Monday Mornings with Madison

An End to the Great Logo Debate

Lindon Leader — a highly regarded American graphic designer who studied at Stanford’s Art Center College of Design and was the recipient of more than 30 prestigious design awards worldwide – once said “I strive for two things in design:  simplicity and clarity.  Great design is born of those two things.”  When companies create a brand, the goal should be then that it is both simple and clear.  In that effort, company logos will generally fall into one of two categories.  Logos that have both the company’s name and an icon showcasing a product or service offered by the business are called descriptive.  Logos that just have a wordmark alone or a wordmark with a stylistic icon that does not reflect a product or service is referred to as non-descriptive.   The great debate that has raged for over 70 years is whether a company logo should be descriptive or non-descriptive. Continue reading

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Writing Tips to Help Struggling Business Writers

Word Count: 1,197
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

For many business people, writing is hard.  In fact, some people hate to write.  A person may know exactly what he wants and wants to say, but what he communicates in writing does not match what he has in mind.  Or it does not sound right when written.  For some, writing is a struggle.  Part of the problem is that how we think and speak is different than how we communicate in writing.  We use body language to fill in a lot of information that may not come across in writing. Continue reading

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The Problem with Groupthink in Business, Part 2

Word Count: 1,242
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

All of Us Are Not Always Smarter Than One of Us

According to Paul Gibbons in his book The Science of Successful Organizational Change:  How Leaders Set Strategy, Change Behavior and Create an Agile Culture, “All of us are not always smarter than one of us.  Leaders need to distinguish between the wisdom of crowds and the madness of crowds.”  Gibbons was warning business owners and managers of the dangers of Groupthink.

A term coined by social psychologist Irving L. Janis in 1972, Groupthink is the tendency for groups to make decisions that preserve the status quo rather than take into account dissenting opinions.  The reason Gibbons warned leaders of this is that Groupthink stifles innovation and makes employees feel pressured to conform.  It kills business ingenuity and diversification.  And yet it is pervasive in many organizations. Continue reading

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The Problem with Groupthink in Business, Part 1

Word Count: 1,540
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Long Life Differences and Individuality

Exactly what is Groupthink and why is it bad for business? Groupthink is the tendency of groups to make decisions that preserve the status quo rather than take dissenting opinions into account. It is a problem that affects many companies, and affects business in three ways.

  1. Groupthink compromises creativity and innovation because differing viewpoints are neither requested nor considered.
  2. Groupthink compromises the ability to make the best possible decisions because the best ideas are not allowed to compete on their own merit.
  3. Groupthink wastes one of the most valuable resources of any business:  diversity… the mix of personalities, knowledge and experiences on the payroll.  Here’s why.

Diversity of people = diversity of thoughts. Continue reading

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How Selective Blindness Can Affect Business

Word Count: 1,911
Estimated Read Time: 7 1/2 min.

Most people know that when driving a car, there is a space to the left and right rear of the vehicle on both sides that is not visible using car mirrors and not seen with our peripheral vision.  This is dubbed ‘blind spots’… spaces that aren’t visible unless the person turns not just their head but also a bit of their upper body to look back.   Because blind spots cause many car accidents, many new cars now have sensors that issue a warning when a driver communicates a desire to change lanes while there is already a car in that space.  We turn to technology to protect us from what our eyes cannot see.

However, it turns out that there are things we don’t see even when our eyes are looking right at them. It is an entirely different kind of ‘blind spot.’ It is selective blindness… a vision problem that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. We are talking about things that the eyes can physically see but the brain ignores. And, it’s not just with small things like car keys and typos. It happens with big, glaring things too. Continue reading

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How to Manage Business during a Crisis, Part 2

Word Count: 1,120
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

In January 2019, Perdue had to recall 68,000 pounds of tainted chicken in a Class 1 contamination of wood in their nuggets.  In July 2018, Kellogg had to issue a recall of Sugar Smacks cereal when over 100 people in 36 states were reported ill resulting in 34 hospitalizations according to the Centers for Disease Control.  By September, 30 more people got ill with Salmonella and the recall was extended.  For these companies, these were crisis situations that required special handling.  But crisis situations are not limited to the food industry.   In fact, it is hard to come up with an industry that hasn’t had a major crisis in the last 20 years… or in some cases the last 20 months… or even 20 days. Continue reading

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How to Manage Business during a Crisis, Part 1

Word Count: 1,281
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

Most business crises are minor ones, like an OSHA safety accident or Netflix’ poorly executed pricing change years ago.  They are short-lived and manageable.  But some aren’t.  Some are major like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that poured 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico affecting 16,000 miles of coastline, killing 8,000 animals and requiring 30,000 responders to handle the clean-up.  And many are a result of factors beyond a company’s control, such as the impact of the 9-11 attack on Cantor Fitzgerald or the effect the earthquake and tsunami of 2016 on Tokyo Electric Power Company that led to the failure and meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.   Other predicaments are the result of the reckless behavior of an employee such as the Exxon Valdes oil spill in Alaska or a rookie Dell employee’s poor handling of the company’s social media interactions that led to a firestorm of negative publicity and drove down stock prices.   And some are the result of poor leadership such as the software glitches in the Boeing 737 Max airplanes that led to two plane crashes.  Others are a result of criminal cyberattacks such as the hacking of Target’s computers which resulted in millions of customer credit cards being cancelled.  While all caused by different issues, what these calamities all share in common is that they pushed otherwise sound companies into crisis mode. Continue reading

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Will Your Company Dare to be Different? Part 2

Word Count: 2,017
Estimated Read Time: 8 min.

Ask most people what they do, and they will tell you their job title.  Ask them what their employer does, they will tell you what the company sells.  But if you ask them what their employer is about or what they believe in or value, most people have no idea how to answer.  We are taught to think of companies in terms of products or services, instead of beliefs and values.  But today’s consumers want to engage with the companies they do business with and want to buy from companies that have shared values.  So it’s time to flip the narrative, and start treating a business as an entity that has a reputation, values, beliefs, a voice and an approach in what it does and why. Continue reading

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Will Your Company Dare to be Different? Part 1

Given today’s global marketplace and ultra-fast pace of change, the maxim ‘differentiate or die’ is truer now than ever before.  Companies need to stand apart from competitors near and far.  Delivering a better product, better service or a better business model is often the difference between strife and success.  Continually bringing something new to the marketplace keeps customers engaged and interested.  But, being different is easier to say than do. Continue reading

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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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