Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ideas are great. Except when they're not.

   Back when I was running Omega I had a brilliant idea. If we offered recorded statements on our investigations, we'd pick up a nice chuck of extra revenue and profit on many of the assignments we got. I did my best "idiots math". If we only get assignments on 20% of the cases, it will be so awesome, because 20% x the number of investigations x the $$$ for each statement is BIG MONEY. Duhhh. 

   In fairness (to me of course) this was a line of business related to what we did (investigations) and would be pretty easy to sell to our clients. The problem was pretty simple. We sucked at doing recorded statements. Add to that a complete lack of a coherent training program, as well as no real software tools to monitor quality, and you have a classic business screw up. 

   Obviously we should have had all those pieces in place BEFORE we launched. But we were blinded by overconfidence and seduced by the money. Everyone, including some very smart people (not me) were all on board for this idea. In the heat of the moment (or the meeting) it's easy to let enthusiasm get the better of you. People truly assume someone is thinking about the downside, unless nobody is, which can easily happen.

   A secondary screw up is the attention this diverted from what we were already expert in, surveillance. We could crank out surveillance. We had rapid quality recruiting, awesome training, great investigators, superb software. We had it all. Ramp up the demand for it, and we'd meet it. 

   If we'd devoted our time to selling more of what we were good at, we would not have failed. We'd have made an almost certain increase in both sales and profits. So why didn't we? 

   We were looking for adventure. Excitement. The thought of simply expanding our existing offerings was subconsciously boring. So boring that it wasn't discussed. Conversely the new business was so exciting, we assumed our competence would extend through osmosis to this new line of work. WRONG.

   From small businesses to large businesses this situation is common. People selling B2B decide consumers would be such better clients...or vice versa. The ease with which we drift from our circle of competence is frightening. You might ask why I didn't know better. I thought I did. Really. I wasn't THAT guy. 

   The lesson to me is very clear. Stick with what you know until sticking is stupid. Tread into new waters with the absolute greatest trepidation. There will be opportunities, and they should be taken advantage of, but put someone in charge of figuring out why you're wrong. Really. Make it someone's assignment to shoot a torpedo in any new idea you have. 

   While I agree with, and frequently post quotes about, the thinking that it is trying things and making mistakes that lead us to grow, it's good to balance that with some deliberation and caution. There is an exhilaration of the "new" that is very seductive. So it's important to remember: Ideas are great. Except when they're not.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why should you buy the book "Alphabet Success"?

   1) At $4.99, it's less than a Big Mac meal, of considerably more long-term value, and has zero calories.

   2) It's 78 pages. Very short, likely a twook (a tweet-like book). One of the major decisions in buying a book is what are you going to get out of it, esp. in relation to the time invested.

   3) The return on investment from my book is pretty much a guaranteed positive, provided you read it and apply it. There's is nothing in the book that cannot be done by "mortals". 

   4) The book in comprised of nine lessons, each told using an acronym to help remember it, and includes what I consider essential elements of succeeding, in anything.

   5) So, click anywhere here to get started.

   Thank you. Please let me know what you think. Feedback is awesome. 

PS - Yes, it's a Kindle book. Kindle has FREE software to read the book on any smart phone, tablet as well as PCs and MACs. It can be downloaded from Android for related tablets, iTunes for iPads and MACs by clicking here. Please let me know if you have trouble.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Be concise, be brief, be quiet...

    Here's a thought for those writing or considering writing blogs.

    Seth Godin is the most widely read business blogger. His entries are remarkably short yet resonant.

    We're NOT wildly popular thought leaders, so why would people spend MORE time reading our lengthy blog post than they do reading the top blogger? (pause for the obvious)  Exactly!

    Pick a single point. Make it and move on. Less is more.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    (For more on this concept, read entry "#Twog, a brick of trust")

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I'm so mad I might have a opportunity!

   Had a recent experience sitting on hold, waiting in a line, perhaps struggling with some packaging?

   Those experiences are all opportunities. Places where someone made a decision to value the short term profit of their business over your time.They could have hired more people to handle your call, more personnel to deal with a long line, or designed packaging that could be easily opened.

   All those are an opportunity, as are many many other situations you encounter in your day to day life. When there is a gap between your desired experience and the one presented by a business there is an opportunity.

   There will be far too many opportunities for you to act on, even if you wanted to. However, you may find that once you realize this, you begin noticing more and more instances where a slight alteration in a business process could have yielded an amazing experience. You may even stop getting mad as you'll be too busy observing.

   Have a great day. Watch out, there are opportunities everywhere!