Bruce Breier, Organizational Consultant for BHB Consulting Services swings by the studio to talk about productivity and time management.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to Texas Business Radio, TexasBusinessRadio.com is the website. 844-814-8144 is our 24-hour call-in line, 24-hour line that means call in now, call in at three o’clock in the morning, I really don’t have an opinion on it. We’re going to get the experts on here to get those questions answers. If you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, you know that we do a regular segment called, National Advisor Showcase. That’s when we bring really smart guys from all over the country that are here to talk to CEOs about making their business better. I like to bring them in here and pick their brain a little bit and see what they have to say because running a business isn’t easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it and there’s a lot of ways that you can improve and if you can improve it, that has a significant impact, can have a significant impact on you and your family’s wellbeing. I’m your host, Matt Register, Jake Curry had to step out for a little bit, he’s going to join us here shortly. In the meantime, let’s go ahead and jump right into it. We have a gentleman here, a consultant, very smart guy, all the way from La Jolla, California. Bruce Breier is at BHB Consulting Services he is here to talk about how you spend your time. Bruce, welcome to the show.
Bruce Breier: Thank you Matt, nice to be here.
Matt Register: So tell me about BHB Consulting, what do you do and who do you do it to?
Bruce Breier: I’m a self-employed organizational consultant. Headquartered in the San Diego area, in La Jolla, and this is my 41st year of helping busy people to be more productive, effective and efficient in everything that they do.
Matt Register: So 41 years, you’re just getting your feet wet on this a little bit, right?
Bruce Breier: Yes. If you say I look so young, I would appreciate that.
Matt Register: Not a problem at all. So how they spend their time and talk to me, how to busy CEOs screw this up? What it is that they’re doing wrong that is not allowing them to maximize the value of their business?
Bruce Breier: That may be the irony of it, they’re not necessarily doing things wrong, they’re doing a lot of things right. In the 40+ years I’ve been a consultant I cannot recall any CEO saying, “I want less,” when it comes time for annual planning. So if we look at the motivation to do better, it doesn’t often come from something is wrong, it comes for the motivation, or the need, to make more money, top and bottom line, have happier people, better moral, better customer service.
Matt Register: Sure.
Bruce Breier: You know it’s a more thing than the less thing. The problem, if that’s the right word, is that we’re busy. Busy people simply have too much to do and not enough time to get everything done. Too many projects, promises, priorities not enough uninterrupted time, proactively scheduled every day to get those things done. Too many meetings and appointments, not enough time to prepare for them, debrief from them. Too many interruptions, disruptions and distractions. Excessive numbers of email messages, growing number of text messages.
Matt Register: Sure.
Bruce Breier: What’s for dinner? Plates are full. People are arguably more overwhelmed, overloaded, over committed, overextended than ever. Many, therefore, have just said, “I’ll do the best I can.” They weave their way through the day and through the week. Sometimes things break but for the most part, things are humming along but they’re not growing, perhaps, at the expediential levels many CEOs would like.
Matt Register: You know it’s interesting we were talking during the break and one thing you said stood out to me, you said, “This, for the most part, is a priority problem.” Right? Half their time is wasted, they just don’t know which half, right? Figuring what are the things that can … What are the things that effort applied to it will have the biggest impact? Is that a significant portion of what it is you’re working with these guys on?
Bruce Breier: Yeah, essentially. It applies to both the individual leader or manager in the business and it applies to the business, in general. The word priority has the word prior right smack in the middle of it.
Matt Register: Right.
Bruce Breier: Which means, what comes first? Prioritization is now based on urgency in the workplace, as I see it. It’s what’s due first, what the deadline is coming up, what in your face, the email on your screen, the person at your door. I believe in answer to your question the thing that is most lacking is proactive planning in the workplace. Daily planning in the first 15 minutes of the day. What are your top priorities you want to accomplish? When are you going to do those? Less than three percent of leaders and managers do that.
Matt Register: Oh, I believe that completely, right? I mean they’re busy putting out grass fires that are right there in front of them.
Bruce Breier: There you go.
Matt Register: You know 15 minutes at the beginning of every day, thinking about okay, “What are the key tasks I need to accomplish today?” Even more than that, you’re talking strategic planning and things that they need to take some time and think longer term. CEOs are not paid to manage, they’re paid to lead, which is very different task, right?
Bruce Breier: Leading the strategic plan puts a business in the position of letting the business plan run the business and let the leader run the business plan. Within that business plan, itself, there are also priorities but the problem there is not taking time to manage that business plan on a consistently effective basis. The monthly review, for example, is something that I strongly urge CEOs to do everywhere I go. In fact, so many don’t like to do that so I fill that void. I visit a number of companies every month who secretly hope I don’t show up because they have no time to meet with me.
Matt Register: Because they don’t want to hear what they’re not doing, right?
Bruce Breier: Exactly. It’s sort of a benign forcing to work on the business. To see what happened last month, to see where we are year-to-date and to see what we’re going to do next month? What priorities we want to focus on.
Matt Register: Now, you know, that’s interesting the monthly review. I certainly understand the value of getting an asthma check, right? Making sure you’re going in the right direction. When you do these monthly reviews, how in depth are we looking? I mean you’re looking backwards and seeing how you’re doing relative to your plan but are you looking out at the horizon to see what has changed over the last 30 days? Or, how in depth are you getting on this?
Bruce Breier: If a well organized business plan is put into place before the fiscal year begins, then it’s a calibration, a recalibration for 30 days. That’s why it’s called a Monthly Review. There are four questions that I ask as a facilitator. Four questions I recommend CEOs ask:
Number One. How did we do last month on the commitments we made?
Number Two. How are we doing on our annual priorities, year to date?
Number Three. Any changes in our plan need to be made.
Matt Register: Sure.
Bruce Breier: Number Four. What are our top three to five priorities for the next 30 days? Those four questions asked and answered every month keep a company, an organization, moving in a very proactive, positive way. An organization, a company, that doesn’t do that finds themselves not often, necessarily, or regularly, looking back and saying, “We should have handled this three months ago, if we would have been aware of this too.” You know, those types of reactive behaviors become part of the crisis management of the 21st century.
Matt Register: How many companies are actually doing this? I mean I would suspect not a lot, right?
Bruce Breier: I don’t have a statistic for you, I can only give you my experience, I would say more don’t do it formally than do.
Matt Register: Right.
Bruce Breier: So, I’d say it’s maybe the Pareto Rule, the 80/20 applies. Maybe 20% do it really and the other 80% are doing fine and no news is good news, it not broken don’t fix it, let’s just coast along.
Matt Register: Well you know that’s the other keyword from when we were talking earlier, during the break, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. A company that is doing okay, trucking along, not setting the world on fire but not growing. How to you help them create the impetus for change within their organization, right? That’s a lot of the reason why they’re not changing, right?
Bruce Breier: If we’re looking at the organization as a whole, one of the primary responsibilities of a CEO is to define, articulate and communicate the future, longterm direction of the business. So where that comes out is mostly, number one, in the vision statement where the CEO defines and articulates what’s next, three years, five years out. Then, the ever popular S.W.O.T Analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, that’s where we find the compelling reasons and the weaknesses and the opportunities to make those changes.
Matt Register: Interesting stuff. We’re talking about organizational change and have a very smart guy here from Le Jolla, California. Bruce Breier is here talking about CEOs and leaders of companies how they spend their time. Fascinating stuff, Bruce, thank you very much for joining us. I got an email address for you guys and I’ll tell you what, I’m going to tell you it real quick but we’re going to have it linked right there from TexasBusinessRadio.com. Bruce Breier, B-R-E-I-E-R, BruceBreier@gmail.com. We’re going to have it linked right from TexasBusinessRadio.com. Thank you for joining us.
Bruce Breier: Thank you, Matt.
Matt Register: We got a whole lot more of Texas Business Radio coming up, we’ll be back right on the other side of the break as soon as we pay some of our bills, we’ve got bills to pay too. We’ll be back with a whole lot more right on the other side of the break. Don’t go anywhere, we’ll be back.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.