December 31, 2009

Office Gossip: "Did You Hear . . . ?"

"One who is too wise an observer of the business of others, like one who is too curious observing the labor of bees, will often be stung for his curiosity."

Alexander Pope
18th century English poet

What is the ratio of time you spend thinking/talking about your customers, competition, co-workers?

What do you think is the value of doing the first two versus the last?

December 30, 2009

Beliefs: The Easy Truth

"It is easier to believe a lie one has heard a thousand times before, than it is to believe a fact that no one has heard before."

Author Unknown

For years I conducted research on behalf of clients. All too often, what they assumed to be true was readily accepted whereas what they did not expect, was rejected.

"Tell me what I know, not what I need to know.

December 29, 2009

Ideas: Think of Something, Do Something!

"Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them."

Alfred North Whitehead
Early 20 century English Mathematician/Philosopher

Ideas are about the future and without them, you don't have much of one.

But without action, ideas are worth nothing.

How is your company when it comes to coming up with new ideas and of greater importance, acting on them?

December 28, 2009

The Future: Who's In Charge Here?

"The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating."


This will be comfortable for those who believe they control their destiny, not so much for those who feel they are subject to fate.

Which are you?

December 24, 2009

Relationships: The Role of the Individual

"As a general thing, people marry most happily with their own kind."

Robertson Davies
20th century Canadian playwright/journalist/professor

Professor Davies was referring to marriage between two individuals but I think this applies equally well to business relationships, which after all, consist of people.

To what extent do you consider individual differences in business relationships that involve you?

December 23, 2009

Employees: On Their Own?

"The will to win is useless if you don't have the will to prepare."

Thane Yost

This relates to yesterday's post; one of the reasons people fail to get things done as expected.

It makes me wonder how much discussion managers have with employees regarding how they will achieve their objectives as opposed to what those objectives are.

How much (if at all) should a manager get involved with how the work will be done?

December 22, 2009

Failure: "I Can Explain"

"It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't."

Martin Van Buren
8th President of the United States

And yet so many spend so much time explaining why they didn't get the job done as expected/requested/required.


December 21, 2009

Betting on Decline: The Eternal Optimist?

"A lot of people become pessimists from financing optimists."

CT Jones

How many successful business managers do you know who were also pessimists?

David Tepper.

Are hedge fund managers who take risky market positions based on assumptions of industry segment and/or company demise, optimists?
Or is optimism only associated with positives assumptions?

How optimistic/pessimistic are you as a manager?

December 18, 2009

Management Tail Chasing

"I'll go anywhere as long as it is forward."

David Livingstone
19th century Scottish explorer

This makes particular sense when physically exploring because there is nothing worse than having to cover the same ground more than once.

But I think it applies in business as well.

Is there any good reason to pay for the same thing twice, which is what you do when you repeat behavior, particularly bad behavior?

December 16, 2009

Assumptions: Management's Achillies Heel

"The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable."

Paul Broca
20th century French physician, anatomist, anthropologist

While I don't know for certain, I am willing to bet that more plans fail due to faulty, unchecked assumptions than for any other single reason.

In other words, planning the future on faulty foundations.

And I would also bet there is a linear relation between unchecked assumptions failing, the more certain those who made them were that they were correct.

I'll have to check that.

December 15, 2009

Management Certainty

"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."


And why do you think he feels this way?

Isn't the goal to be as certain as possible of the outcome of our decisions?

December 14, 2009

The Bent Truth

"What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truths to deceive the public."

Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Early 20th century Canadian Arctic Explorer, Educator, Ethnologist

You can tell the truth and still deceive, and not just in advertising.

Do you?

December 11, 2009

The Power of Reinvention

"You'll find boredom when there is the absence of a good idea."

Earl Nightingale

Your customers will be bored, your employees, you; literally everyone in anyway connected with your business.

But this is not limited to your product or service. Good ideas positively affect everything.

In addition to everything else you must do, do you consciously work to create new ideas?

December 10, 2009

Leadership: Paying Your Dues

"You're gonna have to serve somebody."

Bob Dylan

Is it possible to be a good leader if you were never a good follower?

December 09, 2009

Planning to Worry

"The nicest things about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression."

Sir John Harvey-Jones
Chairman Imperial Chemical Industries, Retired

So, is he in favor of planning?

What about you?

December 08, 2009

Do You Have the Right Time?

"Last week is the time you should have bought or sold, depending on what you didn't do."


It does feel as though we often end up on the wrong end of timing, doesn't it?

Or is it that our expectations are too often wrong?

December 07, 2009

The Power of An Open Mind: Can You See It?

"Vision is the art of seeing things invisible."

Jonathan Swift
Early 18th century Irish essayist

I dabble in small, independent investments and as a result, meet a lot of entrepreneurs with new products and ideas. As you would expect, most do not warrant a second look while a very small number do.

Often these are ideas that most people initially reject; however, due to the entrepreneur's ability to see "things invisible", a few succeed.

How about you? Do you look for that which most cannot see?

December 04, 2009

Strategic Withdrawal or Doubling Down?

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will and the other from a strong won't."

Henry Ward Beecher
Mid 19th century social reformer

One of the most difficult tasks we all continually face is knowing when to quit.

In business, do so too soon and we miss opportunity. Too late and we are out of business.

How do you strike balance between the two?

December 03, 2009

The Truth: Not Exactly

"No legacy is so rich as honesty."

William Shakespeare

If you can't leave anything else behind, at least leave the truth.

But I will admit, that is unfortunately easier to say than do. From little white lies to massive distortions, we all at least occasionally misrepresent; if not purposely than accidentally (I think more often purposely.)

1 to 10 scale with 1 equal to dishonest and 10 equal to honest, how do you rate yourself? (I assume all responses will be anonymous.)

December 02, 2009

Finding the Best and the Brightest

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."

R. Buckminster Fuller


I suppose if we could always see it we would only surround ourselves with those who have it.

How do you decide who is and is not talented?

December 01, 2009

Evolutionary Management

"We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

18th Century German Writer

Paraphrasing . . . use it or lose it and that includes mentally as well as physically.

If you are 50, attempting to manage as you did when you were 30, no matter how successful you might have been, it won't work.

If you are 30 and believe you've discovered management tricks the older managers have not, unless it's that you need to evolve, you're in trouble.