May 09 2009

The 5 W’s Breed Problems. HOW? Solves Them.

Forget The 5 W’s!

     Asking and answering: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? is the stuff that reporters and PR people feed on…it’s the cornerstone of a weak corporate management mentality, and of (even weaker) government managers and directors.

     Constant attention to answering these five questions makes for useless, time-wasting pursuit for business owners, managers and entrepreneurs. Any entrepreneur worth her or his salt will typically respond “So What!” to those who exert themselves trying to provide the answers to them.

     Asking associates, employees, customers and vendors to give you the answers to Who? What? When? Where? and Why? is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to uncover the person and circumstances to place blame on when something doesn’t go right…usually as a way to cover one’s own butt! 

     And besides the fact that absolutely no one cares except those engaged in the game, it’s a complete waste of time, money and energy (and I’ll be happy to prove it; send me an email with your phone number and I’ll spell out the details in a 3-minute call!), it’s also the wrong attitude if you’re serious about growing your business.

It’s one of the most basic differences between entrepreneurial and corporate on-the-job actions, and between entrepreneurial and corporate off-the-job lifestyles.

                                                         

     Which of these behavioral choices (dogged pursuit of answers to the 5 W’s, OR overlooking the 5 W’s to concentrate on the HOW?) do you think is most productive for the business? For living life? For the personal and professional growth and development of the people involved?

[If you’re not with me here,you’re a 9 to 5 guy and should just stay there, and must have gotten to this blog by mistake, and you should probably “X” out now and go get your rocks off by visiting Facebook or Disney or ESPN or something not so threatening to your mindset.]

     Is PLACING BLAME the answer in your organization? Does it seem to be an S.O.P goal? Maybe it’s time to hit the road and find a place that respects your efforts? Many of the world’s most successful and fastest-growing organizations actually REWARD what most corporate executives would certainly regard as “FAILURE.”

     Not succeeding at reaching a legitimate goal is not failure. It is instead a positive step in the direction of achieving success because it eliminates one pathway that doesn’t take you to where you want to go. So it serves to narrow down your pursuits more meaningfully.

     Still doubtful? Think about the answers you get from any human on Earth when you ask the question “WHY?” Go ahead; think about it! You get excuses, right? “WHY?” is a breeding ground for excuses.

     Try instead asking “HOW?” as in “HOW” can we perform this task more effectively next time (vs. “Why did this happen?”). HOW? “What three steps can you recommend to prevent this problem in the future?” will provide much more actionable information than a long, time-wasting autopsy which will only show what happened and who did what to whom. 

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Hal@Businessworks.US or 931.854.0474

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

3 responses so far

Nov 25 2008

Paper is still mightier than the email . . .

SPIT IT OUT,

                                                           

ON PAPER!

  

Literally?  Well, not unless it’s a tissue, or maybe a paper towel or napkin.  Figuratively, then?  Hey, you may be bright enough to stay employed after all.  Are you being a wise-guy?  Of course, this is a blog, isn’t it?  So what’s your point? 

     Unless you’re in a high-stress, time-crunch job location like the ER, the battlefield, the deck of an deep sea fishing trawler, an air-traffic control tower, or the floor of the stock exchange, anything that’s important enough for you to say is important enough for you to say in writing

[P.S. If you’re a tree-hugger worried about your green reputation going down the tubes because you use too much paper, stop reading here and have a nice day!] 

     Once you get your basic thoughts down, edit them carefully (sleep on them if possible), then deliver them in writing (or printout), on paper (or occasionally, online via email)! 

     Now, wait a minute, I’m just a landscaper; the only paper I handle’s a time sheet, and my brother says his company makes all decisions by email! Ah, all the more reason to carry a pen and pocket pad.  How many times a day are you interrupted?  How much of where you were, do you remember after a series of interruptions?

     Every minute that you spend taking notes on the boss’s instructions and putting your ideas down on paper is an investment in your self-success, and the success of your business.

     You simply won’t believe this until you do it consistently for 60-90 days.  But that time period will make a believer of you. 

     As for your brother’s email-crazed company, and my note earlier that occasionally online communications work, is not a condemnation of email.  It is a warning flag that when you email important ideas, you are suggesting they are not so important because you’ve presented your thoughts in the mad rush, snap decision making “delete/save/file/reply” environment that emails breed. 

     Even when an important communication is carefully constructed and edited, it can fail because it was zipped off without enough attention to proper subject line wording, or careful thought given to the who’s who of Cc’s and Bcc’s, or just because the use of email can give the impression that the contents are not well thought out and have been shot from the hip. 

     Sometimes being more personal is better.  I hand deliver proposals to clients when possible because I can be there to see their faces and judge responses they may not express in an email reply or even a telephone discussion.  

     You can read and hear words in a response, but when you can’t see the facial expressions, the posture and the attitudes involved, you’ve only got half the answer.  How confident would you be of making a sale the customer agrees to while hand signaling or winking derisively to a co-worker as you’re babbling away to them on their speakerphone.  And emails are even more distant.

     Whether you’re a contractor making a mental “punchlist,” a law enforcement officer reconstructing an accident scene, an engineer struggling with an architect‘s lack of reality, an administrative or salesperson working with other’s deadlines and expectations, or a physician explaining a procedure to a patient, put it in writing! 

     By writing out what you observe, hear, think or propose, or by drawing a diagram to explain yourself you are taking giant steps toward improved communications.  Improved communications win job promotions, bonuses, customers, comeraderie, industry and professional attention, and management (and, yes, even family) support.  halalpiar

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Check out and contribute to the daily growing 7-Word Story started 77 days ago (inside a coffin).  Click on the link to the right, or go to the “BOOKS” tab at the top of this page, then to the top headline link.

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Nov 17 2008

Growing Your AUTHENTICITY

This isn’t the movies and

                                                   

you’re not in Hollywood! 

                                             

     What?  You thought you would be finding more hard core “sales-and-business” stuff here?  Well, working on your authenticity is the most genuine and arguably most important sales-and-business stuff you could ever set your sights on. 

     Businesses (and salespeople) succeed or fail based on how authentically they come across to their internal and external markets. 

     What your employees and suppliers think –for example– of the approaches you take to managing your business, or piece of the business you’re charged with, will positively impact your reputation, sales, and of course customer relations, even R&D projects!

     So, don’t be bashful; let’s take a little inventory.  How much of every day do you waste time and energy “playing the boss role” (making power plays, flexing your internal politics muscle, acting controlling, acting like a know-it-all, exaggerating your accomplishments, glossing over your errors) instead of just “being” the leader? 

     How much, in other words, do you try to influence others by attempting to impress them vs. simply gaining their respect by relating to them at their individual levels? 

     This isn’t the movies and you’re not in Hollywood. 

     Regardless of their stations in life, everyone in your daily path brings a certain energy to bear on each issue.  I grew up in an obscure, dilapidated, 3-room, third floor walk-up apartment next to the railroad tracks in one of America’s richest communities. 

     And if that sounds paradoxical, consider that my father was a mailman, whose advice was sought after daily by mayors, police chiefs, doctors, and Congressmen.  He was confided in by top “Fortune 500” corporate executives, and trusted by well-known authors, columnists, and artists. 

     He was a “closet confidant” to many big-name radio and TV personalities who lived in our low-profile, waterfront village north of New York City.

     How was this possible?  Harry escaped the ravages of genocide and came to America as a six year-old waif with a handful of rice.  He had no formal education, but he considered every encounter everyday as genuine and meaningful. 

     Harry listened carefully, spoke and laughed and cried from his heart, and never pretended to be someone he wasn’t.  He was quick to admit he didn’t have all the answers.  He was a character, all right.  He was the Norman Rockwell style   www.nrm.org/ personification of humility.

     He would have been a smash success at any business venture, but he liked who he was, he liked what he did, and he respected his “customers.”  In spite of his faults, and too much whiskey, he was nonetheless a success at being himself!  And he made sure his two sons grew up to appreciate the values of authenticity.

     In my thirty years of business coaching, consulting, and training, I can attest to this single quality as that which separates successful people and businesses from the wannabees, hasbeens and alsorans: authenticity.  It needn’t be perfect; but it does need to be vigilently practiced and consistently pursued.  How’s yours?  Halalpiar  

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Check out and contribute to the daily growing 7-Word Story started 69 days ago (inside a coffin).  Click on the link to the right, or go to the “BOOKS” tab at the top of this page, then to the top headline link.

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Nov 13 2008

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA !!!

“Where laughter fails

                    

to heal, it never fails

                                                                             

to ease the pain.”

                                  

  A terminal cancer patient

                                                           

     I am convinced that nothing –nothing– is better medicine or better health food than laughter.  Nothing binds people together like laughter. 

     Laughter is the magic ingredient that’s the single most overwhelming key to success in business, professional practices (I know, it;s hard to imagine laughing lawyers, doctors and accountants, but stay with me here), marriages, families, organizations, and partnerships. 

     I did qualify the professional practice types with the word “success” which may or may not interpret as financial success.  Certainly it’s not in the context of the old medical self-love acknowledgement that “the operation was a success but the patient died.” 

     I’m talking about the success in life success, as in business life, social life, family life, religious life, outdoor life, academic life, you get the idea.  Laughter may not make you a success in any facet of life, but it’s hard as hell to think anyone could get there without it!  Ha! 

     Laughter is a universal symbol of mental and emotional health.  Mental and emotional health is increasingly credited by experts as the central source of physical health.

     Did you get the last laugh when you last laughed?  Or were you simply enjoying the spirit of the moment?  Come to think of it, when did you last laugh?  If you can’t answer this in terms shorter than minutes or hours, you in deep trouble, brother! 

     You better take two aspirin, drink lots of liquids, get to bed, and call me in the morning sounding so hysterical laughing that everyone else in your household thinks you’re sick!  Think you can do that? 

     Oh, and before you make the call, pitter-patter your little bare feet into the bathroom (in all probability, an especially essential trip after drinking lots of fluids anyway), and stick that face of yours in the mirror. 

     Er, maybe take care of the fluids first unless the mirror is, well, you know . . . now SMILE into the mirror!  No, not that dorky make-believe grin you give co-workers when they offer you a bite of their meatball sub or the one you save for the neighbor seconds after stepping backwards in your sneakers onto his Saint Bernard’s fresh deposit in your driveway. 

     I’m talking GENUINE smile here.  Go for it!  What’s the worst thing can happen?  Your significant other asks what you’re doing?  Ha!  “I’m smiling.” is all you have to say. 

     Give it your all.  Teeth.  Cheeks.  Eyes.  Something that will burst into a laugh when you actually realize it’s on your own face!  YOW! 

     Man, what a struggle.  You better start doing a lot more of that.  It’s good for you, uses fewer muscles than a frown, and might even make you some new friends!  Hey, a couple of laughs won’t kill you, y’know.  What’s that commercial?  It’s in you.  Do it.  HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!        

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Hal@Businessworks.US 302.933.0116

Open Minds Open Doors

Many thanks for your visit and God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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