You don’t become #1 by talking big

Louis Gray, on the chances of companies becoming number one by disparaging their competition:

I never saw Google commercials mocking Yahoo!. I never saw Facebook taking potshots at MySpace. Those throwing stones now should do what the big guys did to get here—focus on their business and do a fantastic job executing on something users really want.

The problem with promoting good performers to managerial roles

Jason Fried on 37signals on why he runs a flat company:

… rewarding high performers with managerial responsibilities… often drives people further away from the job they are actually good at

The classic corporate structure does not encourage people to continue to do things that they’re good at doing. If you’re a teacher in Singapore and if you harbour any thoughts of advancing your pay or career, you’d need to think about teaching less and taking on more responsibilities, such as becoming a subject head, a head of department, or even a principal. Being a very good teacher just won’t cut it.


Amy Hoy on shipping:

Get real about what you can really ship and when. Grind your big idea down until it’s a fine and indivisible atom of an idea. Realize that only you see the big picture when you look at your tiny atom of a product… other folks aren’t privy to your plans, and won’t feel like it’s “unfinished.”

And if you’re thinking of quitting your day job and doing something you love—but are having nagging doubts—Amy’s whole piece is a gem to read.

Employees > Customers > Shareholders

Employees first, customers next, shareholders last, says Virgin Group’s boss Richard Branson:

It is simply common sense: If your workforce is happy and well-motivated, your customers are more likely to be happy as well – which means there is greater chance that your business will see strong sales and good profits, generating the results that your shareholders demand.

Too many companies treat their employees like dirt, and customers end up dealing with these grumpy employees. Branson also recommends creating clear and direct channel of communication between employees and the CEO:

[Make] sure that front-line employees are able to contact you, so that you and your team can act on their information. I recommend giving out your email address and phone number to all employees—they will only use it if they need to.

You can’t just ask your customers what they want

Because customers don’t know what they want exactly:

So you conduct a survey, asking customers: would you like Walmart aisles to be less cluttered? And they say, “Yes, now that you ask, yes, that would be nice.” And you check the box by “customer input” and report back, hey everyone, good news, yes, customers like the idea.

Walmart spends hundreds of millions of dollars uncluttering their stores, removing 15% of inventory, shortening shelves, clearing aisles. Yes, it’s expensive and time-consuming, but this is what customers said they wanted, so you barrel through it…

Sales went down. Way down. I mean waaaaaay down. I’m talking, from the beginning of that project until today, Walmart has lost over a billion dollars in sales. (Yes, billion with a “b”.)

Henry Ford, the American businessman credited for mass production of automobiles, once said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”