Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Change is certain

Like death and taxes, change is certain. So, we have to shape our own change ... before someone else shapes it for us. Start planning now for a new year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas. To those of you who don't, we hope you have a great time anyway. And we hope you have lots of ideas and plans to make 2010 productive and rewarding ... after all, it is down to you!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Have you wished your customers a Merry Christmas? Of course, you have. Looking after them is your number 1 priority.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tech can help

I do not normally encourage smaller firms to be technology leaders ... but they must not stand by and miss the benefits that can accrue from the use of well-proven technologies. But sometimes, the gains from an emerging technology come to the early adopters. So the lesson is to be 'cautious innovators' ... keep a watching brief and 'jump in' when the gains look good and the risks are manageable. Sounds like any other investment ... and it should!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Does technology help?

Being at the forefront of technology (the 'bleeding' edge) is expensive and risky. However, failing to recognise what technology can do for your company is also expensive and risky. Keep an eye on what the big boys in your sector are doing ... and when they've burned their fingers, think what lessons you can learn ... and think about what you've saved by waiting a short time before deploying a new technology.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

From the ground up

When we build a house, we build from the ground up (for obvious reasons). When we build an organisation, we often build from the top down. Why? ..... and why are we surprised when the foundations look shaky!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Success has a simple recipe

The iPhone success shows one fundamental thing ... Being first is very important ... but only if you are also right.  Apple's success came from:  reading customer's needs and wants; good design; excellent execution. Not a bad recipe if you think about it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Make it better!

I picked up a pen the other day. It felt more comfortable than the one I normally use. I examined it and found it was a 'freebie' promotional pen ... but I have continued to use it.

The lessons -

1. 'Quality' and 'Function' are NOT always related to price.
2. Even the humblest product can be improved.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Know the figures

The Yorkshire & Humberside region of the UK produces 600 tonnes of waste for every £1 million of goods produced. Is this good? or bad?

You have to know your figures and you have to have a comparator. Ask around. Read.

Measure your performance and compare it to somebody else's. Only then can you can work out if you are doing OK.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Information repositories

I had lunch with some former, now retired colleagues yesterday - some of whom I knew well, and others less so. What I found astonishing (though I should not have done) was their collective knowledge and wisdom.

Don't forget resources that exist - even though they are not 'packaged' as you might normally expect.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Re-learn ..... often!

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn
Alvin Toffler

Businesses too have to be flexible. Expect - and deal with - change. Have your staff ready for change by keeping them updated about your products, your business environment, your customers. If they can't cope, its because you didn't prepare them well enough.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Find the 'wow' factor

I am just about to change my mobile phone. Contracts on iPhones are more than I can justify ... but I do like my technology. So, I'm going for an HTC hero (all of the same features as an iPhone but without the same price tag). It definitely has a 'wow' factor and I'm quite excited ... over a mobile phone.

What does or could excite YOUR customers about your products or services. What, for them, constitutes the 'extra mile' you have to go to move beyond simply being 'good'.

If you can identify and then deliver that factor, you've got a good business. If you can't, you will always have to struggle.

(For those out there like me who are technology/gadget freaks,
take a look at: )

Monday, 14 September 2009


I am writing this post while 'house-sitting' for my son who is at work but had to be able to let in the gasman coming to service the heating boiler. Hence my presence. The lesson ... you have to make your goods and services available conveniently .. or surround them with additional services that handle the inconvenience. What about charging less for those who can give you access to their premises in daytime hours? What about ....

No, you have to solve the problems for your business . Just think about what your customers need, and then think about how you can give it to them.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Not all doom and gloom

During the downturn/recession/slump (choose your own word for the economic crisis) sales of productivity tools have held up while sales of entertainment gadgets have declined significantly. So if you make monitors, printers, projectors, scanners, telephones, and/or storage devices you should be happy … but by contrast, if you make items like music players, digital cameras and DVD players then you are likely to be waiting for ‘the turn’. The moral - understand your products/services, understand the environment in which you are operating ... and understand the linkages between them!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Is it pure?

I have a bottle in front of me which purports to contain "Ethical Pure Apple Juice". I hope it is doing some good ... and I am by buying it .... but the message must be to keep an advertising message simple and uni-functional. Otherwise it becomes counter-productive.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Too many tips

If you are reading this, perhaps you read lots of internet business tips. Perhaps you read too many! It might depend when and how you read ... it is in your leisure rather than working time, isn't it?

Sunday, 2 August 2009

What's wrong?

Why do things happen? In many cases, we try to over-analyse. For example, we invent all kinds of excuses for the fact that someone doesn't want to buy our products or services.

But in the end it is all down to the fact that we have to get the right goods to the right people at the right price at the right time.

If people aren't buying, at least one of these is almost certainly not 'right'.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Books .... covers .. and performance

Tom Watson was recently runner-up in the British Open Golf Championship ... at the age of 59. The way the media went on you would think it remarkable that he could even stand at such an advanced age.

This was a reminder not to judge a book by its cover ... or a person by any the classifications of age, gender, etc ..... judge them by their behaviour and performance.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Don't forget the obvious

I am currently organising a conference to be held in October this year. The nightmare part of this is communicating and holding planning meetings throughout a summer when at any one time some of the key players are away on vacation. This means that everything takes twice as long as it would otherwise. Of course, I have left enough time ... haven't I?

Saturday, 11 July 2009


I have spent the last few hours writing a Memorandum of Understanding covering a project involving 2 other parties. We all trust each other and have worked together before. is this enough? What if a key player in one of those organisations changes and the 'mood' changes also? What happens if our trust goes. writing the MoU means adding in all sorts of clauses that should never be used. But it helps to be insured!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Get lucky

Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. So be prepared ... and recognise opportunities when they come along. When you see an opportunity, do your preparation.

As the great Gary Player said of his golfing triumphs ... "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Handle it once

I was taught in my early life that if you pick up a piece of paper, you deal with it. What you must not do is to put it down for later or put in in a 'pending tray. That would mean you have to handle it - at least - twice. So make the call, write the response, think about the implications, or throw it away ... but do it now.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Not rocket science

I am in Trinidad at the moment and was talking today to a car dealer. I asked how the recession was biting and he said that business is about 50% of what it was at the same time last year. I asked how he was coping. He said "Cutting costs, turning stock over even if some cars sell for a loss, and holding my nerve ... so that when the recession ends I am still standing but some of my competitors will not be." I don't think I can offer better advice.

Saturday, 30 May 2009


What's that frightening formula doing in a blog called Do Not Complicate. Well, it is just to remind you that many symptoms have simple causes ... and it is these you should be attacking, not the symptoms themselves. So, when you find a problem, spend a little time thinking about the cause - and focus your energies there.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Great British Member of Parliament

Many of you - in the UK and elsewhere - will be reading with relish the details of British MPs expenses claims .... after all we all love a political scandal.

But there is a lesson for us. It is arguable that the real reason behind this current situation is the fact that successive governments have tried to artificially keep MPs salaries low - whilst maintaining an appropriate level of remuneration. The result - a system that hides 'pay' as expenses and allowances.

Such subterfuge often comes home to roost - as it has done here.

The answer. Take the difficult decisions when you have to. Take the PR hit when it occurs. Transparency might give you a problem - but nothing compared to the problem when your lack of transparency is uncovered.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Asking the right questions

In any situation, the 'truth' can be uncovered by asking the right questions. In business these 'right' questions are almost always very simple.

"Why?" is perhaps the most important. Examples: Why do we do that? Why do we do it in that way? Why does he behave like that? Why don't we get a discount?

Keep asking "Why?" ... and never trust the first answer you get!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Café Convenience

Coffee shops are becoming increasingly popular for workers with flexible hours who are not tied down to offices (indeed may only have shared access to a ‘hot desk’). The coffee shop offers comfort, coffee and free Internet access. The lesson – find ‘the edge’ wherever it may be and exploit it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Big market

If MySpace were a country it would be right up there in the top 10 in terms of population. The same is clearly true of other popular social networking sites such as Facebook.

Think about that for a minute.... and how it might affect your advertising and marketing!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Ask an expert ... carefully

Of course from time to time we need expert advice. However, this can give problems when the gap between the expert's knowledge and our own is too large. In such cases we might need a 'semi-expert' - someone who can translate between the two levels, using language both sides can understand.
Such an approach might cost a little more ... but considerably less than making a mistake based on a wrong interpretation of language or concepts that are not clear to us.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Small ... beautiful?

How does the old joke go? How do you run a small business? Well, start with a big one and run it badly!

Actually, small businesses are quite different from large ones - culturally. Many people fail to make the grade when transferring from small to big ... or from big to small.

If you are recruiting (because you are getting bigger), a cultural fit is often more important than a technical one. Make sure your preferred candidate knows the kind of business you are .. and can work with you - not for you. You need someone with guts and initiative, who can stand on his/her own.

Monday, 13 April 2009

There's always a way to make a buck

A new website offers to pray for you - to your choice of God. (see

I don't suggest you pray for business success - or even business survival right now .. but I do suggest you remember that there are always business ideas out there. You need to make sure they are yours .. and that you have the energy and resources to turn them into a successful business.

I do know that if you stop having ideas, you might as well give up!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Make it deeper, not wider

I was in a restaurant last night. A customer was complaining about the quality of the food. The manager - who became involved - himself complained that his customers demanded so much variety and choice that it was impossible for everything to be 100%. Wrong answer! If the breadth of your product range gives you quality problems, then solve them ... or cut down the range and stick to what you can do well ... and do well repeatedly.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

File it!

I have been dealing with a contact recently who is so disorganised I am amazed she can run her life. So, a plea to get yourself organised ... file things that need to be filed ... in 6 months time you will be grateful that not only did you file the thing you need, your system allows you to find it again.

I have started using a web service called Evernote for 'first level' filing - interesting things I see on the web, simple 'To Do' items, etc. It works for me ... and that's the other point - 'systems' have to be appropriate for the way in which you work ... you shouldn't have to adapt to their way of working. If you are interested, take a look at

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Do Nothing

Sometimes when all seems hectic and chaotic and you feel under stress ... do noting! Take the time to think ans reflect. Why are things chaotic? Is it because of the ways in which I work? .. or the way I plan? .. or the way I deal with other people?

If you can change it, do so! If you can't, there's no point worrying about it. Go with the flow until the crisis passes.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hold on!

When the going gets tough ... as it is now for most businesses, all you can do is hang on in there. Survival is what matters. So forget grand strategy and forget growth. But don't forget to think and plan ... even if its only planning for next month or even next week.

Strip everything down to the essentials .. but don't forget them ... and don't panic!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Don't listen to the siren voices

"I think if you did a fair analysis of the last 25 years and said what's has been the top source of productivity gain in the U.S. or world economy, it has been information technology,"

This is a recent quote from Steve Ballmer, of Microsoft. Well, he would say that, wouldn't he.

Listen to what your business figures tell you... not salesmen .. however convincing!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Where's the edge

We are all worrying about the global economic downturn. Our businesses may be suffering. But the real entrepreneurs start to look for the opportunities hidden in this crisis. They are there - we just have to uncover them.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Don't pretend its productive

I'm a bit of a gadget freak ... and I also like experimenting with software and online services. My new 'hit' is Evernote a note-based programme/service that I find very useful because it helps me synchronise information across multiple platforms (including my Windows mobile phone). It makes me more productive ...

.... but I know that I take too much time 'playing' with gadgets and software that are not productive so that I can find the occasional gem like Evernote.

So, use the tools you know that work. By all means experiment for fun ... but don't expect higher productivity ... the 'cost' of playing around outweighs the benefits.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


An interesting comment from a senior exec at Pfizer, the (very big) drug company.
They are selling a number of experimental treatments to competitors - these are drugs they have been working on for various conditions ... but they have now taken a strategic direction to focus on cancer, brain disorders and pain relief. Drugs for obesity (and other afflictions) are surplus to requirements.

There is a lesson for the smaller guys in here ... work out what you do well and what you should be doing ... then ditch all the extra stuff that doesn't fit in those two compartments.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Think before spending

If you were spending your own money (including money in your business), you would think very hard about what you were getting in return. Presidents and Prime Ministers around the globe are currently pouring billions into attempts to revitalise their nations' economies.

It is not always apparent that they have thought through the benefits of the money they are spending. Sometimes - even for politicians - doing ... and spending ... nothing might just be the right course of action ... until thinking through the intended and unintended consequences of a course of action.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Fill in your own gaps

Many people, when interviewing for staff, tend to select others like themselves ... this helps them get on with the new member of staff and helps them understand them.

However, these people may have the same shortcomings as you - assuming you have any, of course.

A more sensible option is to understand your own shortcomings and employ people who can fill those gaps - then nothing falls into those gaps and gets lost!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Support your technology

Yet another story in the press recently referred to a vehicle driver following his (it usually is a man, isn't it?) satnav instructions into some form of disaster.

Two lessons from this .... firstly, old technology often does the job well enough (and more cheaply) .... secondly, engage your brain along with your technology ... if you don't have a 'feel' for the results you expect (such as when doing your sums on a calculator), you don't know when things are going wrong.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Fair is good!

The Centre for the Study of Living Standards in Canada released a report last week that suggests that from 1980 to 2005 Canadian labour productivity increased by 37 per cent, while wages - adjusted for inflation - showed no real increase over the same period.

Most of us would feel that this is not 'fair'. So in keeping things simple, also keep them equitable. In the longer-term, this makes your business more sustainable.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Remember ... Happy New Year

Do you wish people well at New year? Of course, you do! It is a fixed date in the calendar which marks a particular celebration - no need to remember it. Other events and appointments are not always as easy to remember - and act upon.

So, if you haven't yet made a new year resolution, get yourself a 'proper' diary ... and use it ... whether paper, electronic or mystic rune writing on tree bark.

Don't rely on memory. find a diary system that works for you.