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Discern, then Do - and make a Difference

by Rick Baker
On Dec 21, 2016

Nike says, "Just Do It!"

While that may lead to better health, more energy and more fun it sure creates inefficiencies when it happens at work.

The tech gurus used to say, "Fail quick, fail often" and maybe they still say that. While that may promote curiosity, experimentation and learning it also can create havoc in the typical workplace.

Putting these sorts of slogans/advice together we have experienced a groundswell of advice promoting action without sufficient consideration of the appropriateness of that action.

In the old days, business consultants presented "Ready, Aim, Fire" analogies to help business people understand the need for thinking before doing...paraphrased, "Ready, Aim, Do". That advice was meaningful, specifically because it included the concept of 'aiming', which of course brings to mind pictures of 'aiming at targets'.

Business targets and goals are important. If in doubt, just ask any business consultant…or your boss…or your CEO. Targets and goals help us clarify where we want to go.  With the end-point in mind we can figure out how we want to get there. Specifically, we can figure out what needs to be done to get there.  Similarly, we can figure out what we don't want to do because we recognize some actions will not help us get to our goals.

While that all sounds simple enough, most people in business don't do it.

Most people do not test their actions against their goals.

Put another way, the 80/20 Rule applies: most business people spend most of their time (perhaps 80%) doing things that do not take them toward their goals.

Here are two practical tools that can be used to improve your “Ready, Aim, Fire”:

 

Personal Organization Tool #1

To be accurate, Pareto inspired tools like the one above. He recognized that in many situations 20% of the 'causes' generate 80% of the 'effects/results/outcomes'. The key message here is: when it comes to doing things, be discerning so you increase the likelihood your performance of work will deliver the results you desire.

 

 

Personal Organization Tool #2:

 

Stephen R. Covey understood tasks had 2 major dimensions: Importance and Urgency. He designed a simple matrix/grid to help people be more discerning when performing work tasks.

More details to follow...

Success comes to those who are not too busy to think.

by Rick Baker
On Nov 3, 2016

Most people agree, when success happens it follows thought and action.

Often when success isn't happening, people say they don't have enough time: they don't have enough time to do that because they are doing this; they don't have enough time because they are already doing many other things at the same time...they are performers of multi-tasks and masters of none.

When people say they do not have time they talk about their lack of 'time to do things'. People complain about their inability to find time to do...because they are too busy doing. People complain about their inability to find time to think...because they are too busy doing.

Rarely, if ever, do you hear someone complain about being too busy thinking.

***

Most people have heard about the 80/20 Rule [also known as the Pareto Principle], yet few people put that wisdom to use.

Many people know about Covey 'time management quadrants' [illustrating the relationships between work importance and work urgency], yet few people put that wisdom to good use.

Some people, apparently, have not read Napoleon Hill’s classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich’.

Tags:

I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Thinking as in Think and Grow Rich

Referrals bring huge value to small businesses

by Rick Baker
On Oct 24, 2016

15 or so years ago, Jay Abraham recommended telling your clients you will have more time to do a better job serving them if they provide referrals to you. The idea made some sense to me when I first heard it. On the other hand, I could not see how that sort of communication could be packaged so it would be well received by clients. 

Recently, I developed a different perspective. Most, if not all of us, would agree that people in general complain more about being busy now than they did 15 years ago. And as a result of that mindset of busyness, business leaders must be attentive to the limitations (realities) ‘lived’ by many people in the workforce. Many people feel so busy they must cut corners throughout all aspects of their lives, including cutting corners at work. To the extent business leaders could make these people’s lives easier at work, it would be in everyone's best interest to do so.  It would be in the employer’s best interest, it would be in the employee's best interest, and at the end of the day it would be in the best interest of clients and suppliers. 

In small businesses, the owners and leaders in the organization often wear multiple hats - including a sales/business development hat. To the extent these small-business leaders receive referrals they are in a position to spend more time serving their clients and suppliers. And that service would [or at least could] be at an ‘improved level’. An ‘improved level of work’ could mean more creative work, which could replace mundane work [such as plodding through CRM programs to determine the next required phone call and/or the next required email for development of new business]. 

So, with that thinking in mind, I strongly believe referrals bring huge value to small businesses. 

So, small-business leaders should spend the time figuring out how to package messages that help generate referrals.

[Of course, products and services must contain value and that value must be delivered with spirit - those are prerequisites.]

Tags:

I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Marketing | Sales

Do people know what work you do?

by Rick Baker
On Sep 12, 2016

During a typical workday, you meet people who are not directly involved with your business as employees or clients or suppliers. They could be people you meet through acquaintances. They could be people you meet through your Chamber of Commerce or another association. Or they could be people you meet through volunteer activities in your community.  

You may meet with these people occasionally or you may meet with them regularly.

Over the course of years, you may have talked about your business with these people many, many times. You may believe they have a very good understanding of what you do when you go to work…that they understand the value you create when you are at work. 

Because it is important to you, you probably go out of your way to help some of these people understand what you do when you're at work.

If you do that, you may be very surprised to find out later just how little most of these people know about what you do while you're at work. 

I have had a number of discussions with friends on this topic, recently. Many people are telling me they are surprised to find that even close acquaintances do not understand what they do at work. In some cases they have had numerous meetings with people and provided numerous explanations of what they do and how they go about doing their work. Regardless, they find out later that other people do not understand what they do at work. 

When they find out this is the situation, many people are extremely disappointed, their feelings have been hurt. Their ego has been let down. As a result, they share their concerns and wonder what's going on.  Some people have asked me, Why does this happen? 

It seems to me, there are some fundamental reasons why this happens. Here are two examples: 

  • Many people think they are too busy so they act accordingly. The rush through things. The fact is - they simply don't listen. 
  • Perhaps, people think others who explain what they do at work are too aggressive, too pushy and too self-centered. So they turn off in the presence of those people. Again, they simply don't listen.
This is such an epidemic...

If you want to win business people over then let them know that you know what they do when they are at work.

Tags:

Communication: Improving Communication | I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Influencing

Better you have problems than problems have you

by Rick Baker
On Aug 15, 2016

Hindsight is 20/20...and while hindsight conversations can be annoying, that's not going to stop us from having them. Something in our nature causes us to want to second-guess decisions we have made and action we have taken.

Foresight is an energy-consuming process that often yields unreliable results...but that's not going to stop us from planning for future events. We want to believe in cause and effect, we want to exercise our willpower and we will fight to hold onto a level of control. 

Presence - our ability to be present -  is so rare it seems to be close to an unnatural state of mind...we spend so much time thinking about the past and the future we hardly ever do justice to the present. Of course, we are distracted in the present: the present is chock-full of external stimuli - all changing rapidly.

Hindsight, foresight and presence have one thing in common - Problems. 

Hindsight deals with second guessing past events: with old problems in mind, we ponder the possibilities of better decisions and better actions; we waste time thinking about and sometimes agonizing over what we could have done, what we should have done, etc.

Foresight deals with anticipating problems and creating strategies and tactics for dealing with those problems...we use foresight when we anticipate outcomes, seek solutions and seek opportunities. While we know we cannot accurately predict the future we gain a level of comfort thinking about the 'right things' to do to get to where we want to go.

Presence - our ability to be present - is only as good as our ability to set aside hindsight, set aside foresight, and filter through all the current/present stimuli to find the really important things...the things worthy of our attention and our thoughts. 

And, some of those really important ‘present’ things will be problems...problems we should tend to. It is OK to ‘have’ these important, present-problems  – it is good to ‘have’ and deal with these present-problems. Other problems, especially those from other time zones, are less real and less important and beyond our control – it is not good to let them ‘have’ us.

Tags:

I'm too busy! - I don't have time! | Solutions & Opportunities

People resist new things

by Rick Baker
On Jul 19, 2016

I think most people object to, argue against, or otherwise resist New Things (...as in - People Do Only 3 Things: Good Habits, Bad Habits & New Things).

Other people bombard us with advice and suggestions about 'better ways' to do things. When we understand "People Do Only 3 Things", it is easy to see how our Bad Habit ruts make it very difficult for us to see value when other people talk about accomplishing New Things.

This is especially true when other people's New Things are grandiose goals. And, of course, regardless of their size New Things face criticism. One person's BHAG is another person's grandiosity...and worse - many small-but-fresh ideas and little innovations face stiff arguments and criticism from those who 'know better'. That's to be expected. There's a lot of entrenched thinking out there.

But...

We can buck that trend.

We can take time to understand other people's thinking.

We can choose to keep our minds open to possibilities.

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