December 31, 2008

Ethics: How Do You Know?

"If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again; it was probably worth it."


Ethics or lack thereof.

One's success will, to a large degree, depend upon how quickly they can determine who to trust and who to stay away from and as anyone over the age of 15 can attest, that's not always easy to do.

Employees, supervisors, investors, investment options; how do you sort it all out? What do you look for when deciding who you will and will not trust?

December 30, 2008

Crisis Management: Moving On

"The little that is completed, vanishes from the sight of one who looks forward to what is still to do."

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
18th Century German Writer

There are many quotes about the importance of putting aside failure and looking ahead, this among them. The common theme is move on with some, as this one does, suggesting that is even more important in difficult times.

More important, tougher to do but essential.

We are all entitled to our "woe is me" time but as mountain climber Julie said, the choice is to move on or sit there in the road feeling sorry for yourself until you die.

What happens when an entire organization is "sitting in the road"? Who's job is it to urge everyone on?

December 29, 2008

Communication: The Importance of Writing

"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."

Joesph Pulitzer

Pulitzer was no doubt talking about literature but these recommendations apply to business writing as well.

We don't need Pulitzer Prize level writing in business but we do need people who can put clear, concise sentences down on a page.

What writing skills grade would you give to those you work with including those above you, your peers and subordinates? If low, do you see it as a problem?

December 26, 2008

Negotiation: Can There Be Two "Winners"?

"He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat."

Joseph Joubert
18th Century French Moralist

"In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."

Chester L. Karrass
Author, Consultant on Negotiation Skills

Everything in business is about negotiation; with your customers, employees, even with yourself.

How much time have you thought about your ability to negotiate? For you is it win/lose, win/win or lose/win when it comes to how you deal with people in your professional life?

December 24, 2008

Thank You!

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
Roman Statesman

The "mothership" for gratitude includes such things as appreciation, being thankful and giving recognition to those who help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

I thank all of you who have participated and followed Business Wisdom since its inception just a few short months ago and hope to see you with us in the time ahead.

Happy Holidays to you all and I wish you a much better 2009!

December 23, 2008

Time Management: Use It Or Lose It

"Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it."

Leonardo Da Vinci

I am feeling really rushed this morning. Still much to do to close down my business accounting for this year, regular business to do, a football game to go to 100 miles south in San Diego tonight and Christmas is . . .

Looking back I would like to think this current crunch is not my fault, that others have conspired to put me in this "too much to do" box; however, the reality is, I did it to myself. Time has stayed long enough the last few days but I didn't use what there was of it as wisely as I should have.

On the positive side I typically do. Time management is one of my strong suits and in my opinion, a hallmark of a good manager. My approach is to pretend I have less time than I really do getting things done well ahead of the due date.

What about you? How critical is time management to you and what secrets do you have to make the best use of the time you have?

December 22, 2008

Management Responsibility: Employee Attitudes?

"Our attitude toward life determines life's attitude towards us."

Earl Nightingale

Seemingly the entire world is in a funk, wondering if we've at least seen the beginning of the end of bad economic times. Or if worst still lays ahead of us. With that brings a lot of bad attitudes; on occasion myself included.

Nightingale is right. People do gravitate to those who are "up" backing away from those "down".

Can management affect employee attitudes and if so in what ways? Or should they let each individual work through things however is best for them?

December 19, 2008

Radical Change: Crazy Like a Fox?

"The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."

Charles Du Bos
French Literature Critic

As with many of these quotes, not likely originally muttered with business in mind but they all can and should apply.

A business looking for new ways to grow may well have to sacrifice what is for what could be.

When they do so just before they go out of business we say they had no choice but to try new ways.

When things are fine and they attempt something new and succeed, we see the hand of heroic management.

But when they fail, those who ask "what were they thinking?" are everywhere.

Mervyns, a western state 189 location mid line department store founded in 1949, is going out of business.

Which of the above do you think best describes their management?

December 18, 2008

Sales Management: The Few Versus The Rest

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Eleanore Roosevelt

Great sales people sell beyond expectations and I'll bet few have to remind them self that they must do what many think cannot be done. They just do it.

Is the quality or trait that makes them great, easily identified? When hiring sales staff how do you determine who likely has it? What if anything do you do to retain them when you find them?

December 17, 2008

Control: Who Does What to Who?

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Mahatma Gandhi

We are in the middle of a "change storm" with calls from all sides to get to a different place starting with business.

Maybe it is a good time to look for ways to improve things, starting with us. And not just in our current poor economic condition but in all ways, every day.

Change is coming. Will we make it or will it make us?

December 16, 2008

Management: Coordinating Many To Act As One

"Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon... must inevitably come to pass."

Paul Meyer

I respectfully disagree but only in the absoluteness of this quote. If I understand him, Paul is saying that if you clearly see your goal, want it bad enough and work hard to achieve it it will happen.

I wish that were true but there are other intervening factors and at the top of that list is what others do (or do not do.) It is not enough that an individual within a company do as Paul says; for the company to succeed, all must do these things together.

However he has the right idea. These are the attributes an individual must strive to achieve, which are also things individuals within a company must do in concert with each other (an even more difficult task) and making the latter happen is the responsibility of management. If the gears don't mesh, no ticking clock.


December 15, 2008

Conflict Resolution: The Role of Self Control

"He who angers you conquers you."

Elizabeth Kenny
Australian Physical Therapist

Ms. Kenny is touting the benefit of self-control; something we attempt to instill in our children but don't always display ourselves.

Anger is the product of failed conflict resolution. What can management do to see that doesn't happen? Or is it best to let employees sort our their business and personal differences themselves?

By the way, "Australian Physical Therapist" hardly describes Elizabeth Kenny's life and accomplishments and if you don't know about her you might find further description interesting.

December 12, 2008

Decision Making: How Do You Know You Know Enough?

"It is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows."

1st Century Greek Philosopher

Critical data is central to effective decision making; without it what you decide may well be wrong. Of course the first decision you must make is concluding you have enough data to make good decisions.

How do you know when you know enough to act wisely?

December 11, 2008

Experience: The Wisdom of Gray

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."


Think about it, do what others do, learn from what you've done in the past.

Numbers one and three strike me as similar if not the same and in any event are close. Learn from what is or has been.

What role does experience play in your organization?

December 10, 2008

Conflict Resolution: My Way!

"Many are stubborn in the path they have chosen, few in the pursuit of the goal."

Friedrich Nietzsche

It is easy to become more focused on one's own opinion rather than achievement of the group's goal. And this becomes even more so when there is a personality conflict between individuals.

If you don't like someone you probably won't want to do what they think is right.

Do you look for this in those you manage? If you do what if anything do you do when you see it happening?

December 08, 2008

Change Management: Finding the New Way

"Nothing is easy to the unwilling."

Thomas Fuller
17th Century English Historian

Regardless of all the supposed clamor for "change" in this country, when it comes down to it most people do not like to stray far from what they know even when their present circumstance is not good. "It's OK for the other person to change but not me." And as true as that is in our personal lives it is even more so in business.

Successful businesses continually evolve which means their employees must continually learn new things. For many this is traumatic and threatening and they fight the requirement to change along with the business.

Does your company actively seek new methods? What about the employees? How about you?

December 05, 2008

Accepting Responsibility: The Foundation of Success

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."

Johann von Goethe
th Century German Author

This is one part of the importance of being responsible.

von Goethe is telling us that after all is said and done the only measure of success is having accomplished something. Wanting to do so, having reasons for not having succeeded are not enough.

The other part is being willing to acknowledge when failure is our responsibility; an almost impossible task for many.

I've tried to focus discussion regarding my team failures on the reasons rather than the personalities so we could change the circumstances that led to our collective failure. It helped to a point but for many there was a need to deflect all association with failure no matter how obvious their connection.

What is your experience?

December 04, 2008

Sales Forecasting: The Great Unknown

"What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens."

Benjamin Disraeli
19th Century British Prime Minister

I was just talking about this with someone the other day telling them how I rarely get the projects I am all but certain will happen but do get many I assume will not.

Accurate sales forecasts are the underpinning of a company's business plan and yet as most sales managers will tell you, accurate forecasts is almost an oxymoron.

When it comes to sales your product may be straight line, commodity, predictable like that depicted in the above graph but I will bet most aren't that way particularly in today's economy.

Still, companies need to have a pretty good idea what their revenue line will look like. What do you do to develop as accurate a revenue picture as possible?

December 03, 2008

Goals: What Might Have Been

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, "It might have been."

John Greenleaf Whittier
19th Century Quaker Poet

"Might have been" could mean something tried and failed or as I suspect Mr. Greenleaf was suggesting, something never attempted. Something someone wanted but for whatever reason never enough so to go after it.

This applies to our personal and business lives and we can be equally remiss in both when it comes to going after what we want.

What do you want?

December 02, 2008

Planning: The Business Roadmap

"Developing the plan is actually laying out the sequence of events that have to occur for you to achieve your goal."

George L. Morrisey

There it is.

A plan is nothing more than what you need to do to accomplish whatever it is you've defined as your "goals". You have defined goals haven't you?? If you haven't does that mean you don't care where you are headed?

Kind of like walking out the front door one day, no destination in mind. With that the case any direction using any means of transportation will get you there. But if you want to go
to a specific location you need a plan.

Does your company have clearly defined and measurable goals? Is there a detailed and specific strategic, tactical and operational plan in place to achieve them?

December 01, 2008

Confidence: How Sure Do We Need To Be?

"Doubt whom you will, but never yourself."

Christian N. Bovee
19th Century Author

This is one of those quotes that initially strikes me as good but after further reflection I begin to have doubts. The positive part is trust in yourself, set your path then walk it, etc., but what if you're wrong? (Bovee probably wouldn't even tolerate the doubt associated with asking that question.)

Maybe the quote overly simplifies what he really had in mind. Maybe he would tell us to do as Davy Crockett allegedly suggested ("Be sure you're right, then go ahead"), but even that seems difficult to do. There have been many instances in my career where there was no way to "be sure" regarding what I planned to do.

What role does certainty and/or self-confidence play in decision making?