Monday, October 12, 2015

Who wins at growth strategy? Hedgehog or Fox?

There is a science to taking a business from good to great, and that research spawned a best seller titled, well, Good to Great. Author Jim Collins helped us understand the "why" of businesses that became household names and were consistently profitable over the long term.

I'm one of those thinkers with 100 ideas and solutions flying around inside my teeny tiny brain at all times. Some people are thinkers with 1 or 2 ideas and solutions occurring peacefully inside their brain as they need them. Before you decide which is best and who needs to go back to school, read on.

Enter The Hedgehog Concept. An ancient Greek parable states: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Philosopher Isaiah Berlin applied this parable to people in a 1953 essay, saying people are either foxes or hedgehogs.

Because of the fox's wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused; therefore, they are limited in what they're able to achieve in the long run.

The hedgehog, however, is a slow and steady thinker. Unlike the fox, they are able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. This principle guides everything they do and helps them succeed against all odds.

Jim Collins applied this concept to organizations, pointing out that they can find their "Hedgehog Concept" by making three important assessments. 

1 - Understand what it is people are truly passionate about.
2 - Identify what it does better than anyone else.
3 - Determine what drives its economic engine.

Give this some thought. While you're driving from one place to another, think of hedgehogs and foxes, passion and profit. If you're a hedgehog you will find this a simple activity, quietly contemplating. Whereas if you're a fox you may think of so many things you will overheat. Take care, and we will take this discussion further in the next post!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Top 5 Easiest Ways to Say Thank You in Business

What a dumb blog post, right?

Every 3 year old knows how to say, "Thank you." Pfffftt! We're all as polite as Emily Post.

Let's get right down to where the rubber meets the road on this topic. Everyone knows how to say those two magic words, but does everyone actually do it? Nah, especially in business relationships. I also miss opportunities sometimes. Showing gratitude is not just for best friends and family. It's a business thing too. 

Everyone is super busy with little time for creative thinking and planning, especially at work. In fact, we get so busy we forget that businesses and careers are built on relationships. 

As I list the 5 easiest ways to say thank you, for convenience I'm going to refer to your business friend as "someone". I like simplicity, don't you?

I'll start with the hardest one first. Ahem. 

  1. Look someone in the eyes, and say, "Thank you." Go ahead and laugh, but do you do it? Or, do you avoid it because it feels uncomfortable? The trick is to be specific and timely. For example, "Jeremy, thank you for helping me get all those tables set up for the auction dinner. You're the best!"
  2. Call someone on your handy dandy cell phone, which is in your hand 24/7, and say, "Thank you." Not everyone likes gushy. Again, be specific and keep it short and simple. "Kelly, thank you for the introduction to Mrs. Smithwick. I've wanted to meet her for a long time, and you made it happen." That's all.
  3. When you're buying groceries, select one extra something delish and take that yummy thing to someone. Is it a pie, a candy bar, a flower, a bag of biscuits with butter? Why not? "Thank you, Jonathan. You made my day when you handled that angry customer../
  4. Write a thank you note to someone. If you send a pre-printed card and only sign your name, I am calling the Police. It's not necessary to write a 500 word article. 
  5. Give someone $10,000. (just kiddin') Unless, of course, you want to send that to me. Alternatively, give someone a $10 gift card to anywhere. Anywhere is a great place when it's free.
In the business world, people are still people. People like to be appreciated. So, there. I bet I can say, "Thank you" to more people than you. Go!