Lessons from Luther

Martin Luther was given keen insight into salvation as a free gift of God.  Other items became clear and freedom was offered to many that had been bound in tradition. He was not fully released from some traditions. His hardness resulted in loneliness.

When he had opportunity to include others, he refused.  He entrenched on issues that were not critical but represented the very tradition he sought to break away.  Zwingli came to him with an open heart and open arms and allowance for disparate beliefs that were not critical to Christ living. Two hard pieces of old tradition clung to Luther and kept him from enjoying the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Don’t make Luther ‘s mistake and walk alone.

This attitude became a continuing mark of those that later called themselves Lutheran.  His hard stance was fathered into generations that some still stay separated from other Christians.

Are there pieces of my theology that exclude other Christians?

Can I find a way of peace that includes those that hold positions that are reprehensible to me?

Am I able to speak what I believe without pushing down what others believe?

Action: Make time to meet with a leader of an area similar to your leadership area.  Listen.  Don’t refute or critique.  Listen and learn. Find a place of agreement.

Five Leadership Tips for Tough Times Every Mature Executive Needs to Learn.

From the archives. As I work with developing a non-profit group in a tough situation, this lesson sparked to mind. Hope it serves you today.

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Five Leadership Tips for Tough Times Every Mature Executive Needs to Learn.

Working as an agent of change in support of executives comes with scars and stars.  The stars are the memories that have power to change us for the better.  The scars are best left as lessons learned and give time and attention to heal.  But, wow, when you work beside a star boss or on a star team, your life is never the same.

There are five top performing bosses and the teams that surrounded them that have taught me powerful lessons in living and management.  Let me share these with you.  You can grow in a minute under the right coaching.  It would take a book to list all the lessons each of these leaders taught me, so I’ll just highlight five lessons that I believe every mature executive should learn.

Schille’s All StarsHard Times…

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Learners Look

Continual learning environment is a must. Executives and managers make it happen. Leadership is involved. Learning is the never ending story. An organization with a bend towards learning produces excellence.


Learning is not training. Training is a part of learning. Learning is a lifelong commitment, a morning attitude, and an approach toward information and experience. It is a must.

“Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

At a time when individual operations and entire organizations cannot afford to make mistakes, it seems there is great potential for highly-visible errors. The complexities of implementing multi-channel, response-driven customer communications pressure. Learners LookModified workplace rules, legislative and executive mandates on business, and global pressures stretch staff. Can we expect operations run on a shoestring budget with no time or money for skill upgrade to accomplish adapting? Can we expect staid operations and staff, who’ve become resistant to change, to survive? Not really.

You Don’t Want This To Be You: Learners Look

The US Army sent out letters to families of soldiers killed overseas. They featured a salutation of “Dear John Doe,”. What probably happened? Did someone put “John Doe” as a place holder into a mail merge letter and forget to merge? Did the data scrub go bad? Was a routine process double check missed while someone checked Facebook?

But why did it not get caught? No one noticed that all the letters had the same salutation? Was it because the shop doing the work was rushed? Or did the shop not have a quality- control person who knew what to look for? Or was the QC person off running some production equipment and never had the chance to check before the mailing went out? We may never know.

The end result is damaged reputation and emotional distress. This error is reported by national news organizations. The shop was named in the articles. The price they charged the Army was published. An Army official was quoted as saying the Army was contemplating “appropriate action against the contractor.” Ouch! Worse was the impersonal impact on grieving families.

Oh, and a General (the Army Chief of Staff) had to hand-sign 7,000 apology letters. I wouldn’t want to be the shop that made this unfortunate mistake, and I feel for them. But it is a good example of what can happen when processes are not followed or things get rushed. This particular error may not be attributed solely to a learning issue, but inadequate attitude of attention and learning could certainly have played a part.

There are three active attitudes in a learners’ team.

Learners constantly assess, inspect, and appeal. They are ‘in the stuff” every day, all day. A learner will see an error outside of expected routine checks. They notice compliance variances and modify.  They see process issues that threaten on time delivery of services. They become experts at their jobs. They invent shortcuts for production and service delivery that speed customer time to market. You will find a learning shop team huddled over an issue as a team coming up with solutions.

Learners are led. Executives and managers set the curve. One astute client executive commented, “I’ve had a good day, I learned something new about this operation.” This was the senior most executive in a large insurance company. He looked every day to learn something new about the trench work. Managers should be bringing fresh insights to the team. Managers should be increasing their customer knowledge every week. An executive or manager cannot be the best at what their people do, but they should be the best leader at what they do. Be curious.

Learners look. If it ain’t broke, break it. There is no excuse for lax process. Learners take apart what looks fixed. They don’t break it to be mean. They break it to find a better way, a cleaner routine, a process stripped of extra steps, or a more predictable performance. Learners learn by looking under the hood.

Summary: The “looking learner” environment in an operation will produce predictably excellent results. Unfortunately, our workplaces easily drift into drone mentality through blind adherence to institutional objectives. Creativity takes spark and acknowledgement from leaders. Learning is stimulated by example.


Lead with Solutions: Five Key Phrases To Lead

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There is power in your words, Leader.

Leaders lead.  We lead with our words, our actions, our intent, and our example.

Leaders lead.  Leading flows from the inner core of a leader outward for followers to follow.  Wisdom literature intrigues and builds me.  Two principles that regurgitate in my meditative time apply here.

  1. What is in your heart comes out your mouth.
  2. Words carry life or death.

Uncomfortable as that may be for some, it is life and energy for leaders.  Those that deny they are being led are fools looking for a place to fail.  Those that accept they are both being led and leading others have matured to a grasp of reality needed for contentedness and success.  Watching words is a key necessity of leadership.

One of the ways leaders lead is with the entry words they use in conversations and meetings and personal engagements.  So let’s look…

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Dear KOTU, can you……?

When Hezekiah,  a young twenty-something prayed this prayer, the King of the Universe moved to support him.  Read the story in II Kings 18-19.
Why not start your year with a request to the King of The Universe?  Write Him a letter.  He’s more reliable than Santa, stronger than Superman, wiser than Gandalf and has an army you can’t fathom.
Have a great 2014!
II Kings 19:19 NKJV Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

Updated Endorsements on LI…trusted by thousands


Phil Larson

Phil is heavily endorsed by professionals and executives in multiple industries as an astute leader and manager. Take a look on linkedin. www.linkedin.com/in/phillarsonokc/

Over the years directly involved in several business improvement initiatives. Helping organizations get to effective and efficient operation in development and daily business is a personal focus.

  • The economy is in an exciting move forward. You have access to my skills, abilities, partnerships, and knowledge and those of partner groups. The time is right. Spend management, Multi-Channel Marketing, Integrated Cross Media Marketing, and operational engineering. There are so many companies needing to make the move to online sourced print production, whether themselves as the source or others it is an open field.Let me know how I can help you or your clients in moving forward.The focus is now. Your time is right.

    Love to work with community wide activities involving government, non-profits, businesses, and congregations especially in the area of fathering and families.

    Posting and involvement and opinions are Phil’s and not the opinions of Shepherd Consulting OK or other companies and organizations with which he is affiliated. Just so you know.

    Operational Excellence
    Reclaiming Business Value
    Building and Managing High Performance Teams

    Enterprise convergence of print (transactional, office, marketing and sales, training, executive)
    Integrated cross media marketing
    Developing customer centric customized communications.
    Integrating technology solutions into daily operations
    Data management in secure and accessible mode
    Web to Print
    Digital print production
    High volume, High efficiency
    Distribution spend management
    Community activity coordination.
    Public speaking

Only a giant gets giant-sized productivity gains, right? Wrong!

The article you are about to read talks of $35 million of productivity gain.  But every dollar is a percentage of another dollar.  Can you improve your business 27%?  Maybe.  Maybe, not.  The quicker you start, the quicker you gain. Do you have to use Japanese terms to do it?  Not really.

The article doesn’t talk about total costs of the modifications, number of layoffs, consolidations of department management, consultants, or other change catalysts involved.  That’s OK.  You know they are there.

You also know numbers are numbers are numbers.  They are able to show what you want to show.  These are great gains at the company reported.  You can have great gains in your company.

Your business was built with some American ingenuity and perspiration.  The intelligence to modify and the tenacity to tackle cost creep probably is waiting inside your team to  be unleashed.

Let’s start a discussion that leads to bottom-line results at your company.  Get it?  Get it.  No Japanese words needed.

phil@shepherdok.com   405-388-8037

Insurance News – State Farm Honored For Productivity

What does exceptional service look like? #subway

We purchased a few 12″ sandwiches for a family gathering at Easter weekend. “May I put them on trays for you?” Subway service “May I add some condiments for you?” Subway service “May I add some vegetables on the side for you?” Subway service “May I do all that for no added charge for you?” Subway exceptional service on Mustang Road in Yukon Oklahoma Proud to give a shout out to Subway.