Art of Dynamic Pricing, Surge Pricing, Demand Pricing– It’s About Pick or Be Picked: Match Price-to-Demand…

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Welcome to the world of dynamic pricing… According to Mike Fridgen; it used to be about ‘where’ to buy to get a good price, now it’s about ‘when’ to buy to get the best price… for many consumers and business– fixed price is a thing of the past; today consumers are faced with prices changing minute-by-minute… Dynamic pricing, or real-time pricing, or surge pricing, or demand pricing… are flexible price schemes for when business decides to nudge prices up-or-down, on the fly, in response to specific market demand… Typically changes are controlled by pricing ‘bots’, which are software agents that gather data and use algorithms to adjust pricing according to a retailer’s specific business rules… Where business rules take into account things such as; customer location, time of day, day of the week, level of demand, notable events, competitor pricing… Through collection, analysis of data about customer behavior, vendors make informed guess-estimates on price that customers might be willing to pay then price is adjusted, in real-time, accordingly…

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Dynamic pricing is a common practice in e-commerce in markets, such as; hospitality, travel, entertainment, retail… Retailers and online retailers in particular, adjust prices according to competitors, time, traffic, conversion rates, and sales goals, e.g.; hotels based on demand can generate more revenue by bringing in customers at different price points… or, airlines adjust prices depending on– day of week, time of day, number of days before flight… or, entertainment events adjust prices based on the level of ticket sales… Triggers for dynamic pricing are often based on, e.g.; competitors prices– adjust prices up-or-down… or, demand is low– adjust prices lower… or, demand is high– adjust prices higher… Dynamic pricing is legal, as long as discrimination isn’t based on federally protected factors, e.g.; age, gender, race… It’s safe to assume most major online retailers are engaging in some form of dynamic pricing

In the article Magic of Dynamic Pricing by Seth Godin writes: When you produce physical goods, such as; a book, it’s really hard to change the price over time, especially if there are retail stores involved, but changing the price on electronic goods is trivially easy… So, for example, you could charge $24 for the Kindle edition for the first two weeks, then $15 for the next two weeks and then $9 for the year after that. Once it’s a back-list classic, it could cost $2… Or, thinking about how you might create launch excitement, you could reverse it, e.g.; $2-first day, $5-first week, then $9 later… Better hurry! Or, to get more sophisticated, you could reward the market for getting excited. But, what if the price for everyone drops, if enough people pre-order it? This isn’t just about books, of course. It’s about anything where you have the ability to change pricing based on– time or demand… with tolls, music, phone calls, consulting… Technology puts a lot more pressure on your imagination and creativity, even in pricing…

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In the article Paying Higher Prices While Shopping Online by guestauthor writes: Dynamic pricing, or commonly referred to as time-based pricing, is a type of price discrimination that companies use to change prices, on the fly, based on circumstances and estimated user demand… With modern web browsers, websites have the ability to collect all kinds of information about you and your online behavior by using tracking cookies and other tools. Using collected data, companies can then make guesses about how much more willing you might be to pay for the same item or service, and adjust prices accordingly in real-time… The fact that demand increases ‘value’ is a time-tested market sentiment… Hence, the question: when is dynamic pricing an effective tool for the retailer and when is it counter-productive? Consider the following:

  • When Dynamic Pricing Makes Sense: There are times when dynamic pricing makes sense. You may experience this first hand while booking airline tickets during the peak travel season (i.e. increased demand) or paying additional fees for rush orders (i.e. buyer needs it fast and is charged more). Dynamic pricing is widely accepted in the banking industry as well, e.g.; rates and fees changing based on bank balances, credit ratings…
  • When Dynamic Pricing Stinks: Most major retailers are engaging in dynamic pricing online, even though they know you hate it. They quietly change prices from one visit to the next based on your behavior during the previous visit, e.g.; if you look at an item a second time, the site assumes you have a greater desire for the product and increases the price; they hope that you, like most consumers, don’t have the time to shop around…

In the article Dynamic Pricing Matches Rates With Demand by Jason Q. Freed writes: In a study examining retail prices, researchers looked at the price of a single microwave oven on three different online channels– Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Sears.com… In a 12-hour period, the price of the microwave fluctuated about $75: Sears did not alter the price… Best Buy changed the price twice over the time period… Amazon changed the price nine times… These fluctuations are result of trends in real-time pricing schemes being used across many industries, it’s called dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing is defined as; time-based pricing that matches goods, services based on ‘time’… According to Vishwas Bhatia; prices are often altered to meet real-time demand… Dynamic pricing is fluid, changes base on ‘demand’ reflecting true market value at that ‘time’…

Industries that are adopting dynamic pricing as a key part of their sales models include; airlines, theaters, cinemas, sports teams, hotels… Dynamic pricing simplifies the pricing process, e.g., it allows hotels to make changes instantly while maintaining rate parity… According to Cynthia Paynter; dynamic pricing practices attempts to– match rates with demand… it’s an opportunity to increase or decrease (average daily rate) with changes in market demand… Often dynamic pricing is equated with discounting, but it’s not– it’s more of an attempt to provide ‘fair’ pricing based on demand, and possibly other factors… But ‘fair’ doesn’t necessarily mean the same price for everyone…

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In the article Implement Dynamic Pricing Strategy by Patrick Campbell writes: At it’s core, dynamic pricing is the concept of selling the same product at different prices to different groups of people. Technically, it’s the same as ‘price discrimination’, an illegal practice with roots in the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936… Yet, that Act has more holes than a wheel of swiss cheese, which makes any legal basis of a price discrimination lawsuit incredibly grey, especially when dealing with non-commodity goods, online. In fact, U.S. courts and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have repeatedly shot down dynamic price discrimination cases, unless the discrimination took place on the basis of a suspect category (i.e., gender, race, sexual orientation…). As a result, businesses have taken it upon themselves to institute dynamic pricing in two forms: Dynamic pricing based on ‘groups’: In this scenario, companies are using algorithms or just statistical splicing to offer different prices to different groups… Dynamic pricing based on ‘time’: Many people complain about this form of dynamic pricing– having a price go up-or-down based on– time of day, week, month, events, holidays…

Most consumers are accustom to one standardized price for everything, and it seems almost unfair that business can offer one price to one group of customers while charging others something different. But as retailers gain access to increasingly seductive amount of consumer data, they have ability to generate a unique price for each customer… Some experts likened this to the pricing models seen in ancient bazaars; rather than charge everyone same price, merchants would look at patrons, size them up, and decide what to charge them on an individual basis… Today’s ecommerce retailers can do the same thing, but rather than relying on intuition, they use the sizable data trail each customer leaves behind as a result of their previous purchases…

Browsing habits, demographic characteristics, and a wealth of other relevant data points are aggregated to determine what that customer can be charged… It comes down to getting the most out of each customer interaction, and that’s what businesses that are using dynamic pricing are trying to do… According to Econsultancy; businesses who have flexible (dynamic) pricing are able to increase profits by an average of 25%… some online retailers change prices every 10 minutes based on data it collects in real-time… It’s all about the law of supply and demand… Prices can change from one day to the next, depending on– category, season, promotions, competing site… However, savvy consumers who do comparison shopping and can easily find cheapest price– for given item, at given time…

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Setting ‘price’ is challenging, particularly given many outdated ideas, misconceptions surrounding pricing structures. The problem with conventional wisdom is that it’s not always wise to follow. According to Sheri Bridges; finding the perfect price is not the ‘holy grail’… which is not to suggest that pricing is not important but that business would do better to treat price as a function of ‘value’ that is provided to customers. In fact, value is the benefit that customers receive for dollars paid… Most customers don’t mind paying more if they get more in return (value), and benefits (value) is in mind of the customer– may be real or perceived…

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More U.S. Companies Renounce Citizenship, Maneuver for Greater Global Competitiveness: Shades of Not ‘Made in USA’…

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U.S. companies are bailing out, leaving, renouncing U.S. citizenship, reincorporating overseas. According to Roberto Ferdman; nearly twice as many companies have shifted their corporate tax paying duties abroad since 2003, or almost double the amount that did in the twenty years prior, and this trend is only slated to continue There are several advantages inherent in reincorporating, e.g.; more fluid overseas business acquisitions, lower borrowing rates due to increased cash reserves, more skilled workers… but some would say that the real motivation for companies shifting corporate citizenship is to pay less in taxes… According to Charles Thorington; there are two underlying issues motivating these maneuvers; the extremely high U.S. corporate tax rates… plus the world-wide tax approach of U.S. government… U.S. corporate rate is 35% and increases to an average of 39.1% when state taxes are included, which is the largest of any industrialized nation and third highest in the world… According to Scott Hodge; only Chad and United Arab Emirates levy higher tax rates on corporations…

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As for the world-wide tax approach, the U.S. is one of only six countries that taxes foreign corporate profits after they have already been taxed in the country in which they were made… Almost all other countries have adopted ‘territorial approach’ in which a company’s profits are taxed only in the originating country… Having one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, plus one of the few world-wide tax systems where U.S. corporations are twice cursed… hence by staying in U.S. companies lose a great deal of competitiveness…. and this is not a matter of being ‘unpatriotic’, as some politicians suggest, but it’s a matter of survival… One fact is certain: if U.S. corporate taxes are not reduced to internationally competitive rates, and if U.S. does not adopt a ‘territorial’ tax approach to corporations, then expect U.S. companies to continue to flee to countries that treat them considerably better: Capital tends to travel to those places that treat it the best…

In the article Why Companies Are Leaving the U.S. by Edward Alden writes: A survey of some 10,000 former Harvard Business School (HBS) grads carried out as part of the school’s U.S. Competitiveness Project’ has some telling results. In the 1990s U.S. headquartered multinational companies created 4.4 million jobs in the U.S., even as they were also expanding abroad, creating 2.7 million jobs in their foreign affiliates. Over the past decade, however, while U.S.-based companies went on adding some 2.4 million jobs abroad, and cut U.S. workforce by 2.9 million… This HBS survey, carried out by Professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin offers some interesting observation; they suggest that initially U.S. companies probably bought a bill of goods, believing that the cost savings from off-shoring would be greater than they turned out to be…

Many companies faced unexpected business challenges abroad, including; rising wages, increased transportation costs, and weak intellectual property protection… Hence, buyer’s remorse may account for why some companies are starting to bring work back to U.S… But the survey reveals deep skepticism about the U. S. as a business domicile… The survey responses were grouped into three categories: problems we can do nothing about; problems we could do something about but shouldn’t; problems that we could and should address… The first category is things like– proximity to customers, proximity to suppliers, faster growing markets abroad– it’s inevitable, desirable that some business activities should move offshore to meet that demand. In many cases those investments also serve to boost U.S. exports…

The second category is lower wages, cited by 70% of those involved in making domicile decisions– it’s virtual impossible for U.S. to offset the lower wage advantages of a China, or Mexico, or other developing countries… As Michael Porter suggested; having companies succeed while wages fall is not competitiveness… The final category is where the game for investment will be won or lost by the U.S– astonishingly 31% of executives cited better access to skilled labor as a rationale for moving overseas, versus 29% who cited it as a reason for staying… Also lower tax rates is big issue, though intriguingly complaints were primarily about the complexity of the U.S. tax code rather than level of corporate taxation. Tax reform and immigration reform (e.g.; H-4, H-1B visas) are one and two on wish list of business leaders, with education a close third…

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KPMG’s 2014 edition of Competitive Alternatives: This report is a guide to international business location (domicile) costs; it assesses the general tax competitiveness of 107 cities in 10 countries with a focus on 51 major international cities. The 10 countries examined are; Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, UK, U.S… The report compares the total tax burden faced by companies in each country and city, e.g.; corporate income taxes, property taxes, capital taxes, sales taxes, miscellaneous local business taxes, statutory labor costs (i.e., statutory plan costs and other payroll-based taxes)… Total tax costs are compared between countries and cities using a Total Tax Index (TTI) for each location. The TTI is a measure of the total taxes paid by corporations in a particular location, expressed as a percentage of total taxes paid by corporations in the U.S. Thus, the U.S. has a TTI of 100.0, which represents the benchmark against which the other countries and cities are scored…

The overall results for all locations are based on average results from 7 different business-to-business service sector operations and 12 different manufacturing sector operations… Among the countries studied, Canada had the lowest Total Tax Index at 53.6. In other words, total tax costs in Canada are 46.4% lower than in the U.S... The UK, Mexico, Netherlands also had a TTI score below the U.S., while at the other end of the spectrum, France’s TTI of 163.3 signifies that total tax costs in France are 63.3% higher than in the U.S. The TTI rankings of countries in 2014 are broadly consistent with the 2012 rankings among the 10 countries. The UK  moved ahead of Mexico and Australia moved ahead of Germany, but all other countries rank consistently between the 2012 and 2014 standings. Even among the countries whose rankings have not changed, Japan, Italy, and France had seen significant improvements in their TTI scores. The changes in ranking relate to both changes in tax policy since 2012 and other sundry changes…

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In the article Business Leaders Are Blowing Smoke on Corporate Taxes by Richard C. Longworth writes: U.S. corporate leaders love to complain about the nation’s high corporate tax rate as one of the highest in the world. This rate, they say, is stifling business investment and encouraging U.S. corporations to move headquarters to other countries… It sounds logical, but it may not be true. A scholarly look at global tax payments, coupled with an on-the-ground look at the effect of taxes on business investment, suggests that these corporate leaders not only are crying wolf but may be blowing smoke… Corporate leaders are always beating drums for corporate tax reform by which they mean corporate tax cuts… The U.S. rate is 35%, which is one of the highest in developed world, Japan is highest at 38%, which are both above the average 24% for the 34 advanced countries that make up the OECD. The rate in France is 33%, Germany 30%, UK 21%… Many of these differences aren’t huge but corporate leaders are right when they say– U.S. nominal tax rate is higher than most global rivals…

However, according to Edward D. Kleinbard; the reality is very different and big U.S. corporations, i.e., the global corporations that are threatening to pick-up and move… actually make out like bandits at tax time… One of their biggest practices is to keep much of their income overseas and out of reach of the IRS. Altogether U.S. corporations paid, on the average, an effective tax rate of 12.6%… According to Mr. Kleinbard; it isn’t tax rates that are tempting U.S.-based companies to move headquarters or operations to relatively low-tax venues… Instead, they want to be able to use that money parked abroad without having to pay taxes on it. He estimates this hoard of over $2 trillion when taxed at 35% would bring in about $700 billion to the U.S. government treasury… This is a very good reason to move to a more friendly domicile…

In the article U.S. Companies Leaving by IBDEditorials writes: Companies headquartered in U.S. are at a major competitive disadvantage… A recent OECD study says; ‘integrated tax rate’– taxes on capital and income– for U.S. companies is a nightmarish 67.8% Vs. 43.7% for the OECD… Many companies facing steep tax rates and insane regulations in the U.S. have had enough, hence they’re keeping profits overseas… According to Ron Wyden; U.S. corporations hold $2.1 trillion in earnings in overseas accounts– a massive amount, roughly equal to 12% of U.S. gross domestic product… A total of about 547 companies, including; Apple, GE, Microsoft, Pfizer… have dramatically expanded the so-called– foreign indefinitely reinvested earnings overseas, which let them avoid the punishing tax rates in the U.S…

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Not only are taxes too high but also new laws, such as; Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare, expansion of business regulation, debt and size of government, bullying Wall Street, demonizing CEOs, forced CO2 cuts, abandoning the coal industry, tax on oil production, and many other unfriendly business policies… have made U.S. one of the least desirable and unfriendly corporate domiciles in the world… According to Laura Tyson; the facts, not perceptions, should guide policymaking where multinationals are concerned, and facts indicate U.S. multinationals continue to make significant contributions to the U.S. and they locate most of their economic activity in the U.S. not abroad…

However, as long as other countries have lower tax rates and lax income-shifting rules, there will be incentives for companies to move their headquarters to those countries… Corporate tax reform would vastly improve U.S.’s position relative to other developed nations… and it’s one of best things government can do to improve its competitiveness as domicile for multinational corporation…

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Smartness Syndrome– Smartest Person in the Room: But If Room is Full of– Idiots, Dummies… So Much for Smartest…

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Many people in business like to think they are the smartest person in the room: But is that good or bad? According to Jack Welch; I was never the smartest guy in the room: From the first person I hired, I was never the smartest guy in the room, and that’s a big deal. And if you’re going to be a leader or if you’re a leader and you’re the smartest guy in the world– in the room, you’ve got real problems… Then there is the quote; if you are the smartest one in the room, you are probably in the wrong room… which is often taken literally, of course, it’s not quite accurate but the advice still holds true… There will always be someone who knows more than you or is better than you at something. The ‘wrong room’ is a metaphor for the wrong mindset. If you feel like you cannot learn anything from the people around you (people in the room) then by all means find another room…

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However, according to Dallon Christensen; there is a place in business for being the smartest, e.g.; educate customers about your business, the market, the industry, the competitive environment… Be the smartest person in the room when it comes to your specialty. Show your smartness and give customers a glimpse of what it would be like to work with you… As a core strategy in business, consider yourself a teacher and educate– customers, partners… and show them that you have experience, expertise to fulfill their needs… you want people to trust your capabilities, so be the smartest person in the room and provide them with something memorable…

In the article It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Smartest Person In The Room by Kyle Irwin writes: How do you know you’re the smartest person in the room? There’s no way to definitively rate how ‘smart’ someone is overall. Sure you can test people in specific subjects, but as far as knowing and ranking people in overall smartness– its absurd… According to Alastair Dryburgh; the dynamics of smartest person in the room work something like this; as you develop experience and expertise you may very well be the smartest person in the room for a specific area but as you move up in management the story changes… You need to cover more and more different areas, e.g.; you may need to deal with– R&D, marketing, sales, finance… and a whole host of other things. There is no way you can be the smartest person in the room for all of these different areas. And trying to do so just means that you surround yourself with mediocrity… So here’s a question: Who on your team is smarter than you? If nobody comes to mind, be worried; you career probably wouldn’t be going much further…

In the article Let Go of Your Need to Be the Smartest Person in the Room by Art Petty writes: One of the most common and damaging ‘blind spots’ for a leader is compulsion to consistently demonstrate that they are the smartest person in the room… Many well-intentioned leaders don’t recognize their own smartest-person-in-the-room behaviors. They don’t realize that their greater-than-thou behavior inhibits participation from team members rather than encouraging it. By definition blind spots are difficult to see but with a little self-diagnose and some simple corrective actions, you can mitigate a few common behavior flaws, for example:

  • Final word: Leaders who struggle with smartest-person-in-the-room syndrome often operate with a false belief that being in charge means always having the answer. This can drive you to assert your opinion as the final word, and it teaches people to suppress their own ideas and wait for solutions from the person in charge…
  • Eyes, face and voice say it all: Some leaders telegraph their smartest-person-in-the-room persona through verbal and non-verbal responses. Some managers portray what is perceived as disinterest or disdain for the commentary of team members by interrupting them in mid-sentence or maintaining a facial expression that seems to ask: Why are you using up my valuable oxygen with this stupid idea? While a leader may not intend to communicate disregard or disdain, team members will pick up on visible and audible cues…
  • Ask more than tell: Questions are powerful leadership tools and more effective than orders in most circumstances. Train yourself to respond to ideas with questions that help you and others better develop ideas. Strive to understand before offering your own perspective…
  • Shut up and let others decide: While you never have to cede your right to veto an idea or approach, use this power sparingly. Through questioning and building upon the ideas of others, you can often encourage the modification or adaptation of someone else’s approach without throwing your weight around. If you must, use the line-item veto…
  • Look for the beauty in ideas, not the flaws: Some people see the beauty in an idea, while others find the flaws. A micro-managing boss sees flaws and hammers people for changes to minutiae. An effective manager acknowledges the beauty inherent in ideas and focuses questions and efforts on realizing that beauty…

In the article Are You The Smartest Person In The Room? by Cory Treffiletti writes: Are you the smartest person in the room at work? If you answer ‘yes’, then you might need to rethink how you operate in business… Humility is often overlooked personality trait in business but it’s probably one of the most important characteristics that can lead to success… The most successful people possess a combination of smartness, confidence, ego, humility… They are smart enough to know what they ‘don’t know’ and they are always willing to hear other sides of an argument.  Approaching an argument with the willingness to be proven wrong is important… it’s the willingness to be wrong that defines a great leader… surround yourself with people who are smarter and more knowledgeable than you are… Hence you learn more because you’re forced to see challenges through the eyes of others… However when you think that you are smartest person in the room, then you need to either; take down your hubris a bit and learn some humility, or you need to start filling the room with people who know more about things than you do…

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In the article Smartest Person In The Room by Dan Oswald writes: In a study the average IQ of top performing leaders is 104. Now since the average score for an IQ test is 100 and 68% of the scores fall between 85 and 115, a score of 104 is exactly ‘average’… And maybe that’s why most CEOs don’t brag about their smartness and why no one seems to be drawing a parallel between IQ and successful leadership. Maybe this is why autocratic forms of leadership have come under attack in recent decades. Autocratic leaders often think that they are the ‘smartest person in the room’ and they make decision based only on their own ideas and judgments and rarely seek the advice of group members… even though the average autocratic leader is no smarter than the rest of the group…

In the article Never Think You Are The Smartest Person In The Room by Howard Lewinter writes: There are business leaders who believe they are the smartest person in the room and choose never to listen to what others have to say… In business, you can rarely think that you are the smartest person in the room; if and when you do you instantly lose the opportunity to connect with people… A true business leader listens to what others have to say, asks questions and listens… As a leader, you must rely on team members to be smarter than you in their area of expertise, e.g.; For sales? Ask and listen to sales force… For products, services? Ask and listen to marketing people… For customer service? Ask and listen to customer service team… The point is that your team should be the smartest in the room for their area of responsibility… So never act like you are the smartest person in the room just– listen, ask questions… However, there are times when you must take the lead and be smartest person in the room, i.e.; give directions, make decisions… The key is finding the right balance…

In the article Why the Smartest Guy in the Room Isn’t by Anthony Iannarino writes: To build a successful business you must have the situational smartness that will reassure  customers, partners, stakeholders… that you can solve all the issues… But it’s counter-productive even dangerous to suggest that only you have the best ideas… that you are the smartest person in the room and quickly dismiss other people’s (i.e., customers, partners…) thoughts, concerns, ideas, suggestions… People can quickly pick-up your greater-than-thou attitude– the smugness, patronizing look, body language, and facial expressions. They all give away the fact that you do not value other people’s ideas… and yes, your ideas may be the smartest… but that misses the point; you must at least listen, understand that other people, especially customers, want to be heard…

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For some people being the smartest person in the room is important– it’s an ego thing– but sometimes it’s nothing more than being the smartest person in a room full of idiots, dummies… According to Ken Okel; the challenge is that while you may be the smartest in that room… that doesn’t mean you are smartest in the ever-changing business world… Being the smartest whether it’s in– your team, your business, your industry… requires an ongoing commitment to learning, listening… otherwise the idiots in the room may realize that you’re not so smart, after all… According to Rachelle Gardner; surrounding yourselves with people ‘smarter’ than you; people who are already at a place where you want to be, people who inspire and encourage you toward goals… that’s the  ultimate smartness– It’s great to work with people who’s ‘smarts’ make you smarter…

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The ‘Big Push Model’– Critical For Business Success– Create a Domino Effect: Success or Failure is a Chain of Actions…

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Getting to be Number One: The Domino Effect is a series of chain reactions that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on… in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to– a row of falling dominoes… The effect is also known as a chain reaction, or snow ball effect, or cascade effect, or butterfly effect, or avalanche effect… It can be used literally (as observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (as causal linkages within systems, such as; business, finance, politics…). According to Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their book ‘The One Thing’; every person’s routine has a  potential ‘domino effect’ and by toppling the first ‘one thing’ (that first domino) it will begin a chain of reactions to a final outcome… But the key is to identify and focus-on that ‘one thing’ that begins the chain of movement– action/reactions (like a series of dominos)…

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Hence that little domino, that small action, that first step… can start a ripple effect, chain reaction that can result in great success, or like wise if that chain reaction is in the wrong direction it can result in failure. According to Herb Morreale; it might seem daunting that one person can change the direction and effectiveness of a business but simply taking one action, one step (i.e., knocking-over that first domino), which sets into motion a series of events culminating in either; success or failure… Similar to placing a series of dominos on end and with simple push they knock each other over in succession– its due to energy transferred by impact of each domino against each other. Domino theory is a framework that can help business people understand that no matter how large or small their hopes and dreams, it can be accomplished by seeing the world as a set of dominos. All it takes is one small strategic action to set ‘things’ in motion… with alignment of the actions of others…

In the article Unstoppable Success: Domino Effect by Andrew and Pete write: Achieving great things often starts with a first action; the first domino… People often ask: Where do I start? How do I achieve greatness? All good questions and the answer can be had with one simply analogy; the domino effect... What/where is that first domino that will trigger an unstoppable chain reaction knocking over every other obstacle in the path to success. It’s powerful effect but all too often people follow the advice of many pundits who say; start off small and grow slowly to achieve success… but it’s a fallacy, don’t believe it… Since most people are adverse to failure they take a very cautious approach in business and set ‘minimal’ goals with the ‘hope’ they can make incremental progress to a better business, but typically the reverse happens…

Remember the quote by Norman Vincent Peale: Shoot for the moon and even if you miss it you will land among the stars. That is exactly the point, dare and reach for an ambitious first domino; it’s easier than you think; and even if you fail and you will: A) be proud that you tried: B) you are further ahead than if you set minimal goals… Minimal goals mean that you are not pushing the business, which means that you are destined for mediocrity and not achieve true potential… Hence be bold and take a giant leap and figure out where/what that first domino is for the business… then work smart to achieve it… Once you knock-over that first domino, everything else becomes so much easier… that chain reaction is in motion and the big dream for success is within reach…

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In the article Domino Effect For Extraordinary Results by Andrey Sergeyev writes: Getting extraordinary results is all about creating a ‘domino effect’ in business… According to BJ Thornton; every great change is like a series of falling dominoes… Toppling dominoes is pretty straightforward; you line them up and tip over the first one… however, in business it’s a bit more complicated. Rarely is a business positioned in a predictable line where everything is prepared for– a simply push… and highly successful businesses know it. So every day they line-up priorities, find or position the lead domino, aligned the required chain of actions, and then manage and motivate the process… This approach works because extraordinary success is sequential– first you do the right thing and then do the next right thing…

Success is built sequential; it’s one thing at a time; just like geometric progression, when you line up the dominoes correctly, it only takes the– smallest push, smallest action… to start the chain of events that will achieve goals… But the critical challenge is to identify the– ‘what/where’ of the first action (first domino) and execute it, such that the impact of the action will create a series of events that will result in the desired outcome… According to Gary Keller and Jay Papasan; think ambitiously, think big ideas, and don’t let the fear of failure detract your quest for a successful business– shoot for the moon– put all energy into accomplishing the ‘one thing’ (the first domino) that gets the process started…

In the article Domino Effect– Don’t Play Games With Organizational Success by Scott Span writes: Have you ever played dominos? If so, you know how long it takes to set-up the pieces in what ever pattern you choose. Yet regardless of how long it takes to set-up the pieces– once you push that first piece over, it takes just seconds to cause the chain reaction that brings everything to completion… Dominos are a learning lesson when it comes to business, e.g.; an organization will spend months, if not years, setting-up the business pieces in a pattern such that they think will yield a successful outcome… But then someone adjusts or replaces one piece and that change inadvertently knocks-over other pieces, and that causes a chain reaction– the domino effect… Remember the ‘domino effect’ can either work for your business or against it… it’s a linear sequence of events– it connects sequences of events or linkages within a system that can either produce the– desired good outcome, or run amok and create a crisis…

Regardless of the catalyst that sets the dominos in motion is some type of change– businesses need to navigate these changes carefully and be sure the changes, or the people making the changes, don’t over or under react and make the process worse… Unfortunately most businesses don’t approach changes with a systemic focus– often most business don’t take into consideration all the interconnects of an organization… Linkages that could set the domino effect into motion, which impacts implementation  of potential changes to the business, and its overall sustainability… An organization is an  interconnected system; changes in one area have a direct impact on changes in other areas. Hence, even though the pieces to the business aren’t actually dominoes– you should treat them as such…

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The physics of dominoes is very simple: You place one behind the next and continue this pattern until you are ready to knock them over… Social media work this way; connect with someone on Twitter they check out your blog, then refer a friend to an article and now their friend is checking you out and buying a product or service; it’s a domino effect. Every action you take, whether you give amazing customer service, write blog post, tweet, leave a comment on Facebook or create something so amazing that people cannot help but tell friends about it. The more people that are talking about you, the more dominoes you have in place and the more chances you have for engaging a group of fans for your business…

However, the problem with dominos is when they are spread too far apart they miss out on hitting the next one, and hence they won’t gain any traction within a community to create excitement, build trust, make sales… According to John Woods; everything affects everything else in one way or another. Whether you are aware of that or not does not change the fact that this is what is happening… Your business is a system and you must understand it, in order to better manage it– all actions within your business are connected and each action will reverberate throughout the entire business with some outcome, intended or not… The potential for a ‘domino effect’ lurks in shadows of all businesses– it a catalyst for growth and success, or crisis and failure…

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Diversity Teetering on Insanity– Diversity Needs a Refresh: Diversity Alone Is Bad for Business– Its ‘Inclusion’ That Matters…

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Every organization is full of people who look different, talk different, think different, act different from one another, at least at some level… Hence, the primary challenge for business is not just to become more diverse but more important to become more inclusive… consider people’s commonalities– consider people’s sameness… consider people’s sharing common purpose, experience, goals… This may seem counter-intuitive but it suggests that for business (society as a whole) to be successful must have a substantial foundation of commonality, which encourages inclusiveness in order for diversity to flourish… The misinterpretations of what diversity and inclusiveness mean and what they truly represents have limited their ability to have a real impact and influence in business…

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An organization needs– controllers, thinkers, dreamers, doers, organizers, team builders… to reach the strategic goals and outcomes that define the character of a successful organization… an organization is not sustainable with people– fighting, mistrusting… each other because of their differences… Diversity is ubiquitous and it includes; black and white, female and male, gay and straight, all religions, young and old… the diversity of every individual, slow learner and fast learner, introvert and extrovert, controlling type and people type, scholar and sports-person, liberal and conservative… According to R. Roosevelt Thomas; long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh ideas, perspectives and views, understand dynamics and mindset and values of a globalized world… but most important, diversity without inclusion will fail…

In the article Why Diversity Can Be Bad For Business– Its Inclusion Stupid by Sebastian Bailey writes: Research suggests that higher market growth is driven by more innovation and better quality decision made within diverse and inclusive teams… and that diversity ‘alone'(without inclusion) is damaging for individuals, organizations… Research suggests that ‘differences alone’ lowers– revenue, performance, employee morale and well-being, along with slower decision-making, increased conflict, absenteeism, missed opportunities and more (expensive) discrimination cases… But when coupled with an inclusive culture, diversity delivers higher performance, less absenteeism, more customer satisfaction and greater innovation… Unfortunately many well-meaning diversity initiatives fail because organizations behave defensively… they only put in place minimum policies so as to avoid lawsuits… and very little effort to develop a mindset of inclusion…

Few organizations even distinguish between diversity and inclusion, let alone measure or target them individually. While diversity can be addressed as a compliance issue and tracked fairly easily, the range of individual behaviors which make-up inclusion mean that it’s trickier to pin-down… Inclusiveness happens when very different individuals feel free to embrace their uniqueness and are accepted as full members of the team. Enforced participation efforts don’t work– a recent study showed that up to 61% of individuals in a workplace feel like they are covering-up something of themselves in order to– fit in at work. Faking it to fit in; not a recipe for engagement or performance…

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In the article Downside of Diversity by Michael Jonas writes: It’s increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a business strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same; our differences make us stronger… According to Robert Putnam; diversity makes most people uncomfortable… but discomfort isn’t always a bad thing. Unease with differences helps explain why teams of workers from different cultures may be ideally suited to solve vexing problems… Culture clashes can produce a dynamic give-and-take, generating a solution that may have eluded a group of people with more similar backgrounds and approaches… However, there is a growing body of research indicating that more diverse populations seem to extend themselves less on behalf of a group’s collective needs and goals, i.e.; higher diversity can mean lower social capital…

Putnam writes; those in more diverse communities tend to– distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and leaders, to volunteer less, to give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference… And if all of this is true– then how can one explain the great melting-pot cities that drive the world’s creative and financial economies? According to Scott Page; notion that civic lassitude drag down diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest… And if diversity is a liability for connectedness, there is a parallel line of research that suggests it can also be a big asset for driving productivity, innovation… The different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon– diverse teams tend to be more productive…

In the article Diversity Policies Rarely Make Companies Fairer by Tessa L. Dover, Brenda Major, Cheryl R. Kaiser write: Companies spend millions of dollars annually on diversity programs and policies. Mission statements and recruitment materials touting companies’ commitment to diversity are ubiquitous… Many managers are tasked with the complex goal of ‘managing diversity’– which can mean anything from ensuring equal employment opportunity compliance, to instituting cultural sensitivity training programs, to focusing on the recruitment and retention of minorities, women… However, most programs are not very effective and produce very few if any tangible benefits to companies or targeted individuals… A study of over 700 companies found that implementing these programs have little positive effect and may even decrease diverse representation…

Most people assume that diversity policies make companies fairer… though the data suggest otherwise… Research suggests that diversity initiatives seem to do little to convince minorities that companies will treat them more fairly… Participants from ethnic minorities viewed a pro-diversity company as no more inclusive, no better to work for, and no less likely to discriminate against minorities than a company without a pro-diversity stance… The implications of this study are troubling for the ways we currently attempt to manage diversity and foster inclusion in organizations. Groups, e.g., white men… that typically occupy positions of power may feel alienated and vulnerable when their company claims to value diversity. This may be one explanation for the lackluster success of most diversity management attempts; when people feel threatened they may resist efforts to make the workplace more inclusive…

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In the article Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Diversity? by Koyel Bandyopadhyay writes: The chief argument against diversity appears to be that some business skills are concentrated in certain places, certain groups of people, certain cultures… Hence, narrowness can be a source of strength and cohesion, not a sign of weakness. Diversity is a technique, not an end in itself. It needs to be balanced against other considerations, such as; clustering of skills… and companies need not necessarily be ‘representative’ of the population as a whole… business needs much more diversity of thought on the subject of ‘diversity’. Human beings are social beings and the way they bond with other humans is chiefly through– real or imagined– similarity, which is known as homophily (where people tend to bond with people that they think are similar to themselves)… According to Robert D. Putnam; there are two human social tendencies; one is bonding connections– to be forged among like-minded individuals… and the other is bridging connections— to be formed between heterogeneous groups… In today’s globalization, individual identities are  becoming increasingly dynamic and the cultural discourse is often finding overlap, which is good news for mitigating some of the distrust and prejudice against diverse groups, and in forming those bridging connections…

The long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh– ideas, perspectives and views to their work… According to Harris Sussman; diversity is about– relatedness, connectedness, interactions… where the lines cross. Diversity is many things, e.g.; bridge between organizational life and the reality of people’s lives, building corporate capability, framework for interrelationships between people, learning exchange, strategic lens on the world… According to David Goodhart; in the rhetoric of the modern liberal state, the glue of ethnicity (i.e., people who look and talk alike) has been replaced with the glue of values (i.e., people who think and behave alike)… According to Jane Jimenez; every age faces the human struggle to ‘get along’… but today, at least, we are supposed to be a kinder and gentler age… Years ago, even as mere children, we knew there were many different kinds of people… different languages, cultures, skin colors…and we knew we needed to work to get along… Maybe back then, we knew it, but today we have codified it… 

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We are no longer simply different; we are ‘diverse’… and for business to succeed it require a level of ‘inclusion’– whereby individuals must alter some of their innate beliefs and behaviors– which is why it’s more difficult to realize, but yet so very powerful when it happens… and organizations must address ‘inclusion’ as a cultural issue. Hence, starting point is a few key shifts in attitude; from diversity alone (delivered at corporate level) to diversity and inclusion (delivered by individuals); from demographics to diversity of thinking; and from diversity as an issue of compliance to an essential facet of business success…

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Stuck in Mediocrity– Business Paradox– ‘Slow Down to Speed Up’: New Normal– Slow Pace Fast Change…

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On the surface– Slow Down to Speed– does not seem to make much sense but with a business gone awry how much time is spent in damage control (i.e.; apologizing, blame-games, corrective actions…) to determine the fate of the business… According to Ken Stewart; tenets of ‘slow down to speed up’ are following a few simple rules: No More, No Less: Take sufficient amount of time to find new path forward… Devil in Details: Observe the necessary details and omit what’s not necessary… Pace and Purpose: Do not allow the pace to overshadow the purpose… Urgent or Important: Guard against others’ false urgency and don’t fight unnecessary battles… According to Petrini; going ‘slow’ means you control rhythms of the business; you decide the appropriate speed of the business– if today is fast, go fast… if tomorrow is slow, go slow…

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The critical issue is to determine the correct ‘tempo’ of the business at any point in time… According to a Harvard Business Review study; there are two types of companies; those that quickly embrace new initiatives and– go, go, go… to try and gain an edge but they often falter… and those that ‘pause’ and think through new initiatives at key critical moments to ensure that they are on the right track… The study suggests; firms that ‘slowed down to speed up’ improve their top and bottom lines and average 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period… It’s all about reframing the idea of slow; taking the time to find the right path to build a sustainable business…

In the article Slow Down to Speed Up by John B. McGuire, Vance Tang write: Complexity is in cahoots with speed and uncertainty… Put together all three– speed, uncertainly, complexity– and the toughest business can falter… Complexity is the No. 1 issue facing chief executives today… according to an IBM study of 1,500 chief executives; the problem is that we’ve bought into the complexity conspiracy: We match complexity with greater complexity, and speed with greater speed.. When feeling out of control, we seek more control… Instead of the clarity we crave, we get ambiguity and more uncertainty. There is a way to break the stranglehold of complexity: Slow down to power up… That’s right: Slow down now and you will be in a better position to move faster, further with greater purpose later– even when, or especially when, you are staring down the triple threat of– complexity, speed, uncertainty… When leaders ‘slow down to power up’ they can better overcome pressures– of complexity, speed, uncertainty– and meet the challenges of a changing world…

In the article Need Speed? Slow Down by Jocelyn R. Davis, Tom Atkinson write: There is a speed gap in business: It’s the difference between the importance of  speed as conceived in a firm’s competitive strategy, and their operational speed with which a firm can actually move… Organizations that are fearful of losing their competitive advantage spend much time and resources looking for ways to pick up the pace whereas instead, paradoxically, they should actually slow down… Firms sometimes confuse operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (time to deliver value)– in fact, the two concepts are quite different…

Many businesses simply try to increase the pace of execution as one way to try to close the speed gap… But that often can lead to decrease in the customer experience, lower-quality products, and overall loss of value… Likewise, when firms do not take the time to identify and verify a true competitive value proposition but still proceed to market anyway, they usually have a bad outcome… Firms that ‘slow down’ and make alignment of strategic speed and operational speed a priority are more successful. These firms think through their strategy and are more open to– ideas, discussion, encouraged innovative thinking and allowed time to– reflect, learn… By contrast, firms that moved too fast, focused too much on maximizing efficiency, do not foster employee collaboration and are not overly concerned about alignment, they typically falter…

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In the article Slow Is New Fast; Slow Down to Speed Up by Michael Baer writes: The business world seems to get faster every day– no matter how fast we move, we seem to be constantly in need of catch-up. But in today’s highly competitive business environment,  it’s very important just to slow down: That’s right; slow down… The need-for-speed has taken over business, e.g.; management often– shoot first and asks questions later, they react, respond, and do-do-do… without understanding markets, they take action without thinking, they develop processes that are designed to work on their own (like robotic speed-freaks)… However, sometimes management must just slow down and press ‘pause’ button… They must think slower in order to work smarter. According to Daniel Kahneman; there are two distinct systems that dictate how people think and make decisions: One is fast, intuitive, reactive… while the other is slow, deliberate, methodical, rational… There are many situations where business must force itself to ‘think slow’… According to an article; business is getting more complex, uncertain, ambiguous… hence, they must become more deliberative in thinking through critical business decisions…

This need-for-speed has many people working alone behind laptops, smartphones… and making knee-jerk decisions… But, many activities demand more deliberate, in-person collaboration with other humans in a room working on the same project at the same time… Since we are constantly responding to situations and reacting to stimuli, we often develop patterns of response that are enabled without thinking. We are run by– rote, not mind… Hence, don’t let a process run the process; don’t let decisions happen mindlessly simply because a process stipulates it to occur…

Empower people to stop the proverbial assembly line when it does not serve the purpose. Don’t let a process drive the speed of the business when the outcome is not satisfactory. Slow it down, make adjustments… then speed it back up again… Sometimes it’s a move that you ‘don’t’ make… and sometimes the best decision is to do nothing… Hence, despite the demanding pace, emotions, passions… sometimes it’s important to slow down and not rush to judgment, or react impetuously, or impulsively… Control emotions in heat of the moment, slow down and deliberate before taking action…

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In the article Art of Slowing Down by Grace Marshall writes: In a business world that strives for high productivity we often talk about getting things done– faster, smarter, easier… But what about slower? Here are several areas where slowing down could in fact improve productivity:

  • Decisions: Fastest decisions are not always best decisions… There are times when you made a quick ‘that will do’ decision that’s ended up costing more to fix, or change, then if you just slow down and think it through…
  • Planning: Activity does not always equal productivity, and busy-ness does not equal business. But there’s still something incredibly seductive about being busy; busy feels productive… It’s only when you slow down and think, that you notice the difference between getting things done, and getting things done right…
  • Communication: They say never send an email when you’re angry or in a rush. It’s so much easier to make a mistake, send the wrong thing to the wrong person, or say something you’ll regret… Slow down and give your brain a chance to catch up with your emotions…
  • Creativity: We are human beings, not robots. Our productivity doesn’t just depend on speed and efficiency. It also depends on creativity, intuition, innovation… and these things need space to flourish. Nothing shuts down inspiration faster than forcing it, so just slow down and take the pressure off and it can be just the thing to get your creativity flowing…

When you do Internet search on the terms– ‘slow and business’, all you get are nothing but words that describe– misery, pain, frustration… and most people associate ‘slow’ with failure, inefficiency, and perhaps worse, laziness… According to Christopher Richards; we love speed; we have speed dating, speed networking, fast food… Microsoft tells us to ‘do more, faster’… And who wants to argue? After all competition is fierce; we’d better be efficient, get there first– be a winner… We are taught to forge ahead,  speed up; the less time we have, more we try to cram… after all time is a non-renewable resource…

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Being fast can be a business’ biggest strength, but it also can be its biggest weakness… Manically rushing from one thing to another is not good for health or productivity. Yes, a certain level of adrenaline can be useful to beat inertia and fire-up motivation, but when stress levels get too high– people make mistakes, make poor decisions, misjudge and misread situations, and are far more likely to get caught up in reactive fire-fighting rather than productively moving forward on what really matters. Next time your business seems to be losing competitive edge– do something different; slow down and switch gears… Walk slower; Talk slower; Take slower deeper breaths… and notice the return of clarity of thought…

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Tragedy of Nice– Nice Dudes Finish Last, Danger of Too Nice In Business: Fine Line Between– Nice, Too Nice, Jerk…

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Business is highly-competitive, ruthless, cut-throat, take-no-prisoners… According to Bryant Urstadt; most executives are advised to be warriors and fight battles for their business… study the winning secrets of Jack Welch… use tactics from ‘Art of War’, ninja techniques in ‘48 Laws of Power’It seem like the word ‘nice’ has disappeared from dictionary of business terms? It’s almost as if ‘nice’ has become synonymous for weak or indecisive. So what is the value of nice in business? Is there a ‘return on nice’? According to Kim Garst; opinions differ on the value of being nice in business… and although there are many ways to define success, e.g.; revenue, profit, cash flow, performance, quality… there are also subjective measures of success, e.g; employee engagement, customer satisfaction, positive workplace environment… all of which can lead to benefits, such as; recruiting top talent (people often choose a company because it’s a ‘nice’ place to work), increased productivity (when a worker is placed in a ‘nice’ environment they are much more engaged)… and positive public image (what employees, fans, and followers say about you on the Internet can make or break a business)… Social media bolsters brand value in a big way and it pays to be known as a ‘nice’ company…

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Many people think that being nice in business works… Not necessarily; too often ‘nice’ and competent people get passed up for promotions, instead the plum job goes to the prima donna or the person who plays politics... What nice people may not realize is that they are too nice, and that when things are too nice that can be bad… According to Russ Edelman; the people in business who suffer from the ‘nice guy/gal syndrome’ are not achieving their true potential– nice people are often perceived as doormats and taken advantage of, they are too concerned about pleasing others, not making waves, they don’t stand up for themselves… the nice guy/gal is forever putting the oxygen mask on someone else before putting it on themselves…

In the article Nice Finish Last at the Office by Eve Tahmincioglu writes: When it comes to being a leader in a highly competitive situation or during tough times, ‘nice’ can be perceived as a sign of weakness, while being selfish and aggressive shows strength… According to Robert Livingston; being selfish makes a person seem more dominant and being dominant makes them seem more attractive as leader, especially when there is competition… Researchers found that individuals who were selfless, kind– gained prestige, admiration… but, those who exhibited dominant personalities, i.e.; being self-interested, aggressive, manipulative… were viewed as having alpha status; they were ‘top dog’… As humans we are wired to respond to dominance in terms of who we perceive as leadership worthy, and on subconscious level people perceive– niceness as weakness… Despite this most people seem to want to work with and for people who are nice… But when business becomes challenging, people look for individuals who are perceived to be– no nonsense, action oriented… whereas ‘nice’ individuals are perceived to be not tough enough to get the job done…

In the article Benefits of Being Nice in Business by Darren Dahl writes: It’s easy to think of the workplace as something like a battleground– place where only tough workers survive. But the truth is that no one wants to work in a tough, harsh, hostile work environment… When people enjoy where they work and feel trusted and appreciated, they become more engaged and productive in their work… That in turn, leads to better results and better interactions with everyone from co-workers to customers… Also it’s easier to recruit great talent while keeping existing stars on board, through lower turnover… According to Paul Spiegelman; business is about building relationships and treating people with kindness and respect… And the best way to build relationships is to be ‘kind’ and to show interest in, and compassion for the people you work and interact with. Ultimately that’s how you build trust and ‘trust’ is the single most important factor in business…

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In the article Danger of Being Too Nice in Business by Meridith Levinson writes: Being too nice is not just a problem for individuals; it’s also a problem for business… Employees who are too nice cost business time and money… In a survey of 50 CEOs, asked about the impact of ‘being too nice’ in their business; CEOs responded by saying that being too nice cost them eight percent of their gross revenues. In other words, if their company had been more aggressive, the CEOs believed they could have earned more money… Often managers who are too nice are reluctant to make decisions; they fear hurting people’s feelings if they don’t ask for feedback, so they include everyone in decision-making… that wastes time and can lead to missed opportunities… According to Edelman; people need to find a balance between staying true to their ‘nice’ nature, while also being assertive and protecting their interests– they don’t need to be jerks or SOBs to be successful … The challenge, then, for nice people is to redefine what it means to be nice and to understand that being nice does not have to mean being a doormat; you can be nice, assertive… and still manage confrontation, set boundaries…

In the article Do Nice People Succeed In Business? It Depends by David Sloan Wilson writes: The business world is often depicted as a gladiatorial contest where only selfish survive… According to Adam Grant; think of people you work with; some are probably total sweeties, while others are– jerks, SOBs, only out for themselves… And if you think of ‘nice’ and ‘nasty’ as alternative social strategies that compete against each other, it turns out that either one can win depending upon circumstances. People who employ ‘nasty’ strategies succeed by preying upon people who employ ‘nice’ strategies… People who employ ‘nice’ strategies succeed by banding together to share their beneficence and avoiding people who employ ‘nasty’ strategies. It’s that simple… In scientific literature, ‘niceness’ is called pro-sociality– any attitude, behavior, or social institution oriented toward the welfare of others or society as a whole… People raised in highly pro-social environments develop multiple assets, thriving as individuals in addition to helping others. People raised in absence of pro-sociality develop multiple deficits, including; antisocial behavior, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, depression…

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In the article Are Successful People Nice in Business? by Art Markman writes: Being nice in business may have social benefits, but does it pay? Using earnings data, researchers found that men who rank high in ‘agreeableness’ (niceness) make substantially less than men who are ‘less agreeable’ (nastiness)… Conversely women’s earnings were less affected. There was small difference between women high and low in ‘agreeableness’… So, why do these results differ for men and women? There is a stereotype that when men lead, they make decisions without concern for what people think… whereas, women are more sensitive to people’s thoughts… Hence, the theory is that career advancement requires a willingness to ruffle feathers from time to time. Good leaders need to be able to tell people things they do not want to hear… And putting oneself forward for promotion means putting yourself before others; of course, this is not license to be a jerk at work…

In the article Why Being Nice in Business is a Strength by Kathryn Kerns writes: Many people associate being nice with being weak or accommodating, but niceness is actually a powerful tool for achieving business goals… Most people want to work with nice people… Now more than ever ‘cultural fit’ is key factor in many organizations’ hiring decisions… Nice workers get along with team members, take the time to mentor junior employees, promote positive attitudes in the workplace… The ability to work well within a team is critical for success in the workplace and diversity is highly-valued within the workforce. But to harness the competitive advantage of diverse viewpoints and backgrounds team members must feel comfortable sharing their strengths and opinions; and a level of niceness helps the team to function efficiently and accomplish more…

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Nice people genuinely care about others, they listen to their needs and instinctively want to meet those needs, which in turn forms the foundation of trust for successful business relationships… Perhaps you’ve heard the popular saying; people don’t leave their companies,people leave their managers… As it turns out, nicer managers have more engaged employees, nice managers care about their team and acknowledge their contributions, nice managers recruit better talent… Hence, ‘nice’ companies are; more productive, more profitable, higher customer ratings, lower rates of turnover… However, niceness does not need to mean weakness, or incompatible with toughness, or unable to manage difficult boundaries… Nice people can voice opinions, stand up for beliefs and even disagree… but ‘nice’ people do so with kindness, grace, respect…

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Encryption– Government Nightmare– Quest for Unrestricted Internet Access: Golden Key, Back Door… It’s Insane, Stupid, Dangerous…

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Government’s unrestricted access to all Internet content, communications… through the use of encryption ‘by-passes’ is security nightmare… it allows government (and other dudes, by default) to have complete access to all encrypted data, information… and security experts say; it’s just crazy, nuts, insane… Strong encryption is cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security… Whether you call them– front door, back door, golden key, what ever… introducing intentional vulnerabilities into secure websites will make them less secure… Without encryption Internet traffic might as well be written on postcards. According to Declan McCullagh; its government attempt to get encryption ‘master keys’ Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private content and communications from eavesdropping…

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Visualize a security ‘by-pass’ as a ‘door key’ under the doormat of  a private residence, which a clever thief can easily access– it’s equivalent to making an encrypted systems with deliberate weaknesses, it’s fundamentally in conflict with basic security principles, and just plain stupid… Encryption has long terrified government… and so-called ‘crypto-wars’ began in 1970s, when government attempted to classify encryption as munition… in the 1990s, government tried to get industry to adopt the ‘Clipper’ chip– an encryption chip for which government had a back door, also government tried to introduce a ‘key escrow’, a policy that all encryption systems should leave a spare key with a ‘trusted’ third party…

All these ‘by-passes’ don’t make any more sense now, than they did in 1990s? Certainly the threat from terrorism is greater now, and few people would argue that if you are in danger and a police officer turns-up at your door– you let them-in. But, the analogy implies that someone has control over who ‘opens the door’ and of course, in software sense that is impossible… Anyone including criminals can discover the ‘by-pass’ and exploit it… The technology industry tends to have a knee-jerk reaction to attempts from government to interfere in its processes, saying; don’t mess in things that you don’t understand…

In the article Time to End ‘Debate’ on Encryption Back Doors by Kevin Bankston writes: Government is concerned the growing adoption of strong encryption technology will frustrate its ability to conduct investigations… it’s what government calls– ‘going dark’ problem… The gist of government position is: They recognize encryption is important for security and privacy, but it’s also in conflict with government ability to investigate and monitor potential criminal activity… hence, it’s government position that a broad public debate, that considers costs and benefits of widespread encryption, is critical to national security… But many experts in technology say; this is not a new debate… in 1990s and for many of same reasons the idea of encryption ‘back doors’ was rejected; and now the arguments against ‘back doors’ is even stronger… Furthermore even with proliferation of encryption, government has much more access to data, information than ever before, e.g.; access to cell phone location information about where we are and where we’ve been, metadata about who we communicate with and when, and vast databases of emails and pictures, and more in the ‘cloud’… Hence, we have already had this debate and it’s time to move on…

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In the article Encryption, Back Door, Magic Keys, Government Fallacies by crystalattice writes: For those who do not pay attention; certain government agencies are advocating a so-called ‘magic key’ that allows them, when necessary, to ‘by-pass’ encryption and decrypt private data with a special key… Government claims they need this to prevent from ‘going dark’ (i.e., being unable to perform work because they are unable to access sensitive data…). However there is an analogy for those who may be confused as to why encryption ‘back door’ is a bad thing, e.g.; physical door locks use physical keys and just like encryption keys, when you don’t have the correct key then you cannot unlock the door and get access to content…

Also, physical locks have the ability to be keyed with a ‘master key’ and similarly, a ‘magic key’ for encryption has the same function as a master key for a physical lock… Hence, anyone with a magic key can access any encrypted data, content, communications… on a website or digital device whether they are authorized or not… When government has a ‘magic key’, they have the ability to intercept any data or content in a secure website, or transmitted via Internet… and potentially use it for any purpose. This is why it’s so scary…

In the article Rise of New Crypto War by Eric Geller writes: A technological ‘back door’ is a secret portal giving someone access to secure content, communications, e.g.; website, smartphone app, computer program… A pure software backdoor can provide direct access to secure systems, such as; Gmail, Facebook, Tweeter… A more complex form of ‘back door’ access involves the use of special keys to decipher encrypted data, which is usually gathered through conventional interception… Back doors that rely on encryption keys can either involve a master key for all data flowing across a particular site, or keys for individual users that can be plugged into a system for wire-taping…

When a company sets up its system to generate keys for government it holds onto those keys until it’s compelled to produce them; this is a ‘key escrow’… In this configuration, there is no portal for direct access, instead– software code is written to create encryption designed to produce keys for government, or other entities… Creating encryption keys is a normal part of designing a system with encryption. Users exchange those keys, many times without realizing it, anytime they communicate on a secure platform. But sending keys to ‘trusted stores’ where they remain ready for government use introduces a whole new set of problems…

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In the article Government Grapples Clash Between Privacy, Security by Ellen Nakashima, Barton Gellman write: Government is warning that the growing use of encryption could seriously hinder criminal and national security investigations, and are pushing for more use of encryption ‘by-passes’… Whereas many technology companies are pushing back saying there are limits with use of ‘by-passes’ beyond which security becomes seriously compromised. The debate is highly polarized; with commercial encryption firms and government finding little common ground… and with government seeing increasing peril as encryption technology is becoming more widespread… and with academic and industry experts saying government is asking for the impossible…

It’s common knowledge that any means of encryption ‘by-pass’ is by definition weakness, such that; hackers, criminals, foreign spies… can easily exploit secure websites. According to Lance J. Hoffmann; a central issue in the policy debate is trust… it’s who do you trust with your data… Do you want to default to government? To company? Or, to individual? If you make hybrid, what is the trade-off? According to Donna Dodson;  it’s not possible to design a fully secure system that holds a master key for government but not adversaries without unintentional vulnerabilities…

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While government reasoning for creating a back door is sound, opening a door means that the same door is potentially open for others… According to Tina Stewart; far more users are being impacted by business not encrypting data, than they are by the government not having access to encrypted data. While a back door might help identify the run-of-the-mill perpetrator, it’s not going to stop truly dangerous people… In this incredibly risky cyber-security environment usage of encryption is one of smartest moves companies can make…

According to article by Washington Post editorial board; all freedoms come with limits and it seems only proper that the vast freedoms of the Internet should be subject to the same rule of government that we accept for the rest of society… According to Sarah Jeong; the problem noted by many experts is that a ‘by-pass’ to encryption, even if branded ‘back door’ or ‘golden key’ is by definition a vulnerability… Building in ‘back doors’ threatens the integrity of consumer content and communications, and makes them vulnerable to criminals and hostile foreign governments alike… According to Bill Budington, Andrew Crocker; some suggest that there must be ‘balance’ between user security and public safety; but the basic principles of what makes encryption secure suggests that the only ‘balance’ that can satisfy government goals is ‘no balance’ at all…

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The proponents of ‘balanced’ solution to so-called government ‘going dark problem’ suggest that the geniuses in Silicon Valley should ‘figure out’ the balance… However, the problem is the proponents don’t listen to so-called geniuses… In fact, pushing back on other side of this debate is a unified coalition of technologists, mega technology firms, privacy advocates, Silicon Valley geniuses… with a remarkably consistent message; weakening encryption is a terrible idea… According to Information Technology Industry Council, a tech trade association of the 62 largest global technology firms; encryption is a security tool, which is relied on everyday to preserve security and safety… the notion of weakening security with the aim of advancing security simply does not make sense…

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Creating Strategy Without a Strategy– It’s Business Without a Plan: Choosing ‘Right’ Strategy is Biggest Challenge…

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Business strategy is all about decision-making… If there are no decisions, there is no strategy; if there’s no strategic decision-making, there is no success. According to Roger Martin; business won’t survive without a strategy… When a strategy succeeds, it seems a little like magic; unknowable, unexplainable… then it becomes obvious in retrospect… But actually, it’s not really– strategy is about making choices to win in the marketplace… According to Tara Gentile; creating a business strategy that breaks through the noise is about declaring ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others. And as you might guess; ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are not about right and wrong…

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Making a decision to drive the business in a different direction is to make a choice, and the more intentional you are with decisions, the stronger the strategy… However not every strategy works, but to even have chance at success it must be based on– focus and intentional decision-making… Every intentional decision provides an opportunity to put the business in the best possible position for success… When thinking about a strategy, most businesses tend to follow classical rules, e.g.; study the market and competitive situation, define goals and draw-up step-by-step tactics to get there… typically strategies sort into five categories– Be Big, Be Fast, Be First, Be Orchestrator, Be Viable… But in today’s business environment, which is characterized by; fast change and uncertainty… ‘one size’ does not fit all…

Getting a strategy ‘right’ depends on the critical components of a business environment, which includes;  predictability, malleability, harshness… A classical approach assumes that an industry environment is relatively; ‘predictable’, e.g.; the Oil Industry holds few surprises for strategists; its relatively predictable and changes very little, over time… whereas, the Internet Software Industry is highly volatile and very susceptible to disruptive change, over time… Clearly, strategies that work in the Oil Industry are highly unlikely to work in a far less predictable and highly disruptive tendencies of the Internet Software Industry… Hence companies in dissimilar competitive environments must– plan, develop, deploy… strategies in very different ways… but, research shows that all too often, they do not…

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In the article Which Strategy When? by Christopher B. Bingham, Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Nathan R. Furr write: Just when a business thinks it has settled on the right strategy… then markets change, competition shifts… and business is forced to rethink its strategy… By understanding the forces shaping a company’s competitiveness, business must choose the most appropriate strategic framework… Hence, whatever business circumstances, managers must forever ask the same questions: Where do we go from here, and which strategy will get us there? Do we fortify our strategic position, or move into nearby markets, or branch out into radically new territory? To help guide through these decisions; business must– know, understand, explore… the smorgasbord of strategic frameworks and decide which one is the ‘right’ one, and when…

It’s a continual process, including; jumble of strategic ideas, market analyses and hefty binders of information and data of; 5-forces analysis, 3-Cs analysis, review of core competencies, examination of profit and loss, competitive landscape, and so on… But inevitably the question is– Which strategy is most effective for business right now? Most managers recognize that not all strategies work equally well in every setting, but how do you choose the right one, at the right time…

An analysis can provide some insight: First, different strategic frameworks break into three models; strategies of position, strategies of leverage, strategies of opportunity… And the right strategy for a company depends on its– circumstances, available resources, and management ability to combine resources effectively… Second, many assumptions about competitive advantage simply don’t hold, e.g.; although some strategy gurus talk about strategically valuable resources, sometimes ordinary resources when assembled well can provide the required competitive advantage… Or, sometimes it makes good sense to bypass the largest markets and focus instead on markets where resources fit best… Or, in other circumstances, it may be preferable to ignore existing resources and attack an emergent market… Or, in some situations basic rules of thumb work better than detailed plans Surprisingly often simple strategies can be more effective than complex ones…

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In the Your Strategy Needs a Strategy by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, Janmejaya Sinha write: Most businesses lack a systematic way to match their strategy-making style to the particular circumstances of their– industry, markets, core competencies… According to BCG survey of 120 companies around the world in 10 major industry sectors; executives are well aware of the need to match the strategic processes to the specific demands of the competitive environments… However many executives still rely on a classical approach,  which assumes the business environment is– predictable, stable… even though their own environment is known to be highly volatile or mutable…

Fully three out of four executives understood that they need to employ different strategic styles in different circumstances. Yet judging by the practices that they actually adopted, the estimate was that the same percentage are using only two strategic styles and they were the Classic and Visionary– which are best suited for predictable environments… And that means only one in four are prepared, in practice, to adapt to– unforeseeable events, or to seize opportunity that could shape an industry to their company advantage… Understanding how different the various approaches are and in which environment each best applies can go a long way toward correcting mismatches between strategic style and business environment…

Setting strategy is an art, and perhaps you could use a palette, i.e., a ‘strategic palette’ acting as a unifying framework of choice for strategic formulation, and it could provide various ways to approach strategy in this complicated, turbulent world… According to Martin Reeves; it’s not that we lack powerful ways to approach strategy; it’s that we lack a robust way to select the right one for the right circumstances… The ‘strategic palette’ can be applied to different parts of a business, it includes: ClassicalI can predict it, but I can’t change it… AdaptiveI can’t predict it, and I can’t change it… VisionaryI can predict it, and I can change it… ShapingI can’t predict it, but I can change it… RenewalResources are severely constrained…

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In the article Have You Tested Your Strategy Lately? by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, Sven Smit writes: What’s the next new thing in strategy? According to Phil Rosenzweig; that’s the wrong question: Rather than looking for the next musing, it’s probably better to full understand what you already know is true, and make sure you do that well… Let’s face it: the basic principles that make for good strategy often get obscured… Sometimes the culprit is torrents of data, reams of analysis, piles of documents that can be more distracting than enlightening… but ultimately strategy is a way of thinking…

To stimulate that thinking and the dialogue that goes along with it, there should be a set of tests aimed at helping executives assess the strength of their strategies– testing the strategy itself (i.e., outcome of the strategic process), rather than just frameworks, tools, approaches that generate strategies… There are two issues; first, companies develop strategy in many different ways, often idiosyncratic to their organizations, people, markets… Second, many strategies emerge over time rather than from a process of deliberate formulation…

This may sound more complicated than validation using, e.g.; the 3-Cs (competitors, customers, company), or the 5-forces (barriers to entry, buyer power, supplier power, threat of substitutes, degree of rivalry)… But pressure-testing can help pinpoint more precisely where a strategy needs work, while generating a deeper, more fruitful strategic dialogue… The ability to pressure-test is especially timely in this highly competitive environment, where business only get one chance in the marketplace– testing can help expose– obsolesces, or reveal weaknesses, or force companies to confront choices and trade-offs that are delayed…

But than: What is the biggest mistake companies make with strategy? According to Henry Mintzberg; there is a very human bias towards perceiving business environments as more predictable and more controllable than they actually are… It’s very comforting to believe that one can control and predict the surroundings… Also, a big trap is to be stuck in one way of doing strategy; most often businesses implement the Classical approach, i.e., analyze, plan, execute… and it may very well be best the approach under the ‘right’ circumstances, but it can also be the ‘wrong’ approach…

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In highly volatile markets, there are a couple of capabilities that companies need to have to succeed: First, adaptive capability— ability to undertake disciplined experimentation… Second, shaping capability— ability not just to participate in their environments– but actually to shape them to their advantage… Third, capability of ambidexterity— ability to run different approaches to strategy in different parts of the organization… Hence, it’s time to ‘kick the tires’ and possibly rethink your business strategy…

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The Inevitable ‘Fork In The Road’ Decisions, Moment Of Truth: You Can’t Ride Two Horses, You Must Choose…

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Every year a typical business faces over 10,000 ‘forks in the road’. Whether through conscious choice or automatic conditioning, each of those choices shapes the future. And each of those choices is a story waiting to be told… The ‘fork in the road’ metaphor represents the concept of a dilemma for choosing the right direction to go when facing two equal or similar options… it’s moment in business when choice of options is required.  A quote from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’: One day Alice came to a ‘fork in the road’ and saw a Cheshire Cat in a tree and Alice proceeded to asked the Cat: Would you tell me which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to get, said the Cat. I really don’t care where, replied Alice. Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go, said the Cat… According to Blair Kirchner; every business faces the proverbial ‘fork in the road’… it’s what they decide at these critical moments that determines if the business will achieve its vision, or not…

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Hence it’s very important, when you reach these forks that you step back and objectively evaluate all the options… and make the best decision using all the available information at that time… As Robert Frost wrote; when you come to a ‘fork in the road’; do you take the easy path that addresses only today’s supposed crisis, which can harm innovation in the long run? Or, do you take the harder path (fork) that strengthen– innovation, economic growth… As Yogi Berra once said; when you come to a fork in the road, take it! Although this Yogi’s saying may sound odd, it makes more sense than you might realize. Many businesses come to forks in the road and they do nothing– hence, the business becomes stagnant, it does not grow, it does not shrink, it just sits there… Most of the times you need to do something– you must choose!

In the article When You Don’t Know Where You Are– You Can’t Get To Where You Want to Go by Jamie Sussel Turner writes: Have you ever attended a fancy dinner and faced many ‘forks’ at your place setting, wondering which was the proper fork for the salad? Life and business choices can feel a lot like that. So how do you choose the right fork? You might try by asking; What’s most important here? The answer to this question might weed out the ‘forks’ that go in the wrong direction… Every fork in the road is either; opportunity, adversity, status quoThe scary part is often you just don’t know, which one is which. However, by having clear vision about what you want, who you want to be, direction that you want to take, then fork-in-the-road decisions become easier to make, and inevitable bumps in the road become less stressful…

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In the article Fork in the Road Business Questions by Daniel Newman writes: There’s an age-old saying in business: What got you ‘here’, won’t get you ‘there’… It relates to the continued search for how to take your business, yourself and your ideas to the next level…When running a business it’s normal to find yourself continuously inundated with the daily grind… However if you do want to end up ‘there’… it’s important that you not only do the right things day in and day out, but that you also ask the right questions; of yourself, your customers, employees, everyone else in the value chain… Begin by asking questions, such as:

  • What are you best at? It’s surprising how many companies don’t truly know their core competency, or haven’t reflected on how it has changed over the past several years. This is critical to your business model and success…
  • Who is the competition? Beyond just the obvious, are you aware of who competitors are?
  • How is the competitive landscape changing? Are the competitors only those from your industry? What has changed your competitive position in the market?
  • What truly makes your organization different? ‘Equal’ doesn’t cut it anymore. What is your differentiator?
  • What change is shifting your industry? What changes will have biggest impact on the organization?
  • What happens next? What are the forks in the road? Where do you go from here?

In the article Which Fork to Take? by Dylan Madden writes: There are times in business when you reach a point where you have to decide which fork (path) to take… But often you are unsure which is the right path, e.g.; consider the dilemma of a ‘deer’; what options does a deer have in head-light? 1.) It can decide to stay where it is, which only pro-longs its journey across the road… 2.) It can run to center of the road with doubt on what to do next, procrastinating in making a decision… 3.) It can carefully run across the road and reach its destination… Every business has the same options: 1.) stay where you are… 2.) doubt yourselves and do nothing, which leads to destruction… 3.) make the decisions and ‘move’ forward… Which do you choose? The short answer is that you ‘must’ make a decision and choose a direction… But first, you must have a clear purpose and goal in mind… second, you must fully understand the options and consequences… third, you must understand the probable outcome and collateral impact of your decision… Most important– you must make a decision and don’t prolong the journey…

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In the article Reaching a Fork in the Road by Gary and Joy Lundberg write: One of the often quoted sayings by Yogi Berra, famed baseball player and manager; When you get to the fork in the road, take it… This quote brings much laughter because most people think of the normal outcome, which is each fork leads in to different direction. However when you know the origin of the quote, you understand it in a different light: Yogi was giving directions to a friend’s house, which is accessible from both roads at a ‘fork in the road’ since they eventually merge to the same location… Yogi’s message is simple and clear; when at a fork you must make a firm decision… More important– make sure it feels right, learn from the decisions, don’t second-guess yourself … Things to consider when making a decision at the ‘fork in the road’:

  • Evaluate the options and know how they affect your principles and values… If one option compromises your values, no matter how lucrative it may be, it’s not worth the risk…
  • Does the decision feel right deep inside? There are a number of people who have reflected after picking a fork in their road, saying; it just did not feel right, but I did it anyway… when a decision does not feel right, you cannot force it to be right…
  • Get input from others who have traveled a similar road. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, learn from others so you can make better and wise decisions…
  • Make a firm decision and go forward; Focus decisions on building success but also understand that business is ever-changing and full of forks in the road…

In the article Which Road Should I Take by self-development writes: My brother called me the one day and asked me for advice?  He was trying to decide between two job offers: Job-1 and Job-2… and he asked me which job should he take… I told him, it depends… just like the fairy tale, the ‘Cat’ was telling ‘Alice‘ that the road you take depends on where you want to end-up... So I advised my brother to begin with the end in mind, i.e.; what is your life’s purpose? He said his purpose in life was to ‘teach’ but he wants to make a lot of money, first… I told him to forget about the money and advised him to focus on his ‘purpose’… I then asked him which job best supports his end goal of ‘teaching’. He said ‘Job-1’ and quickly added that ‘Job-2’ pays more money; his thinking was first to make lots of money and then go into teaching which is a very rational approach to the dilemma. But I again advised him to ‘focus on purpose’, not money... I cautioned him to think through his decision carefully because things– don’t end wrong they begin wrong!

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Business is all about ‘forks in the road’– making decisions… At every fork in the road, you make a decision and those decisions shape the business… Hence, whenever you are at a ‘fork in the road’ make a decision that best supports the overall– purpose, mission, goal… of the business… and if possible; ‘take the road less traveled’, or ‘do things a different way from the way they are usually done’, because that makes the difference in the journey… these phrases are from the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost... However, despite the obvious advantages of taking the ‘road less traveled’, there are certain times when taking this path is not always the best choice, and it might be better just to stick with the ‘road more often traveled’… Making the decision on which road to take can be very difficult, but managing a business is all about choices… According to Bobby Albert; it’s important for leaders to– pause, reflect, plan… so that when they are at a ‘fork in the road’ they know which fork (path) will get them to their destination…

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