Enlightened Conflict

where Obama administration never got enough credit (a business perspective)

March 29th, 2017

 

balance strategy results business

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“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

 

Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets

 

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“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”

 

Tanzanian proverb

 

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Ok.

 

product of my decisions circumstancesBusiness is always about choices.

Mostly hard and difficult choices.

 

Of course … a business leader can make some easy choices and avoid the more difficult ones.

Simplistically, the novice business leaders see a prize and set about attempting to attain that prize.

Let’s call that ‘tunnel vision objectives’.

 

Frankly, if that represented the best of the best in terms of leadership … running a business would be fairly easy and almost anyone could run & manage a business.

 

But. That’s not reality. That’s not really the way it works. Rarely are things as simple as they appear and even more rarely is something a simple cause & affect, do this and get that, without any unintended consequences.

 

I thought about this as I watch the Trump administration take some fairly extreme steps to <as Ted Cruz seems to have patented> “take the boot off the necks of businesses.”

The Trump administration is bringing a sledgehammer to business regulations.

 

I have actually have little doubt that the measures the moral-less Trumplestiltskins will actually make the American economy grow more easily sledge-hammer-maze-business-get-shit-doneand possibly even create some higher growth than we have been enjoying.

 

But, that is easy.

 

That is something a beginner would do because it is obvious and, if your only goal was to show “wins & results” that is what you would do.

 

The more difficult thing is to create a menu of objectives, balance them all out as important, and set about a plan of action to attain them in which you remained positive on almost all fronts and accept the fact you will sacrifice some ‘higher highs’ on some items on the menu for positives on all fronts.

This business management choice is more difficult because anyone with half a brain could pull out one thing on the menu and point out how it could be done better and be doing better.

 

Shit.

I did that crap when I was in my 20’s. It is a cheap way of scoring points and showing you can drive some specific results.

 

And it is on this greater point where I believe the Obama administration doesn’t get enough business credit.

I will not argue they didn’t overreach on some regulations and some initiatives … because I believe they did. And, yet, even with the overreach, which obviously constricted business & economic growth, they still left the reins loose enough for the business & economy to grow at a quasi-healthy rate.

 

Could someone suggest it was an “anemic healthy” rate? Sure. That is if you viewed it by ignoring any restrictions and any other objectives and any other priorities they outlined. And if you did that I would argue you were either lazy or self-serving.

 

The Obama administration demanded business growth and yet demanded a gartner long termlonger term action plan to accommodate the environment, climate, immoral business practices and, in general, a variety of activities which girded the economy and the country for the long term.

 

The economy did grow. Unemployment did decrease. Wages did slowly increase.

And at exactly the same time regulations were put in place to steer desired long term behavior.

 

Basically … from a business perspective … the Obama administration managed to figure out how to meet short and long term objectives at exactly the same time.

Were they perfect? Of course not.

Could they have managed the balance differently? Sure.

Did they balance it well enough? Yeah. the results prove it out.

 

In business we always need to strike a balance between doing what is best for our business and doing what customers want and doing what our customers need … and all within short term needs and long term demands.

 

And, yes, customers are more empowered today than ever before but as a business leader you view what the customer wants through a lens of “what is best for the business itself.”

 

The Obama administration appeared to balance what the customer wanted, and needed, with what the country <the business> needed & wanted.

 

Not to get into business management weeds but this shows an ability to assess the greater opportunity cost for all things considered in attaining all objectives. What this does, when you do it well, is to insure you view the ‘easy’ choice you are sure to assess how fast the ‘costs’ accrue against all objectives <not just on the choice itself>.

A good business person always assesses the overall impact on your business with every choice.

 

Ultimately, it is a balancing act to insure everything you do should produce value for your business and for customers.  This is not easy and it doesn’t beget a shitload of easy decisions. But it does make for balanced strategies and balanced tactical executions.

 

I do not see any of this with the Trump administration.

A good business person wouldn’t bring a sledgehammer to existing rules, regulations and initiatives but rather a scalpel – and surgically assess and slice out specific items which would increase the overall flow of the lifeblood of the economy <without killing the body>.

 

But, apparently there are no good business people in this new administration <despite what Trump says about himself>.

 

Look.

 

You can argue with the objectives the Obama administration prioritized and spock live longyou can argue over any specific priority <or depriotization> but given the objectives & priorities they selected … they attained what almost any business leader would kill for – a win on almost everything.

 

In a world in which we almost demand singular focus the administration said “no” <philosophically I agree with that mentality> and developed multiple objectives and managed them all relatively equally.

 

All I really know is that the Obama administration most likely did not get enough credit business & economy-wise.

 

fluff and fold (aesthetics and value)

May 24th, 2016

trust just fluffy duck

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“Aesthetics is the shop window, ultimately, if there’s nothing in that shop, it has no longevity, do you know what I mean?”

 

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Geri Halliwell

 

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Well.

 

 

Of all people in the world I never thought I would read ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell <Ginger Spice?> saying something relevant to business … and actually use it to write something.

Laundry_Bath_Comps

Anyone who has ever worked with me has heard me use the “fluff and fold” reference.

 

Fluff is the aesthetics.

 

Fold is the value.

 

Fluff is puffery.

 

Fold is the substance.

 

Look.

 

We like the aesthetics. Maybe even love it, adore it and bond with it.

But without the fold … the value and functionality … we end up disappointed in the aesthetics … and will inevitably move on to the next thing to adore.

 

And while I have never articulated this thought like Geri did I have tried to say it over and over … and over again in meeting after meeting after … well … meeting.

 

I do know it is one of the most consistent discussions in business positioning, selling and marketing. and it will continue to do so because there is a natural tension between “fluffers” and “folders.”

 

While the most strident of each wish it would be 100% at the exclusion of their kindred enemy … most of fall into a natural 80/20 versus 20/80 Pareto rule.

 

A fluffer understands that substance is necessary … just maybe as a period at the end of the interesting fluff.

 

And the folder grudgingly accepts that aesthetics are necessary … just maybe as a “once upon a time” entrée to the main story of substance.

 

It really doesn’t matter which side you fall on in this discussion the debate revolves around the same issues time and time again:pooh full of fluff

 

  • If they are not interested <sometimes confused with ‘entertained’> they will not pay attention

 

  • Everybody is stressed for time and if you don’t engage them in the first 10 seconds you have lost them <hyperbole statement at best>

 

  • People are tired of bullshit and just want you to cut to the chase <flawed logic because this assumes substance sell itself>

 

But regardless of how often all of us fall into this tired argument … here is where most trains go off the tracks.

 

Suffice it to say … businesses get mesmerized by aesthetics.

 

If I hear one more quote about “first impressions count” or “they have to like you before they can enter into a brand dialogue” or … well … any of the semi-intellectual strategic crap that flippantly gets tossed around like the newest office toy sitting on the conference room table … I will puke.

 

In the simplistic dialogues that take place you inevitably find people debating what is more important when it isn’t a matter of importance … it is a matter of balance.

 

And, yet, while I sense we all know that balance is the answer we seem to consistently slide down the slippery slope of fluff under the guise of “the substance is complex and we need to simplify!”

 

Huh?

 

Everyone wants ‘the one thing.’

 

Everyone wants ‘the formula.’

election they are all nuts vote

 

Nuts.

That is what I say to that.

Nuts.

 

 

Substance is substance. I am not suggesting you have to serve it up in some complex unpalatable way but … well … substance, more often than not, is not simple. And if we try and simplify substance too much, uh oh, it becomes … uhm … fluff.

 

In the end.

 

You cannot just have fluff.

 

You cannot just have fold.

 

You have to have both in some form or fashion.

 

And more often than not there is no formula … but … I have to tell ya … if you can balance your fluff and fold in a quasi-50/50 split <maybe 40% fluff & 60% fold> you have a very good chance of delivering relevant information in a palatable way.

 

Oh. That word may get me in trouble … “palatable.

 

Look.

 

I am clearly in the substance <fold> camp.

While I enjoy the fluff I find that it maddeningly takes up an excessive amount of energy and focus away from fluff and fold colorsubstance <fold> which is inevitably what represents the effectiveness of whatever idea you are sharing.

 

But I have also learned, and have the scars to show, that ideas … even great bigly ideas … do not explain themselves, do not sell themselves and are often not attractive in their black & whiteness. And I have learned that, while starkness has its time & place businesses <and people in general> engage with things that have a more rich & royal hue.

 

I imagine all us business folk should remember the famous words of that ex-Spice Girl Geri:

 

Aesthetics matter … but … if there is nothing in that shop … well … there is no longevity … is there?

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict