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Archive for December, 2007

A leading rhyme to wrap the year

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I love writing rhymes, but I take no credit for this one. Business Week’s Marc Miller, as edited by Deborah Stead did a terrific job encompassing Business2007 in this witty, slightly irreverent rhyme.

Many Happier Returns
2007, Christmastime:

The season may seem, well, sub-prime.
It’s hard to keep up calm composures
Totting up last week’s foreclosures,
Nor do sunken CDOs
Inspire hearty ho-ho-hos.
Add to those a plunging buck:
How long will it be out of luck?
But for a nanosec, what say
We stow the doom and gloom away
And summon better times, not worse,
With this, a modest yuletide verse,
A yuletide verse that for a change’ll
Not be penned by Roger Angell:
Many happier returns
To Merrill, Citi, and Bear Stearns.
To Ford, a hybrid SUV
That gets 100 mpg.
To Apple, after iPhone/iPod,
One more smash to form a tripod.
For 3M, at least a mockup
Of some goo that sends your stock up.
Amazon: We pray the wind’ll
Fill your sails as you launch Kindle,
And let’s hope those inkjets might
Make Eastman Kodak’s picture bright.
May the 787
Rocket Boeing’s stock to heaven,
And, in going still more global,
Please get greener, ExxonMobil.
Motorola, time has flown;
May you get past the 3G phone,
And may the cash flow stay as free
At IBM and P&G.
Biofood, please be Viagra,
Lifting profits at ConAgra.
Post-misguided market hype,
May eBay soon bounce back from Skype.
May Walt Disney’s wish be granted,
That its grosses stay Enchanted.
Anyway, of this we’re certain:
Nothing will harm Halliburton.
On a human scale, a thankee
To Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke;
Keeping rates so calibrated
Isn’t easy, as you’ve stated.
Let a rum and Coke be sent
To new Coke honcho Muhtar Kent,
While Howard Schultz, we hope that Starbucks
Still pulls in the coffee-bar bucks.
Richard Branson, further glory
Spreading Virgin territory
(Hope you’re not in for a shock
Should you acquire Northern Rock).
Google’s looking pretty fit;
We hope it stays so, Eric Schmidt,
But if you find you have to rough it,
Rough it à la Warren Buffett.
Let more Hockneys be bestowed
On Eli Broad (it rhymes with “road”),
While for Jeff Zucker, this we’d like,
A swift end to the writers’ strike.
Martha Stewart, season’s greeting;
How’s that linzer torte you’re eating?
Share a piece with Jerry Yang,
Who’s talking shop with Dennis Hwang,
But don’t give one to Roger Ailes,
You’ll tip the fair-and-balanced scales.
Here’s a hope not too much work’ll
Spoil the season for Ron Burkle,
Nor will hours on the phone
Keep Christmastime from John Malone.
Lastly, heartfully expressed:
Rupert Murdoch, take a rest.
For us working stiffs, well, peace,
And no more U.S. debt increase,
A White House race that’s not just ads
Or faux debates or hanging chads.
For readers, Web or otherwise,
A font that doesn’t strain your eyes,
And no more news of Britney Spears
For 10, no, make that 50, years.
For well-behaving girls and boys,
A sleigh of not-from-China toys.
May hooked-on-Facebook teens find smiles
In umptymillion Facebook files.
Us fortysomethings hope we gaze
On ever-swelling IRAs,
And may well-heeled retirees
Survive those 401(k) fees.

champagne.jpg Have a happy, celebrate,
And see you in 2008.

Have you written any good (or otherwise) rhymes lately? Share them—please!

Your comments—priceless

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The SAS Culture Strikes Again

Monday, December 31st, 2007

saslogo.gifEverybody who writes about corporate culture, leadership, managing, etc. loves SAS. I’ve been following SAS since it was a segment on 60 minutes nearly 10 years ago and recently wrote about it here. The latest accolade comes from Scott McArthur in the UK, citing an article in The Economist.

Scott comments, ‘Such is the success of SAS that Google have been recent visitors to the campus. Just goes to show that you are never so good that you can’t learn from others.’ So true.

I love Goodnight’s comment regarding the difference between subsidizing food vs. furnishing it free.

When Google’s human-resources people visited SAS to get ideas for the Googleplex, they found much worth copying—though the internet giant has gone one step further with food, which is free to staff. Mr Goodnight considers that unwise, for tax reasons: “I keep telling Larry and Sergey you shouldn’t give away food—the IRS will come in.”

The article ends with The Economist saying, ‘…provided that the industry’s big beasts do not get the better of him. His philosophy of “managing for creativity”, Mr Goodnight reckons, will keep SAS in front. But the real test for his approach will come if the going gets tough.’

Gets tough? Seems to me that there’s been plenty of tough since SAS started in1976—competition, globalization, not to mention a few recessions—and they’ve survived them all.

What do you think? Is SAS’ ‘managing for creativity’ enough to mitigate its business risk?

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What leaders DO: have ah-ha moments

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I love Google Alerts, they help me find stuff I’d never find on my own making it easy for us non-surfing, lazy folks.jim_estill_cdn.jpg That’s how I happened to see the post on CEO Jim Estill’s blog. You need to read it (it doesn’t take that long) for the rest of my post to make sense.

Following Jim’s lead, block out at least an hour a week (more is better) to stop being busy—no email, no texting, no phone, no surfing, no ipod, no TV, no nothing—and just let your mind roam. Don’t push it, let it mull. Suggest subjects, but don’t force them if your mind wants to go elsewhere.

It will take some practice and don’t be surprised if you hear your mental mulling gears creaking in their effort to turn, but persevere. The results will be well worth the effort.

And if you’re working to increase innovation in your company you’ll find integrating an uncharted hour into your corporate culture will go a long way to making that happen.

Busy is not conducive to creative thinking!

Think about which gives the highest ROI then print it and tape it on your monitor, the mirror’s in the restrooms and wherever else you choose.

Then DO it.

When do you do your most creative thinking?

Your comments—priceless

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What leaders DO: communicate

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

The old adage “praise in public and criticize in private” should be the guiding light for bosses looking to provide a year-end wrap-up of how the company (or any organization) did along with a rallying cry for the coming year.I’d like to share a superb example of this in the form of an email sent by the CEO of a small company with which I work that’s coming off a bit of a rocky year. Only the names (company and people) were changed for confidentiality.

From: Chuck Lorkin
Date: December 28, 2007 11:23:08 AM PST
To: All@QuikTap.com
Subject: What to expect in 2008

Hello Team QuikTap,

I am very proud of the effort you have all put in to ensure us moving forward during the past year. Every area of the company has experienced major improvements, but what stands out most are the accomplishments of the product development team (especially Jim with help from Geoff & Roger) in launching QuikTap Query Version 5. Through their work we have become one of the top three vendors in our market in look & feel and we are #1 in ease-of-use coupled with breadth of functionality and transaction processing power.

Several of you are asking how QuikTap will do in the worsening general economic climate. We are well positioned due to several factors, most of them resulting from our strategic decision to build the business without significant outside investment:

– QuikTap has a very low cost base and higher productivity per dollar than comparable software firms. Part of this is due to making our operations very efficient during our lean years of low sales.

– QuikTap’s products are positioned to have high functionality at a relatively low price – we are more affordable than our competitors. In an environment where corporations are spending less on IT, they will be more inclined to purchase software that delivers 80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost.

– QuikTap has a more efficient marketing infrastructure than our competitors. Each dollar used on marketing has a significantly higher return. According to our calculations, we have an advantage to our competitors of a factor of 10.

During this quarter we have augmented the sales team by hiring a Sales Manager (Sharon) and a new rep (Jerry). As a result, we expect 2008 to be a much stronger year in sales – both have previous experience with product marketing and sales of information capture products. Another noteworthy point, from a sales perspective, is that QuikTap is the best branded company in its field on the Internet. Craig has done exceptional work with online marketing, thinking innovatively and getting us to a first page position for all important search terms and with respect to social networking. This is bringing in leads and creates relationships that were previously outside our reach.

We also have an inchoate business development effort led by Tom who is collaborating with retailers and software vendors to increase our visibility and create partnerships.

Support response times are lower and greater satisfaction from customers is making it significantly easier for the sales team to interact with customers. The people in support keep on churning out solutions for our customers, in effect creating the basis for the company to leverage upon.

In 2008 I expect that the platform we have built during the past 18 months will begin to generate significant revenues. Having good marketing and sales teams, commencing business development and having good products to leverage in the market will move us into a leading position in our industry.

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work with the team we have now and look forward to QuikTap growing by leaps and bounds in 2008.

Chuck

How do you wrap up the year in your organization?

Your comments—priceless

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Deck the halls with honest feedback

Friday, December 28th, 2007

performance-review-1.jpgI’ve written on and off about the importance of, and how to do, performance reviews and it’s that time of year again.So in yet another effort to convince you doubters out there that honesty is the best policy and your people really don’t want to hear feel-good fudging, prevarications or outright lies, especially around Christmas.

Social psychologist William B. Swann in a new study published in the Academy of Management Journal… People don’t like to be treated positively if they know it is not heartfelt. If people are coming across as inauthentic and forcing you to come across as inauthentic in return, that can be enormously stressful… His work has centered on an idea known as self-verification theory. All people carry around an image of themselves that tells them who they are, whether they are good-looking or average-looking, for example, or clever at math, or kind and thoughtful or largely self-centered. Inasmuch as people want to be recognized for the things they are good at, Swann’s work suggests many people also want honest acknowledgments of their flaws, and that when these flaws are minimized or wished away, people end up feeling worse rather than better.

Just remember, honest and authentic don’t mean abusive or destructive. Offering recognition of what the person does well and being candid about areas that need improvement are two hallmarks of a good review.

The third is no surprises, which means that you’ve been giving candid feedback throughout the year.

What kind of reviews do you give? Receive?

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B5 Apprentice Challenge #7: Best Biz Channel Advice

Friday, December 28th, 2007

The Challenge

Kay’s finally settling into her role as entrepreneur. She’s enjoyed hearing success stories from others, learning new tips and techniques and gaining advice from this great group of business bloggers at b5. Her days are full and she rarely has time to sift through the volumes of content on the web. So, she asks you: if she only read one post ever on b5’s Business Channel, what would it be?

kid-cooking.JPGCongratulations, Kay! You came through this holiday season with flying colors and your KidChef products are still selling like crazy. By mail and email, every day brings glowing letters from parents and kids about how much they like them and how they never thought cooking together could be this much fun.

Your kids love telling all their friends about them and your daughter even insisted on wearing hers to school on show and tell day. Even your husband is impressed at how fast your business is growing and how well you’re handling it.

You weren’t sure at the beginning that you could do it, but now you know that you can make KidChef into a real business selling across the country and maybe even internationally. Who knows, maybe even a spot on the Food Channel. The possibilities are dazzling and you can’t wait to make them all happen.

And that’s why, beyond all the great advice, how-to’s and information available to you I want you to read 1st Surefire Way to Sink Your Start-Up over at Small Business Boomers. (Yes, I know you’re not a Boomer, but read it anyway:)

You see, Kay, you’re facing one of the most dangerous things that can happen to an entrepreneur—run away success. This kind of success often gives rise to, as it’s called in Silicon Valley, founder ego—the underlying belief that since you were smart enough to think of the idea and take it this far you’re smarter than your advisors and employees. Not a good way to move forward.

So, read Jim’s wise words and feel free to give me a call at 866.265.7267 if you’d like to discuss it further.

Have you every succumbed to founder ego? Or worked for/with someone who did?

Your comments—priceless

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Lead or manage—is that the question?

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I found a great ‘who cares’ quote w/link about leadership vs. management at Raven’s Brain. It was followed up few days later by a post at Gura’s Blog,

I got into a Leadership program at work. One of the main points is defining the difference between management and leadership. The jist is that management deals with specific tasks and functions and that leadership deals with people. You don’t have to be a manager to be a good leader. As the Kali lessons have repeated time and time again, to be a good leader, you have to also be a good follower and thus the term of “managing up.” I personally dislike the business jargon that implies a one-way street in leadership and/or management. Yes, a leader must step forward, but before the step is taken they have to do a lot of listening and observation and be aware if anyone is actually following them in the direction they are going into.

oneway_twoway.jpg

Smart gal—one-way streets exist only in the imagination as long as the people involved can walk away.

It’s a fascinating blog by a real person, sans MBA, who is following a more patient career path than you find in the US. Reading through some of the other posts, you get a good sense of who/how she is at work and at home.

Gura is acting manager now that her boss retired and, based on the person revealed in the blog, if her senior managers have any sense they’ll make it permanent in June.

Just an aside, but Gura’s writing skills will bring tears to the eyes of most American managers when they realize that she’s in the Philippine’s.

Comments—priceless

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India is catching up, but is the price too high?

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Change is speeding up around the globe, but oft times it seems as if it’s affecting the wrong things.Take India. Its rising economic power, driven by outsourcing, is resulting in improved living standards for many, while producing many Western health woes.

Call centers and other outsourced businesses such as software writing, medical transcription and back-office work employ more than 1.6 million young men and women in India, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who make much more than their contemporaries in most other professions.

They are, however, facing sleep disorders, heart disease, depression and family discord, according to doctors and several industry surveys…

Heart disease, strokes and diabetes cost India an estimated $9 billion in lost productivity in 2005. But the losses could grow to a staggering $200 billion over the next 10 years if corrective action is not taken quickly, said a study by New Delhi-based Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.

The problems aren’t limited to outsourcing, although that industry will be hardest hit if the projections hold true.

A recent survey by Dataquest magazine and technology consulting company IDC showed sleep disorders topped health complaints among outsourcing industry workers. About 32 percent of respondents complained of sleep disorders; 25 percent had digestive troubles; and 20 percent reported eyesight problems, said the survey, which covered 1,749 employees at 19 outsourcing companies.

One out of 10 persons aged 35 or older are prone to heart attacks. hospital_bed.jpg

Heart disease is projected to account for 35 percent of deaths among India’s working age population between 2000 and 2030, Kasliwal said, citing a World Health Organization study. That number is about 12 percent for the United States, 22 percent for China and 25 percent for Russia.

Is this what every emerging country should expect? Are these illnesses the natural price paid for climbing on the economic express?

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Wordless Wednesday 12/26/07

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

biggest_dog.jpg

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Wordless Wednesday 12/26/07

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

chinese_swimmingpool.jpg

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