Posts Tagged ‘managing by numbers’

360′s: The Right Way and Wrong Way

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Strong leaders have an odd blend of self-confident self-sufficiency and insatiable curiosity. They have the self awareness to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, yet also know that what they think about themselves is less important than what the people they serve – customers, vendors, employees, shareholders – think about them. They regularly seek feedback on their performance. Think of former NY Mayor Ed Koch who would continuously ask, “How am I doing?”

Many organizations have institutionalized the practice of periodically requesting 360 degree feedback as part of their review and development processes. There are many ways to do this. Some work better than others. Some are dangerous. 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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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?

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Facts, Intuition, and Errors

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Leadership is the art of balancing multiple priorities and multiple stakeholders with multiple needs. How do you strike the right balance for any decision? Turns out that making balanced decisions requires … balancing.

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Numbers or Impact? What Old Spice Teaches Us

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Last week, Dan Zarrella of HubSpot presented a webinar called The Science of Presentations with slides drawn from an ebook that was subtitled How to Give Contagious Talks. Therein lies the problem. Is “contagious” a useful measure of a presentation’s success? Is a successful presentation one that generates many live tweets with the appropriate hash tag?

Whatever happened to meaningful content? What if the primary purpose of the presentation is to influence a single decision maker, or a small group? When did the science of presentations become limited to viral?

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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.

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Numbers, Business Owners, Blindspots, and Long Levers: How to Move the World

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
The first focus area for many of my small business clients is numbers. Strategy, planning, research, personal and organizational effectiveness…nothing else matters if you aren’t in control of cashflow, margins, and so on. It’s a matter of needing to survive before you can learn to thrive.
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