Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Getting 2009 Started Off Strong!

I believe that two of the the most important factors in running a successful company are: robust communications and a sharp focus on the key organizational strategies.  Unfortunately, it is been my experience that most leaders do a relatively poor job of communicating what they want their people to focus on.  Given the incredibly challenging economic times we are in, now more than ever it is critical to clearly communicate to all of your people what is expected of them and what they need to do to keep your company strong and successful.  However, you don’t want to bog them down with long speeches or a 50 page strategic plan.  The goal is to keep it as concise and focused as possible.


A few months ago I had the great pleasure of listening to one of the top leaders at Procter & Gamble talk about how he communicated to his team what was most important to him through a “one-page strategic plan” and a “one-page leadership philosophy.”  This particular gentleman was often brought in as a change agent, a situation that can create great stress for the new teams he was going to lead, so he created these simple documents to allow him to clearly communicate what was on his mind, what he wanted people to focus on, and what they could expect from him as their new leader.  What a wonderful way to help people stop worrying about what is in the leader’s head, and instead focus on the work at hand!

Because I think this is such a good idea, I’m even doing it with my team to get 2009 started off on the right foot.  Below I have pasted in the actual documents I handed out to my team.  Please give some thought to doing something similar in your organization.  I’m confident it will be helpful and will set a great tone for getting everyone focused, energized and ready to get down to business.


One Page Leadership Philosophy: John Spence

Core values:

1. Complete honesty, transparency and candor, delivered with respect and in an environment where people feel safe to tell the truth.

2. High standards of professionalism, quality, accountability and urgency – refuse to tolerate anything less.

3. Teamwork and collaboration are mandatory – no prima-donnas. Deliver and demand mutual accountability, keep your promises, be 100% reliable – have the courage to hold others accountable to their commitments.

4. Passion for your craft, lifelong learning, continuous improvement, creativity and innovation.

5. Extreme Customer Focus – positive attitude, genuine concern for the client, always do what is best for the client… even above the firm, treat every client like you would your best friend, remember that the client pays your salary… the client gives you your job!

Major Areas of Focus:

A. Growth of the business / profitability

B. Client satisfaction

C. Innovation

D. Disciplined Execution+ Urgency

E. Teamwork + meaningful work in a positive, fun environment

What I want from you:

Honesty, lots of communication around the most important information, hard work, quality work, extreme customer focus, always pushing yourself to learn and grow, ask question if you don’t know something, offer thoughtful and well-reasoned ideas, take prudent business risks, help your team mates as much as you possibly can, share the credit, keep your promises, dream really big, have fun, maintain a healthy work-life balance, take personal accountability for making this a great place to work and a highly successful company.

What I do not want:

Politicking, rumor-mongering, cliques, power-struggles, turf-building, hoarding information, pointing fingers, laying blame, making excuses, not delivering the results you committed to, a negative attitude, CYA activities, wasting time with frivolous emails and memos, lack of urgency to get the most important things done… right now!

What you can expect from me:

Honesty, fairness, an open door, a willingness to listen, my focused attention, an insatiable desire to learn and improve daily, generosity, 100% accountability for my actions, always sharing the credit, a strong focus on delivering results and holding everyone on the team accountable, a positive attitude, very hard work, dedication to the team, extreme customer focus.



One Page Business Plan: John Spence LLC.

Mission: To provide sound business advice, focused executive coaching and superior employee development services to select clients worldwide.

Vision: To be recognized as one of the top business coaching/consulting firms in the United States.

Core Values: 100% honesty, highest levels of professionalism, extreme client focus, lifelong learning, true attitude of service and generosity, life balance, fun, fun, fun.


Major Strategic Objectives:

1.  Maximize impact of new book through publicity, blogs, v-blogs, Word of Mouth, TV, Radio, articles, speeches, book signings, etc…

2.  Establish a viable e-commerce division – selling training DVD’s, books, workbooks, etc…

3.  Strengthen / deepen ties with current clients.

4. Add three new Fortune 500 clients.

5. Sell a second book to Jossey-Bass.


Key Measure of Success:

A. “Awesomely Simple” makes NYT Business Best Seller.

B.  Minimum for 45 Speeches/workshops this year.

C. Achieve minimum sales goals for products from our websites.

D. Signed contract for leadership book.

E. John signs on as a speaker for open seminar series such as World Business Forum, Aspen Ideas Fest, TED or Linkage.


I believe that if you did something like these two documents and gave them to every single person on your team, it can’t do anything but help.  Let me know what you think, love to get your feedback, and would welcome anyone sending me a copy of your one-page leadership philosophy and one-page strategic plan so I can see how some of you put these together. 

Hope this helped — take good care — John


  1. I like this and will use it.

  2. Dear John,

    You are the definition of quality human being.

    Thank you for being the person who models that “balance” you speak of. To do what you do at the level you do it and to be who you are for me and so many others is pure inspiration. I am so LUCKY to have you (and SS) as a support, resource and dear friend.

    Thank you for being the difference in my life.

  3. Hey, John,

    Thanks for sending this along – absolutely love this post! After reading it over carefully, I thought you might be interested in a blog article I’m working on about why so many plans like the one you posted above fail to get executed throughout the course of the year. Knowing you, I believe yours will get done – but I’ve seen so many plans like this fail, I’ve dedicated the last 10 years to finding out why that is so and the article is a summary of that 10 year exploration with a bunch of recommendations for the New Year. I’ll send it your way when it’s done – I’d love your thoughts on it.

    Once again, fantastic stuff here!

  4. I have gotten a lot of positive e-mails from business colleagues that they really think the one-page leadership philosophy and one-page strategic plan is a fantastic way to clearly communicate what everyone on their team needs to focus on to keep going strong in 2009. So glad all of you are finding value in this post, my next blog will actually be a video-blog on the six steps for business success in 2009. I’m excited to get that to you and get your responses — take good care — John

  5. John,

    Thanks. My business partner and I have been trying to work up a strategic plan to share with our entire company and wanted something that will “ENGAGE” our team to lay the foundation to double our system wide sales in 2009!

    Short, Simple and Engaging.

    Thanks for your help.

  6. Dear John,

    First of all I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I was away for the entire month basically engaging with some business opportunities and official engagement in China particularly Shanghai (the financial capital). In this challenging time almost whole world knew that the only country will have positive and significant growth for the this year would obviously China. My trip was merely trying to understand how the eastern culture practices their leadership and management in running their corporate world. I learned a lot. It is very interesting world out there. I share more when have time.

    About your one page philosophy idea, all I could say it so simple and such a common sense of communication method to inform everyone. I just wish at times many companies will do that. Lots of companies still failed miserably in communicating clearly and concisely to their employees. The leaders are too busy in looking ways making the strategies look perfect. In the end, nothing will happened.

    Lets look at your Mission which mentioned providing sound business advice. While it is true sound business advice would be mostly business leaders wanted to know but I think there is something you willing to add-on. I highly recommended James E. Lukaszewski book “Why Should the Boss Listen To You” as part of the “supplement” in your mission. James book systematically highlighted what is and is not required if you want business leaders want you to be in his or her games.

    On your vision part, I would suggest you take more BOLD challenge to cross continent become one of top notch or well known consultant or coach internationally. In this case, Marshall Goldsmith is very well known person we can model from. His name was very popular in many parts of Asia, Japan, ANZ as well not only Americas. To become well known consultant I’m sure you already hitting the right path. However, being a coach required a different set of skills as well. ICF or other coaching organizations or get certified become a coach will create new set of your paradigm shift. I came from this path.

    Anyway is my true honest feedback from another perspective.


  7. Fantastic feedback Desmond — I wish you every success in 2009!

  8. Robert C says:

    Great and timely post, John. Very good indeed. Love the business objectives… the “what” – very easy to expand with each direct report on the “how” to take the one pager one half page deeper. All the best, I so appreciate who you are and how you do it!

  9. Great post John,

    I didi something similar with my team last year and need to do again next week for this year. But my focus areas were lacking many of the aspects you are listing – it was merely a business plan for the team, lacking the leadership philosophy.

    I wish you great success for year 2009 and am looking forward on your new beek!



  10. John,

    What if one were to send this OnePager out to strategic business relationships? “Just wanted you to know what we are up to in 2009… let’s explore how we can grow together.”

    I got an email last week with a document called “Our Ideal Client Profile” with a request for referrals and I was a little put off.

    Anyway, killer article. Awesome and simple.


  11. Chris — love the idea of sending this to key strategic partners – perfect! Also on the ideal referral note you got — in poor taste — UNLESS — the person had gained you 100% agreement first. If I agreed to send referrals to a busines friend — I think it would be very helpful to get a clear idea of their “ideal client” so I could be sure to refer the right folks — and not waste anyone’s time. Great comments — thanks for your input — John

  12. John,

    Loved this post. I’ve printed it and posted it on my bulletin board. It’s such great, common sense stuff that VERY FEW leaders do.

    I’ve also sent it to several business partners. I even sent it to my pastor. Great stuff!
    Thanks for all that you do. Hope 2009 is your best year yet.


  13. You made some good points there. I did a search on sales and sales blogs and found most people will agree with your blog.