Archive for August, 2010

The Nature of Breakthroughs – What does May 6, 1954; Oxford and Stories have in common?

29 Aug



May 6, 1954, on a windy spring day, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds in Oxford England. He crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, and broke through the “four minute mile” barrier.  He demonstrated that the story about the impossibility of the four minute mile was only a myth, not a reality.

In less than 60 days, John Landy beat Roger Bannister’s record with a finishing time of 3 minutes and 57.9 seconds.  Within the year several other runners managed to run less than a four minute mile.  The current record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco, with a time of 3:43.13.

For years, the four minute mile eluded runners, and was thought to be impossible.  I am sure people documented the reasons for why this was impossible.  So, why try?  What lessons can we learn about the nature of breakthroughs?  Remember, in my last blog I said that a breakthrough is an extraordinary and unprecedented result.  Most people believe that breakthroughs are accidental.  This is conventional wisdom.  We believe breakthroughs can be created intentionally, if you know how to do it.  What stops you from creating a breakthrough?  YOU!

How many of us are constrained by our own stories of impossibility. 

Some say seeing is believing – I say, you have to believe to see

As you can see by looking at the video below, we proved this last Wednesday.  Approximately, thirty people came together to experience the power of belief for the purposes of creating a breakthrough.  This was to demonstrate that, properly lead by Eric Best Ph. D., they could bend metal spoons and forks with just the power of their mind.  You might say the demonstration was a trivial example.  However, it was not for the people who overcame their traditional belief system.  For them, it was a potentially life changing experience.  84% of the people were able to bend their spoon or fork. 

 Our belief system defines for us what is possible and impossible. Beliefs or what we call mindset (our rules of engagement) shape our actions because we see them as true.  Or worst, we don’t even see our beliefs, but nonetheless, they shape our behavior like an automatic pilot.  Our mindset shapes what we attempt or do not attempt to do in our everyday personal and professional life.

Success and failure begin and end in what we believe is possible.  Roger Bannister must have held the belief to make it happen.  Once he demonstrated the possibility, it was “easy” for others to make the commitment and to improve on his results.

The first step that a leader must take to create a breakthrough is to change his/her mindset and the mindset of his/her team.  Some time ago Eric changed his mindset.  Last Wednesday he changed the mindset of almost everyone in the room.

Just like the four minute mile many of the barriers that hold us back are self imposed.  They exist only in our mind.  

What are your four minute mile type stories, that you hold as true, but do not really know are true, that are holding you back in your personal and professional life?  If you at the event Wednesday could you have done this.


Creating Breakthroughs

22 Aug

What is a breakthrough?  A breakthrough is an extraordinary and unprecedented result.  Most people believe that breakthroughs are accidental.  This is conventional wisdom.  We believe breakthroughs can be created intentionally, if you know how to do it.  What stops you from creating a breakthrough?  YOU!

There are key principles to breakthrough creation that you can apply to your life and work. You can actually learn how to create breakthroughs through a specific, tested breakthrough creation process. You can learn how to overcome breakdowns on the way to your breakthrough.

This is such an important concept that I decided to bring a special event to the attention of my readers.  I learned the power of breakthrough years ago.  Understanding how to create breakthroughs served me well as an engineering executive and a turnaround CEO.  I decided to share this experience given my commitment to help organizations create the breakthroughs they need to distance themselves from their competitors.

You can read about the process.

Or, you can see it in action.  While reading is good, seeing is better.

If you want to learn how to create a breakthrough in your life and/or your company, Eric Best and I are demonstrating the power of the breakthrough distinction at a free event sponsored by the Positive Energy Summit. Believe it or not, once you embody the distinction breakthrough, you will enable breakthroughs to occur.

The free event will be held this Wednesday, August 25, 2010 from 7:00PM to 9:00PM.

You can sign up by clicking here

At this event, you will be given the opportunity to actually experience your own power to create a breakthrough.  You will be given the opportunity to overcome your self-limiting beliefs by learning to project energy in such a way as to influence material objects such as ‘commanding spoons to bend’ and moving objects without touching them.

What does this have to do with accelerating my business performance?  Everything!  To create a breakthrough in business requires a belief in the possibility, and a commitment to, what James Collins calls, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a BHAG.   Out of your commitment, you plan from the future back to the present to bring the breakthrough into existence.  The hardest part is to overcome your own limiting beliefs.  IBM did research on breakthrough creation and improved project performance up two times better than the status quo process.

You will learn what is possible if you overcome your limiting beliefs.  You will also learn what happens if you cannot overcome them.  Either way the learning will be very insightful.

If you want to play and experience your own power, you will need to sign-up and bring some materials with you to the Positive Energy Summit.

  • Ordinary string, strong enough such that you could use it for say securely wrapping a package to be mailed. Bring At least 3 yards of such string and a pair of small scissors to cut it.


  • Also bring three (3) nuts & bolts from your local hardware store.  You need to make these be small to moderately sized nuts & bolts:  for example a 1/4 to 3/8 inch diameter bolt that is about 2 inches long and a nut to go on each bolt.


  • Bring at least 3 regular forks and 3 teaspoons for each person.  Do not bring knives.  If you have some old silver plate silverware (the sort of stuff used back in the 1940′s before stainless steel was around) which you can be okay with “bending”, bring it.  But don’t worry if you don’t have it.  Stainless steel will work okay. 


Bring an open mind, a child’s curiosity, and be willing to have fun

If you could use a breakthrough at this time in your life, come to this Positive Energy Summit.  It will be rewarding and fun.  What a combination.  Once you learn how to use the breakthrough tool you can use it throughout your life. This is a tool that gets sharper and stronger with each use.


No Theory – No Learning

15 Aug

Dr. Deming, a thought leader, in quality improvement theory and practice once said, “No theory, no learning.”  What does this mean? Don’t we learn through experience?  Isn’t experience itself a teacher?  I say NO!  I do not believe experience teaches; rather only refection on experience teaches.

It is difficult to reflect on experience if you do not have a good working theory to be the mirror providing the reflection. As a system engineer turned CEO, I have studied organizational theory and behavior for over twenty five years. Over this period of time, I learned that every company is a system perfectly designed to produce the result it is producing. If you do not like the results, you have to change the design.  I also learned that the system design did not just happen. It evolved through a conversational process, and everyone in the organization contributed to the process and the current state of the design.  How can I say everyone contributed to the design? Isn’t it clear that the executives and managers are responsible for the organizational design?  Yes, they are part of the system, and may have a heavy hand on the controls, but everyone else is also part of the system, and they do have an influence on the design, usually stronger than they believe.

Look at it this way, organizational excellence is not based on one or two factors.  It is based on several interrelated factors starting with compelling vision and effective leadership.  When I say leadership, I do not just mean leader ship at the top.  I mean leadership throughout the organization.  With a compelling vision as the context for action, the next aspect of leadership is to create a powerful strategy as a means to bring the vision into reality and effective operational structures to execute the strategy.

The underpinning of strategic and operational effectiveness is ultimately the effectiveness of the teams throughout the organization. At the end of the day companies do not innovate or execute, people do.   

When all of this is done with excellence, the result is financial effectiveness and business growth.

Here is a framework to look at many of the key aspects of your organizational system. If major capabilities and/or processes are missing or are ineffective, then your results will suffer until you change the design.

Compelling Vision 

Effective Leadership

Strategic Effectiveness

  • Strategy Formulation
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Strategic Positioning
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Technology-Product/Service Strategy
  • Business Development
  • Offers/Target Customers/Marketing Strategy
Operational Effectiveness

  • Systems
  • Structures
  • Processes
  • Practices/Methods
  • Measurement
  • Tools


Team Effectiveness

  • Cooperation/Collaboration/Coordination of Action
  • Capability Development
  • Engagement/Empowerment
  • Conversational Competencies
  • Trust/Full Self Expression
  • Adapting To The Business Environment
  • Managing Mood
  • Learning/Change Management

Financial Effectiveness



Don’t Wait Too Long To Ask For Help!

08 Aug

Don’t Wait Too Long To Ask For Help!

I am a sailor and when I started sailing in Lake Superior, I learned the term sea room. One definition of sea room is “an unobstructed space at sea adequate for maneuvering a ship.” Another definition is “the space required by a vessel between its path and the shore or an obstacle.”  Why is this important? Well, when a squall shows up you better have enough maneuverable space to prevent hitting the rocks and sinking your boat.  I am not a pilot, but I bet the same is true for flying.  If you’re in a dive you better have enough airspace to pull up to prevent you from crashing and burning. Likewise, if you are attempting to take off you better have sufficient runway to build the velocity necessary for takeoff, or again you are likely to crash.

Unfortunately, this analogy is strikingly relevant to business.  If a CEO waits too long to ask for help, they are likely to run out of time, and either hit the rocks or crash and burn.  I have to ask, why is it that many CEOs wait until their options are so limited they have little room to maneuver? Is it ego in the sense that they want to figure it out by themselves?  Is it that they do not trust that anyone has the necessary skills to help?  Is it that they don’t know how to ask for help?  Alternatively, is it that they don’t know what they don’t know, and it never occurs to them that help is just a phone call away?  I don’t believe there is one answer.  I would like to hear from other consultants what their answer to this question; “why troubled companies either don’t ask for help, or ask for help too late in the process.”

Remember, a company is a system perfectly designed to produce the results it is producing.  If you don’t like the results, you have to change the design.  At the same time, you cannot wait until it is too late. Having an outside set of eyes looking at the design can make a critical difference in the outcome.  You cannot intervene in a world you cannot see.

In my next post, I will tell you a success story where asking for help made the difference between crashing and burning versus flourishing.


Marketing and Sales Alignment

01 Aug

In previous posts, we explained that every company is perfectly designed to produce the results it is producing.  The revenue engine of any company is the marketing and sales organization.  Yes, a company has to have competitive products and services, but it is difficult to capture the full revenue potential of those products and services without effective marketing and sales. 

Many CEO’s of companies between $10M and $200M annual revenue share a common complaint—their Sales and Marketing departments are under-performing due to a variety of factors with one factor dominating poor results, misalignment between the Sales and Marketing departments.

Sales and Marketing alignment continues to be a major concern for top management, especially when company survival in a tough economic climate depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of its revenue engine.

Many companies have tried to align Sales and Marketing through a variety of means, but typically, the results are less than spectacular and are short-lived.

For many CEOs the key questions remain:

        1. What results can we expect from effective alignment?

            Can we create breakthrough revenue performance by aligning Marketing and Sales?

        2. If so, how?   Is there a sure-fire way to align Marketing and Sales processes almost overnight?

        3. Why do most attempts to achieve alignment fall short?

        4. What can we learn from companies that have created revenue breakthroughs?

The answer to Question 1 and Question 2 is YES.  

We would like to hear your answer to Question 3. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to successfully aligning Marketing and Sales long term?  Weigh in by going to:

The answer to Question 4 is that a great deal can be learned from companies that have created revenue breakthroughs. If you are interested in learning more email Richard Eppel at, or Charles Besondy at

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