Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is there a dog on the end of your leash?

Uber VC Brad Feld had a Twitter tweet containing the following great characterization of a dysfunctional organization:

each person on the team had a leash in their hand but didn't know if there was a dog at the other end

So, do you know what's at the end of your leash?

Or maybe you just are not sure which end of the leash you are on?!

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Patrick Dixon on building a better business

Somehow I managed to pick up Patrick Dixon as a follower on Twitter. I checked him out in the Wikipedia and found that he has a book entitled Building a Better Business that is a guide to management, marketing and motivation, covering issues ranging from team leadership and change management to corporate governance, branding, and marketing.

Key points:

  • People will only follow you if they see you're ahead, are convinced you know the route, trust you, and want to get there too.
  • Life's too short to sell things you don't believe in.
  • The future of marketing belongs to honest information, accurate data and clear claims based on truth.
  • Every product and service is sold on the promise of a better future. The purpose of business is to deliver on the promise, and profit is the reward for doing so.
  • Business strategy is the battleplan for a better future.
  • You can have the greatest strategy in the world, but what is the point if no one cares?
  • Connect with all the passions people have—for themselves, their families, their communities and wider world—and they will follow you to the ends of the earth, buy your products and services with pride, and may even be willing to work for you for next to nothing.
  • When you have been close to death it makes you think about life.
  • Give people a convincing reason and they will lay down their very lives.
  • All the most powerful speeches ever made point to a better future.
  • You cannot have strong leadership without passion.
  • Mission is at the heart of what you do as a team. Goals are merely steps to its achievement.

All really good points to keep in mind at all times.

Here's his book on Amazon:

Note: I do get a tiny commission from Amazon if you buy a book after clicking on the cover images or link above that redirect to Amazon. Thanks!

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Made my Kiva micro-loan for the month of May

I made a new micro-loan through Kiva for the month of May. My intention is to make a new micro-loan every month, in large part from repayments for past micro-loans.

This one was for a weaver in Guatemala who makes women's clothes. It is a 14-month micro-loan for a total of $300, of which I lent $25. Its first repayment is scheduled for July 2009. The micro-loan was already disbursed to the micro-entrepreneur on April 24, 2009 by the local partner. Kiva is raising funds to essentially buy that loan from the local partner.

Here is my Kiva public lender page:

Note: This is all real and good, but these micro-loans do not net any interest to us micro-lenders. Kiva's fine print:

Lending to the working poor through Kiva involves risk of principal loss.
Kiva does not guarantee repayment nor do we offer a financial return on your loan.

Still, at least we know our money is really helping somebody better their lives in a visible way rather than put the money in a bank account or money market fund where who knows what it helps to pay for or what good it does and for only a few pennies of profit in our pockets.

-- Jack Krupansky

Must be able to prioritize multiple tasks and manage time efficiently

A description for a "Lean Champion" position appeared in my email inbox this morning and one requirement stood out:

Must be able to prioritize multiple tasks and manage time efficiently.

Nothing new or unusual about that, and that seems to be the requirement for almost all jobs, and I am quite used to that, but I suddenly realized that it does not sit right with me. I have spent decades doing that, but is it really the best way to go, at least for some of us?

Rarely do I have only one task in front of me, but the truth is that it usually makes much more sense to tackle tasks in an opportunistic manner to optimize over the long run and do each piece of work when you feel most effective at tackling that piece rather than focus or obsess on which task is top "priority" at the moment. Sure, sometimes there are tasks that need to get done in the very near term, but the goal should be to avoid being in such a position where short-term "firefighting" is the norm.

Do I manage time efficiently? Usually not in any strict sense. I am much more focused on effectiveness than raw efficiency. Maybe efficiency is appealing since you can measure it more easily, but that does not mean that the organization is getting any greater value than if effectiveness was the goal.

Another way I read "Must be able to prioritize multiple tasks and manage time efficiently" is as "Must be willing to be micromanaged and work in a chaotic environment where priorities change on a daily basis." That, of course, really sucks, but is oh so typical. The boss (or even CEO) cannot get his priorities (or goals or values) straight, so he dumps everything on the underlings.

Another common interpretation for "manage time efficiently" is that the worker does not complain and always does as they are told.

Finally, although being "agile" is a good thing, treating people as if ADD was a job requirement is not such a good thing.

-- Jack Krupansky