Monthly Archives: December 2010

Built To Last

Suppose it’s just not even 20 years ago and you’ve built Prodigy.  You and Compuserve pretty much dominate the on-line world through your dial-in walled gardens.  There’s this new kid on the block – America On Line – who is off on the horizon and the three of you are all running what I like to call the “peep show” model:  the longer users stay connected, the longer the meter runs and the more you take in.  Great business.  Until it wasn’t. Continue reading

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Brickberries For Breakfast

Single blackberry

I know it’s Friday and, therefore, I’m supposed to be doing a food theme.  Something happened to me yesterday which is food-related in name only but I guess it will have to do because I want to write about it while it’s still fresh in my mind.

I use a Blackberry (that’s as foodie as we’re getting today) as my primary communications device when I leave the office.  Yesterday, as I went into NYC for meetings, I updated an app (Facebook) and rebooted the device as usual.  Done it many times and never an issue.  Except yesterday, when it became a Deadberry.  A Brickberry.  A Blackberry that powered up but wouldn’t boot.  What a day it became and in perspective, what a lesson. Continue reading

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Asking Dumb Questions Is Good For You

Question mark

I start many business conversations with an apology.  Usually it’s because I’m about to ask a question that, to an expert, might demonstrate a lack of understanding about a topic.  That’s an accurate interpretation.  The thing is, that’s sort of my job.  I ask dumb questions and I’m not afraid to let someone know I don’t know it all.  Now let me tell you why you need to do this too. Continue reading

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Investing In People, Not Companies

Image representing Cisco Systems as depicted i...

I see that my old friends at the NHL have added more pieces to their dealings with Cisco.  The relationship covers a lot of areas, as you’ll see in a minute, and I know each party has the potential to get a lot out of it.  Bravo!  The two companies have had business dealings  for several years and this latest renewal is testament that the partnership is working well.  Of course, it didn’t start out being this multi-dimensional.  Maybe you’d like a little insight as to how it got going?  It might be instructive in your business dealings. Continue reading

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Priorities

The Mrs. and I were chatting this morning about priorities. Not ours, actually, but about how many folks have difficulty in distinguishing “I want” from “I need”. This time of year, especially if you have young ones around, you can get a great sense of that distinction, particularly if you go back and look at last year’s “I’ll die if I don’t get it” item. Probably in a closet somewhere gathering dust. Is business any different?

Not really, unfortunately. We all know every project can’t be a top priority – something has to top the list. Unless and until we have unlimited, capable resources (don’t hold your breath) something is going to have to wait. After all, the expression is ASAP – as soon as possible – with emphasis on “possible.” I think some folks forget that it’s not a synonym for “right now”.

One of the most important things we can do as managers is to set priorities and realistic deadlines for our team. How many times does the priority list seem as if it consists of one item – everything- and because of that nothing seems to get done?

I used to tell my team that while I may have worked for a few networks none of them were the Psychic Friends network – I don’t know what you don’t communicate. By the same logic, we can’t expect our folks to know what’s really critical as opposed to generally urgent as distinguished from it can wait unless we tell them. Their perspectives may not include enough information to allow them to choose on their own. Your perspective is probably incomplete, and your priority-setting may be faulty- if you don’t understand what’s going on with the team and resources.

My priority right now (I’m on a train) was to get you a post (so please forgive any typos and no links). What are yours?

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Eating Your Mistakes

List of U.S. state foods

Today’s Foodie Friday question is pretty simple: what do chocolate chip cookies and molten chocolate cake have in common (other than the chocolate)? Given today’s headline, this really shouldn’t be too difficult. Right! They were both mistakes. In the case of the cookies, the baker at the Toll House Inn was trying to make chocolate cookies and ran out of block baker’s chocolate to melt. She tried adding little pieces of sweetened chocolate she had hoping they would melt. In the latter case, Jean-Georges Vongerichten (who may or may not have actually invented it but did popularize it) was trying to bake a traditional Chocolate Torte and undercooked it. The results were, and are, fabulous. My point? Continue reading

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Beyond The Canonical Perspective

Made it myself

Let’s have some fun.  Grab a pen and some paper and draw a cup or a car or a house.  Done?  Great.  There’s this term – canonical perspective.  It comes out of some research first presented in 1981 by a guy named Palmer.  The short version of what he did was to ask folks to draw him something and he found that most people drew the object from the same perspective – slightly above, looking down, and a bit off to either the left or right.  Is that sort of what your drawing looks like?  Well, this point of view has been dubbed the “canonical perspective” and it’s today’s business thought. Continue reading

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