Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Strategy”

How to be an entrepreneur

During a talk I gave I was asked about the key lessons that I have learnt from running several businesses. I feel hardly qualified to answer, but I am very clear on a number of aspects:

  1. The cost of understanding your product/service has to be less than the immediately obvious benefit that comes from using your product/ service. People will stay with you (pitch/ marketing message/ website) for as long as their needs being solved are made immediately apparent, are sufficiently significant, and the ways in which your product/ service solves that need are clearly understandable (and the cost of understanding is less than the benefit) [adapted and evolved from SuperConnect]
  2. A CEO should be aiming to only focus on strategy and people development: your head should be 12-18mths hence at first (longer over time), and your heart should be in developing the person better than you. You are the only person in the business whose job it really is to ‘develop the insights/ perceptions/ abilities to detect patterns of change and relate them to your landscape, industries, competition and business’ [adapted from Execution]. You should always be looking to develop the person better than you to be able to take your job. If they don’t yet exist in your company, make sure you hire them. ‘Yes’ or ‘passive no’ people will kill your business.
  3. If the core transactions of your business don’t exist without funding (including your time/cost funding), then your sole focus should be on adjusting your business model to be profitable in its core operation without investment. However well-funded or visionary your plans are, the cash flow monster eats the investment and then chases and kills 99% of its prey.
  4. Read more…

Leadership Traps: Thinking too Fast and Continuing Biases

I’ve been thinking about leadership traps I’ve read about recently (predominantly in Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, but brought into relief by various mainstream Management Today, Fortune and FT articles)

By leadership traps I’m thinking of things (like ‘not reading management texts because of apparently being already ‘at the top of the tree”) that appear to be structural faults in a number of management and leadership teams and the nature of the relationships therein:

  1. The ‘sycophancy’ of leaders not being challenged, with the result that their beliefs and business/ life ‘filters’ drive the same types of decision-making that they always make
  2. Too busy and too fast: the super-human CEO. Carlos Ghosn (as much as I admire him) style of hyper-tasking – he is CEO of both Renault and Nissan. I wrote previously about whether the leadership position would have to morph over time into the thoughtful/ contemplative strategic CEO and the ‘hyper-executive’ Chief Operating Officer (COO). If the leader does not make time to sit back and think: to contemplate and percolate, who else will? And yet, the demands for efficiency and performance currently reach their nadir in the leader. Sitting and thinking or reading appears to be frowned upon…
  3. Challenging leadership teams: a flip on the first point above. George Prince is cited by Claxton in research on speculation (the exploring of tentative ideas in public) as being capped by management teams that are in any way competitive or judgemental ‘the victim of the win-lose or competitive posture is always speculation, and therefore idea production and problem solving’:  so if the leader does not work on an environment of constructive/ non-competitive challenge, then lack of idea production and problem solving will perpetuate too narrow a leader-led focus and unchallenged decision-making

Surely Continual Learning Should Apply to the Boss Too?

World in My Hand by Sachin Ghodke

World in My Hand by Sachin Ghodke

I was clearing through some old articles I cut and not yet reviewed. About a year ago the FT ran a survey of global business leaders to try and ascertain whether there was one business book which had had most influence over them.

The fact that there was no consensus (it was either a Peters or Drucker book that received four votes. All other books selected just received one vote each) is not the point of this piece.

It was an interesting set of assertions about global leaders’ reading habits that surprised me (I don’t think I misinterpreted…)

The gist of it was that such prominent leaders would be bordering on the dereliction of their duties if they were seen to be spending their time reading ‘business’ or ‘management’ books. That their shareholders would be aghast that such individuals would have either need (nor time) to read and learn anything from these books..

Maybe I did read it wrong?

Read more…

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