|Title : Kiss Theory Good Bye |
Author : Bob Prosen
Publisher : Gold Pen Publishing, Dallas, TX
ISBN : 0-9776848-0-6
Pages : 232
|The Big Idea|
The business literature over the years has been bombarded with a good number of paradigms—some rudimentary and others self-aggrandizing—that more often than not stringently tell management what to do in order to make progress. Though theories have by far aided leaders and corporate executives on their way to operational success, most books have not conscientiously explored and disentangled the complex process of execution.It is at this point that Bob Prosen slots in his brilliant opus, Kiss Theory Good Bye, where he provides a clear-cut how-to and step-by-step instructions for obtaining unprecedented results in the organization. By utilizing proven tools and actions that, when appropriately employed, facilitate growth and profitability, the author propels companies to hit their targets and get ahead in the most practicable, trouble-free kind of way. This book is a ground-breaking book in that it allows the reader easy comprehension and application of the managerial mantra, Kiss Theory Good By. The book demonstrates that there is purpose in going back to the basics, and that which appeared all too trivial, will in fact work no matter at what stage the company finds itself in.
The Clutter that Conjecture Creates
Accepted wisdom is indeed a manager-traveller’s guide to the islands of competitive advantage and the mountains of profitability. But when there is too much of rigorous thinking, when there is a hefty framework of watertight philosophies, often managers/leaders shroud their natural instincts and miss the part where answers were emphatically under their noses. As a result, there is a glaring gap between vision and reality, or between mapping the journey and arriving at the destination.
The book deftly illustrates that what managers’ need are not byzantine schemas smothered with grand business plans that often take too long to achieve results. But rather, they need a pragmatic toolkit or a roadmap to guide them in carrying out their tactics and successfully achieving their financial and operating objectives. In a world that is constantly in a state of flux, what they need are straightforward answers that can be deployed without delay to augment their organization’s performance.
Consider the following queries as related in the book:
If the answer to these questions is a resounding, “Yes!” then the book is the valuable way out, as it provides a way to pro-actively free an organization from the grips of stasis and the shackles of inefficiency.
One of the more compelling parts of the book is Prosen's identification of the "Five Crippling Habits" in any company that can delay or offset long-term sustainability and profits.
Five Crippling Habits that Attack from Within
1. Absence of Clear Directives
Sometimes, managers and leaders spend so much time giving so many directives, that none are clear and by the time they know it, their desks are inundated with a myriad responsibilities they can no longer commit to and that their staff, cannot either due to pressure and confusion from impulsively delegated tasks without prioritization. Prosen stressed that it doesn’t work this way: there cannot be too many goals with one shot no matter how powerful that shot is. In this scenario, employees are either misled or snowed under the bulk of work and as such, they can neither stay focused on the company’s most important objectives nor determine what must be accomplished first.
2. Lack of Accountability
Being able to differentiate between excuses and real problems is an essential part of management, according to Prosen. Managers must measure results against goals. Interestingly, Prosen states in the book that not only must employees be measured, but managers along with everyone else in the company, must be held accountable. Prosen stressed that being responsible to people, not for them is key in accountability. It is also just as important to be able to differentiate between excuses and real problems, to help remove any roadblocks to results.
3. Rationalizing Inferior Performance
Analyzing mistakes or flaws in any business process enables managers to continue to identify areas for improvement. In short, it affords them a sharper understanding of the operational trajectory, taking into account what must be retained, what must be improved, and what must undergo urgent metamorphosis.
4. Planning in Lieu of Action
A lot of top business officials consume their precious resources on planning, hiring consultants whom they hope will anchor their organizations to soaring heights and skyrocketing productivity rates. Yet little do these managers/leaders know that delivery and execution matter more than the detailed reports and business sketches of how the organization ought to proceed. The plan is a systematic way of putting things in perspective, but business leaders cannot attain results where actions are lacking.
Prosen stressed that the most effective plans are those with specific measurable goals that can be easily evaluated on an ongoing monthly basis. He also advocates long-range plans covering three to five years as useful for setting and directing communication to senior management.
5. Aversion to Risk and Change
Very few managers are adept at affecting change as they themselves hardly ever embrace it with conviction. Often managers consume an enormous amount of time remaining in their comfort zones .A lot of organizations experience the low ebb of their business objectives primarily because their leaders do not possess the temerity to dare the different. They would more willingly navigate customary or familiar territory that had always assured them of the same (yet rather marginal) outcomes than try a newer or fresher approach that could have spelled a difference in profitability had they calculated the risks and overcome their trepidation.
Many leaders perceive the pain of change to be more damaging than the pain of maintaining the status quo. As an offshoot, companies are slow in trying to revolutionize themselves and when they do, it is often too late.
The Opposite Side of the Coin:
Bob Prosen related that years of hands-on experience with and mentoring of companies and a number of non-profit organizations have enabled him to devise a practical and highly actionable set of behaviors for organizational success, which he dubbed as the Five Attributes of Highly Profitable Companies. These include:
1. Superior Leadership
This entails a relentless pursuit of vision and results. Superior leaders have exceptionally learned by heart, the intricacies of management. These leaders have resolute determination and an unassailable passion for outcomes. They strive to be unfailingly objective and know how to unravel truths. They recognize what their subordinates do and reward them accordingly. They think ahead, talk less, and act almost instantaneously on every malfunction.
Also, superior leaders are:
Reality Check # 1: Does Your Leadership Team Measure Up?
2. Sales Effectiveness
Sales effectiveness is the company’s lifeline. A vigorous revenue stream is one of the bare essentials a company must have power over for its survival. Since sales is one of the most objective aspects of business measurable by numbers, deteriorating sales performance may predictably signal the demise of functional operations. As such, managers/leaders must have the knack for constructing realistic forecasts that aid in consistently meeting the sales plan and its targets.
Creating a strong sales team is both a science and an art, combining systemic analysis with creative strategy. A winning line-up of sales people practices diligence in identifying the right profitable customers and in calculating their sense of urgency to buy.
By closely adhering to crucial sales metrics such as number of sales calls with decision makers, number of proposals delivered, number of signed contracts, and year-to-date revenue and margin comparisons with the sales plan, sales managers are able to establish accountabilities and robust quotas while maintaining ethical standards for their people. They prioritize the value of marketing, adroitly assess probabilities of success at different stages of the selling process and don’t clutter the pipeline with opportunities that have low prospects of a sure hit.
Reality Check # 2: Does Your Sales Team Measure Up?
3. Operational Excellence
One of the secret recipes for organizational success is the company’s exceptional capability to always be cost-efficient, which is done through continuous process improvement, forecasting performance, and isolating areas that negatively impact on cash flows. Managing costs is a balancing act and as such, it must be done with utmost rationality to ensure that all costs are unambiguously tied to the business plan. The major task is to know the company’s cost structure by periodically carrying out cost accounting. Cost accounting allows companies to grow its cost structure in the right proportion and focus its energies on winning.
In relation to this, Bob Prosen stressed that companies ought to invest in their financial accounting systems because markets and regulatory requirements change often even without their knowing. With an accounting system tailored to the business, managers can immediately adjust costs with confidence and remain competitive. An effective accounting system would enable a company to scale its growth, thereby increasing margins with revenue.
Reality Check #3: Does Your Operational Excellence Measure Up?
4. Financial Management
Financial management drives the company’s economic engine. It is according to Prosen, "about perspective—providing context for decisions, holistic solutions, alternatives, and ideas for positive change." Financial management also hubs on control and provides companies with the required checks and balances to understand and monitor fiscal performance.
The author enumerated some of the most decisive functions lodged under financial management. These include:
Reality Check #4: Does Your Finance Team Measure Up?
In evaluating the competence of your fiscal experts, Prosen indicated that managers/leaders must ask if the finance team:
5. Customer Loyalty
No company treads the failure curve when it devotedly champions customer service. Managers/leaders must not disregard the adage, “The customer is always right.” By applying this focus in an organization, a company pro-actively responds to the customer and therefore builds and maintains an atmosphere of customer loyalty. No matter what the issue with the customer, Prosen details the company's responsibility to meet the customer on his/her field and be responsive to their needs. The book advocates going above and beyond in all your efforts with meeting customer challenges or issues that might arise.
In this regard, Prosen argued that customer satisfaction surveys must be institutionalized to encourage constructive feedback and other customer responses. This greatly helps companies weigh up their product options and strategies. Prosen advocates to always exceed customer expectations. If there are product slip-ups, effective managers do not respond to customers with false promises but rather pro-actively tackle any issue with the bottom-line goal of customer loyalty and long-term satisfaction.
Customer Service Questions #5: Does Your Customer Service and Support Measure Up?
The Ten Commandments of Superb Execution
Bob Prosen accentuated that companies would do well by doing good—following these commandments and finding purpose and meaning in their work. Profitability can be directly linked to overcoming the crippling habits and applying the attributes of superior leadership. The book is a manual for all business leaders or entrepreneurs who want to succeed long-term in growing their business and exceeding their initial expectations.