Category Archives: leadership

What crisis?

Who needs a crisis?

9Don't Do It the Hard WayIn times of crisis, it is easier to justify tough decisions. But why wait for a crisis? The challenges of business day-to-day should be sufficient to justify making those decisions all the time.

We have all observed that the companies that survive a crisis come out stronger, correcting their weaknesses and building resiliency and new capabilities. During a crisis, decisions are made and change happens quickly because everyone understands the urgency and fewer explanations are required.

But the principles for making tough decisions and the right ones for your business are a constant.

Stay focused

Ignore the daily distractions. Recognize what is relevant to meeting your strategic objectives and what is not. Review your plan and your path, make adjustments, but do not keep changing plans.

Stay relevant

Be aware of the competitive landscape, new competitors and changing customer preferences and adapt quickly.

Keep communicating

Your management team, employees, banker and strategic partners need to be aware of your current challenges, opportunities, your assessment and your plans.

Don’t wait for the crisis

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

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Alternative Facts

Or alternative conclusions?

FactsWe seem to be learning from the current political debate that not only is it OK to invent alternative facts, (what we used to call lying), but that they are useful to explain and justify bad ideas. It may have proven to be effective in political campaigns, but it is definitely not recommended for subsequently making good management decisions.

In government and business, we will eventually have to deal with the real facts. Both those that help us define the problem and those that help us understand the consequences of our decisions and actions.

But even if we agree on the facts, the answers are not obvious. Alternative conclusions are still possible. And some people will be determined to ignore the facts and continue to rely on their pre-conceived notions.

There is a lot of research and commentary explaining our universal human tendency toward confirmation bias. That is, our consistent unquestioning acceptance of evidence that confirms our established beliefs and our equally stubborn denial of those that contradict our beliefs. Or as my mother wisely observed during my own brief venture into political campaigning over fifteen years ago, “There is no use in confusing them with the facts, they’ve already made up their minds.”

Important to remember though that the phenomenon applies to us all, not just those on the other side of the argument.

Arriving at agreed conclusions even from an accepted set of facts will always remain a challenge for leaders and managers. I had a memorable lesson in that principle early in my consulting career. I was responsible for an engineering work study to analyze a production bonus system that was unsatisfactory to both the union and management at a Canadian mining operation in Ireland. After thorough analysis, we made our objective fact-based presentation to each side and were astonished to hear them both conclude what they already thought before we started, “I knew those bastards were stealing from us!”

So for good management decisions and effective leadership, it is important to start with an agreed set of facts, then apply both rational argument and appeals to emotion, if necessary. Even then, some will not be persuaded until they see the results after the fact.

So how do we develop better solutions based on rational decision making? First, check that the facts are legitimate, verified and proven. Then accept that the selection and presentation of the facts is always biased by the source and their intent to support a particular argument or point of view. Consider your own biases and how they are affecting your assessment of the facts and the source. What are the alternative explanations and potential conclusions based on the same set of facts?

Then make the choices and develop your rationale before trying to persuade anyone else of your decisions and plans. It’s never as simple as “Just the facts, sir, just the facts.”

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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Business without politics

It’s not possible, never has been

politics & busThere was an old idea that you should never mix business and politics. The concern was that it can be hard to stay friends and keep customers, suppliers and employees loyal, if you strongly disagree on political issues.

But it has always been a hopeless and futile mission to avoid politics in trying to appeal to everybody, in spite of their political views. It is also not a good strategy. In my opinion, long-term loyal and valuable relationships cannot be sustained by good prices, products and services alone, there has to be a mutual respect and sharing of ethical principles, values and beliefs, including basic political ideas.

Modern consumers and employees prefer to do business with companies that share common values of respect for people and the planet and are not entirely dedicated to the single objective of increasing short-term profit. Enlightened entrepreneurs also understand that long-term business value is enhanced by meeting their social responsibilities.

For business people to be politically active is entirely appropriate and in line with meeting their business objectives to build sustainable value and growth. It may even require objecting to bad government policy and decisions that do not align with your view of those social responsibilities.

Of course, when you’re opposed to the policies of a vindictive, impulsive, narcissist dictator in government, it may be necessary to be more cautious and diplomatic in your objections.

But take a risk, speak up.

It is not a secret what you think anyway, so don’t be shy to defend your beliefs, values and political views. You will lose more goodwill and loyalty from your supporters, if you give in to public pressure or criticism from opponents. Defending your values and beliefs will build more loyalty with the customers and employees that you really want to do business with.

Don’t give in, don’t suck up.

Stick to your principles.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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Made in Mexico

You think bullying and bribery will work?

I’m thinking about President Trump’s approach to negotiating his new deals with Mexico. WIN_20170127_11_11_55_Pro

Sitting by the pool in Mazatlán, I’m surrounded by happy Mexicans working for $8-a-day and happy tourists spending $200 or $300-a-day. We’re all a little uncomfortable with the contrast, but the Americans are feeling even more uncomfortable and unwelcome here after 18-months of harsh rhetoric from their new President. They will find his isolationist, “America first,” trade and foreign policies equally unwelcome elsewhere. We are already seeing the early consequences.

Canadian snowbirds from BC to Quebec are buying timeshares and booking vacations here in solidarity with Mexico and in protest of Trump. The pushback has begun and negotiations will start by demonstrating the downside to his plans.

Trump is unlikely to change his tactics. He brags about his approach in The Art of the Deal. He got rich and won the presidency by bullying opponents and bribing supporters with access to his power and money. Those tactics have worked in the past with city councils, bureaucrats and regulators and worked during his campaign with angry, neglected voters and with anxious Republicans determined to dump the Democrats. They will not work with experienced executives, competent national leaders and knowledgeable diplomats.

I prefer and recommend the approach in The Art of Negotiation that requires more effort to understand the issues and the needs of both parties before negotiating towards a win-win solution.

Then there are the ethical issues: the lying and cheating, the unmitigated selfish greed and ambition that only work if you are an arrogant, ignorant narcissist. Definitely not the qualifications for enlightened entrepreneurship or management of any business and unlikely to deliver the security and prosperity that have been promised for America.

It will be hard to watch.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

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Time for Happy Holidays. Again.

Share the love and the joys of life. ‘Tis the season.happy-holidays-2016

Last year’s advice is still entirely appropriate:

Ignore the headlines, Donald Trump and the Middle East for a few days.

Set aside your worries about the economy and your business.

Find the time and make the space to celebrate the joys of life.

Focus on the people important to you: share the love with your friends, family and business associates.

It’s the time of year to recognize other priorities. Do not allow yourself to see the holiday season as an annoying distraction or temporary set-back to pursuing your business goals and personal objectives. Think of it instead as an annual opportunity to celebrate and confirm the more important elements of a life well-lived. It is more than a business or career well-managed.

Be creative. Take the initiative and show some imagination and enthusiasm to celebrate the season with friends and family.

After the holidays, you can get back to business as usual. You can be the boss again driving your staff to meet objectives and reminding them, “I am not your friend, I am not your mother.” But for the next two weeks, be more human and celebrate the joys of life.

And make plans to do that more than once next year.

Wishing you all the best for the Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year,

Your Uncle Ralph,

Del Chatterson

LearningEntrepreneurship.com

 

 

Trump election lessons for your business

Democracy makes for bad decisions?

trump-winnerThe recent election of Donald Trump was a shock and a disappointment to many of us. The political analysts and commentators, experts and amateurs, will debate it intensely for weeks and intellectually for decades.

But what have we learned for our businesses?

Here are some discussion points that I suggest you can share with your management team, the next time they stray off the topic and insist on talking about the recent election, instead of the business issues of the day.

  1. Democracy does not always deliver the results you expect or want.
  2. Be careful of the limited choices that you offer.
  3. The most popular choice is often not the best choice.
  4. Leadership needs to listen. But empathy is not enough. Without an effective response to the complaints you will be labelled as weak and ineffective and risk being replaced.
  5. Stop talking to, and listening to, only the people who agree with you.
  6. Stop assuming that you can persuade people by logical arguments. Do not write them off as ignorant or irrational. Recognize they are influenced differently from you.
  7. You cannot persuade your opponents to change by using the influencers and channels of communication that they do not trust.
  8. Reasons for making a particular choice are volatile, unpredictable and not always subject to explanation or analysis, by the experts or the voters themselves, before or after the fact.
  9. Plato said it first: “Beware of democracy: ordinary people are too easily influenced by the emotional and deceptive rhetoric of ambitious politicians.”
  10. Effective leadership has a responsibility to make difficult decisions, explain them satisfactorily, implement them effectively and ensure that any negative consequences are adequately addressed.

Winston Churchill graciously defended democracy after losing his bid for re-election in July of 1945, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

He may have been right about government and we should all exercise our democratic right to vote and defend and protect our democratic institutions.

But in your business, good management is a better idea than taking a vote.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

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Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Let’s take the politics out of it

Make better decisions

politicsWe seem to be in an era described by commentators as post-reality politics. It’s all about making the pitch and telling a compelling story. The politicians have learned that successful marketers are the best storytellers.

But, they have also learned they can they can make the sale even if the story is complete fiction. The listeners are buying it. The critics and fact checkers are ignored or accused of bias. The lies and invented narratives are not unique to Trump or Republicans and although most effectively demonstrated by Nixon, Reagan and the other Clinton, the tactics have been used for a century. It’s important to have a good story to support the political arguments, so “creativity” is justified.

Unfortunately for voters, there is no consumer protection or return policy. Just watch, wait, and hope for the best, until the next election.

So in politics, as in business and life, let’s make better decisions based on the ideals not the ideology, the facts not the fiction, the reality not the rhetoric, the answers not the anger, and the principles not the personalities.

We’re all counting on you.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

Qualifying Questions

Is it Strategic or Operational?

Before leaping into action, it is important to ask yourself some qualifying questions and make better decisions about both the immediate and the long-term action required.

Entrepreneurs are inclined to act instinctively and “just do it” when they are presented with a new challenge, opportunity or problem. No time wasted. Let’s not make it complicated. Generally, that’s an important trait for making progress quickly. But often, a quick assessment of the strategic and operational issues will lead you to better long-term results.

Think about it. Your wagon was rolling smoothly down the track, but on the last curve it suddenly flew off the rails. It happens, right? Well, before you yank it out of the ditch, set it back on the rails and push it down the track, ask yourself some qualifying questions. First operational, then strategic.

Is there a flaw in the track or something broken on the wagon? Does it need to be fixed now? How can we prevent it happening again?

Then, are we on the right track? With the right wagon?

What needs to change?

And most importantly, what have we learned that we can apply to future challenges. Keep learning, to be better and do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

Let’s be reasonable

arguingYou cannot win an argument by raising the volume.

It’s not because they cannot hear you that they are not buying it. You need to be more persuasive. They need to be more reasonable, or rational, or intelligent. Right?

Because they are clearly too emotional, ignorant or biased. Maybe. But thinking it and saying it out loud are both a mistake.

Stay calm. Listen and try not to react to the accusations that you are the one who is too emotional, ignorant or biased. Attacking the opponent’s character or explaining away objections are a sign of weak arguments. Dig a little deeper.

Where are the objections really coming from? Consider the point of view of your opponent (customer, prospect, boss or employee). Maybe they have valid input or questions that you had not considered. Maybe you are wrong and need to re-work your pitch.

If both sides are reasonable and ready to listen, you may actually both make progress.

Keep working on it.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs

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Excuses are easy

alligator“Too busy fighting fires to do fire prevention”

“When you’re surrounded by alligators it’s hard to see a way out of the swamp.”

But there is no excuse for neglecting to manage the entrepreneur’s Challenge #1:

Balancing strategic leadership with management effectiveness.

The difference between management and strategy is the difference between engineering and philosophy.

Are you building a better solar-powered motorbike or are you developing more environmentally responsible recreation vehicles? Are you designing an appealing mobile app for grocery shopping or are you helping busy people manage their budgets better?

After you put out the next fire, or kick the next alligator away from your butt, look a little further ahead and find a safe place to build a better business.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.