Sunday, 20 of April of 2014

Archives from author » billwelter

What were they thinking! (or not)

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It’s the end of the year and the decade and I’m facinated with all of the “top ten” lists coming at me. I now know the top ten medical stories, the top ten vacation spots, the top ten movies, the top ten songs, and on and on and on.

I’d like to compile a list of the top ten individual or collective lapses in good thinking from the past decade. Here are a couple of my nominees.

  • What were the mortgage companies thinking when they gave NINJA (no income, no job, no asset) loans for mega-houses?
  • What was Merck thinking when it kept Vioxx on the market after it’s own studies showed it to increase risk of heart failure?
  • What was management at Pontiac thinking when they introduced the Aztek? (See if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face?)

Please add to the list. What were they thinking?


4 comments

Read the Newsweek interview with Jeff Bezos

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The Customer Is Always Right

Since founding Amazon in 1994, he has revolutionized retailing. Now he’s out to transform how we read.

By Daniel Lyons | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 21, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jan 4, 2010
“work backwards from the customer ….”  
Too few companies do this! I just had an “encounter” with Comcast. Too bad they didn’t read (and heed) this statement.
“If you start thinking about a medical textbook or something, then, yes, I think that’s ripe for reinvention. You can imagine animations of a beating heart.”  
Think about all the words that you use to describe strategy. What if they were animated? How could you use technology to change the way you communicate?
 
“Do you think that the ink-on-paper book will eventually go away? I do. “ 
Nothing lasts forever (but some things last for a very long time.) What will “go away” in your business?
Sorry for the rambling thoughts, but this article just struck a very positive chord with me.
Merry Christmas!

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Is Congress Capable of Critical Thinking?

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For the past six years I have been conducting workshops on “critical and strategic thinking” for some of the better corporations in America. And in these workshops I cover the key attributes of critical thinking. Two of them seem to be lacking in the congressional “debates” we see played out in the news.

First, an aspect of critical thinking (or just plain good thinking) is the willingness to look at a situation from multiple points of view.  Every time I hear that congress “voted along party lines” I realize that the people who are deciding things that affect my future have abdicated their responsibility to think! This is “groupthink” at its best/worst. If all we need is a tally of party votes, we should fire all of our senators and representatives (and save a TON of money) and let a clerk tally the votes.

Second, good thinkers realize that complex problems (like healthcare, like the national debt, like the wars) do not have known or even knowable solutions – they require experimentation to discover possible part-solutions that can be combined to find a reasonable total solution. As long as both parties see this as a win-lose situation they will never undertake the bold experiments that are needed to find real solutions. They are unwilling (as seen by their actions) to risk their party reputation for the good of the country. Sorry, but that seems gutless to me.

What do you think?


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I’m back — and thinking about “middle” management

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Yes, I was MIA for while (but you probably didn’t notice). Time really is a scare commodity.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all the men and women who “get it done” in most businesses – the “middle” managers.

Picture this, it’s a holiday party and you and all the guests are eagerly awaiting the dinner bell. You strike up a conversation with your cousin TJ, the Director of Operations for a large firm. TJ has enjoyed a fairly successful 20+ year career with this employer since starting in the management training program. TJ is smart and hard-working and has moved up the ranks, gaining greater responsibility and recognition, surviving the “right sizing” of the early 21st century and currently holds a very visible, high-pressure role. It has always been interesting to hear about TJ’s career journey because it sounds so exciting and rewarding.

But this year things are a bit different. TJ seems less enthusiastic, distracted, and even appears exhausted. You notice that TJ’s career adventure has become simply a job. “It’s just not like it used to be,” TJ explained. “Business is changing so much and it seems to me as if the rules of the game are changing. The pressures are mounting and my job is harder than ever before.”

The Rules are Changing

TJ’s situation is not that unusual for many middle managers. The rules of the game are changing and those changes come from all around us: expanded responsibilities because of globalization and a virtual workforce, advancements in technology and the use of the internet resulting in a 24×7 reality, mobility of the workforce, changing employee expectations as Boomers exit and Gen Y enters the workforce, expanding consumer power because of excess global capacity, and the constant pressure to maintain costs and improve profitability for our shareholders.

Each of these changes or trends has resulted in a marketplace that looks very different from what the previous generation of middle managers saw. The situation is further complicated by the reality that these changes are all happening concurrently.

What are your TJ’s experiencing and what can you do about it? I have some ideas and will comment later.


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Better decision making

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Sooner or later, congress is going to pass legislation affecting your industry. Right now it’s all about health care, but sooner or later your environment is going to change, no matter what your industry. When that happens, managers at all levels will be faced with decisions that have to be made in response. What are some of the attributes of “better” decisions?

Heres’ my list. Please add to it.

The decision makers:

  • Consider the “futurity” of their decision. That is, they consider long term implications as well as the short term.
  • Address the real issue (This may sound strange, but ask any consultant about being asked to solve a problem that was not the real problem.)
  • Consider multiple points of view (their POV is only one of many.)
  • Actively consider the risk involved with the decision.
  • Understand ALL of the criteria that will be used to make the decision.
  • Consider the ability of the organization to execute the decision.
  • Expose and vet the assumptions underlying the issue and decision.
  • include emotional and cultural realities in their deliberation.
  • Are willing to consider the “cons” as well as the “pros” of their favorite option. 

Many of you are already good at making decisions. What would make you better? What should I add to my list?


4 comments