28 Jan, 2009 | by

On every coin and every bill issued by the United States Treasury you’ll find the words “In God We Trust”.  In recent years that slogan has been extended to say: “In God We Trust – All Others Bring Data”.

This clever twist is especially popular in Lean Six Sigma and Total Quality Management circles, where the data-driven decisions are the holy grail – the means to reduced costs, improved efficiencies, reduced downtime, and driving waste out of processes.

Now it seems neither of these adequately represents how business actually operates.

According to CIO.com research published by Accenture found that nearly half (40%) of major corporate decisions are based on the decision maker’s ‘gut’, not on data.

While this number (40%) surprised me, I was not at all surprised to read that the top reason (61%) these managers rely on their gut is that good data are just not available.

Recently I visited one of these businesses. Like two thirds of survey respondents, these leaders recognize the weaknesses of their data systems and they’d love to fix them.

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22 Jan, 2009 | by

I created the model of 4 Mind-Sets and 7 Stages of Business Life in order to give you a simple but proven roadmap to success. Here’s how it works.

First identify which mind-set is yours right now:

  • Technician: In this mind-set you do as you were trained to, depending on leadership and decisions from others. Those dissatisfied will soon become inspired to move to the next level.
  • Entrepreneur: With this attitude you venture out on your own. But once you become established, you need to delegate work to others and manage time and energy more effectively in order to grow.
  • Business Builder: In this mind-set you increase success by putting human resources and technical and managerial systems into place. You expand your business – and your profitability – exponentially, freeing up more time and money to look toward the future.
  • CEO: The CEO mind-set is characterized by abilities, tools, assets, and resources to plot your own course – both professionally and personally – and do whatever you want to in life. You can dream big and then fulfill those dreams because you have reached the pinnacle of success.

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19 Jan, 2009 | by

I wrote this 70 days before Inauguration Day

Will the downturn persuade British business people to learn from Barack Obama and the Germans?

German white collar workers who are not sent on at least 2 weeks training a year fear that they must be on the redundancy short list and will soon face the chop. (Their company is not investing in them – so they must be on their way out!). Their British counterparts (with some exceptions) consider that an offer of training implies a personal or professional deficiency and gingerly start checking the post for their P45. 

Is this the British fondness for the effortless amateur – the smooth-but-not-stirred James Bond? HR and PR departments are patronised with “I have 20 years experience giving speeches old boy – no need for training!” More like 1 years experience – repeated 20 times. 

Practice and preparation are the absolute life-blood of a good performance – even those in the Public Speaking Premier League like Winston Churchill and William Hague.

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15 Jan, 2009 | by

With advances in modern technology and the vast sums that organizations spend to implement cutting edge solutions, isn’t it odd that passing a folder from person to person in order to approve something is still so common?  You’ve seen it happen; perhaps you’ve even been part of those long conversations on the color of the folder to make it stand out on a desk.  Those discussions are usually preceded by an agreement made by all involved that the material will never sit idle but get immediate attention and route quickly.  In the end, it falls to some poor assistant to walk the halls in search of this folder, trying to track down approvers and keep things moving, usually taking much longer than any initial agreement.  To further complicate matters, fingers may begin to point at suspected sources of bottleneck.  Tensions mount and the innovative “folder method” had done more harm than good. 

Allow me to walk you through the evolution of a project to complete a form initiating the Personal Care Product Development Process and have it approved by associates in five functions across two business units in three states.  These hand-offs were necessary to pull critical knowledge from the organization determining the feasibility of a program before time and dollars were spent against it.  Bear in mind, any time spent completing and approving the form is time not spent on developing the product.  continue reading »

8 Jan, 2009 | by

 

With the global recession, the debate is over, we are truly one global economy.

So where’s the global game board?

Wouldn’t marketing and strategic planning be easier with a global industry game board – a listing of all significant industries, with an industry analysis for each?  And shouldn’t companies be analyzed at the line of business level using the same industry taxonomy?

Everyone answers “yes” to these questions because the answers are so clear.

But then everything gets cloudy with the one additional question, “Do you think such a global industry game board exists?”

For those of you who believe that a global industry information resource does exist, I would like to hear from you via a feedback comment – but first: the reason for the cloudiness is because of the definition of the word “industry.” continue reading »

2 Jan, 2009 | by

 

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a business person who said, “I don’t care about data. Let me manage solely by intuition.” This isn’t to say that hunches and gut feel are not important (just see Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” if you doubt that), but that most of us understand that our hunches need to face the hard reality of data.

So it shouldn’t be controversial to say that business leaders strive to be data driven.

In the face of this, it is remarkable that so many business leaders do not have ready access to usable, actionable, real-time data. As one colleague put it to me recently: “Most people have tons of data everywhere you turn, but most of that data isn’t accessible or usable.” (Click here for supporting research by The Aberdeen Group). continue reading »