September 30, 2009

Management: What's Stopping You?

"The majority see the obstacles; a few the objectives; history records the success of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the former."

Alfred Armand Montapert

History also records failures, which is often the result of not having tried because one saw "obstacles."

Do see them, but then remove them; don't ignore them or worse, do nothing because they are there.

September 29, 2009

Action: Dealing With Management Apathy

"The difference between what we do and what we can do, would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."

Mohandas Gandhi

"Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care."

Jimmy Buffett

I sometimes look at things like Jimmy does, and when I do, very little gets done.

That may be OK when relaxing (but maybe not. What else could I do to better relax?) but it's not OK when essential action is required.

Do you care about apathy?

September 28, 2009

Sales and Profit: Chicken or the Egg?

"Our inventions mirror our secret wishes."

Charles H. Duell
Late 19th Century Commissionaire US Patent Office

Too many business people focus on the sales and profit they hope will come from innovation and invention.

If those are their "secret wishes" they are missing the point.

Sales and profit are the result of successful innovation and invention. Invent and innovate product that fulfills the secret wishes of others and sales and profit will follow.

What are your secret wishes?

September 25, 2009

Candor: Constructive Disagreement

"When two people in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary."

William Wrigley, Jr.

Does your company, do you, encourage candor, debate and forthrightness?

If so, how can you be sure what you're getting is honesty, particularly when what you're being told agrees with what you and/or the majority opinion believes?

September 24, 2009

Repetition: The Need for Management Renewal

"When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living."

James Baldwin
American Author/Playwright

I believe the point is: learn from the past but try not to perpetuate it. In business, keep what has worked, dispose of what no longer does.

As far as the quotation part goes . . .

September 23, 2009

Authority: Giving Versus Taking Orders

"There are two kinds of people who never amount to much: Those who cannot do what they are told and those who can do nothing else."

Cyrus H. Curtis
Early 20th century American publisher

This is one of the best quotes regarding reaction to authority I've seen.

How do you strike balance between being a too independent thinker versus not enough so?

I likely strayed too far to the former in my career.

September 22, 2009

Management: What You Do, Not What You Say

"Have more than thou showest; speak less than thou knowest."


In today's vernacular, walk the walk more than you talk the talk.

You know you have when you often hear it said that you did.

September 21, 2009

Marketing: Playing the Company Tambourine

"Poets and painters are outside the class system, or rather they constitute a special class of their own, like circus people and gypsies."

Gerald Brenan
20th century British writer

And within business I will add marketers, with apologies to circus people and gypsies if any reading this should be offended by the association.

On our best, most analytical day, we marketers are viewed by "hard science" business types as (barely) necessary evil disruptors of cash flow, returning little value to the business.


September 18, 2009

One Step at a Time, You'll Get There

"One may walk over the highest mountain, one step at a time."

John Wanamaker
19th century retailer

It would be a mistake to see this as just another dreamy vision, not suited to the real world.

John Wanamaker was a realist and his life's work resulted in tremendous business success, none of which happened all at once.

I can think of no significant accomplishments that easily happen without tremendous effort, most all of which comes one step at a time.

Can you?

September 17, 2009

When You Can't Win

"Show me a good loser and I'll show you an idiot."

Leo Durocher
Major League Baseball Player/Manager

Does anyone really believe this?

And I don't just mean in business since that is the context in which all of these quotes are to be judged.

I mean, period.

September 16, 2009

Management: One Trick Pony?

"The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"

The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"

The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"

The graduate with a liberal arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"


I see the attempted humor in this, a version of the old hippy joke, "I majored in basket weaving." But I would bet my two business undergraduate and MBA degrees, this did not come from anyone with a liberal arts education.

In retrospect, my college was too business oriented and to the extent I am more well rounded today, it is only because I pursued other interests after college, on my own.

Anyone entering business should have as much business training as they can get; however, not at the expense of all the other critical subjects in our lives. In fact, the fact that so many employed in business know only business, is a big part of the current problem.

My advice? Skip the latest tritest on management theory, this blog included, and read some history.

September 15, 2009

Success: Not As Much Achieving It As Keeping It

"It is wise to keep in mind that no success or failure is necessarily final."


I observe that more appear to believe that true about failure than do about success, particularly in the US.

"If at first you don't succeed . . .", "Never give up" and all that, tends to make us a nation of risk takers.

When it comes to business, we understand the inherently high failure rate, but keep trying nonetheless.

But success?

Far more seem to think that once you've "made it" you always will.

Do you?

September 14, 2009

Preparation: The Value of Being Ready

"Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control."

Richard Kline

Possibly, but in preparation we gain control of some things that will otherwise be out of our control.


September 11, 2009

Problems: Who's Responsibility?

"Untold suffering seldom is."

Franklin P. Jones

19th century British born immigrant to US

Served as Superintendent and Examiner of the US Patent and Trademark Office

Later magazine publisher

Meaning, those with complaints usually voice them.

I wonder if in business, they do so more than attempt to fix them?

September 10, 2009

Just Because You Can't See It . . .

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

Neils Bohr
Early 20th century Danish physicist

Many read quotes like this and conclude that is the reason there is no point in planning; however I doubt Mr. Bohr would, given his field.

Science is based on making and proving or disproving hypotheses and it is no different in business.

No one knows what the future will bring but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make assumptions and plan accordingly.


September 09, 2009

Lone Wolf versus One of the Pack

"There have been casualties: whereas those who work well with others have been promoted, lone fighters have been pushed out. As a result, a fifth of Cisco's leadership has left the company."

"The World According to Chambers"
Article discussing Cicso transformation

The Economist August 27, 2009

Not a traditional quote as in previous posts but important nonetheless.

Cisco relies on an intricate team management system, one the article says, does not favor lone individuals, apparently no matter how good they might be.

How do you balance the value of the individual versus the benefits of team players?

September 08, 2009

What Do You (Need) to Know?

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."

James Thurber
American author

Unless you know all the answers to all of the questions, but that small picked nit aside, I do understand and agree with Thurber.

Most of the businesses I see, appear to first focus on what they think they know as opposed to what they need to know.

How about you?

September 04, 2009

The Balance Between Risk and Reward

"Dissatisfaction with possession and achievement is one of the requisites to further achievement."

John Hope

Early 20th century educator

At the craps table this would be a decision to let it ride or walk away with your winnings.

There is a need to take some of what we achieve "off the table", because at some point, continuing to bet it all means we could well lose it all.

On the other hand, if we become too content with what we have there is little to no chance of achieving more.

How do you deal with this dilemma in your business decisions?

September 03, 2009

Management Genius: Stiring the Pot

"Philosophy becomes poetry, and science imagination, in the enthusiasm of genius."

Isaac D'Israeli
Early 19th century British writer

Genius, the missing ingredient that makes the stew.

If that's not a definition for inspirational management I don't know what is.

September 02, 2009

Who's In Control Here?

"It's not the plan that is important, it's the planning."

Dr. Graeme Edwards
Medical Doctor

For a lot of reasons not the least of which, if the planning is not done correctly, the resulting plan will be worthless.

We are all going to get from point A to point B with the only questions being when and with what interim stops (points C, D, E, etc.)?

We're either in control or being controlled.

Which are you?

September 01, 2009

What You Are, What You Say--The Same?

"The outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs."

James Allen
Late 19th century author

What you tell others is your management philosophy is not as important as what you believe it to be.

And you couldn't fake it if you wanted to.