Successful execution requires a contrarian mindset, otherwise we would all be great at it! What do I mean? To successfully complete difficult tasks requires a different approach, a unique perspective, a contrarian mindset:

  1. Talent development – Container Store invests an average of 263 hours in employee training, compared with eight hours at most retailers – turnover rate is 5.7% (WSJ).
  2. Acquisitions – Google has completed nearly 130 acquisitions since 2001. They put enormous focus on retaining the talent they acquire. Most companies push acquired talent out the door. Google retains approximately 67% of entrepreneurs who sell to it. That is a remarkably high %. HP on the other hand doesn’t come close to that %. Google is worth $287Bn. HP is worth $48Bn (WSJ).
  3. Meetings – The success of a great meeting rests with the protocol for preparation covering, who attends, the agenda and the facts circulated beforehand. The success is rarely hinged on what goes on in the room (Source – my own painful mistakes).
  4. Incentives – Money as an incentive is just NOT supported by the research. On the other hand clarify someone’s role, give them the resources to master their craft and explain the significance of their work and you will have a very worker making money and having fun (Drive – the brilliant Daniel Pink).
  5. Exercise – Getting fit at whatever level makes sense, is nothing to do with the laps of the pool, the miles on the bike, or the intervals on the track. Getting fit is all about time management. Make a special time available every day, protect it aggressively and fill it with the appropriate intensity. You will become remarkably healthy. It allowed me to run 400m indoors last year in 55 secs, age ranked #2 in the world (Source – again my own painful experiments).
  6. Customer Experience – Many years ago Commerce Bank wanted to re-create the retail experience. Which banks did they look to? None. They looked to Starbucks, Target and Best Buy. Commerce grew from a value of $400m in 1997 to $8.5Bn in 2008 when it sold to TD Bank (Mavericks at Work by the compelling Bill Taylor & Polly LaBarre).
  7. Process Management – Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children was underwhelmed by their hand-off procedures. This occurs when one doctor goes off duty and transfers responsibility of a patient to another doctor. Too many errors, too many sad consequences. Which hospital inspired change? None. They worked closely with Ferrari’s Formula One pit crew to produce a quantum leap in performance. (Bill Taylor again, Practically Radical).
  8. Sales – Sales is not about telling your story. Marketing is about telling your story. Sales is about letting your prospect tell their story. This is best done by training sales professionals to be really good at finding the right problems. This requires sales professionals who can diagnose (The most recent research proving this theory is summarized in Daniel Pink’s book To Sell Is Human). Since 2005 I’ve been executing a version of Prime Process by Jeff Thull which specializes in a diagnostic approach. The results have been impressive across many sectors.

Focus on what you’re trying to achieve with your actions and keep an open mind to where your inspiration may come from!