Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Success of John Schuerholz

Ah....who is John Schuerholz you might be asking....fair enough. Schuerholz is the general manager of the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball. He has been the GM for 15 years and has enjoyed a dominating run. 1 World Series win, 4 World Series appearances (National League pennants), and 8 Eastern Division championships. That's impressive.

I've fallen a bit behind in my blog reading and posting. "Some of the Top 10 Reasons Why John Schuerholz' Team Keeps Kicking Axe" was posted in November in Management By Baseball. I highly recommend this site to anyone that likes baseball, management and analytics. This article outlines Schuerholz' success over the years and tries to provide some insight into why, in this era of business school GMs, he has been so successful.

Jeff Angus, gives us 4 reasons:

Schuerholz had a diverse set of experiences and jobs before he entered baseball - He had many different kinds of jobs which introduced him to different types of co-workers, clients, customers and managers. He adapted to all of them. Often.

Schuerholz gathered knowledge of methods in all his work - He learned to adapt to many different types of situations. Learned.

I can promise you that if you had to choose between an MBA without this kind of job experience, or the opposite, an aspiring manager who wants to be successful with dynamic competition is significantly better off with the background Schuerholz has.
Schuerholz is not a Methods Bigot - Again...he adapts. He adapts his methodologies. He recognizes the value the new crop of young GMs bring to the game. (Let's not forget that he himself might have been the prototype for this phenomenae. He was pretty young himself.) He adjusts. He incorporates.

Schuerholz is not afraid of internal competition - He is not intimated by talented people on his staff.

Great read about a great manager. Go check it out.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Middle Management Excellence

Another great article from Jonathan Byrnes from Harvard Working Knowledge. Link to Byrnes' "The Bottom Line" articles. Here he looks at the most important thing a CEO can do to max out a company's performance:
The answer is to creatively, aggressively, and systematically build the capabilities of the company's middle management team: the vps, directors and managers.
All major strategic intiatives are carried out by the middle. Secondly, a strong middle will produce outstanding operational results. This will reduce the need for the top levels to manage at lower levels. [Link to Managing at the Right Level] A strong middle will also proactively innovate.

Byrnes gives you the 3 nuggets to focus on in order to create middle management excellence. I'm a big fan of the 2-3 takeaway rule. Book, training, academic course and Byrnes even throws in Broadway musical...there should be 2 to 3 juicy nuggets [songs in Byrnes' case] that you should take with you.

Managing at the Right Level - [link to commentary] at each level, managers should increasingly learn and practice change management and leadership so they are masterful by the time they reach the VP level.

Coordinated Profitability Management - the middle must coordinate amongst themselves to understand which parts of the business are profitable and which parts are not. Byrnes recommends conducting a profitability analysis [Link] which should provide insights into where the company can increase current profitability and reposition for the future.

Managing as Teaching - if you find yourself constantly being pulled into day-to-day issues, the underlying problem is that you most likely have not succeeded in teaching your managers to manage. A vp, according to Byrnes should be at most 50 percent manager and 50 percent developer of managers.

He closes with a one line maniefesto for all managers. According to Byrnes:

The highest calling in management is teaching your managers to manage.
Middle management excellece, resting on managing at the right level, coordinated profitability management and managing as teaching, CAN be systematically developed and constantly improved. It is the ultimate point of leverage for ALL corporate performance.

I'm REALLY starting to like Byrnes a lot. At the beginning of this post, I linked to his list of articles from Working Knowledge. Required reading at this point, my friends.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Cash Flow 101

Great post from 37signals that I picked up from Lifehacker. Great and relevant for a number of reasons. Cash flow is the killer of small business. I would say it is probably the killer of all business but I won't bog down there.

When I was running large technical support programs and developing entry level technicians into future leaders I stressed financials. I tried to explain that technical skills were nice, but if you really want to add value, learn how a business operates. In other words....follow the money.

We're still in startup/growth mode at the outsource service provider I currently run. Cash flow is key. Getting paid on time is probably THE most crucial aspect of our business. Payroll WILL be late if our clients do not pay on time. Sometimes we take daily trips down Cash Flow Lane to understand where the money is going. And believe me. It GOES.

I also use the same approach with my business development teams as I did with the technicians. In order to thirve you MUST understand your prospects' business. Understanding their cash flow, if you can get down to that level, gets you established as a trusted business advisor. See Sales and Marketing in the Third Age for more on this subject.

Great article. Read it. Know it. Live it.

For more...check out CEO Tools by Kraig Kramers. He is a TEC speaker. I met him a couple of years ago and this book provides awesome tools for helping you run your business.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Diligentia Featured in the CEO Refresher

I am very pleased to announce that the CEO Refresher has published a book review I wrote.

Secrets of Special Ops Leadership was written by Dr. William Cohen, Major General, USAFR, Ret. PLEASE go check out the review and give Rick (the publisher) lots of hits.

I am incredibly excited to be a part of the CEO Refresher team. I anticipate that this will be the first of many reviews. I already have another book on the way. I have been a long-time reader of the Refresher and jumped at the chance to join such an elite group.

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