Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Surprising Truth About Intuition




While doing research for my next book I came a cross an interesting statistic: When making important decisions, 65% of the top CEOs of Publicly Traded Companies go with their INTUITION!!!

If you are into statistics or a shareholder of one of the companies, or a risk assessment manager this finding should make the gears in your head grind a little. But in reality we have gotten so risk averse, many companies are afraid to take a chance because the data says they will fail.



This is where small businesses and entrepreneurs
can make a big impact!


An expert from my book Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to WikipediaLearn As You Go, page 193,

“Most people haven’t ever experienced hyper-growth of more than 425 percent, but while at K2, my staff grew from two full-time employees to sixty in less than three years, while revenues exploded accordingly. To stay ahead of competing Web developers, I had to absorb as much information as was physically possible, then take action despite not being able to see the bigger picture. Why? Because if I waited for each and every little piece of data before I made my move, I could literally be the last company at the table.

To stay in the leadership position, I had to learn to do something I had never been trained to do: take action before I had all the facts. I learned to leap before I looked, trusting that the bridge would appear. It was like climbing a mountain on a foggy day when you can only see fifteen feet ahead at any given time. How do you navigate through that? Take a few steps forward until you see the next few steps. Readjust, then take a few more. Do this over and over again.


In the past I would have analyzed the market I was entering over and over again to make sure there was real money there. Then I would take action. But in this Information Age paradigm, I had to realize that I needed to take action with only four of the seven pieces of data, and trust that the rest would be there farther down the road. In other words, I had to react to basic market trends with creativity and intuition rather than research.


Each time I got more information, I adjusted my strategy. What really helped was that my business partners did the same, and we were surrounded by some of the smartest people around, from seasoned businesspeople and MIT MBAs to tech-heads and Wharton grads.

It isn’t really a new concept. Adjusting your strategies as you go is actually a dynamic familiar to battlefield soldiers, firefighters, and video gamers—something Gen Y and Gen X are quite comfortable doing.

Action gets results; stopping to think about it does not.


Adjusting to new data requires a mixture of intuition and logic, like driving through dense fog—best to do it twenty feet at a time, readjusting every thirty feet or so. Follow the GPS, but use your eyes as well. All the information says there should be a bridge up ahead, so you act accordingly. If you get to the chasm and the bridge isn’t there, look around. It may be farther down. If no bridge appears, then either build one or hire a company that can build it. If they work out, buy the bridge builders.


Spartan and Speedy


As companies lay off more and more people, the corporation will start to change organically. Where there was once a thick layer of middle managers, the company of the future may have no such thing. Executives may find themselves sitting outside the bullpen. As each employee begins to take on more and more leadership roles within an organization, the number of people required to manage self-starters will begin to shrink.

When you shrink the distance between executives, managers, and producers, the time from idea to execution will shrink as well. Communication will be less discombobulated because the information won’t have that far to travel. Think in terms of the telephone game: With fewer players involved, the amount of miscommunication will shrink, allowing smaller organizations to move faster. Speed, efficiency, disruption, and action are the hallmark of a twenty-first-century company.

The layers of communication found in large organizations will become a liability, as small companies take over the leadership position in a type of corporate guerrilla war.

Speed is the advantage of the smaller company.


And regardless of size, companies that are swift have almost no communication barriers between CEO, management, and staffers.

By eliminating the walls between you and the bright ideas, you’ll be able to adapt your strategy to reflect new input. But no matter what, keep moving. Your survival depends on it.

Through your actions you’ll start to see a strategy. Sit with your executive committee, and make this new ideology a reality. At the end of the road you will know what to do, but not before then. Take on the tactic of a warrior, and adapt to the landscape.”


Try using your intuition next time...lather, rinse and repeat.

Thank you for reading,











Brad Szollose

PS: I want to thank everyone who sent your well wishes during my father’s passing. Your support has been so greatly appreciated. Thank you as well to my colleague’s here at A Captured Mind who reached out in text, cards and phone calls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Web Pioneer Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

But this is not based on management theory:
Brad is a former C-Level Internet executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs – co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His Results Only management model was applied to the first wave of Gen Y workers producing great results– 425% profitable growth for 5 straight years and winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation among his employees!

Today, through his workshops and keynotes, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Next Time, Include HR
in Your Strategy

As an entrepreneur for over 30 years, it has been the cornerstone of my business skill-set to pick the right people for the right job. 

It can be part research scientist, behavioral specialist, parent and witchdoctor. Those of you who have had a few bad hires know that last description is intended as a joke. The truth is, it is HARD to find really great people these days...especially when it comes to getting people to stick around for more than 3 years!


Unknowingly to many, the secret sauce of hiring the right people falls upon the shoulders of your HR department. Find good people, train them well, guide them through your organization's process and bring out the very best in their abilities. Easy right?

At K2, for the first 3 years, from 1993-1996, Doug, David, Matt and I handpicked each and every employee. Out of 35 employees, only 3 didn't work out. Turnaround was almost unheard of. Only one employee had to be fired because he was...what's the polite term? Bipolar with narcissistic rage.

The reason we were successful with our human resource management was because we had several criteria. First, we looked for unusual resumes. One quirky resume from a young man named Colby revealed he taken a year off. Turns out, he wanted a break to be a camp counselor. We hired him as one of our client liaisons.

Another resume from a young woman revealed nothing special, but she was outgoing, willing to learn and had a British accent. At first we hired her as our receptionist. Eventually she became a top tiered programmer. We sent her for Cisco Pro training, Microsoft Certification, C++, PerlScript, etc...Penny is now head of Ogilvy One's IT department.

The second criteria we looked for was creative thinking. How else can you bring technology people, graphic designers and marketing professionals into the same room and have them build a web experience? Many times a persons resume was not aligned with their skill set...so we moved them according to their innate abilities. A key to morale and an increase in productivity!


Eventually, we became too big for us to be
personally involved in the hiring process.


So we hired Rob to be our first HR Manager. Rob looked exactly like actor Chris O'Donnell—conservative, with a great sense of humor, we gave him the secret ingredients to our secret sauce on the hiring of great people.

At first, things seemed to run smoothly. But I began to see a new group of employees that although quirky, and had the creative spark, and tried like crazy to be of K2 caliber, they were a little weird.

Now I know some of you in HR Departments are cringing at my choice of language. Bare with me, it is a teaching aid only.

Things exploded one night when I asked one of these new hires to do a very technical task. He couldn't do it, yet his resume said he could. I was furious.

How come Rob hadn't discovered the new guy was a compulsive liar?


And this happened with 12 out of 15 new hires! I began to realize Rob had chosen people based on what he could see on their resume. Nothing more, nothing less. Intuition was nonexistent. At one point I had to calm down and figure out what had gone wrong with our new HR department. After a few days, it became clear to me. Astounding and simple!

As an executive I had a strategy for the overall company. Between my business partners and board of directors, we KNEW exactly the kind of company we were creating. BUT, Rob did NOT! We had not included him in our overall strategy. Rob was trying to fill positions and fill buckets. While we were trying to create a culture that was vibrant, exciting and self managing.

When Executives or business owners have a strategy,
they NEED to let HR know about it!

 

Without understanding your culture, your strategy will NEVER get executed. Don't believe me? Try introducing touchy-feely management exercises in a rough and tumble sales group. You'd get eaten alive. Or what if you had a loud, morale-building pow-wow inside a research lab? You'd get a few people just staring at you.

So the next time you have a great strategy, Human Resources NEEDS to be considered as your strategic partner. The more you can share your overall mission and direction, the better they can hire!

You'll save yourself a LOT of time and effort.

One last criteria we used was this: use the power of orientation wisely. David and I would hand out the book The Pursuit of Wow by Tom Peters to each new hire, and we had a prepared speech... "This is YOUR company, not ours. If things aren't to your liking, let us know what can be done better. Give us suggestions and we'll try to implement them."

When the owners of a company take a half hour out of their day to spend time with new employees, guess what happens? Your new people realize they aren't working for some jerk hidden behind a desk. They try harder. They get involved, and, they give their best.

We had 4 divisions at K2 that were employee created. One of those divisions was sold to another company for over $4 million plus stock, and the young men who ran that division went with the deal. They are now CEOs of their own companies respectfully.

Want to engage today's workers? Give them an environment to be creative. And let them know what your strategy is...they will surprise you. And if you let them be the best they can, chances are, they will stay with you for more than 3 years.

A special thank you goes out to The Austin Human Resources Management Association for inviting me down to the Lone Star State of Texas as their keynote speaker...AWESOME time!!! Thank you's go out to Kimberly, Lori, Irma, Monica, Wendy and Mike!!! 



Thanks for reading,








Brad Szollose

PS: I am sorry to have neglected my blog this month. My father passed away at the end of July this year. The Szollose family is so grateful for the cards, letters and support. Thank you.


Web Pioneer Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

But this is not based on management theory:
Brad is a former C-Level Internet executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs – co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His Results Only management model was applied to the first wave of Gen Y workers producing great results– 425% profitable growth for 5 straight years and winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation among his employees!

Today, through his workshops and keynotes, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.