Archive for the ‘management’ Category

What Seth Godin Got Right – and What It Means for Management

Monday, May 9th, 2011

“The easier it is to quantify, the less it’s worth.”

- Seth Godin, Linchpin

Seth Godin has built a terrific career by giving us new lenses through which to view ourselves and our culture. He shown us all how to be marketers, leaders, and artists. I disagree with many of his generalizations and simplifications, but sometimes I read something from him that takes my breath away. The quote above certainly did.

Early in my career, I ran across Peter Drucker’s famous dictum “What gets measured gets managed.” Over the past many years, this has proven true more times than I can count. And yet, it begs some crucial questions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Two Questions that Lead to Growth – for Everyone

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Are you creating the opportunities you’ll need for a highly successful career? In Insights for the Journey, John Lucht suggests asking yourself two questions in order to stay on a growth path:

  • “How can I re-distribute my work in order to provide a more richly developmental experience for each subordinate?”
  • “What can I offer to take over from my boss that will give him or her helpful support and, at the same time, give me needed stimulation and growth?”

Why are these two questions critical? Read the rest of this entry »

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The Trouble with Fact-based Innovation

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Here’s a fact for you: my most successful new product, out of well over a hundred that I’ve launched, had the worst qualitative and quantitative test results of anything I ever encountered. People hated it. Then it sold a quarter of a billion dollars in its first year. My second most successful new product, which won awards on three continents and became a 70-year-old company’s biggest new product ever, was similarly panned in early testing. Is there a pattern here?

The trouble with most innovation methodologies and processes is that they look for “facts” to guide decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Education’s Challenge Is Finding the Right Metrics

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch, but he certainly stimulated thoughts. He has spent his career as a specialist in Education Leadership and Policy. We were both old enough to chuckle over the current deja vu in education policy discussions. It feels like the early 80s again. He recalled Reagan’s denunciation of our educators as possibly criminal because of our students’ low scores on international tests, while I remembered the fear of an engineering-driven Asian giant that was about to surpass us (Japan then, China now). Of course, what the hand-wringers didn’t know was that we were at the dawn of one of America’s greatest growth eras, spurred by the very skills which our education system excels at fostering, like creativity and innovation.

American education remains one of our economic treasures, a net exporter of services as foreign students flock to our schools. Yet we have this sense of failure. Why? Read the rest of this entry »

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E-Myth, Rework, and Truth

Friday, February 11th, 2011

A couple of the most popular business books irk me. Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited and 37signal’s Rework disagree about many things, yet both make the same fundamental error: they over-reach.

Let me make the point by citing a book that never over-reaches, Good to Great by Jim Collins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Numbers & Business: Whose Reality Is Reliable?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Organizations mix “facts” into a tasty Kool-Aid that everyone drinks. How reliable is fact-based decision making? What is really real, and which reality should we believe?

Read the rest of this entry »

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A Twitter Manifesto

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I love Twitter. It has helped me meet several remarkable thought leaders and given me a new venue for sharing my own ideas. So it distresses me to see how rapidly Twitter is getting devalued by junk. You know, the programs that troll for followers, push the same generic automated tweets through subscribers’ feeds, and litter the twitosphere with garbage.

This is my reply to Twitter Trolls and those folks who promise to make you rich and famous if you buy their software, program, or advice. It’s a personal manifesto. Read the rest of this entry »

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Measuring the Right Things – the Right Way

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

[This post is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

Peter Drucker, the grand old man of management theory, famously wrote, “What gets measured gets managed.” In other words, Metrics determine what you focus on. After all, who wants a bad report card? If you are tracking your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) regularly, you’re likely to find ways to improve them.

Which can be good or bad.

Because if Drucker is right (and he is, he is, trust me on this if nothing else), consider the implication: if you choose the wrong KPI’s, you or your organization will end up getting better at the wrong things. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unique Employees Need Unique Development Plans

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Unique Employees Need Unique Development Plans

So here’s a radical idea: people are different and therefore need different professional development plans.

To which you say, “Duh!”

But have you considered the implications? If the cookie-cutter approach is wrong, what is right? Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Keep Employees Accountable for Results

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

[This post is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

Have you ever gone to bed smiling because you knew that in the morning someone would hand you an urgent report or confirm a critical meeting or handle a crucial situation? Then not been able to sleep the next night because the big event didn’t happen?

Happens all the time. Schedules slip and no one tells you. People promise to do something and forget. Or maybe hope that you’ll forget.

That’s where Accountability comes in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Manage Your Priorities to Be More Effective

Monday, November 29th, 2010

[This post is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

The highest priority when discussing Priorities is recognizing that there’s not much to say about prioritizing. But what there is to say is important.

Inevitably, as you execute your business plan, you will find yourself overcommitted. Unexpected crises will demand attention. What looked simple will turn complicated. You will unexpectedly discover that your perfect money machine has too many moving parts, and you can’t keep them all oiled. You, the master juggler, will suddenly find there are too many balls in the air.

How to get back in control? If you can’t grow more hands, which balls should be dropped? Read the rest of this entry »

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How Can Leaders Manage the Unforeseeable?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

[The following is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

Great leaders have a bias towards Action. They plot their course, set their sails, and point their helm at their destination. They strike a noble pose, appearing to all as masters of their fate.

Except that even the best sailors get blown off course with great regularity.

The Bad News: No matter how good your preparation and decision making, plans never, ever, ever go according to plan. Build your plan knowing that something else will happen.

The Good News: You can correct your course. Read the rest of this entry »

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Micro-Managing? 5 Steps to Stopping

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Many managers got to their positions by being very good at a particular function. Not surprisingly, they want to be deeply involved in their subordinates’ projects – after all, the manager has been doing it longer and more successfully. Almost always, he has a better idea and doesn’t hesitate to share it. Unfortunately, this is often counterproductive. Subordinates feel stripped of ownership, become demotivated, and perform poorly.

Fortunately, you can reprogram yourself to stop micro-managing. Here’s a straightforward 5 step process that will wean you from your bad habit and help liberate your team’s potential…without abdicating your responsibility to get great results. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 7 Questions to Ask About Your Market

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

It’s easy for any entrepreneur or organization to be so obsessed with production and internal goals that they forget they are surrounded by competitors trying to serve the same customers. Here are 7 questions that will keep you focused on what ultimately decides your success. Read the rest of this entry »

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Incentives and Consequences

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Peter Drucker famously wrote, “What gets measured, gets managed.” A less noticed corollary is that, as Dr. Deming pointed out, what gets measured can drive unintended consequences.

This came to mind recently when several small business clients within a few weeks asked me how to reorganize as woman-owned businesses. It seems that the government, as part of a policy to encourage women entrepreneurship, incents them to form businesses by setting aside a percentage of some contracts for small companies that are 51% or more owned by women.

The policy has been apparently successful. From 1997 to 2006, the number of women-owned service businesses increased by 69% and retail businesses by 130%.

Only one problem. The numbers are suspect.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Power of Positive Customer Service

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

On a recent trip I experienced the best and worst of customer service. The impact of each was huge, yet the gap between the two was small and easily closed. So why doesn’t every company  choose to provide the best?

I’ll name names. Read the rest of this entry »

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First, Kill All the Social Marketers!

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Shakespeare famously had King Henry VI suggest decimating England’s population of lawyers. Paul Dunay recently echoed this in his blog:

…2 years from now – if I still have a Director of Social Media – I should be fired!…

The theory here is as CMO’s appoint a head of social media in their organizations, it fosters silo-like behavior Read the rest of this entry »

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In Praise of Generalists: A Guide for Recruiting

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

“We’re going to train a generalist group of leaders…I think that’s the future of leadership.” - John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems, 2010

One of the most significant yet least commented on business trends of the past decade has been the decline of generalists and the rise of specificity in postings for managerial positions.  I believe this trend is dangerous, leading to suboptimal hiring decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tweets, Divination, and the Modern Executive:
A Stratagem for Mastering Information Overload

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Our 24/7 connectivity and its continuous assault on our intellect and senses has created information overload. Today’s leaders and solopreneurs must find coping mechanisms or drown in a sea of too-muchness. Fortunately, our ancestors had techniques that still apply.

My wife spent her childhood summers in isolated mountain villages in Lebanon, where Read the rest of this entry »

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Can’t Decide How to Decide? Here’s How – Part 2

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Many leaders stumble when they need to make decisions. Some undermine team engagement by being too authoritative, thus endangering the quality of implementation. Others are so considerate to the feelings of others that decisions don’t get made at all or too slowly, or are dumbed down to the least objectionable compromise. Here we continue our series on How to Decide.

Read the rest of this entry »

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