Monday Mornings with Madison

Taking Stock: What Kind of Person Do You Want to Be in 2020?

Word Count: 2,105
Estimated Read Time: 8 1/2 min.

With less than 10 days left in 2019, most people have begun to focus on the horizon.  It will be the start of a new quarter – and a secular new year and decade — in a few days.  For those who study the daily portion of the Talmud, January 1, 2020 is also the Celebration of the Completion of the Talmud, the “Siyum Hashas”, which is the culmination of seven and a half years of daily learning.  So this is a time of endings, and also a time of new beginnings for many.  Such moments lead most people to do some self-assessment and a bit of soul-searching and introspection.  They often make a written list of resolutions, create professional plans and set goals.  This is a worthwhile exercise; something every person should do periodically.

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Business in the Coming Age of Collaboration

Word Count: 1,341
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Business leaders have embraced agility, creativity and fierce competitiveness as essential components for success in business. The strategy has been to generate ideas, jealously guard those ideas during incubation, move fast to market, make mistakes, discard duds, correct missteps, crush the competition, and repeat.  That approach yielded big results and returns for businesses like Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, Disney, Walmart, BP, Toyota, Berkshire Hathaway, IBM, Samsung, and many more.   It drove these companies to be among the biggest and most successful in the world today.

However, as society moves from an Information Age and a Knowledge Economy into a much more technologically-complex world, organizations will need to make changes as to how they do business and their approach to innovation.  The old “crash and clash” mentality of making mistakes without regard to consequences, breaking things and fixing them later, and crushing competitors will need to be replaced with an increasingly slower, more deliberate, collaborative and cooperative approach to commerce and advancement.   Sounds fictional.  It’s not.  It’s a necessity.  Why? Continue reading

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It’s a Wrap: What To Do Before The Start of 2020

Word Count: 1,449
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Preparing for 2020

Companies in every industry have their own cycles and rhythms. In the retail sector, businesses ramp up during the fourth quarter to handle the holiday sales rush that pays for inventory ordered months before.  On the other hand, builders and developers cycle down at year-end to take account of the building season that just ended.  Regardless of what industry or sector a business is in, every organization should spend some time planning for not just the end of the quarter but the end of the year and decade, which is right around the corner. Continue reading

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Slugs vs. Caterpillars: How to Spot Good Ideas that can Turn into Great Ideas

Word Count: 1,936
Estimated Read Time: 8 min.

John Steinbeck once said, “Ideas are like rabbits.  You find two and learn how to handle them and soon you have a dozen.”  He meant that ideas have a tendency to reproduce.  That may be so.  And, certainly, these days there is no shortage of ideas.  The Internet and social media have made information sharing and collaboration much easier, which provides the fertile ground for new ideas to sprout.  So perhaps in 2020, the challenge isn’t in producing more ideas but rather in finding a way to spot which good ideas have the potential to become great ideas. Continue reading

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Improving the Quadruple Bottom Line

Word Count: 1,793
Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

In traditional business accounting and common usage, the Bottom Line refers to either a company’s ‘profit’ or ‘loss’.  It is usually recorded on the very Bottom Line of a statement of revenue and expenses.   It is the simplest indicator of a company’s performance and success that year.  And, generally, business leaders not only look at their current Bottom Line, but also forecast what they anticipate the company’s Bottom Line will be in the future, year-over-year. Continue reading

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Are Trademarks and Patents Worth It?

Word Count: 1,714
Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

Ask any intellectual property attorney if a brand name, tag line, motto or slogan should be trademarked or an innovation or invention should be patented and the answer will invariably be yes.  After all, without intellectual property protection, a business is a sitting duck to have its unique identity and ideas poached by competitors.  Bear in mind, though, that those attorneys have a horse in the race.  Intellectual property attorneys earn a living by filing patent and trademark applications and fighting to protect the intellectual property rights that their clients fought to obtain.  And, they are paid to do that work whether they win or lose.  Thus, they have a vested interest in promoting patents and trademarks. Continue reading

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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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