Broken promises

28 06 2007

“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

It’s too easy to make a promise.

We promise the customer that the product will work, solve their problem, and maybe change their lives.

We promise our coworkers that our part of the work will be delivered on time.

We promise our business partners and suppliers that we they can count on us.

We promise to follow up after the initial sales call, that we will always be there with customer service.

We promise that our priority is the customer and the customers satisfaction.

We promise to hit the sales goals and meet the budget.

All our promises are all full of good intentions, it’s what people want to hear, it’s what we want to deliver.

But, can we guarantee that we will deliver?

Never take a solemn oath.  People think you mean it.  Norman Douglas

The best way to ruin your reputation and lower your ability to lead and manage others is to promise something and not deliver.

We make a promise because it gives others confidence, it seems to make negotiations easier and it reflects our hope that all will go as planned.

“All promise outruns performance.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

A common error of new managers and leaders is the perceived need to make promises to their organization and team.

Don’t promise it.

Promises are very powerful compromises, but extremely fragile and difficult to achieve.  Take care when offering them to others.  

In the place of promises, offer firm plans, describe actions and possible outcome, dedicate the time and resources required.

Do more than you say you will.

Perform, don’t promise.

“It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality.”  Harold Geneen





Is your company noble, moral, virtuous or ethical

15 03 2007

The terms noble, virtuous, ethical or moral seem out of date.

In fact they seem to be words right out of a fairy tale.   Words and  concepts that have faded away with the modern world and it’s complexity.

Perhaps it’s not cool to be labeled as virtuous, moral or ethical.

Is it because we live in a complicated world that has us making more decisions about the “gray areas”?

We don’t read about organizations being ethical or noble.   In fact we hear about unethical companies and employees much more often.

Business magazines doesn’t write front page articles about virtuous executives and CEO’s (I hope this is because it’s not popular and not because there aren’t any).

Are there any reasons to promote and reinforce these values in your organization?

Are there good reasons to avoid discussion of them?

Perhaps the fact that unethical behaviour is reported, and considered scandalous, is a clear signal that it is outside of “normal” business conditions and draws attention.

Let’s begin with definitions, that should clear up some of the confusion.

Moral – Conforming to a standard of what is right and wrong, correct, trustworthy.  How could anyone want to work with others who don’t know right from wrong and behave?

Ethical – Principles of conduct governing an individual or group, a set of moral values, a guiding philosophy, decent, respectable.   OK, this one sounds like it should be part of the package too.

Noble – Moral eminence and freedom from anything mean, petty or dubious in conduct and character.  In simple terms doing the “right thing” all the time, excellence.  If it looks bad, don’t do it…pretty good advice and words to live by.

Virtuous – Implies moral excellence in character.   Not only knows good from bad, and adheres to it, but is exemplary in their behaviour and practice of their beliefs, honest, good, without reproach.  I can’t find any customer, shareholder or employee who wouldn’t want their company to be virtuous.

Which of the terms can your company live without in their employees?

Are any of these characteristics that should be found and promoted in your management and leadership?

Which of these concepts and behaviours are important to you, your customers and your organization now and in the future?

Do you have a written policy in place to promote, identify, and create noble employees and a virtuous organization?

Do you point out and recognize when a person or organization has done something noble, virtuous or ethical?

Related Links

Corruption, bribes, mordidas and tips – Doing business in Mexico 

Where do you draw the line 

The future of our entry level workforce – gloomy





The dangers of success

13 03 2007

Today a Google search for the word “success” turned up 321 million websites.

“Failure” got 218 million sites.

We all want to be successful. Leaders are expected to be successful.

We’ve been trained, rewarded, pushed and prodded to become successful. School, work, games and personal life, we are always focused upon success.

It is probably genetic in nature. Competition to survive demands success, and therefore the desire to succeed is an inherent quality in human beings.

Success brings recognition, wealth, favor and fame to the individual or group. All are benefits and rewards of being successful. We like the rewards and benefits….we really do.

Business loves success. In fact, business is not very tolerant of failures, especially leadership failures. To be a leader in a business environment means that you must be successful and get your objectives accomplished.

We strive for success, we really want it to happen, we plan for it, we train, we learn new things, we even modify and manipulate external factors to assure the outcome we desire. Despite all our planning, spending and preparations we are not always successful. No one is successful all the time.

We often forget that past success is not a guarantee for continued success, and that failure is always a learning experience, not always a bad outcome.

The illusion that we must always be successful, and the glory and attention that success brings is not always a good thing.

“Pray that success will not come any faster than you are able to endure it” Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe

Success, and particularly continued success, can lead an individual or organization into the following behaviours and attitudes.

  • Cult of Personality / Fame. The focus is on the personality and not on the present or future work outcomes. It becomes more about who is doing it and less about what to do.
  • Fear. Avoiding or agonizing about doing something different, new or original, “ we were great doing this…let’s keep on doing it”.
  • Can’t let go. Inability to let go of a success and move on to the next challenge. Unwillingness to say “that project and party is over…what’s next”.
  • Over Confidence. Invincible attitude leads to strategies, theories and attitudes that may provoke attacks on enemies or punish those in a weakened position.
  • Loss of control. Inability to gauge or control excess or weakness. Losing touch with the reality of the situation.
  • Yes Men. Lack of honesty from the people around you, no real challenges to ideas, methods and objectives.
  • Hangers on. Distractions and undesirables begin to fill the agenda and schedules.
  • Closing Networks. Cutting ties with old networks and individuals to move “up” in status.
  • Depression. When the happiness or emotion of succeeding does not reach previous levels of emotional highs or didn’t meet the expectations.
  • Risk. Anxiety about repeating the success may drive one to take larger risks, or to eliminate risks.

So go on seeking success, it’s the right thing to do.

Don’t take the failures too hard, learn from them, pick them apart and understand exactly why failure occurred.

Celebrate when you do succeed, take your 5 minutes in the limelight. Then put your feet back firmly on the ground and get back to work.

“Try not to become a man of success but rather become a man of value” Albert Einstein.

Related Links

Why do we fail

Leadership lesson – A Message to Garcia





Using positive reinforcement to win customer loyalty

22 02 2007

We respond positively to positive feedback, recognition, and reinforcement of our behaviour and activities at work or home.

We get angry or lose interest in an activity, goal or organization if we don’t receive this “pat on the head” or “cheer-leading” on a continual basis.

Our customers also need reinforcement and recognition in order to maintain their motivation and good feelings toward your company or products.

What are you doing to make sure they get it?

Does the customer feel like you are just “going through the motions”?

Does it feel real?

Are you really showing that you care?

What sets you apart from your competitors AFTER the sale?

Related Links

27 Great Leadership and Management Ideas

The power of something extra

What defines an exceptional leader





Starting over

9 01 2007

Ever get involved in a project that requires modifications, and then those modifications led to more modifications and more and more?

Before you know it, the project has lost sight of it’s objectives, and the team is working on solving problems unrelated to the original goals.

I’m reminded of Rube Goldberg and his famous machines. We don’t intentionally try to complicate our work, but if we step back and look at the objectives, and the current processes and procedure in order to reach those objectives, we can often find distortions and diversions of comical proportions.

There are two simple actions that will eliminate and control our spiral into complexity and error.

  1. Step back and look at the problem, objectives and current procedures on a regular basis. What is working, what isn’t working, and why? What are you doing to modify or adjust the solution procedure or process instead of moving closer to a solution?
  2. When you discover that something is not working, and have analyzed why, don’t be afraid to START OVER. Throw out the current plan, and begin again.

We tend to avoid re-doing and restarting a project or activity because we want to salvage the time, money and effort that has been invested.

This inability to “do over” and start from scratch often prevents us from implementing better and more efficient solutions.

Our initial attempts to solve the problem have educated us about the requirements and environment. There is nothing wrong with starting over, in fact it may be the best and most efficient way to solve the problem.

Related Links

12 reasons why we ask for business help

Analyze and plan using 7 simple questions

How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

9 steps to better decisions

Rube Goldberg Website





Analyze and Plan using 7 simple questions

3 10 2006

Who – What – When – Where – Why – How – How much

Project management, organizing a team, writing a business plan, creating strategies, planning meetings, running day to day operations, general analysis and problem solving can be facilitated and improved by using a simple application of 7 basic questions.

The application of the standard reporters’ questions of who, what, when, where, how and how much to a specific situation will help organize the process of analysis and planning.

In order for this system to work, all the questions and answers should be written down. You’ll be building a visual map while defining the objectives, tools, resources, bottlenecks, time limits and chronologies of the problem. It will become clear what the real goals are, what is required, what is missing, who should be involved and when the tasks should be accomplished.

Who – Who is or will be affected by the decision or process? Who are the participants? Who will be involved or affected in some way by the project?

What – What are the objectives and desired results? What is the problem or challenge? What are the options available? What tools are required?

When – When is this supposed to happen? Define the deadlines, time limits and chronologies.

Where – Where is it going to happen? The physical place or space should be defined and examined.

Why – Why are we doing this? Why are we doing it this way or by this procedure? Why is it occurring?

How – How are we going to do it? The mechanisms, requirements, and processes needed in order to achieve the goal.

How much – How much is it going to cost?

Example – You are asked to give a speech on the sales results in Mexico for the last quarter for the upcoming Board of Directors meeting on January 10.

Who – The audience is the Board of Directors. The sales department, marketing, logistics and finance departments have the numbers and explanations of the results. Who is responsible for the agenda, audiovisual set up, room reservations? Are any other members of the company required to attend the presentation? You are the project leader and responsible party for the presentation.

What – The presentation is directed at the Board of Directors, they want to hear about results, expectations and strategies of the sales in Mexico. What questions will they ask, what aspects of the business will be of interest or concern? What information is important?

When – The meeting is January 10. You’ll need all the pertinent sales information by what date? It has be polished into a concise presentation by what date?

Where – The meeting will be held where? How big is the room, what equipment will be required for the presentation.

Why – Why do they want to review this information, is there a problem, is it routine? Why me?

How – Will you give a visual media presentation along with documents? What graphics will you show? Will you be the only speaker? Will the presentation style be serious, upbeat, creative or different from other presentations?

How much – Do you have a budget for the presentation and required materials? Do you have to fly in the Mexican sales representative to be present at the meeting? Do you have to rent equipment, hire caterers or provide refreshments or coffee service?

Related Links

How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

9 steps to better decisions





Leadership, do you want the job or just the title and benefits?

2 10 2006

Everyone wants to be in charge. Being the leader seems to be a universal goal of most people working today.

Do you really want the job, or just the title and benefits?

A leadership position requires the use of many abilities and skills which most of us do not have, or do not have fully developed. It requires sacrifice and discipline. A leaders life is filled with decisions that are not black and white.

It’s all about people, motivating, directing, and evaluating, listening and learning with them.

A leader is often lonely, but never alone. Highly criticized and analyzed by their own team and by outsiders. Must be flexible and adaptable, and at the same time firm and unwilling to compromise.

Are you ready for the job?

Guide vs. Signpost. Do you enjoying pointing people in the right direction, telling them where to go? This is not leadership. A signpost points the way, offers no resources or plan and no strategies on how to get there.

Leading others is far different from pointing the way. Leaders take responsibility for everything that happens during the journey, they prepare strategic and contingency plans, provide resources, and keep their people motivated and on the right road.

Teaching vs. Criticism. Able to see the flaws in others, their work and their results? The ability to find flaws is important only if you use these opportunities to teach others how to prevent or improve their performance or results. Pointing out flaws and errors for any other reason is not part of the leadership function.

Coaching vs. supervision. Telling others exactly what to do, and how to do it, is part of a supervisory role, not a leadership position. Leaders are coaches, they convince others to create and embrace goals and objectives, and to use approved systems and methods in order to achieve them.

Fair compensation vs. jackpot rewards. Do you think leaders and managers make a lot of money for doing nothing? Leadership demands personal responsibility and acceptance of risk. No one gets into a leadership position without sacrifice of some sort. These qualities are paid for and compensated with higher salaries and often perks and privileges different from the other members of the organization. It is compensation well earned, and the entire organization should understand this. It should never be looked upon as a jackpot, or undeserved compensation. If the organization does not view it this way, it’s time to modify the compensation packages or get a leader in place that leads and earns the respect and support of the others organization members.

Related Links

Leadership – who do you want to lead

What defines an exceptional leader

Leadership by default





Leadership – who do you want to lead?

27 09 2006

One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you. ~Dennis A. Peer

The semi-mystical mix of qualities, attitudes and behaviours that make or define a leader will provide plenty of material for business writers for years to come. The focus is often on what makes the person a leader or what actions define a leader.

How about looking at the situation from another point of view.

What kind of followers or team do you want to lead?

Are you seeking a group that can be easily manipulated and accept your commands without questioning your authority?

Do you want to lead a team of highly independent people who might question the goals and direction of the group at any time?

Do your followers believe you are the smartest, toughest or most courageous in the group?

What kind of people, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours would your “ideal” followers have, and why?

Determining the qualities of the group you desire to lead, can provide insights into your leadership style and goals. It will give some definition of what leadership qualities you expect to project to others, and what qualities or responses you expect to see reflected in your team, and their behaviours.

Not many of us will be leaders; and even those who are leaders must also be followers much of the time. This is the crucial role. Followers judge leaders. Only if the leaders pass that test do they have any impact. The potential followers, if their judgment is poor, have judged themselves. If the leader takes his or her followers to the goal, to great achievements, it is because the followers were capable of that kind of response.” –Garry Wills in Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership

Related Links

What Defines an Exceptional Leader

Leadership by default

There are no new management and leadership ideas





Successful managers should be breaking the rules

14 09 2006

Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something. Thomas A. Edison

I’ve found the most successful and exciting environments to work, study or play in are those with “no rules”. Environments that are open and flexible and not strictly controlled with things you can’t do. It’s exciting to be in these situations, inspiring, sometimes a bit scary, but always memorable.

Rosa Say has a brilliant read for all managers about how the use (or abuse) of rules often limits our creativity and enthusiasm. What are the Rules? Hopefully, none.

  • “No rules” requires clear objectives and goals.
  • “No rules” requires planning.
  • “No rules” requires discipline and commitment.
  • “No rules” demands responsibility for actions and outcomes.
  • “No rules” is about inventing process. Creating and forming the process required, or desired, in order to get the job done and reach the objective.
  • “No rules” is about allowing creativity and innovation into every decision that brings us closer to our objectives.
  • “No rules” is about questioning the status quo in order to explore new and different solutions and methods.
  • “No rules” is about accepting and integrating new ideas.
  • “No rules” is about tolerance and examination of new concepts.
  • “No rules” is about getting excited and energized by every life or work experience.

If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results. George S. Patton

It is good to obey all the rules when you’re young, so you’ll have the strength to break them when you’re old. Mark Twain

Related Links

What are the rules? Hopefully, none.

5 ways to promote creative thinking and idea generation

Is your boss a prison warden or party host?





Fundamental leadership quality – the ability to learn

11 09 2006

“Highly effective, remarkable leaders must be continuous, lifelong learners.”  Kevin Eikenberry

An important skill or ability that is often neglected when we list the qualities of a leader is the ability to learn.  Leaders must have the ability to learn. The reasons for this are detailed at Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching,  Why Learning is a Leaders’s Most Important Skill.

The 4 fundamental ideas presented include:

  • Leadership is complex, requiring multiple skills and specific knowledge.
  • The current situation does not require leadership, it’s stable.  In order to move away from the present and lead into the future, you have to know where and how.
  • A leader passes on their knowledge and insight to others.
  • The more you learn, the more effective you become as a human being and member of society.

Related Links

What Defines an Exceptional Leader 

There are no new management or leadership ideas
Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching

The Kevin Eikenberry Group





Showtime – how do you want to live your life?

8 09 2006

I’ve had limited experience in show business. The highlights of my entertainment career include the magic show I produced and starred in at age 8, various band performances, and a walk-on supporting role as a wise man in a Nativity play. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, my biggest show business role. I was involved in retail sales.

Retail sales can be a limiting and brutal environment, physically and emotionally. But it is one of the best environments for learning and practicing how to perform with and for others.

Retail sales is all about people, it is not about merchandise. Listening to what people want and helping them find it. You are performing all day, and when you realize this, it can be an exhilarating and fun experience. You can prepare, rehearse and modify your performances daily.

What am I talking about? Performing? Exactly. If you assume the role of an enthusiastic, informed and helpful person you can give something to each person you encounter during the day. You will feel great about yourself and the client or co-worker walks away with an unexpected gift of meeting and connecting with a positive human experience.

I was involved in the fresh flower industry. Olga and I opened a “bucket-shop”, which at the time was an innovation, and dedicated ourselves to making every customers experience distinct and important.

No one buys flowers because they have to. They are sought when one wishes to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, birth of child, graduation, religious holiday, or wedding. They might be using the flowers to recognize an illness or death, as a thank you, to recognize a special person, to say I love you or I’m sorry, or as a emotional pick me up.

Flowers are objects that represent an emotion. Customers were not buying flowers. They were seeking a symbol of their feelings or the feelings they wished to transmit. Isn’t that true about most consumer items?

Understanding this, how can you NOT be enthusiastic about coming to work and giving your best performance?

During the time clients were in our environment, we were part of their search to represent their emotions, our advice was of great importance in order to find the right symbol, the perfect flowers. It was much more than a commodity transaction.

It’s important to recognize that false enthusiasm isn’t going to work. You have to believe in yourself, your abilities and knowledge. You have to believe that you are going on-stage everyday, and that your “performance” has to be genuine. You have to listen to the people around you, and determine what they are really seeking, and help them get it.

People used to stop in and visit us to get a shot of enthusiasm and positive attitude. There was always a smile, a greeting. The environment was light, fun, open, accepting. It was an amazing experience for us and for the clients. We gave a positive attitude, and customers gave us back more positive attitude.

All it took was our dedication to providing the best “performance” we could manage, everyday, no matter who was in the audience.

It’s “showtime” in your life every morning (remember Rob Schneider’s performance in “All that Jazz”?). It’s your decision to assume the role you are going to play. Will it be the angry, grumpy, distracted, negative you? Will it be the upbeat, enthusiastic, focused you?

It’s “showtime” right now.

It’s always “showtime”.

Related Links

Change your life – change your attitude

Passion – Enthusiasm – Common Sense?

Motivation, what gets you out of bed?





What defines an exceptional leader

6 09 2006

Leadership is a theme that has and will continue to fascinate business people due to its imprecise, changing, ephemeral and elusive definition.

We all know it when we see it, but how do we incorporate leadership traits into our character and daily actions?

Exceptional Leaders must:
Create – A leader will create or promote an idea, a concept, or an ideology. They will concentrate and focus the group’s attention on goals and objectives. They provide a strategy and plan on how to achieve the goals.

Provide Resources – Leaders will provide the resources required to get the job done. These might be physical items (tools and equipment, technical and administrative assistance) or psychological resources (education and understanding, motivation, clear plans and objectives).

Sustain and Assist Growth – Leaders will modify and adapt to changing circumstances and environments. They will be attentive to the needs, opportunities and challenges that face their people and move quickly to support them.

Provide Closure – Leaders know when to end the campaign. They know when and how to gracefully finish and walk away from victories and lost causes, while maintaining the loyalty and motivation of their people.

Give it away
Steve Farber provided a thought provoking piece on a characteristic of leaders and leadership Greater than Yourself which puts forth the concept that great leaders are selfless and strive for nothing more than to make others greater than themselves.

He addresses the idea that a truly great leader gives away the information, contacts and resources that helped them into the leadership position. This in turn creates a new generation who build on this knowledge and experience. Through this mentoring they become greater leaders than their teachers.

In order for this to succeed the leader must be aware that they are creating and sharing in a goal well beyond selfishness and ego enhancement. They have to be willing to give without expecting anything in return (belief in a greater good) and to be supremely confident in their actions and the people around them. Steve calls this type of leader a “creator of masters”.





Long hours at work can kill you

30 08 2006

Long hours at work can lead to hypertension and death. A study of over 24,000 workers in California by reseachers at the University of California has found that working over 40 hours a week has a direct relationship to higher blood pression and hypertension. Link

The Pope announced that too much work can lead to “hardness of the heart”. He advises that more time should be spent on reflection, meditation, contemplation. Link

What’s the real message here?

Become more efficient. Get the same work done in less time.

Think and plan your work, work SMARTER not HARDER.

Slowing down does not mean being lazy. It requires planning and discipline, and these take time.

Take more time to enjoy life and family, adjust your priorities.

If you are in a leadership position, find out why your people are working consistent overtime, and intervene. You could be saving their lives and improving their health.

Related Links

Pope says don’t work too hard

Long hours lead to high blood pressure

High blood pressure statistics





How to negotiate with Mexican business people

25 08 2006

Mexico has a culture that embraces and enjoys negotiations. From the schoolyard to the local markets to the executive boardrooms, negotiations are an important part of everyday life for Mexican citizens.

Mexican business people are good negotiators and enjoy the process.

You can expect tough negotiations if you are doing business in Mexico. Tough negotiations in the sense that they will question everything, and spend a great deal of time trying to get you to accept their point of view or conditions. The arguments may be based on emotions or facts, or both.

You should always come into the negotiation very well prepared. Know what you want, and have the evidence to support your claim. Your arguments, supported by facts, will be heard and processed by your Mexican counterparts. If facts are presented that are new, take the time to verify the information and sources before you reach a conclusion.

Negotiations in Mexico can be compared to the first round of a sporting event, both sides desire to “win”, but rarely do they burst onto the field with all their energy in the first 5 minutes. The process of “feeling out” the opponent, observing their strengths and weaknesses, are critical to understanding how to develop a winning strategy and understanding what you are up against.

Mexicans are often seeking a long term, stable relationship with suppliers and clients. Focus your negotiations and decisions on creating a long term business relationship and strategy with your Mexican counterpart.

Your ability to negotiate will be a reflection of your company, your character, and your abilities as a business person. Take your time, don’t get emotional, support your arguments with facts, and be consistent with your demands or desires over time. The negotiation process is helping to build trust and credibility, it’s important to build solid foundations for your future relationship.

Don’t be in a hurry to end the negotiations. The Mexican culture is more permissive about time and deadlines than you find in USA or Europe. If you are in a rush, you will lose important negotiating power.

Always start your negotiation with some margin and leeway. It will always to be to your advantage to “give” a little before the negotiations are over. It may take 4 hours for you to “give in”, but the gesture will be seen as your willingness to do business and enough for the negotiator to claim a little victory. Everyone wins.

Write down your final agreement, and the results of your negotiations and have both sides sign and retain a copy. This simple step will avoid any language, communication or interpretation problems that may develop in the future.

Related Links

Meeting People in Mexico – kiss, shake hands or hug

Before you go on a business trip to Mexico

How to do business in Mexico, parts 1 – 28

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz





10 Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

24 08 2006

To complement my list of 10 things you should do on a Friday afternoon (Link), here are some of the activities that should be avoided on Friday afternoons.

Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

  1. Initiate a major project
  2. Schedule any type of meeting or seminar with customers or employees
  3. Give an employee review
  4. Make important strategic business decisions
  5. Ask people to work extra hours
  6. Give bad news to the office, your team or co-workers
  7. Raise your rates or product prices
  8. Obsess about or relive any failures that occurred during the week
  9. Go out for a 3 martini lunch and come back to the office complaining
  10. Give the boss an ultimatum or try and force a decision

Related Link

10 things you should do on Friday afternoon





How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

24 08 2006

The ability to analyze and make decisions is one of the most important qualities of anyone in a leadership and management position.

How to systematically analyze any situation

  • What does the information I have really mean or reflect?
  • What are the questions I should be asking in order to increase my understanding of the situation?
  • Who are the people who have the information and answers to my questions?
  • Ask the questions and accumulate the required information.
  • What are the fears, expectations, limits and points of view of the involved parties?
  • What have I learned, and what am I going to do about it?

Example: Imagine that your salesforce reports that customers are demanding delivery of your products to their store two times a day, at 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, instead of the current delivery schedule of 3 times a week. What do you do?

Begin the analysis.

What does this mean? The customers needs or desires have changed. Our salesforce has detected a change in the marketplace.

What questions do I need to ask to understand this? Why is the customer requesting the change? Who requested the change, is it driven by costs, lack of inventory space, new management, competitors? What do our people think about this? What customers are requesting the change?

Who are the people with the information and answers to my questions? Your sales-force and logistics department. The CEO, purchasing managers and warehouse managers of our customers. Who is going to contact them and get more exact information about the situation?

Expectations and points of view of those involved? The sales-force knows that without this change they will lose customers and market share. The customer’s executives and purchasing managers have found an method to reduce inventory and stocking costs with your competitor. The warehouse managers are losing personnel and control and are unhappy. There are significant costs associated with implementing and operating the program. Your competitors are aggressively investing in order to take away your market share.

What have I learned and what am I going to do about it? You discover that a competitor is providing deliveries twice a day, and stocking the customers shelves, reducing costs for the customer. They have made significant investments in trucks and personnel in order to provide this service. Your top 20 customers are affected now. Failure to provide equal or improved service will result in the loss of the customers and your market share. It’s time to bring in the company decision-makers and create an appropriate solution and response.

Related Links

Was Peter Drucker right, is it all about attitude?

9 Steps to better decisions





The 6 Fundamental Concepts Behind Every Successful Business

22 08 2006

1. Supply and Demand. The fundamental idea behind business and a market economy. Want to determine where to sell or buy, or predict if prices will be going up or down? Understand the concept of supply and demand.

2. Cause and Effect. Physics applied to the business environment. What you do will affect your competitor and the market and vice versa.

3. People like to feel important and special. Learn this and you’ve discovered one of the fundamental qualities of a great salesperson or marketer.

4. Simple clear communication, on-time. Don’t make it technical, keep it easy to understand. Answer all questions when asked, and never forget to call back and follow-up.

5. Get the work done, on time, and with the highest degree of quality possible.

6. Ask lots of questions and get all the answers.





International business traveller – ambassador, explorer, map-maker

21 08 2006

The critical roles played by international business travellers.

International business travellers play an incredibly important role as ambassadors, explorers and “map-makers” inside their organizations and with their overseas contacts.

Ambassadors, Explorers, and “Map-Makers”

Ambassador of your country and culture. During your trip your actions and reactions are being watched by others. They are trying to confirm, deny or create stereotypes of your country. Everything including your inter-personal skills, business negotiation skills and manners, the way you dress and eat, your choice of hotels, table manners, social skills, and the ability to make small-talk and conversation will be watched, examined and commented upon after you leave. Keep this idea clear at all time during your trip, it is important.

Ambassador of your company. Prepare and bring all materials required for the negotiations and business interactions. Project an aura of professionalism, a willingness to learn and share, and honesty. Create relationships with a long-term vision. You may be promoted or leave the organization some day, but your international contacts will continue to do business with your company.

Ambassador of you. International business is all about relationships, and your behaviour and attitudes are critically important as the liaison and trusted representative. Make promises you can keep, follow-through on the projects and projects. Project honesty and a concern for doing business and maintaining relationships. Your actions should focus on creating a climate of trust and open communication. Don’t try to be someone you are not.

Explorer. The international business traveller, technicians, and sales and business development executives have the added responsibility of verifying existing information, establishing new contacts that will be beneficial in the future, and discovering new ideas and opportunities. It requires an inquisitive character, a bit of courage and a spirit of adventure.

Map-Maker. Often neglected by organizations is the cultural, political and personal information gathered by international business people. This information (or data), should be gathered, filtered and consolidated, and available to the organization after every overseas trip. “Maps” should be made for future consultation and reference. The map-making role requires the separation of the facts from interpretation, personal anecdotes and opinions. This information becomes the foundation for all future strategic and operating decisions.

Related Links

7 Tips for International Business

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz

How to do Business in Mexico, Parts 1 – 28

International Business Trip Planning, Part 6





10 things you should do on Friday afternoon

18 08 2006

Friday afternoons are not known as the most productive times in an organization. Why not take advantage of Friday afternoon, and do the following:

10 things to do on Friday afternoon

1. Clean up your desk, file the important documents, throw out the rest. Make your desktop visible again.

2. De-fragment and tidy up your computer and files, backup important information. Boring, but has to be done right?

3. Make a list of the projects and tasks you wish to deal with on Monday morning. Make Monday easier.

4. Review your calendar and schedule for the coming week, confirm appointments and make sure you’re prepared for meetings and presentations. Be on time and prepared.

5. Return all pending phone calls that have accumulated during the week. Follow-up.

6. Clean up your email inbox. Follow-up, follow-through, keep the communication moving.

7. Smile a lot, get excited about the weekend. Think of the future, not the past.

8. Call your spouse, significant other or best friend. Tell them to get dressed up and go out to a casual relaxing place that you have not been to in a while. It should remind you why you worked so hard all week. Give yourself a reward. Enjoy it.

9. If you are in a leadership or management position. Get out of your office and walk around, talk to people about anything but work. Ask if they have something special or exciting planned for the weekend. Listen and learn.

10. Do small random acts of kindness for subordinates and co-workers, these might include; give out Milk Duds and Lemonheads, buy a lottery ticket for everyone, take the “front line” workers out for a drink. Random acts of kindness. No ulterior motives.

Related Link

10 things you should never do on Friday afternoon 





20 challenges faced by a family owned business

17 08 2006

Every business organization has a unique set of challenges and problems. The family business is no different. Many of these problems exist in corporate business environments, but can be exaggerated in a family business.

Family business go through various stages of growth and development over time. Many of these challenges will be found once the second and subsequent generations enter the business.

A famous saying about family owned business in Mexico is “Father, founder of the company, son rich, and grandson poor” (Padre noble, hijo rico, nieto pobre). The founder works and builds a business, the son takes it over and is poorly prepared to manage and make it grow but enjoys the wealth, and the grandson inherits a dead business and and empty bank account.

Prepare now and help your grandson avoid the poorhouse.

20 challenges for the family business

  1. Emotions. Family problems will affect the business. Divorce, separations, health or financial problems also create difficult political situations for the family members.
  2. Informality. Absence of clear policies and business norms for family members
  3. Tunnel vision. Lack of outside opinions and diversity on how to operate the business.
  4. Lack of written strategy. No documented plan or long term planning.
  5. Compensation problems for family members. Dividends, salaries, benefits and compensation for non-participating family members are not clearly defined and justified.
  6. Role confusion. Roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined.
  7. Lack of talent. Hiring family members who are not qualified or lack the skills and abilities for the organization. Inability to fire them when it is clear they are not working out.
  8. High turnover of non-family members. When employees feel that the family “mafia” will always advance over outsiders and when employees realize that management is incompetent.
  9. Succession Planning. Most family organizations do not have a plan for handing the power to the next generation, leading to great political conflicts and divisions.
  10. Retirement and estate planning. Long term planning to cover the necessities and realities of older members when they leave the company.
  11. Training. There should be a specific training program when you integrate family members into the company. This should provide specific information that related to the goals, expectations and obligations of the position.
  12. Paternalistic. Control is centralized and influenced by tradition instead of good management practices.
  13. Overly Conservative. Older family members try to preserve the status quo and resist change. Especially resistance to ideas and change proposed by the younger generation.
  14. Communication problems. Provoked by role confusion, emotions (envy, fear, anger), political divisions or other relationship problems.
  15. Systematic thinking. Decisions are made day-to-day in response to problems. No long-term planning or strategic planning.
  16. Exit strategy. No clear plan on how to sell, close or walk away from the business.
  17. Business valuation. No knowledge of the worth of the business, and the factors that make it valuable or decrease its value.
  18. Growth. Problems due to lack of capital and new investment or resistance to re-investment in the business.
  19. Vision. Each family member has a different vision of the business and different goals.
  20. Control of operations. Difficult to control other members of the family. Lack of participation in the day-to-day work and supervision required.