Archive for the ‘management’ Category

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While there are as many detailed approaches to child raising as there are parents of children, here are two simple schools of thought that can adequately sum up the major approaches in teaching a child how to find their place among the world’s masses:

– Assurance Of No Limits: giving children expectations above their actual level of mastery with the hopes that having no limits will help them to surpass their expectations, and possibly even yours.

– Knowing Your Limits: knowing just how far along your children really are, and giving them expectation exactly on that level, to ensure they can reach their achievements with as little frustration from possible failure possible

While one would suspect ‘No Limits’ would be a more preferred philosophy than ‘Know Limits,’ there are pros and cons to using either approach, and the key lies in the individual child. Because eventually, they come to an age and level of maturity where their actual limits will play a greater role in the definition of their destiny, and their ability to overcome or circumvent these actual limits will make a difference.

Like say, in the work place, when they hit mid-twenties.

At that point, it will be their managers responsibility to make sure they are developing as well as possible in their career growth, or at least well enough to keep the manager from getting fired. This activity is a lot like raising an actual child, only the allowance and popularity contests that are now at stake are actually families, mortgages, career progression and possible lives, based on the nature of the occupation.

Here too, you can use the same basic approaches suited for raising children in hopes to lead your workers to fulfilled career growth.

The big difference here is that ‘No Limit’ is by far a more preferred philosophy over ‘Know Limits.’ But do keep in mind the exact dynamic you have to work with, and the abilities that actually exist in your company’s talent pool. You’ll probably not be lucky enough to have all-star talent to fill your entire work crew, and some employees will be adamant about how adequate (or not) they are in their performance.

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This Guest Post Written By Donald Mitchell

Continuing business model innovation is the most valuable activity that any enterprise an engage in. But it’s a problem for most leaders to take on this task. Why? They’ve never see anyone do it, and they have no personal experience.

To help overcome that problem, this article describes the key elements that such a process requires. With this template in mind, some leaders will be able to design and engage in the appropriate activities.

Here are the four elements in continuing business model innovation:

1. Understand and follow the current business model well. — Employ the optimum way that goods and services should be supplied now, by informing all stakeholders about what needs to be done to deliver the most benefits.

2. Understand and install the next business model. — Specify the next innovation to provide more stakeholder benefits through goods and services and how the transition will occur.

3. Understand and use a business model innovation vision. — The ideal benefits to deliver to stakeholders in your industry, which is used to test the appropriateness of developing future generations of potential business model innovations.

4. Ongoing design and testing of business model innovations. — Vision-defined probes and tests to elicit reactions to providing new benefits and various ways of supplying them.

A more valuable approach to continuing business model innovation also describes more than one future generation of innovations in terms of the second element.

For each of the first three elements of continuing business model innovations, you need to identify seven key elements — the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much — viewed from the perspective of all direct and indirect stakeholders. Their combination defines either a business model or a business model innovation vision:

1. “Who?” defines all the stakeholders you are serving or affecting.

2. “What?” describes the offerings and their benefits and negative influences that affect each stakeholder.

3. “When?” captures the timing of offerings’ effects on stakeholders.

4. “Where?” identifies the location for delivering the benefits and other impacts.

5. “Why?” gives the rationale for providing the stakeholder benefits you deliver.

6. “How?” explains your method of providing your offerings and being compensated for them.

7. “How much?” states the price customers and users pay and incur.

Why is it important to know what these seven elements are? By examining these areas, organizations will be able to focus on places where important benefits may be added.

About the Author:

Donald Mitchell is chairman of Mitchell and Company, a strategy and financial consulting firm in Weston, MA. He is coauthor of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. You can find free tips for accomplishing 20 times more by registering at: - $11 Billion in Scholarships – $11 Billion in Scholarships
Let’s say you’re shipwrecked. Assuming you’re free from any immediate danger (you’ve got a life raft and some supplies, there are no sharks or pirates lurking, etc.) would right now be the best time to debate with yourself if your nephew would rather have the Wolverine action claws or the Batman cape and mask for his birthday present next week?

You might think there are better things to focus on in a time of crisis, mainly surviving to the next moment. But what good is surviving to the next moment and the next moment and the next moment if you lose the sense of why you should be surviving. Otherwise, the alternative will start to feel more appealing and a lot less of a hassle.

When I when through my 2 days of survival training in the Air Force, the instructors knew that 95% of the cadets that were standing in front of them in the woods were basically on a camping trip and would never need any real field survival tips, but they taught us some mental tricks that would actually roll over well as basic life skills. The most important is the faith that you will survive, and the ability to keep those around you convinced of the same, despite the conditions you are facing. The common scenario for doom would be a group of survivors marching toward what they hope would be safety, where eventually, someone will start muttering “We’re all going to die…” Those words will quickly become a chorus in perfect lock-step harmony if not addressed immediately.

Take a look at the various aspects of your life. Whether it is the fear of more cutbacks and layoffs at work, or the strain of a spousal or parental relationship at home, all the battle plans in the world you can devise to survive an onslaught will do you no good if you’ve got nothing to live for after the war has been won.

Assuming you are not currently in the act of dodging bullets or arrows, now is exactly the right time to be planning that moment you’ll be looking forward too once you step off the field of battle.

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This is not the first time on this blog that I have taken on the time honored tradition of the customer always being right, but I believe it is the first time I actually offered a solution that involved dealing with the customer and not just reassuring the employees who deal with them that the abuse they take is worth it.

Once again, I will admit that I am a horrible closer in sales, but once committed to a client and product, they get 100% effort, routinely overshooting their expectations. But in the cases when you are not meeting the needs of the customer to their satisfaction, despite delivering exactly what they asked for and more, I offer three solutions:

– Sell Them At A Lower Price: Times are tough right now for all of us, and your clients are no exception. They are feeling just as much pressure to cut costs or get more for the money they are spending, and they are driving you insane with worry for loss of revenue I you can’t meet their panicked demands. Now is the perfect time to take a small loss with a loyalty discount for those long time customers, especially big spending customers. A limited batch of discounted goods and services might be to ticket to keeping them at bay.

– Sell Them At A Higher Price: Custom orders, rush delivery, and last minute changes are enemies to your bottom line, especially if your customers are coming to you discounted and not premium prices. If your customers are making requests that mean increases to your normal cost of service, you are well within your right to share some of that cost increases with those customers. If your customers are just annoying, well, make sure you can both justify and prove the necessity of the cost increase

– Stop Selling To Them: If you were no longer serving the best interest of a client, you would expect them to stop using you. It is odd that the opposite is usually not an expected option. If a client becomes too much trouble or expense, and you can come to no workable discourse, you have to fire the client. You would do better using the time and energy to focus on your profitable customers or finding a new replacement customers.

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I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends who are stagehands lately, and as the summer concerts are beginning to be planed, and my mind got caught up in thinking about goals and planning.

When a band sets up a stage for a performance, they have to scout out the venue, determine their basic wants and needs for a show, figure out if the venue can actually allow them to do some cool extra things (more lights, split level stages, pyro, whatever), and then determine what the end result should be. If the band is comfortable with themselves and who they will be performing with, they know how well they move together on stage, and can easily set up a performance and tear down for a quick getaway once they know how much room you have to work with.

Take this to your work team or even personal goal planning. Think about yourself and the teams you work with, and take a closer look at the current level of talent in contrast to the limitations that have placed on you (budgets, time, authority, priority). Your limits make up the size of your venue, and whether it is the equivalent of a small club or outdoor stadium. That sets you up to gage the size of stage you can manage in the space, how much equipment and what type of equipment you can allow on stage, and the size of a crowd you have to pull into the venue to make your performance pay off. Your bosses may see a lot of potential for crowded theater shows, or they might not think your ready to come out of the garage. You’ve got to figure out what venue they’re trying to book you in before you try to negotiate a bigger room and more of the door money.

And you have to be especially honest about the level of talent you are currently working with. You can argue about the Beatles being the greatest band of all time, but they didn’t begin the British Invasion a few months after they formed. They spent years learning themselves and their audiences, and they started with humble beginning of playing in some of the smaller and more seamier dives all over Europe. They had designs on sellout arena crowds early in their career…but they to build themselves up to reaching their superstar status. And they had to build smaller steps and occupy smaller stages along the way until they could demand the biggest and the best. Don’t get fooled by your potential. Let your potential be your booking agent to bigger gigs in a timely manner.

Your first challenge is to see the venue for what it is, and plan the biggest possible stage and grandest show setup you can imagine for it. That becomes your target goal, and their is nothing wrong with taking that goal to an insane extreme. You might not sell out Madison Square Garden, but you’ll never come close if you don’t keep a few open dates in case the opportunity just happens to pop up.

Your second challenge, and what is the real hard part, is to be consistent in building the steps to that bigger stage, and not hope that talent or luck will allow you to leap from a smaller stage without the proper support. Having a team that is willing to do what it takes to sell out the Garden is great. Having a team that has the talent to pull off the show is wonderful. Having the team that has worked its way up, step by step, to grow its talent and fan base to sell out the show is what you really want. That is something special.

I’ve worked with people who have looked at the big stage and shied away from it, despite great talent, and chosen to stay in the smaller venues or even get out of the business altogether because of the time and expectations of people who perform on the grand level. More frustrating are the people I’ve worked with who you have looked at the stage we are working on and the steps we had built so far, take a chainsaw to them, set them on fire, and then drive over the whole thing with a steamroller. Then, they would stand on top on the ashes and complain that were not building an even bigger stage than the one we had previously destroyed. I have worked with far too many of the latter types of people than I care to think about, because it drains my personal energy when I have to think about the time and energy wasted in the build up. But each experience is a learning experience that you have to take something good away from.

After receiving a tweet from a friend asking for news release help last week, followed by was seemed like an entire day of emptying my email inbox of bad news releases, I figure it was time I took another shot and explaining the art of getting your release at least looked at, and hopefully used.

For a head start, check out my past post which
explains the 7 pieces of media that should be included in your basic media kit

I want to attack the problems I dealt with yesterday:

Assume We Don’t Have The Latest & Greatest: Last Friday, I learned that according to Forrester Research, 60 percent of companies use Internet Explorer 6 as their default browser. That was the day I stopped whining to my IT folks about why we were using the old & busted browser of the past. Today I plead to all the PR folks to sent thinks out in the future. Web pages with lots of flash widget and browser optimized settings can not trump a simple webpage with a clean overall look and images set to just enough that it means something. My 5 year old office desktop running Windows 2000 would appreciate it.

Assume We Don’t Have The Latest & Greatest Part 2: As with the case in an office where I am running Windows 2000 for heavy audio editing, we’re also short on licenses for MS Office. ANY version of MS Office, let alone the latest and greatest. Assume that the person on the computer on the other end may be in the same boat, and don’t send them word docs typed on your brand new, shiny Vista computer with converting them down from .docx to .doc. Even better, try .rtf or a .pdf, both which are universal, and for the latter, you don’t have to worry about a change in font shifting the entire press release.

Images Can Ruin Everything: Our web based corporate email system allows every user in the corporation 20MB or storage space, unless you’ve been with the company over 8 years, whet they may be stuck with the old cap of 10MB. Not a serious problem for those who have machines with the MS Office suite and MS Outlook. I don’t have that luxury, and had to dump my email twice yesterday, after receiving an attached .mp3 from a new artist (5MB) and a two press releases from the same person because he forgot to attach a picture to the document (2MB for first email with large corporate logo, 8MB for email with large corporate logo and 7MB hi-res headshot in .docx press release). Sending news releases with links to download media, scaling down large images to travel reasonably through email, or just sending a .pdf would have made life much easier for me, the one you are trying to influence to cover your people and events. - $11 Billion in Scholarships – $11 Billion in Scholarships

How many times have you past up a great personal opportunity, with the only reasoning being you figure you could live with the good thing you already had going? How did it make you feel in the short and long run, as you watched greatness continue and you flounder?

How many times have you watched as your bosses balked at the chance to go after a potentially great employee hire, get in on the bottom floor of a potentially great business opportunity, or expand on a potential great internal program?

There might be good reason (no sustainable capital, not enough physical resources or manpower, possible conflicts in our business model, contractual loopholes to battle out of, etc). Then again, there might not be any reason other than being able to live with the ‘good’ thing we got right now, even if that thing is more along the lines of ‘serviceable,’ or ‘adequate.’

How does that make you feel in the short and long run, as you watch greatness continue for other job sites and yours continue to flounder?

And in some cases, you will find not only opposition to the change that can take your good to great status, you will find much more effort and energy to keeping things status quo that taking your new initiative to greatest, especially if the current state of affairs is closer to the sub par than the par .range

Anytime you take a risks, despite how minimal you can make it, if there is no risk, there is no reward. Even getting out of bed has some risk involved, even if the much more pleasing alternative offers enough consequences to make the decision not to particularly silly.

If you get the opportunity to reach out and touch great, you need to take that opportunity.

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This Guest Post Written By Pam Kennett/

To improve a team’s effectiveness, it is first necessary to understand the factors that impact its performance. Once you understand these factors you can determine when and what team development is needed.

In order for teams to function effectively they must manage how they work together and how they interact with the rest of the organization. As a result of his studies, Richard Beckhard (“Optimising Team Building Efforts”, Journal of Contemporary Business, Summer 1972) states that for teams to be effective they must manage four areas internal to the team: goals, roles, processes and relationships. Further research has identified a fifth factor impacting performance: how the team manages its interaction with the
organizational environment. Within these factors is a hierarchy with some factors affecting all of the others. These five factors become the focus of attention for the manager who wants to raise team performance, because teams that effectively manage these areas function more effectively than teams that do not.

Environmental Influences – the impact of the organization and the outside world on team performance.

The organization creates the context within which the team functions. The policies, procedures and systems within an organization can either support or hinder a team’s effectiveness. An excellent example is the impact an organization’s reward system has on teamwork. Organizations typically reward only individual contribution. Few organizations have found ways to reward teams.

Signs to look for: The team is physically distant, not given enough resources to do the job, individuals are not recognized for team effort.

Goals – What The Team Is To Accomplish

A team exists when members have responsibility for accomplishing a common goal. An effective team is aware of and manages:

1. The extent to which goals are clear, understood and communicated to all members
2. The amount of ownership of team goals
3. The extent to which goals are defined, quantified and deliverable
4. The extent to which goals are shared or congruent
5. The extent of goal conflict or divergence

Signs to look for: The goals are unclear or not communicated, everyone is doing their own thing and not participating in goal setting.

Roles – Who Does What On The Team

Do all members understand what they and others are to do to accomplish the task? Do they know their individual responsibilities and limits of authority? In new teams time should be spent discussing and defining roles and responsibilities. As the team develops it is typical for individuals to build expectations and assumptions of others which are seldom recorded anywhere. These should be discussed and agreed upon.

Conflict may occur as a result of differing expectations among team members. Overlapping roles can create conflict, especially when two or more team members see themselves as responsible for the same task.

Signs to look for: Responsibilities are poorly defined, there is a power vacuum, members act independently and avoid responsibility.

Work Processes – How Members Work Together

Once team members know what they are to do and who is to do it, they must determine how they will work together. Typical considerations are:

Decision making – how will each of the team members participate in decision making.
Communication – what should be communicated within the team, to whom, by what method, when and how frequently?
Meetings – what is the team trying to accomplish, what subjects are to be covered, who is responsible for the subject, how will the meeting be conducted, who should attend? Leadership style – the leader and the team need to agree the best style to meet the situation and the leader should be open to receiving feedback on their style.

Signs to look for: Meetings are unproductive or poorly attended, decision making is dominated by one or two people, actions taken without planning or communication is one way.

Relationships – The Quality Of Interaction Among Team Members

As team members work together, relationships often become strained. Members need ways to resolve problems and to assure that a good working relationship continues.
Sometimes relationship problems occur because of a difference in values or a personality or management style clash. Managers may need to take an active role in soothing relationships during times of conflict. The more energy that is siphoned off because of bad feelings, attitudes or strong emotions, the less energy is available for the team’s task.

Signs to look for: Personality conflicts, or members are defensive or competitive.

Team development is a process aimed at improving team performance in any one or all of the five factors in the team hierarchy. After examining your team’s performance in these areas, your role as a manager is to identify where your focus for team development needs to be.


About the Author:

Pam Kennett is Founder and Director of Chiswick Consulting Limited, a management consultancy which provides advice and direction to clients in marketing and human resources. Pam has more than 20 years experience working with teams and leadership groups to raise performance. Contact her at or visit


“Second place is the first loser.” Ricky Bobby (aka Will Ferrell) from Talladega Nights

Today we’ll have a little bonus ‘Quote & Question,’ as my wandering mind came across using a foot race as another metaphor for life. You can throw plenty of old clichés and adages to it: “The race is not to the swift,” “Slow and steady wins the race,” “Life is a marathon and not a sprint”…but then that line for Talladega Nights popped into my head, and my mind was off to the races (pun intended).

One of the few things I know for sure is that in life, you are always either in the lead or playing catch up. Whether you’re in the middle of the pack or far, far out the race, if you’re not in the first place, you are not in first place.

That was exactly what I have been dealing with in all aspects of my life, as the current economic conditions here is the US has found a way to stymie just about every well laid plan I had conceived in the past few years, and is doing to same to many of my friends and associates. Not only are more people finding themselves out of first place, they are finding themselves getting lapped. It doesn’t matter how far behind you happen to be in the race, if you’re not in the lead, you only register if you’re a threat to take the lead, and you only seriously matter if you actually take the lead.

With so many people unlucky enough to have lost a job recently, the people who are lucky enough to have jobs look like winners well ahead of the pack. In reality, most are just unlucky enough to be stuck where they are because of the lack of jobs out there. They are stuck in jobs they don’t like or jobs with no forward motion for the foreseeable future because of the overall lack of jobs. People are being given new and extra duties on their jobs that are not only insisting that they come out of there comfort zones at work, but some people flat out don’t want to do. It’s becoming a workplace reality for more employees to be overloaded with additional duties that need to get done, but have completely gotten in the way of their career pursuits.

And now, everyone seems to be behind, and all fighting just to place or show, not even targeting the person who is truly in the lead.

And that guy in first place is wondering why there are no threats to his top spot, and why he’s even running so fast anymore…

In a land where everyone loves a long shot, and the leader of the pack will often embrace the role of the villain, we have seemed to have lost it. No one wants to be on top for fear of having to defend their spot, and many racers are too far behind in laps to even make the race interesting anymore. We seem to all be fighting hard for the right to claim first loser than to be the actual winner.

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I was looking to challenge myself today in my writing, and found myself surprisingly fixated on wrestler Ric Flair’s Space Mountain quote for most of the morning. Not sure exactly way the aging wrestler was in my thoughts, but somehow, inspiration struck because of it.

What you have below is the wisdom gleaned from words of the Nature Boy, one of the greatest athletic and theatrical performers I have ever witnessed. Give it a quick read, and see how much knowledge you can gain for use in your business or personal life.

“This ain’t no garden party, brother. This is wrestling, where only the strongest survive.”

Make sure what you are getting to is exactly what you want to get into, because chances are, you’re going to find the path it takes to get there has plenty of surprises waiting for you just past your line of site. And by surprises, I mean obstacles to your progress and problems that will take you off course. Just know they will appear, and prepare yourself for the journey. Just make sure it is a journey worth taking.

“Girls, you can’t be the first, but you can be next.”

The world is full of pioneers. You don’t necessarily have to be one to be successful and prosperous. In fact, you will probably be doing yourself a favor by following in the footsteps of someone who took the time to blaze a trail ahead of you.

“Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it has the longest line.”

Once you’ve established yourself as the bonafide leader, everyone will want a piece of you. And you might be as great as you’ve convinced people that you are, but you are still only one person. Forget the myth of multitasking, you can only handle one request at a time, leading to a slow and plodding process of people constantly trying to work their way to get a little closer to you a little faster then you can handle. Let them wait.

“I’m a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. WOOOO!!”

You’ve got little choice in your life but to sell yourself, your ideas, or you actual product to the world. If you’re going to sell yourself, you might as well be bold about it as possible. As long as you’re not lying about it, sing your own praises to your hearts content.

“To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.”

This has to be Flair’s most famous quote, and my second favorite of his (edged out just slightly by the Space Mountain quote). Put plain and simply, if you want something so badly, step up and try to take it. Talk is talk, but only those brave enough to put forward the action needed to make it happen will ever make it happen.

“Whenever they feel like it, the door’s wide open.”

Oh, and by the way, once you’ve scratched and clawed your way to the top, your role changes. You are no longer striving to get there. You are there. Now is the time to start striving to stay there, with plenty of up-and-comers looking to take you out, and has-beens looking to take back the spot they used to own. They’re coming for you, like it or not. Might as well make them fight for it.

“As long as he understands this is Flair country, it is.”

As long as you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s your world. As long as someone else is at the top of the mountain, it’s their world. Pouting and complaining won’t get you anywhere. Hard work, determination, a little or a lot of time (most likely a lot) will get you somewhere. With a little luck, you’ll actually make it to the top of the mountain. But until you get there, make sure you give plenty of respect to the current king. They’ve earned it.

“My God, thank you. Thank you very much. I’m almost embarrassed by the response, but when I see this, I know that the twenty five years that I’ve spent trying to make you happy every night of your life was worth every damn minute of it.”

This comes from Ric Flair’s retirement speech to his fans, and the message here is simple. Be courteous to those who offer you support along the way of your journey in business and in life, and be sincere to everyone. Yes, EVERYONE! You can never give to many ‘Thank you’s.’