Secrets and Common Knowledge

I heard it once said that the difference between a business secret and common knowledge was that common knowledge was far more difficult to come by. I think to some extent this is probably the case.


Whether in sales or business management, as you progress up the ladder you become more of a “knowledge” worker and somewhat less of an implementation worker. By the nature of your expanded role you are entrusted with more information regarding the plans and strategies of the accounts or business (usually both).


This is pretty heady stuff. You are entrusted to know things that others are not. The urge is to show off and tell others the things you know. The requirement is to communicate strategies and directions so as to best align the resources to execute on the plans. The need is to do so without “broadcasting” in such a way as to reduce the value of the information by providing it to those who do not need, or should not have it.


I have stated in the past that the value of information is in sharing it. The art is being able to select what to share and who to share it with and how to share it in such a way as to be able to achieve your sales and business goals without your proprietary business information becoming “common knowledge”.

Perspective and Point of View

We have all been in the position where we have had to predict some performance or business event. It is a key part of leadership and management whether you are in general business, sales, or any other business discipline. There are those that are good at it and those that “needs improvement” if I may use the ratings jargon that we are all familiar with.


I have found that those that are good at this type of predictive management have the gift of not only assuming others points of view – being able to look at things from where others do, but also have the ability to assume the perspective of others – being able to look at things how others do. It seems that the difference is subtle but the results can change dramatically.


The key here is that when we look at issues from others points of view we still have the tendency to ascribe our preferences and biases to the view. Someone who is risk averse may not see the same opportunity as someone with a higher risk tolerance regardless of the point of view.


It is these perspective mismatches that can then lead to the issues. What may be blatantly obvious to one regardless of where it was viewed, may make no sense at all to another regardless of how it is described.


Successful business and sales requires you to not only look at things from where others are standing, but also to try and look at it through their eyes. You can not ascribe your preferences to others because then you are always expecting others to “see it your way”.

Dilbert Was Right About Strategic Plans

Strategic plans are essential to the continued well being of any business. We are all aware of this. I have been involved in organizations where the strategic plan was considered the most important document in the organization, and I have been places where it was considered a necessary (or unnecessary) evil. Wherever I have been, I have invariably found that the most successful strategic plans have adhered to what I call the Dilbert Rule for Strategic Plans.


When asked by his (pointy haired) boss for his suggestions for the strategic plan, Dilbert responded with


“Why don’t we find out what we make the most money at, and do more of that…”


Of course this was rejected out of hand as far too simple for a strategic plan. I would agree that for an entire strategic plan it probably is, but for a starting point I don’t think you could do much better. It requires a self analysis of profitability and competitive situations that will be the cornerstone of what the business is doing and will be doing going forward.


The key here is to identify your strengths and to build going forward from them. Too many times we tend to identify traits that we want to be strengths instead of those that are strengths, to build our future business on. It is by looking at both the current and desired capabilities that a good strategic plan can be created.


Next week I’ll be looking at the Jethro Bodine Clampett school of ciphering in your business. This topic covers the “goes into’s and goes out of’s” of your business. Its basic but it also works.