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Message from the
Managing Director


Brooks Helmick
The IML Boston Group


Our Elevator Pitch

"We coach Ping Pong Games - Team-Based Ping Pong"

Our Lead Coaching Principle

"Great discoveries and achievements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds." - Alexander Graham Bell

To Our Clients, Colleagues and Visitors:

Welcome To Our Web Site! Before you explore the rest of the site I would like to use this message to expand on the issues raised on our home page.

Our Experience Says - Answers Lie Within - With all of our senior partners having been chief executives, we approach the management consulting practice with a special perspective.  Our experience has convinced us that the answers to most companies' competitive problems lie within their own management and employees.  Outside consultants can be useful, but we have achieved the most long lasting successes by helping our clients organize to better grapple themselves with the competitive issues at hand.

How Do We Need to Change to Compete Better?- Prioritizing the Issues
The key to running any business successfully is getting the priorities right. We always counsel our clients, as a first-level pass, to think about their compete-better priorities in the context of the three-legged stool which every business rests on - strategy, execution and operations (i.e. the more generalized blocking and tackling capabilities - systems, policies, etc.). While in the long run, all three legs must be strong enough to keep the stool from toppling, in the short run most companies will be focusing on one leg more than the others. The team-based Ping Pong described below applies to any one of these three legs. It especially applies to high-speed execution.

How Do You Gain Execution Speed? Beyond the prerequisite of getting your strategy right, we find more and more CEOs asking this question. And most CEOs know the basics of fast, effective execution:

  1. Getting the priorities right
2. Getting Alignment around those priorities
3. Moving delivery responsibility as close to the front lines as possible

Priorities, Alignment, Moving to Frontlines - How best to do it? At the extremes, we know only two ways of getting at these three - either the traditional, top-down, "cafeteria-speech" approach, or a more collective, high speed grappling approach. Both are essential. The key is getting the right balance between the two.

Why Cafeteria Speeches Alone, Fall Short. There is nothing wrong with cafeteria speeches. Indeed they are essential and are a good vehicle for getting across what top management wants to say. However, they are not a good vehicle for harnessing the intellectual horsepower of those receiving the speech - i.e. those who must ultimately execute - to come back and help top management to sharpen both the priorities and the alignment, and then ultimately the execution game plan.

Moving the Needle Toward High Speed Grappling. Most firms operate closer to the traditional "cafeteria speech" end of that spectrum. We help our clients move the needle closer to center stage. Quite simply, we have found that more team-based grappling - with top management as the execution drivers on one side of the table, and teams of those who must ultimately deliver on the other side - does wonders in improving execution speed and effectiveness.

Team-based Challenge Teams - High Speed Ping Pong Matches - Building on Peter Drucker's earlier work, our own research, has shown that the best technique for building tough, responsive alignment fast is to have cafeteria speeches balanced with regularly scheduled, team-based Ping Pong matches taking place inside the company. In fact our elevator pitch is, "We coach Ping Pong games." In these games top management is on one side of the table, as a team. Then top management then invites other teams to take them on - teams of insiders, teams of outsiders, or a mix of the two, but always the best and brightest they can find as challengers. The ball going back and forth then becomes dialogue and debate around the central question, "How do we need to change the way we are doing business to compete more effectively?" - and then getting agreement on the priority of these issues.

Ping Pong Payoff - What are the advantages of Ping Pong games over cafeteria speeches? First, better, sharper priorities. At the outset, teams of employees or outsiders from different parts of the organization will not concur on the priorities. Neither top management's nor the teams' opening positions will be necessarily right or wrong, but this sets up the basis for the game. Simply put, this collective wrestling brings forth better and sharper priorities, and better alignment, focus and energy around these priorities. At the end of the match, when it is time to move delivery responsibility to the front lines, no cafeteria sales and inspirational speech is required. Instead, the CEO, who has now been on the receiving end of a sales pitch is in a position to say, "OK, people, come back in a few days and tell me how you are going to organize to tackle these issues."

Exploring Our Site - Remembering the End Goal - much the rest of our site covers the related principles that guide us and our clients, as we work together to improve executional speed. You will no doubt agree with these principles which lie in the background of all of our coaching work. Just remember that the primary and end goal for us, and we trust for you, should be to be able to stop anyone in the hall, or at least anyone who has played the game, ask them "What are our top three priorities?" and get the same answer. And get the same answer not because they heard the cafeteria speech, but because all of you went at it, you know you have it right, and are giving each other high fives to prove it.

Enjoy the tour!                    

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