You think your business has it rough?

Macworld features an article called “Ten business lessons from ‘Battlestar Galactica'”

A summary

  • 1. Tech isn’t always the answer. : Totally agree… IT-ers tend to always go for a tech solution where a human solution might suffice!
  • 2. Don’t neglect training. : I guess nobody will disagree here, but companies often don’t see the hidden cost of neglecting to do so.
  • 3. Some things can’t be outsourced. : I’ll repeat it again; Outsourcing is good, but don’t do it on stategical areas!
  • 4. Update your antivirus. : Personally I’d like to see this one renamed to “keep your organization up-to-date”
  • 5. Democracy doesn’t always work. : A simple Project Management lesson; It’s a democracy until the scope is set, then it’s dictatorship!
  • 6. Some problems can’t be killed. : Indeed, not all problems can be killed, just learn to cope with them.
  • 7. Seek strategic alliances with competitors. : So true! Being a stategic game fan, I found that alliances either make or break any outcome of a game. The numerous time I’ve “won”, is always due to making (and breaking!) stategic alliances.
  • 8. Don’t store all your backups in one place. : Better renamed to “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.
  • 9. The mission can change at any time. : A bit like 4., the world keeps evolving, incorporate that in your strategy.
  • 10. Beware of visionaries. Zealots make bad leaders. – Awh, crap, that’d be against me… 😉

Freelancing during the lesser times

Freelancefolder.com features “8 Ways Freelancers Can Survive In A Troubled Economy” ;

  • Be a Bargain Hunter. Whether you’re buying routine office supplies or making a capital purchase, make sure that you get the most value for your dollar. Check sales flyers and compare costs to maximize your purchasing power. You can also look into barter arrangements to reduce your costs.
  • Don’t Spend Everything That You Make. I give this advice during good economic times as well. The advice to save some of your earnings is doubly important in an uncertain economy. Whenever you are paid make sure that you set some income aside for times when your business is slow.
  • Moonlight on Your Freelancing. You may have started your freelancing business by working a corporate job and moonlighting as a freelancer. There’s no reason why you can’t turn the tables and moonlight on your freelance business now. Consider taking a part-time job to bolster your monthly income.
  • Ask Past Corporate Employers for Gigs. Many employers have hiring freezes, but their workload remains the same. While they may not be able to hire a new employee, often they are allowed to hire temporary help to meet a deadline. (I’m told that the money for contractors comes out of a different “bucket.”)
  • Consider the Do-It-Yourself Question. Are you paying others to do tasks for you that you could actually do yourself? If your cash flow is slow, then you may want to consider whether it’s more cost efficient to continue outsourcing as you have been doing, or to start doing the tasks yourself.
  • Make Sure To Consider Your Tax Liability. Even if the economy is slow, it is likely that you will still owe taxes at the end of your tax year. To avoid being saddled with a tax burden that you can’t pay, start setting money aside for taxes now. If you paid estimated taxes during the course of the year, then ask yourself if you paid enough.
  • Broaden the Scope of Your Business. If your workload has slowed, then ask yourself if there are other products or services that you could add to your current offerings. Do you have a skill that you are not using? Broadening your scope could bring additional business from current customers as well as attract new ones.
  • Be Patient. Difficult economic times come and they go. It may be a matter of weeks, months, or even years, but this tough economic period will also pass.

How much is a lottery ticket worth?


Let’s say you could win 1 million Euro when participating with a lottery. The odds are about 1 to a billion… How much would you pay for this lottery ticket?

Now let’s say that you’re in a lottery where you have a one-out-of-a-billion chance to lose 5% of all your assets. How much would you pay for a lottery ticket which insures you against this?

What you already have is worth more to you than what you might gain. Yet the same math & currency value applies to both gaining and losing. People tend to panic when there is a risk of losing something, despite how small it may be. Every change is seen as a potential loss and not a potential win.

A trader takes several risks on a daily basis, yet (s)he knows/judges the odds of every investement. Let’s say that they have a win ratio of 8 out of 10. When they invest their money into 10 opportunities, they should anticipate that 8 winners exceed the losses made at the two failed investments.

So how do you respond to risks? Do you fear or anticipate them?

Secret of Change Management

You may have the best strategy in the world, but it will fail if you company lacks passion! Imagine your CEO… Is he a boring excel sheet presenting bureaucrat or is he a passionate person leading the company by his beliefs?!? Every change within a company starts from passion.

Greiner’s Six Growth Phases

The growth phases model of Greiner suggests that organizations go through 6 stages of growth and need appropriate strategies and structures to cope. It is a descriptive framework that can be used to understand why certain management styles, organizational structures and coordination mechanisms work and don’t work at certain phases in the development of an organization. The 1972 model of Greiner describes five (six) phases of organizational development and growth.

While growth is fun when things are going well, when things go wrong, this chaos can be intensely stressful. More than this, these problems can be damaging (or even fatal) to the organization. The “Greiner Curve” is a useful way of thinking about the crises that organizations experience as they grow. By understanding it, you can quickly understand the root cause of many of the problems you’re likely to experience in a fast growing business. More than this, you can anticipate problems before they occur, so that you can meet them with pre-prepared solutions.

Continue reading “Greiner’s Six Growth Phases”

The four levels of evaluation by Kirkpatrick

Donald Kirkpatrick is known for creating the training evaluation model. This model consists of four levels of learning evaluation. Kirkpatrick’s ideas were first published in 1959, in a series of articles in the US Training and Development Journal. The four levels of Donald Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model essentially measure:

  • Reaction of student : what they thought and felt about the training
  • Learning : the resulting increase in knowledge or capability
  • Behaviour : extent of behaviour and capability improvement and implementation/application
  • Results : the effects on the business or environment resulting from the trainee’s performance

Level 1 : Reaction
Reaction evaluation is how the delegates felt about the training or learning experience. For example the ‘happy sheets’, ‘feedback forms’, etc

Level 2 : Learning
Learning evaluation is the measurement of the increase in knowledge before and after. Typically assessments or tests before and after the training are used for this level.

Level 3 : Behaviour
Behaviour evaluation is the extent of applied learning back on the job / implementation. Observation and interview over time are required to assess change, relevance of change, and sustainability of change.

Level 4 : Results
Results evaluation is the effect on the business or environment by the trainee. Measures are already in place via normal management systems and reporting. The challenge is to relate to the trainee.

For more info, check out the BusinessBalls‘s article on Kirkpatrick…

Viral Change

Viral Change is about letting a small set of behaviors spread by a small number of people through their networks of influence create massive behavioral tipping points, translated into new routines and ‘cultures’ (new ideas established, new ways of working, new process adoption, new culture). It is about creating an internal epidemic of success in whatever way you have pre-defined success. It’s in contrast to the traditional model is linear: big change needs a big set of initiatives cascaded down via big communication programmes. It’s about changing the “Spirit” of company…

The 8 steps to succesful Change Management

The father of Change Managemnet (John Kotter) outlined 8 steps to succesful Change Management in his book “The Iceberg is melting“. Let’s go through them:

  • Set The Stage
      Create a Sense of Urgency : Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately. Remind people that they are on a burning oil rig; they’ll die, if the don’t jump off…
      Pull Together the Guiding Team : Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change; one with leadership skills, bias for action, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills. Just like project teams; one needs to have a great team to drive the change.
  • Decide What To Do
      Develop the Change Vision and Strategy : Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.
  • Make It Happen
      Communicate for Understanding and Buy-in : Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy. Start communicating from the start; remember that there is always communication, be sure that you are the one providing the correct information!
      Empower Others to Act : Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
      Produce Short-Term Wins : Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible. Go for the quick wins to boost moral.
      Don’t Let Up : Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with instituting change after change until the vision becomes a reality. Be persistent in driving the change.
  • Make It Stick
      Create a New Culture : Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become a part of the very culture of the group. Think neurological levels here…. where culture is at the top of the pyramid.