Thursday, July 23, 2009

What’s your Company’s Shoe Size and Type?

Yesterday, I listened to a portion of a radio interview with Chicago Cubs CEO Crane Kenney. In the world of sports, I enjoy opportunities to depart from the standings, hype, competition, and stats and tune-in to the executives. Sports is a huge business and the people behind the scenes making decisions are usually pretty competent professionals.

Crane Kenney was talking about the various discussions surrounding innovations that are in the works to improve Wrigley Field. He talked about protecting the Wrigley brand and ideas that are on the table to maximize revenue without destroying the historic feel of the ballpark. He said that in the never-ending quest for ambitious and innovative revenue generation, there are frequently suggestions that include pyrogenic use or mascots. But Crane Kenney knows where to draw the line. He explains "that's just not who we are". His concise and clear understanding of who his organization is defines what his organization does. While he is innovative and thinking laterally, he instinctively knows what the wrong type of shoe and size of shoe for his organization is. "Right shoe, wrong size" is useless as is "Right size, wrong shoe".

Know who your organization is. What is your unique identity? Don't try to be everything to everyone. If you glibly try every scheme and jump every bandwagon trying to catch lightning in a bottle, your organization will be dressed like a clown and will have about as much effectiveness as a clown does in the marketplace. Know who you are and then allow that to define what you do. Your company will then be comfortable and natural in its own skin and will communicate a fresh uniqueness and distinctiveness to your customers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Timeless Business Advice

Patricia Sellers at Fortune blogged a great piece here on advice she received from advertising legend David Ogilvy, who died 10 years ago. Some principles are timeless and can be applied to any generation of leaders. Timeless advice transcends cultural and societal shifts and tends to provide sanity and balance to what seems to be an ever-changing and more complex world. Timeless advice is a compass that helps us get back to things that are of critical importance. I look at Ogilvy's advice to Patricia Sellers as "timeless".

Here are Ogilvy's top 7 business principles (as penned in 1991):

1. Remember that Abraham Lincoln spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He left out the pursuit of profit.

2. Remember the old Scottish motto: "Be happy while you're living, for you are a long time dead."

3. If you have to reduce your company's payroll, don't fire your people until you have cut your compensation and the compensation of your big-shots.

4. Define your corporate culture and your principles of management in writing. Don't delegate this to a committee. Search all the parks in all your cities. You'll find no statues of committees.

5. Stop cutting the quality of your products in search of bigger margins. The consumer always notices — and punishes you.

6. Never spend money on advertising which does not sell.

7. Bear in mind that the consumer is not a moron. She is your wife. Do not insult her intelligence.

You can view his original handwritten notes at Patricia Sellers Blog.