Newsletter – February, 2012

On My Mind

Leaders of organizations routinely develop and communicate strategic items such as a vision statement, mission statement, strategic objectives, strategies, and policies. The “Up-Down Twice” method is a useful technique for structuring this process, but first, let’s discuss two alternatives using the creation of a vision statement as an example. “Down-Once” would involve the Leadership Team creating a vision statement and then communicating it to all employees. This is efficient and can be done quickly, but there isn’t an opportunity for input or feedback. This might be appropriate in a crisis situation when decisions and actions need to occur quickly. “Up-Down Once” would involve the Leadership Team soliciting input on the vision and then creating and communicating the final version. This also can be done rather quickly and it allows for input. “Up-Down Twice” would involve the Leadership Team soliciting input on the vision and then creating a draft and communicating it to the rest of the organization. Employees would then provide feedback to the Leadership Team. The Leadership Team would then create and communicate the final version. This is a desirable approach because leaders use input and feedback in the creation of the vision. Everyone has the opportunity to participate and it shows that leaders are willing to listen and make modifications based on constructive criticism.

Interesting Stories

Chess has long been considered one of the ultimate games of strategy. The Tata Steel Chess Tournament was recently held in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. Fourteen grandmasters competed in Group A including the #1 ranked player in the world Magnus Carlsen from Norway and the #2 ranked player Levon Aronian from Armenia. Eleven of the “Top Twenty” players in the world were in Group A. Each player played every other player once and so there were thirteen rounds. Aronian won seven of his thirteen games against a formidable field and he won the tournament, but he lost his individual match-up against Carlsen who was playing white. Aronian’s only other loss was to David Navara from the Czech Republic who tied for last place. Fifty-two of the ninety-one (57.1%) games ended in a draw whereas thirty-nine of the ninety-one (42.9%) games ended with one player winning. White won twenty-two times and black won seventeen times. There were some surprising upsets during the tournament and it became clear that it is hard for even the most elite players to dominate in this great game of strategy.

Company News

There are three public seminars coming up in the Twin Cities area. Leading Continuous Improvement in Daily Management will be held March 28, 2012; Lean Six Sigma Green Belt kicks-off March 20, 2012; and Strategy Tools for Improvement Experts will be held April 25-26, 2012. Please send me an e-mail message at “” if you are interested in learning more about these offerings.

Intriguing Reads

Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players of all time, wrote an interesting book titled, How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves–from the Board to the Boardroom. This is an entertaining and insightful book that will delight anyone who enjoys chess and the world of business.