August, 2009

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Client Comment: I am not sure I have time to read all of the stuff you put in the iLetter? I offer the Feature Article and other references below as a way to quickly, at a click, bring you information that may be appropriate to managing your business. Use the articles and references as a way to stimulate ideas and confirm your approach to dealing with various issues. Find a time of the day or every other day to use this type of information to work on your business separate from the time you spend working in your business!

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Entrepreneurial spirit is not just for "risky" startups. It is easy to assume that if you have an existing business that the entrepreneurial stage is behind you. Protecting market position, managing and limiting "risk", and adopting an administration approach are arguably good conservative management techniques - but does it provide the balance that your business needs to be healthy and conditioned to take advantage of changes in the market place.

A good corollary is how we exercise. If we use the same route in our run, or same set of machines at the health club are we getting the range of exercise that our body needs to meet unexpected demands that we should be expected to handle without a sweat since we are in shape. However, try a new athletic experience: instead of your normal run hike up and down a mountain, try a new weight machine, try a long swim instead of a bike ride. What happens? We often feel the pain or ache from the new activity and discover that we are not in the prime physical condition we thought we were.

Make sure you have business balance and look for entrepreneurial opportunities to challenge the "condition" of your organization. How does your organization handle or process new ideas, evaluating risk, adjusting the business to successfully implement a "good" idea. This does not mean you throw risk aside and abandon your core management style but to prudently incorporate "entrepreneurial" endeavors and thereby develop your ability to successfully manage the risk and enjoy the success that new ideas can create.


Mike Brice
Phone: (206)226-1617

Feature Article

The Dynamics of Leadership Team Behavior. Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and "Built to Last", has a new book on management thinking "How the Mighty Fall" (see book review below). Business Week published excerpts from this new book and I found the one concerning The Dynamics of Team Behavior to be particularly interesting and worth your while to consider as you evaluate your team.


Teams on the Way Down
Teams on the Way Up
People shield those in power from unpleasant facts, fearful of penalties and criticism for shining light on the rough realities People bring forth grim facts - "Come here and look, man, this is ugly" - to be discussed; leaders never criticize those who bring forth harsh realities
People assert strong opinions without providing data, evidence, or a solid argument People bring data, evidence, logic, and solid arguments to the discussion
The team leader has a very low questions-to-statements ratio, avoiding critical input and/or allowing sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions The team leader employs a Socratic style, using a high questions-to-statements ratio, challenging people, and pushing for penetrating insights
Team members acquiesce to a decision but don't unify to make the decision successful—or worse, undermine it after the fact Team members unify behind a decision once made, then work to make the decision succeed, even if they vigorously disagreed with it
Team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves, yet do not enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers Each team member credits other people for success, yet enjoys the confidence and admiration of his or her peers
Team members argue to look smart or to further their own interests rather than argue to find the best answers to support the overall cause Team members argue and debate, not to improve their personal position but to find the best answers to support the overall cause
The team conducts "autopsies with blame," seeking culprits rather than wisdom The team conducts "autopsies without blame," mining wisdom from painful experiences
Team members often fail to deliver exceptional results and blame other people or outside factors for setbacks, mistakes, and failures Each team member delivers exceptional results, yet in the event of a setback each accepts full responsibility and learns from mistakes

Where does your organization fit? Do you recognize any of these signs in your organization? It is important to regularly measure the health or fitness of your organization for success as a practice of preventive medicine. It is easier to "nudge" change into your organization as a pro-active process versus waiting for conditions to evolve into full bloom where alternatives to constructive measures amy be limited.

Another interesting perspective is an audio (3:36 min.) by Jim Collins on Getting the Right People in the Right Seats.

Management Resources


Change management may fail but should it? Change for change sake? Or, is it the underlying strategy?
Why Change Management Fails

To get a grasp of company perfomance using benchmarking may require the use of various benchmark tools. Using one tool exclusinvely may not recognize the relative importance of process chamge over time as the business changes.

Peter Chou of ITC is using an innovative approach to differentiate and grow his business in an extremely compettitive market. Can his experience be of value to you?
Business Development Strategy

Two Silicon Valley war horses are pairing up in hopes of siring a blue-ribbon winner in biotech instrumentation and other fields.
Agilent and Varian Merge

Not developing a succession plan puts the company at risk, and most experts contend that boards need to take control of the situation, engage the CEO in the process and not wait until a problem or calamity occurs.
CEO Successions: Passing It On

The decision to implement wholesale staff cuts can exemplify the law of unintended consequences. Or, mass layoffs, for the most part, don’t really work.
Downsizing is not what it’s cracked up to be

Having a set of internal financial statements an entrepreneur can use and rely on, is their best first step in having at their ready disposal accurate and insightful management information.
Preparing Financial Statements for the Small Business Owner

If you can't answer the question of "How is your business going?", that may be a precursor to dark times ahead for you and your business. This article uncovers the secrets behind SMART metrics that will produce results for your business.
How to Measure Success: Uncovering the Secrets of Effective Metrics

My brother and I are soon to take over our family business. Its performance overall is good, but can you offer advice on how we might bring change to the divisions that need modernizing? We don't want to hurt our special culture.
Transforming the Family Business

The energy bill now winding its way through Congress is an unprecedented attempt to put a limit and a price tag on carbon emissions, with the intention of stemming the tide of global warming. But if you’re trying to get a read on how much it’ll end up costing you, you might well be confused.
Cap and Trade and What it will Cost You


The author describes middle managers who have accomplished extraordinary things.
Video Book Brief: The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader (5:33 min


Jim Collins' latest volume of management thinking, How the Mighty Fall ... and Why Some Companies Never Give In, begins with Collins recalling the advice of his mentor, Stanford professor Bill Lazier: "Don't try to come up with the right answers; focus on coming up with good questions." And certainly that describes Collins' achievement here.
Book Review: Jim Colin’s How the Mighty Fall

"The Catalyst" speaks to all managers who have ever been handed ambitious growth targets but little guidance on how to hit them. Managers like you who, year in and year out, face "the terror of the plug." The boss expects you to deliver a daunting revenue target but offers little advice on how to get there. See the book in detaill at Google Books.
The Catalyst