March 31, 2009

Timing: The Luck of the Draw?

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

Cowboy Proverb

Many talk about "timing" as though it were luck; something over which you have little control.

So is an unproductive mid August rain dance in the Mojave Desert just unlucky?

You can at least stack the deck a bit by purposely considering timing along with all other aspects of big decisions.

Do you? If not, this may be the right time to start.

March 30, 2009

Discernment: The Power of the Second Look

"One who returns to a place sees it with new eyes. Although the place may not have changed, the viewer inevitably has. For the first time things invisible before become suddenly visible."

Louie L'Amore

Do you think Mr. L'Amore was only referring to places or could he have also been talking about ideas and concepts?

Maybe things aren't as they first appear.

March 27, 2009

Attitude: Who's In Charge Here?

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that humans beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind."

William James

This may not seem like much at first but it is game changing.

You cannot easily, if at all, change your personal or professional circumstances until you first adapt the right attitude.

And please note that "right" does not necessarily mean "good", "nice", etc.
What is "right" depends on what you want and need to do.

When you look at your outlook what do you see?

March 26, 2009

Innovation: The Case Against

  1. People deny that innovation is required.
  2. People deny that innovation is effective.
  3. People deny that innovation is important.
  4. People deny that innovation will justify the effort required to adopt it.
  5. People accept and adopt the innovation, enjoy its benefits, attribute it to people other than the innovator, and deny the existence of stages 1 to 4.
Inspired by Alexander von Humbolt's "Three Stages of Scientific Discovery"

There is a lot of truth in this particularly in corporate culture unfriendly to innovation.

Think about the people you work with; how much of this applies to them?

How about you?

March 25, 2009

Substance: What's At The Core?

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what people think you are."

John Wooden
Basketball Hall of Fame Coach and Player

10 national championships in 12 seasons as UCLA Head Coach

This sentiment feels a bit unfinished to me; like there needs to be mention that if your character and reputation are not aligned, for better or worse they soon will be.

The equivalent in business would be what; the quality of one's product, service, ethics, all of the above?

Every topic in this blog is important to management but the bedrock of it all is what we
really are.

What are you?

March 24, 2009

Bureaucracy: Some (How Much?) Necessary Evil

"Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses."

Author Unknown

There is very little flattering in the definition of "bureaucracy" but to be fair, few would argue that some to a lot of what those we call bureaucrats do, is necessary.

And least you think this only applies to government, parish the thought. Business has its bureaucratic side as well.

The trick is to only pay for that bureaucracy which is necessary and essential to the organization.

How do you know what that is?
How much of what you do is bureaucratic?

March 23, 2009

Selling: As Simple As 1, 2, 3

"There is more similarity in the marketing challenge of selling a precious painting by Degas and a frosted mug of root beer than you ever thought possible."

A. Alfred Taubman
American Real Estate Developer, Philanthropist and Industrialist

  1. Identify your customer.
  2. Decide what you want to tell them about what you want them to buy.
  3. Tell them.
Products, ideas, even people. They all must be sold and these three steps are what must be done.

How's your sales effort?

March 20, 2009

Radical Transformation: No Lottery Winners

"Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepare you for a future of radical transformation."

Cherrie Moraga

The last job I had working for someone else gave me the vision for what became the largest and most successful of the companies I've started in the last 25 years.

Good that it did too since they "downsized" me out the door.

But those things don't just happen. You have to seek "radical transformation," and then work like hell to make something of it.

You get what you don't work for.

March 19, 2009

Decision Making: The Ultimate Business Calculus

"Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight."

Henry Luce
American Publisher

The best business decisions are based on many inputs including that we know, that we assume, and as Mr. Luce says, instinctive foresight.

Looking back to what was, at what is today, or what may be.
But not all decision makers spend time thinking about all three.

What about you? How much time do you spend in "continual calculation"?

March 18, 2009

Attitude: Finding the Silver Lining

"Being pushed to the wall, gives you the momentum you need to get over it."

Written and contributed by Peter de Jager


I can think of times when seemingly insurmountable obstacles turned out to be on pathways to new success. If I had accepted them as insurmountable, they would have been.

As General O.P. Smith said in 1950 at Chosin Reservoir, Korea . . .

"Retreat hell! We're attacking in a different direction!"

March 17, 2009

Determination: The Tree of Life!

"When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious."

Edna O'Brien
Irish Author

It seems appropriate to listen to the Irish on St. Patrick's Day and this quote is all the more fitting at a time when we struggle to regain our economic footing.

Ferociously tenacious.

Maybe the best of all qualities to exhibit as we move on to the next level.

March 16, 2009

Management: Problem Solvers

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."

Theodore Issac Rubin

This should be the core of every manager's personal manifesto. The essence of management.

That there are barriers to achieving goals is a given. As managers we are responsible for identifying and removing them and if we can't do that, then finding the best way to deal with them.

Problem-identification-solution: the manger's job in a nutshell.

March 13, 2009

Seeking Help: How Do You Know When It's Time?

"There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking."

Alfred Korzybski
Polish-American Scientist

We cannot understand everything, on our own thinking our way to logical conclusions every time on every subject.

However if we are responsible for anything of consequence, which we all are in different ways, we must never stop trying to do so.

When we don't know, we must recognize that we don't and find those who do.

Do you have a "knowledge tripwire", a way to know when you need help from someone else?

March 12, 2009

Balance: Management Equilibrium

"The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that and live that way, you are really a wise man."

5th Century BC Greek Playwright

Balance in every aspect of our lives including how we conduct business.

And this is not just about time spent on various activities but one's thinking, focus, commitment, investment, delegation, attitude, aggressiveness (or lack thereof), literally everything.

Too much, too little of anything is not good.


Are you?

March 11, 2009

Mistakes: Forgive, Forget or None of the Above?

"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget."

Thomas Szasz
Hungarian born MD, Author

All employees including management, make mistakes. What managers and those they manage do about it varies greatly.

Regardless of whether you are a manager or one of the managed, what do you do?

March 10, 2009

Old and New Ways: Which Path Are You On?

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I . . . I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost

There was accepted wisdom in the old purchase manager saying "No one ever lost their job because they bought IBM."

And then many of those purchase managers looked around and saw viable alternatives.

Brands "less traveled" then, many of which are now bigger than IBM.

The tried and the true or new ways? Which path will you walk?
Click picture to enlarge

March 09, 2009

Value Add: The Retailer's Role

"Basically we get confused a bit about what retail is. It is really just buying things, putting them on a floor and selling them."

Gerry Harvey
Co-founder Harvey Norman, Australian Bulk Goods Retailer

Harvey Norman is a very large, successful Australian retailer, due in part to the business acumen of it's co-founder Mr. Norman, so who am I to take issue with his view of retail?

Nonetheless I do. In fact I couldn't disagree more and believe this is exactly why much of retail is in the trouble it is, with the public having very low expectations of the help they can expect from retail sales people.

If the company you give your money to doesn't know much about the product they sell and believes all they need do is put it on the floor, what's their value?

March 06, 2009

Ethics: Mine or Ours?

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others."

Groucho Marx

It occurs to me that I've never had a boss who told me what his/her principles were.

I have worked in companies that made public pronouncements regarding company morals and the like but no bosses who made clear public statements regarding their personal ethics.

Come to think of it, neither did I when I was the boss.

Should each manager clearly state how they feel on issues of ethics or should it all be a combined statement of company values assumed to be endorsed by all who work there?

March 05, 2009

Change Management: Going Back to School

"In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."

Al Rogers
Founder Global School/Net

Mr. Rogers is telling us to learn how the "profound change" will make things different rather than being "learned", believing we know what to do because what we once did, once worked.

Seeking out of box solutions to a new reality.

"In times of profound change."

Like now?

March 04, 2009

Risk Management: Responsibile Spending/Missed Opportunity

"The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it."

Ben Franklin

My business is helping clients developed strategies and tactics for profitable new growth.

A long time friend/client and I were discussing that the other day and he said "Bill, times are tough and I am only spending on what I know for certain will produce return. You have to guarantee that what you do will do that."

Of course now more than ever he and every business manager needs to be frugal in how they spend money, but isn't there some danger in taking that concept too far?

A point where in the quest for prudent cost control, one falls into the trap of missed opportunity,

How (do) you balance the two?

March 03, 2009

New Thinking: Inventing the Future

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."

Sir Cecil Beaton
English Academy Award winning stage and costume designer

It has to be a lot easier to be daring and different in entertainment than in business but the principle is the same. If you do things just like everyone else, what's the point of you?

I'm convinced we live in a time that will not only reward new thinking, new ways, but will demand them as well.

What do you think?

March 02, 2009

Relationships: The Power of "Together"

"The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people."

Theodore Roosevelt

True now more than ever.

We've little money and time with which to do too much.

What role does positive relationships play in your plans to get through these difficult times?