Archive for 2010

Mixing Stress and Rest

December 28th, 2010 — 2:54pm

You are not designed for a long steady grind, or an extended mad dash. Of course you are not designed for constant rest either. You aren’t designed for constant anything, you’re made for periods of exertion with periods of rest in between.

This applies to both physical and mental activity. Our brains and our bodies seem to thrive on this variation between stress and rest.

An advisor told me recently that this applies to growing a business too. You need times when you go after it hard, (new products, expansion, big changes) and times when you rest and catch your breath. 

If it’s time to go for it hard, pour your energy into it knowing a time of rest is around the corner.

If you’ve been pedal-to-the-metal too long, build some times of rest into your day, week, and year so you don’t burn out.

If you’ve been idling on medium forever, expand your range into some intense times and some slow times. It will improve your quality of life, and your productivity.

Don’t Treat Everyone the Same

December 21st, 2010 — 6:00am

This applies to both managing employees, and marketing to customers. People are not all the same, they break down into groups that are very different in important ways.

One employee is motivated by money, another by recognition. One needs close supervision, one is most effective when given a lot of freedom. One wants consistency, another wants a new challenge every day.

One customer is all about price, another doesn’t even check the price. One customer uses your product in a business setting, another just for fun. One customer is a technical expert, another a newbie.

It’s a lot easier to lump everyone together and rationalize to ourselves that one size fits all, but it almost never does.

  1. Learn to see and serve the differences between people.
  2. Decide who you’re trying to please (“everyone” is not a valid option), and expect indifference or displeasure from the rest.

It’s Mostly Execution

December 14th, 2010 — 6:00am

A mediocre strategy, fully and energetically executed, beats a brilliant strategy incompletely or haltingly executed. Plans are important, but only execution makes change. You probably already know what to do, go do it!

Behavior Selection vs. Behavior Modification

December 9th, 2010 — 12:45pm

Yesterday one of my executive coaches said to me “CEO’s are in the business of behavior selection more than behavior modification.” This rings true to me. As managers of employees our job is to select people who already behave the way we need them to, much more than it is to try to motivate people to behave differently than they normally do. I think this applies most strongly to things we learn early in life (our personality, how we interact with other people, our learning style, etc) and not as much to things we learn as adults on the job (processes, technical skills, etc). Select employees, don’t try to modify employees.

How We Intend to Win

November 30th, 2010 — 6:00am

I’ve been reading Jack Welch’s book “Winning”. It’s advice about sound leadership practices in business. He was the CEO of GE for 20 years, so he has a lot of experience behind what he writes.

There’s an underlying theme of approaching business as competition between companies, with winners and losers in that competition. I think that accurately reflects reality in free market societies like ours, and it’s quite different than a solely customer-focused approach.

This theme comes through, for example, when he advocates evaluating business divisions and rewarding their managers based on performance compared to the competition, rather than made-up budget targets.

The same theme comes through in his proposal of a simple strategic planning process that analyzes one’s business and the competition looking for a “big aha”, a strategic opportunity to beat the competition with better product, etc., followed by intense implementation of that one thing. For example, in GE’s CT scanner business, the big aha came when they observed hospitals’ frustration with the cost of frequently replacing million-dollar machines as the technology improved. Their strategy was to come out with a line of CT scanners that could have their hardware and software upgraded for a fraction of the cost of a new machine, and this propelled them to the #1 spot in that market. It was one simple strategy.

In line with this, Jack says a mission statement should be a statement of “how we intend to win” in this business. I think that’s a very clarifying idea for any for-profit business.

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