Category Archives: Solutions

For the Money

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four—-to—-go—-!”

In case you are wondering, the earliest attribution for this phrase that I could find is in the children’s book, “Striking for the Right” By Julia Arabella Eastman, in 1872.

Some of you however may be more familiar with the 1955 variation that Carl Perkins included in his song “Blue Suede Shoes’:

“Well, it’s one for the money,
Two for the show,
Three to get ready,
Now go, cat, go.”

I think Elvis did it better than Carl, but that really isn’t relevant to today’s discussion.

In either case, as you might guess, my focus here is going to be on “for the money” as I think we may have lost track of this part of the phrase, particularly as it relates to sales.

A phrase that is generally thought of as a countdown to the start of a children’s race or contest, is becoming more and more germane to the increasingly high-pressure contest of business to business sales. However, in many instances it appears that organizations are skipping the first line of the phrase and focusing on the second, third and fourth lines. Now usually to some form of hardship.

As we go through what might be described as tectonic shifts in the business, capital and sales markets and processes, brought on by the evolution of the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the multiplicity of other technological discontinuities they have engendered, “for the money” is probably going to take on an increasingly important role, particularly in the sales process. It is probably time to start steering away from the age old, tired sales phrases associated with focusing on quality, or value, or any other direction from a past time.

We have all been aware of “Moore’s Law”, which in its simplest iteration generally states that new products arrive with essentially double the previous product’s capacities every eighteen to twenty-four months. What this postulate also infers is that products can be expected to become obsolete every two years as well. This is now an important concept since previous views of product life expectancies were once much longer.

The difference now is that as new capabilities and applications are developed, they are more and more dependent on the latest generation of technology for their functionalities.

As an example: What would you pay for a car today, if you expected that in two years it would not be able to efficiently run on, or possibly even be able to access the new highways that are being built? What would you pay for that car if in two years it would not be capable of allowing you to drive to all the new destinations that would be available then?

Would it change your car buying patterns? Probably.
Would it change how much you would be willing to spend on a car, knowing that your time horizon for needing to purchase the next new car – which would then allow to run on the new highways and go to the new destinations – was going to be so short? I think so as well.

Such is the situation for just about every company and organization when it comes to their information technology needs.

Eureka. This sounds like every vendor’s paradise. Knowing that your customer is going to have to buy a new product every two years. What could be better?

I guess the first thing would be to make sure that all capabilities and applications that are developed are equally applicable across all customers.

Uh oh. That doesn’t seem to be the case since different companies need and demand different capabilities. And since vendors do not have infinite resources to develop all possible applications and capabilities in parallel, we cannot expect a continued alignment of applications, capabilities and the platforms required to run them.

And since customers do not have infinite capital to be able to afford each and every application, capability and platform as they come out, we return the new catch phrase, “for the money”.

Customers do not want the best solution.

I know this sounds like heresy but this has been proven time and time again. They want the best solution – for the money. They do not want the best service. They want the best service – for the money. Value and quality are good, but they are table stakes, not differentiators. And make no mistake about it, since the product life cycles and associated obsolescence are now so short, there is corresponding less money for each customer to spend on each purchase iteration. With the reduction in customer capital available to purchase each new product iteration the question is no longer how much functionality can a customer afford, but what is good enough to serve their purposes for now.

Whether it is said or not, it should be implied that every sentence used in communications between the vendor and customer, should end with the phrase “for the money”.

With this concept in mind it becomes a little easier to understand the changing landscapes for sales in the business to business world. Buying new higher capacity platforms in anticipation of being prepared for future applications or capabilities probably will no longer occur. The fear of platform obsolescence before the capabilities are available, along with new constrictions on purchase funds will probably preclude that.

Future capabilities will be purchased in the future, when they have been developed and can demonstrate immediate (not future) value to the customer.

Because of the direct relationship between purchase capital and product capability, reliability, capacity, speed, etc., all those factors have become negotiable as “for the money” comes into play. Communications networks that had essentially one hundred percent reliability and twenty-year life expectancies are being superseded by far less reliable but faster terrestrial and more convenient but equally less reliable wireless networks. They are good enough, at a far lower cost.

Personal computers and laptops that used to cost thousands of dollars are now costing a couple hundred dollars and are expected to be outdated, and disposable within two years. They are not repaired, they are replaced, at a far lower cost.

I have said that if customers are not buying it is probably because the sales team has not generated the appropriate business case for that customer’s business to justify the purchase. Immediate expenditures will require immediate value generation to offset them.

For the money is emerging as the prime parameter associated with this same customer business case sales process. Customers are recognizing that the lowest common denominator functionalities are what are required for their business. By way of example, Sprint seems to have fully embraced this approach to wireless services in that they are openly touting that they are “within one percent of the coverage / reliability” of their competitors, but only half the cost.

Their catch phrase is: “Why would you pay twice as much for only one percent more?”

We had all better take note of this approach to the market. In case you are wondering, Sprint grew more than any of its competitors in the last quarter. ( And this is after several previous poor quarter performances.

In the article, it is noted:
“…Sprint with a campaign that essentially boils down to this: We’re good enough for your business. The company’s commercials play up its half-off plans versus the competition (the rates go up after two years) and a mere 1 percent difference between the quality of its network and that of Verizon.”

The key comment for me is “…good enough for your business.” I think this approach is becoming the new norm. Being the best is great, but being good enough, for half the price, is probably going to be better. It seems to be resonating with the market as they continue to attract new customers.

There will always be exceptions to every norm. There will be those customers that truly want the elevated capabilities, and will be willing to pay for them. There are those that want luxury cars as their form of transportation, when there are almost any number of less expensive models that will deliver the same functionality at a far lower cost. Most companies, like most of us, do not have the luxury of preferring luxury.

They are moving more and more toward the Sprint model that good enough, at half the price, is better than the best at double the cost. As budgets continue to constrict, for both consumers and companies, the comparison of what is wanted versus what is good enough for the money, will continue to change the landscape for sales. It is probably time for many businesses to change their sales model to focus on what is good enough for the money.

Sometimes You Don’t Sell

Sales people are an interesting lot. So are customers for that matter. When you put the two of them together there is no telling what will happen. Many times sales people have been conditioned to try and sell the next new shiny widget as the solution to all customers’ problems. Customers usually have a whole raft of out dated, earlier release, vintage, dull clunky widgets that could be the source of their current issues and unhappiness, which they had previously bought from the same, or other sales people. They might even have some earlier generation doo-hickies and possibly a thing-a-ma-bob or two. It will be the wise sales person that recognizes when yet another product purchase may not be what the customer wants or needs.

Widgets, doo-hickies, thingamabobs and even whatchyamacallits are all recognized product terms in the high tech business sector. It took me quite a while to master this vernacular. Pay close attention and you too could end up being technology prosaic master.

We all seem to have been conditioned to the idea that new products, new equipment or new technology are the answer to all customer issues that are usually the result of the old products that they previously bought. It is conveniently forgotten that the old products were the answer to the then previous issues. And so on and so on back in time.

Now I can see where a new product might be an answer to a customer request. I want a new car, or I want a new house might be one of those customer requests that fit this description. I don’t think I have ever heard a consumer say that they want a new electrical generating plant. They may not even want more electricity. They want to run their refrigerator or possibly their air conditioner (a particularly high level requirement for hot summers here in Texas). They don’t usually ask for a new phone system. They want to play “Words with Friends” (or some such other application) on their smart phone.

The point is that customers rarely request for a specific product or a new technology. They ask for a solution. These requests are normally phrased in the form of: “I need to do more…” or “I need to spend less …” In many instances it may in fact be a new product that is the answer to their needs. Something that runs faster, or reduces operational expenses is almost always available in the market.

But what happens when the customer already has plenty of capacity? They don’t need to go any faster. They may not want to buy another product because the products that they currently have work just fine. Still, they feel they have a need. If they feel they have a need then they do have a need.

When it comes to customers, perception is reality. Even if their perception does not match anyone else’s.

Sometimes sales people need to take a step back from trying to sell the next shiny widget, and get back to solving the customer’s problem.

I have talked about value many times in the past. Customers will exchange their money for something that they perceive to have value for them. All too many times sales people associate that “value” with some sort of physical product. However customers will only associate value with a product if it solves their problem. And sometimes it is not a new product that solves their problem. Customer value lies in the solution that is provided to them, whether it has a product or some sort of associated equipment or not.

Successful sales is based on the precepts of trust in the relationship between the buyer and seller, as well as the belief in the expertise of the selling entity in the solving the buyer’s issues. Vendors who focus solely on the sale of the next shiny widget eventually find themselves supplanted by someone else whose focus in on solving the customer’s problem or need. This inevitably comes about when the customer no longer trusts the vendor to be looking out for the customer’s best interest, but rather is focused on closing the next sale.

It is too easy to say the next release, next generation or next product is the solution that the customer needs. After all, it is most likely what the competitors (both incumbent and non-incumbent) will be saying. It is more difficult to look beyond the equipment sale and look at customer need and solution, but that is where both the customer trust and customer value are built.

Sometimes a customer may just need to be shown how they can better or more efficiently use the widgets that they have already purchased. At other times it may be issues associated with how the previously purchased widgets have been applied. Sometimes the current widget just needs to be fixed instead of replaced.

The approach here is for the sales person to make their customer’s problem their own problem. This can be done figuratively where they put themselves in the customer’s shoes and do the right thing for them, or it can be literally where they take ownership of the customers issue outright in a legal transference of responsibility for the source of the customer’s issue and thereby solve the customers issue by taking it away from them. In the figurative solution the sales person solves the problem as if it were their own problem. In the transference solution the sales person makes the customer’s problem their own problem and then solves it.

Sometimes when you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, either literally or figuratively you find that selling them something may not be the preferred or even desired solution. In this case the value that the sales person brings to the customers lies in the expertise that they bring to bear on the customer issue. Sometimes the solution is to externalize the issue (from the customer’s point of view) so that they don’t have to solve the problem. From a customer’s point of view having a problem taken away from them, either figuratively or literally means that they don’t need to worry about it anymore.

I have found that in the longer run customers will pay much more for the value that this peace of mind brings them, than they would for any specific product that may be the next shiny thing in some sales person’s kit bag. If a sales person can figure out how to actually remove an issue from their customer’s business, they will find that they don’t really have to sell any specific products, as the solution will be all that matters to the customer.

The Voicemail Curtain

Voicemail is an interesting technology. I remember its inception and introduction. It was hailed as a space, time, energy, cost, etc, etc, saving technology. A panacea. A cure all. Initially, and possibly in some instances today it continues to provide business efficiencies and cost reductions. It has become so ubiquitous that we almost never even think about it. Almost never, with the possible exception of when we actually want to talk to someone about a problem or issue that may have some urgency associated with it. It is in these instances that voicemail no longer provides its Dr. Jekyll based higher minded benefits and services, and reveals its darker, far less beneficial Mr. Hyde side.

I have mentioned several times that I am old school in many of my approaches to business. That doesn’t mean that I reject new technologies and capabilities. On the contrary, I would like to think of myself as something of an early adopter in an effort to always try to improve what business does and how it gets done. However I hope to never lose site of the fact that business is conducted by and between people. While asynchronous or non-real time communication such as voicemail can provide increased productivity in certain instances and applications, such as when individuals are in significantly different time zones around the world, it seems to me that in many instances it is becoming a detriment and an inhibitor to getting business done now.

It appears that asynchronous communications such as voicemail (and email for that matter) may have removed in some people’s minds the necessity to actually have to conduct business by and between people. Instead of talking to people, we now have slow motion conversations over some other type of media instead of a real time discussion over the phone. We have evolved our use of voice mail to the point that instead of answering a call and potentially having to deal real time with an unexpected issue or request, that we will now let the call roll over to voicemail instead. This enables the called party to review the potential issue or request at their leisure and then decide on a potential course of action with which to respond, if they so choose to become involved at all.

When you combine voice mail with other technology advancements such as calling line identification, we have now created a recipe for people to actively avoid answering calls from specific displayed numbers where they know or suspect the caller may be requesting time or support that the called person may not be able or want to provide. We are now enabling and in some instances inciting a behavior where the avoidance of work may now be perceived as being previously engaged, or even over worked. People are in effect hiding behind the voicemail curtain. Regardless, the result is that things get slowed down.

Business is about solving issues, and solving them as quickly and efficiently as possible. That is how value is generated. If you cannot solve customer issues, it is very difficult to generate customer value. I think this is a pretty widely accepted premise for doing business. In a great many instances the way a customer issue is solved is by internalizing it within the vendor organization. Another way to say this is that many businesses bring value to their customers by taking customer issues away from the customer, solving them within their own confines and presenting the customer with a solution.

The result of this process is that the customer is so thrilled with no longer having a problem to deal with, that they give you money.

Up until recently I would have said that this model worked admirably well. Not everyone likes issues but in solving them we provide the needed or desired value. What I have noticed was that in the drive to solve internalized customer problems I was starting to have more and more discussions with the voicemail system mailboxes where I would explain my issue in the hope that the intended party would hear my plea, be provided with enough information to act, and would get back to me with what I needed, than I was having with the actual people I needed to get solutions from.

What has been happening as time has passed and voicemail usage has matured has been that the called party usually returns the initial voicemail with another voicemail (I didn’t know until recently that you can actually do that. You don’t even have to call and forward to the voicemail system. You can now remain in the system and respond to a voicemail with another voicemail) where they either ask for more data (to be left on another voicemail) or explain that I need to contact another different party with the issue (where I will probably have to start the whole extended voicemail message process over again). If they had just answered my call in the first place I would have been able to learn this then and there instead of the several hours or days that it took for them to get back to me.

Voicemail in itself as a technology is not inherently bad. It is the misapplication of the technology by the user that is the cause of the issue. Voicemail was created to help us receive those phone calls that we would otherwise miss. It automated an otherwise labor intensive administrative function. Best of all it got rid of those ever present pink phone message notes that covered your desk every time you came back from lunch.

It seems that because we know that our automated greeting avatar will now answer the phone every time we cannot or decide not to answer the phone, we have increasingly decided to continue on with whatever we were doing, even if it was nothing in particular, and let our voicemail answer the phone. The result is that the business that could have been conducted by and between people real time has now been slowed down.

The speed at which business must be done continues to accelerate. The workloads of those involved continue to grow. People are busy. I understand and accept this. I just don’t believe that everyone is so busy that they cannot answer their phone anymore. It doesn’t take that much time or effort. It gets things done.

To prove my point I’ll close with a scenario and a question. How many times have you been out to lunch with business friends and associates, the food is served and you are eating. You are discussing the business or even social topics of the day, and someone’s cell phone rings? They have voicemail on the cell phone, but what do they do? They interrupt the conversation flow; stop eating and or talking and answer their phone is what they do.

We have all seen it happen and may have possibly even have done it.

My question is: Would they have behaved the same way if they had been sitting at their desk?

We need to start treating our business phone like our cell phone and answer it when it rings, and not expect to conduct our business via voicemail.

Thinker’s Block

I love my subconscious. It always seems to be on, even when I am not. It does have its drawbacks. I suspect that it is responsible for my fear of spiders, but I can’t prove it. I didn’t know I had a fear of Spiders until I saw the movie “Arachnophobia” some years back. About half way through the movie I couldn’t stand to have my feet on the floor of the darkened theater because I thought I felt things on my legs. I guess that is the price I have to pay for having an active subconscious. But I know it is always there, ticking away. “Ticking” makes it sound like my subconscious works like some sort of fine Swiss watch. I am pretty sure it doesn’t do that either. It actually seems to go in fits and starts, and leaps and bounds. I have also learned to trust it almost implicitly when it comes to business issues and finding answers.

When we are faced with an issue or a problem it seems to be our nature to obsess or grind on it until we have a solution. In general this approach will usually work. The conscious application of experience and knowledge, focused and brought to bear on a finite and defined problem will usually yield a workable solution and good results. We learned this by studying for and taking examinations in school. We learned the basics and the tenets of our various disciplines and then tried to apply them to the questions posed to us to see if we knew how to properly apply them, not just memorized them. This was a good process to use when you knew going in that there was a “correct” answer to be found. Hopefully we have brought these good solutioning habits into our business environments.

But what happens when you do everything you are supposed to do, and the solution does not present itself? In business you are not assured that there is ever a “correct” answer to be found. Perhaps the best you can do is finding an answer that is not as bad as any of the others. You gather the facts and check the data. You understand the needs and availabilities, costs and prices, supplies and demands. You have got it. Just like all the previous times. But for whatever reason unlike all the other times, the answer to your issue this time is just not there.

You have the dreaded Thinkers Block.

I call it thinkers block because for the most part we are all knowledge workers. When a writer finds that they are unable to write for any reason, it is usually referred to a “Writer’s Block”. It only goes along the same lines of reasoning that if a knowledge worker is unable to perform their knowledge based work they must have Thinker’s Block. I guess you could use “Knowledge Block”, but it just doesn’t seem to communicate the issue at hand as well.

You might think from empirical observation that there are many people out there in the world in general and the business environment specifically who spend their entire lives in this state of mind. I have come to the conclusion that this is not the case. I think that most of these people have probably made a conscious decision on their part to not think anymore. If pressed these people can like riding a bicycle, remember how to think and deliver a solution, but for the most part will not do so. For whatever reason it seems that they have learned that it may be easier to let other people ride their bicycles while they metaphorically take a cab.

So where does the unconscious come into all this discussion of conscious decisions, problem solving and thinkers block you might ask? What I have found is if I have truly done my due diligence on an issue, done the research and applied myself to a solution and still have not arrived at a workable conclusion within a reasonable time frame, then the best thing for me to do is to take a break. It’s time to step away from the issue, work on or do something else for a little while, and let the subconscious take over. What I find is that while I am away or when I come back to the problem that there can be a new way of looking at things or an unexplored direction may be a new path to a solution.

Now you might think that this is such a neat trick that it might be best to just go ahead and bypass all the seemingly unproductive conscious effort and skip right to the unconscious part of the problem solving scenario. I have actually tried this as well. It doesn’t work, at least for me. It seems in this scenario my subconscious does not readily accept direct input. Unless the input is filtered through a direct and significant effort at consciously finding a solution, my subconscious does not seem interested in becoming engaged in the process. I am pretty sure that this is some sort of a built in safety mechanism since from what I can tell I probably do not want to be able to directly access some of the other things in my subconscious directly on a regular basis. If there is anything else in there that is worse than the spider thing I don’t think I want to know about it.

I have actually seen this subconscious problem solving process captured in a movie; “Men in Black III”. When presented with a conundrum that despite their best efforts they couldn’t solve, they didn’t keep pounding their heads against the thinkers block brick wall. They went and got pie. They took a break. And low and behold it worked. Now some script writer must have noticed the same principle that I am writing about or it probably wouldn’t have found its way into that movie.

Now in movies everything has a tendency to work out just fine. In reality, not so much so. However I have found that if I do encounter a situation where I am not able to come up with a solution via the normal analytical process, where I have worked hard at finding a solution but seem to have come up against a brick wall, that if I set it aside for just a little while and either take a short break or work on something else, when I come back to it I seem to have a refreshed view of the situation and can find a way around my thinkers block. I don’t necessarily have to go for pie like the Men in Black do. I usually go for a diet soda, or more recently a bottle of water as I try to take on more of the aspects of a healthier life style.

Sometimes when you have Thinkers Block, the best thing you can do is take a break. When you come back the issue, you may also find that your subconscious has also been busy, and will enable you to look at the problem with fresh eyes and to see an answer.

Now if I could just get it to work on that spider thing.

The Impossible

There comes a time in everyone’s career where you are going to be asked to do something that just can’t be done. It’s impossible, and “ask” is a euphemism for “told”. Like the game show “Jeopardy” where the answer is usually put in the form of a question. That doesn’t change the fact that just because you were “asked” doesn’t mean that you have the option to decline the request. You don’t. Regardless of how the directive has been phrased, you have been given an objective. On the first blush it looks like you have been asked to do the impossible. It’s time to get out the blue tights and red cape and get to work.

The art of the impossible is an interesting study in business. When first presented with an impossible task most managers are at a loss as to how to proceed. And as with any major loss there are five stages of grief associated with impossible assignments:

  1. Denial and Isolation. When this initial stage hits, resist the desire to grab the impossible goal assigning manager by the lapels, shirt or throat and shake them while stating the goal is in fact impossible to achieve. This will get you both talked about and visited by HR.

  2. Anger. While the description of Denial and Isolation may sound like anger, it’s not. Anger is what will happen when you sit down and really think about what you have been asked to do. Resist the impulse to scream, throw things and generally trash your office. This too will get you talked about and visited by HR.

  3. Bargaining. Now we are starting to get somewhere. This is the first step in starting to regain control of the situation. Start to explore timeframes, staff and budgets associated with the assignment. What do you have to work with?

  4. Depression. Depression will set in once you understand that you will not have enough time, people or money to accomplish the impossible. You probably won’t even have enough resources to accomplish the difficult or unlikely, let alone the impossible.

  5. Acceptance. The die is cast. You have your orders. You understand your constraints. There is nothing else for you to do but to get to work on the problem. Good luck. The vice president of the business unit will disavow any knowledge of the assignment. This memo will self destruct in five seconds.

When given an impossible assignment it is good idea to remember a few things before you get started. The first is that managers are usually creatures of habit. Leaders are not. This means that impossible assignment managers are limited in their scope and approach when it comes to the types of goals they assign. They only think the assignment is impossible. That’s why they gave it to you instead of solving it themselves. When given the impossible assignment understand from where the assignment was generated, and then quickly dismiss any associated approaches or scope. Incrementing an existing process or method will not get you from existing status quo to new and impossible.

Remember that while most businesses are prone to prattling on about how they encourage and embrace change they are in fact significantly risk averse in nature and will only change when forced to, and then only after significant keening and gnashing of teeth. New ideas and approaches on how to conduct business are not usually rapidly accepted to say the least. There is always a desire to see the new proven out before the old will be changed. The accompanying desire is to usually see the new proven out somewhere else first.

A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the way most companies select their Chief Executive Officers. It seems that in order to be a CEO, you must have first been a CEO somewhere else. I look at this as the business equivalent of “Catch – 22” in its circular logic. The idea here seems to be that you have to have done the job in the past in order to be able to do the job now. It doesn’t seem to matter if you were an unsuccessful or ineffective CEO. The fact that you were a CEO enables you to be a CEO somewhere else. I think the same “you have to have done it before you get to do it” approach applies to just about every executive level in an organization as well, not just the CEO.

I have digressed, but only a little.

Impossible assignments are usually impossible only from the standpoint of the existing way of thinking or the existing process. In reality the impossible is usually just something that has not yet been done in the current organization, and because it hasn’t been done before it is assumed to be impossible. Impossible assignments are the genesis and catalysts of change in the organization. When management hits the point where the existing methods of business conduct will no longer deliver the results that are needed, an impossible assignment will result.  Leaders should look for these opportunities. They are the opportunity to prove you can do it before you get to do it.

The impossible requires that you take a step back, before you start going forward. It is the desired end state of the impossible that is the key. Once the desired goal is established, it is the decomposition of the logical steps backwards from that goal that will enable you to breakdown what appears to be an impossible leap in the old process into a number of achievable smaller steps in the new method.

Decomposition in the business world is the breaking down of large and complex issues into smaller, more manageable and less complex issues. Once the impossible issue is broken down into its smaller component, possible and solvable issues, the solution can then start to come into focus. This process is similar to the solving of the complex problem of how do you eat an elephant? The solution is one bite at a time.

Now just because you may have solved the problem and put the plan in place that would appear to enable the impossible objective to be achieved, don’t expect it to be immediately or unanimously embraced. There will be those who either have a stake hold in the existing business structure now or those who were unable to solve the impossible assignment in the past that may be reticent to accept the new approach. They may actually want to fight you to the death before they will accept a change in what they are doing or agree with you.

This is the point where your tenacity and self belief will come into play. If you have done the work, solved the problem and believe in your solution to what was once believed to be but no longer is impossible, you will need to continue to push forward. It may take a sustained force of will to see it through. It will require you to risk your credibility on your belief in your own work. While achieving the impossible may in fact be possible, it is usually never easily implemented or rapidly adopted.

Look for a method to test your approach and solution on a smaller scale to prove it out. No one will have more riding on a successful outcome than you, so you will need to maintain personal oversight and involvement in the test implementation. Most importantly, do not take no for an answer. If you have just succeeded in doing the impossible, are you really going to stop short of success just because someone said no?

The impossible is assigned every day. Solutions to the impossible do not arrive every day. Of the solutions to the impossible that arrive, many do not get successfully implemented because their owner did not have what it took to translate the theory into reality. For those impossible solutions that do get successfully implemented, the owner has now proven that they are now qualified to do the impossible, and should expect more impossible assignments in the future, as a reward.

Quit Complaining

Many times in business you will see foolishness occur, even in your own enterprise. Opportunities that are clearly visible will be missed. Improper directions will be issued. Bad courses and strategies will be followed. It is your responsibility to bring them to management’s attention when you see them. When you do this, remember two things: Bring a good alternative or corrective action, and don’t complain.


Bringing solutions to topics and issues that you raise is seen as good leadership. Everyone can see a problem. A leader will take the initiative to bring the accompanying solution.


Complaining on the other hand is a pastime that almost everyone participates in at one time or another. However, complaining about topics, issues or directives, without proposing an accompanying solution to your complaint will make you appear ineffective as a leader. Complaining is a non-action oriented event, and a good business leader is action oriented.


If you can not find a suitable alternative or solution to an action that you find disagreeable, then say nothing. There probably wasn’t one to be found prior to the action being taken. Any other comments will be seen as complaining, and few people like a complainer.