Five Working Principles for Business Operations Performance Management – In Gratitude and Honour of Seth Godin

Isn’t it strange (in a good way) how sometimes someone who you have never met or interacted with can have such a profound impact on your life and work? I think it was two years ago when the CEO of one of the places that I have worked in quoted Seth Godin in a discussion. I went and looked him up and wow – did he make me think! Seth posts every day and almost every single one of his posts have made me take a step back and take a close look at one or other area of my life and work. If you already follow him, then I am sure you have also experienced this – if you haven’t yet, then I suggest you go and subscribe to his blog here – I can confidently say that your thought processes will never remain the same.

This blog is a compilation of five of his posts from 2012 only (and it was very difficult choosing five, I may need to do a follow-on post) that can inspire you to change the rules of the game in business operations and management:

Working Principle #1: Ask Why OftenWhy ask why?

“Why?” is the most important question, not asked nearly enough.

Hint: “Because I said so,” is not a valid answer.

  • Why does it work this way?
  • Why is that our goal?
  • Why did you say no?
  • Why are we treating people differently?
  • Why is this policy?
  • Why don’t we enter this market?
  • Why did you change your mind?
  • Why are we having this meeting?
  • Why not?

Working Principle #2: A Path which may look like a shortcut may not actually be a shortcutQuick shortcuts (in search of)

There aren’t many actual shortcuts.

There are merely direct paths…

Most people don’t take them, because they frighten us–too direct, I guess. It’s easy to avoid the things that frighten us if we wander around for a while. Stalling takes many forms, and one of them looks like a shortcut.

Things that look like shortcuts are actually detours (disguised as less work).

Working Principle #3: Identify and focus on the Leak First – Insatiable

Long-lasting systems can’t survive if they remain insatiable.

An insatiable thirst for food, power, energy, reassurance, clicks, funding or other raw material will eventually lead to failure. That’s because there’s never enough to satisfy someone or something that’s insatiable. The organization amps up because its need is unmet. It gets out of balance, changing what had previously worked to get more of what it craves. Sooner or later, a crash.

More fame! More money! More investment! Push too hard and you lose what you came with and don’t get what you came for.

An insatiable appetite is a symptom: There’s a hole in the bucket. Something’s leaking out. When a system (or a person) continues to demand more and more but doesn’t produce in response, that’s because the resources aren’t being used properly, something is leaking.

If your organization demands ever more attention or effort or cash to produce the same output, it makes more sense to focus on the leak than it does to work ever harder to feed the beast.

Working Principle #4: It is not about You, it is about the Outcome -The quickest way to get things done and make change

Not the easiest, but the quickest:

Don’t demand authority.

Eagerly take responsibility.

Relentlessly give credit.

Working Principle #5: Caring Enough is a competitive advantage in your hands – “It’s not business, it’s personal”

It’s too easy to blame the organization and the system and the bottom line for decisions that a person would never be willing to take responsibility for.

Whenever you can, work with people who take it personally.

And finally a bonus one from Mr. Godin that I can’t just resist putting in here – It’s never too late…….to start heading in the right direction.

There are many new initiatives that I started on and new directions that I took in the last year inspired by Seth’s daily doses. Who inspires you ? What blogs do you follow that are a must read for you? What do you think of the five principles above? Have you tried them at work ?  What other posts from Seth have you found thought provoking? I would love to hear back and learn from you.

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