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The secret to getting ahead is getting started.  - Mark Twain

A key to decision-making is knowing where to start:  everything interrelates, which can make teams go in circles.  The short sections below will help you get headed in the right direction.  Complex decisions can be made with tool sets from The GM’s Toolkit.  But whatever the decision, the first meeting should be to check if everyone is using the same terms. 

People new to the Center can see here ideas on how to get started.


The General Manager's Toolkit helps meet many common challenges:



Key term:  1.3.4 Mergers & acquisitions.  Key tool:   Integration Checklist.

First, distinguish between a) finding an organization to merge with, buy or sell to, b) the legal and financial process and c) integrating the entities.  Then review 6.2.2 Business valuation, the critical datum in the decision.  Since an acquisition or merger will affect 90% of your systems, use the Integration Check to identify and prioritize all the systems needed.  Start with a realistic change management plan:  5.1.3 Change management.



Key term:  4.4.2 Knowledge management.  Key tool:  Management Self-Assessment.

Sharing knowledge is as much about the selection process as about the knowledge itself:  without tight controls, the organizations drown in files.  The Management Self-Assessment will point to and record the critical information.  You can then move onto systems design:  4.5.1 Intranet.  Contact the Center for how to create a custom set of Recommended Resources and best practices for your organization.



Key terms: 2.5 Sales management, 2.6 Customer service.  Key tools:  Table of Priorities, Question Map.

Success depends on an intimate knowledge and strong rapport with big accounts or donors.  Having only a social connection risks someone else providing them profitable ideas.  Run through a Table of Priorities with them annually (perhaps with quarterly reviews) to prove you are a trusted adviser.  When planning something jointly, working through the detailed Question Map solidifies you as part of their team.



Key terms:  5.4.1 Project management, 3.2.1 Workflow analysis.  Key tools:  1-Page Project Planner, Projects Summary.

Begin with detailed diagrams of current and preferred workflows.  Start with the end in view, so design the few daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports you want out of the system.  You will then be ready to plan the project.  Major projects are sensitive, so make a change management plan part of the early work:  5.1.3 Change management.




Key terms: Location analysis, 2.1.1 Market size analysis.  Key tools:  Goal Tree.

Opening a new location is not first about the real estate transaction.  It is about capturing a big piece of a market--or if you run a non-profit or hospital--being certain you can fulfill your mission at a supportable cost.  Start with a robust market analysis.  Use the Goal Tree to record your measures of success.  Then consider specific sites (or acquisition targets--see above).  This might start a string of projects to be recorded in your Projects Summary.


Key terms:  2.1 Market research, 6.3.3 Forecasting. Key tools: Question Map, Cost/Benefit Analysis.

Launching a new product or service is like a start-up, involving every management discipline.  So, start with the Question Map and objective market research.  This simple sequence will keep everyone moving forward:

  1. Estimate total market and potential share to set production capacity.
  2. Outline the marketing and sales effort to capture that share.
  3. Summarize the key operations and information processes.
  4. Sketch the organization chart and job descriptions for staffing.
  5. Create a pro forma ("sensitivity analysis") for what profits and risks are likely.

The Center's strategic planning process can help.


Key terms:  5.6.4 Succession planning1.4.3 Family business.  Key tools:  Question Map

Large organizations need to prepare the next generation of general managers to keep things connected and moving.  Our training and coaching can help.  Having a common set of tools and common language keeps promotion into new roles from being disruptive.

Succession planning in family business also deals with ownership, training and development, organizational design, financing and even facilities.  Family dynamics are critical:  get outside advice at the first sign of conflict.   Family businesses can be wonderful and terrible:  solid management discipline helps everyone stay objective.


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