Monday Mornings with Madison

Cultivating the Creative Spark, Part 2

Word Count: 1,887
Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

Creativity is a state in which the mind is filled with words, images and possibility.  Buried recollections are blasted into consciousness.  Distant unrelated thoughts become tied together.  In a creative burst, what were once just random considerations and scattered reflections connect in ways that might have otherwise passed unregistered, unfelt and unacknowledged.  In that moment, newly-generated ideas are recognized as important and worthy of being shared. Continue reading

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Cultivating the Creative Spark – Part 1

Word Count: 1,332
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

Great Minds.  Abundant Creativity.

Marie Curie.  Bill Gates.  Benjamin Franklin.  Barbara McClintock.  Pablo Picasso.  Leonardo DaVinci.  Georgia O’Keefe.  Orville and Wilbur Wright.  Ada Lovelace.  Alexander Graham Bell.  Walt Disney.   Florence Nightingale.  Louis Pasteur.  Hippocrates.  Sir Isaac Newton.  Amelia Earhart.  Michelangelo.  Thomas Alva Edison.  Steve Jobs.  Ludwig Beethoven.  Ada Yonath.  William Shakespeare.  Linda B. Buck.

What do all of these people have in common?  All of the names on this list are considered highly creative people who made great contributions to society.  And, this list of two dozen names is but a drop in the vast ocean of people deserving recognition for their creative gifts to humanity.   From inventors, scientists and scholars to musicians, artists and authors, people across a spectrum of disciplines have been using their imagination to elevate and innovate culture and society for thousands of years. Continue reading

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Decision-Making and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, Part 2

Word Count: 2,028
Estimated Read Time: 8 min.

It is natural for a person to not want to lose something into which he/she has invested time, money, energy or emotions.  So the person devotes even more resources toward making the investment work, even when it is a bad decision.  That’s the Sunk Cost Effect.  On the one hand, self-protecting from a loss is a natural instinct and a valuable one for survival.  Some things do require just a bit more time, effort or support in order to turn a questionable decision or direction into a brilliant one.  After all, it took Amazon seven years just to break even and today is showing $60 Billion in annual revenue. Continue reading

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Decision-Making and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, Part 1

Word Count: 1,719
Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ min.

Standing by a Bad Decision

Your company’s leadership made a decision to open a new division or expand into a new territory. Or, the VP of Product Development decided to launch a new product or service.  Or, the COO decided to shift a fundamental process in the company from one department to another.  Or, the CTO made a decision to upgrade to a new software.  Or, VP of Business Development hired staff to try a new sales approach.   Or the business owner hired a new CEO to run the company. These are all major decisions, not made lightly or casually. Continue reading

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Maximizing Meeting Effectiveness

Word Count: 1,255
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

The amount of time business executives spend in meetings in the U.S. is substantial.   According to a 1998 MCI Conferencing white paper, U.S. workers attended about 11 million meetings (cumulatively) a year, spending an average of six hours per week.  Supervisors spent even more time in meetings, averaging about 23 hours in meetings per week.  That is about half of every work-week.   And, “people working for large organizations tend to have more meetings than those in smaller ones.”  So the bigger the company, the more meetings had and more time spent in them. Continue reading

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To Meet or not to Meet, that is the Question

Word Count: 1,340
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Even the most useful and productive meetings consume too much time and accomplish too little.  And the truth is that most meetings are often wasteful, disorganized, and unfocused.  Unresolved issues from meetings often languish.  And when meetings are used for decision-making, work is often postponed awaiting a time when everyone can meet.  Hence the question:  meet or don’t meet?   The answer is a simple one.  If the meeting is just to deliver information – a one-way information dump – don’t meet!  Put the info in a concise, clear memo and send it to everyone to read. Continue reading

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How Companies deal with “Bad Employees”

Word Count: 1,233
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

When Employees Don’t Work Out

Even the best companies have some ‘bad hires’ from time to time.  That doesn’t mean the person is bad… just not a good fit for the company or job.  Employee weaknesses – and every person has some — usually surface within weeks or months after being hired.   Sometimes a new hire simply cannot do essential parts of the job for which he was hired.  Or is too slow in their work speed.  Sometimes a new hire has a bad attitude and cannot get along with others.  Or a short time after being hired, the employee starts getting to work late and taking a lot of time off.  Or perhaps a long-term employee gets moved to a position that is beyond her ability.  Or maybe the company recruits a reputed superstar only to learn that the luminary’s reputation shines brighter than what he can actually do.  It doesn’t take long for the bad employee’s supervisor to know the employee is not performing adequately.  And yet, the person is not let go.  Why?  There are a multitude of reasons why a bad employee might still be on the job.  Some are legitimate considerations and others not.   Here are a few of the most common. Continue reading

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Penny Wise and Pound Foolish in Business

Word Count: 1,551
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

The Search for Spending Balance

Most companies – not including big tech companies like Google, Apple and Netflix — watch their expenses carefully to ensure that they aren’t leaking profits, like a boat with a hole.   After all, business owners should always be looking for ways to maximize revenue while minimizing expenses to ensure the business makes a profit.  That is obvious.  But, deciding how much money a company spends on a myriad of expenses is often an exercise similar to walking a tightrope.  A company that spends freely and lavishly can result in a culture of excess that leads to employee waste and carelessness, while a company that is excessively vigilant and tight with the purse strings can create a culture that is demoralized and discouraged, and ultimately unwilling to go the extra mile or contribute big ideas.  The goal, then, should be to spend adequately… enough to keep morale and motivation high while keeping turnover and frivolousness low.   That is great, in theory, but what does that look like in practice?  How money is allocated is a proxy or indicator for what the leadership values.   It sends a message.  The only question then is what message a company wants to send to its people through money.  There are various options, from one end of the generosity spectrum to the other. Continue reading

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Building a Team with Depth and Backup Support

Word Count: 1,461
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

The Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors went head to head in the National Basketball League’s Championship Finals this month.  To hear those two names in the Finals shocked just about everyone.  On the one hand, the Warriors were very familiar with Championships since they were in the Finals the last four out of five consecutive years and won.  For good reason.  They have some of the all-time best players in the NBA including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.  It’s a team that really favors promoting from within and home-grown talent.  And, the organization fosters an extremely close-knit team culture where the hardest workers are invariably the best players.  This approach allowed them to develop a nearly unstoppable team.  Nearly. Continue reading

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The Biggest Driving Force is a Hunger to Succeed

Word Count: 1,593
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

What is hunger?  Meriam-Webster Dictionary calls it a strong desire or craving; an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food.  When it comes to food, every person knows firsthand what hunger feels like.  In a way, it is like an itch that needs scratching.  You know it when you feel it.

In the case of hunger for success, that is a deeper kind of need not just to survive but to thrive.  And, it functions like a type of rocket fuel for human drive and determination.  Hunger is the “je ne sais quoi” trait – a quality that cannot be adequately described – that propels a person to never quit… to persevere against daunting odds.  Hunger allows a person to dig deeper within themselves even when tired or discouraged.  It helps the person to keep going in the face of adversity and challenges.  Hunger for success isn’t always driven by poverty or scarcity.  It often comes from a more fundamental need to prove one’s worth and value.   And that kind of hunger can make a person achieve what might otherwise seem impossible. Continue reading

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