Find something wonderful
"Can you set up a meeting for you and I?"
That sentence should make your skin crawl. It's wrong. It's glaringly wrong. And almost everybody with a college degree makes it. I hear that mistake every day.
People with less education don't make that mistake. They sometimes make its opposite. "You and me can go to that meeting."
When people make the second mistake, some people call them ignorant. But when people make the first mistake, I think pretentious . And ignorant.
It's easy to excuse the less educated person for using "me" when "I" is appropriate. It's much harder to forgive the overuse of the "I."
To help people sound smart and unpretentious, here's a little trick. Say the same sentence, dropping the "you and."
Would you say "Can you set up a meeting for I?"
No. No you wouldn't.
Would you say "Me can go that meeting?"
Maybe. If you're three.
Practice this at home. Whenever you use a compound subject or object, mentally say it as a simple subject (the person doing the action) or object (the person the action is done to). If the correct object turns out to be "you and me," say it that way. No one worth impressing will think less of you.
Are you stuck? Work feel like a treadmill? Feel like you never get anywhere? Massive misrepresentation of the scientific process could be to blame.
Business people talk a lot about getting all the facts. Getting all the facts sounds sciencey. People who forgot fifth-grade science class forget how the scientific method begins.
The scientific methods begins with observation. Next comes a question: why? Then comes an explanation for what you observed.
You see an apple fall from a tree. You ask "why do apples fall down instead of up?" You invent an answer. A straw man. Then you investigate.
If you began by gathering all the facts you'd never get past fact gathering. Facts are infinite. You'll never gather all the facts. Never in trillion years. Without an observation, a question, and a hypothosis, you don't know which facts to gather. You don't know where to start.
A lot of work feels that way. How often do you say to yourself "I don't even know where to start?"
Business people who want all the facts are afraid. They're afraid of making a decision. They're afraid staking a position. They hope the facts make their decision for them. But the facts never do. Only people can make decisions.
If you're on that treadmill, stop and get off. Observe. What's happening? Why? Why is it happening?
Your brain will find answers to any "why" question. Try it. Write down what comes back. Write down all the answers. Shoot for 10 possible answers. Then test them. Try to disprove every one of them.
When you find one (or two) that can't be disproved, you might be on to something. Test it again.
If this sounds like trial and error, it is. The scientific process is trial and error. It starts with an observation and a question. The question produces answers. Most of the answers your brain serves up will be bad. You won't know they're bad until you test them. A lot of right answers sound wrong before they're tested.
When someone tells you to find all the facts before stating a hypothesis, nod your head and ignore them. They're afraid of the answer. They like their treadmill. But you're free to find the answer that stands up to a test. That answer is pure gold, and it's hidden in a hypothesis.
I've written before about that Peter Drucker "quote" so many business people believe. It's a lie, and a dangerous one. It not only hurts their companies in the long run, it leads people to do very bad, unethical things. They become bad people.
And Drucker never said, "What gets measured gets managed." The guy who said something like it was wrong. So stop living by it.
Instead, think about great sports coaches like John Wooden and Bill Walsh.
Wooden, you probably know, was the great UCLA basketball coach who produced both champions and very good men. He built character that became success. And he never measured himself, his teams, or his players by wins and losses.
Bill Walsh transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the NFL's doormats into perennial Super Bowl champions. And he had no room in his brain for winning percentages.
Instead of focusing obsessively on the final outcome, which neither these coaches nor their players could control, Wooden and Walsh focused on the building blocks of greatness. Here are two quotes that tell you all need to know about their philosophies.
Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
The score takes care of itself.
Contrast that with most corporate executives. They talk only about profits. And because they can't actually control their profits, they use financial engineering to give the illusion of extreme growth and obscene profits. They talk about "making their number" and "shareholder value." Rarely do they talk about the qualities that tend to produce great outcomes.
What are those qualities that produce great outcomes?
Again, the great coaches told us, if only you would listen.
Wooden's Pyramid of Success
John wooden lived and coached according to his Pyramid of Success:
Coach Wooden recognized that he and his players could not control the outcome of any game. They could control all the other qualities. And when enough players practiced those qualities, his teams won.
Walsh's Standard of Performance
- Ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement.
- Respect for everyone in the program and the work that he/she does.
- Be committed to learning.
- Demonstrate character and integrity.
- Honor the connection between details and improvement.
- Demonstrate loyalty.
- Be willing to go the extra mile for the organization.
- Put the team’s welfare ahead of my own.
- Maintain an abnormally high level of concentration and focus.
- Make sacrifice and commitment the organizations trademark.
Know What You Control
It all comes down to knowing what you control and doing something about those things. Profits and growth are a result of the things you can control plus fortune. Success depends on improving things within your control and gratefully accepting the outcome.
Both of these legendary coaches built their models on the ancient philosophy of stoicism. And knowing what you can and cannot control is the foundation of all stoic philosophy. As Epictetus wrote:
The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.
Steve Jobs created the most valuable company in history by focusing on things in his control: designing great products that people loved. The profits took care of themselves.
I know you're not Steve Jobs and your company isn't Apple. Maybe it never will be. But if you keep focusing on profits and hoping character will take care of itself, you're in for a miserable downfall.
Most of my readers asked for a print edition of my new book, Fight to Evolve: The Government’s Secret War on NTX.
Great news! Your book is waiting for you on Amazon. It’s just $17.99, and you’ll be happy to know that I don’t get a penny from the sales. All proceeds go to the Coalition for Safer Drinking and its fight to reduce alcohol’s negative effects on health.
If you, like me, prefer electronic books, you can get the Kindle version of Fight to Evolve for just $3.99 today, too.
If you know someone who drinks and you worry about their health, be a friend and buy a copy of Fight to Evolve for them, too. Two hardbound copies are about the same price as on bottle of good vodka. And you might save a life.
It’s a beautiful day in spring. The sky is radiant and wonderful blue. Birds singing, trees starting to bloom, grass an impossible shade of vibrant green. A cool and welcoming breeze licks your bare skin, your cheeks, and playfully ruffles your hair like a lover.
Your work is done, now, so you sit in your favorite outdoor chair and take in the relaxing, comfortable view. Smell the freshness of spring wildflowers. Let the sun gently warm your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. That’s right, you deserved this.
Now you reach for a perfect vodka and cranberry juice to relax a bit more and damage your liver.
I said “damage your liver.”
Yes, it’s true. Every sip of alcohol produces a measurable spike in liver stress just minutes after. Take a look:
Liver stress caused by alcohol consumption by Chigurupati Technologies
Now you have something to think about, don’t you, as you try to relax on this beautiful day in spring. You try to enjoy that delicious Cape Cod, but a little voice now whispers in your ear: “liver damage, my friend. Liver damage.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
[Win a Free Copy of Fight to Evolve. No Purchase Necessary. Free Giveaway Closed. Thanks!]
And maybe it isn’t that way for you. If you happened to make your drink with vodka made with NTX, that 300% increase in DNA and liver damage is 93% smaller. Ninety-three percent safer. Almost completely safe. Almost no damage at all.
That’s right, you might be drinking a safer drink and not even know.
The reason you don’t know? It’s not your fault. You don’t know what’s in your drink because some bureaucratic nerds at the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in Washington decided you don’t deserve to know. These government weasels have banned discussion of NTX’s health benefits in the United States. The TTB, as it’s known, has ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to health and wellness.
And this isn’t the first time the federal government has tried to prevent consumers like you from learning heath information that could save your lives or protect your children from crippling diseases. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s administration tried three times to deny women safe access to information about folic acid and spina bifida. As a result, over 25,000 new, preventable cases of spina bifida occurred while the federal government censored information from the public.
That’s disgusting, and every employee of the TTB should ashamed. And shunned. Do you know anyone who works at this secretive agency? If so, ask them why they won’t let you know what’s in your drink.
You’ve been drinking wrong all along, but now you have a healthier choice. Demand your right to know what’s in your drink. It could save you life.
On Wednesday, I will take part in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington where Bellion Spirits, Chigurupati Technologies, Campaign for Liberty, the Coalition for Safer Drinking, and legendary First Amendment lawyer Jonathan Emord will announce plans to force the TTB to honor the Constitution and let you know what’s in your drink. What you do with that information is up to you, but you have every right under the Constitution to have the information now.
Ponder that as you enjoy this beautiful spring day.
Discsolure: I am the National Spokesperson for the Coalition for Safer Drinking and author of Fight to Evolve: The Government’s Secret War on NTX now available for the Kindle on Amazon for just 3.99. Cross-posted from www.hennessysview.com.
Harsha Chigurupati wants to make your spirits functional.
Don't you want functional spirits?
Functional spirits potentially help billions of people.
At this point, you're probably wondering "what the hell are functional spirits?" And that's precisely what you should be thinking. Congratulations.
You might feel a little frustrated--maybe even angry at me, the writer. You might be thinking, "why doesn't he tell me what a functional spirit is?"
And I will, dear reader. I will. In just a moment.
But there's great benefit in keeping you in suspense. Benefit for both of us.
For you, it make this story more interesting. For me, you will remember both the phrase "functional spirits" and its meaning better. Because you're wondering what I mean by "functional spirits," your brain will celebrate when you get it. That celebration will include a little shot of dopamine, the reward chemical. Dopamine makes you feel pleasure, like when you eat something good, win a prize, or have sex. And when you discover something gratifying, like the meaning of "functional spirits."
Discovery is the key here. When suspense is satisfied, you feel more powerful. You've discovered the missing ingredient. It helps when you, the reader, had a hand in unveiling the truth. Like putting the final piece in a puzzle. A mental puzzle.
Harsha Chigurupati invented a technology that eliminates most of the physical harm from drinking. In other words, Harsha's made alcohol work for us instead of against us. His spirits function for humanity's betterment, thus (you're way ahead of me) functional spirits.
You won't forget that term now. You might even find yourself using "functional spirits" in conversation. Or you might modify other nouns with "functional" in the next few days. Functional bread. Functional shoes. Functional pets. You'll apply it to anything that works for you instead of against you.
Alcohol gets us buzzed, but it messes with our livers, our genome, and with all of our cells because of oxidation. But functional spirits protect our cells and our livers. They're functional. They serve a purpose without the detriment.
Now you've learned three things in one post: functional is good, delayed gratification aids memory, and alcohol infused with NTX protects your liver and other organs from damage. Good reader.
Feel smarter? I thought so.
Did you know an obscure federal bureaucracy is damaging your liver?
And they're using your brain to their dirty work.
If you're an American adult, chances are you drink alcohol, at least occasionally. And every sip you take does a little damage to your body's number one toxin-fighter: the liver.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
A technology called NTX actually blocks the liver-killing effects of alcohol by combining some remarkable ingredients in a unique way. The science behind NTX is solid and accepted by the U.S. government, but a power-hungry bureau of called the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) prohibits anyone from talking about NTX and its potential life-saving effects.
The TTB's mindless censorship hurts people in two ways. The obvious damage is denying people access to information that could save their lives or, at least, limit liver damage. That's immediate and personal. The second and broader damage the TTB does is to discourage innovation and creativity in improving the healthiness of foods.
To a casual observer, it looks like the TTB is actually protecting big incumbent companies from market threats posed by a new technology that the incumbents could have implement but didn't. (Seriously. The inventor offered his technology to five of the biggest alcohol producers, and they told him to take a hike.)
If you're a fan of innovation, free markets, and healthy food, you might want to learn more about NTX, Chigurupati Technologies, and the TTB's unholy alliance with big businesses that want to thwart innovation and health. Here are some links:
Coalition for Safer Drinking: Enjoy a Drink With Far Less Liver Damage
Disclosure: I am the national spokesperson for the Coalition for Safer Drinking. The spineless bureaucrats at TTB do not want you to read my new book Fight to Evolve. Don't read it unless you drink and like free speech and innovation. Or really romantic stories about puppies and balloons.
Want me to tell you how to get the book? Just tell me where to write:
Ever feel a just a little guilty about the drink with friends after work? That beer at the ball game? A glass of wine with dinner?
Do you pay attention to the studies saying moderate drinking is good for you? Or the ones that follow quickly saying drinking's bad for you?
Do wish you could have a vodka and cranberry juice without guilt or worry?
Well, you can. A research company called Chigurupati Technologies has invented and patented a technology that reduces liver stress from alcohol by over 90 percent. That's better than some fast foods. The technology is called NTX and it's already available in a vodka brand.
Not only does NTX reduce liver damage to near zero, it also protects against the damage alcohol does to your DNA. Not to mention increasing the liver's production of antioxidants.
(Read more about NTX and Chigurupati Technologies here.)
But with all good news there must some bad news, right?
Of course. The US government has put a gag order on Chigurupati Technologies. They're not allowed to tell consumers that vodka with NTX could save their lives. The rotten bureaucracy at the heart of this anti-consumer nonsense is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
There's an epic battle brewing right now in Washington over safer alcohol. And an organization called the Coalition for Safer Alcohol has asked me to help in its fight to defend the First Amendment for consumers. The Coalition for Safer Drinking believes it's a good thing that people can drink without getting sick. We're not advocating drinking for people who don't, and we implore people to drink responsibly.
We believe that drinking responsibly includes choosing alcohol that does the least possible amount of body damage. We know that just 15 minutes after your first drink, your liver enzymes show signs of stress, you DNA processes go sideways, and oxidation of your cells increased. We also know, based on two human studies in India and the in the U.S., that alcohol produced with NTX reduces those bodily stresses to the point of insignificance. And we are flummoxed by the government's attempt to hide this lifesaving information from consumers.
Check out the Coalition's website for more information. If you'd like updates from me, subscribe below. Otherwise, subscribe at the Coalition for Safer Drinking. It's up to you.
You've heard the cliche. We all have.
But you don't know what it means until you feel it.
I've only experienced it a few times, but I've put my money where my mouth is twice in the past year.
First, I've bought 14 copies of Eric Greitens' remarkable book Resilience. Twelve were gifts to people who would appreciate the message--or who needed the message. In that experience, I realized a feeling of power and generosity that literally made me dizzy. And it paid off.
One person who received a gift-book hosted a dinner party exclusively to discuss a key point of Greitens' work: the morality of results vs. the morality of intentions.
Can you imagine a stronger endorsement of a book than to host a party to talk about it?
Second, after spending two weeks studying and practicing Running Lean and the Lean Stack by Ash Maurya, I offered several trusted colleagues a free copy of the book. Immediately they either took the offer or bought the book themselves.
The lesson: when you put our money where your mouth is, so will others.
Ideas spread when people repeat them. But they spread faster and deeper when people invest in them.
If you believe in something, spend a little money. Buying someone a book that inspires you is a pretty cheap way to put your money where your mouth is.
Imagine this. You have an idea that might be with tens of millions of dollars to your company. You devise a simple, low-fidelity test that you execute yourself. The test indicates you may be on to something.
So you write up a pitch and present it to your management. They agree it's a great idea. But they don't want to move on it. "We have other priorities." Your idea, which passed at least one viability test, is dead. Forever.
And there's nothing you can do about it.
Who's Idea Is It?
In a normal world, you would be free to develop this idea yourself. But not in most states or most companies. But in the bizarro world of 21st century America, businesses increasingly use onerous non-compete contracts that claim perpetual ownership of an employee's ideas for the life of the employee--and beyond. While these clauses may not stand up to judicial scrutiny, employers bet that most former employees lack the financial resources for a protracted court battle over intellectual property.
In most cases, if your management decides not to pursue a great idea, the idea dies. At least, it dies until a competitor or start-up hatches the same idea.
What makes innovation-killing contracts worse is the incentives they create. Businesses hate the unknown. I've said that most business executives would rather know for certain their company is dying than take a chance on making billions. That's an exaggeration, of course, but only slightly.
A new idea always presents risk and chance. To bear fruit, ideas require time, money, and patience. Great, transformative ideas can upset a company's culture. The future under a brilliant new idea might be brighter, but it's also less certain. And today's senior executive hates uncertainty more than he hates total failure.
If the employee with the idea were free to leave and develop the idea on his own, the employer would have an incentive to develop the idea itself. But when the company owns every employee's every thought, it's actually less risky to simply kill all the ideas.
The problem is, of course, one company can't kill the ideas of other companies or entrepreneurs. The idea-killing contract works only in the short run.
Studies Show Non-Competes Kill Innovation
A literature review of studies on non-compete contracts shows nearly universal agreement that states with strong non-compete laws drive innovators out, eventually destroying their states' economies.
MIT researchers Matt Marx, Jasjit Singh, and Lee Fleming concluded:
Non-compete enforcement drives away inventors with greater human and social capital, while retaining those who are less productive and less connected (2010).
In my state of Missouri, the brain-drain, followed by a job drain, is obvious. Over the past 30 years, St. Louis lost half its Fortune 500 headquarters. Moreover, Missouri and St. Louis have dramatically in almost every major economic measure. Out of the 50 states, Missouri ranks:
- 44th in private-sector job growth
- 47th in GDP growth
- 46th in personal income growth
Missouri's legislature and courts strongly enforce innovation-killing non-compete contracts. One legislator told me, "if you don't like it, you should move to California," a state that prohibits non-compete contracts and refuses to enforce contracts of other states.
Missourians can blame non-competes for part of its economic decline. Alex Tabborock writes:
Non competes benefit firms but harm industries by reducing innovation . . . Firms who come to Silicon Valley know that they cannot use NCA to protect their innovations but they come anyway because the opportunity to learn from other people exceeds the costs of other people learning from you. Thus, worker mobility and the inability to protect IP by restricting mobility is bad for an individual firm but good for the industry as a whole, good for innovation, good for workers and good for consumers.
Missouri needs to attract innovators who create businesses. Its established firms need smart workers who bring forward great new ideas for growth. Telling innovators to move to California will only accelerate our state's rapid economic decline.
To protect ideas, employees under onerous contracts keep their best ideas to themselves.
"I will not say a word to anyone about my best ideas, and I work only on my own personal computer," said one innovator who's seen his ideas killed by management.
"I won't work here forever, and I want the freedom to breathe life into my ideas once I've moved on."
Asked if he would present his ideas to management if he were not under the non-compete, he said, "in a heartbeat. I don't care so much about the money or even the credit. I just don't want to see someone else implement this before we do."
States Should Protect Businesses From Themselves
Business executives will almost always trade long-term viability for short-term gains. So long as the firm is the only party damaged by myopic management, so be it. But onerous non-competes hurt people and regions, not just short-sighted companies.
If states like Missouri want to get off their economic backs, legislatures need to pare back non-compete laws that encourage domestic companies to thwart innovation.
In addition to California and Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington state are considering banning non-compete employment contracts. According to Forbes, the motivation behind banning non-competes is two-fold: 1) to encourage innovation and invention, and 2) to increase competition for talent.
Missouri and other states that have traditionally supported onerous non-compete contracts, will find themselves falling further and faster unless they make talent more mobile.
I left the Navy in December 1994. Twenty-one years later I finally figured out why there are so few real leaders in corporate America. I was brushing my teeth. I was thinking about a lot of things: work, clients, the economy, the lies companies tell the world and the lies the world asks companies to tell it.
And it it hit me.
There's one reason why corporate America has few leaders. It was so simple and obvious that anyone could missed it.
From high school through MBA programs, we teach people to manage up. But the military teaches how to lead. Managing up isn't leadership, it's kissing ass.
Military leaders write letters home to wives, husbands, kids, and parents. In good times, those letters home tell of a service member's achievements. In bad times, they tell of the service member's last full measure of devotion.
We don't make business leaders write letters to families when management's failure costs a loved one his job. But we should.
When a company loses an account and the staff gets laid off, the CEO should write a letter to the family of the employee laid off explaining how management failed.
When a plant closes down because management failed to adapt to changing markets, every family affected should receive a letter, written and signed by the CEO, explaining the CEO's errors that led to the shutdown.
If America is to remain an economic leader, its corporations must replace bureaucratic manager with real leaders. And real leaders in business treat the loss of employment as seriously as military leaders treat the loss of life.
For most of my adult life, the globalization of everything was taken for granted. We talked of "world economy," localization, internationalization (aka I18N), and globalization. Indeed, almost every RFP for the last 20 years has asked about internationalization and localization and multiple currencies.
Yet, beginning in about 1997, a lone voice warned us that the march toward globalization would someday reverse.
In The Fourth Turning, historians Neil Howe and William Strauss forecast a reverse in global trade:
the economy will have changed fundamentally. Compared to today, it will be less globally dependent, with smaller cross-border trade and capital flows.
Heresy! But there's more. From The Fourth Turning:
America will become more isolationist than today in its unwillingness to coordinate its affairs with other countries but less isolationist in its insistence that vital national interests not be compromised. The Crisis mood will dim expectations that multilateral diplomacy and expanding global democracy can keep the world out of trouble.
But look what's happening:
- Europe's Supreme Court struck down the Safe Harbor agreement that allowed Facebook and LinkedIn (among others) to store Europeans' data on US servers, potentially ending the flow of data across the Atlantic
- As the cost of freight rises, the amount of global trade declines, as local production becomes more attractive
- Time Magazine recognized "Globalization in Reverse" in 2014:
"With global economic integration seemingly in reverse, at least for the moment, many economists and trade experts are beginning to talk about a new era of deglobalization, during which countries turn inward."
- Fortune Magazine also recognized last year that "globalization has a reverse gear:"
For most of the past 20 years trade has raced ahead of global economic growth, usually at about double its pace. GDP grew by 3.5% in 2006, the last healthy, pre-crisis year, and trade at 8%. This was, it seemed, a golden ratchet binding the planet ever closer. But the most recent 24 months show something that looks an awful lot like a trade shock. It isn’t just that trade is no longer doubling — it’s slowing. In some crucial areas trade growth has slipped below GDP growth — and this year, globally we’ll be below the 20-year average rate of trade growth yet again. Figures on investment in assets held overseas, probably the best indicator of enthusiasm for globalism, are drifting down toward 40%, from more than 50% in 2008. The move is serious enough that economists have begun to ask: Is globalization running backward?
Howe and Strauss would answer "yes."
Crisis eras, which occur about every 80 to 100 years and last about 15 to 20 years, see a shift from global to local. We entered a Crisis era with the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Question: Suppose the reverse of globalism continues--let's call it 'localism' for now. How will localism affect your company's investments? Will you continue to invest in globalization, or will you shift investments to shore up your local markets?
What’s wrong with being a vendor? Sometime during my working life every business that sells to other businesses decided they wanted to be partners, not vendors.
Being in partnership with the companies you sell to is a great idea. Partners exert much greater influence than vendors. They also stand to reap great rewards.
What partners incur that vendor do not is risk. Shared risk.
Vendors get paid for specified services and deliverables. Period. “You want five generators? They’ll be there on the 16th. Two million dollars.”
Partners get paid based on the the success of the project. If the project fails, the partners all suffer. If the project meets expectations, partners all profit. If the project goes parabolic, partners rake in windfalls.
Partnership is risky. Partners do work that might end up being free. They provoke their partners. They bet their reputation and their future revenue on their expertise. Partners take a stand.
Vendors take orders.
There’s nothing wrong with being a vendor, and there’s nothing wrong with being a partner. But it’s wrong to call yourself a partner and preach partnership if you’re not willing share the risk.
By the same token it’s wrong to demand vendors take on risks of partnership if you’re not willing to share the profits as you would in a partnership.
Call yourself what you are, and be proud.
Image credits: NY Post
Who doesn’t have a dozen favorite Drucker quotes? “Drucker” is, of course, Peter Drucker the legendary management guru who lives on in quotes.
And that’s the problem.
A lot of business people know all the great Drucker quotes, but they’ve never read the books. Or they read the books years ago and forgot the points, remembering only the quotes.
What’s worse, people actually run companies and departments and government agencies by Drucker quotes. Not Drucker concepts, which work, but Drucker quotes—misremembered, out of context, and incomplete.
If Drucker had known how some of his quotes would be abused, even reversed to defend bad management, he would have never said them.
For the sake of American business, I propose we banish one famous Drucker quote from the language and from the practice of management.
“What gets measured gets managed.”
This is the most evil and destructive Drucker quote of all time. I hear it at least once a month, usually to justify elimination of tasks that cannot easily be measured using the kinds of simple yardsticks executives fancy. Ya know, unmeasurable work like ingenuity, coaching, innovation, creativity, and, Drucker's favorite, imagination.
Yet, Drucker’s own work, if anyone bothered to read the books, counters the popular misunderstanding of the quote. For example, Drucker’s praise of knowledge workers includes this caveat:
Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective. This is not capable of being measured by any of the yardsticks for manual work.
Moreover, because knowledge work cannot be measured the way manual work can, one cannot tell a knowledge worker in a few simple words whether he is doing the right job and how well he is doing it.
How often do executives push down responsibility for profits to the lowest levels of the company? And each time, these executives use Drucker’s bastardized quote to justify the proliferation of P&L down to call center reps. Again, if these executives bothered to read Drucker, they would quickly learn how wrong they are:
He saw to it that the yardsticks throughout the system by which managers and their operations were judged, measured service fulfillment rather than profit performance. Managers are responsible for service results. It is then the job of top management to organize and finance the company so as to make the best service also result in optimal financial rewards.
And the effective executive, as Drucker called them, are diligent about what to measure:
The automobile companies measured only by the conventional averages of number of accidents per passenger mile or per car. Had they gone out and looked, they would have seen the need to measure also the severity of bodily injuries resulting from accidents. And this would soon have highlighted the need to supplement their safety campaigns by measures aimed at making the accident less dangerous; that is, by automotive design. Finding the appropriate measurement is thus not a mathematical exercise. It is a risk-taking judgment.
But finding the appropriate measurement is hard work, so most executives simply tell the lowest-level employee to make more money and cut costs.
Yes, the world would be better off if Drucker had never said “what gets measured gets managed.” He must have assumed that the people who read it, executives, would execute the idea in the context of Drucker’s entire work. But executives do not. Instead, they use the quote to defend bad decisions—decisions often in direct violation of Drucker’s philosophy.
The good news: Drucker never said it.
Those who apochriphally attribute the quote to Drucker might actually be referring to William Thomson, Lord Kelvin: "If you can not measure it, you can not improve it."
The full proposition is: 'What gets measured gets managed - even when it's pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.'
Got that, American business executives? Be very, very careful what you measure and what importance you place on the numbers. As Ridgway explains in his paper, "Dysfunctional Consequences of Performance Management" (pdf available here, and I highly recommend it):
Quantitative measures of performance are tools, and are undoubtedly useful. But research indicates that indiscriminate use and undue confidence and reliance in them result from insufficient knowledge of the full effects and consequences. Judicious use of a tool requires awareness of possible side effects and reactions. Otherwise, indiscriminate use may result in side effects and reactions outweighing the benefits, as was the case when penicillin was first hailed as a wonder drug. The cure is sometimes worse than the disease.
Being a Drucker fan, I’m happy to learn and pass along the fact that Peter Drucker never said the thing I wish Drucker never said.
Now, if business executives would unlearn it, we’d all be better off.
(Note: All Drucker quotes are taken from his book, The Effective Executive. Read it.)
Thanks to Tim Ferriss for kindly linking to this post. Check out Tim's interview with Jason Fried of Basecamp fame and author of one of my favorite books, Refocus: https://tim.blog/2018/07/23/jason-fried/
Slate calls the Lenovo hack one of the worst customer betrayals ever. The PC manufacturer Lenovo sold hackers the keys to your checking account for a few dollars. Put another way. Lenovo installed code that effectively disabled every form of security, anti-virus, or encryption you could possible put on your computer. Lenovo installed this malware on every computer it produced for several years.
And they did it for a little profit.
I’m sure Lenovo’s marketing collateral talks about its customers and how much customers matter. It’s all lies, like the lies so many companies print in marketing collateral and annual reports and CEO speeches. The only thing Lenovo cares about is taking money from customers. If the customer dies, so what? There’s another one born every minute.
Lenovo’s Not Alone
I overheard a business conversation a few weeks ago that went something like this:
Employee: I’m just looking out for my customer’s best interest.
Boss: Well, I'd hope you’re looking out for our best interest.
In one sentence, that boss obliterated any hope of customer-centricity in her company. She exposed herself as liar for all the times she stood on a stage and talked about how much she cares about her customers.
Like Lenovo, this boss’s concern for customers begins and ends with her customer’s money. Once she’s taken a customer’s money, the customer can go to hell.
Putting your company’s profit interests above the well-being of your customers will lead you to decisions like Lenovo’s. You’ll eventually give hackers the keys to customers’ checking accounts for a share of the ill-gotten gains.
You are too good a person to fall into that trap. But how do you avoid it?
9 Principles to Avoid Evil and Promote Purpose
If you want to avoid doing evil, here are eight principles your company should live by. Most of these principles are not mine. I got them from smart people like Derek Sivers and Peter Drucker. And I admit that I do not always live by these principles. I try to, but it isn’t easy.
- “Never forget that everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision—even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone—according to what’s best for your customers.” – Derek Sivers
- “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. . . . It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for a service converts economic resources into wealth, things into goods. . . . The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.” – Peter Drucker
- “Operate like you don’t want the money—people will be happy to pay you.”—Derek Sivers
- “Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake.” —Derek Sivers
- Be crystal clear about everything you say or write. Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and clichés. Practice using real words like Project Change Agreement and Statement of Work. Identify precisely the things you reference. Don’t assume “SOW” means the same the thing to you as it does to the person who hears you say it, especially if you’re talking to a hog farmer.
- Know what the customer wants or needs. What the customer wants to buy might be different from what you think you’re selling.
- Eliminate every possible task. Eliminate before optimizing or you’ll end up doing the wrong thing faster.
- Customers pay you to get things done, not for the time it takes you to do them. If a new web page is worth $50,000, it doesn’t matter to the customer whether it takes you one hour or 1,000 hours to build it.
- Understand that urgent matters are not necessarily important. Champions do the important stuff. Plenty of also-rans scramble over the urgent.
If profit is your only purpose, you might augh at these nine principles. But it won’t be so funny when the press calls your company “the next Lenovo.”
“A critic is someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded.” ― Murray Kempton
Ever been tempted to respond to your critics? To explain yourself? To educate the public on the real story, the thorny details your critic left out?
I know how tempting response can be. We want to set the record straight, clear our good name, put them in their place. Calling it “vengeance” would be to sell short almighty truth!
But no one ever listens to the respondent. I know Voltaire (or somebody like him) said a charge unanswered is charge agreed to (or something like that).
I say a charge ignored is charge unworthy of our attention.
If it makes you feel any better, Don Draper agrees with me. And this clip from the AMC original series Mad Men empowers us with the perfect attitude toward critics.
“I don’t think about you at all.” Brilliant.
In the series, Ginsberg, the critic, ends up in an insane asylum.
So here’s to you, oh critic of the Internets as you point out my many obvious flaws: I don’t think about you at all, but I'm flattered by all the attention.
Your 22-year-old daughter asks you where she should take her car to get the brakes fixed. If you're a father or mother, you probably just felt your pulse quicken. Your eyes opened a bit wider. Those are natural physiological responses to danger, and bad brakes in your daughter's car are certainly a threat.
How do you go about answering her?
You know she doesn't have much disposable income. She's been working part-time since graduating college in May. You also know she doesn't know much about cars or service stations. You've always handled that for her.
Now, she's a grown-up and wants to take control of her life. But she wants your advice because she trusts you.
Do you tell her to save money by taking it to a guy who does brake jobs and lawn mower repair on the side? Or do you give her the number to the best shop in the area, which is a little expensive, but has a reputation as the best in the business?
Even if you have to help her out financially, you insist she takes her car to the best garage in town, don't you?
Next question: when a client asks you if you'd like to bid on a project that's a little outside your typical work, do you hold yourself to the same standard as you hold your mechanic?
In other words, if you know you're the equivalent of the guy who does brake jobs on the side, would you recommend yourself to a valued client?
In business, it's tempting to chase every dollar. It's also tempting to believe you can do anything. So when a client asks about some new business, it's tempting jump at the chance and hope you can pull it off. Protect yourself with contract language. Manage the client's expectations.
What if that client was your daughter's company? What if she were the manager responsible for this major purchase?
If your company isn't the best in the business of what your daughter needs, would you risk your reputation and her career just to get this deal?
I've adopted a new standard when considering requests from clients: "Am I the best person in the world to deliver this project for this company?"
If the answer is "no," then thank the client for considering your firm and offer to help them select the best. At least let them know you don't think you're the best company for this particular work. Let them know you'd love to work with them on the project, but advise your client that you'll need their close support and maybe a little patience. "If that scares you, I'll help you find a better supplier."
If you feel it's too hard to walk away from the money, pretend the client is your son or daughter and ask again. Unless you're a psychopath, you'll do the right thing.
P.S. If you find yourself consistently sending business elsewhere, maybe it's time you improved your product and services. You've got to be the best in the world at something.
Shakespeare was sort of right. All's well that ends well. But the opposite is true, too. If the ending sucks, it all sucked.
At least, that's how everyone will remember it. Sucky.
Remember this rule when you're putting together a presentation, a pitch, or a meeting with a client. The whole event, minute by minute, needs to be good and attention-worthy. But you MUST stick the landing if you want to be remembered well.
It's called the Peak-End Rule, and, as far as I know, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman invented it. Well, he didn't invent it--it's evolutionary. Kahneman named it. Kahneman also gave a great example, which I'll recount best I can.
Better yet, I'll just copy and past it from his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Speaking of a friend, Kahneman writes:
He told of listening raptly to a long symphony on a disc that was scratched near the end, producing a shocking sound, and he reported that the bad ending “ruined the whole experience.” But the experience was not actually ruined, only the memory of it. The experiencing self had had an experience that was almost entirely good, and the bad end could not undo it, because it had already happened. My questioner had assigned the entire episode a failing grade because it had ended very badly, but that grade effectively ignored 40 minutes of musical bliss. Does the actual experience count for nothing?
How often we ignore this basic fact. How often assume that we'll be graded on the whole of our performance when, in fact, the final few seconds of our show will determine how the audience remembers the experience.
Fair? Hell no! But it's the way people are wired.
I'll be honest: I screw this up all the time. I don't put enough effort into sticking the landing. I usually start of strong. That's important, because you don't want to lose the audience or your prospect early. And the middle parts are good. But I don't always put hard effort into a killer close.
Here's a formula for changing all that.
- Before you plan anything, decide how you want the audience to feel when they leave.
Think of experiences that left you feeling that way. Do you want your audience scared? How does Stephen King drive people to sleep with the lights on? Want them to leave curious? How does Malcolm Gladwell drive people to dig deeper and deeper into arcane subjects? Want them to leave laughing? How did George Carlin use callbacks to close leave his audiences in stitches?
Plot the emotional rollarcoaster that will end with that emotion. It's very difficult (and risky) to jolt your audience from passive relaxation to sheer, heart-stopping terror in one second. Whatever your closing emotion and intensity might be, you need lead the audience there. If you want to end with curiosity and intensity of 8 on a 10 scale, you need to start them at about 3 and build up over a few minutes.
By now, you're probably convinced that you gotta leave 'em laughing. Or feeling something. Writing a good closing line isn't enough, so pay attention to number 3.
Have you ever been in a bad mood and had someone try to cheer you up? Does it work? No. When someone tries to be all giggly at you, you just add that person to the list of things pissing you off.
So you can't have a static close. Well, you can, but you need to read the audiences mood before you deliver it. If you're shooting for laughing with an intensity of 8 and the audience's mood is angry with an intensity of 10, you need bring down their intensity (try self-deprecation), then shift the mood (try a story with a happy ending), then start building up to your ROFLOL climax.
And if all else fails, offer to buy everybody a new car. It works for Oprah.