Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Open Book Management

In 1992, when The Great Game of Business was originally published, only a few hundred companies practiced open-book management (OBM). Today thousands do. The word has spread. CEOs have seen the payoffs. OBM is now considered an essential alternative to the conventional, top-down way of running a company.

Advice: Just plunge in, ignore the tired management myths and discover the truth for yourself.

Myth: Don’t tell people the truth about the financials.

Truth: If you open the books, your leadership team has to establish credibility. You do that by telling the truth. You just can’t operate well unless people believe their managers and peers. And what’s the downside if your numbers land in the wrong hands? Competitors could never replicate your best practices, corporate spirit or the collective know-how of your employees.

Myth: Managers are paid to figure out all the answers.

Truth: First, no one has all the answers. Second, we need new job descriptions for managers in open-book workplaces. Managers teach, coach and give pep talks. When they ask team members for solutions they create a shared learning experience. That way everyone learns faster. Managers also have to learn to cope with failure. That’s where contingency planning comes in.

Myth: It’s a bad idea to promote people too quickly.

Truth: Employees should prove themselves, sure. But it’s smart to get your best people moving around so they don’t get stale or develop tunnel vision. New, exciting challenges and some cross-training expands their horizons. Suddenly, they appreciate the needs and goals of a larger chunk of the organization. And what happens next? Walls come down, communication improves, things start happening.

Myth: Never mind the big picture, just do your job.

: The big picture is all about motivation, giving employees a common purpose. The broader the picture you paint, the fewer obstacles they see. If people have big goals, they blow right by the little obstacles. But those obstacles can seem huge if you don’t move people beyond the daily grind or appeal to something they really want to do. Show them the fact and figures. Explain the challenges and opportunities. When you share the big picture, you define winning. greatgame.com
The rest is all details ...

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to Hone Your BS Detecting Skills

Succeeding in business is all about accurately analyzing information and then making smart decisions. Falling for BS is antithetical to both. But with the world awash in half-truths, partial distortions, aggrandizing exaggerations and out-and-out lies you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fall prey to other people’s bull. How can you protect yourself from being led astray by their nonsense?

Washington, DC based venture capitalist Don Rainey has penned a post for Business Insider’s War Room offering six suggestions to help you hone you BS detecting abilities. The piece is well worth a read in its entirety, but the basic suggestions are as follows:

1. Determine what serves the speaker’s self-interest. Whenever someone is presenting a point of view, you owe it to yourself to consider how their opinion might correlate to their own self-interest. After all, there must be some reason they have to make the argument to you in the first place. And that reason more likely correlates with their own self-interest than with yours.

2. Question the data. We live in a world of pseudo science, skewed sample sets and anonymous experts. Don’t accept anything as an important truth without first examining the source.

3. Watch for truth qualifying statements. “To tell you the truth” or “Let’s be frank” or “I have to be honest…” are all statements that beg the question – “Are we starting to be honest just now?”

4. Listen for name dropping. Credibility should always be derived from the strength of the argument, known facts and/or the reputation of the person present. If absent prominent people are the backbone of an argument, you should be suspect.

5. Notice confusion in response to logical counterpoints. This type of response is meant to undermine your confidence in the soundness of your counter argument without seeking to specifically or factually oppose the point itself. Watch out for confusion when there should be none.

6. Beware of the obvious. If a conversation provides you with one obvious thought after another, wait for the end of the train of thoughts as it is typically an illogical conclusion. After getting into a “yes…yes… yes…” rhythm, you may easily accept a well placed random conclusion or mistruth. by Jessica Stillman