New Year's Confessions - and a Peek Under the B&B Sheets
Alright gang – fess up. We’re into the fourth week of February. Seven weeks out of 52 are behind us. What do you have to show for it? Are you still on your 2011 game plan?
How about those New Year’s resolutions? About half of the population sets goals each year. A good start, but I read that over a third of the population has already fallen off the wagon when it comes to their lofty resolutions for 2011. You’ve seen them – they’re diligently dressed in their gym clothes, slouched guiltily in their seats at the Krispy Kreme drive-up window.
Why have they fallen off the wagon? Frankly, it’s because goal setting is easy – any dolt can set a goal.
Achieving goals is another matter altogether. This has nothing to do with IQ. Achievement takes vision and a simple plan. (How many struggling projects have you looked at in hindsight and recognized that the KISS principle went out the window right from the start?)
Complex plans fail. A simple vision backed by a clear-cut plan enables you to focus. Focus is something most individuals (and many companies) lack.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that focus is the answer. Focus is the result of other factors. There is one simple ingredient that will ensure your success. Without it you will find yourself parked at that drive-up window with glazed frosting bits all over your sweatpants.
That ingredient is the ability to say no, and say it with confidence. No means no.
That can be hard for individuals. It’s toe-curling for many companies, including B&B. In fact, the more service orientated a company is the more that simple word sends shudders through the organization.
Here are a couple B&B examples to give you a peek under the sheets of our own living, breathing culture.
Expert technical advice. Our technical support team could care less if you’ve spent $250k with B&B or $25, or even nothing at all. They will happily dole out the same outstanding service and technical advice. Good business? Maybe, maybe not – but that’s how we’re built. Most of you already knew that – if you didn’t, take advantage of it – you’d be a fool not to.
Did you know we do custom products? Manufacturing custom and OEM versions of our products is a sizable chunk of our business. It’s great fun too – rapid product development without the engineering headaches of biz cases, market studies and extensive end user documentation. It also means that virtually anything is possible here within the engineering and manufacturing departments of B&B. As a result, every soul here at B&B has been engrained with the “yes” culture. You don’t hear “I’m sorry Mr. Fahrion, we don’t have that item.” They reply, “I’m sorry, we don’t have that but perhaps we could build a custom solution for you.”
It’s a great service – but it breeds a company that is so intent on customer service that it collectively struggles to utter that two letter word.
One very enjoyable part of my job is spending enough time with other companies to see what makes them tick. Last week I got to dive in deep with several companies including a startup, a $1B plus market leader and a 100 year old solutions/integration company. Each with a living breathing culture all their own. Two things that really got me jazzed were the startup and the $1B company. Startups may not have much structure let alone a detailed plan, but nothing crystallizes focus like a cash burn rate. The uber-company had incredible focus too. And too their credit, that focus didn’t make them rigidly inflexible – quite the opposite – they are nimble and highly responsive. It’s amazing what happens when every employee of an organization knows what the mission is – as a result they are eating their competitor’s lunch on a daily basis.
I realize I’m parroting 50 business books or (yeesh) self help drivel. Sorry for that - but I did manage to sum it up in just a page or two, saving you several hundred pages of redundant reading and $13.95 at Amazon.
My personal goals have thus far withstood the seven week test. In an honest conversation with myself (with door shut), I gave them a report card rating from a C+ to an A.
B&B is off to a good start on the race to accomplish its 2011 goals as well. One of those goals is more great new products (just to be sure I don’t forget it, CEO Don wrote it across the top of my whiteboard – with a Sharpie). To get there also required that we hire more great engineers – I’m happy to say we’ve done that, both here in Illinois and in our Ireland office.
One of those new products that has been out for a few weeks and picking up serious steam is our new isolated industrial USB hub. If you thought you could deploy office grade USB in non-office grade environments, you were wrong. USB needs special love and care to make it perform in harsh environments. Many more products in that category to come.
How are your resolutions holding up? How about your organizations? Talk back on our blog – I’d love to hear what makes you or your companies goals successful – or not.