Saturday, 31 May 2014

Don't be afraid to spend money on useless things

As a productivity professional, I am used to counting every penny/cent spent and justifying the expenditure by the benefits it brings - its (perhaps tiny) contribution to the aims of the organisation.

Sometimes, however, firms decide to spend money on things which have no direct utility - corporate art, charitable giving, etc.  Can such expenditure be justified?  ... in productivity terms.

Your job, as head of a company, is to coordinate all action - across all functions and sections - in pursuit of common goals - and the overall mission.  Your leadership can ensure success - but only if you can create shared ownership of the mission.

Spending money on non-utility expenditure can help you express the values you want associated with the company - it your employees (and other stakeholders) the things you regard as important. As such it helps create cohesion around the message and the mission.

As long as the amount of money spent on such things is not 'out of proportion' to utilitarian expenditure, and, as long as it is not expenditure for a privileged few - artwork in the executive penthouse, for example - it can make a positive contribution.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Can they deliver?

Consultants usually specialise in .... productivity, quality, organisational development, innovation, or some other 'improvement' topic.

This suggests that the business world is full of tools and techniques that must be selected carefully according to the kind of situation - and kind of problem - being considered.

Consultants pretend to be knowledgeable and 'clever' - and of course they are ... but often their major asset is having time and having an external, disinterested viewpoint. Use them - but don't be baffled or bamboozled by their tales of great expertise.  Question them about details - and about 'execution'.  Make sure you have confidence in their ability to deliver.

Saturday, 17 May 2014


What's the quickest way to a $1million business?

The old joke is that you start with a £2million business and manage it badly.

The joke reminds us that managing any business - but especially small businesses and start-ups in not easy.  They fail for many reasons - often (ironically) because of their success - when they run out of working capital.

So when you have success - even temporarily by meeting deadlines and milestones on the way to profit..... celebrate and reward it.

And let employees who are responsible for that success participate in the celebration and the reward.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Do your chores

One of the tasks most of us hate is clearing up after we have done a job that results in some mess or untidiness.

However, we do it because we know it is really necessary.

In a work situation, it is like a 'sign off' that thew job is complete, it lets us check we have not lost any tools or equipment and it makes sure we have a clean and tidy (and hence safe) workplace.

Quite often 'chores' are like that .. you don't want to do them, but they are often both necessary and useful.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Now back to work

I suggested last week that if you have survived the last 5 years, you should give yourself (and your staff) a pat on the back.

However, you and I both know that small firms can afford little time for celebration before once more 'knuckling down' to the hard graft of making the business pay.

So, now (for those of us in the Norther hemisphere) is the time to 'spring clean' our businesses - to review, revise, refine, repair and revitalise our processes, systems and our staff.... to ensure they are 'fit for purpose' and have not drifted from the tight set of processes and procedures we started with.

Those of you who have played sports know that if you take your eye off the ball, it has a nasty habit of hitting you in the face.