Making people decisions


The best part of management is hiring and working with great people. The worst, letting go of people you hired.

Everyone understands when things don’t work out. The market didn’t develop, the company got squeezed, the product missed its mark, the person wasn’t right. Them’s the breaks.

What no one understands is when weak, destructive or distracting staff aren’t shown the door. And don’t fool yourself, everyone in the bubble knows who they are.

Poor performers drag down a team. Not just because they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, but because they get in the way and make mediocrity or politicking or laziness seem acceptable. “If that fella gets away with that … why should I work so hard.”

In the end, their continued presence undermines confidence in management and good people start looking for their own door.

Whatever the reason, when you know you have to make a people decision, so does everyone else – act.

Skippy Strategy: Is there someone on your team who shouldn’t be? Act.

Neatly filed under Managing on April 28, 2015

You’re not on safari


There’s a lot out there. All kinds of things to see, ideas to chase and people to meet.

It’s nice to know they’re out there, but they’re not the way to make progress. Fine for a holiday, or a distraction maybe, but the real work is right here. Stay in one place. Focus. Do everything you can to stick with the plan.

You’re not on safari. Let it come to you.

Skippy Strategy: Take a look at your external commitments for the next two weeks. Which are staring at the animals, and which are adding value to the plan? If you do go on safari, recognise it for what it is … and use it to recharge.

Neatly filed under Leading on April 27, 2015

Its larger context


Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950), a leading architect and sometime collaborator with Charles and Ray Eames, is now perhaps best remembered for a single quote:

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.

As for chairs and rooms and houses and environments … so for every design.

New products should not just be possible, they have to make sense in use. Less, can we build it, more, will they want to use it when they come?

Skippy Strategy: Next time you start out on a new project, venture, product, service – how will it be used? What is it’s larger context? Does it make sense?

Neatly filed under Foundations on April 26, 2015

Flying blind


Sitting behind the controls of an aeroplane for the first time is humbling and scary. What worked to get you to this seat won’t work once your in it. Relying on confidence and sureness of foot won’t fly when there is no ground beneath your feet.

Out of your comfort zone, unusual environments make you slow down, ask questions and pay attention. You have a beginners mind; wide open.

Sometimes though, familiar situations fool us into flying blind.

Many sales people are a soft-touch as buyers, and most professional buyers make lousy sellers. The situation is familiar – sitting across the table, talking terms – but the demands are different.

Background knowledge, inside language and acronyms, taking control, the principle of partnership, keeping your head down, action orientation.

What works everywhere else, may not work here.

Pull back. Turn the other way around. Change your perspective. Make sure you know where you are.

Skippy Strategy: Before every meeting, without cynicism … What is my role? How should I be?

Neatly filed under Managing on April 25, 2015

Choosing to choose


Leading means being out front. Exhilarating and scary, self reliant and lonely – never exactly what it says on the packaging. Doesn’t matter if you’re employed or not, the queen of a mega corporation or the king of a garage, leadership is personal.

It’s about making choices you don’t have to make, when no one’s asking, because you believe.

The first step is choosing to choose, not to accept the cards you’re given, to change the game, the team, the field. The second is taking action, organising to win.

Skippy strategy: Next time you see lack of initiative, remember the first step is the hardest. The timid need a thinking-buddy, not a whip-cracker.

Neatly filed under Leading on April 24, 2015