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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Ten Easy Pieces on Strategy -- My backlog of potential blog entries keeps getting in the way of original work, so here's a pile of stuff I've found to be interesting in the last couple months, mostly on topics related to strategy...

Managing Dysfunctional Clients -- From the Professional Services Journal -- "A business, however, is usually controlled by many brains communicating to several different business units or areas of the organization. These brains are the "strategists" or "thinkers" who send messages to the implementers or "doers." In [dysfunctional] companies, a disconnect between the "thinkers" and "doers" occurs. Hierarchical organizations expect the brains to tell the organs and systems what to do. Period. They don't realize the importance of two-way communication." . . . and therefore fail to even consider effective tools to enable that communication.


Michael Porter's Big Ideas -- From Fast Company -- "It's been a bad decade for strategy. Companies have bought into an extraordinary number of flawed or simplistic ideas about competition -- what I call "intellectual potholes." As a result, many have abandoned strategy almost completely. Executives won't say that, of course. They say, "We have a strategy." But typically, their "strategy" is to produce the highest-quality products at the lowest cost or to consolidate their industry. They're just trying to improve on best practices. That's not a strategy." This is.


A Convergence of Improvement Programs -- From Better Management.com, by Gary Cokins -- "...there are four broad concepts that are the generational heirs to prior discoveries:
Quality: Six Sigma
Operations: Lean Management
Thinking: Theory of Constraints
Managerial accounting: Activity-Based Cost Management and Target Costing
Just like the physicists who are making advances at explaining the unification of the fundamental forces of nature (e.g., electromagnetism, gravity, subatomic forces), business managers are also seeing more interdependencies than were apparent even a few years ago..."
I agree


An Application Of The Theory Of Constraints -- A case study from The CPA Journal -- "Daufel Enterprises' constraining factor is, like many small businesses, the time of one or a few key individuals. This is certainly true in most service businesses. Like the Daufel brothers, owners or managers of small businesses normally have an intuitive feel for which products are more profitable. Often a simple constraint analysis will allow them to quantify their intuitive feel and make precise adjustments. CPAs that service small businesses can help their clients become more profitable by assisting them with the analysis." ...as part of an overall constraint-based strategy.


The Management Secrets of the Brain -- From Business 2.0 -- "For example, look at what the brain does: It must assess new information, resolve internal conflicts, and decide how to act. These chores are the basics of any organization. Except the brain's managerial duties are far more complex. That's why the first rule of management we learn from the brain is obvious ...1. Never try to micromanage a large, complex organization." aka "Identify" the constraint.


Factory Days -- An interesting, almost 3-year (so far) chronicle of running a small business.


How Managers Express Their Creativity -- By Herbert Simon -- "As long as we refer to acts of creativity with awe and emphasize their unfathomability, we are unlikely to achieve an understanding of their processes. And without such an understanding, we are unlikely to be able to provide usable advice as to how to encourage and enhance diem. Fortunately, it is not necessary to surround creativity with mystery and obfuscation. No sparks of genius need be postulated to account for human invention, discovery, creation. These acts are acts of the human brain, the same brain that helps us dress in the morning, arrive at our office, and go through our daily chores, however uncreative most of these chores may be. Today we have a substantial body of empirical evidence about the processes that people use to think and to solve problems, and evidence, as well, that these processes can account for the thinking and problem-solving that is judged creative." Simon says it's at least partially a matter of identfying patterns and cues.


On Being Proactive -- by Preston Smith -- "The idea of proactivity is simple enough: consider what negative outcomes might befall you in advance of an event and then take steps to preclude it from happening or at least mitigate the damage it might cause if it does occur. In the same way that product developers have applied other techniques to product development, such as early supplier involvement, early manufacturing involvement, or having marketing participate continuously throughout a project, so developers have also applied "proactivity" without thinking about it as such. Now that some of the older approaches have lost their competitive edge, we are looking for the next opportunity for improvement, which is to propagate this notion of' "proactivity" throughout all aspects of the project." ...aka risk management.


Innovation Now! -- from Fast Company -- "A radical idea has the power to change customer expectations . . . A radical idea changes the basis for competition . . .A radical idea is one that has the power to change industry economics." . . . Just what's needed to develop a solution to a constraint in the market.


Put An End To Project Mismanagement -- From Optimize -- "Projects turn corporate strategy into reality, and in a sense, everything an IT manager does takes the form of a project. Yet too often, the concept of managing projects is poorly understood and executed. It's no wonder that many companies do a lousy job of prioritizing and allocating project resources. Worse, they fail to effectively implement their hard-won strategies. The results of this mismanagement can be devastating, with projects missing key deadlines, exceeding budgets, and failing to meet business goals..." Strategy drives project prioritization -- a necessary step in effective multi-project management.

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