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Corporate Governance

13 Dec



Non-Profit Corporate Governance: The Rotary

December 13, 2006 | By | 2 Comments


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Alexis de Tocqueville In the United States associations are established to promote the public safety, commerce, industry, morality, and religion, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America.

If Tocqueville were driving today into Anytown, U.S. of A., the first road sign he might see would be for local Rotary. And he would not be surprised at the mission of this civic organization.


The Business Monthly ‘Service Above Self’

In 1905, attorney Paul P. Harris gathered three friends together in downtown Chicago as professionals with common interests for the common good. The group expanded and began to rotate meetings among members’ offices, lending the name of “Rotary,” with a wagon wheel (now the familiar cogwheel) as the logo. As the membership grew, they realized that internal networking was not enough. Harris wanted to serve more than just that group.

Rotary International is recognized as the world’s first service club. The organization’s first contribution to the community was a horse. A local preacher’s “transportation” died and the congregation could not afford another. The Rotary stepped in. Harris’s Rotary then built the first public restroom in Chicago and the Rotary began to grow.

Rotary members donate their time, talent and treasure to the local communities.

Succession Management…


Thank you (foot)notes:

This article was orginally published in The Business Monthly as Rotary Governance this year.

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13 Nov



The Best Company Structure in Four Easy Steps

November 13, 2006 | By | 3 Comments

Our business schools teach that structure follows strategy. And this big stuff is important to know.


by Hugh MacLeod But what Your Business Blogger most often sees is where the boss misses the basic questions — the easy stuff.

Such as,

What is the business owner’s most common company-structure challenge?

In our egalitarian new-age of Aquarius where we are all equal to each other and the boss considers the individual input of each of her employees to be the equal of her own or anybody else.

After all, we are all family here.

This, of course, is nonsense.

(Unless you are all family.)

Anyway, companies should be designed on the old-fashioned hierarchical organizational chart so that praise can easily flow up. And the heart-burn can flow easily down.

Your Business Blogger is noticing a horrific pattern where the owner would have direct, non-stop communication with Every. Single. Employee.

This is a well-known time waster, that some business owners employ instead of managing the time of the employee. This abomination is known as an,

Open Door Policy

Which leaves the harried business owner at the mercy of his minions who’d stubble by to cry about a missing cat or babble about a boyfriend.

Not that I could ever tell the difference when I was a company President. That whining all sounded the same.

The business owner must remember that he is the center of the universe. And if he forgets, he must pay someone to remind him. These rented friends are called consultants.

And Your Rented Friend, Your Business Blogger, will remind you (you may not need to be taught, you might only need to be reminded) that You Are The Apex.

Now, yes, you are the center of the universe. But let us elevate you, the business owner, the harried manager away from the center of the circle to the top of the triangle.

The best management structure is a pyramid, not a wagon wheel.

The wagon wheel has you, the boss in the center with the many, many spokes coming directly to the hub. The spokes are the employees, each with a direct line to the boss. This is not good. Your management team — usually made up of cronies and boot-lickers — is bypassed and ignored. Why talk with the first line supervisor? When entry-level nobodies and interns can walk through The Big Guy’s Open Door and shoot the breeze. As if all were equal.

As If.

The amateur boss soon becomes an armature spinning in circles.

But not now. Not after reading this article.

The best structure is a pyramid with the business owner at the tippy top with a few, no more than ten, direct reports. The employee wanting to bother and waste the time of the boss will have to crawl over layers of managers before getting to you, the owner.

Whose Door Is Always Open. Because Employees Are Our Most Important Asset.

(Yes, you can keep that silly policy, but with luck no one will get close enough to you to use it.)

So here’s your 4 step by step guide to moving from the hub and spoke to the triangular pyramid, pointing, reaching to the sky.

First. Appoint a deputy. A second in command. A chief of staff whose job is the management of your most valuable resource: your discretionary management time. It could be your secretary. Right-hand man or Girl Friday — your hatchet person.

Second. Put each business function in a box. Every action and process in to a discrete description. An organization chart box with hard edges with one single line going in. And if a manager, no more than 10 lines going out. Then,

Third. Put employees in a box and a label. Just as you would any commodity which/who could be easily replaced. Remember what that famous Frenchman Charles de Gaulle said, The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

And finally, Fourth. Close your door.

The best company structure is a pyramid shaped org chart. Get yourself at the top to be on top of your business.


Thank you (foot)notes: Management Training Tip: Time is your most valuable possession.

17 Aug



Hiring Super Stars vs Tolerating Turkeys

August 17, 2006 | By | 2 Comments

Microsoft has one real point measurement for hiring.


Your Business Blogger has hired (computer) coders, sales reps…and government bureaucrats.

When given the option of head count and budget flexibility, I always recommended to my managers to hire the most expensive talent possible — the Super Stars.

Even when hiring government workers.

Into Good and Evil reminds us that when talent really counts, when talent determines life and death, who would get hired? He points us to Professor Kingsley Browne in The Ace and the Turkeys,

“Given the cognitive and temperamental patterns required, it is not surprising to find that the ability to fly aircraft successfully in combat is an ability that not many have. Indeed, it is not an ability that even all combat pilots have. Aviation analysts recognize that the majority of combat kills are scored by a small minority of pilots. Mike Spick has observed: “The gulf between the average fighter pilot and the successful one is very wide. In fact it is arguable that there are almost no average fighter pilots; just aces and turkeys; killers and victims.”

Fighter pilots, like sales guys in a role playing exercise, can practice and give a passable presentation, but,

As one Air Force pilot stated, “Most guys can master the mechanics of the systems, but it’s instinctive to be able to assimilate all the data, get a big picture, and react offensively. Not a lot of guys can do that.”

But the Air Force has a challenge most sales managers don’t: Separating the Aces from the Turkeys,

Ideally, one would have only “aces” or “killers,” leaving the “turkeys” and “victims” to another career path. The difficulty lies, however, in the fact that there is no known way to separate the aces and the turkeys prior to combat. Unfortunately, many of those who will end up being turkeys often do not know what they are getting into. These pilots may have the ability, intelligence, and know-how to fly the plane well, but they ultimately lack the “fighting spirit” that they will need in combat. ”

(Buffalo Law Review,Winter, 2001, 49 Buffalo L. Rev. 51,Women at War: An Evolutionary Perspective By Kingsley R. Browne)

But the hiring manager does have an advantage over an Air Force Wing Commander, the civilian Ace has a track record of Kills.

The best indication of future performance is past performance. Our armed forces are hampered by looking only to recent combat or aerial engagements — and there aren’t that many of those dogfights. The hiring manager has different metrics of combat measures for top business talent. Eat what you kill. Who had produced the best numbers?

In this human resource practice and strategy, there are down-sides as Anita Campbell, my editrix at Small Business Trends citing the Trizoko Biz Journal mentions. She and others make the valid point that Super Star and Aces are nearly impossible to manage. And, indeed, can only be managed by Super Star managers.

But if these crazy iconoclasts can be harnessed, a big ‘if’ to be sure, big numbers are sure to follow. For example, when I had a modest software company, I learned the hard way that a one genius coder was worth a half dozen coders. And not because he (and he was usually a ‘he’) was faster, but that his work was nearly bug-free. Which saved me from hiring three coders just to patch.


With my sales teams, Pareto’s 80/20 Principle always played out. But the top guy, usually a deviant was always a standard deviation above the norm. My #1 sales guy was sometimes double the sales of #2, the rest of the sales team on the long tail. That #1 guy drove me nuts. But I loved his numbers.

And government bureaucrats? Goodness. I once had an agency head ‘lose’ a $100 million department. It was necessary to find it for obvious political reasons, but we only became aware of the lost unit because I was working the Y2K rollover and really needed to find all the laptops. We finally found it. Hidden away, quietly working away. And there were lots of good excuses why it was floating alone off on its own org chart, in its own universe. How they got paid is outside the scope of this post. I was assured that it was not illegal.

So Anita and Trizoko Biz are right, Super Stars are a pain.

But I wonder how many $100 million business units are lost. And could be found with a few dozen more IQ points.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Your Business Blogger’s columns appear in Small Business Trends on Tuesdays and Small Business Trends Radio on Fridays. Please tune in.

16 Feb



Who are you and why should I care? The First Rule in Referrals

February 16, 2006 | By | 2 Comments


Tip O’NeillTip O’Neill was a master politician. And people always wanted favors from the former Speaker of the House. Before a visitor would come a-calling, Tip would tell his staff,

“Don’t take nobody, nobody brought.

Tip found it best to bestow favors only on the advice of a known, trusted third party.

The vector — the connector, would be known to both Tip and known to the supplicant. Introductions made. Wheels greased. The fix in.

The Irish know how to do these things. Tip O’Neill. Ronald Reagan. Chris Matthews.

And Sam Ingersoll.

Last night I was on the phone with Sam. He has a compelling case for not killing kids. With Down Syndrome.

Like his son.

Sam’s site is terrific. The flash demo will make you cry. Emotion sells.

But I didn’t know who Sam was. Or anybody that knew him.

How was my suggestion of any currency — donations, links, recommendations — going to reflect on my reputation? And the credibility of Charmaine and groups with which we may have some influence.

So I suggested to Sam that he name names. An informal Board of Advisors on his site. An easy avenue for due diligence beyond Googling.

People who could vouch for Sam. Who could provide connections to Sam.

What the Chinese call guanxi. Personal connections; social capital.

Sam is now assembling a Board of Advisors.

(Unlike a Board of Directors, Advisors don’t need Directors and Officers insurance — however Advisors’ advice doesn’t have to be taken either.)

Sam is doing the right things — Which is Leadership defined.

Now Sam is doing things right — Which is Management defined.

For his son Gabriel. Making the world a better place.

Visit Gabriel’s Angel Network and donate.


Was this helpful? Do comment.

Consider a free eMail subscription for this site.

Thank you (foot)notes:

Also see Pro-Life Blogs.

What if you needed access to a ‘Tip O’Neill’? How would you get the appointment? See Find a Friend. A pro uses intermediaries.

More on Tip O’Neill at the jump.

See Don Surber’s Best Posts.

A DC Birding Blog is hosting the Carnival of the Vanities for 22 Feb.

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