McClaskey Excellence Institute Vice President David M. Jones Receives Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award

Written by: McClaskey Excellence Institute

Jones recognized for outstanding leadership in the pursuit of performance excellence

David Jones (left) accepts the 2020 Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award from Mike McWherter (right).

KINGSPORT, Tenn., March 2020 — David M. Jones, vice president of McClaskey Excellence Institute, has received the 2020 Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award from the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence. In a ceremony held February 27, 2020 at the Franklin Cool Springs Marriott in Franklin, Tennessee, Jones was honored for his dedication to helping organizations achieve 100 percent operations excellence.

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Optimize the Financial Impact of a New Store Opening

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a McClaskey Excellence Institute “Achieving World-Class Results” class attendee. This conversation related to how to best use the “extraordinary thinking” taught in the class to optimize the operations decisions related to the rate of opening of new restaurants.

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How to Select Your Initial Projects

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

All McClaskey Excellence Institute classes are set up to inspire and enable all participants to successfully take the knowledge learned in the classroom and convert that knowledge into actions on the job. One of the ways McClaskey Excellence Institute does this, and a hallmark of all of their  classes, is to incorporate project selection — and implementation within four weeks after the end of the class — as part of the class.

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Designing Processes to Sustain the Gain

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

Shannon, a consulting client of McClaskey Excellence Institute, who heads a large and rapidly growing brand, asked a very insightful question during a recent consulting session. We had been talking about designing processes for sustainability. The key challenge, once a desirable change has been created, is to sustain that change by integrating it into the normal way work is done within the organization. In short, to make it a habit to perform the new or revised process according to the correct procedure. The question Shannon asked was, “How can I best design a process for sustainability?” Continue reading

Getting Good Out Of the Way of Becoming Great

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

In a recent McClaskey Excellence Institute (BEI) “Achieving World-Class Results” class, one of the class participants, I will call him Sam (not his real name), described what he got out most of the class. What he said struck me. It touched on one of those fundamental truths that we all know. A truth that is in the back of our mind but that we should bring to the forefront. What Sam said is this: the class caused a paradigm shift in the way he was thinking. It had enabled him to see that his mindset of knowing that his company was a “good” performing company was one of the biggest impediments stopping it from becoming a “great” company. Continue reading

Sustaining the Change

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

How to get people and organizations to sustain a positive change is probably one of the most important, yet vexing hurdles in all of leadership. As such, sustaining a change is one of the topics that I research and incorporate into training leaders from all over the world. In McClaskey Excellence Institute Achieving World-Class Results class, we describe how the Baldrige-winning fast-food brand, Pal’s Sudden Service, has developed a culture and leadership system that enables them to sustain all improvements and replicate them in all applicable stores and areas.  In this blog, I want to share some of the research-based best practices on sustaining positive changes in the workplace that are discussed in the excellent book: Pre-Suasion: Channeling Attention for Change by Robert Gialdini. I will also describe how Pal’s Sudden Service has built this research into its world-class operational excellence systems. Continue reading

What We Focus on Is What is Important

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

One of the keys to an operationally excellent organization that we teach at McClaskey Excellence Institute is that everything you do should be the best known way to accomplish your organizations’ Mission. Focusing everything on the best known ways to achieve the Mission harmonizes all of a company’s actions toward a single, unified purpose. Pal’s Sudden Service is an extraordinary example of this. There is nothing that Pal’s Sudden Service does, no matter how small, that is not the best known way to accomplish its Mission to “delight customers in a way that creates loyalty.” The result for Pal’s Sudden Service is four times (400% !) the repeat business rate of its best competitors. Continue reading

Habits: How to Sustain Them

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

Want to stay better?

Now that you know what habits are (see my blog on Habits: A Key to Sustainable Change) and how to change them (see my blog on Habits: How to Change Them), let’s discuss some key ideas on how to sustain the beneficial habits you have started for a long period of time. A habit is sustained if every time a cue or trigger of the habit occurs, the desired behavior takes place that leads to the reward.

This list is a collection of ideas on how to sustain habits from different sources. Some ideas come from Charles Duhigg’s book: The Power Of Habit (whose key concepts I captured in my two earlier blogs on habits: Habits: A Key to Sustainable Change; and Habits: How to Change Them); while some ideas come from other books and articles, such as The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr; discussions with Thom Crosby, President and CEO of Pal’s Sudden Service and other thought leaders; discussions with McClaskey Excellence Institute clients who are changing their personal leadership habits to create more extraordinary organizations; and from personal experience. While this list is a useful collection from many sources, it is not meant to be a complete list. Hopefully, you will add to this list by responding to the blog with key ideas that have help you sustain habits.

Some Key Ideas to Sustain a Habit

  1. Be relentless and persistent. In the workplace, as well as in life in general, it usually takes between 21 to 60 days of continual practice to establish a habit. It can take even longer if the cue does not happen at least multiple times per week.
  2. Develop a craving for the reward. As Duhigg writes in his book The Power of Habit, a habit is not sustainable until you have a craving for the reward that occurs as soon as you experience a cue. As reference, a craving is a desire for the reward that you start to feel as soon as the cue occurs. Once you have a craving for the reward, when you hear the cue and don’t get the reward, it causes you to be irritable or at least unsettled.
  3. Be part of a group that helps support your new habit. Studies have shown that having a support group can significantly help you both obtain the initial behavior and sustain that behavior. A support group could be just one person.
  4. Get a mentor. Mentors can play a key role in helping you to establish and sustain a habit; you don’t have to do it alone.
  5. Make the habit part of your identity. Carry out the desired behavior each and every time the cue occurs. The more consistently you carry out the behavior, the more it will become part of your identity. Thom Crosby summarizes this hint as: “Behavior your way into a new way of believing.”
  6. Have a personal feedback and correction loop. Observe if you carried out the desired behavior each and every time the cue occurs. Correct each time you detect that the cue occurred but the desired behavior did not. Usually only you are there to observe every occurrence and you need to notice if indeed the behavior occurred or did not occur.
  7. Build in a process for systematic maintenance of the habit. Thom Crosby notes that if a habit is to be sustained, it requires some systematic maintenance on your part and others. Crosby has developed the following process for sustaining beneficial habits within Pal’s Sudden Service:
    1. plan how to maintain the habit
    2. establish and carry out a recalibration cycle (this will periodically assure you are fully carrying out the behaviors every time the cue occurs)
    3. standardize the habit
    4. be on the leaders’ consistent dialogue
    5. have some way to verify
    6. when critical, have a measure

Developing the skill of being able to establish, change, and sustain the beneficial habits is a key life skill that will help you proactively achieve success in both your work and life overall. Duhigg notes that almost half of all the things we do in the course of a day are the result of habits rather than deliberate decisions. Since what we are going to accomplish at work or in life is dependent on our daily choices that can lead to behaviors we do every day, habits can play a critical role in our success or lack thereof.

At McClaskey Excellence Institute, in our Achieving World-Class Results class, we teach how Pal’s Sudden Service has established the habits in each and every one of its employees that make Pal’s operationally excellent. Operational excellence is Pal’s Sudden Service’s key to 400% greater repeat business and being highly financial success for over 50 years.

Habits: How to Change Them

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

changehabitsIn my previous blog (Habits: A Key to Sustainable Change), I discussed two key concepts related to habits from the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

These concepts were:

  • The Habit Loop: Cue (also called Trigger) leads to a Habitual Routine which leads to a Reward
  • The Golden Rule of Habit Change: keep the same Cue and Reward, but change the Routine

McClaskey Excellence Institute teaches the keys to sustainability in its “Achieving World-Class Results” class, and one of these keys is making the right things habits. Because habits are important for operational excellence, creating the right ones are a key part of creating sustainable change. Continue reading

Habits: A Key to Sustainable Change

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

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As we seek sustainable change, both at home and in the workplace, habits play a key role in making change permanent. Learning the principles behind habits and how habits can be modified to be more beneficial will improve your ability to manage and lead an organization towards operational excellence.

One of the topics that McClaskey Excellence Institute teaches in its “Achieving World-Class Results” class ( is the key to sustainability, which is: make doing the right things a habit. One of the ways we illustrate this during the class is by describing Pal’s Sudden Service’s training process that results in employees being certified only when they have the habit of doing the job 100% correctly.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, by Charles Duhigg, outlines the scientific research that underlies how habits are formed and how they can be changed.

Two key points from Duhigg’s book related to habits are: Continue reading