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Archive for December, 2011

If the Shoe Fits: Time for the Holidays

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mI frequently praise the sound of silence and the benefits of unplugging.

It doesn’t have to be 100% and every little bit helps.

Starting tomorrow through January 31st, MAPping Company Success will be silent for the first time since March, 2006; I’m also going to curtail my online reading (I’m not social, so I don’t have to stop that.).

I’m not planning a trip and I won’t stop working, because I can’t change client deadlines, but I will eliminate as much online activity as possible.

What will I do with all those free hours?

  • Clear and organize my office; something I’ve been fantasizing about and trying to do a bit here and a bit there all year.
  • Catch up on all the put-offable stuff of everyday life.
  • Winter garden clean-up if weather permits.

And, I hope, spend phone time with some of you.

Seriously, give me a call at 360.335.8054. I’m usually available between 8:30 and 11 PM, barring errands, lunches and gardening.

I’d love to talk to you about anything you want. Perhaps we can solve a problem you’re having or at least shed light on it; maybe you have a question, subject or pet peeve you want to hash out; or you’re curious and just want to chat and get to know each other.

I hope you’ll take me up on my invitation; conversation with new people is at the top of my holiday wish list.

I also hope you’ll follow my example, cut back your online activities and give that time to your family, friends or favorite cause.

Have a wonderful Chrismakwanzkkah (as a friend says) and I wish you great happiness and success in 2012.

Option Sanity™ — Do the Right Thing

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.

Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.” Use only as directed.

Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Screw Business As Usual (book review)

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

As promised last Friday.

It’s not often that I unequivocally recommend a book, but Richard Branson’s Screw Business As Usual meets all my criteria.

It’s not a do-gooder book, per se, although Branson is passionate about “doing good by doing right.”

I realize that his take on entrepreneurism will fall on deaf ears for anybody who starts a company with the prime motivation of getting rich, but even they might reconsider after reading it—Branson started Virgin so he could afford to make a difference.

And there is prime proof that doing right pays.

“Companies that consistently manage and measure their responsible business activities outperformed their FTSE 350* peers on total shareholder return in seven out of the last eight years.”

Branson believes that the right focus is your employees and your customers; take care of them and the rest will follow.

The people, stories and advice in Screw Business As Usual are about, and dedicated to, entrepreneurs, business people and anybody else who believe that there is more to work and business in the 21st century than making money.

What worked in the past isn’t going to work in the future, from top-down, command and control management to companies whose policies destroy people, resources, etc., in the name of profit.

The doing-good-by-doing-right bandwagon is picking up steam, fueled by a vocal new generation that is disgusted with business as usual and older generations (maybe not as noisy) with the same feelings who are learning to vote with their feet—as US banks so recently found out.

Business needs to recognize that if they want to keep making money they need to do it responsibly—assuming, of course, they need both workers and customers to succeed.

In other words, screw business as usual.

*FTSE 350 is the British version of the Fortune 500.

YouTube credit: Virgin Unite

 

 

Entrepreneurs: Screw Business As Usual (book review)

I rarely read book that I unequivocally recommend, but Screw Business As Usual meets my criteria.

It’s not a do-gooder book, per se, although Branson is passionate about “doing good by doing right.”

I realize that his take on entrepreneurism will fall on deaf ears for anybody who starts a company with the prime motivation of getting rich, but even they might reconsider after reading it.

And there is prime proof that doing right pays.

“Companies that consistently manage and measure their responsible business activities outperformed their FTSE 350* peers on total shareholder return in seven out of the last eight years.”

Branson believes that the right focus is your employees and your customers; take care of them and the rest will follow.

The people, stories and advice in Screw Business As Usual are about, and dedicated to, entrepreneurs, business people and anybody else who believe that there is more to work and business in the 21st century than making money.

What worked in the past isn’t going to work in the future, from top-down, command and control management to companies whose policies destroy people, resources, etc., in the name of profit.

The doing-good-by-doing-right bandwagon is picking up steam, fueled by a vocal new generation that is disgusted with business as usual and older generations (maybe not as noisy) with the same feelings who vote with their feet as US banks so recently found out.

Business needs to recognize that if they want to keep making money they need to do it responsibly—assuming, of course, they need both workers and customers to succeed.

*FTSE 350 is the British version of the Fortune 500.

YouTube credit: Virgin Unite

WW: Last Minute Gifts

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

As some of you know it’s also Hanukkah, so I thought I would share this Kosher ham with you—a real faux pas that actually happened.

Next is a great list of sites for last minute shopping.

And my gift to you is a great way to kill time playing Rock-Paper-Scissors against a computer. I thought you could try it out next week.

Lastly, a bit of special bling the lady in your life won’t mind at all being late.

Image credit: Snopes and YouTube

Ducks in a Row: Creativity and Ethics

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In a series of studies, Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely found that inherently creative people tend to cheat more than noncreative people. Furthermore, they showed that inducing creative behavior tends to induce unethical behavior. HBS Working Knowledge

Not good news when your goal is to increase creativity in your people, but not really surprising.

When we think actively, we see more possibilities, and that includes ways to gain an advantage – a survival mechanism. When we think passively, we don’t see the possibilities, so we follow the rules. –Deb Pekin, Change Manager, Kraft Foods Inc (from a comment)

Creativity isn’t a faucet that can be turned off when it’s inconvenient—it’s part of a person’s MAP; it’s who they are, so they will apply it across the board.

“Dan and I are of the hope that managers will start thinking about how to structure the creative process in such a way that they can keep ethics in check, triggering the good behavior without triggering the bad behavior.”

That’s one approach.

Perhaps a better one is to build a strong ethical culture first and overlay it with a culture that encourages creativity and innovation.

One of the most important things is to make sure that unethical behavior is not tolerated, let alone rewarded; in fact, in some cases it should be terminated.

Of course, that means ethics would trump expediency; not the most common scenario in modern business.

Flickr image credit: zedbee

Ignorance is No Excuse

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Have you been following the News Corp phone hacking scandal?

Obviously, as a corporate culture maven I find New Corp’s endemic culture fascinating—in much the same way that a snake fascinates a bird.

The phone and email hacking, dumpster-diving and snooping are disgusting in themselves, but it is Rupert and his son James’ denial of any knowledge despite extraordinary proof and testimony to the contrary that amazes me.

Moreover, I find the idea that ignorance excuses bosses from responsibility for the actions of their organizations to be ludicrous, whether country, conglomerate, company or team.

I felt that way when Nixon denied knowing about Watergate; when Reagan denied knowing about Iran-Contra; and when Beech-Nut President Niels L. Hoyvald denied knowing about the fake apple juice; the list goes on and on.

In my mind it doesn’t matter if the top person knew or not, because as top person he (a pronoun of convenience) should have known.

Claims of ignorance mean one of two things,

  • the boss isn’t doing his job; or
  • the boss is lying.

Either way, that person shouldn’t be boss.

Flickr image credit: rstrawser

mY generation: Secret Change Agent Man

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

From the archives; see all mY generation posts here.


Quotable Quotes: More H. L. Mencken

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

As I promised last week, today is a “tour of Mencken’s irreverent view of politics and democracy that will provide great zingers for holiday get-togethers and leave you chuckling.”

Let’s start with democracy, since everyone seems to agree that it’s a good thing. Of course, definitions vary and Mencken offers some great choices in case you haven’t settled on one.

I’ll start with a basic definition and get more sarcastic from there, Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

Mencken didn’t think much of “the people” and my guess is no county was excepted from this scathing comment, Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

Hand-in-glove with that thought is this one, Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

He also said, Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. Not only worship, but elect; we jackasses keep electing jackals—party be damned.

Of course, you can’t expect a lot more when Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.

Finally, Mencken sums up his attitude towards democracy thusly, I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.

Now on to the politics and politicians.

Again, we’ll start with a definition, A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

He also said, A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. It’s hard to disagree with that comment, too.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that politicians of all stripes say anything to get elected; it’s nothing new, Mencken noticed it, too, If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

2012 is a presidential election year and the show has already begun, A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

Let’s end with one final definition along with the reason for it. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

And the reason? Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other’s speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Expand Your Mind: the Bad of Social Media

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

In spite of Monday’s post I’m still ambivalent about social media and I’m not just thinking about Facebook, Twitter and their ilk, but also blogs and other commentary.

Part of my ambivalence is from the anonymity available. Mark Suster defends it and I understand the necessity in places where dissent is dangerous.

But what works and is necessary in dissent is destructive when embraced by local gossips.

One thing social media guarantees is that at one time or another politically correct attitudes will fall prey to actual attitudes and reality can be pretty ugly.

Bloggers have long argued that they deserve the same protections as journalists, but in most cases I disagree. While there are a few exceptions, most bloggers have neither the interest, ability nor resources to do in-depth research of a subject; what we produce is commentary and opinion pieces, so I am glad when a truly destructive blogger is sued and loses.

Of course, a primary reason for my dislike of social media is that it brings out so much human unthinking, me-focused stupidity. Seriously. If you thought distracted driving—email, texting, talking etc.—was bad try distracted doctoring!

And while Facebook and Google initiate efforts to become forces of good, not all twenty-somethings-and-up feel the need. (I have company:)

Crowdsourcing is a new wrinkle in the social world and one that I find positively uplifting. Join me next Saturday for a look at it.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

If the Shoe Fits: Doing Well by Doing Good

Friday, December 16th, 2011

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mHave you ever had something you were aware jump up and hit you in the face? It’s not new information and your reaction is the same, but the impact is enormous?

That is what’s happening to me as I read Richard Branson’s Screw Business As Usual (I’ll be reviewing it next Thursday, December 22)

Maybe it’s just the entrepreneurs Branson talks about, but their goals seem so different from the entrepreneurs in the US.

The “already done it”entrepreneurs in Branson’s book grew up, as did Branson, with an eye to improving the world and knowing that they needed to a financial base from which to do it, but they never lost track of their main goal.

The current entrepreneurs he describes, many of them young, have a keen focus on creating jobs and improving their communities and see their company as a way to accomplish that.

They buy whole-heartedly into Branson’s basic idea for running Virgin, i.e., doing good is good for business.

Whereas a large segment of US entrepreneurs, especially the younger ones, seem to see their startups as the fastest way to get rich since the  financial, consulting and legal sector jobs dried up.

Obviously, not all of them, but a significant number.

“Doing well by doing good” just isn’t mainstream in the US.

Or is it?

Where do you fit?

Option Sanity™ helps equity do the right thing for all your stakeholders.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.

Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.” Use only as directed.

Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: the Missing Link

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

5470628508_b066eb7962_mYou started with nothing more than an idea.

Your idea became a vision and your vision a business plan.

You built a great team and infused them with passion.

You found skilled advisors and investors who believed.

You built your product.

Your company launched it with panache.

The media loved it.

But sales were dismal.

No matter what you and your team did you couldn’t gain traction.

You laid off your team

You were left with one question: what did you do wrong?

The answer is ‘nothing’.

What went (or will) go wrong is clearly explained in this article by Henry Blodget. And be sure to read successful entrepreneur and VC Nick Hanauer’s commentary on taxing the rich and one more that explains why entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs do not create jobs—their customers do.

You did everything right, but no matter how great the product, food, heat and a roof overhead come first.

Disclaimer: I realize this post will come over as partisan and liberal to some of you and I sincerely hope you will share your disagreement in the name of healthy discussion.

Flickr image credit: Charles Kremenak

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