When I’m consulting to business leaders this is the first question I ask my clients:
Why did you lose sleep last night?
Here are the top ten problems that, over the past 12 months, business leaders are saying they lose sleep over …
• “the constant pressure to meet and beat my quarterly targets”
• “how to balance my work pressures with the needs of my family and my health?”
• “how can I recruit smarter, more productive people?”
• “I’m losing good people. How can I keep them from leaving?”
• “I need to develop a lot more leaders in our enterprise”
• “to better manage a much more competitive culture”
• “we need to find a more effective communications strategy”
• “our metrics are not up to scratch. How to better analyse sales and KPIs”
• “I worry about whether our security is OK”
• “how to ensure the survival and succession of my business”.
What is interesting about all of these problems is that they are not new. There are already solutions readily available. Every one of these sleep-losers has already been solved many times by many managers all around the world. But most people are stuck in their current brain patterns and their thinking goes round and round and round.
This is where the need for thinking skills comes in. So let me ask a question: what is the #1 most productive thing that any manager in any enterprise can do?
The most productive thing that any manager in any enterprise can do is to ensure that all their employees, all their knowledge-workers, are skilled thinkers about better ways to do their job. Those managers and staff that are not skilled thinkers are just like automatons marking time, missing opportunities for growth and maybe even losing sleep.
There are many ways to develop thinking skills. One very useful thinking skill I have devised is called ‘X10 thinking’. For more than 25 years I have been advising business leaders and their employees on how to use X10 thinking. I have assisted a wide range of enterprises from 70,000 New York City hospital employees to US corporations like GE.
What is X10 Thinking?
X10 thinking is the habit of multiplying things by 10!
X10 thinking is new brain software that goes for adding value to business decisions. It can be used by anyone, anywhere and at anytime in science, in business and in life. X10 thinking allows you to escape entrenched thinking patterns.
X10 thinking can be used to accelerate the rate of growth of the business and can be used by thought-leaders and innovators in any industry. X10 thinking can be used to get a lead and advantage over competitors and to get a much better return on investment.
X10 thinking becomes part of the corporate culture so everyone, every day looks for ways to use the number 10 and to find things that they can X10 in their own job and their own workspace. The important thing is that X10 thinking becomes a habit from the leadership of the enterprise down through the managers, supervisors and staff.
For example, here are typical ways I can use the number 10:
1. I can give ten times more gifts to clients this week than last week
2. I can send ten times more postcards to new clients this month than I did last month
3. I can call someone who would like to hear from me in ten minutes time.
4. I can consult ten colleagues for their opinion on a matter of importance to me.
5. I can search for ten Web sites that I have never visited.
6. I can invite ten people over for a discussion on a matter of importance to all concerned.
7. I can practise a new skill 10 times a day for the next ten days.
8. I can go for a brisk walk in the Gardens at 10am.
9. I can cut costs by 10%.
10. I can spend ten minutes learning a new interview technique.
In business, Jack Welch of General Electric was the most famous advocate of X10 thinking in the US. He used X10 thinking at GE to help him change the culture of a 100-year-old manufacturer to the most valuable company (at the time he left it) in the history of the world!
I was invited to GE soon after he became chairman and CEO. In the 1980s I spent several years, at his request, installing the X10 thinking brain software at GE. He wrote to me saying, “I would love to have a management team that really understood the X10 equation. It’s the ‘value-added’ role in the management process”.
In his book about his time at GE called, Jack (Warner Books 2001), he wrote, “(X10 thinking) would make each of us wake up with the goal of “Finding a Better Way Every Day”. It was a phrase that became a slogan, put up on the walls of GE factories and offices around the world”.
Jack also used X10 thinking in crisis management situations and on one very serious occasion involving a crisis between GE and Reagan’s Defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, Jack asked me to meet with him privately, in Manhattan, to apply X10 thinking to finding a solution.
He also told me that X10 thinking helped him design new concepts like ‘Boundarylessness’ and ‘Work-Out’. He wrote, “Suddenly, “Finding a Better Way Every Day” wasn’t just a slogan. It was the essence of boundaryless behaviour, and it defined our expectations”. Jack was famous for the little hand-written notes he would send to people. He sent me several and the one I prized the most was, “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.
The Power of X10 Thinking
GE employees used X10 thinking to solve all the sleep-loser problems that worry business people every day:
• reduce costs of materials
• reduce downtime
• reduce labour costs
• reduce regulatory penalties
• reduce product liability costs
• eliminate manufacturing waste.
Other clients have used X10 thinking to:
• increase sales
• increase prices
• expand market share
• grow wallet share
• enter new markets
• enter new market segments
• enter new geographies
• earn new customers
• contain controllable customer attrition
• enable new products.