May 29, 2009

Writing: Thoughtful Communication

"The skill of writing is to create a context in which others can think."

Edwin Schlossberg
Founder/Principal ESI Design


Actually all forms of communication should have the primary goal of creating more communication, which ideally would come as the result of more thinking.

Does yours?

May 28, 2009

Listening: Can You Hear Me?

"You can listen as well as you hear."

Mike and the Mechanics
"The Living Years"

There is a big, big difference between the two and most people would do well to improve the first.

How about you?

May 27, 2009

Thought: Fashionable Decision Making

"Every generation laughs at the old fashions but follows religiously the new."

Henry David Thoreau
Author, Poet

So is Mr. Thoreau making fun of the old or the young who follow new fashion?

Maybe neither. Maybe he's just calling out what is around us in all aspects of our lives, including business.

I can think of many examples of business logic I almost automatically once thought "powerful", now, well let's just say less so. But fortunately I'm still able to get excited about "new" thinking.

That's just being human.

However one thing I am now more than in the past is thoughtful. I will still occasionally lurch towards extremes but less far and rarely if ever all the way, choosing instead to think things through before acting.

What about you?

May 26, 2009

Perspective: The Clear Picture

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."

Ken Olsen
President Digital Equipment Company (said in 1977)

I don't know Mr. Olsen but assume he is an intelligent individual (he had to have been to reach the position he did.) And like everyone he would be subject to miscalculation and no doubt regretted this statement soon after making it.

Perspective, or lack thereof, is what makes or breaks most companies. How do you know yours is what it should be?

May 22, 2009

The Power of Accountability

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

Stanislaw Lec
Early 20th Century Polish Poet

"I didn't do it."
"It wasn't me."
"Everyone (no one) did (didn't) do it too."
"What could I do?"
"Somebody will do it"

What could we accomplish if everyone took personal, up close responsibility, not only for their actions but for the overall success of the organization?

May 21, 2009

Change: How Do You Deal With It?

"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because it means things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better."

King Whitney Jr.
President, Personnel Laboratory, Inc.

I like this a lot.

Most agree that change is inevitable so the only question is, how will we deal with it? I admit that at various times my reaction has been each of the above but overall, I am more often the latter.

How about you?

May 20, 2009

Management Philosophy: Control Or Be Controlled?

"So divinely is the world organized that every one of us, in our place and time, is in balance with everyone else."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
18th Century German Writer

"I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time."

Oprah Winfrey

Maybe on a higher plane we are in balance but not in the minutia that matters in all our lives.

Small and large things change daily, hourly in some cases, and we are forced to make choices, or have them made for us, concerning what we will and will not do.

All of which is why Oprah is right.

So what's your management style? Just go with it or work to exert some control over as much as possible?

May 19, 2009

Appearance: Empty Suits? Empty Jeans

"Dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as "suits."

Paul Graham
Programmer, Venture Capitalist

"Inevitable" correlation between the way people dress and the likelihood of good ideas coming from them?


Back in the day, everyone wore suits; both those with bad as well as good ideas, just as today good and bad ideas (as well as good/bad programming and investment decisions) come from people wearing jeans and sandals.

Weight, presence or absence of hair, clothes, gender, ethnicity, age, etc., etc.; how (do) you factor that in when considering the likely ability of one to do the job you hire them to do?

May 18, 2009

Change Management: Continuing Revolution?

"The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution."

Hannah Arendt
20th Century German Jewish Political Theorist

Applied to business . . . agents of "what should be" become agents of "what is" once the change they advocate occurs.

How do we prevent this?

Should we?

May 14, 2009

Business Relations: Friends First, Second Or At All?

"A friendship founded on a business is a good deal better than a business founded on a friendship."

John D. Rockefeller

What makes good friends may not make good business partners with the reverse being true as well.

Would (have) you go into business with a friend?

May 13, 2009

Reorganization: Why?

"Reorganizing can be a wonderful method for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization."

Gaius Petronius Arbiter
Roman Courtier

Reorganization that leads to effective organization is valuable whereas reorganization for the sake of putting one's stamp on things is not.

If you've ever worked in a company of any size, you've likely lived through one or more reorganizations.

How much better were things when done?

May 12, 2009

Goals: What Have You Done?

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."

Henry Ford

Goals, objectives, good intentions . . . all have their place in business; however when the sun goes down we all get paid for our accomplishments.

What we did, not what we do or will do.

What have you done?

May 11, 2009

Management Philosophy: In Whose Hands Are You?

"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a matter to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

William Jennings Bryant
Attorney, three time Democratic Nominee for President, Ex US Secretary of State

Some believe we are subjects of destiny, others such as Mr Bryant, that we create our destiny and the implications of each on management decisions are great.

What do you think?

May 10, 2009

Management: Always the Same?

"Any great idea can and eventually will be expressed as a cliche. A cliche is a sure and certain way to dilute an idea."

Solomon Short (aka David Gerrold)

Cliches can be useful to quickly make a point; however they are dangerous if they become behavioral.

For example, when reaction to a slow down in sales is automatically (and only) "reduce expenditures." Conserving cash may be necessary but does nothing to address the root cause of less sales.

To what extent does your organization manage by cliche?

May 07, 2009

Time Management: That Which We Know or That Which We Don't?

"I fear explanations explanatory of things explained."

Abraham Lincoln

You can count on Abe to get to the heart of things; in this case, using a mere seven words.

Next meeting you're in, take informal notice of how much time is devoted to discussion about things already known and agreed to as opposed to that which isn't. I'll bet, a majority or close to it.

Shouldn't it be the other way around?

May 06, 2009

Good Management: Win, Lose or Draw?

"The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else."

Martina Navratilova

Could all those millions who train for, run, complete but don't win marathons, do so if they didn't enjoy all the training, right up to the moment they cross the finish line?

Martina is telling us to enjoy the process regardless of whether or not we win and since for most of us winning is the exception rather than the rule, I think she's right.

Can you be a good manager if you are only happy when you win?

May 05, 2009

Ideas: Do They Pass The Stress Test?

"There is nothing investors like more than a start up that seems like it is going to succeed even without them."

Paul Graham
Venture Capitalist

No great revelation that; but it does suggest a test you can apply to whatever great business idea you are thinking about doing, or to the new product/service your company is about to launch.

How many besides you think it's a good idea?

May 04, 2009

Crisis Management: What Are You Doing?

"Man is not imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought by crisis--once that crisis can be recognized and understood."

Norman Cousins
Political Journalist/Author

1. We don't have to be victims.
2. Good things can come from bad.

He doesn't say how but we can surmise it won't come from doing things as we have before (habit).

I've heard from many of you who are either out of work or feel you are about to be because the company you work for is not doing well. Crisis.

What do you recognize and understand?

May 03, 2009

Mergers and Acquistions: More "Managing the Marriage"

"The single most important thing was to dismantle the organizational structure of Fiat. We tore it apart in 60 days, removing a large number of leaders who had been there a long time and who represented an operating style that lay outside any proper understanding of market dynamics."

Sergio Marchionne
CEO Fiat Group

"The Italians have been shocked by how bloated Chrysler's management still is--there are nearly ten times as many people in external communications as there are at Fiat."

The Economist
April 25, 2009

"If this thing (Fiat acquisition of Chrysler) comes off they're (Chrysler management) really in for a shock."

Anonymous Senior Fiat Executive

You are Fiat's CEO. How do you balance the immediate need to change while at the same time maintaining a minimum level of Chrysler employee morale?

Or do you even need to care?

May 01, 2009

Resources: There's More Than One Way

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

Abraham Maslow
American Psychologist

The overriding goal of for profit business is to make socially acceptable profit.

No business I know and none I have ever been a part of has had all the "tools" necessary to make this happen. There's always something we want that resources won't allow us to have.

That aside, I observe that businesses do have more tools than they either realize or choose to use (usually the first.) Mr. Maslow is talking about the only "tool" one has but I'm suggesting we add to that the possibility that there may be more we simply don't use.

What "tools" do you have available to achieve your goals, keeping in mind that the one(s) you use may not be all you have.