Author Archive for AdvisorCatalyst

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In 100 Words: Being Brief is Worth the Effort

Friday, June 14th, 2024 by AdvisorCatalyst

Some things, like lines in a queue, are better shorter than longer.  This includes business communication.  Emails, presentations, memos, and books are often longer than necessary.  It’s easier and faster to over-express in drafting or ad-libbing.  However, lengthier doesn’t correlate to greater impact.  It can also be inconsiderate of others.

Expressing something in an economy of words requires extra time and effort.  It’s work!  Utilizing a good editing process will deliver benefits, though.  The communicator is forced to slow down, tackle one thing, and dig for deeper understanding.  This effort should produce greater clarity, conciseness, and a more impactful message.

“The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.”  Blaise Pascal

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In 100 Words: WARNING! Data Without Context

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024 by AdvisorCatalyst

Data presented without context should come with a warning label.  Context is king.  Movement and momentum are far more important than a current data point.  Dashboards often provide quantities of data yet little useful information due to the lack of context in the presentation.  This increases the risk leaders make incorrect assumptions as they weigh decision options.

Data might be presented without context through oversight or sloppiness.  Regardless of the reason, achieving context is simple – e.g., rolling trend line, or current period vs previous periods.  Data presented graphically should also reflect context.

Is your team viewing data presented with context?

“Information is data endowed with relevance and purpose.”   Peter Drucker

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In 100 Words: Great Minds…Shouldn’t Always Think Alike

Friday, March 15th, 2024 by AdvisorCatalyst

We should treat the old adage “great minds think alike…” with some skepticism.  Leaders should cultivate alternatives for significant decisions they consider.  Healthy dissension typically yields better decisions. 

Alfred Sloan, the person responsible for leading General Motors to the top of the global automotive industry in the 1930’s and 1940’s, is said to have set aside decisions for which the executive team too easily agreed.  Peter Drucker says Sloan would postpone some decisions to give his leaders “time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what this decision is about.” 

“Great minds” might periodically offer a different perspective.


“And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

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In 100 Words: Don’t Aggravate Good Talent

Wednesday, January 31st, 2024 by AdvisorCatalyst

Taking care of good talent is imperative for leaders – especially in tight labor markets.

Here are two sure ways to aggravate your top performers:

  • Overburden them without consideration of their personal lives.  Sure, sales demand is strong, but know when and how to say no to more revenue.
  • Tolerate poor performers so you have a “body in the seat.”  Pruning people out of the organization may seem contradictory, but few things drain top performer’s engagement more quickly than picking up the slack for other employees.

After addressing these two put your energy and resources into strategies for attracting new employees.

“To add value to others, one must first value others.”  John C. Maxwell

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In 100 Words: Why Innovation is Difficult

Friday, December 15th, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

Without a doubt, the existing, successful business is the number one barrier to innovation.  This is why many new market-shaping innovations come from organizations which are start-ups or outside an industry.

Yet managers shouldn’t be faulted.  Innovation (beyond incremental efficiencies) requires investment.  Financial returns, if any, won’t show until sometime in the future.  Managers are tasked and incentivized to maximize short-term financial returns which are better when focusing on the existing business.

If organizations desire market innovation, leaders must balance this conflict.  Some organizations find success by separating resources from the existing business and establishing different measurements for innovation leaders.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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In 100 Words: What’s Trending?

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

Trend spotting is imperative in the world of fashion and design – move quickly or miss out.  For most organizations trends are less faddish, but no less important.  Does your leadership team value the discipline of watching and weighing the impacts of significant trends?

  • Are you considering both macro and micro trends in demographics, the economy, technology, society, and the regulatory environment?
  • Do you think through the influence these trends might have in the lives and businesses of your customers (2nd level impacts)?
  • Are these trends accelerating or slowing?

Your team should regularly assess key trends to remain alert and relevant.

“Facts are stubborn things.”   Ronald Reagan

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In 100 Words: Don’t Forget the Customer

Friday, September 15th, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

Serving the customer is the first objective of the business organization.  This is why it is puzzling to see organizations implement systems, processes or policies which make life more convenient for “managing the business” yet make life worse for customers or the frontline employees serving the customers.

Here are three important condition questions to ask when considering a new system, process, or policy. 

Will this:

  • Add more value to our customers?
  • Make it easier for customers to do business with us?
  • Make it easier for our customer-facing employees to serve our customers?

A business organization doesn’t exist without the customer.

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”  Peter F. Drucker

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In 100 Words: Work Your Craft Daily

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

Your craft is the technical work through which you produce value for others – external customers or internal team members.  It is also work you enjoy and gives you energy.  You may get tired, but this work doesn’t drain you.

What is your personal craft?  How much time do you work your craft each day?  How can you:

  • Fill your schedule with more of your craft?
  • Build support systems which facilitate smooth transitions into your craft and keep you in the zone?
  • Identify tools and processes which help you excel at your craft?
  • Develop your skills to improve in your craft?

“Real success is finding your lifework in the work you love.”  David McCullough

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In 100 Words: Honor the Craft

Friday, June 16th, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

Every organization has between one and three technical crafts which spin its economic engine.  Leaders should ensure their organizations honor the craft and their craft workers.  How?

  • Spotlight excellence in the craft at an individual and collective level.
  • Help improve the tools of the craft to increase worker safety and efficiency.
  • Invest in the craft more broadly through associations or standards setting organizations.
  • Be a spokesperson for the craft throughout and outside your organization.

Your organization benefits as craft workers sharpen their skills and bring new perspectives, tools, and processes into your organization.

This helps guard your organization’s economic engine.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”  Ernest Hemingway

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In 100 Words: Micro-managing is Not…

Monday, May 1st, 2023 by AdvisorCatalyst

There seems to be confusion around what is micro-managing.  Everyone’s definition is unique to them.

I hear many people complain about being micro-managed when their manager is simply bringing accountability to expected behaviors, attitudes, actions, or outcomes of a given project or job.  People don’t always appreciate accountability.

On the flip side, I hear managers say they “don’t want to micro-manage” as a reason for why they don’t check in on the work of their reports.  Or, as a reason for not being more directive.

Employees need direction.  Managers should be directive.  Providing guidance and accountability is managing, not micro-managing.

“Management must manage!”  Harold Geneen

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