Monthly Archives: November 2007

It’s no wonder that work environments are complex – most people recognize that just having a healthy family requires full-time attention and a lot of willing accommodation. So when you put in one place any number larger than that of a typical family, you have your work cut out for you. Kant observed that we are only behaving ethically when we treat each other person as an end unto themselves (as opposed to self-love, or an end unto ourselves). But in a business, where different people have widely variant views of the desirable group result, it can be difficult to judge when someone is acting from self-interest, from a lack of self-constraint, or from a position of concern for a group result that may be interpreted very differently from our own. Who is right? It will always be a matter of interpretation – even the best history books are subject to interpretations limited by scope of understanding, and sometimes revisionist compulsions. Continue reading

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“T” stands for Thoughtless. The definition of thoughtless is interesting. The most commonly understood meaning is lack of concern for others, and the FETCH manager definitely demonstrates this. But thoughtless also suggests insufficient understanding, a lack of awareness that blinds you to the fact that others just may know something you don’t know. Thoughtless is a good word for the FETCH manager. Continue reading

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The communication in a hierarchical organization tends to go lateral in very small groups, and otherwise, up and down a chain of command. Communication is clear in hierarchies, which is one of the reasons that structure is appealing – because communication is the lifeblood of any effective organization. In a flexible organization communication moves out in webs, and it can be extremely confusing to people to know who to talk to about what, and how. Continue reading

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in response to numerous requests for more information, I’ve published a new whitepaper called “Business Proposition and Culture: An Essential Understanding.” You can find it on the HMC Whitepaper of the Hill Management Consulting website. Continue reading

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Conflict exists anywhere you have two or more people trying to work together, so it’s no surprise that businesses are rife with it. Good conflict management skills are rarely taught in the home, are almost never taught in school, and by the time most adults get to the work world, they have learned a very important rule about conflict. To avoid it. Continue reading

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Your overall pricing strategy is secondary to your company’s strategy and value proposition. “Lowest price always” is a valid strategy, but it has to be applicable across the board, and not just on a product or two. It is also heavily dependent on volume, which is why you have to be the size of Wal-Mart or Amazon to successfully deploy that strategy. Other value propositions are customer intimacy, leading product/technology, and system lock-in. Continue reading

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Think of a business as a mechanical device. A car. There are a lot of components in a car, but individually they don’t matter very much. The most comfortable driver’s seat in the world probably won’t impress you if it’s in a livingroom. A well-designed engine doesn’t perform well if it’s not fed by an efficient fuel system or good fuel. If an engineer works very very hard to develop the fastest engine on earth, but doesn’t work with the engineer designing the auto body, the car could break apart at high speeds. Making extremely good parts doesn’t guarantee an extremely good whole. The strategy, organization, and control systems of a company must be integrated. Continue reading

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Too many companies put a job description together (half the time they just pulled them from a manual somewhere), slap it into a binder, and never look at it again. Because nobody looks at the job description, nobody knows what training is necessary to be successful at the job. This is true for all jobs. So there’s a manager or supervisor who isn’t quite sure what their role is, and they hire employees who aren’t sure what their roles are. Neither of them receive the training they need, and neither of them really know whether or not they are being successful. When does the employee or manager get feedback? When they fail to meet expectations (just what WERE those expectations anyway?) or get on someone’s nerves. Result? Stressed out people. Continue reading

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When one is not well – physically, psychologically, emotionally, or socially (yes, I think there is such a thing as being social well or socially not well – it goes back to the idea that we define ourselves in context of community) – then all of one’s personal resources are turned to either the pursuit of becoming well or the defense against pursuing wellness. That may sound strange, but for many people, it is so scary to confront and eliminate unhealthiness that they’d rather stay with the illness they’ve got than do the work to become well. After all, going from “not well” to “well” is change, and even when change is a good thing, it still scares us. Continue reading

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I don’t think companies can afford to continue to operate in the old hierarchical ways. Those structures will be the dinosaur bones in the dirt within this century. Flat, networked organizations are not the thing of the future – they are the organizational design of now. So companies thinking about making a transition are wise to do so. But the process needs to be approached with a deep respect for how much time and investment will be required to achieve the desired results. Continue reading

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