We’ve all gotten caught up with the latest management “how-to” tomes and fad-books, all of them ready to arm us with the up-to-now-unheralded-secrets-for-success-in-the-business-world-and-life-in-general.  But as we have likely learned from our own lessons, the experience in all of us says, “well, that might certainly be worth a look, but I’ll trust my instincts primarily.”

Do Any of the Latest Hot-Button Crazes Have Some Merit?

However, why not take a substantive look and see if any of the latest hot-button crazes have some merit which could supplement our experiences and increase ideas for situational, real-life testing?  If we’re on a path of life-long learning (and we’d better be), some add-on suggestions to expand our horizons may represent tips and food-for-thought to bolster our effectiveness.

Although it’s been a while since the last time I sat in an MBA class (as a student that is), some of the following made sense to me, and may also have been on your radar-screen too—from: Steve Jobs; Jim Collins; and the latest from Raynor and Ahmed (The Three Rules, et.al.).

All of these are worthy of some pondering, acting-on.

iStock_000016854809XSmallSteve Jobs’ Rules to Manage/Live/Exist By

Recurring observations from Apple’s Steve Jobs include the following dirty-dozen “rules” to manage/live/exist by, as paraphrased here — copied from the blogosphere (NOT my “stuff”):

  1. Do what you love to do.
  2. Focus on the outcome.   People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome.
  3. Be different.
  4. Do your best…at every job. Hire good people with passion for excellence.
  5. Make a SWOT analysis.   As soon as you join/start a company, make a list of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company.
  6. Be entrepreneurial
  7. Start small, think big.  (and) don’t worry about too many things at once..
  8. Strive to become a market leader. (This one reminds me of GE and Jack Welch…we plan to be #1 or #2 in the markets we operate within, if we can’t get there, we’ll exit.
  9. Ask for feedback.   Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. If you’re at the top of the chain, sometimes people won’t give you honest feedback because they’re afraid. Listen to your customers first.
  10. Innovate.  Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower.
  11. Learn from failures.
  12. Learn continually.   There’s always “one more thing” to learn…from customers, competitors and partners.

Good to Great by Jim CollinsFrom Jim Collins, Good to Great, et. al.:

This is likely a “read” you ought to do, or get the “Cliff’s Notes” or one of those “Good to Great” for Dummies versions…Here’s just a few highlights, paraphrased from one of the Collins’ websites:

  • To decide where to drive the bus before you have the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus, is absolutely the wrong approach.  Put the right people on the bus, in the right seats.
  • Definition of “hedgehogs”:  Like great thinkers, those who take complexities and boil them down into simple, yet profound, ideas (Adam Smith and the invisible hand, Darwin and evolution)…leaders of good-to-great companies develop a Hedgehog Concept that is simple but that reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding.
  • What does it take to come up with a Hedgehog Concept for your company? Start by confronting the brutal facts. One good-to-great CEO began by asking, “Why have we sucked for 100 years?” (That’s brutal—). 
  • Oh, and go do …the “stop doing” list too…another Jim Collins concept.

The Three RulesFinally, from The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think by Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed; Portfolio Penguin; 376 pages

(…hmmm, I thought “people” think, not companies…but I digress).  Both of these people worked for Deloitte, and the text results from their experiences, “…and studying the largest bodies of data over several decades.” (as quoted in The Economist, July 13th, 2013).

The “rules” are:

  1. “better before cheaper”
  2. “revenue before cost”
  3. There are no other rules.

Finally, you’ve seen this one utilized across the board, but here’s a version from the Atlanta-based Koblentz firm

“We believe that the “secret sauce,” and the best way to evaluating fitness for value creation, consists of relevant experience along with an examination of the candidate’s passion for success, and perseverance honed through adversity.

Every successful leader faced difficulties, false starts, and failure during their lives. To not lose their passion, addressing challenges head on, and to hone judgment while pressing forward are the hallmarks of truly successful leaders. They believe in themselves and their work even when the odds are against them, and when rationality suggests a different path.

Simply, leadership is shaped by adversity.”

Koblentz reminds me of that quote attributed to Patton…something like:

“It’s not how high you soar when things are going great, it’s how high you bounce after you’ve hit bottom.”