Let’s Spring Ahead with CMI’s Team Building Programs!

  Let’s Spring Ahead with CMI’s Team Building Programs!   Spring is just around the corner! As the weather gets nicer and everyone emerges from a state of cabin fever have you noticed … Productivity slowing down? Employees seeking more time out of the office? Less than outstanding customer service? Cranky attitudes on the job?     This year, be proactive. Get your team together for a morale boost and learning opportunity with one of CMI’s team building programs. At CMI we are constantly coming up with ways to stay ahead of the changing seasons in the Midwest. It’s not too late to schedule an event to kick off the spring/summer season!    Here are some ideas for outdoor events: Team building in local parks or at the beach Outdoor team rope courses or rock climbing activities Team building Kayaking Team Building Orienteering Adventures   For more information please contact us at (708) 383-7970. To start the planning process, contact me, Bruce Hodes, CEO and Facilitator Extraordinaire! I am eager to assist...

Book Review by Bruce – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

One of the most provocative leadership books that I have recently read is Extreme Ownership:  How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  While the message of the book is not foreign to me, how the authors delivered the message and explained it was.  The authors are two veteran Navy Seals who served and led troops in Iraq.  While the stories of their combat experiences were riveting, it at times became for me a glorification of war and America’s role in Iraq.  With that said, I did find that they made a very compelling case for a leader taking ownership for whatever situation they find themselves in.  Taking Extreme Ownership was the place that they invited leaders to come from as a powerful context from which to produce results. Given the blame game that we are seeing many of our National leaders play, this message of taking extreme ownership no matter what is quite refreshing.  The book, through its chapters, outlines various principles of leadership in a clear and simple fashion.  These principles are then illuminated by stories gleaned from the war in Iraq.  I particularly like their illumination of leadership as either effective or ineffective and that the team is either successful or not.  The opportunity for leaders is to acknowledge mistakes and learn from failure.  If you are looking for a fast paced read with a powerful and provocative message of taking responsibility for whatever you are facing and dealing with, then this book will be valuable.  I recommend it.  Please let us know what you think about it and we look forward to hearing...

Check this out! Bruce’s Latest Article – “It All Impacts – Just be Nice…” published by Young Upstarts!

Our planning session was occurring and there he was.  A Hilton employee quietly entered with copies in his hand.  He was the red headed front desk guy who told me he would make copies.  My plan was during the break to go and pick them up, and then there he was.  Bright, cheerful, and bringing added value.  That put him and the San Diego Hilton Garden Mission Valley on the fast track to be my favorite hotel.  He was nice. The taxi was green…it stands out in my memory as green is my favorite color.  He was early for my six o’clock departure and efficient as the bag ended up in the trunk.  I made a call and then we talked.  He was very much a perfect cab driver.  Car was clean and a Prius.  As I exited at the airport, he fist bumped me, gave me his card, and told me to call when needed.  I will.  He was nice. Read...

It All Impacts – Just be nice….Observations of a bald guy

Our planning session was occurring and there he was.  A Hilton employee quietly entered with copies in his hand.  He was the red headed front desk guy who told me he would make copies.  My plan was during the break to go and pick them up, and then there he was.  Bright, cheerful, and bringing added value.  That put him and the San Diego Hilton Garden Mission Valley on the fast track to be my favorite hotel.  He was nice. The taxi was green…it stands out in my memory as green is my favorite color.  He was early for my six o’clock departure and efficient as the bag ended up in the trunk.  I made a call and then we talked.  He was very much a perfect cab driver.  Car was clean and a Prius.  As I exited at the airport, he fist bumped me, gave me his card, and told me to call when needed.  I will.  He was nice. It’s five in the morning, I am downstairs at the Double Tree in a foreign land.  The sign says coffee from the coffee maker $2.00 a cup.  I get a cup and go to work at the bar.  Sandy haired middle-aged night desk clerk comes up and says “coffee on me sir.  I cannot stand that you must pay”.  I say, “it’s free at other Hilton properties” and he says “but not here; you are a good customer and you must pay”.  Then he said, “not with me you don’t”.  Now that is being nice, and he and his hotel just won my heart… In these cases, the...

Get a brand new BHAG

BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals – are a term you hear frequently in the business world. Some leave the “hairy” off and just refer to BAG’s, but I like leaving the hair in. Maybe it’s a jealousy thing. In any case, a BHAG is a 5 to 10-year stretch goal that should light people up and fill in what is missing within the organization. BHAG’s are unreasonable, yet still possible; Collins and Porras say that a BHAG should have a 70 percent chance of fulfillment. I have seen value for organizations in simply rolling around in this BHAG territory. It allows a leadership team creative freedom to put some positive, bold goals in front of the organization. To begin the BHAG process, sit around in loincloths and smoke a peace pipe with some very special tobacco. As the smoke wafts to the top of the corporate wigwam, imagine what the company could produce and become. Okay.…in reality sit in your business-casual uniform in a generic conference room at the company or some other meeting place and imagine what the company could produce and become. The first part of creating BHAG’s for your business is to ask the leadership group to brainstorm worthwhile goals for the organization. These goals should, by their very nature, require employees to demonstrate the organization’s reason for being and values. (See? It is all coming together.) An example of this is my plastics manufacturing client. The company’s BHAG was to prove that its model of manufacturing could thrive in the United States. Achieving this BHAG required the organization to live out of its values...

Creating the Reason for Being

Here are some ways that the leadership group can create a powerful and relevant Reason for Being (aka mission/vision statement).  Some of the following thinking and exercises were inspired by an article called “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by Collins and Porras, the authors of “Built to Last.” When the senior leadership gets together to create the company’s mission/vision statement (from here on I’ll refer to it as the Reason for Being) ask them to consider the following and write their answers on paper, preferably flip chart paper with a sticky side that allows for easy posting: 1. What is the purpose of your organization? You want participants to ask themselves what is unique about the organization. What does the organization do that truly matters to customers, employees, and other stakeholders? How does the organization make “the difference?” 2. What would be lost if the organization ceased to exist? Here, you need to dig into the question: if our unique, special organization were not here, what would our customers, the community, and, for that matter, the world is losing? If the group needs a scenario, tell them that the company was bought and the new owner simply mothballed the business. All employees were given a severance. What has the world lost by this organization no longer existing? 3. Repeat this process five more times with slight variations: if the organization ceased to exist, what would be lost for employees, customers, vendors, society, and the world? This question gives participants insight on the impact their organization has on its customers, employees, and communities. Provocative answers rise to the surface. One of my plastics company...

Foundation a la Brucie

The foundation is elegantly simple. When constructing a building, what is needed to construct upon to have a strong building? The answer is obvious, you need a strong foundation. What do all religions have? Foundation documents: the Torah, the Bible, the Koran and the like are examples. What do we call these documents? The foundation of the faith. What do the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights do for the good old US of A? Why it forms our foundation. Are you getting this? There is a theme here. Organizations also need a foundation that outlines its goals and purpose. As an organization grows and develops, having mission and vision (or in my words, “Reason for Being”), BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and Values can create a “True North” for the organization. (“True North” is a Steven Covey term that relates to the true direction of an organization. It is based on the analogy of a compass.)  The Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization but they’re often forgotten. The corporate Reason for Being is typically created by the Senior Leadership team, captured on posters, and strategically tacked up around the building. Meanwhile, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values are seen as irrelevant to the organization’s day-to-day operations. In other words, the organization’s behavior is not congruent with its declaration of ideals. However at their best, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values, give an organization a future to live into. This potential future galvanizes and focuses the organization. Whether or not goals are met entirely, movement toward them...

Satisfying the Customer

Another valuable lesson of Stupid Games is they can teach groups about great customer service. I worked with a client that was focused on improving its customer service. This company hired a firm to survey its customers. The survey results indicated that the company’s customer service was below average. The company decided to focus on improving its service and its relationships with customers. I was brought in to help the company leadership group develop action plans for improving customer service and customer relationships. To start the session, the group played one of CMI’s classic games: lower-the-tent-pole-to-the-ground.  The participants had played this Stupid Game in the past and were confident they would be successful. As a precursor to the exercise, I said, “The marketplace has changed, so don’t be fooled by these tent poles. They’re super-duper and way different than before.” After pausing for effect, I added the instructions: “I’m the customer. I want you to lower this tent pole to the ground while balancing it on your index fingers. None of your fingers can ever lose contact with it. All fingers must be under and perpendicular to pole. No other body parts can touch the pole. You have three minutes to do this. The faster you can get the tent pole to the floor the better.” The activity started. The pole went up instead of down. Fingers lost contact with the pole. People yelled, and blamed each other. (That is how this activity typically goes.) Then the groups calmed down. Everyone focused on completing the task. The participants started listening to each other and eventually lowered that darn pole...

“Stoopid” Games Explained

Why “Stoopid” Games? First of all, I do not want to admit that I am not good at the games nor do I particularly like them. I do feel they are invaluable in teaching business groups who are truly interested in improving their performance and how to tangibly do that. For the past twenty years, we have used experiential learning as a modality for teaching and developing our clients – at least that is how an academic would name it. For us, they are “stoopid” games and they are useful because they give groups a practice field for their performance and development. First, to establish, they really are “stoopid” or as it is usually spelled, stupid. One can argue and I do, after a few drinks, that all games are stupid. I mean, give me a break about football, catch a ball and then everyone over 200 pounds leaps and pounces on you? I don’t think so. Also, in baseball, have a small ball thrown at you at over 90 MPH and then try to hit it with a stick – and that is fun. You are kidding right? However, in the world, these two mentioned games among many, many others are called fun and sanctified. So, then having a marble roll down a PVC pipe into a cup and then celebrate victory you’ve got be on drugs. Or, get a group of people over a fake supposed river in less than ten minutes by walking on blue squishy things that really belong in a health club and celebrate that as a wildly successful phenomenon is insane. That is...

It’s All About the Duck

This article opens with Ernie’s song from Sesame Street. It goes like this:     “Rubber Ducky, you’re the one,   You make bath time lots of fun,   Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you   (Woh woh, bee do!)…”   I love them. So small and cute…… Let’s see there is the blue one with the green hair – I think that is a punk duck. There is the one dressed like a cardinal – that is certainly pope duck. There is just one that looks like a yellow duck – that is a regular duck. Then there is the one that looks like a penguin with the red hat and green scarf – black duck. Then the newest one is coming out of a cupcake – could that be happy duck?????? Must be. So you see these ducks run the gambit of representing the world as we know it.     These are my travel companions – my little duckies. They live in my shaving kit. Whenever I see them my heart sings and I am happy.     Where did these rubber duckies come from? No, I did not steal them from my granddaughter Sienna. Their origin – hospitality gifts from the Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin.     I look forward to staying at this Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin because I get a new duck every time I visit…..it is a special something that costs nothing and really delights me. Who knew that a bald 65 year old man could be brought to his knees by a duck?   During one visit, I asked...