With so much information available in many formats and environments, it’s difficult to sort through those that are the best use of our limited time and energy.
I’m happy to share what I find useful and interesting, as it relates to success in business.
Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think is focused on Web development. Though I speak “tech-ese,” I’m not a technician. But the points he makes are applicable to doing business in general. He describes the importance of making Web sites simple and familiar, so the user doesn’t waste time trying to figure it out.
This concept is quite applicable to daily business. For example, innovation is good – for competitive advantage and when it improves the bottom line. But if the innovation results in overly-complex transactions or confusion for the customer, it’s a step backward instead. So, when we devise new ways to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace, we need to keep the customer (or “end-user”) clearly in mind, so they keep coming back to us for more.
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals describes the extraordinary talent of Abraham Lincoln to recruit and create his Cabinet from the political rivals who ran against him in his first Presidential election. Most joined his Cabinet believing he would be easily influenced, anticipating they could gain much power “behind the throne.” Yet, within two years, all but one of his rivals became his advocates and excellent team players. Together they thought through their challenges and came to agreement on how best to address them. That approach created buy-in among his Cabinet, who were then able to implement the decisions with remarkable effect.
This is an outstanding example of the potential benefit to businesses that reach out to individuals (inside the organization and, sometimes, outside) who have strong, differing views when they have significant things to accomplish. Some CEOs feel more comfortable surrounded by people who agree with him, even when he must depend on so many others to accomplish his company vision. And sometimes key staff members feel intimidated by interacting with the CEO and suppress their good thoughts and ideas.
When a strong leader is able to encourage input and discussion and bring the group to a common conclusion, he can accomplish wonderful things for his company. For those less comfortable leading this effort, an experienced facilitator can create the safe, candid environment that’s needed to produce results. Either way, entertaining opposing or challenging views will improve the odds of success tremendously.