November 30, 2010

Do As I Say! . . . Always?

"The ship that will not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks."

English proverb

True, but how do we know when obedience becomes blind and counter-productive?

As a manager, how much challenge do you allow from your subordinates?

November 29, 2010

Irrelevance is Relative

"Poetry often enters through windows of irrelevance."

M.C. Richards
20th century American poet/writer

And what is "irrelevant" is often a matter of opinion, subject to change tomorrow.  

Take education for example.

That you learn is more important than what or how you learn, a contention I agree with indirectly suggested to me by Julia Watson of in 9 Brilliant Business Minds And Their Totally Irrelevant College Majors.

November 26, 2010

Be Convinced . . . And Prepared To Change Your Mind

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

Winston Churchill

And this is not just true in politics and religion but in business as well.

The first order of business should be to believe what you advocate with the second being that you are open to alternative views.

A tight rope many cannot walk.

Can you?  Do you?

November 24, 2010

I'll Tell You What You Need To Know

"No member of society has the right to teach any doctrine contrary to what society holds to be true."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author

If taken literally, wouldn't this result in only more of what we know or believe we know, with little or no innovation?

In both my personal and business lives, I want to hear every opinion possible no matter how contrary to what I think.

I can discard the useless and will certainly recognize and coop the useful.

November 23, 2010

The Right Attitude

"Oh give us the man who sings at his work."

Thomas Carlyle
19th century British historian

Best not to take some of these quotes literally, this being one of them.

Unless I'm running a choir, I don't need singing workers.

But that was not Mr. Carlyle's intent anyway.  This has to do with upbeat, good natured workers and that will be a positive in any company.

November 22, 2010

Constant Change

"A state without the means of some change is a state without the means of its conservation."

Francis Bacon
16th century British statesman/philosopher

In business, a company not comfortable and able to deal with constant change will not survive.

Not only is nothing forever, anymore, very little is even for a little while.

November 19, 2010

Just Do The Job(?)

"The cure for boredom is curiosity and there is no cure for curiosity."

Dorothy Parker
Early 20th century American satirist

Keeping employees engaged and interested in their work is in management's best interest, but is doing so also their responsibility?

November 18, 2010

No, But I Can Explain

"It's not whether you win or lose it's how you place the blame."

Oscar Wilde

Or how you explain why you did not accomplish something important?

There are legitimate excuses for not getting things done but if you find you must more often than not explain your lack of performance, your success/failure ratio may be upside down. 

If so, the reasons will soon no longer matter.

We all get paid for what we accomplish, not for explanations of our failings.

November 17, 2010

What You Do, Not What You Say

"Every man is the son of his own works."

Miguel de Cervantes
16th century Spanish writer

Our words say what we will do, but what that actually turns out to be is how others will judge us.

November 16, 2010

You Talkin' To Me?

"The world is run by C students."

Source unknown

Probably true but if not, this is.

The world is populated by mostly C students and if you intend to sell us something (B2B or B2C) you need to remember that with your marketing.

So what do you do?  More like what you don't do.

I've quoted my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Mathew Kim, on this before but his advice is worth repeating.

Speak not so you can be understood but so you cannot be misunderstood.

November 15, 2010

Here's Where You Went Wrong . . .

"They condemn what they do not understand."

Marcus Tulius Cicero
1st century BC Roman politician

Now, when it is me being criticized I see the wisdom in this however when I am constructively pointing out someone else's faults, I don't.

How about you?

November 12, 2010

Going Alone

"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let's say you're considering quitting your job, going on your own.  Does this seem to support that decision or serve as a warning that you may want to rethink things?

The oxymoron is in the last four words "economic security and independence."  

You'll have a degree of independence although less than you think.

Economic security?  Not as much, taking longer to achieve than your plan predicts (you do have a plan don't you??)

How do I know?  Been there done that.

November 11, 2010

Did You Hear . . . ???

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you."

Spanish proverb

Something to remember the next time you say something personal about yourself to someone who just said something personal about someone else to you.

November 10, 2010

If Not Positive, What Then?

"I am an optimist, it does not seem much use being anything else."

Winston Churchill

I am also naturally an optimist and probably like this as a result.  But I also think it is generally true.

Do you?

November 09, 2010

You Don't Understand, But Why?

"Who is so deaf or so blind as he that will willfully neither hear nor see?"

English proverb

Good question, but how do we recognize purposeful managerial "blindness, deafness"?

When does managerial conviction and principles become managerial obstinacy?

November 08, 2010

Can You Be Both Effective And Liked?

"Good nature is worth more than knowledge, more than money, more than honor, to the persons who possess it."

Henry Ward Beecher
19th century American politician

As it relates to management, what is "good nature"?  

A lack of anger, maybe being liked by many if not all?  

Can a business leader in difficult times, both achieve expected results AND be seen as "good natured"?

Does "good nature" relate to management?

November 05, 2010

Time Enough

"Time stays long enough for those who use it."

Leonardo da Vinci

Thinking back over my career, I believe "I didn't have enough time" was the number one reason my direct reports gave me when they hadn't completed something when expected.

Sometimes they were stating fact and they didn't have enough time; however, I doubt that was true in less than 1 out of 5 cases.

The other times?  They simply didn't manage themselves well enough (and yes that applies to me as well.)

How about you?

November 04, 2010

More Than Honesty, Now What?

"It is wise to disclose what cannot be concealed."

Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
18th century German historian

Ok, I'll accept that but the hard part is knowing what to do and say once some controversial piece of information has been revealed.

There will be consequences to your workforce, competition and/or customers; what will you do about that?

How much of this (determining what to reveal followed by deciding what you will do once you have) do you consider when planning?

November 03, 2010

Put Up Or Shut Up Time

"Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions."

Edward R. Murrow
20th century American newsman

And now, the day after the US elections . . .

Memo to those elected:  What have you got?

November 02, 2010

So, How'd That Work Out For You?

"In politics . . . never retreat, never retract . . . never admit a mistake."

Napoleon Bonaparte
18th century French General

On this election day in the US I thought it appropriate to include a political quote, one I believe with a message to business people as well.

However not sure this is the best advice in that Napoleon died three years after being imprisoned and exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 2,000 KM from any land mass, for what even he recognized as his intractable leadership style.

Memo to US politicians:   Take heed, there's room on the boat.

November 01, 2010

Your Contribution?

"No person was ever honored for what he received.  He was honored for what he gave."
Calvin Coolidge
30th president of the United States

True in business as well and not just corporate charity.  How much of what, and to who, do you personally give in your work life?