30 11 2016

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

There are 3 kinds of decision makers.  First, you have the naval gazers (many of you Googled that last month).  These are the people who are asked to come up with a plan, and then they execute it like the man in the cartoon below.  Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim and they never pull the trigger because they’re worried about either the consequences of failure, or are afraid that they don’t know what they don’t know.  The second are the ones that go off half-cocked (maybe the bully comparison from above works here).  They get started without thinking.  They are more like Ready, Fire, (oh, drat), Aim,  and try to fix their mistake by changing what they executed.  That may mean stopping everything and re-training, or it may be an instant fail, in those situations where you only had one chance to get it right.

Leaders, try being the third type… The corageous ones who go ready, aim carefully, and then fire.  Think about as many consequences and obstacles, have a plan for dealing with them, then pull the trigger.  You may not hit the target on the first try, but you’ll be going in a good enough direction that someone will be able to give you the guidance to shift your aim just a bit closer to success.  A car that is parked can’t get anywhere (the first type) and a car that drives off a bridge can’t get any further (the second type).  A car that drifts a little to the right or the left is much more likely to make it to it’s destination.

Speaking of fire…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com



4 11 2016

“I like to go full bore into something.  If you have a backup plan, then you’ve already admitted defeat.” ~ Henry Cavill

Long-time readers of my comic know that I am NOT endorsing Mr. Cavill’s philosophy.  Any of you that takes a huge risk without thinking about what will happen if you’re wrong, and what your plan B is have had an unpleasant conversation with me (if they’re still working here).  Our job as leaders is to think through all of the consequences, or show that we tried to think of everything (because nobody’s perfect) when an issue occurs.

That said, there is such a thing as OVER-Thinking consequences to the point of paralysis.  I call it navel-gazing, and my wife calls it picking lint from your belly button (Google it if you haven’t heard the terms).  Ready-aim-fire is the correct sequence, unlike Ready-fire-Aim or Ready-aim-aim-aim-aim-aim…  Eventually, you need to move, and then adjust course if your plan needs a little shifting.

Speaking of backup plans…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

When a do-over isn’t an option, aim the Spear True

2 08 2016

“A well-aimed spear is worth three” ~ Tad Williams

Ready-Fire-Aim.  That’s something that happens too often in life, and in business.  Now, I’m not saying spend days thinking about the best way to do something, but think it through, understand  where the uncertainty is, then AIM before firing.  Sometimes you only have one shot at hitting the target (Just ask Kev below – if he’s around to ask after that shot!)

Leaders, resist the urge to give an answer that you aren’t sure is true.  If time doesn’t permit that luxury, then handicap your answer with “I’m about 80% sure that this data is good.”  However, when you have time, even when you may feel the pressure to deliver a best guess, give your team time to gather the data you need, so that the facts are as fleshed out as they can be.  Then, decisions can be made, and consequences can be dealt with based on facts, and not guesses.   Sometimes you don’t get a do-over

Speaking of why one well-aimed spear is important…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

The idiot in the grocery store

29 06 2016

“When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.” ~ Dylan Thomas

Yesterday, after having her ankle run into by the same woman’s shopping cart for the third time (while the woman loudly dropped f-bombs and worse cuss words over the cell phone), a woman in the next lane decided she had enough.  She turned around, and chewed out the offending idiot right in the checkout line – to the point that the “ankle-bruiser” burst out in tears and left.  At that point, the rest of the customers loudly applauded the woman with the abused ankles.  There’s a real satisfaction to finally having taken enough from someone, and unloading on them.  Telling them how X (stupid, rude, mean, selfish) they are has a certain cathartic feeling about it.  However, you should understand that when you light that fire, you probably won’t be able to put it out.

Leaders, never forget that you MAY have to work again with someone that you call out.  It could be a vendor, a teammate, or an employee.  Before pulling that trigger, remember that the shoe may be on the other foot someday, and when you go asking for a favor, you might get your face laughed at.  So, certainly, when it’s time to stop putting up with something unacceptable, say something.  Just know that if you don’t say it nicely, you should be sure that the bridge that you’re burning isn’t over a river you may need to cross one day.  On the other hand, sometimes idiots in the grocery store just need to be told a little bit about themselves.

Speaking of fire…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

The ship that never starts never arrives.

1 04 2016

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page.  You can’t edit a blank page.” ~Jodi Picoult

Those who read these daily comics know that the quote is true.  Not every missive is a good one, but I TRY to get something out every day that I’m working.  I’ve been proud of some of them, and just “mailed it in” on occasion, due to writers block.

The point, leaders, is to get started.  A ship that never gets started moving is the only one that is GUARANTEED to never reach its destination.  Ships that start moving in ANY direction can correct course, and will eventually arrive at the goal.  I’m not advocating a Ready-Fire-Aim philosophy.  You should think about your goal, and war-game the possible obstacles and resolutions, but you have to eventually start moving, and sooner is usually better than later.  Otherwise, what you’ve got is a philosophy of Ready-Aim-Aim-Aim-Aim……

Speaking of blank pages…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire to prevent.

12 12 2014

“I’m not saying my wife’s a bad cook, but she uses a smoke alarm as a timer.” ~Bob Monkhouse

Here’s how a leader can take over a problem, and fix it.  The problem can be a new company, a business relationship gone sour, a department, or even an unhappy employee.

Step 1 – Find the biggest fire, find out why it started, put it out, prevent it from starting again

Step 2 – Find the next biggest fire, lather, rinse repeat.  When all fires are out:

Step 3 – Look for smoke – determine why something is smoking – don’t add air to the smoke, turn down the heat.

Step 4 – Look back at what you did, look for trends.  Was one person the root cause all around, was it one philosophy, or just a lack of planning?

Step 5 – Put together a plan to avoid future issues, and paint a vision (strategy) for where you’re all going to be going together.

Step 6 – When things start to slide off the path you’ve built – reinforce the vision/goal/place you’re going, and continue to move there with your team.

You can’t spend your career reacting to problems like the first 3 steps above, but you also can’t move a ship forward while it’s on fire.  Have a great weekend.

Speaking of alarms and smoke…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com