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The Diet Doctor Meets Mr. Management

November 17, 2009

The American consumer is spending over 33 billion dollars per year trying to lose weight. Diet plans and weight reduction programs have enjoyed considerable success. They have a large audience of potential customers.

Despite forking over billions, there aren’t many people that don’t already possess the common sense needed to manage their weight. Trouble is, common sense solutions to everyday problems just aren’t exciting enough. In the era of instant gratification, there is a seductive allure to the quick fix.

Crash programs are more attractive than lifetime changes. The crash programs, however, will be of little benefit unless they eventually lead to the lifetime changes based on the common sense we all possess.

Management fads share a lot in common with the weight reduction programs. They too have a large audience. Despite being the free world’s leading economy, we have our share of managerial problems.

Management fads and “quick fixes” also have a seductive allure. After you have MBO’ed yourself as a One Minute Manager in Search of Excellence while Swimming with the Sharks as you Learned What They Didn’t Teach You at The Harvard Business School, you will sooner or later need to make some lifetime changes.

Those changes will move you back to the basics of good management. Those basics will rest on a foundation of common sense. Here’s the first half of a list of ten pieces of common sense you knew all along.

1) Choosing the right things to do is more important than how you do them. “Doing the right things” is the result of strategic thinking. If the grand strategy is correct, you can withstand any number of tactical errors and still be successful. A sound business strategy begins with a consistent philosophy of doing business, is focused on a defined market opportunity, and includes a clear understanding of the factors that are critical to success.

Strategy defines a central purpose for an organization and justifies its independent activities. Those charged with the responsibility to implement that strategy must be aware of it. The communication of strategy within an organization enables a decentralized effort in pursuit of a centralized objective.

2) The only person you’re capable of motivating is yourself. Managers spend too much time trying to motivate others. Manage yourself, motivate yourself, but concentrate on leading others.

Man is by nature a motivated problem solver. The only problem is that people are sometimes motivated to do things we don’t want them to do. Find out what people are seeking for themselves and create an environment in which they can achieve their objectives while advancing the purposes of the organization.

3) Everybody is in business for themselves. That’s the reality and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s the American way. That’s the concept of the “independent entrepreneur” and you have to learn how to put it to work for your benefit.

The success of an organization will generally be in direct proportion to the level of commitment of its members. How do you get commitment? You get it by giving ownership, in ideas and their implementation.

The ideal business is staffed with a group employees, each an “independent entrepreneur” with a clear understanding of the grand strategy and willing to contribute to its accomplishment by pursuing activities that advance their personal objectives.

4) The future is now. Planning is the starting point for all managerial activity. If you don’t give thought to the future, you will find sorrow near at hand.

Planning is not concerned with future decisions, but the future impact of present decisions. Planning is done in order to determine what must be done today, this week, this month, or this year so that we will be where we want to be tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.

Good things that happen without good planning result more from good luck rather than good management.

5) The law of comparative advantage. Everyone can do something better than somebody else. An effective manager must find those things that they alone can do best and delegate everything else to somebody else.

A manager’s job is not merely to get results, it is to get results through people. It is incumbent for a manager to delegate tasks that will lead to the development of others .

Because its your business, next week we’ll print the second half of our ten pieces of common sense management. To be continued.

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