Build your organization, don’t destroy it

14 08 2006

Pragmatic business people know that strategies must be reviewed before, during and after implementation. Difficult questions must be asked and answered throughout the organization. Results analyzed and reviewed in order to identify flaws and errors.

Many times this exercise can push us into seeking and identifying problems instead of solutions. Too much time spent on what can go wrong and not enough focus on what can be created. Gridlock sets in, no solution is good enough, there is always a flaw.

All to often we find ourselves criticizing the work of others and the efforts that did not succeed as expected. We spend time taking things apart to find out what went wrong, and seeking to identify who was responsible for the “failure”. Our days are spent destroying the ideas of others.

Why not focus an equal amount of time on the positive aspects?

What did or will work, and why?

Creation is much more difficult than destruction. Support the creation of ideas and solutions in your organization, make your first analysis focus on the successful or positive aspects.

Ask yourself, “what am I creating today”.





Leadership by default

12 08 2006

I have had the misfortune to have worked in organizations where the leadership, management and decision-making style could be called leadership by default. This is characterized by leaderships and management’s inability to make decisions on-time or to make decisions at all.

Leaders who are consistently unable or unwilling to make decisions can be a dangerous element in the organization. Often they are insecure about their position, or don’t have skills and abilities required to fulfill the obligations of leadership.

The usual excuses are often repeated to cover up and justify the absence of decision making. These would include; we don’t have enough information, the situation is volatile, and that there is too much information available. The excuses are covering up the inability to sort, organize and prioritize data and the inability to identify and recognize opportunities. Grave leadership errors.

By not making a decision on-time, the options become limited, and with more time, factors come into play that eventually corner the organization into a situation where a decision is virtually forced upon them. It is the only remaining option. The decision maker says they are ready to make the decision, everyone reviews it and agrees it is the right decision (as it is the only option remaining), and life goes on. The decision maker feel validated. It’s leadership by default.

If you go to purchase tickets to the theatre for an event that will be presented in 3 months there are plenty of choices, all different. If you purchase tickets on-time you can have your pick of the event, the seat you desire and the date that is just right for you. By waiting until 5 minutes before an event begins your options are extremely limited, perhaps the event you really wanted is gone. You made a decision, and got tickets with both scenarios, but the results (seats and events) are very different.

It is not fair to the shareholders, customers or employees to allow management to consistently stall and postpone decision-making. Efforts should be focused on finding the right people in the organization who are willing to research, evaluate and identify opportunities and make important decisions on-time, every time.

Related Links

Thanks to Lori for the inspiration – Iwan Cray Huber Horstman and Van Ausdal LLC





Sales and marketing terrorism

10 08 2006

The recent media coverage of political terrorism throughout the world has me reflecting on terrorism and extreme sales and marketing tactics in the business world.

Every industry has individuals or organizations that use drastic, pointless, unethical or dangerous economic tactics in order to increase income or market share in the short term. This use of drastic and irresponsible actions can be called sales and marketing terrorism.

The goal of sales and marketing terrorism is to create immediate change, instill panic and chaos, or further the goals of one group who cannot or are not willing to work with the current system of rules, regulations and norms.

Many times the reaction to these isolated incidents will severely impact the industry, market or specific businesses. Reactions can result in increased government legislation, more government or industry intervention, increased costs of doing business, loss of revenue and reduced customer confidence in the organization or industry.

Some examples of “sales and marketing terrorism”:

A competitor who initiates a campaign of extreme discounts or low prices (dumping) in order to eliminate a competitor or increase market share.

A marketing campaign that uses lies and innuendo to reduce the reputation of a competitor or industry segment.

Products of extremely poor quality (below expected consumer beliefs or expectations) substituted for products known for their quality.

Don’t confuse sales and marketing terrorism with innovative ideas and paradigm shifts in how to do business. The difference is that a sales and marketing terrorist has no plan other than disruption.

Sales and marketing terrorism is a short term strategy or single event that has no regard for long term collateral consequences. They believe their actions will be justified because of short term increases in profit or market share. Rarely do they succeed, but often create chaos and disorder in the marketplace that have an impact on the industry and consumers that can last for a long time.





What does it mean when you don’t like the boss

8 08 2006

One of the major reasons given by people who desire to open their own businesses is that they want to be free of working for a boss.  It’s a bit naive to think that by trading corporate life for entrepreneurship you will avoid working for a boss.  There is always someone monitoring your performance and work.

In the corporate world a boss is there to monitor your performance, organize and criticize your work, support and provide resources or strategy, and maintain work harmony between team members.  Conflicts with the boss can be broadly divided into two major groups; personal conflicts and professional conflicts.

Personal conflicts are those related to situations driven by differences in personality, jealousies, sexual harassment, race or religious differences, and insecurities of the participants.

Professional conflicts are those directly related to the work and final work output; lack of skills or ability, ethical issues, theft, absenteeism, addictions, failure to do quality work, failure to do the work on time.

If your reasons for leaving the corporate world are heavily weighted toward a history of personal conflicts with the boss, what does that mean?  Are you a problem?  Is your personality one that provokes or seeks conflicts?  If there is a pattern here?  Some strong introspection is required before you break out and open your own business.

If professional conflicts are foremost on your list, be careful.  These are signs that you and your work abilities may be at fault and not the boss.

If the history of problems with the boss can be summarized as strategic, control, or decision-making conflicts, then I think you may be correct in seeking to run your own show.

Entrepreneurs love to say they are free and work for themselves.  In a sense they are correct, they are 100% responsible for their success or failure, and this is exhilarating and does make one feel free.  But they are now “working” for the customer, the bank or lender, the employees, and their suppliers.

Sure these are different relationships from the traditional boss-employee structure we are familiar with, but still difficult to develop and maintain, as are all human and commerical relationships.  Failure to maintain them will result in a loss of income or increased costs, and ultimately business collapse.

It’s not easy to work without a “structure” and a boss for the new entrepreneur.  It’s not impossible, but does require a set of different individual skills, great motivation and organizational abilities.  If you are invigorated by strategy, decision-making, and taking responsibility, entrepreneurship may be a good decision.





Is hard work important, is it still valid?

28 07 2006

Working hard…paying your dues…are these concepts still important and valid in today’s information economy and jobs?

What characteristics do you think of when someone says “she’s a hard worker”?

Is being a “hard worker” a positive or negative trait, something you aspire to?

In the US, the Puritan work ethic still provides a model of how we should work to many people. The Puritans believed that hard work was morally important, physically demanding, difficult or exhausting, required sacrifice and discipline, long hours, and usually referred to physical labor (the dominant labor required at that time). If an activity was pleasant the Puritans were pretty much against it.

Perhaps a better definition of hard work, taking into account the new information economy, is better related to; preparation and research, creating and using your information networks, taking the initiative, follow-through and closure, discipline, focus, efficiency, finding and communicating the solution in a timely manner.

Perhaps hard work is no longer a valid term or concept to apply to information workers.

The time required to do our work has, and is changing. When our principal job was agriculture, long hours were required to plant and harvest. Long hours are no longer required in order to say that someone is working hard in an office, or are they?

As long are workers are hired for an 8 hour day and 40 hour week, employers want to see their employees at their posts, ….doing something. So for many companies working hard still means being in the office for many hours, and extra hours represents hard work.

Long hours in the office could be the result of; research and investigation (good for all), inability to finish your work during the prescribed time (inefficient or fearful employee or workload is too heavy, bad for all), enthusiasm and desire to do more than the norm (good for company and possibly for employee advancement).

“Paying your dues” and sacrifice are also part of our definition of hard work. Paying your dues is part of the initiation into an organization, industry or group. It’s a sacrifice (usually related to long hours) that is part of, or required for, that specific culture. A new employee in many companies might be expected to work extra hours and make personal sacrifices to show they are working hard and paying their dues, trying to become part of the corporate culture.

There is a trade-off for employees between their personal life and business life. In order to succeed and advance in business working in a corporate culture, you must be promoted. To get promoted you have to been seen as possessing profitable skills and be a hard worker and willing to make sacrifices for the good of the company. As our culture becomes more competitive, we are faced with more people willing to work more hours and make more sacrifices, reducing our time with family and friends.

This debate regarding work-life balance is gaining momentum in the US. Workers are evaluating what role work should play in their lives and how many hours they should dedicate to working, and where and who they should “give” their time to.

Our definition of work is changing and evolving, and with it our definition of hard work is also being modified.

At what point do our evaluation and compensation systems take into account new elements that reflect the new realities and definitions of work in the 21st century?





First jobs and “front line” workers – are we willing to accept mediocrity?

27 07 2006

Everyone starts out with a job at or near the “bottom rung” of the career ladder; initial positions are often low paying, low level of decision-making required, repetitive and/or part-time positions.

These first jobs are often “front line” jobs and require the following skills and abilities in order to do the job well:

Retail – Discipline and punctuality, attention to detail, active listening, power of persuasion, work under pressure, time-management, knowledge of products, knowledge of the corporate culture, problem solving, enthusiasm.

Restaurant, Food and Beverage – Discipline and punctuality, attention to detail, active listening, work under pressure, knowledge of products, knowledge of the corporate culture, communication skills, and enthusiasm.

Manufacturing, Assembly Line – Discipline and punctuality, consistency, attention to quality, communication skills.

Services – Discipline and punctuality, consistency, communication skills, power of persuasion, knowledge of products, knowledge of the corporate culture, problem solving abilities, enthusiasm.

It appears that the skills and abilities required for these positions are important and sought after for ANY position in the company no matter the title or salary level.

There is a massive difference in the quality of your experience when you interact with a superior retail employee, a motivated trained restaurant worker, or diligent member of a manufacturing company.  We all know this, so why are there more bad or neutral experiences as compared to the good or great ones?

Why doesn’t your organization spend more time on training, motivating and compensating these critical “front line” employees?  They are critical to the company’s image, sales and quality and eventual success or failure in the marketplace.

The argument used by many employers is that it doesn’t pay to train this level of employee.   Upper management is content and satisfied with paying low salaries, avoiding training costs, and live with high employee turnover…. and by logical association are willing to accept mediocrity and sub-standard performance in their organizations.

Perhaps the problem is not with the employer, but lies with the educational system.  Are we teaching and reinforcing the skills and abilities required for life and career success?  What is the role of our schools, to “baby-sit” for 12 years or prepare the minds and develop the skills required for success in the future?

Is it all about money? 

Are consumers and employers willing to accept mediocrity and poor service as a trade off for low costs?  

Is this as good as we want it?

Related 

First impressions, what can you do to change yours? 

Leadership is not about watching the competition 





13 Tactics Guaranteed to Kill any Project

26 07 2006

How many of these tactics can you identify and how many are at work right now in your organization?

13 tactics guaranteed to kill any project

1. Assemble and invite a huge group of people to participate, most of whom have no stake in the outcome.

2. Do not assign or elect a leader, or better yet, assign leadership to several members.

3. Never make the goals and objectives of the project clear. Leave them as vague as possible.

4. Never assign responsibilities to specific members and never set firm dates for the completion of tasks.

5. Stifle and block all new and alternative ideas, never allow questioning of procedures or goals, eliminate all creativity and any dissension.

6. Plan lots of long, unplanned meetings without an agenda, where nothing is achieved, goals are not reviewed, and no new compromises are agree upon. Especially good are meetings very late in the day, on Fridays.

7. When asked for information and interaction with other members, take a long time to answer and do not give them what they are asking for. Never respond to emails from other members.

8. Never participate during a meeting, but outside the room complain to everyone that the project is doomed and that everything is wrong.

9. Allow meetings to be interrupted by phone calls and visitors, let everyone answer emails and do work on their laptops during the event.

10. Make sure there are no resources assigned to the project or members, this includes time and money.

11. Give all the decision-making power to one individual, and make sure they never make a decision. Good lines to use to delay decision-making include “this is an important decision, I think it should be reviewed and studied further”, “we don’t have all the facts yet”, “I’ll take it under advisement”. This person should also travel often and be difficult to contact.

12. Big decisions that affect the project should be shared with only a few of the participants.

13. Always blame other members for anything that might be wrong. Attack aggressively, loudly and in public if possible.

Related

Effective Business Meetings

Create a debate – find out who really wants the project to work

Step by step beginner’s guide to project management





Who cleans up the problems generated by upper management at your company?

25 07 2006

I’ve often seen hard-working successful salesmen and purchasing managers devastated and years of relationship  development undermined when upper management changes a deal, strategy or situation without consulting or advising those directly involved. 

The success of salespeople and purchasing managers depends upon trust.  Trust between your company’s representative and the unique individual from the other company.  Trust based upon past performance and promises kept.  Trust developed through quality products and services.  Trust developed by creating a dialogue, listening and exchanging information in order to develop mutually beneficial solutions.  Trust takes time, patience, and a series of negotiations and transactions over time.   Trust that your company is supporting, and will continue to support sales and purchasing and existing relationships.

How many times have you seen executive corporate decisions provoke severe disturbances in the level of trust developed by sales and purchasing departments with their clients and suppliers?

Why don’t upper management executives value and protect these relationships? 

I think it is in large part due to the fact that most executives don’t have to “clean up” their own mess.  Executive management has no individual responsibility for their decisions that affect trust in other parts of the company.  They also expect customers and suppliers to accept that conditions can and will change at any moment, and in effect, are reducing the future effectiveness of their own sales and purchasing departments.  They rely on other departments to “clean up”, to explain, to renegotiate and to make the new policies work.  It’s considered part of the perks of executive management, to make decisions, but let others implement them.

Are there policies and procedures in place at your organization to review the effect a strategic or policy decision will have on trust and current relationships with suppliers and customers? 

Who is capable of “making a mess” at your organization? 

Who is responsible for “cleaning it up”?

Do you think that’s the way it should be?

 

Related:

Corporate Leadership and Managers still aren’t listening

Who do YOU trust?





When leadership fails – an example – the Mexican shoe manufacturing industry

24 07 2006

It’s quite interesting to watch certain businesses and industries succeed and fail, and try to identify the factors that lead to these very different outcomes.

For example in Leon, Guanajuato, the shoe-making capital of Mexico, the industry is under severe pressure from imported product, and lower costs from China, Vietnam, Brazil, and other countries.

It’s quite clear to everyone in the industry that there are several solutions to the problem.

  1. Ask the government to create trade barriers and import tariffs. This will only support the inefficiencies in the national industry, postponing the inevitable.
  2. Invest in design and create a brand. Shoes are purchased for two reasons, fashion and protecting your feet. The fashion market has much higher profit margins, but requires constant investment in research and development and marketing.
  3. Invest in technology. If your product is focused on low prices in the market, you must have low costs, and lower costs than your competitors. This might be achieved with new technologies.
  4. Create alliances within the industry. If China production costs are cheaper, but it takes 60 days for the product to reach the US, doesn’t it make perfect sense to create an alliance where the initial production comes from Mexico (5 days to market), followed by the mass production from China?
  5. Purchase the shoes from the overseas competition and close your production facilities.
  6. Create new markets, export to new markets.

Those are the choices, and what do you think is happening?

The majority of companies are pointing out the danger and requesting government intervention, but not implementing any other strategies to avoid the “doomsday” scenario.

The few companies (industry leaders) that have invested in branding, design, technology and purchasing from competitors are thriving, earning money and making profits.

Why is avoiding the obvious or inevitable, such common behaviour in most organizations and groups?

I believe it has to do with the failure of the leaders to move out of the Thinking-Identifying stage and into the Planning and Implementation stages.

The cycle of business leadership and management consists of:

  • Thinking-Identifying. Thinking and identifying important internal and external factors and understanding how they interact.
  • Planning. Using the data and information to formulate a plan and strategy
  • Implementing the strategy. Putting the resources and motivation behind the plan and “making it work”.
  • Reaction-Modification. Reacting and modifying the plan as the conditions change.

Many leaders are uncomfortable or unable to identify the major factors that are and will affect their companies. They are unable to create strategies and delay important and critical decisions because they lack data, or have too much of it, or don’t know how to properly analyze it and find conclusions. Without a strategy there is obviously no implementation, and the organization begins to react to situations created by others (crisis management).

This inability to read the market, identify market forces, create strategies and adapt to changing conditions will eliminate those organizations from the market. Creating strategy is not easy, and creating successful strategies is even more difficult. It requires excellent leadership and management decisions.

What are the known problems in your organization and industry?

What strategies are waiting to be created and implemented in order to prepare your business for the future?

Why isn’t it happening now?





Leadership is NOT about watching the competition

21 07 2006

Who is the leader in your industry and why? 

Is their leadership position related to: cost structure and distribution, creativity and innovation (research and development of new ideas and products), image and marketing (selling better), leadership and vision (creating the future and successful strategies)? 

At Slow Leadership, there is an excellent piece entitled “Slow Down and Play to your Strengths” which puts the idea of leadership and monitoring the competition into perspective.  It asks the question, do you have the courage, focus, patience, and thoughtfulness to manage and grow your organization on your terms? 

At first glance it appears very safe to follow, copy and react to the competition.  But what if the competition is watching and reacting to you?   This can only lead to a slow spiral of mediocrity and eventual stagnation and death of the participants. 

  • What are you creating and selling?  Why?
  • What strategies are you evaluating?
  • What risks are you willing to take to reach your objectives?

This concept also can be applied to your role and position at your company.

Who are you watching and copying or reacting too?

What strategies can you embrace or create, to become a leader and innovator inside your department or organization?

Related Links

Slow Leadership (Link)

Business Strategy, has it become a commodity? (Link)





9 steps to better decisions

21 07 2006

Trying to pin the blame for a bad decision on an individual or group is fairly common corporate activity.  We believe that errors are not to be tolerated, and that anyone who commits an error should be identified and punished.  Too often this search limits and inhibits people from speaking up and making good, creative and bold choices in their organizations.  The fear of failure prevents action. 

We have to “blame” the process more and the people less. 

But who doesn’t make bad choices, mistakes, and accidents due to omission or over confidence? 

It’s part of life and learning.  The more I learn about chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, the more difficult it is to identify an individual who can be singled out as the responsible party for a “decision gone wrong”.  The trial and error decision-making process is still prevalent in the natural world, and will continue to be part of the corporate world.

What would happen in your organization if you stop seeking someone to blame, and focus on the decision-making process itself and the evaluation of results, independent of individuals? 

Where there is a failure, first take a look at the following list, answer the questions to determine if the decision-making system was at fault, or if it was an individual failure within the process. 

Run de-briefings and analysis of outcomes, good and bad, and find elements that were responsible.  Let your people know that mistakes can happen, and can be tolerated, but that a systemic process should be used in order to eliminate or reduce errors. 

9 steps to better decisions 

  1. What are our objectives and expected outcomes?
  2. What information should we accumulate in order to make a decision?
  3. What information is not important for this decision?
  4. Who is evaluating and processing the information?
  5. What criteria are being used to evaluate and process the information?
  6. What are the possible scenarios based upon the present information?
  7. What is the most likely scenario or best decision for the company at this time?
  8. Who are the decision-makers for this issue and why?
  9. What elements are critical and essential for success?

Shift your focus from the person to the process itself, what is or was missing?  Why? 

Related Links

More access to information – more mistakes

How to set up a beginner’s “Business Intelligence” system 





Serendipity as part of business development

19 07 2006

There is something missing from most business development project evaluations, serendipity.

Defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”.

Seth Godin has outlined why companies fear business development (Link). It’s hard to justify the expense and risk on new ventures and projects. The control aspect asserted by legal and financial people reflects one reality inside the company, but don’t forget the other side reflected by the sales, marketing and business development people.

If it’s a good to great idea, and the cost is low, and the chance of success is moderate to good, and the possibility of adding knowledge to the organization is part of the project, then go ahead and try.

Can your organization consider and discuss “serendipity” as a factor in your next business development meeting?

Related Links

Seth Godin: Careful consideration and analysis





Ideas from the “World’s Best Companies”

19 07 2006

I was reading the April 2006 issue of Business 2.0, entitled “Best Kept Secrets of the World’s Best Companies”. What struck me was that the companies profiled are jumbo, mega-corporations (immediately causing a frown and the question “why aren’t there any small or medium sized companies?”.

I doubt that these are the company’s best kept secrets, but the ideas are interesting if you remember they were designed for and implemented in large organizations (which we seem to associate with success).

The ideas presented were:

  1. Benchmarking – compare everything to the competition
  2. Lending library – have materials available that can provoke creativity
  3. Devil’s advocacy- promote debate
  4. Physically put the boss in the day to day operations
  5. Look for bad news and talk about it
  6. Use external consultants to promote ideas and research
  7. Creative equity arrangements for start-ups, new projects
  8. Everyone is the HR department
  9. Review and question strategy
  10. Peers chose their leaders
  11. Creative economic solution to avoid theft and loss
  12. Executive pay determined by results and collaboration
  13. Prediction markets
  14. Graffiti, promote communication outside “normal” channels
  15. Use greed to motivate, sell and inspire
  16. Maintain work related contact with retirees
  17. Crowdsourcing and open-source advertising
  18. Use employees to watch trends and monitor the market
  19. Hire someone to watch shareholder interests, not the CEO
  20. 3 minute daily morning meeting
  21. Get board members out regularly with customers and front-line workers
  22. Get executives out with customers and product/service users
  23. Pay your people if they save you money
  24. Take the “hard sell” out of your sales force
  25. Become a customer of your own company

First thought: Is it practical or necessary for small and medium sized companies to embrace and implement these ideas and strategies (In a large organization there are large problems, in a small organization there are small ones)?

Second thought: Given the multi-tasking of all employees and executives in small and medium sized organizations, is it realistic to expect results that echo the large corporations if these ideas are implemented on a smaller level? If you believe that a large organization will be populated by specialists and in small organizations generalists are predominant, are the ideas presented applicable to both environments (What’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander)?

Third thought: How much of the success attributed to the ideas and strategies are because employees feel part of a large important project that has purpose (Everyone smiles during the parade)? How much of the positive response is because workers feel that leadership is aware and concerned about them and their problems (I am important, my contribution is important and they know it)?

How many of the 25 ideas are related to communication, strategy, customer feedback, cost savings, knowledge of the industry, knowledge of the customer, agility and flexibility….aren’t all these factors inherent in a small business? In fact, without competence in these areas the small business fails quickly.

Perhaps a great idea, number 26, for big corporations would be to take a look at the core competencies required by successful small business owners, and insure that these specialties and areas of expertise are well represented and disseminated throughout their large organization.

Related Links

Crowdsourcing, a potential resource for your business





Business Strategy, has it become a commodity?

18 07 2006

Here’s something I’ve written about earlier, but worth thinking about often.

Umair Haque has written Laws of the Post-Network Economy: Strategy is a Commodity in the BubbleGeneration blog.

His basic idea is that organizations are all creating and implementing strategy, it no longer provides clear differentiation from other companies as it did in the past. Strategy has become part of a “standard operating procedure”, it is a commodity process found in every business.

The playing field has been levelled.

Strategy is necessary, but no longer the important tool of change and value creation it was 20 years ago.

He suggests that the next value creation “tool” that organizations are and will be using is that of creativity.

“I think it is going to have to do with creativity. In a world where strategy is a commodity, creativity becomes the vital factor from which value flows. When everyone can think strategically about everything, the locus of value creation shifts from out-thinking everyone to out-creating them. The prime mover of value creation becomes putting the ability to create (goods, services, processes – even strategies) at the heart and soul of the firm.” (Link)

I’m a big believer that the best business ideas are those that no one else is currently using (Link). Once your business tools, human resources, sales and marketing and finance departments are all doing it like everyone else, it’s not going to be great, it’s not going to be exciting, it’s not going to create a profitable future.

What could happen to your organization and your industry if creativity is viewed and promoted as the most important business tool you have NOW, to create and prepare for the future?

On the other hand, what if Umair is wrong, and strategy is not a commodity?

What will occur if the future requires that we constantly “out-think” the competition?

Related Links

Strategy Redux – The Execution Economy

There are no new management and leadership ideas





What are you doing to eliminate uncertainty at your workplace?

17 07 2006

The last week in Mexico has been filled with political, economic and social uncertainty due to the recent Presidential elections and failure to declare a clear victor. As the political parties are working overtime to sell their version of the truth, the rest of Mexico is trying to function “normally”. The uncertainty is affecting the way people live and work, and work/life decisions they are making or avoiding.

It makes perfect sense that uncertainty in our lives and business environment will cause; increased stress, conflicts, delayed decisions, anxiety, and wasted time. Decision-making will be altered, and priorities shifted until “stability” is achieved or perceived.

A leader will intervene at this critical time, to provide a plan or make the required decisions to limit or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty.

Failure to address these issues on time will insure that your leadership status will be diminished, work flow reduced, conflicts created and efficiency and effectiveness lowered.
Start a list, identify the areas of uncertainty that affect you, your department, your company, your industry. Ask your people what factors of uncertainty they can identify as important.

What can be done to reduce, control or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty you have identified?

Can you create scenarios, can you change important factors and outcomes, can you actively seek new ideas and solutions?

Your people expect you, as the leader, to identify and create strategies, to eliminate or minimize doubt and uncertainty….are you doing your job?

Related Links

The business leadership crisis, are you part of the problem? (Link)





The business leadership crisis, are you part of the problem?

6 07 2006

Rosa Say has given us some food for thought in a piece entitled Where’s the Boss at Lifehack.org. She identifies significant problems with executives today…..the inability to implement empowerment in the organization and the lack of executive involvement in the day-to-day operations. True leadership has disappeared from many organizations

A leader must understand what is happening at the day-to-day operations level if they wish to understand the business. The real action happens (or doesn’t happen) at this level, and not in the corporate boardroom.

The bosses job consists of two major activities: facilitating the work and efficiency of workers and creating strategies, goals and objective for the future. You can’t supervise efficiently, intervene or lead unless your people believe in you and your understanding of their jobs.

When was the last time you rolled up your sleeves and spent a full day at the operations level, listening, asking questions and observing?

Do you know what your people do and what is preventing them from doing it better?

Shouldn’t this be part of your daily routine?

Related Posts

Managing with Aloha (Link)

Corporate leaders and management still aren’t listening (Link)





More access to information – more mistakes

5 07 2006

We have easy access to mountains of business information, we have computers, data bases, statistics, websites, blogs and 24 hour a day news channels.

Has this made our life and decision-making easier and more accurate? No. According to management-issues in an article entitled Paying the Price for Flawed Data (Link), we are making serious mistakes based on inaccurate or inappropriate data.

A quote from the article:

“A survey of workers in the U.S., Great Britain, France, and Germany carried out for business intelligence solutions provider, Business Objects, claims that the widespread use of faulty business data is a dirty little secret in today’s business world but is going largely unnoticed by businesses.

It found that almost three-quarters of information workers admitted to having made business decisions that later turned out to be wrong due to incorrect, incomplete, or contradictory business data or information.

Compounding this, only about one in 10 information workers said they always have all the information they need to confidently make business decisions.” (Link)

It’s not about collecting mountains of information, it’s about questioning what we wish to know, and then selecting and collecting the information that will help us find the answers.

What do you want to know?

Where can you get the correct information?

How do you know you have the correct data?

Related Links:

How much time do you spend with statistics (Link)

How to set up a beginner’s business intelligence system (Link)

Was Peter Drucker right? Is it all about attitude? (Link)





Another factor to consider before a meeting is called

3 07 2006

An interesting idea to assist in evaluating the cost/benefit of having a meeting can be found at the Signal vs. Noise weblog.

There’s no such thing as the one-hour meeting (Link)

There is no such thing as a one hour meeting, unless you are alone for that hour (and then it’s not a meeting…is it?).  The moment there are 2,4, 6 people assembled, that hour is multiplied by the number of attendees…..making it a substantial investment in terms of total “participant-hours”.

What you have to ask yourself before calling a meeting is….will it be beneficial to assemble all these people? How can we maximize results and minimize wasted time while we are together?  Is the total time dedicated to this issue worth it?

Related Links

Effective Business Meetings (Link)

Leaders, weekly meetings, responsibility (Link)

Create a Debate (Link)





Downsizing can seriously disrupt your company’s networks

27 06 2006

An article in ManagingTechnology@Wharton from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has an excellent piece related to your employees and their value in the company in terms of their networks and networking abilities.

Mapping out the communication networks and social networks may be a very valuable tool for your organization. Yet another factor to consider before downsizing or when evaluating the contributions of the people in your organization.

Sometimes it’s not what you know….but who you know that makes you valuable.

Connecting the Corporate Dots: Social Networks Reveal How Employees and Companies Operate

Some quotes from the article:

“Hopefully, you have organized your company the best way to get the job done,” she says. “But mapping out a network will give you a sense of whether actual work flow and communication flow match what you hope to achieve. Maybe there are bottlenecks where one person is managing all interactions. If you expect two groups to work together closely, and you don’t see them doing this, you might want to create liaison roles or other relationships to make information flow better. On the other hand, you may see groups talking to each other too much. When managers see network diagrams, they often realize they need to reconfigure their organizational chart.”

“Network maps may also unearth what are known as “cosmopolitans” — the employees who are most critical to information flow in the company. “The formal organizational structure [in companies] does not necessarily describe who talks to whom,” says Valery Yakubovich, a University of Chicago professor “

“Often you find that people you might not even think of as very valuable turn out to be important links in the structure of the organization.”

“If a firm is contemplating downsizing, for example, it had better be prepared for serious disruption in the workplace if it lets such important people go. Indeed, maps of social networks often show that the people with the most impressive titles are not as vital to an organization as their position would indicate.”

ManagingTechnology@Wharton, Connecting the Corporate Dots: Social Networks Reveal How Employees and Companies Operate (Article)





Create a debate – find out who really wants the project to work

26 06 2006

I’ve always been the “Devil’s Advocate”, and a contrary voice throughout my career/life. Not because I’m a negative person, but to question and create a discussion about a project or idea. Too often ideas are not questioned due to “group think”, peer pressure or fear, resulting in projects and plans that have not been embraced by the members, and will slowly fizzle away and fail.

Who really wants the idea to work? Without a bit of an argument or debate, I find it difficult to determine who is committed to the idea, and ultimately this is what matters. Commitment by group members does not insure success, but it facilitates communication and guarantees that everyone is shooting at the same target.
This is why I loved Cuculuains blog entry “Don’t fear the Devil’s Advocate” at Businesspundit

I believe his observations are important in that they ask you to create an attitude and environment in your company that actively seeks to promote debate and question the merits of an idea WITHOUT fear of losing their job or offending members of the group. Create the position of Devil’s Advocate at each meeting or presentation, and let the company know you are creating an environment that promotes and can reward ideas and debate.

The idea of implementing constructive criticism and encouraging your people to play the “devil’s advocate”can only result in more communication, better project presentations and more unity in final decision-making.

Related Entries:

Invite a Challenge from 2 Weeks 2 a Breakthrough

Weird Ideas that Work

Does your company like new ideas?