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Are You Fashionable in Your Business Thoughts?

If you’ve been following the tweets for this week’s #kaizenblog topic, you are probably wondering what the bleep does Fashion Week have to do with business thinking? More than you cFashion and Business Thoughtan imagine! Have you noticed how there is an idea or a philosophy that everyone must have. Do you remember when everyone was searching for excellence? Or when W. Edward Deming theorized how quality made a difference in cost reduction and continual improvement was our goal? Peter Drucker’s Knowledge Worker, Robert Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership and Seth Godin’s encouragement to build a Tribe are embedded in lots of discussion about leadership.

Then there are certain segments of the business community that become fashionable and we are urged to be like them. For a while, everyone was to be an entrepreneur. Even our children are to be trained in entrepreneurship. Jack Welch has made quite an impact with his explanation about how he led GE so that many corporations have tried to emulate the model. My friend, Kelley pointed me to this post, SMB Is the New Black as small business is the “It Girl” with attention from Congress, service providers, manufacturers, and people pursuing a long-held dream of owning a business.

And then the books…Jim Collins, Michael Gerber, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Regis McKenna, Daniel Goleman, Robert Townsend, Max Weber, Daniel Pink,  Konsuke Matsushita and so many other amazing minds have introduced discussions about business that make us rethink what we thought was true. Dare I say they encouraged us to think out of the box? We all have particular favorites that are must-refers for us.  Some authors are must-reads no matter what they write. Malcolm Gladwell comes to mind as one of those authors that people feel they ought to read.

There are fads and fashions in business too. It feels like one minute, everyone must develop emotional intelligence. In the next minute, one must write a book to be considered an expert or manage information strategically. The thing is, ideas need time to build that classic status like a LBD (the must-have in all women’s closets; the little black dress). Is all the discussion about innovation going to leave us with nuggets that we end up using every day? Social media has changed how we interact with our customers. We can actually have conversations with customers that are individualized leading to a different sort of seller/buyer relationship.  Whether there are terms (thought leader, change agent) or behaviors (Agile scrum, blogging) that we are so out of style if we aren’t using them somehow. There is always someone telling us what the must-haves are in business but not all of these must-haves have staying power.

What business thinkers do you believe are a must-have?

What do you consider a fad in business currently?

What is the height of fashion in business thought right now?

Join Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) and me for an active discussion about “Business Thought Fashions-Latest Fads and Trends” on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 12pm ET. Hope to see you in the Tweetstream!

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It’s Not a Hill, It’s a Mountain

“It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain when you start the climb…” U2

The early days of a startup are filled with expectations and a never-ending list of tasks, networking events, and moments of euphoria and anxiety. The Great Idea sustains you for a little while and then…it feels like you’re slogging through mud up the steepest slope. You’re working on tweaking your product/service so it’s even better, you need money, you want to work with more clients, you feel guilty relaxing, you feel pressured to do so much on your own.

It’s…just…taking…so…long…

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had a couple of clients talk about how their startups are not progressing as quickly as they expected. Since they are bootstrapping (who isn’t these days? That’s a whole other post and I’m digressing.), they are seeing their money go out and not come back with quick or large returns. There is a need for a steady income to take care of household responsibilities. They want the acknowledgement that your market gives you when your product or service is in demand. They still believe in their Great Idea but it is taking more work and more time than they anticipated.

It is a lonely place. Even with a business partner. You may have been told recently that “these things take time, hang in there, everyone is having a hard time.” This does make sense but it doesn’t really change anything. The hard part is changing your perspective. As Bono also sings, “A change of heart comes so slow.” When one perspective clashes with another, it’s hard to know what to believe, think, or feel. Go back to the reason you started your business in the first place and take a look at the three questions that are your cornerstone. What answers do you discover? How much fire is in your belly to keep moving forward? What would happen if you took a day away to clear your head?

Not every mountain is Mt. Everest. There are small, big ones, steep climbs, gentler climbs. Establishing your business is not a quick process but it is worthwhile. If we’re honest, that’s not always a mindset that is easy to maintain.

What does your mountain feel like?

How does your perspective affect your motivation to work towards your business’ growth?

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Playing the Drums Can Help Your Business

DrummerI started learning to play the drums recently for fun. I have a long love affair with music since I sing and play a couple of instruments and come from a musical family but I never really picked up the drums before. It is an interesting experience going back to square one and learning the basics of keeping a beat, counting, and coordination! I am faced with the challenge of seeing what I could be doing and I just cannot produce that sound…yet.

Drums and business? I was coaching a client yesterday about how he is transitioning his business to a different model than he has followed for over 10 years. He is an amazing conceptual thinker! One thing that I marvel at is his ability to project out 20+ years to how he wants his company to look and act! Talk about being a visionary!

The catch for him is that his talent at conceptual thinking is getting in the way of implementing the plan that will lead his business to become a profitable and human-centered organization. Like many of us, he plays it safe by focusing on his well-honed skill set. When you have a stable business and a rocky economy, playing it safe could be a smart move. Except one thing…he is an entrepreneur by nature and he knows his business could be more interesting.

It is time for him to learn to play the drums! No, not literally. He is learning how to shift from being a part of the team that produces the products and services to becoming the leader of his organization. It can be a humbling experience to go from seasoned, competent professional to novice, uncertain but talented professional, even in your own business and by choice.

But this is the daring part! By taking on the open mind of a learner, using your curiosity, you open yourself for self-discovery and untapped abilities. You willingly take on the frustration and slow pace of not knowing the right answers. Mistakes will be made. Every time I sit at the drums, I miss beats or my feet and arms just will not move gracefully around the drum kit. My client is noticing some anxiety as he considers which products are worth taking to market and he searches for people who will potentially be on his leadership team. There is a lot of not knowing.  There is a great need for patience. There is also room for faith because you have tried new things before.

How are you daring to learn something new?

What impact will it have on your business?

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