Friday, October 28, 2005

The Decision-Making Out-Go Statement

Anyone can make a good decision if they have enough time, enough information, and enough money (and enough courage). The trick, though, is making good decisions even when you don't have enough of all of those things because reality shows that we rarely have enough of any of those things, let alone all of them. But decisions still must be made - even if it's a decision to not decide just yet.

Oh, what to do?

Well I like to look at this using a variation of the Financial Income Statement - something I call the Decision-Making "Out-Go" Statement. As you know, there are three main sections to an Income Statement:
  1. the top line - typically thought of in terms of sales, or revenues
  2. the middle line - your costs or expenses
  3. the bottom line - your profit.

Generally speaking, the financial equation is that the bottom line equals the top line minus the middle line, or

[profit] = [revenues] - [expenses]
In the Decision-Making Out-Go Statement, the top/middle/bottom lines are defined a bit differently:
  1. the top line - the possibility of what you hope happens as a result of your decision is actually what ends up happening
  2. the middle line - the probability of some unintended consequences happening to undermine what you hope ends up happening instead
  3. the bottom line - the "sense" or caliber of your specific decision, given the top line and middle line analysis.

As the bottom line again equals the top line minus the middle line, the Out-Go calculation looks something like this:

[the caliber of your decision] = [the possibility of it being a good decision] - [the probability of it being a bad decision]

So rather than getting stuck in Analysis Paralysis because you don't have as much time, information, money (or courage) you might prefer to have in order to make a particular decision, try thinking in terms of possibilities and probabilities, instead.

If you do, I think you'll find that you'll soon be able to make far better decisions with far less than you previously thought possible.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm (not) Lovin' It!

Now that McDonald's has started listing nutritional information (in English and Spanish) on its food packaging, the Chicago Sun Times went to the street to find out what people had to say about it. My absolute favorite response was from Stacy Coleman, data entry, 34:
"This is McDonald's. You don't really look for nutrition at McDonald's."

She's got a point, you know - especially considering that a Big Mac is 560 Calories and has a whopping 42% of the recommended daily intake of Sodium. (According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.)

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Another great response was from Yvonne Johnson, bank representative, 45:

"I suppose if you're cutting calories but ... a fry is a fry. It's still basically calories."

And how do those fries weigh in? Well, a medium - which is Mickey-Dee-speak for "small" - has 350 Calories and 25% of the recommended daily intake of Fat. (Again, according to the USFDA.)So, now that you know all that, where are you going for lunch?!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Understanding Your Impact

from 10/31/2005 issue of Newsweek, Why Bad Managers Do Matter:

Bad bosses get a lot of abuse from workers but not much attention from economists. Now, however, a new study by McKinsey & Co. and the Centre for Economic Performance in London says the quality of corporate management accounts for at least 20 percent of the difference between a highly productive national economy and a sluggish one. Even between countries with similar economic policies, like the United States and Britain, better management is responsible for 15 percent of America's 25 percent edge in hourly output.

After grading the operations and internal policies of more than 700 companies, McKinsey found that the best managers are concentrated in industries such as technology and finance, where intense competition weeds out the slackers. Better management often goes hand in hand with light labor regulation, but not always: German managers excelled in supervising day-to-day operations despite complex labor rules, while some managers in the hire-and-fire culture of Britain were the worst of the entire lot.

—John Sparks © 2005 Newsweek, Inc
The underlying question, here, is this: To what extent is your managerial style increasing your company's hourly output ... or decreasing it?
  • How would you answer the question?
  • How would your boss answer the question?
  • How would your staff answer the question?
  • How would your peers answer the question?
  • How would your customers answer the question?
Don't guess; find out. Because everyone HAS an impact, whether they realize it or not. Once you understand the kind of impact you're having, you can then decide if it's the kind of impact you want to be having.


Monday, October 24, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?

Imagine the 'dunking' process and compare that to what you see here. Sort of defies logic, doesn't it?!

So how do YOU defy logic with some of your actions? And if that's not what you mean to be doing ... make it right.


Monday, October 17, 2005

15 Networking Do's

from Networking Magic: Find the Best - from Doctors, Lawyers, and Accountants to Homes, Schools, and Jobs:
  1. Believe that networking will work.
  2. Target the right audience and approach the best individuals who can help and/or direct you to those who can.
  3. Make a strong first impression by being well-prepared.
  4. Network with those you emulate and don't be afraid to approach people whom you admire and who inspire you.
  5. Talk to everyone you meet and be genuinely friendly.
  6. Learn to read people and pay close attention to people's needs.
  7. Become a good listener and observe more than talk.
  8. Be willing to help and always be ready to give freely and generously.
  9. Be prepared in your subject area and be able to provide insightful answers to questions.
  10. Find common denominators, interests, objectives, and values which are solid bonds to builds strong networks and deeper, more lasting, relationships.
  11. Bring value to the table and always have ideas, suggestions, and insights to share.
  12. Be honest, courteous, and fair.
  13. follow up after you first meet someone.
  14. Keep referrers informed as you build relationships; keep your network referrers in the loop.
  15. Look at the big picture and past the momentary day-to-day activities that occupy your life.

My favorite saying that applies to networking is this one: "What goes around comes around." Send something good around by effectively networking with others, and good will come back around from the people in your network to you. But know that it's usually up to you to get things started.

So get started!

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Three Quick Pieces of Advice

  1. Act more quickly
  2. Document more precisely
  3. Be more decisive

Pick a problem you're facing - at work or in life - and try these three things. Chances are good you'll move from stuck to rockin' in no time flat.


Friday, October 07, 2005

WSJ zings Business Coaching

An article by Jared Sandberg called, "Some Office Coaches Whitewash Miseries with Sunny Platitudes" was published recently by the Wall Street Journal. In it were numerous examples of coaching-gone-bad, or more accurately, coaching-never-gone-good.

The thrust of the article seemed to be that many coaches - certainly the ones featured in it - don't seem to realize how ineffective they really are. Based on my read of the piece, Sandberg's conclusion is accurate. But I think there's a bigger point to be made. After all, EVERY profession has its share of dogs, losers, and train-wrecks. Coaching certainly has no lock on that.

I think that the bigger point is: Do your due diligence before hiring a coach.

To that end, I offer a sequel to the WSJ article and others like it - a primer called, How to Choose a Coach. In it, you'll find a simple, logical, step-by-step process. But for those of you who like to read the highlights first, here are the five steps:

  • Step 1 - Get clear about your 'What' and 'How'
  • Step 2 - What to look for in a Coach
  • Step 3 - The Interview or Sample Session
  • Step 4 - Look for that 'C-L-I-C-K' between you and your potential Coach.
  • Step 5 - Dollars and 'Sense'

While the primer was originally written for those interested in working with a life coach, the process works equally for choosing an executive coach, a career coach, a success coach, a business coach, and probably any other type of coach - even those that weren't bashed by the WSJ.

And if you're not yet ready to hire a coach, that's fine. Simply bookmark the primer so you can come back to it when you are.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

W.O.W. and Wow!

Okay, I can take a hint. First are the commercials that Volkswagen has been airing lately about their cars having refrigerated glove compartments ... to keep your sushi cold.

And now there's this from the Associated Press - Wako, Japan: Honda has designed a car that's dog friendly. The W.O.W. Concept (Wonderful, Open-hearted Wagon) uses a modified - and significantly enlarged - glove compartment to serve as a dog crate for your pup's safety, while providing excellent sight-lines between you, the driver, and your furry co-pilot.

So I decided to go visit my glove compartment to see what was going on in there. Happily, I found no sushi - although I did collect a fair amount of dog hair. (Angel, my yellow lab, loves car rides and does shed.) I also found some maps, the owner's manual, registration/insurance card, maintenance receipts, a really cool-looking pen ... hey, I was wondering where that went ... and quite a few napkins. Not much to speak of, really.

But with Honda and VW making better use of their glove compartments, I thought, hey, I could do that too. So I did. Inside my CR-V's glove compartment, I put ... wait for it ... a pair of GLOVES!
Sometimes we miss the obvious. So look around and see what you see. What's been going on that maybe you haven't been noticing? What makes you go, "Wow! I didn't know that." And what, if anything, do you now want to do about it?