The only asset

January 27, 2014

Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.”

— Ludwig Börne, German political writer and satirist

The average number of legs

January 27, 2014

By  via   Article

Are You Above Average?

Averages guide us every day.

But they hide as much as they show

If you were born in Switzerland, then on the day of your birth you had an average life expectancy of 83 years. If however you were unlucky enough to be born in Afghanistan the chances were you would only make it to 60.  People die younger in Afghanistan… but not 20 years younger.  1 in 5 Afghan children dies before their 5th birthday.  If they make it past that, then the Afghans give the Swiss a good run for their money. …

Not all averages are politically acceptable – half of the UK population is below average intelligence(that sounds so much worse when applied to school children). Now the question isn’t are you below average, but how far?

And if the last statistic made you feel uncomfortable the average number of legs a US adult has is about 1.9975. Chances are you outclass the average American — if only in one way.

So never take an average at face value

Look at the variation as well.”

They don’t matter

January 27, 2014

By Dan Rockwell via   Article

Crushing 5 Urgent Leadership Challenges

“#1 Productivity:

  1. The difference between success and failure is doing things others put off.
  2. Protect time with priorities. Some things feel urgent but they don’t matter. Urgencies control weak leaders. Courageous leaders bird-dog priorities.
  3. Mission and vision are the purpose behind productivity. What are you really getting done?
  4. Daily persistence is the secret to long-term success.
  5. Set deadlines. Today’s most important deadline is the one that achieves tomorrow’s goal.

Drama distracts unless priorities prevail.”


January 27, 2014

By   via   Article

Never Mind the Predictions: What Did We Learn?

1. What goes up, will go down.

… In 2013, gold prices declined 28 percent.

2. What goes down, will go up.

home prices have headed steadily upward since 2012. …

3. Looking for bubbles isn’t an investment strategy.

… The reality is that trying to spot bubbles to guide our investing decisions doesn’t work. …

4. Past performance doesn’t predict future results.

… The only thing we know now is that the markets had a great year — that’s it.

5. Buying high and selling low still doesn’t make sense.

there is a temptation to think that now is the time to shift more of our portfolios into stocks. … Resist the temptation to buy high

6. Crises come and go.

did the world come to an end on Oct. 1? After all, the United States government closed up shop for 17 days.”

When will businesses learn

January 27, 2014

By Geoff Colvin via   Article

When will businesses learn the lessons of the innovator’s dilemma?

A worker makes plywood in northeastern China.

“Harvard’s Clayton Christensen published The Innovator’s Dilemma 17 years ago, yet we continue to see companies marching into the buzz saw, eyes wide open, apparently helpless to save themselves. The latest example is, of all things, the U.S. plywood industry. … What happened to the industry is described pithily …: ‘The Chinese came in with a low-price, low-quality entry, then got better and better and worked up the food chain.’

That is of course precisely how the innovator’s dilemma plays out. As Christensen powerfully showed, successful incumbent companies are often happy to cede the bottom of the market to new competitors making cheap, crummy products because those products often earn the lowest profit margins; by dropping out of those categories, the incumbents increase their own overall margins. But the insurgent competitor is gaining economies of scale while innovating ways to compete in the next higher category. Incumbents may be happy to let that category go too, because doing so will again raise their overall profit margins.

That is, the insurgents get better and better, working up the food chain. The incumbents — the plywood makers, for example — typically don’t wake up until they’re in deep trouble. Christensen showed 17 years ago how that scenario has played out in steel, construction equipment, and many other industries.”

How to draw an owl

January 27, 2014

By Seth Godin via   Article

Draw an Owl

“The two circles aren’t the point. Getting the two circles right is a good idea, but lots of people manage that part. No, the difficult part is learning to see what an owl looks like. Drawing an owl involves thousands of small decisions ….

There are hundreds of thousands of bullet points and rules of thumb about how to lead people, how to start and run a company, how to market, how to sell and how to do work that matters. Most of them involve drawing two circles. (HT to Stefano for the owl).

Before any of these step by step approaches work, it helps a lot to learn to see. When someone does this job well, what does it look like? When you’ve created a relationship that works, what does it feel like?

Incubator programs and coaching work their best not when they teach people which circles to draw, but when they engage in interactive learning after you’ve gone ahead and drawn your circle. The iterative process of drawing and erasing and drawing some more is how we learn to see the world.”

Silos topple companies

January 27, 2014

By Dan McGinn via   Article

Build a ‘Quick and Nimble’ Culture

Why did you focus on culture?

Culture is such an amorphous concept — if you and I stood at a whiteboard and tried to list elements of our companies’ cultures, we could come up with 100 things and they might all be true. A lot of managers just let culture happen — it becomes the sum of the personalities, good and bad, that work in an organization. While writing this book, I became convinced that culture really does drive everything. Managers do focus on results, but I think culture drives results. That’s the important equation.

What’s the biggest problem you see in how companies build culture?

It’s the creation of silos. As one CEO put it to me, ‘Silos are what topple great companies.’ As human beings, we like to operate in small tribes. If there’s not someone creating and communicating an overarching, simple plan for the larger organization and getting everyone to pitch in, people start breaking down into small tribes and pursuing their own goals and agendas. That’s when you see a culture focusing inward, instead of outward on competition. That’s the fundamental problem that prompted Microsoft to announce its big restructuring last summer — it recognized it had too many separate divisions.”