Thursday, July 15, 2010


Another solid business book from my library is Jim Collins' "From Good to Great". I'm hardly the first to write about it, but for me the success or failure of feedback loops comes down to one thing: The feedback.

I've found organizations have tremendous difficulty evaluating their work and deciding how to improve it. The crux of the problem is that it can be hard to deliver criticism, even when correct and deserved, without it becoming personal. It is hard to pass judgment on work without our feelings about the person or department coloring the comments, thus making it personal criticism. Yet we often equate our jobs and our work with our self-worth, so when our work is criticized, we internalize the criticism. The coin has two sides.

But honest feedback is the beginning of improvement, if the individual and the group are able and willing to move forward. Placing blame must be avoided, and the focus must be directed on preventing the problem in the future. What caused the failure? A myriad of factors, including: Lack of training, resources, communication or direction. Any can create problems down the line, and must be ferreted out.

The inability or unwillingness to ask why something happened ensures that a similar problem will occur again. Every organization can be great, but most lack the intestinal fortitude to take the first step, break some eggs, and be honest with everyone involved.


Monday, July 5, 2010


One of the bloggers I follow asked what business books his readers found important. My first choice is Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Yes, it's a book about running a baseball team, but its also a book about business.

What Moneyball really focuses on is the value that individuals bring to their organization. Lots of talented people are undervalued by their organizations because they are not flashy or do the high profile work, but their efforts bring greater value to the company, dollar for dollar, hour for hour, that the best paid staff.

Your organization is probably overpaying for the flashy help, too. Dump them and cherry pick two undervalued staff from the shop down the street.