Everything Flows. Everything Changes. Panta Rei.

By Mary Sundet Jones

Panta rei 1Some things are so core to who you are and what you do that it can take time to be able to see them clearly. An astute outside observer’s off-hand comment, or, in this case, a cheap travel souvenir, can shed unexpected light. And suddenly you know yourself and your work just a little better.

My husband picked up this little magnet in Rome this summer, because it struck him that Panta Rei is a core principle for TPG Companies.

Huh. He’s right.

The term is attributed to Heraclitus, the 6th-century B.C. Greek philosopher. Panta Rei (sometimes written “rhei”) reflects Heraclitus’ thought that “no one ever steps in the same river twice.” That is – the river continues to be a river, but it is constantly changing.

What’s the TPG connection? The more I consider it, the more I realize Panta Rei runs in and through much of how we think and how we work with clients and partners. A few examples:

  • We see owners and executives facing new and changing circumstances in this VUCA world, and believe that a VUCA Prime mindset can propel success.
    Everything Flows. Everything Changes. Panta Rei.
  • We approach each company and organization – and each person within them – as entities that have changed, are in the midst of change, and will continue to change – to flow. Where they’ve come from and where they are now are important to where they are going. We help them articulate, focus, and direct their change, to achieve results that in turn lay the ground work for more change.
    Everything Flows. Everything Changes. Panta Rei.
  • Our strategic planning approaches understand and account for the fact that your company is different today – and operates in a different environment today – than it did even just a few years ago. And the change will continue, both internally and externally.
    Everything Flows. Everything Changes. Panta Rei.
  • We’re constantly collecting, because we know there’s always new and important thinking out there, that we can incorporate into our own flow. We listen, we read, we collect. Everything changes – and that includes how we do what we do, what we do, and how we talk to you about what you do. Yet the context is the same: making your business better, and addressing what matters most.
    Everything Flows. Everything Changes. Panta Rei.

***

Who do you know who could benefit from this & other TPG blog posts? Forward this to them and encourage them to follow!

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

 

Jones-Mary S_160731_2016 color headshot CroppedMary Sundet Jones, TPG Consultant & Project Manager, has built a broad and deep portfolio of experience combining big-picture strategy with the details and logistics of process improvement, team building, program management, administration, and more. She gets energy and inspiration from helping connect clients with approaches and resources that will help them succeed – and – sometimes – from Italian souvenir refrigerator magnets.

Advertisements
Posted in Change, Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Inspired by Kevin Shikuku

I get inspired by people all the time.Kevin Shikuku

In particular, I get inspired by people who are passionate about improving themselves, their companies and organizations, and the world. It’s what we’re about at TPG Companies, and it’s so exciting to meet others, especially young adults, with that kind of passion. Like Kevin Anungo Shikuku.

A year ago, my Rotary Club was visited by the 2016 Mandela Fellows from multiple African countries who were being hosted by Drake University. I wrote then about my impressive new friend, Evarist Kemsolbaye.

Last month, Drake hosted this year’s Mandela Washington Fellows, and once again I made a connection with an unforgettable young man, Kevin Shikuku. Kevin is from Kenya – a public health officer focused on environmental sanitation and disease control (both communicable and non-communicable diseases). He’s full of ideas, and I won’t be surprised if he makes them happen.

One of Kevin’s big interests is agriculture, so I’m sure Iowa fascinated him. He’s especially passionate about using certain insects to improve life for communities and farmers in western Kenya, while creating agribusiness jobs in the area. One project has to do with producing, packaging, and marketing black soldier flies as an affordable protein source for poultry farmers. Another project involves promoting white flying ants as a sustainable and abundant food source.

Kevin is making things happen – transforming his region and country, and transforming himself in the process. That’s inspiring.

 

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

Posted in Entrepreneurs | Tagged | Leave a comment

To Plan for Now, Know Your Vision

Strategic Planning Building Blocks: VisionVision Star

It’s not so hard to plan when you know what you’re planning for. What’s your guiding star?

A Strategic Plan that tangibly moves you toward a compelling – even exciting – future is a Plan unlikely to gather dust on a shelf.

TPG’s strategic planning experiences with hundreds of entities (large and small, corporate and nonprofit, local, national, and international) has us convinced that excellent plans begin with a clear and compelling Vision.

A Vision Statement provides direction and motivation for both daily operations and strategic decisions. You might say it’s a written depiction of a distant star – your constant guiding light.

We tend to resonate with James J. Mapes, in Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind, who says, “A mission statement comes from the head. A vision comes from the heart. Vision is creating an ideal future with a grand purpose. Vision is all about greatness.”

The process of Visioning itself can be transformative for an organization, in deeply understanding its own values and purpose, its DNA, its role in the world, and its envisioned future.

The Vision takes a little time to become clear – it doesn’t usually happen in one conversation, or even one meeting. The process of getting there can vary, depending on the entity and its circumstances. It’s got to be powerful enough to energize people across the company or organization, not just the owner, CEO, or executive director.

Here are a few representative Vision Statements from Fortune 500 companies you may know:

Walmart: To be the best retailer in the hearts and minds of consumers and employees.

Amazon.com: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company, to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

McKesson: Our vision is to create a healthcare system that leads to lower costs, fewer mistakes, higher quality and better health for all.

Fannie Mae: To be America’s most valued housing partner.

Ford Motor Company: People working together as a lean, global enterprise to make people’s lives better through automotive and mobility leadership.

What’s your Vision?

***

P.S.: For some musical inspiration as you ponder Vision Statements, check out the song Guiding Star by Cast!

 

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

Posted in Planning & Strategy, Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Vision, Mission, Values. Personal Strategic Planning: Simply Stated

By Jake Kirpes

I’ve been thinking about this line from W. Edward Deming:

“It is not enough to do your best, you must know what to do, and then do your best.”

Ok, fine. But how do you figure out what to do in the first place, in order to do your best Hammockwith it? When you begin your daily separation from the comforts of sleep, are you driven by a larger goal or objective that really energizes you – that does propel you out of bed in the morning?

Strategic planning – something we tend to think of only for companies and nonprofit organizations – can help give us that clarity and drive. Specifically, 3 core pillars of strategic planning, Vision, Mission, and Values, can help answer the question of what to do, in order to know where to do our best.

Vision: Where do you want to go?

Vision provides direction and motivation for daily and more strategic decisions. It is a mental image of how you want your life to be. Think of your future – whether it’s 1 year, 5 years, or 25 years away. What kind of life do you want to be living? Where is it, who’s with you, what are you doing? Feel free to dream big – but it doesn’t have to include saving the world, being rich, or gaining fame. The most important thing is to feel it in your heart. Vision may be a mental image, but it truly is born and lives in the heart.

My personal Vision involves a full home of family, good food, and laughter. A house with a big back deck perfect for grilling on a Tuesday evening or hosting friends on a Friday night. Beyond the deck there is a garden teeming with life, warmth, and yes, even the humidity of an Iowa summer. Lastly – and crucially –  beside the garden a hammock under a shade tree, for lazy Sunday afternoons.

Your turn. What’s the Vision that feels right to you and your heart?

Mission: What do you want to achieve?

Where Vision comes from the heart, Mission is a product of the mind. For companies and other groups, mission is a response to the question, “Why do we as an organization exist?” For me (and you) as an individual, Mission is akin to what some might call “vocation.” What am I here on this earth to do?

Mission serves as a guidepost and sounding board for plans and decisions – both personal and professional.

I am still fine tuning my own Mission statement. What I currently have is best described as “directionally correct.” It includes solving systemic problems through systems engineering, thinking and design, and community engagement. The exact right words will come; for now, I’m clear on the direction – and that’s already helping me with planning and decision-making.

Your Mission in its purest form is unique to you. Can you write your personal Mission statement? It can often be a challenge to clearly state a personal mission. If you have trouble creating one or settling on the exact wording that fits you, that’s okay. Step back, give it some time and come back at it later. You can use every experience you have during that time to bring you closer to articulating your Mission. Every relationship you’re in, every organization you join, even every problem you encounter – all of these give you opportunities to “try on” and get clearer on the Mission that best fits you.

Values: How will we conduct ourselves along the way?

Values answer the question, “What are we willing or unwilling to do to reach our Vision and Mission?” They are beliefs that drive behavior; from one on one interactions behind closed doors to policies and practices at every level. Values distinguish individuals and organizations. In groups, aligned values create community, trust, and a deeper commitment to each other.  Misaligned values frustrate, distract, and dishearten.

To identify a rough draft of your Core Values, write down the names of 3-4 people you admire across the top of a blank page. Beneath each name write out the characteristics that you admire the most about each person. Look for commonalities or traits that jump out as significant to you and you’ll have a first draft of your personal Core Values.

Knowing What to Do: A 3 Way Test:

Once defined, the three-way test of your personal Vision, Mission, and Values offers a helpful, quick way to evaluate and determine where, what, and how you should apply your energy, focus, and time. When you have a clear answer to where you want to go, what you want to achieve, and how you will conduct yourself along the way, the question of what to do becomes as trivial as rolling out of bed to start your day.

And with that decision made, all that remains is to do your best.

Kirpes-Jacob

Jake Kirpes is a Business Strategist & Engineer at TPG Companies. He’s a  team leader who excels at working with organizations and their leaders to identify, develop, and convert market opportunity to business success. TPG and Jake help a wide variety of businesses and organizations with their strategic planning. For this blog, Jake took some of the core concepts from that work and applied it to individuals at a more personal level. If you know of an organization or business that could benefit from strategic planning help, please share TPG’s name and info.

 

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

Posted in Planning & Strategy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Getting off the Rope

By Jake Kirpes

Sometimes no matter our personal skill, strength of our team, or knowledge of our current field, there’s just one way to overcome what’s challenging us.

Rope handsDuring an intensive leadership training camp in college my fellow Resident Assistants-in- training and I were progressing through a series of rope course challenges. By working together, rotating leadership roles to match strengths to each challenge, and growing as a team we had strung together a series of successful solutions. With confidence growing, we found ourselves blindfolded and marching along a wooded path.

Arriving at the next challenge, we remained blindfolded while our guide dispersed the group along a spider web maze of waist-high rope. Our guide presented the rules of the challenge: we were allowed to talk and ask each other questions but had to leave one hand on the rope until we found a way off the end of the rope.

Confident in our abilities, our group set about exploring the maze with our hands, calling out junctions of rope crossings, and working together to find the way off the rope. When the solution didn’t become apparent in the first 5 minutes team members began allocating themselves to junctions to help mark paths and find the exit. Five minutes later, the calm confidence began to erode, while tensions and volume began to rise.

In the next five minutes, all semblance of a unified team was fragmented with each member attempting to set their own direction and many questioning, loudly, if there even was a way off the rope at all. As my personal frustration and conviction no exit existed was reaching new heights, it was announced someone had found their way off the rope and sent onto the next challenge.

Renewing my search in earnest, I sought be to second off the rope. Ten minutes later, I was second to last still on. Feeling overwhelmed at the circumstance and convinced I had been over every inch many times, I stopped searching for a way off and, talking to myself, said loudly in frustration, “I need help”.  A second later I felt a touch on my shoulder and the guide spoke in my ear, “congratulations you’re off the rope”.

A powerful lesson. Sometimes the best way (and perhaps even the only way) to overcome a challenge is to ask for help.

Think through your own life and work. Is there something you’ve been putting off or been unable to resolve for far longer then you care to admit? Perhaps it’s time to ask for help.

Kirpes-Jacob

Jake Kirpes is a Business Strategist & Engineer at TPG Companies. He’s a  team leader who excels at working with organizations and their leaders to identify, develop, and convert market opportunity to business success. And he’s learned to ask for help.

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

Posted in Leadership, Strategy, Team Leadership/Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A New Year’s Bowl – with Good Wishes from TPG Companies

As 2016 comes to a close, we at TPG Companies wish you peace, joy, and fulfillment throughout the coming year.
We appreciate all who work to enhance the lives of those around them – in business, in the community, and in the world around us.
We give you this symbolic bowl, with our best wishes for you and yours.bowl-poem-image
With warm regards from Paul Kirpes, Founder & President, and the TPG Team.
Posted in Strategy | Leave a comment

Are You Ready to Scale Up?

Is now the right time to grow your company? growth-key-951783

TPG is excited to support the launch of ScaleUpU. Be a part of the first ScaleUpU initiative in the world beginning in Kansas City this November during Entrepreneurs week.

15 high-potential companies will be selected this year and in each of the next 10 years (150 firms in all), to spend 24 months in an education, coaching, and technology-supported process to address four key aspects of scaling a business: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.

There are big goals here, and your company could be a beneficiary. ScaleUpU expects these outcomes:

  1. Putting one of the selected firms on a strong trajectory to $1 billion in revenue – adding an important anchor firm to its city and broader business community.
  1. Helping five to 10 companies scale and then exit for a combined $1 billion to $3 billion – adding significant wealth to their communities.
  1. Assisting 70% – 80% of the remaining 140 firms to increase their size 3x to 10x

These goals aren’t manufactured, given the bona fides behind this program. TPG and I know the players and have applied their resources ourselves.

You may know the book Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it…and Why the Rest Don’t, by Verne Harnish, founder of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, founder/CEO of Gazelles, Inc. and co-founder and Principal of Gazelles Growth Institute.

Verne and other leaders of business growth are allied in creating ScaleUpU, as a way to craft “scaleup ecosystems” to complement the robust startup ecosystems developing in cities worldwide.

ScaleUpU will eventually be in cities nation- and world-wide. But it starts in Kansas City, this month – starting with joining Verne Harnish for dinner in KC on November 14.

Know an entrepreneur ready to take action? Want to learn more? Contact TPG at 515-270-2453 or info@whatmattersmost.com for more information.

 

Posted in Business Growth | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Meet Carl & Jake Kirpes

I love those moments when, as a parent, one knows that The Kids Are All Right – and they’re being recognized for it.

carl-jakeIt hit me again when I saw Meet Carl & Jake Kirpes as the title of a blog post from the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers.

Carl and Jake are my two oldest – both young professionals in their own right, and actively engaged with careers, themselves, and with the world around them – that give them opportunities to Transform, Perform, and Grow. Happily, both are also contributors to the teams at TPG Companies, and Jake joined TPG full time this year.

Carl and Jake recently co-authored an article, How Industrial Engineering Saved a Company,” for Industrial Management magazine (find a link to it in this blog post about them). In the article, they describe key moves and steps grounded in industrial engineering strategies and methodologies, that helped to turn the business GENESYS around during the Great Recession.

I have three reasons for sharing this with you today:

  1. For businesses that are struggling (especially supply chain industries), Carl and Jake’s article is full of good examples of helpful tools.
  2. If you’ve read many of my prior blog posts, you may notice similarities in approach and tone, between what Carl and Jake describe in their article and how I tend to talk about transforming and growing companies and organizations. Beyond “apples not falling far from the tree”… it’s more like new apple trees taking root and providing more apples for everyone!
  3. What can I say – I’m proud of my kids (all four of them).

****

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

Posted in Strategy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

YOU Can Change the World! What Five Books Have Most Influenced Your Success and Why?

See below to make a difference today.

Transforming the World, One Relationship at a Time

Paul w Evarist Kemsolbaye 160714-cropped

Evarist Kemsolbaye of Chad (right) with Paul Kirpes

Transform, Perform, and Grow isn’t just a business name or business model with me –it’s a calling. At TPG Companies, we’re drawn to opportunities to transform, perform, and grow ourselves, our relationships, businesses and organizations, and even countries and thus the world (at least the parts of the world we touch).

So I’m naturally drawn to others who embrace such a calling. What a privilege, then, to have a new and growing relationship with Evarist Kemsolbaye, an engineer from Chad working in the oil and gas industry and a Mandela Washington Fellow through the Young African Leaders Initiative.

Evarist visited my Rotary Club this past summer during a visit by 25 of the 2016 Mandela Fellows hosted by Drake University. Our connection was immediate, as I believe we sensed in one another similar values, beliefs, and desires. This highly motivated young man is not only growing as a leader in his business, but also deeply wants to make positive change in his community and country. He has a hunger to learn and apply as much as possible about leadership, business growth, organization development and strategy, business performance and management…in short, things I’m keenly interested in as well, and that TPG is known for.

Evarist and I are staying in touch. There’s plenty I can learn from him including about his country, global perspective, approach to helping others, and overcoming hunger and adversity. Plus I’m eager to partner in his growth and development as a leader and change.

Evarist asked for a list of books that have been beneficial to me as a leader, business owner, change agent, and encourager of others. I’ve shared an initial list with him, and he’s eagerly begun what he calls his “food for mind journey.”

You Can Help Change the World With Your Own Recommendations

What five books have most influenced your success and why? (Email your recommendations to info@whatmattersmost.com ). I’ll share your suggestions with Evarist, and perhaps add them to TPG’s library as well.

If you’re one of the first 25 to share your book list, I’ll send you a copy of the annotated book list I sent to Evarist.

Be well friends!

Cheers,
Paul

****

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

 

 

 

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

There’s Power in Mistakes

You can tell a lot about a leader – and a company’s culture – by how they respond to mistakes - statuemistakes. I appreciate the title of Dan McCarthy’s blog post, “Say Thank-you to Mistakes.”

My experience with mistakes is much like McCarthy says. Mistakes “can often be the by-products of and catalysts for innovation, empowerment, delegation, development, change, and continuous improvement.”

Innovation. Empowerment. Delegation. Development. Change. Continuous Improvement…most business owners and leaders WANT these in our companies!

We’ve seen business owners, leaders and even managers who strive to keep such tight control that they don’t allow for “mistakes” (learning, growth and solution opportunities!). They think they’re doing right, but more often than not, they’re impeding growth and crippling the business (progress, people, culture, ability to adapt, etc.). If you hold the business reins too tightly, you’ll keep control – but as with horses, the steps will be smaller and growth will be slower (or even stop).

Conversely, I encourage, celebrate and congratulate leaders who reduce the layers of restrictive rules (formal and informal) and increase the creative freedom they offer their employees. Such leaders tend to follow three guides:

  1. Determinedly HireA Players” – along the lines of the Netflix model of building a team of “ever more high performance people.”
  2. Ensure their A Players (and other team members) are aligned with a). the market, b). each other, and c). with the company’s vision, purpose (mission), values, and strategic direction.
  3. Enable – and nurture – their A Players to fulfill their roles and accountabilities – without tightly controlling every step nor decisions along the way. Guideposts are good – measures and indicators of success are good – regular communication is good. Not so good: requiring permission for actions or decisions that are reversible and not “harmful” to the business or its customers.

When A Players make mistakes, there’s huge opportunity for resulting benefits! McCarthy’s three open-ended questions to ask following each “mistake or unintended outcome” start the benefits in motion:

  1. What happened?
  2. What have you done / will you do to fix it?
  3. What did you learn?

Notice, what’s not beneficial are the questions or statements that follow most mistakes…the following are generally counter-productive: “How could you do that?” “You’ve ruined this for us!” “Whose fault is it?”— or even,  “I’ll fix it for you.”

A Players are continuous learners. They’ll respond to those three questions and turn them into innovation, empowerment, delegation, development, change, continuous improvement, solutions and growth!

The added bonus is that McCarthy’s three questions can help create more A Players! Getting B Players to clearly define the facts, be accountable and responsible, think for themselves, and turn the mistake into learning are key ingredients for developing them into A Players.

Embrace mistakes and the “mistake” makers: the results can be powerful.

*****

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button to deliver new posts to you as they’re published.

 

Posted in Leadership, Team Leadership/Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment