April 30, 2009

Mergers and Acquisitions: Managing the Marriage

"A great marriage is not when the "perfect couple" comes together. It is when an "imperfect couple" learns to enjoy their differences."

Dave Meurer

There are endless analogies connecting "marriages" to business "mergers" and/or "acquisitions" and as one who lived through both, I can attest to the appropriateness of their use.

For starters there is no "perfect couple", not in marriage nor in business and it is an absolute certainty that there will be differences. So by definition, if you are to succeed, you will either not only learn to "enjoy" them but to also use them to your mutual advantage.

If you've been part of a merger or acquisition, how has it gone? (Let's leave marriages for another blog.)

April 29, 2009

Management Philosophy: Theory or Practice?

"True philosophy invents nothing; it merely establishes and describes what it is."

Victor Cousin
Mid 19th Century French Philosopher

What is the role of philosophy in business?

Is it limited to statements of ethics and social responsibility?

If philosophy has a place in business, at what level(s) of the organization?

Philosophically, what do you think?

April 28, 2009

Brand Management: Going for the Hearts and Minds

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind."

Walter Landor
Branding Expert

Another word for "brand" is "aura"; that largely intangible but incredibly important element that defines a product.

Think about the auras of Coke, Porsche, NYC, Obama, the Taliban and iPod. All pretty powerful wouldn't you say?

How about your aura and/or that of your product?

April 27, 2009

Innovation: The Never Ending Need to Change

"I have never been in a situation where having money made it worse."

Clinton Jones

I can think of situations where having money does make a problem worse, in fact, many of them.

It does when management ceases to evolve their business because, they believe, they have enough cash to overcome whatever problems they have or will have.

That describes countless companies either now gone or soon to be, who, as recent as six months ago, saw no reason to alter how they did business given what they thought was adequate cash reserves.

Money, or lack thereof, is an indicator of past performance and the fact that a company has it does not mean they will in the future.

April 24, 2009

Attitude: Do You Get It?

"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

Jimmy Buffett

Seems like an appropriate quote for a warm, sunny, spring Friday; but it's not meant to be just a TGIF thing.

Seeing and expressing humor is an essential component in a balanced life, as well, I believe, a prerequisite for being a good manager.

Don't laugh, it's true.

April 23, 2009

Attitude: What Do You Worry About?

"If you can solve a problem then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, what is the use of worrying?"

8th Century Indian Buddhist Scholar

Notice the subtle difference between "needing" to worry and the "use" or result of having done so.

Maybe it's the word itself that carries negative baggage. To me "worrying" suggests wasted energy, probably a lack of action, possibly weakness, none of which I associate with good management.

But if I substitute something like "thoughtful contemplation", the picture changes dramatically.

Do you "worry", "thoughtfully contemplate" or something similar and how does that affect your business judgment?

April 22, 2009

Management: Acting on Dreams

"To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act."

Anatole France
Early 20th century poet, author, journalist

I like this because it points to the need for "soft" thinking (the need to dream) along with the "hard" analysis driven business discipline (act) that is necessary to run a company.

From what I've read, back in the garage days when they were inventing the first Apple computer, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was more the "dream" guy to Jobs "action" persona.

Do you have enough of both in your company?

April 21, 2009

Management: Seeing Beyond the Tiger's Stripes

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance-it is the illusion of knowledge."

Daniel J. Boorstin
Past Librarian of the US Congress

Of course this assumes one wants to take the time required to discover and make no mistake about it, real discovery demands much more than a cursory look.

Is yours a culture that looks for change or usually only sees the obvious?

Ask those you work with to find the hidden tiger in the above picture.

You may be surprised.

(The answer will be posted the end of this week.)

April 20, 2009

Management Style: Avoiding the Trap

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

I don't think reducing everything to big wins or loses is a good idea; sometimes you do need to proceed cautiously just to later have a chance of winning big.

So how do we know when the potential reward justifies the risk?

April 17, 2009

The Future: When You Know . . . It No Longer Is

"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next."

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin

Like it or not, relatively little is known for certain and nothing we "know" is forever, and in that there is opportunity.

Are you focused on what you don't know or what you soon will?

The answer suggests a lot about your future.

April 16, 2009

Communication: Argue or Discuss?

"The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion."

C.K. Chesterton
Early 20th century writer

Both argument and discussion imply communication but in very different ways.

I think I know what Mr. Chesterton would say but what do you think; is there ever a time in business when it is better to argue than to discuss?

April 15, 2009

Technology: It's Not About Your Hammer

"Web users aren't reasonable. They don't need to be, since your competitor's site is just a click away. They won't read your fine-spun copy. They'll ignore your witty turns-of-phrases. They scan for what they're looking for and click on the first promising link they find. If they don't find anything promising... they're gone! Copywriting for the Web is all about getting to the point."

Author Unknown

Contributed by Russ Bombardieri

Senior Interactive Designer/Frontend Engineer, Crutchfield.com

Consumers don't care about the carpenter's cool hammer, the dentist brand new x-ray machine, or, as this quote reminds Russ, the copywriter's ability to "wordsmith."

They want what they want and it's our job to give it to them and if we don't, they will buy from whomever does. The tools we use to make that go our way are the means to the end, nothing more.

What's your focus?

April 14, 2009

Employees: The Balance Between Experience and Strength

"If youth only knew; if age only could."

Henri Estienne
Late 15th century French printer

Can you think of a better quote to summarize younger and older workers?

Particularly in these times with many either forced to stay in the work force longer than they had planned, or who are now coming back to rebuild retirement accounts.

Employers want the best of both.

How to get it?

April 13, 2009

Punctuality: Is Time Money?

"Punctuality is the politeness of kings."

Louis XVIII of France

I am one of those who would rather be 15 minutes early than 1 minute late, no matter the occasion.

But not everyone feels that way.

What do you think? How important is it to be on time and whatever you think, is it the same when (if) you keep someone waiting as when they do you?

April 10, 2009

Social Network Marketing: To Them Or Through Them?

"The future belongs to the marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk."

Seth Godin

If you are a marketer and have little or no idea what Mr. Godin is suggesting, you're missing the potential represented by social network marketing.

Missing potential but hardly alone.

While much talked about, few companies have come up with anything approaching a viable social network marketing strategy, so there's still time.

Twitter, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, Plaxo; likely all names you have at least heard about if not used yourself.

But what about Amie Street, Cafe Mom and Muxlim or the more than 100 others listed in a Wikipedia article? A list described as being incomplete.

What is your social network marketing strategy?

April 09, 2009

Action: What Will You Actually DO?

"It is easy to sit up and take notice. What is difficult is to get up and take action."

Honore de Balzac
19th century French playwright and author

After all the planning, all the thought, all the reflection to make sure we are not acting in haste, that we are not missing opportunity by not acting, in short, all the things included in all these posts, this is what matters.

Yes we are on uncharted ground and yes we know that we are. But what will we actually do with that knowledge?

April 08, 2009

Responsibility: All For One Or One For All?

"I remember that a wise friend of mine did say "That which is everybody's business is nobody's business."

Izaak Walton
17th century English author

Interesting quote. I'm not sure what Mr. Walton had in mind but I see a connection to responsibility.

Any task worth doing must have one person assigned the responsibility to see that it is done, otherwise there is danger no one will.

What about you? Who "owns" what where you work?

April 07, 2009

Customer Knowledge: What Do You Know?

"I think Amazon is the preeminent pioneer in building a new way of doing commerce: personalized, database-driven where the big value is not in the purchase fulfillment, but in knowing as much about a customer base of ten or twenty million people as a corner store used to know about a customer base of a few hundred. In today's mass merchandising world, that's largely gone; Amazon is trying to use computer technology to re-establish it."

Andrew Grove
Past Chairman, Intel Corporation

Cost and price comes down when we move to mass market retail but so too does the retailer's and manufacturer's knowledge about its customers decline.

Must it be that way and if so, is that a problem?

Whether B2C or B2B how important is customer knowledge in your business? If it is important, what do you do to increase your customer knowledge?

April 06, 2009

Passion: Ever Too Much?

"If passion drives you let reason hold the reins."

Benjamin Franklin

Many speak admiringly about those who are passionate about their beliefs.

But do you think Mr. Franklin is suggesting that unbridled passion is not enough, maybe even dangerous? That maybe too much passion blinds one to reality?

There is a fine line between "not letting anything stand in your way" and "not listening to reason."

How do you know where one ends and the other begins?

April 03, 2009

Leadership: Reactive or Proactive?

"Leaders are people who can discern the inevitable and act accordingly."

Donald Trump

On the surface, OK, but is "inevitable" the same as unchangeable? I don't think so.

Instead I would suggest that leaders are people who can discern the
likely and act accordingly.

What do you think?

April 02, 2009

The Coming New Day: Who's Got The Rocket On Their Back?

"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage."

Friedrich Nietzsche
19th century German philosopher

These are certainly times of resistance, pain and torture are they not?

No matter if you are working for someone else, working in your own company, attempting to start a company or unemployed looking for work, your will is being challenged, possibly more so than ever before.

However note that Mr. Nietzsche did not say our will to succeed is proved only by our ability to endure but as well by our ability to turn adversity to advantage.

How about you; enduring only or getting ready to go on offense as well?

April 01, 2009

Resource Allocation: What Will And Will Not Be Done?

"There is nothing so useless as doing that which should not be done at all."

Peter Drucker
Consultant, Educator


Insightful motherhood but motherhood nonetheless.

The trick is knowing what should and should not be done and Mr. Drucker was handsomely compensated throughout his career for helping companies decide which was which (you didn't expect him to explain that in a free, public quote did you?)

How do you decide?