Articles and Newsletter Archive

Lifelong learning is a journey not a destination. Just when we think we’ve “got it” we realize there’s so much more to learn. We hope these information resources will provide you with some valuable nuggets of learning and insight – to keep you on the road to success.

The Brutal Truth

The Brutal Truth is a free, monthly, electronic newsletter written by Mark Akerley. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution.

Read past issues of The Brutal Truth:

Making Talent Management Work

Talent management is becoming a major business system as companies look for ways to improve workforce effectiveness, knowledge transfer, succession and leadership. However to become a truly value-added system talent management initiatives must move beyond routine assessments and sporadic performance discussions to integrated talent management leadership. Following are five leadership imperatives that will transform talent […]

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Forget Resolutions – Seven Tips on How to Focus for Success

It’s that time of year again when many people are encouraged by the start of a new year. A new beginning feels good and we’re quite willing to make new commitments and New Year’s resolutions. However, you and I both know that many, perhaps most, of these resolutions just don’t get completed. Other things, more […]

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Five Tips to Get Unstuck in Your Business

It’s a fact of business life that every so often the business leader gets stuck. It may be due to a chronic business problem, an external environmental condition or even a personal problem. Whatever the cause you know it happens and it doesn’t feel very good, e.g. that feeling of reaching a plateau, treading water […]

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The Power of Neutral Thinking

Not to pooh-pooh the self-help gurus, abundant thinking consultants, and the you can do anything coaches (some can be quite entertaining and even inspirational) but “just believe” or “the universe will provide” just doesn’t cut it for me when trying to improve business results. Thinking positively of course is a good thing if it makes […]

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If You Can’t Solve the Problem, Manage It

Opportunities and challenges abound for business leaders. Finance, operations, people, sales and marketing are all dynamic issues requiring constant management attention; some more than others depending upon circumstances. However, all too often we see major issues, the really tough ones, being avoided by the business chief because he or she can’t seem to find a […]

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Lonely at the Top? How to Build Your Personal Support Network

As a business leader you’re constantly faced with challenging issues, opportunities and tough decisions. Managing such circumstances is what business leaders do of course, but some do it much better than others. The difference might be due to experience, skill or talent; but when that’s not the case evidence suggests the business leader has not […]

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Three Tips for Avoiding Complacency

Of the numerous articles on why businesses fail, I have yet to read one that cites “complacency” as a contributing factor. However, the brutal truth is that far too many businesses become much too accepting of marginal or “OK” results compared to achieving stretch targets or world class results. In the long run such meager […]

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Doing More with Less – Beware the Superman Complex

The life of a business leader is busy to say the least.  Perhaps hectic is a better description for some.  Without a doubt though running a serious enterprise of any size requires business leaders to engage in myriad activities and at varying levels of involvement.  However, as a business leader you only have so much […]

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How To Build Momentum In Your Business

A rough scientific definition of momentum is “a mass in motion,” a force. Momentum is also a business force, and can be described as a series of successes. Political candidates and sports figures talk about it all the time. They see it as a necessary force and a requirement for winning. In the business arena, […]

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Four Tips For Better Decision Making

As a business leader you’re constantly faced with making decisions. Lots of decisions I’m sure, ranging from no‑brainers to complex and difficult. If you have had some formal business training, you may even be using a few decision making tools such as the pareto analysis, force field analysis, decision trees, six thinking hats, etc. If […]

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How to Create a Sense of Urgency

Getting people “on the bus”, whether that’s employees who work for you or colleagues and service providers who work with you, is critical to you meeting your goals and objectives. You just can’t do it all yourself. As a business leader, you need to be able to count on your team for results and, typically, […]

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How Do You Define Business Growth?

Ask any business owner if they have a growth objective for next year and you’re sure to receive a resounding “yes!” Revenue and profitability, of course, are the primary growth factors on the minds of most business owners as well they should be if you want your business to survive and prosper into the future. […]

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Three Keys To Strategic Edge

It’s that time of year again when companies are evaluating year end results and solidifying next year’s plans – an important process to say the least. However, in doing so be sure to allow yourself an opportunity to think strategically, i.e. “big picture” and “holistic”, and not just operationally, i.e. “tactics” and “projects”.  Thinking strategically […]

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Making the Most of Business Downtime

Has your business ever experienced a time when sales were down, sluggish or perhaps even non existent for a period of time? Most businesses have been there at one time or another, some due to predictable business cycles and some due to unexpected events. However, the more important question is do you have an action […]

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Seven Tips for Everyday Problem Solving

Let’s face it, if you run a business you’re going to run into problems. Of course some of those will be more difficult than others, and some may even be “opportunities” when examined more closely. Problems nonetheless, and every business has them, and every business leader must resolve them. So, a real competitive advantage for […]

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At SIGMA we’re curious and inquisitive about what makes people and business work – and not. We have participated in hundreds of improvement initiatives over the years which have taught us many lessons and given us many insights. We invite you to browse our articles about some of the things we have learned.

Getting The Most Value From Your Board

Most organizations succeed or fail not because of the brilliance or deficiencies of their senior managers, but usually because top management has identified and debated a few key questions (or not), and made a few tough decisions. This insight into managing typically comes from experience, and can be a real competitive edge for an organization. […]

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Ten Tips For Creating Change

From the amount of literature and media coverage being given to it, you might think that change is a new subject. But, as we all know, change has been with us since the beginning of time. Having said that, however, we must acknowledge that change in our time is different. There is more of it… […]

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What Gets Measured Gets Done

“What gets measured gets done” … or so the old cliché goes. Although there is some truth to this adage, we sometimes see companies, work groups, teams, etc., fall short of their objectives, even though they have specific measures in place. The principle reason for this is that these groups typically look at measurement as […]

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Revitalizing Your Planning Process

An organization’s first experience with strategic planning is usually very exiting, filled with optimism and enthusiasm, and can even be emotional for many. Hard work, yes, but new ideas are vigorously discussed and debated, “aha’s” are frequent, and people willingly step forward and volunteer to be part of the process. However, a common complaint we […]

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