What We Can Learn from TV

Television, sometimes affectionately known as the “idiot box”, for the most part shows us nothing about the world.  Reality television has given us glances into human interaction that promote backstabbing, immunity challenges, and fist pumping. Programs that show us the deeper sides of human emotions can be passed over for programs that are full of drama. (Two exceptions come to mind: “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”). TV is an escape and we don’t want to be “taught” anything from the things we do to distract ourselves from the stress of the day.

After the SuperBowl last night, CBS aired a show called “Undercover Boss”. The basic premise is a CEO of a major company immerses themselves in the day to day work of the average person in their company. Last night, we saw a CEO picking trash off a conveyer belt, collecting errant paper from a hillside, and steam cleaning port-a-potties. What things can we learn from this as business owners or management? I have some thoughts.

1.) Understanding your workforce will help you understand customers’ needs. Stream-lining processes, identifying understaffing issues, or changing the way things are done improves your productivity and directly affects your customers’ happiness.  Making it easier on the front line employee will help them make it easier for the customers.
2.) You can’t see the face of your company staring at numbers. Sure, numbers are the bottom line, and in the end, as the CEO it’s your responsibility to keep the company profitable. Remember that every “number” on the page is actually the face of someone who works tirelessly for you.

Did you watch “Undercover Boss”? Did you like it? I really enjoyed myself with it and I feel like it was trying to be socially relevant in a time when people feel like their head offices or CEO’s are a million miles away and have no real idea what goes on in their company. 

How are you going to connect to your workforce today?  

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AccuConference | Using Intuition To Make Business Decisions

Using Intuition To Make Business Decisions

Many of the best managers we've met (or have heard about) not only have education and experience, they also boast intuitive decision making skills. These intuitive skills are based on an ability to recognize patterns at lightning speed. Gleaned from years of experience, the right decision comes in a flash, as quickly and effortlessly as "a recognition of information that has been largely forgotten by the conscious mind," writes Richard Daft in the upcoming new edition of Management (due out in 2009), one of his many textbooks on the subject of business management. He reports that "in the business world, managers continuously perceive and process information that they may not consciously be aware of, and their base of knowledge and experience helps them make decision that may be characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity."

Another book, recently published, called The Feminine Side of Leadership, by business executive Jenny Fisher "shares her experience and insight on how to maximize the creativity and talents of team members by creating a trusting and supportive work environment."

"‘The Feminine Side of Leadership is an invaluable tool to help people recognize their current management strengths and identify growth areas to improve their personal leadership effectiveness,' says Fisher. ‘Readers will learn how to use their leadership skills to inspire creativity and foster growth throughout their organization. By utilizing our inner strength and unleashing the power within us we can create a passionate, high-performance work environment that inspires others to succeed.'"

Using intuition rather than rational analysis to make business decisions is a timeworn tradition, not a newfangled invention or an exact science, even though recent books may promise that.

Gary Klein's Intuition at Work: Why Developing Your Gut Instincts Will Make You Better at What You Do (2002) was the penultimate book written to harness and channel this timeworn tradition. The book has been called the definitive work on intuition in business management, featured in the Wall Street Journal, and revered by business managers.

Klein writes, "Some experts encourage us to follow our intuitions, while others counsel us to suppress our intuitions because they are inherently biased. At first glance, we seem to be caught in a dilemma. Fortunately, research conducted during the past fifteen years points to a path forward."

"In order to take that path, we have to reject the dilemma. We shouldn't simply follow our intuitions, as they can be unreliable and need to be monitored. Yet we shouldn't suppress our intuitions either, because they are essential to our decision making and can't be replaced by analyses or procedures. Thus our only real option is to strengthen our intuitions so that they become more accurate and provide us with better insights."

If you wish to strengthen your intuition as a business manager, which has returned to the forefront as a skill to be mastered, perhaps checking out Klein and Fisher and Daft will help you in your quest.

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