Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My High Cost of Not Outsourcing

If it isn't part of your central value, it ought to be outsourced.

I couldn't be any more convinced. Not doing so causes me more time and focus waste than I can afford. I can't afford doing thigs that I am not gifted, resourced, talented, or interested in doing.

Today my hard drive failed.

I turned my HP laptop on this morning. The little power lights illuminated. Then, they shut off. Then they illuminated again. Then they shut off. A 3rd time, they illuminated. A third time, they shut off. Before it happened a 4th time, I pressed the power button . . . an attempt to start over, fresh.

I removed the battery and the A/C power connection. I waited 15 minutes.

I re-inserted the A/C, and re-launched the machine. Nothing had changed.

I did notice that the light which indicates that the hard drive was spinning was not lit.

OK. This is not good. I have seen hard drive failure before.

I called the warranty service group. They asked me to repeat what I had already done. No luck.

"We will send you a lable so you can send us your machine."

"How long will that take?"

"You will have the label in 3-5 days."

"How long will you have the machine?"

"We will have it for 7-10 days."

"And then?"

"We will send it back."

So, in the perfect world, if 'everything' works, I won't be able to get back into full service for at least 2 weeks.

What if the hard drive needs to be replaced? That's easy. I'll just reinstall my backup. Whoops, I don't know how. I guess I can learn, but it will cost me another couple of hours, not taking into account the hours it will take for the data transfer.

What will this cost me?

From the mechanical model perspective, maybe nothing. The postage is paid, the warranty covers the service. They'll even replace the hard drive, everything good as new.

From the organic, real perspective, it will cost a small fortune.

There's the direct time I need to "waste" fiddling with the machine. With all the time invested, the best result would be a return to equilibrium. Time and focus invested, noting gained.

There's the opportunity cost for what I would have otherwise been doing during the direct time.
There's the opportunity cost for the things I will not be able to do because I don't have the machine.

There's the cost of the total lack of focus, and the distraction. You see, this morning I was to finish the composition of my latest speech, one I had started yesterday, a breakthrough presentation based on an inspiration I received this past week, to be delivered at a major event early July. That one speech could be worth $ thousands. But, as we creative folks know, I could lose it if I don't finish it while inspired.

Wait, with the distraction and frustration of the morning, I have already lost a good deal of that inspiration. I think I'm going to be sick.

I needed an IT outsource.

What I need is an IT outsource to make sure that my systems are what they need to be, how they need to be, and where they need to be. I don't need a full time IT person, neither do I need a quick fix technician who will get his initial look at my system only when he sees it not working.

What would a good outsource have done? I don't know all the details, but I do know this. I would have made a call to someone who knew the who, what, where, when, and why behind my little IT operation, and then I would have been able to relax. In just a minimal amount of time, I would be back in business, minimizing my distraction and down time. I would complete my inspired project. I would hardly stumble through the day.

As it is, my mechanical, cost saving approach is going to cost me a fortune.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rigidity: Bad for Engineering, Bad for the Economy, and Bad for Business

Rigidity has never produced a structure capable of good function in an environment of changing conditions.

  • Skyscrapers are designed with the ability to "sway" in the wind, or to "flex" in case of an earthquake.
  • The wings of the great airliners are designed to "give and take" in the face of changing air density and current so that the body of the plane can maintain maximum stability in turbulence.
  • Bridges, towers, roads, ships are strengthened with flexibility.
Attempting to eliminate this "flux" with rigidity would result in disaster.

It works the same way when attempting to develop increasing profitability, or human capital. Rigidity kills.

Why, then, do presidential candidates like John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama continue to press as though greater centralized control and rigidity offers anything of a benefit to America's economic strength in the face of ever changing conditions?

Why do so many otherwise intelligent Americans fall for the same tripe?

The Answer is simple. They all must be ignorant of the way things really work. Or, maybe, it's a power thing.

As I will continue to suggest, whatever economic conditions may seem to create problems for our society, each is solved when individual participants learn to contribute in a value producing and meaningful way.

It's the way of the organic business model.

  • Every participant can then know what he/she does best.
  • Every participant can then discover how what they do makes a difference for the people or companies they serve.
  • Then, because the organic system strives to compensate based on the actual value delivered, each participant may elect to contribute, and therefore earn, as much, or as little as they desire.
No heavyweight management is required. No supreme controller or almighty decision maker is necessary. No artificial value requirements need be imposed.

It makes sense.

All of the mechanical model "controllers" ought to pay attention to Brian Wesbury, chief economist for First Trust Portfolios, LP. In an editorial published June 11, 2008 in the WSJ. Brian astutely observes:

"In contrast to what some people seem to believe, having the government take over the health-care system is not change. It's just a culmination of previous moves by government. And the areas with the worst problems today are areas that have the most government interference – education, health care and energy."

"The best course of action is to allow a free-market economy to reallocate resources to the place of highest returns. In the midst of all the natural change, the last thing the U.S. economy needs is more government involvement, whether it's called change or not."

Only an Organic Model solves the problems.

In today's hyper-dynamic world, hardening mechanical models in attempt to improve economic conditions will prove no more successful than removing the flexability from the wings of an aircraft. Such practices will, at best, increase the discomfort of the passengers. At worst, it will render the plane unfit to fly.

Rigidity will produce the same negative impact for the economy, or for your business.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The High Value Capital of Business - It's Not What You Think; It's Human Capital

Peter Drucker's comments about business structure and management emphases tickle me. They tickle me because the very statements he makes run absolutely counter to the widely held beliefs of today's "experts." The difference is staggering.

In his 2002 book, Managing in the Next Society, Drucker makes comment about the problem "financial people" have managing business.

"There's an enormous challenge ahead to educate the owners of business, many of whom, as I've noted, are financial people. I once was a securities analyst, so that gives me license to say that it is virtually impossible to make a financial person understand business. I am not being facetious. Financial people don't deal with the issue of balance between often conflicting elements - short versus long term, continuity versus change, improving today versus creating tomorrow. Corporate leaders who wrestle with these issues every day know the amount of struggle involved, but it's difficult for financial people to understand this."

This ought to shake you to your core.

Why all the emphasis on managing by financials?

It happened simply and innocently enough. We began to confuse the financial statements with the business, itself. Human capital is thought to be either non-existent, or of little real value.

For more than 50 years the relative stability of technology and demographics paved the way for repetitive, mechanical hierarchical business models to succeed. They had predictable structure, and outcome based on repetition of mechanical practices, which then yielded predictability in financial results, creating the false association. Good financials were erroneously equated with good business. The two patterned so closely that the difference would be difficult to discern.

Market Hyper-Dynamics Defies Management by Financials

Today's technological landscape is no longer as stable and predictable. The demographics are also nothing like those characteristic of the last 50 years. The entire landscape is in constant and accelerating change. In this new world, it is now necessary to see a business for what it really is, and to recognize that financial statements are merely the report card for how the business is working. That is their only relationship.

A Business is not a Machine, it is more like a life.

A business is a complex web of conversations and social relationships. Out of these comes the continuous ebb and flow of the menagerie of products and services, which are developed, created, communicated, delivered, and serviced by provider companies to their customers. In this hyper-dynamic marketplace, it is far less important what a company thinks they do as much as why, for whom, and for what betterment of the customer and the world itself.

Conversations and relationships are characteristics of a different dynamic than a machine. They are characteristic of people, humans, living things. They are organic in their very nature, and require organic processes and organizations to endure. People are the very soul of business. Human Capital produces the value of all other capital.

I heard the CEO of an energy related firm make this very interesting statement.

"When we consider the human relationships as critical in my enterprise, we have a struggle as our material "assets" as shown on our financials represent $BB, while our people "assets." even as costs represent only $MM. It seems that the larger assets are the most important. We are coming to recognize that the real value of the material "asset" is totally dependent on the performance of the people, and this is leading us to realize that the people "asset" is of greater significance to the company performance, rendering the material asset as valuable, or potentially, value-less."

Which "assets," which "capital," do you value most?

I guarantee, if you think like a financial person, you'll answer incorrectly.

If you think like a traditional business person, you'll risk the same error.

Consider thinking more like Peter Drucker. Then you can begin to place more of your energy and investment into the things that produce your greatest ROI. These, of course, are your people, your Human Capital, and if you're like most of today's managers, you are well under equipped to do much to make improvements.

It is time to get some help for your organization. I wouldn't wait. I might even call a PEO.

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