March 31, 2010

Time Management: Any Fat Left?

"It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste."

Henry Ford

Yesterday's post talked about doing more with fewer people, which relates to time.

Can there be any companies left where time is still wasted?

March 30, 2010

Multi-tasking or Multi-failing?

"The waste of life by trying to do too many things at once is appalling."

Orison Swett Marden
Early 20th century American author

We have little choice but to multi-task, however there are limits.

In this time of needing to get as much done as possible with as few people as possible, how do you decide when too much actually is too much?

March 29, 2010

Communication: Not Just What You Think

"No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
18th century German writer

The first objective of communication should be to clearly understand what the person you are trying to communicate with is trying to tell you.

But how many do that?

March 26, 2010

Tomorrow Sometimes Never Comes

"How soon, "not now", becomes never."

Martin Luther
15th century German priest and scholar

Nothing stops progress as efficiently as procrastination.

March 25, 2010

Managing Controversy

"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way."

Bertrand Russell
British logician and philosopher

The next time you and a business associate are at logger heads with each certain you are right, the other wrong, stop and examine what you really know versus believe you know.

There is an enormous difference between the two.

March 24, 2010

The Future: What Do You Think?

"All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life, is the direct result of your thoughts."

James Allen
Late 19th century author

And as is true with your life, so too is it true for your business.

If you don't think about it (the "thoughts" Allen refers to), what will happen?

March 23, 2010

What You Have To Say As Much As How You Say It

"Good sense is both the first principal and the parent source of good writing."

1st century poet

In business, having the sense to know what is and is not worth writing about is critical.

This blog is example of that.

Sometimes I do while other times I don't, a
nd in some cases, what is not said is more important than what is.

March 22, 2010

Personal Growth: Learning From The Past

"A stumble may prevent a fall."

English proverb

Just as corrections in equity markets help set the stage for future growth, so too can personal challenges better prepare us for long-term growth.

Assuming we learn from them.

Many of us "stumbled" last year in our careers. If you did, what did you learn?

March 19, 2010

Dissenting Views: Responsible Opposition

"All history is a record of the power of minorities, and of minorities of one."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In business as well although there are precious few effective minorities.

Simply complaining or resisting does not make one effective.

To be that you must find a way to makes others understand your alternative vision, after first making certain you actually have one.

Anything less, you swim alone.

March 18, 2010

CYA Management

"A memorandum is not written to inform the reader, but to protect the writer."

Dean Acheson
Early 20th century American attorney/statesman

As is true with many of these quotes, not always; however, sadly, way too many memos, emails, etc., are written for just that purpose.


March 17, 2010

It's Not What You Earn But How Much You Keep

"Revenue is vanity . . . margin is sanity . . . cash is king."


There's an old sales joke about "losing a dollar on every item we sell, but making it up in increased volume."

I would imagine some CFO's reading this blog are not laughing at this, finding it all too common in their organizations.

They're right to be concerned.

Too much emphasis is placed on how much is sold, too little on how much is earned, and to make matters worse, many managers don't understand the difference between the two.

Do you?

March 16, 2010

The (Not So) Straight Line of Progress

"Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution."

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
th century German writer

When you are planning new initiatives, do you take into account the inevitable "starts and stops" that are almost always a part of anything new?

March 15, 2010

Consensus Management: A Cone of Silence

"A consensus means that everyone will say collectively what no one believes individually."

Abba Egan
20th century Jewish diplomat

Some of the best and worst management is consensus based. Best because regardless of what individuals say privately, publicly they are of one voice.

The trouble comes in the way consensus is reached and to over simplify, there are two possibilities; by individual choice and forced.

To the extent Toyota's troubles are due to a consensus of management silence about what many knew to be real problems, which would you guess got them to that point?

March 12, 2010

What You Know Versus What You Think You Know

"Erroneous assumptions can be disastrous."

Peter Drucker

Certainly acting on them can be.

I'm a planning consultant and simply cannot overestimate the number of clients who assume rather than know, way, way too much.

You may build your house of cards but will it withstand the inevitable threats faced by all business?

March 11, 2010

Management: Doing Through Others

"The person who knows "how" will always have a job. The person who knows "why" will always be his boss."

Diane Ravitch
Educator, Policy Analyst, Former Assistant Secretary of Education

A pretty good definition of the difference between those who do and those who manage those who do.

Unfortunately many good doers selected to become managers, fail because they do not understand the different skill sets required for each.

Do you?

March 10, 2010

Management: Two Places At Once

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

John Lennon

John wasn't thinking about business when he said this, but slightly altered, there is a connection.

Business is what happens when you're busy making other plans.

You don't have the luxury to just worry about today without planning for tomorrow. And you'd better not look to tomorrow without paying attention to today.

Balanced perspective.

March 08, 2010

Managerial Arrogance: Justified?

"Early in life I, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasions to change."

Frank Lloyd Wright
20th century American architect

When Mr. Wright (see the irony in his name given his statement?) said that, he had long since proved he could do as well if not better than he said he could do.

But what about the rest of us?

Is the case for your managerial ability based on what you've done, or what you say you will do?

March 05, 2010

The Value In Doing What We Don't Want To Do

"You can never achieve real success unless you like what you are doing."

Dale Carnegie

And if the opposite of success is failure, if this is true, maybe not liking everything we do isn't such a bad thing.

How would you know everything you do is "enjoyable" if nothing is not?

Maybe we need to do things we do not enjoy so we recognize the things we do.

March 04, 2010

Planning For The End

"Death is the shadow that always follows the body."

English Proverb

The morbidity of that statement notwithstanding, death is inevitable for all living things including companies and their activities.

To some degree most of us plan for our personal demise but do we enough in business?

Or is there some unspoken assumption that our business will live forever?

If so, is that a bad thing?

March 03, 2010

Business Clichés: Half Full, Half Empty?

"Banality is a symptom of non-communication. Men hide behind their clichés."

Eugene Ionesco
20th century Romanian born French playwright

I realize how you might feel clichés add color to your presentation.

But it's not a case of damned if you don't and damned if you do; there are other ways to say the same thing.

Be original!

If you have something worth saying, spit it out, run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it!

If you don't, people may just see you as another empty suit.

March 02, 2010

Things Are Not As They Were

"They that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils."

Francis Bacon
16th century British statesman

Everything, absolutely everything around you is constantly changing, maybe just a little, but changing nonetheless.

How do you deal with that?

March 01, 2010

Managing Eccentricity

"You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds."

Henry Davide Thoreau
19th century poet/ philosopher

(Click to enlarge)

Eccentrics do "talk to the clouds" with some of them finding answers.

But in business, how do we know those who do so in a good way versus the merely irrational?