July 31, 2009

Asking For It

"Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing."


Having acted, expect to be criticized.

Expect it but don't fear it and should you see you're not, ask yourself if you are doing enough.

Are you?

July 30, 2009

I Will Do (ANYTHING?) For You!

"A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large."

Henry Ford

Although put a bit awkwardly, this sentiment reads like an inspirational wall plaque.

Do everything 100% customer centric, no matter the cost, and you will make a lot of money.

If so, why don't more businesses,
including Ford Motor Company, do this?

July 29, 2009

Everything Starts With An Idea

"Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes."

Napoleon Hill
Author "Think and Grow Rich"

Actually, the beginning point for everything.

How are you and your organization at generating new ideas?

July 28, 2009

Vive la Différence?

"Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them."

Judith Henderson

"Embrace", "accept", "adopt" . . . all the same?

I don't think so and choose to substitute "learn from" for "embrace".

What about you?

July 27, 2009

Problems: Who's in Charge?

"You are about as happy as you make up your mind to be."

Mark Twain

And this is about as plain spoken definition of attitude, subtly suggesting what we all should do in the process, as I can imagine.

That we all have problems is a given as is the fact that we worry about them.

But how we approach those problems is not.

Do we manage them or do they manage us?

July 24, 2009

The Art of Visionary Management

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."

Edgar Degas
19th century French artist

" . . . what you make others see."

Yesterday's quote from Jack Welch said that it is the leader's responsibility to communicate vision that others can then act upon.

How you do that is itself art rather than a science you learn in graduate school.

What do you think?

July 23, 2009

Doing or Driving?

"Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion."

Jack Welch

The higher up you are in management the truer this is, or should be (if you are a senior manager, doing more than driving, you have a completely different problem.)

But it is also true for mid/lower management as well.

As a manager, how much do you do versus manage?

July 22, 2009

Finding the Best

"There is something much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability."

Robert Half

Founder, Robert Half Staffing

If you could do it all this wouldn't matter but you can't and it does, particularly if you are a manager.

I think recognizing talent in others is the first job requirement for a good manager, with being able to make the best use of that talent, the second.

What do you think?

July 21, 2009

Execution: Making it Look Easy

"The greatest efforts in sports came when the mind is as still as a glass lake."

Timothy Gallwey
Tennis Coach, Author

I know that "glass lake" calmness feeling.

It comes when you just know you are prepared, usually after a lot of hard work getting ready.

Do you think this only applies to sports?

I don't.

July 20, 2009

Open or Closed to New Ideas? How Do You Know?

"Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows."

David T. Wolf

This suggests what; that naivete could be substituted for not being experienced and one must always be cynical once experienced?

God I hope not but I do get the generalization.

The older I get the harder I am to convince that something new will be good. I think that is so for good reason; because I have learned to more carefully consider new ideas rather than just blindly accepting them.

But is that always the case?

How (do) you balance the need to be open to new things while at the same time critically analyzing your options?

July 17, 2009

Management: Up Close and Personal?

"Never reveal all of yourself to other people; hold back something in reserve so that people are never quite sure if they really know you."

Michael Korda
Novelist, Editor-in-Chief Simon & Schuster

"The power to command has never meant the power to remain mysterious."

Marshal Ferdinand Foch
Early 20th century French Soldier/Military Theorist

Both quotes are related to charisma; a valuable management trait most would agree.

One says hold something back, the other, being aloof and in command are not related.

Which do you feel says it best?

Which are you?

July 16, 2009

Getting There, Staying There

"Nobody's a natural. You have to work hard to get good and then work to get better. It's hard to stay on top."

Paul Coffey
Retired NHL Hall of Fame Player

No one is born "on top"; everyone must evolve and develop to achieve whatever they wish to do.

You stop, you die.

Does your company help you grow? Do you help others?

July 15, 2009

The Essence of Leading

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, you are a leader."

John Quincy Adams

Notice nothing in that about giving orders, setting priorities that others will follow, being in charge.

Everything refers to doing something that causes others to do positive things ("inspire", "dream", "learn", "become".)

My new and favorite definition of a leader.

July 14, 2009

Change: You Gotta Kiss the Frog

"Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have--and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up."

James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
Co-Authors "Flight of the Buffalo"

Don't believe it? Think about all the houses and cars you've bought and sold.

And it's not just our assets either. We do this with ideas as well, maybe more so.

Admit it or not there is a lot of "the devil you know versus the one you don't" in how we deal with change.

Kissed any frogs lately?

July 13, 2009

Thinking on Hold

"An amazing invention-but who would ever want to use one."

US President Rutherford B. Hayes
Comment just after making call on Alexander Graham Bell's new telephone

I can think of a few things I initially thought were useless if not worse, later changing my mind to the point of buying them.

Sometimes being closed minded does not just mean not listening. It could be not thinking.

What do you think?

July 10, 2009

Compassion: A Rising Tide Floats All Boats

"In separateness lies the world's great misery, in compassion lies the world's true strength."


We celebrate individualism in business, at least in US business. The rugged, against-all-odds (usually) man triumphing when so many others fail. You typically don't see a lot of compassion in that scenario.

I like a lot of that but not the lack of compassion.

How can we feel for ourselves if we can't also feel for others?

July 09, 2009

The Chaos of Change

"Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue but carried to the extremes narrows the mind."

Francois Fenelon
17th century French Roman Catholic Theologian

Probably extreme neatness as well but certainly extreme exactness will result in thwarted innovation, don't you think?

Invention, entrepreneurism, even simple evolution from "here" to "there" is a messy business with many false starts.

Marketers and salespeople are often not exact whereas engineers and accountants are.

How about you?

July 08, 2009

Goals: What Do You Desire?

"One must desire something to be alive."

Margaret Deland
Early 20th century writer

On an individual level, desire what we dream. In our business lives, our goals.

What do you desire?

July 07, 2009

The Science of Decision Making

"There are in fact two things; science and opinion; the former begets knowledge the latter ignorance."

th century Greek physician

If we accept a broad interpretation of "science" to include all forms of discovery, Hippocrates is telling us that intelligent decision making requires thoughtful, data based analysis.

How do you make your decisions?

July 06, 2009

The Cost of Freedom

"Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom."

Albert Einstein

Being on your own may be the ultimate freedom but it also may be prison due to a lack of funding.

On the other hand, working for someone else usually (but not always) means money is not an issue whereas the freedom to do what you want may not be what you need.

Which is it for you?

July 03, 2009

The Truth About SPIN

"We didn't actually overspend our budget. The allocation simply fell short of the expenditure."


As the elephant appears different to blind men, each touching a different part, so too are there many ways to view the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Or is there only one way,
only one truth?

July 02, 2009

Groups: The Power of "Many"

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead
American Cultural Anthropologist

Change the world. And we're just talking about changing our business.

Are you part of a "small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" in your business?

July 01, 2009

Time: The Clock is Ticking

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."

Third Century BC Greek Philosopher

If people were worrying about time 300 plus years before the birth of Christ, you know what they think now. But worrying and taking action are two different things.

And talk about limited resources. 8,760 hours a year, no more nor less, of which conventional wisdom says 2,000 will be devoted to work.

Most of my clients worry quite a bit about conserving and managing cash, human resources, facilities, equipment, etc. but I don't see the same concern expressed about time management.

How about you?