Category Archives: Management

Strategic Business Analysis

“Raise your head above the parapet, take yourself off somewhere for a couple of days, leave the mobile device and clear your head”.

Brilliant advice received from the founder of a major international company dealing in high tech components for mobile devices. He admitted this was something he failed to do while his business was growing, then suddenly the growth stalled, a quick analysis highlighted that the company did not have clear strategic objectives and was consequently dissipating huge amounts of energy and resources on unproductive activity, which included him travelling over a hundred days a year.

Business People often get so wrapped up in the day to day business of running a business that working up a strategic plan is one those jobs that is always relegated to next week. It is not earning cash, its not looking after customers, its not dealing with the supply chain, logistics, sickness issues, staff motivation, cash flow or how your brain hurts. But, and it’s a big but, spending time out will help all these issues, including the pain in your brain.

It helps to have an experienced unrelated, (to your organisation) individual to mentor your thoughts. Being an outsider, they’re more removed and can help with your global vision and perhaps add a perspective which you might not have considered. It doesn’t matter what stage of development you are at, starting, early days, growing, mature, it’s a fundamental basic to have this in place and to review it regularly

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Why Chief Executives fail……….

  • ARROGANCE: you are right everyone else is wrong. 
  • MELODRAMA: you want to be the centre of attention.
  • VOLATILITY: your mood swings create business swings. 
  • EXCESSIVE CAUTION: the next decision may be your first.
  • HABITUAL DISTRUST: you focus on the negatives in others.
  • ALOOFNESS: you disengage and disconnect.
  • MISCHIEVOUSNESS: rules are made to be broken.
  • ECCENTRICITY: its fun to be different just for the sake of it.
  • PASSIVE RESISTANCE: allowing your silence to be interpreted as agreement.
  • PERFECTIONISM: get the little things right even if the big things go wrong.
  • EAGERNESS TO PLEASE: being popular matters most.  

If the cap fits……………………….?

Pointless Stress Creation

Analyse your day. 

How many productive decisions have you made? 

How much time have you spent dealing with complaints, sorting out administrative mistakes, dealing with employee problems, production problems, customer/client issues, etc. 

How much time have you spent procrastinating about important task, avoiding it completely perhaps?

Why?  What delayed you?  Was it because you were nervous or lacking confidence?  Were you worried about new challenges.  Or perhaps you feel you have inadequate skills to complete the task to the required standard.  

Thinking we can do it all is where most of us cause our own problems  –  both in life and in running our businesses. 

The short answer, if we are honest enough, is that we know we can’t do it all.

Support is critical, and when we recognise this, the benefits are substantial – less stress and much greater productivity. 

The Cardinal Rules of Management

Experience shows that there are seven cardinal rules which form the nuts and bolts of successful businesses. Every Manager should have these as a mantra for their business activity: I will……

1. Communicate and build trust

a. Have an overall goal with repetitive communication.

b. Treat internal departments as you would your best customer.

c. Grow trust internally using your relationship building skills.

d. Focus on customer and joint goals.

e. Use every communication tool you can – frequently and effectively.

2. Set goals jointly.

a. Have an overall goal with repetitive communication.

b. Make them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time framed.

c. Encourage individuals to set their own stretched targets.

d. Reward achievement.

3. Track progress publicly.

a. What gets measured gets done!

b. Measure weekly or monthly against quarterly or yearly.  Direct comparisons of week on week, or year on year don’t necessarily show underlying trends.  Use MAT’s ( Moving Annual Totals) for trend analysis c. Feedback at regular short intervals.

4. Plan and anticipate the future.

a. Plan what you need to happen – set the intended outcome.

b. Anticipate what needs to be done.

c. Activate the Action steps needed.

d. Always play “what if”.

5. Place and coach winners.

a. Focus on winners.

b. Put people in their best jobs.

c. Show people how their piece fits.

d. Actively encourage people to excel.

e. Exemplify service from the top – lead by example.

6. Organise myself and others.

a. Implement tools to increase productivity.

b. Turn effective into efficient.

c. Don’t assume it still works now.

d. Look at what used to work.

7. Celebrate successes!  People need six things in their jobs:

a. Compensation.

b. Recognition.

c. Fun.

d. Personal growth.

e. Challenge

f. Convenience.

The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager – Which are You?

Leadership has been defined as being about influence, and Management has been defined as being about authority.  Which is right for your business?

John Kotter, the Harvard Academic, maintains that Leaders are inspiring and successfully promote new directions whereas Managers take care of today’s business, getting things done by executing the directions.

People choose to follow Leaders who are seen as inspiring and people orientated but are required to follow a Manager who is seen as controlling and task focused!

But surely this view is over simplistic?!

The qualities required by both Leaders and Managers are not necessarily mutually exclusive for one or the other.

boss v leader

To be a good Leader or Manager both need to have a degree of inspirational skill.

Whereas, an inspiring Leader might move people to change direction, an inspiring Manager will move people to exert more effort to get a job done!

As a Manager you do need to be a leader to get things done and as a Leader you do not need to be a manager to motivate and get people to follow. Realistically it all comes down to the individual’s personality and how they interact with the people.

Leaders can inspire and get people to follow, however without the skills to get things done, everything will be just words.

Managers on the other hand, with or without the qualities of Leadership are still able to maintain the important tasks at hand.

One could argue that it is better to be a Manager with the qualities of a Leader, who will create the better task force – Leadership qualities being the added bonus to have, but you don’t necessarily need them.

The key element is the individual characteristics of the individual involved and how they influence their people and the people around them, and in turn how those people respond. 

Communication – the panacea of good, evil or misunderstanding! Part 3

The definition of communication is “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”.

Oxford English Dictionary

Most “issues” arising in an organization can be put down to one word – Communication”.

On the basis that each person’s perception of a communication may be slightly different, how do you ensure a consistency of message, clarity, and understanding?

Achieving this can be particularly difficult when a number of stakeholders are involved, each having their own “take” of what is being communicated and their view on a solution, if one is required.

LogoVisual Thinking or LVT uses the principle that one picture can sometimes be worth a thousand words to see what is being said or thought.

When an issue needs to be addressed and involves several stakeholders the LVT concept provides an effective way of clarifying the issue.

The issue can be anything from, developing a new strategic plan; introducing a new process or procedure; resolving conflict; a changed dynamic following the introduction of a new member to a team; planning a career move to give but a few examples.

Stakeholder being defined as anyone or object being involved where focus, responsibility and accountability is required to achieve a sustainable outcome.

The LVT process involves interactive communication between the stakeholders that leads to greater clarity, understanding and appreciation of others perspectives.

In particular, the unspoken concerns of individuals which may have arisen and inhibit the issue being resolved will surface and can be addressed.

Communication – the panacea of good, evil or misunderstanding! Part 2

With the advent of the internet, “communication” has become much faster and far reaching as a result, the prospect of misinterpretation becomes that much greater.

The time for thinking something through has disappeared because of the intrusive nature of the email or social networking, people feel the need to respond instantly, thus time for considered thought about what is being said or written and how it should be said or written is lost.

Sending an email or a response is often a knee jerk reaction.

Email and social media are as a result inhibiting the art of communication through speech or the written word.

Many would argue the Internet and Broadband have improved communication and yes, they have with unprecedented access to information and no they haven’t by providing an easy distraction from the job in hand.

By adding to the myriad of “time thieves” that disrupt the executive’s day, concentration and focus can be lost from the immediate task.

The question then becomes are emails and social media the servant (tool) or the master of the executive.

Using any kind of tool requires a discipline, it is now all too easy to stop what you are in the middle of something to answer the dong from the PC or the flag flashing in the top right hand corner telling you an email has landed or you have been endorsed by a colleague in LinkedIn.

Your train of thought has been broken and therefore when you get back to the issue you have to spend a little time to regroup your thoughts .

It could be likened to climbing a greasy pole, up 4 feet down 3 and start again!

Whilst time management has always been an important part of an executives day, never has it become more important now with the increased number of time thieves clamouring for this limited resource.

How often does this happen, you send an email to a colleague asking a question or clarification about some point.

They send back an answer and copy a colleague – protection, no blame here or CYA?

The answer they have sent is not quite what you expected and prompts another question and you feel that perhaps another colleague should also be involved.

Now 4 people are on the circulation list and so on!

But each time, you and they have had to stop, read the email, key a response and so on.

In the days before the Internet, you would have walked over to your colleague or telephoned them and initially had a one to one dialogue without the time consuming to and fro which could involve more people.

The initial disruption would probably have been once only at atime convenient to you both.

Lets not lose sight of the basics and kid ourselves about “improved communication” coming from the internet!

Everything has a cost of some sort, there is a cost associated with the use of the Internet – EXECUTIVE TIME and DISTRACTION