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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stonekettle Station’s List of Things You Shouldn’t Have to Tell Business Leaders

Business.

Like you, these days I hear a lot of things about business.

Particularly I hear a lot of things about American business and what we can do to make more of it, more product, more jobs, more money, more opportunity, more business. You hear it on street corners among the unemployed. You heard it during the recent elections. The new Congress has gone on and on about it – and then focused on denying Americans access to healthcare and making sure a handful of women don’t get government funded abortions.

The President focused on it during the last State of the Union address.

Talk of business dominates the media.

No wonder, of course, it’s been a bad decade for American business, this first ten years of the new century – which is damned peculiar if you think about it as American business usually thrives under a Conservative wartime administration.  The country may go to hell, as it did during Vietnam, but business – especially those who supply the beans and bullets – more often than not make out like bandits.

Well, until the economy tanks, that is.

During Vietnam, that implosion didn’t happen until the mid 70’s, after the conflict was over and the bill for a decade of war came due – right about the same time OPEC began flexing its muscles.  We went into a  fairly ugly recession but it didn’t really last all that long. Energy prices and consumption reached a new balance and the country, including business, had enough capital reserve at all levels that we could recover pretty quickly without any great loss of prosperity. Things really got cooking when Reagan arrived in Washington and cranked the military/industrial complex back up to 11.  He could do that, mostly because America was between shooting wars at the time.  Of course, Reagan was borrowing against the future, betting that the expanding economy would create enough wealth to pay the bill on his investment.  It didn’t, and we’re still paying premiums on that dead horse, but it sounded good at the time and for a while there it even looked like he might pull it off. Instead it turned out to be the classic Ponzi scam, as usual.

This time around, however, the shit hit the fan early on in the conflict.   We were already hip deep in two wars when the housing bubble burst.   Exacerbating the situation is the type of conflict we are fighting, i.e. a war of pacification. It’s a war of boots on the ground, of occupation, small arms and body armor and individual citizen soldiers and of hearts and minds. It’s a war of remotely operated drones and smart weapons and ideas.  What that translates to is that the usual self-licking ice-cream cone of the military/industrial complex that would during a more traditional conflict drive the economy and keep a large workforce of American businesses happily cranking out ships and tanks and bombers, is instead not hiring. Or rather, they are hiring only a small cadre of highly specialized technicians instead of the massive semi-skilled workforce they once would have.  This war costs the country just as much, if not more, than a traditional conflict – without even the momentary economic benefit of a wartime workforce or huge plus-up in military forces to draw off the unemployed. It’s making a small handful of very large defense contractors richer, but that war expenditure isn’t trickling down very far. Lay that on top of the Wall Street implosion, which managed to destroy not only the Monopoly money created in the mortgage bubble but a significant chunk of America’s real wealth too.  The astounding thing was how many Wall Street firms were nothing but smoke and mirrors, empty shells like a Hollywood movie set made up almost entirely of that same Monopoly money, when the bubble burst they didn’t just go bankrupt, they evaporated.

Some of these old and venerated companies, companies such as Lehman Brothers, were, in the end, no more real than Enron or those billion-dollar DotComs that consisted of little more than a couple of Power Point slides, a handful of longhairs, and a Ping-Pong table.  Nothing they built lasted, if indeed they actually built anything at all. When the bubbles burst they simply vanished without a trace – no different than those fly-by-night telephone scam operations whose offices are an endless series of false fronts and fleabag motel rooms.  Most of the their white collar workforce ended up on the street, but the CEOs? The CAO’s? The COOs? The movers and shakers? Sure, someday they might even be held accountable. Someday.  But, most? Well, they just moved on to other offices and other businesses and learned not one damned thing.

And why should they? Business rewards the very executives who destroyed those self same companies – and will destroy the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. See, because most of them just don’t care. Unlike the titans of industry of years past, this generation of jackasses does not build, they don’t make, they don’t create, they leave no legacy. They take.  Ultimately, this mindset will destroy American business, because these so-called executives are teaching the next generation to be just as greedy and self-serving and as destructive as they are. 

The lesson of Wall Street is this: Get while the getting is good, get rich, get out, and let the peons deal with the resulting mess.

There are a lot of things that can be done to turn around this downward spiral, but much of it depends on teaching the next generation of business leaders, embedding in them things that should be self obvious to every business executive, but apparently are not:

- If you show no loyalty to your employees, you have no right whatsoever to expect any loyalty in return.  Period. There was a time when people expected to work at a single company their whole lives, so why don’t they anymore? Because if you act like a mercenary, so will your employees. Because if you treat your employees like the enemy, they’ll will be the enemy.  If you don’t trust your employees, they won’t be trustworthy.  And most especially if you engage in unethical behavior, so will your employees – you steal from investors, your employees will steal from you. You’re the leader, your people are a reflection of you.

First Corollary: If your people hate coming to work, they’ll find excuses not to work. 

Second Corollary:  You can’t do more with less, the only thing you do with less is less.  Your people need tools, training, and assets. Give it to them, even if you have to pay for it out of your bonus.

- Build a better mouse trap. The world is full of crappy products and crappy customer service.  If a customer wants crap, they can always find it cheaper elsewhere.  If you want people to beat a path to your door, don’t make crap. The product matters.  Your customers don’t give a good goddamn about your process, they are interested in only one thing: Product. Quality matters. People will pay more for it. Customers will seek it out. Reputation matters most especially. Lose yours, and the end is near.

First Corollary: If you produce a faulty product, make good on it promptly.  Admitting your mistakes, and then fixing them, will do more for your bottom line than any other single thing you can do. Period.

- Motivational Posters have never motivated anybody. Ever. That’s your job.  If you put up motivational posters, you’re basically saying that you can be replaced by a piece of cardboard printed with a trite slogan (and you probably have other bad habits too). Something else, Motivational posters are insulting – and not just because you spent $120 on a framed picture of two guys in a canoe while your people have to scrape for office supplies to do their jobs. You’d motivate them more if you ordered the whole office pizza for lunch and used the remainder to stock the supply closet.

- If you don’t invest in your company’s future, your company doesn’t have a future. 

- You can innovate, or you can talk about innovating. To paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur, you can’t bomb half a bridge. Either innovate or don’t. If you innovate, fund it, follow through, or don’t innovate because you’re just wasting company assets.

First Corollary: There’s nothing worse than an outfit that spastically keeps changing direction.

- If you acquire a failing business, don’t adopt their business model.

- Business consultants have no interest whatsoever in improving your business. Seriously, if your business was running smoothly, you wouldn’t be giving them money, would you?

- Suck-ups, Kiss-Asses, and Yes-Men make lousy managers, don’t cultivate them.

First Corollary: If your people are only telling you what you want to hear, you should start worrying immediately.

- If you outsource technical expertise and capability, you’re capitalizing your competition. There was a time in America when big manufactures made most of their product components themselves.  Then came a concept called RONA, Return on Net Assets, it’s a ratio – the ratio of profit to company assets.  In simple terms: If you can maintain a steady level of income while at the same time significantly reducing company assets, you massively increase profit – which was the original idea behind outsourcing.  This goes wrong any number of ways (not including the loss of jobs at home), but the worst is when an industry ends up creating their own replacement, which basically describes American manufacturing’s relationship to Asia. First they make the car parts. Pretty soon they stop making car parts, and start making cars. Eventually they realize they don’t need you anymore. Ditto computers. Ditto everything else.

- Beware the serial CEO.

- Don’t teach your grandmother how to suck eggs, i.e. MBA’s shouldn’t be making engineering decisions, or telling programmers how to code, or making medical treatment decisions, or etc and so on. Being fluent in jargon does not equal actual knowledge or experience. You have experts for a reason, listen to them.  If you’ve outsourced all your expertise, better learn to speak Chinese.

- Nobody ever understood a subject from looking at a couple of Power Point slides.

- Meetings don’t produce solutions. Good meetings identify problems and outline issues.  Problems are solved after the meeting by two guys shooting the shit in the hallway.  If you encourage people to talk to each other, you’ll have more solutions and less problems.

- If you spend most of your time in meetings, you’re not really doing anything. Just saying.

- Information Technology is a science, not an art. Hire actual IT people, degreed, certified, or otherwise credentialed.  Don’t hire your nephew just because he’s “good at that Facespace thing.”  IT is the core of modern business. IT makes you global. IT is the single most important division you have – don’t agree? Remember that when the federal regulators subpoena your email for the last three years.

First Corollary:  If you outsource IT, you’re giving an outsider full access to every single secret you have, make damned sure you know who you’re getting in bed with. Better yet, don’t outsource IT, hire good people and give them a reason to be loyal. Remember I said this when the federal regulators come knocking.

Second Corollary: There is nothing more debilitating to efficiency and the bottom line than a lousy database design.  Hire somebody who actually knows what they are doing and can prove it, pay them well, give them the tools they need. Make damned sure they listen to the users.

Third Corollary: Your webpage matters. It is your public face.  Hire somebody who actually knows what they are doing, i.e. a professional webpage designer.  Here’s how you tell: if the prospective designer enthusiastically agrees with your idea for a flaming, rotating logo that flashes in jittering colors and plays the company song written by your brother-in-law, don’t hire him.  Oh, and put your goddamned phone number on the top of every page in a large font.

Fourth Corollary:  Worry less about your employees surfing Craigslist on company time, and more about the fact that the most visited addresses detected by your nanny software are job search sites (or Wikileaks).

 

and finally and most importantly:

- You. Are. Not. Entitled. To.  A.  Bonus.

If you get one, make damned sure it’s because you earned it.

33 comments:

  1. Here are a couple more points.

    1. Don't have a meeting to plan meetings.

    2. Don't implement new computer software which everyone needs without testing the software with your end users.

    3. When you implement new software which sucks the green weinie, and you can't shit-can it because you spent next year's profit on it, listen to the enduser's suggestion and make the changes in a timely manner.

    4. Take your employee evaluation forms and stick it where the sun don't shine. Or better yet, fire them into the sun. All those stupid forms do is insult the people getting the evaluation and giving the evaluation.

    5. You should be very afraid if all of a sudden you find that you have hired a cadre of middle management to keep you isolated from the people who do the actual work in the company.

    6. Don't fucking lie to your employees. Let me repeat that, DO NOT FUCKING LIE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES. It is going to bite you in the ass and all you end up doing is coming up with more lies to cover the first lie.

    7. If you have a bully in the works then shit can the asshole. And just a note here, bully's do not always reside in the management position, you can have, crazy bitch clerk, who can completely destroy your pool of workers. Stand up to bully's and get rid of them, they will cost you a ton of money.

    8. Do not play favourites. You will regret it forever.

    Sorry Jim, I can go on and on. I have much history with this topic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So I noticed ;)

    Feel free to pile on.

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  3. Yes, this time one trillion point five.

    daggen: a game played with japanese daggers by germans.

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  4. If you don’t trust your employees, they won’t be trustworthy.

    First Corollary: If your people hate coming to work, they’ll find excuses not to work.


    Even if they are otherwise enthusiastic, compenent, honest and hardworking.

    I hate being treated as anything other than the competent highly-trained professional that I am. Being treated like an untrustworthy idiot makes me act like one, much as I also hate that trend and try to fight it.

    Unpacked, being treated as if I'm not a professional makes me resentful and surly, which makes me have to struggle more to do my job, or to want to do my job, which I otherwise quite like.

    [Please note: I do it anyway, accomplish what I'm expected to, and get good reviews. But I complain and resist and hate coming to work. And I don't give anything extra.]

    If you encourage people to talk to each other, you’ll have more solutions and less problems.

    Heh. We have an institutional culture preventing that, supported and encouraged by boss. Who just sat in a meeting with a higher boss and blamed the whole culture on two people who've left.

    IT is the core of modern business. IT makes you global. IT is the single most important division you have – don’t agree?

    My 60-person lab has no formal IT support, just a couple of poor untrained schmucks the job has been dumped upon. That's a brilliant use of scientist time, don't you think? IT support for the rest of the lab, instead of the things for which those people are highly-trained and highly-paid? [Highly-paid being relative in this case, as most of us could make roughly twice as much in industry.]

    And our website sucks.

    I'm feeling oddly reluctant to mention where I actually work, though I think the regulars all know. Let's just say it's a branch of a large government Department.

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  5. Man these hit home. Just left a job for a lot of the above reasons. Sharing this!

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  6. Dammit. I suppose if I were actually competent, I could both spell competent and remember to check the box for email comments.

    I blame poor management around here and a toxic blog culture. So there.

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  7. I think you need a motivational poster, Phiala.

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  8. So true, Jim. That should fix me right up.

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  9. Heh, I read this NY Times article just before I saw this. The end part about corporations goes well with it.

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  10. Thanks for that link MWT, very interesting stuff

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  11. All true. Thank you.

    I will purposely spend more to do business with a company employing humans in a local office who have to talk to me directly in person until they fix their mistakes on my accounts, because almost every account I have for any kind of business makes mistakes these days.

    Also, I will spend more to buy from a company that has a very liberal return policy to make up for all of the crappy retail goods they all sell; the goods are crappy and problematic no matter how expensive they are.

    In fact, we paid a little more in fees to take out a mortgage with a local credit union that promised not to sell our loan (our other credit union does sell their loans, and we refuse to do business with banks). It was important to me because I'd been ripped off for both my school loans and my daughter's. We were charged bogus fees and interest attached but could never get them to admit to or find their mistakes, even after I spent countless hours pouring through our records to find the mistakes for them. Each company claimed they'd inherited the record as it was and refused to remove the pirate charges.

    During that same period, a friend was abused royally by a lender with no local office that made one mistake on her record, and then refused to clear it up without a fight. By the time she got the lender to write a letter admitting to the mistake, it was too late and she had to accept another mortgage at a higher interest rate. That one mistake on her record will cost her many thousands of dollars. When possible, I want to do business with locals who have to look me in the eye.

    Next, will you write about how condescending and misleading all those do-gooder public service ads are? They make me want to kick my TV in every time one comes on. It isn't okay with me that grant money and government agencies are used to mislead with sloppy pseudo-stats, no matter how righteous one believes his or her cause to be. The end does not justify the means.

    Like I said, they make me want to kick the TV in, but I just yell at the TV instead.

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  12. "Or rather, they are hiring only a small cadre of highly specialized technicians ..." Hey, thanks. I appreciate that. Oh, wait...

    Also, hire people smarter than you. Give them interesting work to do. Expect big things from them and don't let them ship oars and drift.

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  13. Oh, I just love this one. Can I add?

    The dweeb who told you that customers can magically answer their own questions through your new multi-million-dollar automated phone system needs to have his merchandise shoved all the way up into his small intestine. When I hear some computer telling me to listen carefully, because your menu options have changed, and I begin to stab the '0' button through the back of my handset, some phone on some human's desk had better start ringing, and there better be someone who speaks fluent English there to answer it. The only reason I'm calling is because I've already hit your website (assuming you have one) and read the FAQ, and what I don't want at this point is to have Molly Microsoft reading it out for me all over again.

    Failure to heed this rule is only going to cause me to come down to your local office/store/place of business and I'm not going to be easy to deal with when I get there.

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  14. Awesome post Jim, I live in the very environment you speak of! I recognized every talking point as crap that I have had to endure for the last 12 years.

    There was a point in those 12 years that I became truly aware of the type of business model I had exposed myself to. Ever heard of the book, "Who Moved My Cheese?"?

    This book made me all too aware of the fact that I was now being treated like a rat.

    Yeah...

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  15. Jim,

    You're playing in my ballpark now. While usually I agree with you wholeheartedly, this time I think you miss the mark several times.

    Here's one point with which I disagree.

    While during the normal workweek I play a salaryman within the military-industrial complex, at night and on weekends I don my superhero costume and save companies. Yes I am a business consultant.

    And I care passionately about improving my clients' businesses. Knowledge transfer is baked into my business model. In fact, in my consulting company's published "run rules" that all consultants agree to follow, it expressly says that our goal is to work ourselves out of a job.

    Just sayin'.

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  16. Nick, over two decades in the MIC I've met dozens, if not hundreds, of consultants, the majority of which were worthless assholes.

    They droppped in, sucked up huge amounts of our time telling us why we were doing everything wrong, gave us lectures on the management snakeoil of the week, collected huge fees, and then vanished into the night never to be seen again.

    My personal horror was the decade of TQL, when an endless parade of "Quality" witch-doctors and juju-magic men chanting Demming's bullshit jargon held us prisoner and forced upon us a steady and relentless diet of gantt charts and fishbone diagrams and magically incantations of "Process" and "Product." That idiotic nonsense has cost this country untold billions in lost hours and consulting fees.

    I've seen everything from TQL to those assinine workshops were a bunch of perky 20-something Barbie and Ken-dolls in matching T-shirts make you build a fort out of couch cushions and role play idiotic management scenarios that they themselves had absolutely no experience with.

    I do understand that there are consultants who truly do attempt to work themselves out of a job, but Nick, in my experience those are few and far between.

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    Replies
    1. Jim, Nick,

      Based on my experience on both sides of the fence, it's not very difficult to successfully get your money's worth out of consultants. Unfortunately very few organizations make use of the following simple approach:

      Make your "consultants" *contract temporary employees* with concrete goals, timelines and budgets for which they are accountable. Do NOT engage them as advisors. Even better, if possible, make the "consultants" their own profit center and tie their compensation to the performance of the profit center.

      There is an old joke which runs:

      A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road. The Chicken says, "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!". Pig replies, "Hm, maybe, what would we call it?". The Chicken responds, "How about 'ham-n-eggs'?". The Pig thinks for a moment and says, "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved!"

      In the "Agile Methodology" culture which is currently sweeping the software industry, it's common for everyone associated with a project to be identified as either a Chicken or a Pig, and only Pigs get to sit at the table when decisions are being made.

      The implication of this practice is that any senior management who feel they have a right to a seat at the table had better have an active project champion role or else they should go mind their knitting and let their designated champion handle things. Likewise, any supposedly active contributors to the project (developers, consultants, product managers, etc.) who wind up identified as chickens should be cut from the project immediately since they have no incentive to actually make the project a success.

      Delete
  17. Amen to that brother Jim. What we need is a Consultectomy in a big way. And they shouldn't piss around with those small lumpectomies, in order to get the cancer they have to cut off the whole boob!

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  18. I've a relative who works at such a job, as a consultant hired to investigate problems and provide recommendations for improving companies, and like Nick from the O.C. he sincerely tries to help companies save themselves. His experience, however, is that when push comes to shove, there is often an entrenched culture within the company that refuses to make changes. Of course it always exists in the trenches, but even at the top, after paying those expensive fees for the advice, someone can't handle it and the consultant is suddenly the bad guy.

    As for what you, Jim, describe (like building forts from couch cushions. lol), I suffered through those sort of contrived activities in college and professional education workshops provided by the employer/s. I hate them. As soon as the butcher paper and colored pens come out, I know I'm in for time-wasting, demeaning misery. My peers enjoying them were invariably people who lived for process without caring a bit about conclusions and outcomes.

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  19. Hate hate hate consultants.

    Long ago at Avantek (provider of microwave components) was doing a looong downhill slide. In come the consultants to teach us TQM so we can meet Motorola's 6 sigma qualification.

    Instead of segregating the classes by expertise, we had sessions with technicians and engineers having to sit through a consultant teaching people how to place points on a Cartesian grid. Seriously. These guys had no idea what our products and markets were, either. So the poster paper and marker scenarios were worthless.

    Here's another hint for business - don't dismiss grousing for Bitching, Moaning, and Whining (BMW). We're trying to tell you where the problems are.

    Brigham finally drove the corporation into the ground, and we were bought by HP. In the process of due diligence, they discovered that the senior management had no clue where the cash flow was going. For instance, we were spending large amounts of money on a building that had about 30% utilization.

    Sorry for the windiness, but it's a pet peeve of mine.

    Kim

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  20. From Connie Willis' Bellwether,

    Meeting Survival Rule Number One:
    Always be out going to the bathroom during sensitivity exercises.

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  21. Linked here from the Mudflats. Nice to see that someone read Sun Tzu rather than the usual MBA syllabus. Say what you want about ADM Zumwalt, his reading list for naval leaders was worth the work.

    You are a writer, keep it up. I'll join you if you want to conquer the universe.

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  22. In my profession, Sun Tze was required reading.

    I should mention: I'm married to an MBA, and a damned fine one too.

    And while I said that MBA's shouldn't be making engineering decisions, the converse is also often true, i.e. engineers often make lousy business managers. Doctors often suck at running hospitals. And nobody should ever invest in a company run by IT geeks.

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  23. Great article. I do have one point to add:

    Do not, under any circumstances, tell new employees that you "value their experience and welcome their input" and then turn around and ignore any suggestions they may offer regarding improvements to efficiency, production, cutting waste, etc.

    When you perform the above action, you are not only depriving your company of my years of experience, you are also telling me that said experience means nothing because it was not accrued at your company. This is a quick and effective way to motivate me to continue the search for a job where the most common response to the question "why are you working in an inefficient, backward, dangerous, and all around wrong way?" does not trigger the response "we always done it this way."

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  24. Converse of what Pbluuz said,

    I have a friend who was interviewing to be the Costume Designer on a movie (present day, set in NYC), and the Producer said something to the effect that costumes wouldn't be anything special on the show and "he could do them himself if he had the time."

    My friend suggested he hire someone's unemployed nephew, since he'd be cheap and "time on your hands" seemed to be the only job qualification.

    Telling someone their expertise isn't needed is a great way to inspire somebody's best work.

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  25. Between TQL, Covey, and Six Sigma, I'm suprised that U.S. business is doing as well as it is. There are some outstanding things to learn in these three business philosophies, but most of them can only be learned in the negative (i.e., what not to do). There is 5% of each that is actually useful in the positive sense.

    I can only think that U.S. business is still alive because most people who really get things done ignore the 95% of each of those which is pure schlock.

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  26. "First Corollary: There’s nothing worse than an outfit that spastically keeps changing direction." In one sentence you have just described the crux of the problem with our educational system. I know that's an oversimplification, but it rings pretty true nonetheless.

    "Don’t teach your grandmother how to suck eggs". Well, now you are implying that you understand that veteran teachers are a valuable asset in educating children.

    "Nobody ever understood a subject from looking at a couple of Power Point slides." Has someone been telling you about some of the more typical educational staff development and/or educational information sessions that educational decision-makers (e.g., people who have generally never actually walked a mile in a classroom teacher's shoes) sit through?

    Education cannot be run like a business but it's quite interesting to see the relationship between a bad business model and what's going on in education today. And kind of scary.

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  27. I'd like to add a couple of small notions if I may....

    a) If you want to improve your product, ask your support staff what is wrong with it. They know, because they talk everyday with the people who use your product and complain about its deficiencies.

    b) If you're going to run/manage a company, have a clue/buy a vowel/get an idea on what your company actually does and who their clientele is.... Too much upper and middle management are associated with the "one management style fits all" school. Coding medical software isn't going to thrive using the same business model as manufacturing sports equipment.

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  28. I'll chime my general agreement with your post, but in my experience (I'm an IT guy), the finest IT gurus are often found with no credentials. Most bore too easily with mundane studies, however valuable, and have long since realized that after you take the time to bake a certification cake, it's already stale and moldy. The really difficult job is finding the rock they're hiding under so you can offer them a job.

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  29. Here's one for the list. Despite all arguments to the contrary, it's a good idea to promote people who know the job rather than hiring people from outside who don't know the job. It infuriates your veteran employees who then have to train the person in actual boots-on-the ground operations. On top of their regularly scheduled workload. For no extra pay.

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  30. Janet the Candle LadyOctober 25, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    First, I'd like to say that I'm glad I found your blog, Jim. My husband and I have been agreeing and laughing all evening.

    I'm choosing to comment on this post because it has hit me very strongly tonight. I'm a business owner. Well, a one lady business really. I'm also young, stubborn, and don't have a college education by choice.

    I honestly can't tell you how much my own mindset has changed since starting my own business. I make candles (yes, of all things, but I enjoy it.) I started because of so many of the reasons you've posted here. Quality is a big one in my line of work. And customer service plays in quite often as well. I hate seeing so many businesses trod on their customers and employees just in the name of making an extra buck. You won't stay in business long that way.

    I come from a background in customer service. I used to work as a night auditor in a casino hotel. The way that company ran literally makes me sick to even think about it. It was tribal run, which isn't always a bad thing. However in this case, it was a situation of "how do I make more money for me?" and not one of "let's bring in more gambling clients so we can keep the light bill on." I ended up on a tribal member's bad side for being too honest and got canned. I'm not surprised. Also, last I heard, the same casino is looking at bankruptcy soon.

    I'll also put in a comment about Iron Bess' first reply. "Don't fucking lie to your employees." Also don't lie to your customers. That one can be a vicious cycle. Sure it may not be a good thing to tell your customer that "oops I am shipping the order late because I couldn't afford to get the supplies to make it" or other comparable excuse, but be honest. It's much like the old excuse of "Oh the check's in the mail." It doesn't help and certainly won't get repeat business out of someone.

    And the thing about consultants, oh yes. We've had a couple come through offering help on how to set up my business to maximize my profits, ect. I luckily had enough sense to not go down that route. I had a friend in another line of business that was contacted by the same group tell me that it seemed the company was more of an outsourcing facility. They wanted her to contract out to China (go figure, huh?) for her supplies and product manufacturing, because it would be cheaper per piece. They didn't tell her that the quality would be about 1/100 of her current quality.

    I haven't seen a point yet that I disagree with. I'm sure there will be one eventually, but I look forward to having discussions with you and the other regulars here.

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  31. I told the manage this project is not going to meet the deadline. It is simply not going to work. Just based on my 30 some years of software development, mind you.

    "You aren't being a team player."

    The project flopped a few months later. My part worked fine but there were parts that simply did not, and could not, work as intended.

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  32. What applies to large business applies equally well to small. I work at a company that is in a screaming dive to oblivion and the owner does not have a clue. She can not wrap her head around the following:

    Just because you make money today, doesn't mean you will next week.

    Intangible costs are often your biggest costs. Lost revenue is still a cost.

    In a service business REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING!

    This women does everything you comment on and then some. Lies to her employees. Changes her mind every thirty seconds. Comes up with rules that she or her friend manager breaks instantly. Doesn't supply essential items so employees can do their jobs, and tells employees that the customer "Will never know the difference." (Ha! They do.) According to her, none of her employees are trustworthy, dependable, or worth the air they breathe. Wonders why prospective employees are never heard from past the first interview.

    I work on a ship that not only is sinking, it's on fire. And the captain doesn't notice or care about the gaping hole in the hull, because she is too busy running around trying to smack rats on the head.

    Can you tell that you poked a sore spot?

    JC

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