Back to Basics…

Back to basics has to be one of my all time favorite expressions in today’s business, and even, political jargon. 

It’s beautiful!  Things aren’t going the way you’d hoped and along comes a knight in shining armor who proclaims with utmost certainty – “We will get through this time!  We will go back to basics and restore ourselves to greatness!”  Tell me that image doesn’t conjure up Camelot and everything that’s right in this word?

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NABC

In business, as in life, you come across many situations where you find yourself needing to address an issue of some sort.  The challenge, often, is that many of us do not take a holistic approach towards dissecting the condition and applying a logical framework to move us towards resolution.

This is the concept behind the acronym N-A-B-C.

Now, before you can apply NABC, you have to implicitly clear on the problem you are trying to solve.  Then, and only then, can you begin to apply the framework outlined below.

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What’s The Problem?

Recently, I took some time out and watched the movie Moneyball.  For those of you don’t know the story, it’s predicated on the thesis that a player’s ability to get on base is far more valuable then their ability to hit home runs.  Accordingly, for every player that gets on base, it’s guaranteed that the 4th player is equal to a point (e.g. players on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd – in order for the 4th player to get on base, the player on 3rd base has to come in and score a point and the other two players rotate to the next base thereby vacating 1st base for the 4th player.  The process repeats and points get accumulated).

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Time to Say Goodbye…

At some point in every manager’s career, there comes a time when you will need to terminate someone’s employment.  Typically, this situation falls into one of two categories – a corporate layoff due to cost cutting / restructuring or letting an employee go for performance-related issues.  Regardless of the reason, it’s a difficult situation that requires careful planning and execution, compassion, and, for legal reasons, brevity.

The challenge in letting people go is acknowledging the fact that it’s not personal and doing your best to remain cognizant of that throughout the process.  Now, while I understand this is easy to “write”, I am very well aware of the fact that work becomes personal for many people.  Further, for many people, some of their closet relations have formed through their work so, again when I say, it’s technically not personal, I recognize that it very much is.

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“I’m Golden, baby!!”

Ahh… to be “golden” – what a great feeling!  For those of you don’t understand the context, being “golden” is when you can do no wrong.  Be it in your career or in your personal life – you basically have reached living bliss!  Everything you touch – turns to gold!  People love you!  They want to be around you!  It just doesn’t get any better!

All of us, at some point, have enjoyed being golden at some point.  Note the past tense?   That’s right – being golden isn’t, for many of us, a constant.  It’s a state that we enter and exit at different points in time.  Remember when Michael Phelps set all those world records for swimming?  No – what you remember is his being in the news for possession of marijuana!  Sorry Michael – not golden!  Or how about Tiger Woods and the fact the he’s probably the greatest golfer ever?  You get the point.

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Sustainable Competitive Advantange

Recently, I was attending a session at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where I am a class mentor, and we were talking about new venture opportunities. Specially, after you have gone through the screening process of identifying your next venture, you have to identify your sustainable competitive advantage and how that will map to your grand strategy.

Unfortunately, what I find is that many (inexperienced) entrepreneurs’ don’t place enough emphasis on this – partially because they believe, given what they are doing, it may not be that important and, in many cases, don’t really comprehend what a competitive advantage really is and what it can do for a company.

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