Illusion of Knowledge– The Wild Ass Guess (WAG) in Business: You Don’t Know as Much as You Think You Know…

Illusion of knowledge is the tendency to think that you have a better understanding than you actually do about any topic, issue, concept, problem…

According to Daniel J. Boorstin; greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it’s the illusion of knowledge… The term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion, and although illusions distort reality they are generally shared by many people…

According to Barber and Odean; the illusion of knowledge is the tendency to make a stronger inference than is warranted by the data…  According to Montier; over-optimism and over-confidence tend to stem from the illusion of control and the illusion of knowledge… Knowledge is imperative for achieving– success in business, power in politics, celebrity status in society… but, when do you know if you have enough of the right knowledge?

According to George Bernard Shaw; beware of false knowledge; it’s more dangerous than ignorance… According to Dr. Daniel Simons; the tendency to think that we have a better understanding than we actually do, for example; one element of illusion is belief that basic understanding is actually deep understanding, when in fact it might be just superficial… According to Stephen Hawking; greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge…

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In the article Knowledge Can Be Very Dangerous Illusion by Dr. Jeff Hester writes: Some of what you think that you know is fine, but some isn’t: Here’s the rub– you don’t know which is which! In a rapidly changing high stakes world this simple truth holds the key to your fate… In the business world the data that supports your insights can be compelling, for example;  research by Booz & Company found that 80% of the loss of shareholder value is the result of a single cause; mismanagement of strategic risk… More anecdotally, Jay Goltz writes in New York Times; it’s simply a matter of denial or of not knowing what you don’t know… it all boils down to the same thing: The pitfalls that are likely to undermine success are failures in knowledge that you should have seen coming!

But first and foremost, a leader’s job is to make the strategic decisions that carry an organization successfully into the future through what are often treacherous waters. But decisions can be no better than the knowledge upon which they are based… Bad knowledge leads to bad decisions, and bad decisions have bad consequences… When disaster strikes it’s usually because someone in charge didn’t recognize that the light at the end of the tunnel was, in fact, the headlight of oncoming train…

When Stephen Hawking talks about the ‘illusion of knowledge’, that’s far too polite a term for the brutal truth: Let me put it more bluntly… Some of what you think that you know is reliable, but some is nothing more than a ‘wild ass guess’ (WAG)… Your fate depends on ability to tell which is which.

As if the illusion of knowledge weren’t enough, and to make matters worse you hold onto your WAGs with everything you’ve got. You are quick to notice things that seem to confirm your ideas, but you are more than happy to overlook or rationalize away those inconvenient indications that you might be wrong. I’m not being judgmental, but ‘bias’ and ‘illusion of knowledge’ are wired into the brain; they are as natural as breathing.

In business, four-out-of-five failed businesses  are victim to their WAGs; whether small entrepreneur or Fortune 500 CEO… WAGs are the worst enemies you’ve got… According to Michael-Don Smith; greatest barrier to innovation and positive change is the illusion of knowledge…

In the article Predicting and Illusion of Knowledge by Daniel Simons writes: One aspect of illusion is that we often mistake surface understanding for deep understanding– we think we have deep understanding when all we really have is knowledge of surface properties. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times it argued that the illusion of knowledge when coupled with technology presents information in– short, surface-level bursts, which can lead to a mistaken belief that we actually understand more than we do…

One practical consequence of the illusion of knowledge is the planning fallacy– we almost always assume that new projects will take less time and resources than they actually do. In part, because planning fallacy arises when we fail to take into account all the unpredicted complications that can arise, and we assume the simplest possible scenario. According to Darron Billeter, Ajay Kalra, George Loewenstein; the illusion of knowledge leads us to think that we’re more skilled or knowledgeable than we actually are and it leads us to underestimate how long it will take us to accomplish our goals.

According to Billeter et al; in a study of predictions for how long people would take to learn a new skill; people were generally overconfident in their estimates, just as you would expect from overconfidence in your own knowledge. However, as soon as they began to learn the skill, they realized that they couldn’t succeed without more practice; they then over-corrected their expectations and assumed it would take them longer to learn the skill than it actually did…

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In the article Do You Know What You Don’t Know? by Art Markman writes: You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand... Don’t believe me? Find an object you use daily (e.g., a zipper, a toilet, a stereo speaker…) and try to describe the particulars of how it works. You’re most likely to discover unexpected gaps in your knowledge.

In psychology we call this cognitive barrier illusion of explanatory depth. It means you think you fully understand something that you actually don’t. We see this every day in using ‘buzz words’– though we often use these words– their meanings are usually unclear.

They mask gaps in our knowledge serving as placeholders that gloss over concepts that you don’t fully understand… For example, several years ago, I attended a corporate meeting where the vice president spoke about streamlining business practices… During the talk, many executives in the room nodded in agreement. Afterward, though, many of them discussed-questioned what streamlining actually meant. None of people who had nodded in agreement could exactly define the mechanics of– how to streamline a business practice…

In the article Illusion of Knowledge by Nick Miltonat writes: The illusion of knowledge is behind the way we over-estimate how much we know… We all experience this sort of illusory knowledge, even for the simplest projects… We underestimate how long they will take or how much they will cost, because what seems simple and straightforward in our mind, but typically turns out to be more complex when our plans encounter reality…

Over and over, the illusion of knowledge convinces us that we have a deep understanding of what a project will entail, when all we really have is a rough and optimistic guess based on shallow familiarity… People think they know what to do, so they never ask for help and they never look for knowledge elsewhere… They think (mistakenly) that they have all the knowledge they need… So how do you deal with this problem?

To avoid this illusion of knowledge, seek out other views, and other opinions for a similar circumstance that others have completed (the more similar to yours the better, of course). When you consider other views that differ from your own, it might change how you see your circumstance… Keep in mind, as part of your overall ‘knowledge management’, three illusions; illusion of memory, illusion of confidence, illusion of knowledge…

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In the article Why We Make Things Up by Jeff Hester writes: When I speak to business audiences I always start by saying: If you want your business to thrive; ‘illusion of knowledge’ is enemy number one! That accusation begs the question, if the illusion of knowledge is so pernicious, then why do we have it? It’s simple. Without the illusion of knowledge we couldn’t get through the day…

I remember my first trip to Asia; even though I had travel extensively this was a new world to me; it was uncomfortable-disorienting… We’ve all found ourselves in situations that we weren’t certain of circumstances, where we didn’t know the rules. We all know the stress, anxiety and even fear and self-doubt those times can bring… Our experience of the world is inseparable from our conception of the world. I’ll give you an example; look at the following phrase:  如何你今天好吗.  I don’t read Chinese so I see nothing but meaningless symbols, but when someone translates its meaning, it’s a pleasant greeting: How are you today? (Or at least that’s what ‘Google Translate’ tells me they see!

That brings us back to the illusion of knowledge. We need ‘to know’ about things; because without knowledge and understanding we are worse than lost. We need to understand the world so badly that we will grasp at anything! In process we can fool ourselves, usually without even realizing it. Even when it’s not perfect, understanding of the world is what lets us make business decisions and move through the day…

However, if you want to move beyond the illusion of knowledge, start by identifying the knowledge and ideas that are most critical to the way you do business. Then do your level best to show that they are wrong (yes wrong)… That is what I mean when I say, ‘Never bet the farm on an idea that you haven’t tried to kill first… If your ideas can withstand scrutiny then you can sleep well at night. But if an idea can’t stand the heat, then its better that you find out sooner rather than later…. At least that’s if you want to stay in business…

No one is immune to the illusion of knowledge: Now that’s a scary thought considering that most of us rely on– information, input, ideas… from hundreds of people in our daily lives. For example; yes, your doctor suffers from the illusion of knowledge. Yes, your business management suffers from it. Yes, your stockbroker suffers from the illusion of knowledge too… How do you reduce your exposure from the effects of this illusion? The best way is to– do research, listen to multiple sources, get a second opinion or even third or fourth when it comes to business, finances, health…

According to Sabine Hossenfelder; we are faced with an incredible amount of information and it’s often necessary to use shortcuts to arrive at a conclusion, fast… these are illusions of knowledge that makes the world much easier when they are classifiable as simply; good and bad, right and wrong, friends and enemies…

According to John Hunter; you must be willing to question your beliefs but at the same time you need to make many decisions every day based on your beliefs, and making a huge number of assumptions everyday… But there are risks of assuming you know much more than you do. And that illusion of knowledge is something that makes people much less effective than they could be if they better understood what they knew, and the weight they should give to various beliefs… 

According to Crystal C. Hall, Lynn Ariss, Alexander Todorov; intuition suggests that having more information can increase prediction accuracy about uncertain outcomes. In experiments, we have shown that more knowledge can actually decrease accuracy and simultaneously increase prediction confidence…

Bottom-line: Don’t be over-confident, don’t think that you know it all because you don’t, maintain vigilance in learning… And, just like you shouldn’t assume you know it all, definitely don’t assume that others do either…

The Stupidity Index– Power of Stupid, Idiocy, Lunacy, Folly… Stupidity-Based Theory of Organization and Management…

Stupidity is a quality or state of being stupid, or an act or idea that exhibits properties of being stupid. According to Pitkin; the problems with stupidity is that nobody has a really good definition of what it is. In fact, geniuses are often considered stupid by a stupid majority (though nobody has a good definition of genius, either).

 But stupidity definitely is all around us and there is much more of it than our wildest nightmares might suggest. In fact, it runs the world – which is very clearly proven by the way the world is run.

According to Jaspreet Kaur; stupid management mistakes never cease to amaze me, and every day I hear stories from people who leave me wondering why smart managers can be so dumb, for example: Got a problem? Set-up a committee? Want someone to do something? Throw them in to the deep end with little training, then come down hard on them when they screw-up…

Ask your workforce for feedback, and then ignore everything that’s been suggested… Want to treat your staff like demented idiots who can’t think for themselves? Just micro-manage everything and talk down to them when they come up with ideas…

According to Susan Heathfield; organizations do dumb things to mess-up relationships with the people they employ, for example; failing to tell people what they’re supposed to do and then wondering why they fail, adding layers of paperwork and bureaucracy to stop things getting done, treating people as if they are untrustworthy, or telling employees to change the way they are doing things without providing good explanation why, and then sending them off to ‘change management’ training or Siberia, when they resist…

According to Carlo Maria Cipolla; there are five fundamental ‘laws of stupidity’, here are three: The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person… A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process…

Non-stupid people always underestimate harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at– anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error…

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Stupidity Index: According to Nikhil; we are all born with a ‘Stupidity Index’ of 3. The scale is from 0 to 5, where 0 is the least stupid and 5 is the most stupid: I am at 4. What about you? Assess yourself. You’ll be surprised to know where you stand… Anyway, when Charles Darwin wrote ‘Origin Of Species’, he overlooked one major fact – The Stupidity Index… The scale is explained as follows:

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Wall Street Stupidity Index: The day Twitter went public not only was it profitable in the fiscal sense, but also illuminated a metric that has heretofore been under-appreciated by those attempting to comprehend and thereby profit from the laws that guide the market. We will call this potent new tool– The Wall Street Stupidity Index…

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In the article Never Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People In Large Groups by George Carlin writes: I’ve said it before– stupid people are dangerous. Sure they are amusing some of the time and annoying all of the time, but they are also dangerous a lot of the time too. Whether it be the stupid idiot who gets drunk and thinks it makes him a better driver, or someone in a company who has been promoted well beyond his or her level of ability just because the number of years of service he or she has accrued, or one of those despicable ‘jobs-worth’ morons you inevitably find in bureaucratic government non-jobs, their stupidity poses a danger to the rest of us…

A lot of the time the idiots get away with it, without anyone noticing much. The smart people get on with their lives and quietly accept the interference of the stupid. But recently idiots have been steadily encroaching on our private lives, into things that are clearly none of their business and things that pose no danger to society at large or to any individual within it: The idiots want power, but they don’t know what to do with it, when they get it. But they want it, and more and more of it.

My own theory is that at heart, although they try to appear superior, the idiots know they are idiots and actually feel inferior to normal people… We’ve been through the NSA fiasco when they were outed by a former employee. We know they look at our emails, listen to our telephone conversations, probably even snoop in our mail or scrutinize our blogs (gosh!)…

And we are currently in midst of one of the most idiotic standoffs in history: Washington with the President, Senate and House of Representatives seeing who can balance on one leg the longest while the country becomes the laughing-stock of the rest of the world. Yes folks, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups to destroy society and drag the rest of us down along with them…

In the article A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations by Mats Alvesson and André Spicer write: Management and organization studies are a bound with positive-sounding reports of the importance of well-educated and bright-workers in knowledge-based firms that are at the forefront of the knowledge economy: There is broad consensus that modern economies is becoming increasingly ‘knowledge-intensive’…

Many assume that being able to put knowledge to work intelligently is the essence of what (successful) organizations do… However, we think that this consensus needs to be challenged; and perhaps modern economies and organizations should become more ‘stupidity-intensive’… To develop this challenge, we offer something different by drawing attention to significance of ‘functional stupidity’ in organizations– where functional stupidity can help to marginalize sources of friction and uncertainty…

However, in our view, what is crucial is that functional stupidity is not just an aberration in organizational life, but in many cases it’s central and supported by organizational norms and facilitates smooth interactions in organizations. Being clever and knowledgeable is fine and necessary, but so is refraining from being reflexive and avoiding asking for justifications for decisions, structures, minimizing substantive reasoning about values and goals. In this sense, functional stupidity can be helpful in producing results– for organizations as well as for individuals. It’s productive because it cuts short– costly and anxiety inducing questions and creates a sense of certainty…

But, like many things in organizational life it’s a mixed blessing: It’s ‘functional’ because it has some advantages and makes people concentrate enthusiastically on the task in hand. It’s ‘stupid’ because risks and problems may arise when people do not pose critical questions about what they and the organization are doing… We see functional stupidity as being created not through intellectual deficits but through political expediency and the exercise of power.

In other words, organizational members become functionally stupid through a series of cultural and institutional beliefs… reinforced by managerial (and self-managerial) interventions, such as; encouraging narrow action orientation, celebration of leadership, attachment to structure, strong belief in institutions… which discourage substantive reasoning and justification… This happens through a combination of indirect and more systemic stupidity management…

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Retail Sales– Metrics, Analytics, Seasonality’s Critical 20% to 40%: Robust Christmas Holiday Retail Sales– Really Do Matter…

Retail sales are the life blood for retailers and a big component of the ‘total gross domestic product’ (GDP)… Hence, any extended drop-offs in consumer spending can trigger serious economic issues, even a recession… and, at minimum, lower retail sales receipts can force companies to take drastic action, such as; reduce expense, lower head count, close stores…

While retail companies can use a mix of standard and specialized statistics, the industry often focuses on a few universal metrics, for example; the most common retail statistics include; sales revenue growth, gross profit percentage, sales returns and allowances, same store sales, employee turnover… These metrics can provide management and other stakeholders with an insight of the inner workings of the company and also the ability to benchmark against other companies…

Retailers survive and thrive on profit margins, but to meet financial expectations they must deliver exceptional customer service while striking a balance between workforce costs, customer demand… retail management is truly a balancing act… According to Quentin Gallivan; the use of analytics is a critical force in growing sales, and it help retailers stay in front of new breed of consumer, omni-channel  shopper, and avalanche of data… This transformation is in large part driven by advances in mobile, digital, social media and location-based technology.

Consumers are shopping across multiple channels from brick-mortar stores to catalogs, websites, mobile devices… The omni-channel shopping revolution has put consumers in charge, and retailers are scrambling to adopt a single, seamless approach with consumers– anytime, anywhere, across all channels... According to Craig Twyford; retail sales analysis provides insightful information for making the best decisions in highly competitive markets… Although the numbers might be scary… the data just might provide the information needed to make the right strategic sales adjustments– that will get you back on track...

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Understanding Retail Sales Data: The ‘Retail Sales Index’ is important economic indicator: On the 12th of every month, the U.S. Census Bureau releases the ‘Retail Sales Index’, which is a measure of retail sales from the previous month as determined by a sampling of stores both large and small across the country… The report actually lists two numbers: The first is ‘Retail Sales’ and the second number is ‘Retail Sales Ex-Auto’, or without automobile sales included. The reason is auto sales can skew the overall number since they are big-ticket items and subject to seasonal fluctuations…

Retail sales figures are considered very important because consumer consumption spending represents two-thirds of the total U.S. economic activity; and the ‘holiday season’ accounts for between 20% and 40% of typical retailers’ total annual sales and 20% of their profit. In order to understand holiday retail sales, it’s important to look at the ‘seasonal adjustment factors’ used by the ‘U.S. Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Retail Sales Report’. The ‘seasonal adjustment factors’ measure the extent to which retail sales ‘usually’ change month-to-month by looking at the past. For example; when U.S. Census Bureau reports that retail sales increased 0.5% in October from September, that estimate takes into account what ‘usually’ happens in October.

So if sales in October ‘usually’ increases by 2.0%, and if sales ‘actually’ increase by 2.5%, then the U.S. Census reports 0.5% gain on ‘seasonally adjusted basis’ (most economic indicators released by the U.S. government is ‘seasonally adjusted’ including; GDP, employment, personal income, imports-exports of goods and services). However, removing seasonal effects makes it easier to assess the underlying trend in the data; whereas, looking at the ‘seasonal adjustment factors’ tells us what ‘usually’ happens to sales on a month-to-month basis…

In the article How Is the Happy Holiday Sales Going Anyway? by Steven Hansen writes: The last quarter of the year is the strongest period for retail sales – all due to ‘holiday gift giving’. Reading the Retail Sales Report headlines, e.g.; ‘November’s seasonally adjusted retails sales were up 0.7% over October’… may seem like some pretty strong evidence that holiday purchasing is growing… But, could this growth be a distortion caused by the U.S. Census in their ‘seasonal adjustment’ process? Most likely, retail sales are actually growing but probably not at the same rate as last year. The major exceptions are autos whose rate of growth is up, and department stores whose rate of growth has contracted almost by 5% from last year… Do I trust this data?

I trust nothing that is called ‘Advance’ (i.e., U.S. Census Bureau’s ‘Advance’ Monthly Retail Sales Report) from any government reporting agency. It could be too high, too low, but hardly ever just right. The only confidence level that I can assign to this is that the ‘unadjusted growth’ is within the expected range. It could be that the computer program is fudging the numbers a bit by fills in data, using the current trend lines when the data is not available.

This is how ‘advance’ data (and, e.g., the ‘U.S. Jobs Report’ which is released too far in advance…) miss economic turning points… Since I am in a complaining mode– you will note that I did not use the word– ‘Christmas’ in describing the Christian gift giving ritual responsible for the ‘holiday season’ retail sales increase. Christmas is religious and that’s bad, holidays are good. But without Christmas, there is no retail cheer in the period we now call the ‘happy holidays’.

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In the article Happy Holidays Online by Katie Evans writes: While the web enjoys a robust start to the holiday shopping season, the total retail sales fell by 2.7% compared to last year… According to figures from IBM; U.S. ‘online’ sales are up 14.5% compared with last year… mobile ‘sales’ are accounting for nearly 18% of total online sales. Tablets are driving 11% of all online sales, nearly twice that of smart phones, which are accounting for 6.8%… Mobile ‘traffic’ represents more than 30% of all online traffic. Smart phones account for 20.7% of all web traffic, compared to tablets at 10%… Also, tablet users also are averaging about $133/order, versus smart phone users who are averaging $117/order…

According to Akamai; retail web sites in North America are processing more than 9.1 million page views, up 283%, over a typical day… and estimates that e-commerce spending increased 20% over the same days last year… According to ComScore; EBay, Amazon, and Wal-Mart were the top three most-visited retail web sites… According to Paula Rosenblum; we’re coming ‘round the bend to the final lap of the 2013 Christmas selling season. On the surface, it appears sales are reasonably strong, with National Retail Federation (NRF) reporting that November sales up 3.9% against last year, and the expectations that this  season will net out at or above the trade association’s holiday forecast, which was also for 3.9% growth.

These numbers exclude automobiles, gas station and restaurant sales. On the surface, this is very good news for retailers and consumers alike, as retailers pulled out all their promotional stops, and consumers hopped on board to grab the great deals.  According to the U.S Census Bureau sales report; the most robust year-over-year gains were seen in big-ticket sellers like electronics and appliance stores (8% over last year), and furniture and home furnishing stores (9.4% over last year)…

In the article Surprising Stats About 2013 Holiday Shopping by Selena Maranjian writes: Ah, the holiday retail season– it’s when most of us scurry around shopping for gifts and trying to take advantage of the best sales we can find. You’ve been here before, and you know the score: Or, do you? Here are a few interesting details you may not know about this year’s winter spending dash:

According to the National Retail Federation; on ‘black Friday’ store sales were down $1.7 billion or 3%… also, ‘black Friday’ was this holiday season’s first billion-dollar-plus ‘online’ shopping day with the total ‘online’ take for the day of $1.2 billion or 15% over last year… also on ‘black Friday’ Walmart’s website had over 400 million pages viewed and 53% of those were perused from smart phones or tablets.

The number of purchases made via mobile devices tripled the previous year’s level… Here are a few ‘believe or not’ items that you might find interesting: Fully 57% of parents reported that they were going to take on debt over the holidays in order to buy gifts for their kids. Interestingly per a recent survey, those with household incomes of less than $35,000 said they were willing to take on an average of $700 in debt, while those bringing in $75,000 or more were thinking about $300…

Many Americans, 36%, in one survey said that buying gifts was more important than sticking to budget or not taking on more credit card debt… 90% in a survey of Americans planning to buy gifts this season, almost a third of them (31%), had no predetermined spending limit… Interesting because a fully 55% of adult Americans surveyed in September had not yet saved any money for the holiday shopping season…

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So, what are the most important statistics-indicators-measures for retail sales? The most obvious one is sales volume, and this needs to be measured against the same period in the previous year or years… Two other statistics that are commonly used by retailers are; ‘units-per-transaction’ (UPT) and ‘average-transaction-value’ (ATV). Essentially, UPT is the ‘number of units (SKU’s) sold during a set period’ divided by the ‘number of customers in that same period’, e.g. 650 units sold on a day that saw 223 customer transactions would give a UPT statistic of 2.91.

That is to say that the average customer bought 2.91 items. That would be disastrous if you were a grocery store, but excellent if you were a jeweler… ATV on the other hand is the ‘total sales for a period’ divided by the ‘number of customers in that same period’; so a day with sales of $4,325 and 87 transactions would give and ATV statistic of $49.71, i.e., the average customer spent $49.71… Other important measure of a retail sales are: ‘same store sales’, which is a key retail barometer retailers use to gauge the effectiveness of their stores…

This information can be used to gauge-compare the relative effectiveness and sales productivity of a retailer’s stores. Still another measure is ‘sales per square foot’, which shows how effectively a retailer is using store space to generate sales dollars. This is also a measure of sales efficiency and productivity… also; ‘sales per square foot’ is a key benchmark when comparing direct retail competitors, for example; comparing Walmart and K-mart: Walmart’s ‘sales per square foot’ is about $422.00 versus K-mart’s $235.00…

Still another measure of retail sales effectiveness is ‘gross margin return on inventory investment’ (GMROII), which is a ratio that measures a retailer’s ‘return on every dollar that is spent on inventory’. This formula measures the productivity of inventory and the relationship with total sales, gross profit margin, and dollars invested in inventory… GMROII can be used for the entire store, departments, or an individual merchandise items. With GMROII, you can compare the relative value of merchandise and draw conclusions about where the retailer should be targeting efforts to achieve maximum profitability…

Retailers collect huge amount of data, but– how is that data translated into actionable information and better decisions? According to some experts the key is analytics: The opportunity to achieve competitive advantage from better ‘analytics’ is enormous, and by using analytical tools retailers can:

Develop close relationships with customers based on a deep understanding of their behaviors and needs; Deliver the targeted advertising, promotions and product offers to customers that will motivate them to buy; Balance inventory with demand so you’re never out of stock or carrying excess inventory; Charge exactly the price that customers are willing to pay at any moment; Determine the best use of marketing investments; locate stores, distribution centers, and other facilities in optimal locations…

According to Kelly Kennedy; it’s Moore’s law of marketing: The aggregate amount of data available to retailers– doubles every two years… And, the big challenge for retailers is to gain insights for this data, which allows them to– find, target and retain their ideal customers…

Psychology Behind Business Holiday Madness: Dark Side of Holidays– Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa… Let Madness Begin!

Holiday madness and chaos has become a widespread phenomenon, globally… For many, holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Winter Solstice… are emblematic of global religious and cultural diversity that should be embraced with quite reflection, but instead for many, its madness. It’s the most wonderful time of year when marketing and advertising goes out of its way to be more idiotic and insane than usual.

Anything, and I mean ‘anything’, can be contorted, recontextualized, reconfigured, verbally massaged and vigorously manipulated to tie into– play on words, visual cues, reference to cultural traditions, religious references … there is madness that takes over both customers and businesses alike. Customers that throughout year are reasonable, easy to work with, polite, seem to change into ‘monsters’– demanding, unreasonable, and trans-fixed on having it all ‘now’–the biggest, best, fastest, cheapest… Whereas, traditionally these winter holidays are supposed to embody a certain ideal of that which is best in the hearts of human beings…

But according to Tyler Durden; those of us who pay attention are well aware of a trend of cultural decline, and this problem is disturbingly visible from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s not just the highly publicized Black Friday (now Black Thursday) riots over semi-cheap-made garbage– it’s idiocy, barbarism, madness that seems to span all economic ‘classes’– from the upper-middle-class snob screaming at bewildered cashiers over a coupon worth 50 cents, to the middle-class suburbanites brawling over flat-screen TVs, to the part-time employee who sold her soul for minimum wage and who now yells at people at the company holiday party to stop filming mindless brawls that the corporate masters encourage because such videos might ‘reflect badly’ on the company image…

According to Candace Plattor; the addiction to holiday chaos has become a widespread phenomenon– it happens in many countries the world over, often starting prematurely in October. Business owners and shopkeepers can hardly contain their excitement, as visions of wallets wide open and credit cards screaming to be swiped dance in their heads…

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In the article Dark-Side Psychology Behind Holiday Madness by Tyler Durden writes: The dark side truly knows no social or financial bounds… It was Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, who taught the marketing world how to appeal to the basest instincts of human beings and to use those instinctual desires to covertly control them. Corporations used Bernays’ strategies to create an atmosphere of decadent consumption in America that has lasted since the end of World War II. The idea was simple: Convince the public that buying corporate products will satisfy their animal urges.

All commercialism to this day revolves around this method (which is why almost every beer commercial for several decades has included scantily clad women or sexual innuendo, for example). But Bernays was not only teaching corporations how to tap into existing human impulses, he was also teaching corporations and governments how to use psychological trickery to manipulate citizenry to ‘rely’ on their basest impulses.

Essentially, Bernays taught the establishment how to convince people, or shame people, into ignoring their greater selves and indulging their psychopathic and sociopathic urges. Bernays taught the establishment how to turn people into zombies. We see the clear results today all around us as we enter into the absurdity that Christmas has become. The ramifications are dire. The holidays have come to represent not hope, but despair; not reflection, but callousness; not compassion, but narcissism and selfishness…

In the article Countries Where Christmas Shopping is Bigger Than U.S. by Jason Karaian writes: In U.S., retailers are fretting about one of the shortest Christmas shopping seasons in recent history– there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than last.

Given the fanfare around the holiday shopping season in the U.S., you could be forgiven for thinking that the weeks leading up to Christmas are a matter of life or death for retailers in the country. But according to analysis of retail sales data by Quartz, the U.S. shoppers are positively subdued in November and December compared with counter-parts in some other countries, for example:

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The Brits in recent years have spent some 14% more in November and 31% more in December than the average month in the rest of the year. This ‘full-on consumer orgy’ in the words of one retail analyst has been kicking off earlier each year in Britain, where the lack of a traditional starting point, like Thanksgiving in the U.S. or Advent in continental European markets, which gives retailers a freer hand to keep pushing holiday promotions earlier in the calendar. This may also explain Australians’ enthusiasm for shopping in November and December (in addition to summer weather). Varying gift-giving traditions could explain the differences in spending trends elsewhere.

The holiday season isn’t just about shopping binges, of course; there’s also binge eating and drinking. The Brits and Aussies distinguish themselves on this score, too. When comparing spending on food and drink services, essentially in restaurants and bars, in December– with the average month during the rest of the year few other countries come close…

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All of those Australians out on the beach and Brits hitting the booze at the Christmas office party make for a roaring trade, it seems. Revelers in other countries may be every bit as gluttonous during the holidays, just not in public. Perhaps it’s because they don’t spend so much time out shopping…

In the article Maximize Social Media Campaign For Holidays by Carolyn Rasley writes: It’s no secret that these holiday weeks are the biggest shopping time of the year… Being a standout in the holiday marketing frenzy may seem like daunting task but it’s absolutely critical to market to your audience on your social media platforms during this peak time.

It’s critical to shine bright to your crowd during the holiday season– engage customers with posts and promotions that strengthen your overall brand and contribute positively to the online community. Short on ideas? If you plan accordingly, integrate a few simple tips to help maximize social media and your brand is sure to flourish during holiday season, for example: Loyal customers love getting discounts from their favorite brands over holidays– it’s one of the best tactics to drive traffic…

Also, take advantage of holiday-related contests on Facebook and Twitter… Kindly ask fans for– shares, retweets, likes and comments so your message spreads far and wide… Engage your customers– adds an extra personal touch during holiday madness, which many brands forget or don’t make a priority– it will distinguish you as thoughtful when others simply self-promote… Showcase employees, holiday happenings, decorations, stories… it makes your brand unique. ‘Humanity’ does wonders for brand equity, so take off the corporate hat for a moment and relate to people…

In the article Feeling Dark Side of Christmas by Rick Blue writes: The Christmas season is an important sign-post each year and probably the biggest if retail sales are anything to go by. And for a short period, routine is suspended and we all observe special rituals of one type or another; rituals that have survived the test of time. But even though Christmas returns each year, the past does not; people and places disappear.

As Christmas provokes us to look back– it’s natural to feel nostalgic and if you allow yourself to be carried deep into it, it will open like an abyss: The past is like a big black hole that swallows the present. These intimations may be triggered by our senses that manage to short cut the intellect. There are familiar sounds of Christmas music, smells of a fireplace, taste of a Christmas dish…

Many people get uncomfortable and step back from this mood: They say that we should never live in the past, but to feel nostalgia doesn’t mean one is living in the past, just feeling it… Suddenly we are reminded of times gone forever; not just intellectually but more important– emotionally… It’s a bitter-sweet feeling; the sweetness is the memories the past has left us in the context and comfort of the Christmas season rituals. But, bitterness is the terrible realization of what the past actually meant– for many, this is the dark side of Christmas…

Your mom was right when she said that manners were important and we’re not just talking about table manners. Minding your P’s and Q’s in business can go a long way in helping you win over customers. So let me ask you, when was the last time you thanked your customers for being customers? In our busy lives, especially during this busy time of year, it’s often so easy to let the little things slide and saying thank you in one of those things that can get lost in the holiday shuffle…

But according to smallfoodbiz; a simple thank you can help you stand apart from your competitors who are constantly hounding customers to—buy, buy, buy… There are inexpensive ways you can reach out and thank your customers, for example; an old-fashioned thank you card. With so much technology at our fingertips, an old-fashioned thank you card – mailed with real old-fashioned stamp – will likely be a welcome surprise in customers’ mail boxes…

Give customers something– everyone likes to receive something special and now’s the perfect time to give customers something for all they’ve given you this past year– perhaps a percentage off their first order in the new year. Giving your customers something will give them a reason to keep coming back after the holiday madness has worn off… Give something to someone else– give to charity… Don’t make a big deal out of it, but just make a note of it in the company blog, newsletter… such that your customers will see and make it clear that you’re doing it because of them

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Toxic, Destructive Behavior in the Workplace– Bully, Harass, Dishonesty: Sapping Morale and Destroying Productivity…

Destructive behavior– abusive, hostile, dishonesty… are rampant in today’s work place: It can be displayed as subtle harassing, bullying… or, as aggressive, destructive, toxic and dangerous behavior which can sabotage an organization. As a result organizations are faced with increased turnover of high performers, increased absenteeism, decreased productivity… 

Toxic employees create an environment that is full of strife, angst, and destruction… For many leaders they know that it’s happening but they are not equipped to handle the bullies, and they hope that the problem will resolve itself, or just go away. But on the contrary, rarely does this type of behavior stop and in many cases they escalate…

However, before you can measure the impact of destructive behavior it’s helpful to have a definition, such as; destructive behavior is a systematic and repeated behavior by an individual that violates the legitimate interest of the organization by undermining and sabotaging the organization’s– goals, tasks, resources, effectiveness, motivation, well-being…

Some experts define it as; repetitive abusive behavior that devalues and harms other people on the job. Workplace destructive behavior may not be physically violent but relies on the formidable weapons of hostile actions and words… Many experts believe that workplace conflict is unavoidable: It’s simply human nature…

According to Bimal Parmar; it’s possible that the type of people you hire naturally foster conflict. You need to imagine how the hyper-competitive sales person is going to work with a more laid-back artistic marketing person, or the highly analytic member of the accounting team. If you’ve got team full of prima-donnas, strong competitive culture for customers  and commissions, then you’re bound to have conflict… competition can breed conflict…

Any way you look at your company’s people, processes, and procedures– the odds are great that there’s tension bubbling somewhere just beneath the surface… The best way to deal with conflict is to recognize and accept that it’s going to happen. But, remember that a clash of personalities is usually destructive when conflict becomes personal– it’s toxic. However, having a workplace where there is conflict of ideas, then that can be powerfully creative…

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In the article How to Stop Destructive Behavior by Renee Cocchi  writes: It’s inevitable, employees argue, ideas clash and departments lock horns… Some of that conflict breeds creativity but more of it breeds discontent, poor performance and hurt feelings, it’s a recipe for disaster in any workplace… Conflict in the workplace can be anything from petty fights and gossip to bad attitudes and violence, and it eats away at good organizations. The employees that are directly involved often lose valuable time stewing or worrying.

Those workers who witness conflicts often just waste time and energy gossiping about them… If these are not enough reasons for executives and supervisors to get a handle on workplace conflict, consider this: Employees lose almost three hours of work each week – at a national cost of about $360 billion a year – because they’re caught up in some kind of conflict… And most people who are victims of rude or out-of-line behavior at work will have a lingering dip in performance, and it’s likely they won’t treat the next people they deal with very well…

For sure you’ll never totally eliminate conflict in the workplace; in fact, some conflict is good it spurs innovation and creativity. But too much conflict affects employees, bosses and the company’s bottom line. So it pays for executives – supervisors to keep a watchful eye out for unhealthy conflict. Then they can step-in, manage the situation and help employees move on… Leaders can set the tone for workplace conflict by how they handle their own and how they treat their employees, for example; four best-practices for setting the right tone: Communicate well, listen better, create healthy boundaries, create behavioral consequences and follow through on them…

In the article Do You Have a ‘Cathy’ In Your Workplace? by Renee writes: Cathy wasn’t just your average bully – Cathy was known as a Queen Bully (capital Q and B). Cathy was a nurse and everyone was afraid of her – physicians too! Cathy used intimidation and overt criticism as her bully weapons of choice. If you asked her a question, she made you feel like an idiot. One of her frequent comments was; where did you get your nursing degree– in a Cracker Jack box? And would then mumble; I’m working with a bunch of idiots– as she walked away.

Everything about Cathy reeked of general disdain for people: Her body language (arms crossed, squinting eyes with fire shooting from them, lips curled back like an angry dog); her word choices (never positive – always negative); and her refusal to help others (even in a crisis) conveyed a message; you’re not worthy of me… Do you have a Cathy in your workplace? I hope not but unfortunately, she does exist in many workplaces.

But you might ask, with much organizational focus on eliminating destructive behavior in the workplace, how could someone like Cathy still have a job? Here are two reasons: 1). No person documented their experiences with Cathy and filed formal complaint. Everybody talks about Cathy, but talk is just that…talk. Without taking action Cathy can hide behind HR rules and avoid getting put on the disciplinary path… 2). The manager uses silence as a strategy, or the manager might be afraid of Cathy too, or the manager might not have the skill-set to appropriately address Cathy’s behavior…

Dealing with behaviors of employees is a skill that can be learned! Learn them! Remember, what you ignore – you condone…

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In the article Why the Workplace Is So Destructive by Douglas LaBier writes: In a Gallup poll of more than 150,000 U.S. workers 70% are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ and emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive… Moreover, only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands…

Gallup pointed out that—‘engaged’ employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward, while those ‘disengaged’ are essentially ‘checked out’, and they can have a negative influence on the organization… ‘Actively disengaged’ employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness with disruptive and destructive actions…

According to Lillian Cunningham; an organization’s productivity-profitability are directly tied to employee ‘engagement’. So when only 30% of the U.S. workforce is motivated that’s an economic problem as well as a morale problem– the two are interwoven… Other surveys show a range of damage to people and productivity: A survey by ‘Harris Interactive’ finds that about 83% of workers report feeling stressed out by their jobs, and the sources cited include; too much work, insufficient pay, not enough time for rest-sleep, too little leisure time, co-worker conflicts, general work-life imbalance…

But these surveys don’t tap into more pervasive, underlying sources, such as; boredom, lack of people skills, unsupportive management, absence of opportunities to learn and grow, outright abusive, arrogant and narcissistic bosses… A survey of 2,000 workers found that 47% said their managers made them feel threatened, rather than rewarded and 24% thought their bosses were poor communicators, lacking empathy… Demoralization increases when work isn’t very engaging or when opportunities for continued growth and expanding competencies are limited or blocked…

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In the article Destructive Behavior in the Workplace by Bonnie Swain Schindly writes: Don’t let destructive behavior go unchecked– employers are wrestling with destructive behavior in the workplace that stifles productivity, exhausts morale and drains company coffers. Organizations have limited control over many external  activities that can be detrimental to business, such as; loud, irritable customers… But for internal company behavior, managers can jump-out ahead of negative conduct before it seeps through an entire department…

First steps typically involve recognizing tell-tale signs that something is amiss in the office, and then figuring out how to deal with the problem, for example; bullying, theft, substances, bad habits… Destructive behavior does not always present itself in a single incident sometimes it starts small, through bad habits and evolves into a much bigger problem over time. For example, an employee might voice minor irritation over work duties until the behavior escalates into frequent temper tantrums and snappishness.

Another pattern that chews away at productivity is overuse of personal emails or social media on company time… An employee’s best hedge against these behaviors is to develop a strong sense of self-awareness and ask oneself whether their doing anything that takes value away from the company…

Research is very explicit; successful teams must establish and maintain trust in their relationship if they are to function effectively and sustain success. According to Dr. John Byrnes; trust may be thought of as an individual’s expression of confidence or optimistic expectation in the intentions and motives of others…

According to Patrick Lencioni; first and foremost team dysfunction is the absence of trust. Teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. Lacking trust, relationships may be altered into adversarial attitudes: ‘me’ versus ‘you’, ‘us’ versus ‘them’... which often breeds deep and hidden animosities, rather than goodwill… The antithesis of trust is threat, and threat is the genesis of aggression.

An article in the Wall Street Journal began: A deep cynicism has settled over corporate America as many employees wonder how much, if at all they can trust their bosses. There are many dimensions to leadership, but focus on the element of trust, which many believe is a key to leadership in an age of uncertainty…

According to Sir Richard Branson; we… believe the world is at critical crossroads… global-business leaders need to come together to advance the well-being of people and the planet… but, the question is whether this effort to transform business goals and practices will include transforming the internal behavior and culture of organizations…

As the Gallup survey pointed out; managers are primarily responsible for employees’ engagement levels and organizations– must coach managers to take an active role in building engagement with employees, they must hold managers accountable, they must track manager’s progress and ensure that they continuously focus on actively engaging their employees….

 

Keeping Score in Business– Measuring, Scoring… Critical for Business Success: Not Measuring; Not Scoring; Not Competing…

Keeping score: Measuring and keeping score are critical for the success of a business– they are guides, they are indicators, they are numbers, they are the underlying activities that drive the business… According to Ronald Snee; failing to measure is like not keeping score in football, or any competitive sport… Translated into business terms: If you’re not measuring, you’re not competing…

Every business must keep score; successful businesses look at the numbers and see how they are doing– some days there are winning scores and other days there are failing, this is the way it is in business… But, without an adequate and appropriate scoring process it’s virtually impossible to know, understand, and improve the key drivers of business performance…

However, measuring badly can be even worse than not measuring at all, because it can be misleading– positive or negative– and create false sense of security or failure that can lead to disastrous actions… Whether you’re failing to measure, measure badly or measure the wrong things... the ultimate business consequence is the same: You are putting your business in jeopardy by not fully understanding your performance and positioning relative to the competition…

According to Bruce Rector; how many times have you sat through a great strategic planning session– even inspirational, where many  innovative ideas and plans were discussed– but nothing happened; it’s as if all the energy remained in the room after the participants walked out... I expect that this has happened to you, which is why when you use words like ‘strategic planning’, ‘mission’, ‘vision’, ‘value’, ‘goals’… everyone’s eyes glaze over and roll because they’ve ‘been there and done that’… These initiatives sound good but without identifying the associated key business performance indicators-measures… that drive the initiatives it’s very difficult to take planning sessions seriously…

Measuring and keeping score brings clarity-substance to the initiatives and enables employees, that are responsible and accountable, to effectively monitor and track the key performance drivers… and to take corrective action that may be necessary to achieve the desired business results...

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In the article Keeping Score Boost Employee Performance? by Lee Colan writes: You must keep score in order to know whether the business is making progress, but you should only track the most important metric, i.e., measure only what matters most– key drivers of business performance… There is no lack of things to measure but be selective– you can monitor many of your business performance indicators but only seriously track and keep score on the few important measures that really matter to the–

Bottom line, employees, customers… Of course, if you are going to keep score, you need a scoreboard: You should design one that’s simple, clear, easy to update, and that resonates with the team… Keeping the scoreboard up-to-date is critical… If your scoreboard doesn’t contain the current score or is not seen as a reliable reflection of current performance… progress will no longer serve as a motivator and the scoreboard will lose its power to boost results…

Be creative and use the scoreboard to tell a clear and compelling story in as few words-numbers, as possible. Consider some of these scoreboard formats:

  • Thermometer with rising mercury line to show progress.
  • Traffic light (e.g., red, yellow, green indicators to show– off-plan, slightly off-plan, or on-plan, respectively).
  • Jar of jellybeans to illustrate percentage of completion.
  • Emoticons or visual indicators such as thumbs up/thumbs down next to each goal.
  • Picture of an actual scoreboard to keep track of revenues, new deals, market share, customer referral… metrics that are most important to the team.

In the article Turn the Business Into a Game and Keep Score by Ron Carroll writes: It’s the combination of great people and great systems that produces great companies. When you add the elements of fun and competition– when you turn your business into a game and keep score– you discover the grand secret to developing a truly remarkable company. People will actually pay for the opportunity to ‘work hard’ when they enjoy what they are doing. Recreation and sports generate enthusiasm, energy and motivation not usually found in work-day activities…

So if you can transform employees feelings about their jobs from stressful, unrewarding, even boring… into a game-like atmosphere which is fun, engaging, fulfilling, competitive… while keeping score, then that has all the elements of a successful business… According to Charles Coonradt; management must turn resources into results and the more efficiently they do this the more successful the enterprise, which means focus attention on the most important resources and the most effective results, and keep score

Score keeping must be simple, objective, self-administered and provide frequent feedback during the process… Employees should not depend on a supervisor to tell them how well they are doing; they should know the score as the game progresses… Effective score keeping are comparisons between current performance, past performance, and an accepted standard… If you want to improve the quality of performance of any activity, you simply increase the frequency of feedback…

Without score keeping, there is no glory! Winning makes the game of work fun, brings the best out of players, and creates an extraordinarily profitable business… Take Action: Establish a measuring system that let’s you know ‘frequently’ how much closer you are getting to the goal. Focus attention on the 20% of activity that produces 80% of the results. Find and work the key numbers that drive the economic engine of your business. Compete, work hard-smart, expect to win, and have fun!

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In the article Myths of Performance Measurements by Pietro Micheli writes: Flawed assumptions undermine the success of much performance measurements… Investments in performance measurement systems have been steadily increasing over past two decades, and there is no sign this trend will change in the future. Leaders and managers in both private and public organizations regard such systems as a key means to implement and communicate strategy, support decision-making, align behaviors, and, ultimately, improve performance…

While measurement systems can, indeed, help organizations achieve all these fundamental aims, current practices show that managers are consistently making mistakes which prevent them from reaping the benefits of their investments. While their intentions are usually positive, research shows that, in fact, they often encourage exactly the behaviors their organizations neither need nor want:

  • Myth: Numbers are objective: Not necessarily. The quest for perfect, objective data is likely to leave us frustrated and disappointed. Performance data is, in fact, ambiguous and open to interpretation, and its use and impact on performance depend on      commonality of interpretations…
  • Myth: Accuracy and precision are paramount: The crucial question is not– Is our data as accurate and precise as possible? But: Are we getting data that is good enough for our purposes?
  • Myth: Data is value-added: Few would challenge the assumption that gathering and analyzing data is a value-added activity. But actually, those few would be right. Value is generated when data is used, but we know that performance data is very rarely used within organizations.
  • Myth: Top-down alignment produces good results: Sufficient  discretion should be left at every level to make decisions over which indicators to use and which targets to aim for.
  • Myth: Targets, rewards result in effective motivation: Performance  targets, indicators and rewards are often utilized to focus attention and motivate staff. On paper, it’s a great idea but in practice levels of engagement in many organizations are falling.
  • Myth: Tightly aligned performance measurement systems enable change: The use of new performance targets and indicators can, in fact, kick-start the implementation of new strategic objectives and promote different ways of working. While certainly the case for various organizations; measurement systems have often acted as obstacles rather than enablers. Particularly when a system is pervasive and consists of a large number of indicators, then organizational inertia may arise.

In the article Keeping Score by John Case writes: The idea of putting numbers on a score board has a checkered history. Ten or 15 years ago companies discovered (or rediscovered) a simple truth about human nature, summed up in the adage– What gets measured gets done! But the real truth about human nature is that ‘what gets measured does get done, but only for a while’. Then other human reactions are likely to cut in, such as– Who cares if we make those numbers, anyway?

A chart that tracks performance can come to feel like an edict from management; make the numbers or else… When people believe ‘big brother’ is watching them, they do exactly what they have to do, and no more… But, what happens when people see that information month-in and month-out? They learn the connections between– work-groups, department performance, and ‘big-picture’ results… as well as, the knowledge about why the ‘numbers’ matter…

Since there’s no law requiring practice of ‘open-book’ management, the ‘big-picture’ numbers may be something other than actual sales or profits. But, regardless of the actual numbers the message is the same: Employees understands that it’s the real measure– it’s the measure of the business’ relative success and thus an indication of job security and opportunity… According to Douglas Devlin; it’s the feedback that makes the difference; as employees learn not just to watch numbers but to take responsibility and ownership for them, and sense of responsibility for making the numbers turn out right.

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Many organizations spend thousands of hours collecting and interpreting data. However, much of this effort is nothing more than wasted time… in many cases an organization is analyzing the wrong measurements, which leads to inaccurate decision-making. According to Graham Brown; measuring everything is more damaging than measuring nothing– pinpointing the vital few important measures is the key to success…

According to Robert Follett; many business people don’t even fully understand the meaning of keeping score in business. For example, financial reports are scorecards but they don’t tell the whole truth about a business… Remember that financial reports are not the only or even the most important measure of what is valuable in business, for example; value of people or innovation or relationships… and, many other business intangibles are not represented by the numbers in a financial report. 

So, use financial reports as a tool to help achieve important and worthwhile goals, but don’t be dominated or mislead by the numbers in a financial report… According to F. John Reh; metrics are the scores that tell you if you are getting closer to your goals… they are guides, they are indicators, they are numbers, but you can’t change the numbers by managing the numbers; you change the numbers by managing the underlying business activity that contribute to the numbers…

Imagine attending a football game or any competitive sport and you find that no one is keeping score, which make the game seems pointless, uninteresting… the same is true for business– keeping score tell you how you are doing, where you going, what adjustments are needed to win– now that’s interesting…

Do-Nothing Style of Management– Manage by Minimalism, Omission, Passivity: Less is More, More is Less…

Great leaders– do-nothing– except when they; think, make key decisions, facilitate, orchestrate… Great leaders spend their time preparing for the future, taking a comprehensive view of the business landscape while also noticing key competitive details… so that they can confidently choose the right strategy for growth…

However, do-nothing also has a negative connotation and defined as– failing to achieve, not doing anything important, failure to make progress, lacking commitment, drive, ambition… but for many business leaders considering to ‘do-nothing’ has intention: Intention to let go of ineffective activities just to ‘do something’,  but don’t stop to determine if that ‘something’ really needs to be done at all. It’s about responding rather than reacting.

Do-nothing is positive choice to keep things simple, accepting things as they are and appreciating what already exists, even if just for now… Sometimes doing something is good: But, sometimes do-nothing is better… According to David Worrell; if you are ever going to build a successful business you need to recruit right people, doing right jobs, at right time… Sometimes the right job is to ‘do-nothing’. Let me say it again; find a way to ‘do-nothing’, ‘make yourself obsolete’… This frees you– the leader– to do the real job, which is to be the chief visionary, rain-maker…

According to Ron Feddersen; worst business advice ever handed out may well be, ‘when in doubt do nothing’… Sadly, not enough executives ask themselves one critical question: Did I make a decision to ‘do-nothing’, or did I just ‘do-nothing’? How often have you consider doing nothing instead of doing something? Why not give yourself the green light to stop and choose? According to Theodore Roosevelt; in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing is do-nothing.

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In the book Do-Nothing! How to Stop Over-Managing and Become a Great Leader’ by J. Keith Murnighan writes: Great leaders don’t work they facilitate and orchestrate. They think of great strategies and help others implement them. They spend their time preparing for the future. They take a comprehensive view of their terrain while also noticing key details so they can confidently choose the right forks in the road…

In other words, great leaders– do-nothing– except think, make key decisions, help people do their jobs better, and add a touch of organizational control to make sure the final recipes come out okay. In sharp contrast, most leaders are too busy actually working to do these things– and their teams suffer as a result… contrary to popular opinion, leadership turns out to be as much about what you don’t do as what you do.

The best leaders today and in the future will look more like basketball coaches than great players; rarely engaging and letting great players run with the ball… Do-nothing leadership doesn’t mean that you can play golf every day, instead it means doing less than you did in your last job so you can focus your time and effort on facilitating and orchestrating.

Thus, ‘do-nothing’ leaders don’t really ‘do-nothing’ in a literal sense. Instead, they think of great strategies and help others implement them. They spend their time preparing for the future… Obviously, leaders might find it useful to pause and consider options when they really don’t know what to do, i.e., when they are faced with a novel situation that requires insights and skills that they don’t have.

These are times when it is critical to avoid doing anything until you can get relevant information… Recent research has identified another key time when leaders should literally ‘do-nothing’; it suggests that leaders who face moral decisions should stop and do-nothing– don’t rush into decisions. Instead, take the time and think about things for a little while and consider all the options… To ‘do-nothing’ may truly help you to ‘do the right thing’…

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In the article Business People Better Off– Did Less And Thought More by The Economist: There is never-ending supply of business gurus telling us how we can, and must do more… Yet the biggest problem in the business world is not too little, but too much– too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness. It’s high time that we tried a different business strategy, e.g., ‘lean-back’ and not ‘lean-in’…

There is a distinguished history of leadership thinking in the ‘lean-back’ tradition, for example; Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister, extolled the virtues of ‘masterful inactivity’… Herbert Asquith embraced a policy of ‘wait and see’ when he had the job…

The most obvious beneficiaries of ‘lean-back’ are creative workers– the people who are supposed to be at the very heart of modern economy, for example; leaders-managers at the top are best employed thinking about strategy rather than operations, and about whether the company is doing the right thing rather than whether it’s just sticking to its plans…

Jack Welch used to spend an hour a day in what he called ‘looking out of the window time’, Bill Gates used to take two ‘think weeks’ a year when he would lock himself in an isolated cottage, Jim Collins advises all bosses to keep a ‘stop-doing list’… Less is more-more is less.

Also, Keith Murnighan argues– that the best managers must focus their attention on establishing the right rules– recruiting the right people and establishing right incentives, and then get out-of-the-way. However, doing nothing may be going too far. Managers play important roles in coordinating complicated activities and disciplining slackers. And some creative people would never finish anything if they are left to their own devices.  However, there is certainly a case for doing a lot less. Leaning-in has been producing negative returns for some time now. It’s time to try the far more radical strategy of ‘lean-back’…

In the article Do-Nothing Bosses by Stephany Schings writes: Most employees can see the benefits of an effective boss and great deal of research has focused on effective leadership’s benefits to organizations… but, what about those bosses who take a more passive stance in their leadership roles? According to Brian C. Holtz; research shows that the ‘do-nothing’ bosses can have serious negative effects on their organizations and that, failing to lead, can have detrimental effects on organizational functionality…

Passive leaders– avoid engaging with their subordinates, fail to make decisions, and are generally ineffective. Passive leadership is defined as a combination of passive management by exception and laissez-faire leadership; where passive management by exception represents an avoidance of action until mistakes or problems can no longer be ignored, and laissez-faire leadership is defined as the absence of leadership all together…

The findings of the research suggest that employees of passive leaders ultimately perceive their organization as– not care about their well-being or provide the support necessary to succeed– it also suggests that work place incivility may flourish under passive leaders… It’s conceivable that well-intentioned supervisors could mistakenly perceive that passive leadership is an effective management style, for example; supervisors might wish to avoid being perceived as ‘micromanaging’ subordinates and by providing autonomy they empowering and foster motivation among employees.

This could lead individuals to assume that hands-off approach to leadership is optimal. However, providing employee autonomy and demonstrating effective leadership are not mutually exclusive… providing autonomy can be accomplished simply by allowing flexibility in– how, when, where… employees will accomplish particular work activities…

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In the article True Goal of Leadership by Geoffrey James writes: Many people believe that ‘leadership’ means getting out there and telling people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it… Nothing could be further from the truth. The true goal of leadership is to make yourself unnecessary. I know that sounds completely crazy but I’m very serious.

According to Mitchell Kerztman; I have finally risen to my level of competence, which is that I don’t do anything very well, but I do-nothing extremely well… The idea that the true goal of leadership is ability to do-nothing is encapsulated by the Taoist term ‘wu wei’ which has two meanings: ‘action without action’ and ‘action that does not have struggle or excessive effort’.

In the classic ‘The Art of War’ the author Sun Tzu expresses ‘wu wei’ by pointing out that great generals are reserved, calm and detached, rather than hotheads or busybodies. The same thing is true for great leaders. Great leaders recruit people who are very talented so that they don’t need guidance and can handle problems and disagreements on their own, without requiring the great leader to intervene…

To use a somewhat overused but nevertheless profound term, great leaders ‘empower’ people to make their own decisions. If you truly empower people, you are no longer needed as a decision-maker. You make yourself unnecessary, and do-nothing… When you’ve successfully accomplished this goal, only then you can expand your influence and take on new responsibilities, and once again strive to become unnecessary. If you don’t make yourself unnecessary, you’ll be stuck as a leader at the same level riding herd on the same people…

Can you achieve more by doing less? What if you actually were to donothing? We know the answer to this don’t we? As leaders, we know that work would stop and other things would come crashing down around you… Or, maybe the exact opposite would happen… The ‘act of doing’ and ‘strokes of leadership’ that propel incredible achievement, created by doing, can be very different and often in conflict with another… In order to do less, you must ‘trust’ more, and this entails letting go of ‘things’ that may at first would make you very uncomfortable…

As a leader, the job is ‘not to do’ but to facilitate, orchestrate and help others succeed in doing… To do-nothing and be successful, you must figure out who is exceptional at specific tasks and allow them to take over… According to Robert Tanner; sometimes the wisest thing you can do is nothing at all! For some managers, these words can be a source of great irritation. This is particularly true when the managers are highly motivated to get things done, quickly, or when they are set on a specific course of action… Moving too quickly to address organizational issues can be as destructive as moving too slowly. Sometimes the best solutions come when you delay the decision for a while… 

This might mean to take a break, do-nothing and engage in some thoughtful reflection and possible consultation, then revisit the issue-situation… It’s the difference between making a rash decision with consequences that may not be able to fix the matter, and making wise decision that allows you to preserve relationships and still meet critical goals.

Effective leaders make decisions and they get results, and effective leaders also know when they should delay making decisions, i.e., do-nothing– to get results… According to Aristotle; to avoid criticism– say nothing, do-nothing, be nothing…

Managing Complexity in Business– It’s a Mad, Wild, Complex Business World! Cause and Effect of Business Complexity…

Complexity in business is arguable the most insidious, hidden profit drain in today’s business world… Effects of complexity pertain to all business processes along the value chain and hence complexity management requires a holistic approach.

Some experts suggest that effective complexity management is based on four pillars; sound strategy alignment with the overall company strategy… transparency over costs and values of complexity… total value chain that identifies the optimization benefits and related measures… sustainable infrastructure, incentives and processes…

According to Celerant; complexity affects every aspect of global business… so much so, that economies of scale, scope and skills can often appear in danger of being checkmated by ‘economies of complexity’… Very few global organizations have really come to grips with the strategic challenge of improving market share, driving innovation-profitability, while managing complexity in the process. The good news is that excessive complexity can be reversed and prevented… and if you can identify the unique nature of the complexity in your company then a third of the task is already behind you…

According to ‘Global Simplicity Index’; complexity is costing 200 of the biggest companies in the world 10.2% of their annual profits, and collectively it totals over $237 billion... According to Martin Mocker; not all complexity in business is destroys value… The key is focus on complexity that delivers ‘variety seeking, one-stop-shopping, customization or seamless integration’… Finding balance– keeping complexity of the processes and systems, both internal and customer-facing under control– is the way to manage business complexity toward a profitable advantage…

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A survey of 58 companies found that those companies that are able to create value from product complexity while maintaining simple processes were outperforming others… Some companies are able to excel by finding a balance between increasing business complexity to add customer value and decreasing inefficiency in company processes…

Managing complexity to better serve the full range of customer needs and demands can provide a substantial competitive advantage. Reducing complexity can have a major impact on competitiveness by simultaneously lowering costs, improving customer benefits and cutting response times… Coping-with and thriving-in business complexity requires continuous efforts to identify and eliminate complications that add no value…

According to Totem; there are three components to complexity: Business Complexity– business model, product model, business intelligence… Process Complexity: work efficient, systems integration, core processes and systems performance… Organizational Complexity: organization alignment, decisions making, key performance indicators, incentives that motivates the right behaviors…

According to Pete Abilla; many have argued that there is an inverse relationship between business complexity and customer satisfaction– the more complex a business the less satisfied the customer tends to be. Yet, many businesses do little to curb their complexity woes... According to Chris Anderson; today, even the smallest companies are quickly becoming very complicated workplaces. The old rules of growing a business aren’t effective and the new rules are more complex than ever…

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In a KPMG study; more than 90% of senior executives across 22 countries say their organization’s success depends on managing today’s complex business issues, primarily the regulatory landscape and information management, but less than half believe the actions they are taking to manage complexity are very effective… Powerful forces have reshaped the global business landscape in the last few years, accelerating the rise of complexity as a source of challenge, change, risk, unpredictability and even opportunity…

This global study that consisted of interviews with 1,400 senior executives, found that at least seven out of ten executives believe complexity can create new opportunities for their businesses, including gaining competitive advantage, creating better strategies, expanding into new markets and improving efficiencies. 

Research indicates that although complexity and its challenges are placing increasing pressures on organizations, opportunities really do exist for those who can think differently and turn potential hurdles to their competitive advantage. Indeed, we see businesses that increase their focus on managing complexity are better positioned to capture opportunities… Some of the top findings of this global study also suggest the following:

  • Complexity is global– reaching across both mature and developing markets, as well as across industry sectors.
  • Complexity is increasing– three-quarters of respondents say complexity has increased for their organizations, and majority expects even more complexity in coming years.
  • Complexity is not static-– about half of respondents expect the causes of complexity to shift, and majority says their companies must take different or additional actions to manage complexity.
  • Increased risk is the greatest challenge presented by complexity, along with increased costs and the need for new skills.

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In the article Attacking Business Complexity by John Boochever writes: After decades of product-service variations, channel diversification, geographic and operation expansion, all supported by layers upon layers of technology, many institutions are finally compelled to deal with a fundamental reality; their businesses are overly complex for the value they generate… Not only is this excess not valued by customers, it actually impedes the delivery of value by limiting the sales force’s ability to respond, increasing service and fulfillment costs, compounding operational risk, and making the organization much more unwieldy to manage: There is a siren call for a simpler ‘core business’…

But when senior executives take the first steps toward ‘dialing down’ complexity, they rapidly come up against real immutable features that overshadow their ability to make change in their environment: Complexity is structural deeply embedded in the business and operating models of their institutions… Poorly understood network effects across functions and businesses create linkages and interdependencies that compound complexity… There is a general lack of transparency of features of complexity required to generate value versus those that do not…

Eliminating complexity requires a ‘front-to-back’ approach that identifies-addresses the root causes of complexity and all of its network effects. As an example, by ‘eliminating 20% of non-profitable products’ it has shown to have limited impact, if it’s not followed through with systemic simplification of the supporting operations…The long-term rewards of minimizing complexity can be substantial, for example; improved customer experience, simplified operating model, reduced cost structure…

In the article The Focused Company by Mark Gottfredson writes:  When companies attack complexity they nearly always begin with a specific pain point, an element of the business that seems to be costing too much or causing some kind of delay and what they often find is that they don’t want to stop there. Bringing focus to just one-dimension of the company typically reveals sizable opportunities for simplification elsewhere.

Most companies are finding that multi-dimensional approach is far more effective than tackling one element at a time, but it also means that building a focused company is a big challenge… Complexity is like a weed, insinuating itself into every nook and cranny of an organization. Rooting it out requires a serious commitment of time and resources. But it can be done, and the payoffs are significant, for example; costs decline, sales rise because customers are less confused and find it easier to buy, sales force is more focused, marketing can invest more effort in each product line…

People in the organization can make better decisions, make them faster and implement them more effectively. The performance of companies that build focus into their everyday operations shows ‘power of simplicity’: It’s almost always a hallmark of great companies…

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Complexity is not necessarily bad for business… there are different types of complexity and the problem for many executives is that they’re not always sure of the type that’s in their organization. According to Julian Birkinshaw and Suzanne Heywood; despite widespread agreement that organizational complexity creates big problems by making it hard to get things done, few executives have a realistic understanding of how complexity actually affects their companies…

When pressed, many leaders cite ‘institutional’ manifestations of complexity that they personally experience, for example; number of countries they operates in, number of brands, people they manage… And in contrast, relatively few executives consider the forms of ‘individual’ complexity that the vast majority of their employees face– for example; confusing role definitions, unclear accountability, poor processes…

According to Terry Kirkpatrick; business success today increasingly means connecting diverse constituents– customers, suppliers, partners… in real-time… which means complexity is inevitable… According to Ron Ashkenas; some people seem to be more prone to creating complexity than others. Instead of cutting to the heart of an issue, they tangle it further; rather than narrowing down projects, they allow the scope to keep expanding; and instead of making decisions, they defer until there is more data and better analysis. These behaviors are characteristics of people are called ‘complexifiers’… complexifiers seem to leave complexity in their wake making it difficult for subordinates, colleagues, customers…

The companies that are proving most successful in addressing the growing challenges of business complexity are taking steps to prioritize the various categories of complexity in terms of their impact on financial performance; then, they are attacking it on two fronts: rationalization and simplification… The progressive companies in complexity reduction have come to realize that it’s impossible to entirely eliminate complexity and that some forms of complexity will never be eliminated or even substantively reduced, and in these cases they must build mechanisms-processes to rationalize these categories of complexity. 

According to Pieter Klaas Jagersma; many companies have expressed serious concerns about their capability to successfully manage complexity and have striven to simplify their business, retrenching to a stable portfolio of core products and processes. Others have attempted to manage complexity through systems, structures, procedures, complex organization, and group decision-making. Only a few have come to grips with strategic challenge: they have learned to manage a complex business in simple ways improving both share of market, innovativeness  and profitability in the process…

According to Thomas Butta; complexity, by its very nature, creates obstacles between– where you are and where you’re going… complexity gets in the way… complexity makes everything it touches a lot more difficult… and a lot more confusing. According to John Hagel; biggest threat to business most often comes from too much complexity rather than too much simplicity… Recall old saying ‘keep it simple, stupid’ it’s not a bad rule for management too, simple-minded though it may sound…

Managing Major Business Setback, Adversity, Rejection: Survive and Thrive… Setback Is Setup For Bounce Back!

How a business bounces back from a setback– an unexpected defeat, rejection, adversity… is essential for its survival. It’s often said that a setback is only a bend or turn in the road and not necessarily the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.

A setup, on other hand, is preparation for what should be something positive and advantageous. If the enterprise loses out on major contract, business deal… suffers a setback, bear in mind that the setback is a setup for the ultimate comeback.

One of the toughest things about dealing with rejection and setback in business is the frustration, self-doubt, energy zap… Being able to pick oneself up, spring back and get proactive after a setback is often the missing piece that stops many good businesses… from achieving great results… In tough business times success often has a lot more to do with resilience and ‘bounce back ability’ than any other factor…

According to Andrew Griffiths; biggest threat to business adversity isn’t customer demise but self-indulgent wallowing… instead, leap into action, move forward and create a much better business… My advice is simple: Go ahead and wallow for a little while, lick wounds, be grumpy, experience the mixture of emotions associated with any setback, and then take serious action…

According to Patti Stafford; setbacks happen, but how you deal with them often determines if they are minor or major occurrences… According to Joshua D. Margolis and Paul G. Stoltz; resilience is capacity to respond quickly constructively to crises… managers that build resilience in themselves and their teams take charge of how they think about adversity… after onset of adversity, resilient managers shift from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking and focus is strictly forward…

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In the article Survive and Thrive Through Business Setback by Willie Jolley writes: Has your business ever had a setback? Of course it has… Those who realize that setbacks are simply part of the business process usually thrive, while those who dwell on the changes setbacks bring routinely falter. The fact is a setback is really a change that needs to occur in order to move forward. And no matter what industry you’re in there are bound to be setbacks. The key is to remember that these temporary setbacks can empower you to reach even greater levels of future business success.

No matter what obstacle has plagued the business the following four-step can help you survive and thrive: 1. Focus Your Vision: Where you focus your energy determines where you will go. If you focus on the setback and the challenges it brought you, the business can’t move forward. However, when you focus your vision on what you want the business to become– despite the setback– then you’re using the setback for what it really is; a transition period– look past the obstacle and plan your future strategies…

2. Make a Decision: Success and failure are decisions, so once your vision is in place you must decide you’re going to win despite the setback. The truth is successful business people choose to be successful and they understand that decision and choice are integral parts of the success formula…

3. Take Action: A decision without action is simply an illusion and an action without a vision is mere confusion. Yet a vision plus decisive action can change the world. Remember, you might not be responsible for getting knocked down but you are responsible for getting back up. Only those who act achieve their goals… 4. Keep the Desire: Desire is the degree of energy you’re willing to exert in order to reach your goal. Many business people who take action quickly give up because their desire falters… Decide how badly you want to achieve the goal and then keep going after it until you achieve it.

Remember, a business setback is not an ‘if’ proposition; it’s a ‘when’. And, when one occurs in the business, you need to make a conscious decision to view it not as problem but rather as learning opportunity…

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In the article Bounce Back From Business Failure by Catherine Lovering writes: Failure can be a step toward success and whether failure is unexpected delay in business growth or a complete collapse of the product line it’s possible to move on, dust off, and try again… Learn from your mistakes… Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable; its part of the learning curve. Here are several important keys for bouncing back after a setback: Acceptance; acknowledging failure is the first critical move towards bouncing back in business. This will require you to communicate the turn of events to all stakeholders, customers…

Be sincere… Analyze the Failure; analyze the problem at hand and seek the services of both internal and external experts, as appropriate… Once the problem has been recognized, share the findings with the rest of the team. At this stage, you can get feedback-critiques from the team as well and open a forum for them to express themselves. In addition, listen to their suggestions about what should be the way forward. Though you are ultimately the final decision maker, putting into consideration the opinions of others will assure them that their input is of value…

Take Action; lastly, come up with a formula or strategy that will help the business bounce back. The strategies must be clear, measurable, achievable so as to not stress the business more while you are re-building. Proper planning, organizing and time management are compulsory for any business that is faced with challenges…

In the article Bounce Back After Failure by Ralph Jean-Paul writes: Success is depended upon how well and quickly you can bounce back from failure. People bounce back from failure all the time but the difference between those who recover and manage, and those who recover and succeed, lies in the individual’s ability to recover quickly… Here are several ‘to dos’ that will help the process…

Change Failure to Setback: The first way to prepare to bounce back from a failure is to change your perception of that failure… change the word ‘failure’ to ‘setback’. Once you begin to look at your shortcoming as an event that knocked you back instead of one that knocked you down, you’ll begin to see that it’s very possible to recover from the letdown. This also helps to acknowledge that bumps in the road are common but they are also manageable…

Avoid Generalization: When we get frustrated we tend to generalize our situations and make broad statements that are not necessarily true… Instead of generalizing prepare for the future by making-saying specific statements about the objectives, goals…

Assess the Damage: Along with the change of perception should be clarity of the situation. Assessing the damage is looking at what you have lost in the setback and determining how far you have been setback. To most people the feeling of failure usually makes the situation appear worse than it really is. Begin to take a good look at what has been lost and what remains…

Collecting and Resetting: Once you’ve gotten a good idea of what has been lost it’s time to start picking up the pieces. Collecting and resetting is difficult if you have not yet prepared to move forward. The resetting is not necessarily taking a step back but it’s more like readjusting so that you are in a better position to succeed…

Lot of Business to Do: An overwhelming majority of business failures are not fatal for business survival. This means that business can go on even though you came up short. We sometimes over analyze our setbacks to the point of making them even worse. What you have to remember is that there is still a ‘lot of business to do’ and each ‘second’ we wish and wonder about things happening differently is wasted time…

Getting-up and getting back-out there is the only real way to grow the business. Some of the most successful people credit their success to a failure they’ve experienced…

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In the article How to Bounce Back by Jeff Herring writes: All of us have suffered rejection and defeat at some point in our lives: Loss of jobs, broken relationships, disappointments, or just the ups and downs of every day living. According to W. Mitchell; it’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s what we do about it that makes the difference. With that in mind, I’ve noticed that when presented with rejection and/or defeat, most people have one of two reactions.

They either let it beat them or they rise above it… I call these two responses; ‘dropping dead’ and ‘bouncing back’. Let’s take a closer look at each of these two choices.

How to Drop Dead: Lose perspective, focus only on what happened to you and nothing else… quit, give up, throw in the towel, or whatever losing metaphor you can find…

How to Bounce Back: Implement the principle of ‘next’… This one comes from the world of sales. The top sales people are trained to handle rejection by saying ‘next’, which means to move on into the future and not get stuck in the past… Become a bouncer! A bouncer is someone who has taken a huge leap past just merely surviving…

Nobody goes through business or life unscathed — no matter how rich, how smart, how talented, or how fortunate they may be… white-collar, blue-collar, or no collar, there is an undeniable commonality to the raw emotion that strikes people when they are knocked down. According to John Calipari; having the right attitude when dealing with  major impediments is critically important… with every hard knock comes an occasion to reevaluate and reinvent… it’s never a matter of how far you have fallen but instead it’s about how high you bounce back…

According to Paul J. H. Schoemaker; every business stumbles, so get over it. The key thing is to keep thinking like a winner… Some good lessons that illustrate common decision traps when comforted with failure, include: Lesson 1 is acting too timidly– thinking incrementally when bold action is needed… Lesson 2 is the well-known trap of loss aversion, which tempts you to double down on a commitment when it is better to pull the plug… Lesson 3 is overconfidence and illusion of control. When things go well, people tend to take credit themselves; when things go bad, people blame events…

According to Idris Myootee; the first thing a paramedic will do when arriving at the scene of an accident is stabilize the patient. In business, the idea is to prevent the situation from worsening, and management needs to swiftly take control and aggressively stabilize the situation before it worsens… Developing a bounce back plan must be sufficiently broad and deep to ensure that all the mission-critical strategic and tactical issues are addressed. An incremental approach to change will not work– it only diminishes the bounce back opportunity…

 

Habit– Power of the Unconscious… Grow Your Business by Changing Habit: Habit Drives 95% of Customer Behavior…

Habit is the most influential governing factor of our everyday business and personal existence. Your actions, your responses, the decisions you make, the way you live your life are all largely dictated by habits…

A habit is a behavior or set of behaviors that you do automatically without thinking– and they are learned not instinctive; these are human behaviors that occur automatically without explicit contemporaneous intention of the person…

According to John Dryden; a habit is something that you create by repeating a particular behavior… Do something over and over and it will become habit, and attitude is an habitual way of thinking… Many a hapless business has been broken by habits and attitudes of its management– we first make our habits and then our habits make us… According to Jim Ryun; motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going

According to Neale Martin; habit begins with a revolutionary premise– 95% of human behavior is under control of their unconscious mind… this exposes a central flaw in traditional marketing theory, market research, and preponderance of business strategy, i.e., that customers are consciously aware of what they’re doing… Habit explains why 80% of new products fail and why billions of advertising dollars are wasted every year and why even satisfied customers aren’t loyal… marketing is focused on the wrong things…

According to Charles Duhigg; 40% to 45% of what management does every day may seem like they are making decisions, but they are actually habits… Good managers know-understand importance of habits… Bad managers just pretend that they don’t exist, and so when they emerge they end up being disruptive…

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In the article How Habits Effect Business by Taylor Ellwood writes: Habits are a part of life and business and when you know how their effect then you can start changing bad ones into good ones… thus creating a positive impact on your life and business. When we indulge in bad habits they are distraction and hurt the overall quality of your life and the business, even if they seem to provide an illusion of improvement… They affect the business because you are engaged in automatic behaviors that can have a negative impact… The reward is the reinforcement, for example; you habitually check ‘social media’ throughout the day, and the perceived reward is feeling connected to other people.

However, the real reason you are checking ‘social media’ could be because you are bored, overwhelmed… with the business work. Although this activity might not seem harmful, it’s most likely a distraction from your business activities… So until you recognize root cause of questionable behavior you won’t be able to change it– but once you do recognize it, then you can substitute a different behavior (habit) that provides the same reward, i.e., connection with other people… For example; instead of ‘social media’ you can directly contact customers, networking partners… Which gives same reward, i.e., connections, but more important it will actually help business… Take a few minutes to identify your habits– try sorting the good and questionable…

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In the article Grow Business by Changing Habits by Ndubuisi Ekekwe writes: An organization’s culture is amalgam of habits and depending on the dominant ones companies will either fail or succeed. According to biologists; the brain’s cerebral cortex is the data processor upon which our habits are wired. Hence the understanding of the electro-chemistry and relationship of the cortex with human behavior opens opportunities for companies to target customers effectively: That is, if companies can make us create habits that involve their products, they’ll be successful. But they may not need to create a new habit; they can simply infuse their products into our existing routines…

Take Facebook and Twitter, for example; they’re designed not just to nurture social habits of connecting with others, but also to create a new habit of hyper-expression. According to research at University of Chicago; texting and checking Twitter and Facebook come in just below sex and sleep on impossible-to-resist urges. Many of the social media companies can succeed provided that they maintain the elements that sustain habits…

Habits change and companies must keep pace with these behavioral changes; over time, some habits are dropped and new ones adopted… To be successful, companies must play a role in creating or disrupting people’s habits, and aligning them with their own products… The future is about habits and companies can only succeed if their products are central to maintaining them… Companies cannot just focus on existing needs and expectations of customers; they must anticipate desires– things customers don’t even know they need until they see them…

The process of reshaping consumer behavior doesn’t necessarily have to be disruptive, for example; B2B companies that focus on enterprise solutions must create new habits by realigning behavior by innovation. Companies that innovate and change behavior, making their own product an essential element of the new behavior are the ones that will grow and succeed…

In the article Hacking Habits: How To Make New Behaviors by Jocelyn K. Glei writes: In the workplace and in life we are little more than the sum of our habits. Who we are and what we accomplish depends largely on a vast network of routines and behaviors that we carry out with little to no thoughts… According to David Eagleman; human brain is in the business of gathering information and steering behavior…

Habits are the brain’s own internal productivity drivers and they are constantly striving for more efficiency. The brain quickly transforms as many tasks and behaviors as possible into habits, thus freeing up more brain power to tackle new challenges. In general this modus-operandi of our minds leads to incredible benefits but on occasion it seems nearly impossible to change our behavior…

According to Duhigg; habits consist of a simple but extremely powerful three-step loop: First there is ‘cue’, trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is ‘routine’, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is ‘reward’, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering… Over time this loop… becomes more and more automatic and the ‘cue’ and ‘reward’ become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges…

The first rule of habitual changing is that you must play by rules; there’s no escaping the three-step loop (i.e., cue, routine, reward) because it’s hard-wired in our brains… However there is a final key ingredient; ‘belief’ that change is possible and this ‘belief’ is the ingredient that makes a reworked habit loop into permanent behavior…

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Habits are a funny thing: We reach for them mindlessly, setting our brains on auto-pilot and relaxing into the unconscious comfort of familiar routine. According to William Wordsworth; Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd… In the ever-changing 21st century even the word ‘habit’ carries a negative connotation. So it seems antithetical to talk about habits in the same context as creativity and innovation. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits we create parallel synaptic paths and even entirely new brain cells that can jump our thoughts onto new, innovative tracks. 

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try– the more we step outside our comfort zone– the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives… According to Antoine Ezell; as marketers, our goal is to figure out the true ‘why’s’ behind our customers’ behaviors, much of which is tucked securely away in their unconscious– their habitual mind. This understanding allows us to create great customer experiences, which will have an impact on their behavior: This is the ultimate imperative…

According to Rose Hill; all habits consist of knowledge combined with skill from practice. What all this means is that you can learn new habits to replace those that are no longer working for you. And to learn new habits you must change what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and the choices you make: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten… That means that if your business is not headed in the direction you must make new choices and start new habits to ensure you ultimately get the results you want: Your choices of habits, determine your success… Up to 90% of your current behavior is based on habits…

According to  Dawna Markova; first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with ‘wonder’. A good innovation thinker is exploring other possibilities and this is where developing new habits comes in. You cannot have innovation unless you are willing and able to move past your habits and go through unknown– from curiosity to ‘wonder’.  According to John M Reisinger; most people never examine their habits when they’re trying to resolve conflicts… Our habits tend to manage-steer us as if on automatic pilot– just reacting to whatever turbulence we encounter…