatives in play:

  1. Map it out: Create a six month or one year roadmap that simply identifies for each project: lead, timeline, milestones, resources needed.
  2. Let it Breathe: Consider the roadmap a living document that is regularly updated to reflect changes in your business and is adaptable to new information. Clearly identify who is responsible for this document.  Tip: A quick way to visually track progress on multiple projects is flagging them as green, yellow or red.
  3. Clear accountability: Name someone as the Strategic Champion or a team as the Strategic Steering Committee. This person(s) is not responsible for doing everything on the plan.  They are responsible for making sure projects move forward and are accomplished.
  4. Keep it going: Meet and report on strategic projects at least quarterly. Make this a separate meeting from other business and allow plenty of time for deeper dives on your top strategic priorities.
  5. Engage people in the How: As leaders you’ve vetted and identified the What (strategic priorities) and the Where (Vision) you are taking the business. Engage others down the line, or even outside the company to help define How you’ll get there.  Tip: Being asked to participate on a strategic project can be just what younger professionals need to stay engaged and grow their skills.