Tag Archives: Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS

In A Complex Era, It Takes a lot of Collaboration – We Need Good Teams!

I hope that all of my presentations are useful for the audiences in attendance.  But on Thursday, I participated in a panel that was not only useful, but had a special element of “fun.”  It was for the Dallas Estate Planning Council.  I was the non-expert on the panel – I was the “book guy.”  But I helped set the theme, “Lessons in Collaboration from the Navy SEALs, (or, how the Dallas Mavericks Team beat the Miami Heat Individuals)” with a quick list of key lessons on collaboration from the book Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS by Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon.  The panel itself was a collaboration, with Jerri Hammer (JD, CPA) and Shelly Mathis (AEP) doing significant work “behind the scenes” to pull it all together, and then the panel itself included Marvin Blum (JD, CPA) and Perry Kaufman (CPA).

On the panel, Marvin and Perry both had tangible and useful examples of collaborative team efforts that were absolutely necessary to serve their clients’ needs.  These “teams” are essential because of the complex nature of estates – especially “substantial” estates.  I learned a lot.

About the fun part…  We were provided with plenty of “military garb,” for our presentation, and the table was draped with camouflage netting.  Here’s our group picture. It really was a fun, and memorable, morning.  (Special thanks to Jason Loveless for wardrobe and props).

Marvin, Jerri, Randy, Perry, and Shelly

A Mighty Fine Path to Quality (and Overall Success) – A Brief Look at the Quality of Mighty Fine Burgers

Hold weekly or monthly status meetings to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s going on.
Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon, Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results

An effective rhythm of daily; weekly; monthly; quarterly; annual meetings to maintain alignment and drive accountability — “until your people are mocking you, you’ve not repeated your message enough.”
Verne Harnish, Mastering The Rockefeller Habits:  What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm

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Mighty Fine Burgers (the one I eat at is in Round Rock) has some mighty fine hamburgers, and milk shakes – and a fun atmosphere, and a cool, space-age hand washing machine.  They offer a really! good!! hamburger!!!, and an even better shake!!!!  People tell me their fries are equally excellent, but I can’t vouch for those personally (I only have room for so many calories).  They also have their Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award banner prominently displayed — see:


I talked to one of their managers, Steven, and asked him how they won their Baldridge Award.  He said (paraphrased):  “we decided to go after it; we won a “Texas version” one year (the Texas Award For Performance Excellence); we kept improving, and then we won our Baldrige Award last year”  (Actually, the Baldrige Award was given to their parent company: K&N Management is the licensed Austin, Texas-area developer for Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q and the creator of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, two fast-casual restaurant concepts.  Read about their award here).

They absolutely focus on quality — from their web site:

Being from Austin means that the bar for quality is set very high, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. To us Quality is Everything, from our all-natural meat to our personalized bags, from our open kitchen to our world-class service. You might even say that we are a little weird about quality—in fact we are totally obsessed with it. We purposely limit our menu so that we can deliver the best food and best service to every one of our customers. We may only do a few things, but we do them better than any one else.

I kept after Steven, and asked this question:  how many meetings did you have with your people about your quest for quality?  The answer, as expected, was (paraphrasing again)– “daily, constantly, consistently…  we meet all the time.  We meet at the company management level, and with every shift team.  We meet, we aim for quality, we discuss quality, we improve quality…  we meet to accomplish our quality goals.”  They send the message about quality all the way up, and down, and through, their entire team.  What they discuss, what they decide, in top level meetings, is then distributed, cascading down throughout every shift team in the entire organization.

I have no doubt that quality, and all its related issues, are on the agenda day in and day out.  The result – a great burger, a great shake, a great experience, and a Baldrige Award.

And one loyal happy customer from Dallas.

The point of all this:  I have come to believe that the secret to reaching your goals is found through regular, well-run meetings. Yes, bad meetings — poorly run meetings —  can be bad for everyone.  But you cannot accomplish your goal(s) without talking about what people will actually do to accomplish the work required.  In these meetings, they discuss what needs to be done next, by whom, by when, in regular, interactive meetings.  Set clear standards, check progress, meet…  then do; then meet, debrief, give out the next assignments, and go do…repeat,repeat, repeat.  Over the long haul, you might develop better quality — you might even win a Baldrige Award.

“You accomplish what you meet about!”  Yes, you do!