Archive for February, 2010

The Stockdale Paradox: an approach to our business and personal lives that could not be more timely

Posted February 26th, 2010 by Steve Alexander

If you’ve not yet read Jim Collins’ “Good to Great,” you’ve missed one of the best books ever for business lessons and insights you can apply to just about everything you do. Another easy order from half. com or amazon. com. One topic he discusses, when writing about how some companies achieve greatness and endure, and others not, is the Stockdale Paradox, named after his conversations with Admiral Stockdale, a prisoner-of-war from ’65 to ’73 during the Vietnam war. Collins used the results of that conversation to describe the paradox like this, “[the ability to] retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time, Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”

Is there anyone for whom, in these challenging economic times, with public dialogue barraged by joblessness, recalls, scandals of various sorts, political fighting and finger-pointing and a general gloom that’s sustained itself for a significant time, who is not tempted to fall victim to that doom and gloom, and lose their way, as company or a leader? Just switch on the news. Any time. Any channel, regardless of your politics. You’ll find plenty of reason to forget the first part of the paradox.

What’s interesting, as Collins further explains from his discussion, is that the great companies followed this line of pragmatism (the combination of hope and faith that you will prevail while simultaneously confronting the facts, the reality in a “brutally” honest way). We could all use a dose of this pragmatism as we face budget challenges, staff reductions and re-organizations and in many instances re-analyzing where our industries should go and what they should become in the future. It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit, a worldwide service or product provider or elected leader entrusted with defining a path through the quagmire of challenges.

Next time you find yourself confronting a choice, remember the Stockdale Paradox. It’s a great concept to guide right thinking and right action. Especially if you expect to go from good to great. And to lead others there as well.

Make and fulfill your promises… AND over deliver!

Posted February 24th, 2010 by Steve Alexander

How many times have your heard the phrase from management, sales and related industries, “Under promise, over deliver?” It’s one of those phrases we just take for granted, without thinking about the real implications. It’s a bit insincere if you really stop and reflect. If you know you can promise to deliver something (goods, services, commitment, support, you name it), then why mislead the recipient of that promise? Especially if they’re  someone you value. Like a co-worker, client, customer, friend or family member. No one, ourselves included, really likes feeling manipulated.

What if, instead, we made a promise to deliver, “on time, accurately and as requested,” and then went above and beyond to do it with enthusiasm, excitement and a real sense of commitment to the person and their needs?

“I promise to give you not only what you ask for, on time and based on your expectations, in addition, I’ll do my very best to exceed your expectations,  to deliver with pride, ownership and commitment to you and your best interests!”

Now there’s an attitude and actions deserving of “exceeds expectations” on the next evaluation. Think about the impact on your co-workers, kids, peers, friends, family, clients, customers, students, (fill in the blank).

Next time you hear the phrase from yourself or someone else, let’s see if you can meet the challenge and get them to do the same. “I promise to do my best to meet and exceed your expectations, and to do so with your best interests in mind!”

Welcome to the World of The Steve Alexander Group: Our 10 Year Anniversary!

Posted February 24th, 2010 by Steve Alexander

The Steve Alexander Group celebrates its 10 year anniversary with the launch of its new Web site at We welcome you to take a test drive to see what you think. If you like the experience, let us know. Your feedback about what works and what could be done better is part of our commitment to improvement. After all, the site is about you, our clients, colleagues and supporters, and the chance we’ve had to serve on behalf of the good work these many individuals and organizations do for their clients, customers and constituents.

And, of course, if our service lines, strategic partners and client testimonials inspire you to contact us, we’d love to have the opportunity to see if we can help you meet your challenges, contribute to your success and collaborate with you as you grow in the coming year.

We’ll also be offering tips, tidbits, advice and insights to challenge your thinking, and stretch yourself, your employees and your organization through our blog. We invite you to opt-in so you can keep abreast of the latest information, articles, resources and other opportunities that can benefit you.

So, thanks for taking the time to experience our new home. We look forward to continuing our work, and our commitment to the best professional services in an array of areas where we can provide value and collaborate in the coming years.

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