Monthly Archives: October 2012

Reality Distortion Or Destruction?

Walter Isaacson describes the phenomenon of “reality distortion” in his stunning biography of Steve Jobs. Essentially, it was Jobs’s practice of convincing people that they could do things not based in their own reality, such as providing a technical solution to a seemingly insoluble problem, or racing to market months ahead of normal production time.

This is often a factor of people being exposed to the fresh air outside of their own paradigms, and often a factor of merely ruthlessly driving people to work beyond their normal endurance. When it works, it’s rather spectacular. But when it doesn’t, it can be ruinous.

One could posit that Jobs treated his own cancer in this manner, forestalling more conventional treatments in favor of his own style of diet, meditation, and non-proven interventions. He lived for seven years with the disease, but could he have lived longer?

In China, we are witnessing a government attempting to build infrastructure—high-speed train lines, superhighways, public works—at a rate and in a volume unprecedented for a country of its size. Yet this “reality distortion” of more expectable time frames and more modest plans has been disastrous, with new highway bridges crumbling, trains derailing, and political corruption rife (and that’s solely what’s allowed to have been reported).

Reality distortion comes at a hefty price.

That’s why we should eschew a fad or empty metaphor (“Good to Ginormous,” “The Four-Second Work Week”) in favor of a pragmatic application. We are not, like Captain Picard, in a position to proclaim simply, “Make it so.” This is also why most executive biographies and autobiographies are interesting but rarely applicable elsewhere, because the individual’s success resided in the confluence of personal predispositions, singular events, and the fates.

What Jobs did was incredible. The way he did it fit his temperament and the times. But it’s not terribly transferable.

Think about that if you’re ever in a Chinese high-speed train going over a trestle that was build by a relative of a major political figure. Reality only distorts so far.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Episode 74: Life Forms

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Alan’s Thought For Today

If you stay in your shell through fear of offending anyone, you’d better get used to the dark.

– Alan Weiss

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/29/12

October 29, 2012—Issue #162

This week’s focus point: I just had the opportunity to hear a popular consultant and author deliver her thoughts on what amounts to unremitting gloom. Her advice was to find people who share a common philosophy and spend your time solely with them, trying to influence factors you can control. Not only do I find this antipodal to the optimism and potential of humankind, but I see it as intellectual incest. I’m too young to give up trying to influence others and improve the world. I hope that never changes. When you don’t challenge others and aren’t challenged by them, you simply implode in self-absorption. That’s one reason I wanted to hear this person, to introduce other views. Unfortunately, I listened to her, but she wasn’t at all interested in listening to the rest of us. Don’t make that mistake. Life is about open gates, not small yards.

Monday Morning Perspective: You don’t want to be considered just the best. You want to be considered the only one who does what you do. — Jerry Garcia

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© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved

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Alan’s Thought For Today

You passion shouldn’t be to “consult” or “coach” or “teach.” Those are centered on you. Your passion should be to improve others, to help others excel. When your passion is focused on others, you’ll tend to be sought out and popular. When your passion is merely on you and making money, you’re not very interesting to anyone else.

– Alan Weiss

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Guest Column: Big Boxes Need Big Staff

Big Boxes Need Big Staff

by Dr. Guido Quelle

Guido Quelle is a thought leader in profitable growth, a graduate of the Million Dollar Consulting® College, a member of the Million Dollar Consulting Mentor Hall of Fame, and a Master Mentor.

The founder, former CEO, and former Chairman of the Supervisory Board of one of the most important Germany-based DIY retail chains—with today more than 40,000 employees running a 6.4bn Euro operation in more than a dozen countries—once told me that you need to build “big boxes” in that business in order to stay competitive. This conversation took place several years ago and he was right. DIY markets are getting bigger and bigger and smaller “boxes” are being closed. If you want to survive in this business—not talking about growing—you need what retailers call “big boxes.”

The point here is that big boxes may be a necessary condition for remaining an interesting player in the market in the eyes of the customer. However, this is far away from being a sufficient condition. To grow profitably in retail, not restricted to DIY, you not only need a big box, you need a big staff. And we are talking about “big” not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. Customers want to find an employee when they have a question. Customers don’t want to be sent to a couple of different employees in order to find the “real expert” for their problem. Customers want to be served as a valuable counterpart in a business. Customers expect service.

Since controllers dominate a lot of discussions about how to grow profitably, we don’t need to be surprised that one of the first means to grow the bottom line is to cut costs. What controllers in retail operations are not often aware of is the fact that cutting cost in purchasing will end in dissatisfied customers because of poor product quality, and that cutting costs in salaries often ends in dissatisfied customers due to no, or even worse, poor service.

Retail C-suite: Don’t let controllers tell you how to grow profitably. Don’t just build big boxes. Build big staff. Do it like the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article and hire enthusiastic people who want to serve and who are able to serve. That’s a good step on your way to profitable growth.

(c) 2012, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, Germany

Professor Dr. Guido Quelle, “The Growth Driver,” is one of the rare people worldwide who focuses on creating profitable and sustainable growth as an entrepreneur, consultant, author and speaker for more than 20 years. With his consulting firm, Mandat GmbH of Dortmund, Germany, he successfully conducted more than 350 projects with 120+ renowned private and listed companies. His client list includes multinationals such as British-American Tobacco, Deutsche Post World Net, European Dental Partners, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Erasmus University at Rotterdam as well as a lot of successful medium-sized companies. Quelle is the author and co-author of more than 150 professional articles, six partly European studies, two university course texts and eleven books. The English edition of his German book “Profitabel wachsen” (“Grow Profitably”) will be internationally published by Springer Science and Business Media in November 2012.

http://www.mandat.de
http://www.wachstumstreiber.de
(Blog)
http://www.markenkolloquium.de (Internationales Marken-Kolloquium)
http://www.twitter.com/mandat_guido (Twitter)

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The Adventures of Koufax and Buddy Beagle

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First Place for Heavenly Gull

Thanks to all of you who voted!!

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Lessons on Thought Leadership

We’re going into the second day of my annual Thought Leadership Conference in Florida. Margaret Wheatley is our guest tomorrow, following Marshall Goldsmith and David Maister in prior years. Next year, Dan Pink has already committed.

Some lessons from the first day:

• You’re not a thought leader until others proclaim you as such.

• You can take the position that there’s “nothing new under the sun” and be cynical, or you can adapt ideas for key, changing variables in the economy, technology, demographics, and social mores.

• You need to tell people what will help them, not strive to achieve consensus. You need to be prescriptive, not solely diagnostic. Thought leaders evolve and change their minds.

• You must be edgy, provocative, controversial, even contrarian whenever possible. You have to stand out in a crowd, not disappear within it.

• Focus and discipline are essential. “To do” lists are meaningless. Schedule what you need to produce and create, and get it done.

• There is no pride (nor great reward) in being a “best kept secret.”

• Thought leaders create works: books, videos, audio, teleconferences, workshops, speeches, and experiences. The “thought” has to be manifest in terms of pragmatic improvement for others.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/22/12

October 22, 2012—Issue #161

This week’s focus point: We’ve seen politicians from all parties simply ignore the question asked and respond with a prepared sound bite on another topic. Every day, prognosticators on finance or technology or society get it wrong and never return to apologize (though they trumpet their lucky “hits”). The social media are rife with people making absurd claims (and I regard any professional convention as an opportunity for people to lie to each other about how well they’re doing). I believe this happens because the perpetrators don’t really respect their audience, colleagues, or listeners. They don’t regard the rest of us as wise enough to see behind the green curtain. Someone complained to me recently that not enough people liked him, and wanted advice. I told him to try liking other people, to respect them, and to be honest with them. That’s the way you attract followers, votes, support, and even evangelists.

Monday Morning Perspective: Luck is the residue of design. — Branch Rickey, legendary general manger of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who brought Jackie Robinson to the major leagues.

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Free Day With Me: On 12/12/12 I’m running a free day at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI to say “thank you” to all those who have supported my work, including you. The entrance requirement is a $50 tax-deductible donation made out to East Greenwich Animal Protection League (EGAPL), send to ME by check only (no credit cards) with your email address. Send to: Box 1009, East Greenwich, RI 02818. When the room is filled, I’ll halt the offer. The room rate is only $119. Out of the US? Just send an email and you can pay at the door (alan@summitconsulting.com). I’ll spend the very interactive day on business acquisition, role-plays, raising fees, and developing intellectual property. You never know what I’m going to do, because I don’t, either. We are 65% filled at this writing.

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Privacy statement: Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Contact information: info@summitconsulting.com
http://www.contrarianconsulting.com
ISSN 2151-0091

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved

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