June 30, 2010

Change and the Value of New Ideas

"Nothing is so amusing as a total change of ideas."

Laurence Sterne
18th century British writer

Nor as effective for improving productivity.

There simply is no way to overstate the importance of encouraging the process of change in business.

June 29, 2010

Big and Small: Balancing the Best of Both

"Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We need both small and big dreams but the big ones can get in the way of living the small ones, while too much of the small leaves little time to aspire for more.

Whether in personal or business matters, how best to find the right balance?

June 28, 2010

The Speed of Money

"Slow help is no help."


This could come from a small army of entrepreneurs who, needing funding, were told by those who might be in a position to provide it, "our due diligence will take time."

But if it were your money, what would you do?

June 25, 2010

The Value of Management/Employee Agreement

"Better a friendly refusal than unwilling consent."

Spanish proverb

Management can order employees to do most anything, expecting and getting compliance, at least in the short term.

And employees must often do things they would rather not do.

But does anyone doubt how better the outcome when both are in agreement concerning what will be done?

Now, how to make that happen more often?

June 24, 2010

Communicating Requires You First Listen

"The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying."

Francois de La Rochefoucauld
17th century French writer

I don't know about you but I've been guilty of this, plenty of times.

It's really not easy to real time listen to someone, process their thoughts, form your own, and communicate them back, all in a reasonable period of time.

Not easy but very important.

June 23, 2010

You're Done Only When You Stop

"You are young at any age if you are planning for tomorrow."


I like this on two levels; one, the advice to older workers to keep looking and moving forward, and two, exactly the same for companies no matter their age.

Eyes wide, keep planning, keep moving.

June 22, 2010

Consultant to Self

"To advise is not to compel."

German proverb

And no one should better know this than a consultant.

Like our mothers before us, our job is to give advice, the majority of which will never be taken.

June 21, 2010

Customer Knowledge: The Key to Sales

"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him and sells itself."

Peter Drucker
20th century American business author/consultant/teacher

I can't believe I'm going to edit Mr. Drucker, however . . .

If you really do know and understand your customer, you will do a much better job creating and effectively marketing products for and to him/her than you will if you don't.

June 18, 2010

You Can't Win If You Don't Bet

"Who dares for nothing, need hope for nothing."

Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
18th century German historian

Or, nothing ventured nothing gained.

What are you willing to bet in order to achieve your business or career dreams?

June 17, 2010

When What Is, Isn't What You Want It To Be

"Take the world as it is, not as you think it ought to be."

German proverb

We sometimes call people who need to hear this, complainers.

There is some value to wishing things were otherwise but be as quick about it as possible and then get back to dealing with what is.

June 16, 2010

Who's Got the Crystal Ball?

"Even a stopped clock is right twice a day."


So, everyone can be right at some time but the critical question is, how often are they?

Do you evaluate employee performance based on the frequency they see things in what turns out to be the best possible way?

June 15, 2010

Good Ideas From Any Source

"Absurdity. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion."

Ambrose Pierce
19th century American newspaper man/author

As are so many good quotes, a slight exaggeration, but the point is still made.

We do tend to discount things we don't ourselves believe. But the hallmark of any good leader is finding the best, no matter how different from what they believe.

How good at that are you?

June 14, 2010

Proactive Versus Reactive Management

"Vows are made in storms and forgotten in calm weather."

Thomas Fuller
17th century British clergy/author

And the connection to business I see in this is . . .

Management's decision to "really change the way we do things around here", often comes as a reaction to some crisis, only to be put aside when the danger appears to go away.

June 11, 2010

Stressed Out!

"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency."

Natalie Goldberg

Good thought.

Now, how to stay as stress free as possible? That's the hard part.

How do you handle stress? How do you determine what is and is not worth worrying about?

June 10, 2010

Which Side of Truth Are You On?

"I don't want yes men around me. I want everyone to tell me the truth, even if it costs him his job."

Samuel Goldwyn
Early 20th century American film producer (The "G" in MGM)

There are managers who think this way.

Are you one of them and if so, how's it working for you? It apparently worked for Mr. Goldwyn.

June 09, 2010

Mandatory Change

"If you have always done it that way it is probably wrong."

Charles Kettering
Early 20th century American inventor, founder of Delco

I would alter this slightly to read, it is probably wrong now.

In business if you've "always" done something wrong you won't have done it for long and are not likely the type of business Mr. Kettering had in mind.

But his point is still made.

Change or die.

June 08, 2010

Why (We Should) Do What We Do

"Glory ought to be the consequence, not the motive of our actions."


Who among us who comes up with a great idea, does not think a lot about it will mean to us personally?

But note the quote does not say we shouldn't do that, only that the inspiration for the idea should be the good it will do for our department or company.

How are you with that?
And if you are a manager, do you care what motivates good ideas?

June 07, 2010

The Need for Discipline

"A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness."

Jim Collins

Which is to say, discipline, regardless of your business, must be present if you are to succeed.

I agree but is it possible that discipline will vary depending on the industry? In fact must vary to reflect important differences between businesses?

June 04, 2010

Goals: Are You On The Right Path?

"Perfection of means and confusion of ends seems to characterize our age."

Albert Einstein

In other words, we've got great tools but often do not seem to know what we want to build.

I'm a planning consultant and see that frequently. Working towards the wrong objectives.

If you don't set the right goals, it won't matter if you achieve them.

June 03, 2010

Staff Reduction: How Do You Know When You've Gone Too Far?

"Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired."

Mortimer Caplin

This sounds like something senior management might have said to employees they didn't lay off in the last year or so.

"Be happy you've still got a job. You can do more than you think."

To a degree that is so; there was fat in a lot of organizations, but at some point that is no longer true. Many cuts have been to the bone.

When it comes to staff reductions, how do you know when enough is actually too much?

June 02, 2010

Failure: Not Who But Why

"Waste no time with revolutions that do not remove the cause of your complaints but simply change the faces of those in charge."

Francesco Guicciardini
Early 16th century Italian historian/statesman

In other words, your problems may not be the direct fault of others.

If an employee is failing, look for the reason.

June 01, 2010

New Business: The Difference Between Dreams and Reality

"Spend not on hopes."

George Herbert
Early 17th century British poet

This could have come from a venture capitalist.

Investors understand the need to assume but the more successful ones also know the difference between well thought out plans versus hopes.

If you're starting a business, regardless of how you finance it, you need to as well.