Monday, March 18, 2013

People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them. Epictetus

Being thrown off a bridge disturbs the person being thrown; and whichever view they take of it they are just as dead when they hit the bottom!

Epictetus is right in one way; people aren’t really disturbed by things, what disturbs them is how those things affect their lives. It’s the impact on their lives and not the view they take of it that upsets them. The impact either enhances or disrupts their plans and their progress toward their goals. If it enhances their plans they are happy if it disrupts those plans they are disturbed.

If you are caught in a traffic jam, you are not disturbed by the traffic jam, but by it’s delay of your trip. The traffic jam may make you be late to a job interview, or cause your trip to the grocery store to take twice as long. Its not your view of the traffic jam that disturbs you it’s the delay that the time spent sitting in traffic causes that upsets you.

The point of people who quote ideas such as Epictetus’ is to help you calm down and accept things as they are, but how does accepting things help?

The guy who invented the wheelbarrow was disturbed by the amount of effort to carry small loads of whatever. If he had adopted the concept that the level of effort was not the problem but how he viewed it, we would still be carrying just a few bricks at a time instead of a wheelbarrow load.

Epictetus’ real message is to ensure that we are focused on the right part of the issue. Not on the traffic jam, but on the disruption in our life. Then and only then can you correctly identify what is wrong and being to fix the real problem!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stragic Management gone wrong!

In The Lords of Strategy, Walter Kiechel writes “ the transcendent purpose of strategy became clear, at least to Wall Street: its aim was to enrich shareholders boost the stock price.”

The fallacy of this view is obvious; stock prices are a by-product of a well-managed company, not a goal in and of itself. As no less than Warren Buffet points out: “If a business does well, the stock eventually follows”.

The concept of the three Cs central to Strategic Management are Cost, Competitors and Customers. While I admit that the three Cs are important, nowhere in the book’s description of strategic management did I see any focus on the Product. As Robert Lutz found when he went to GM, management was so focused on their “strategic” numbers that they lost sight of the product, to the ultimate detriment of the corporation.

I submit that this is the major problem with American business today, most are so focused on target numbers they have lost sight of their product.

Whenever you begin making design or quality decisions based on how much profit you can make if you do it differently than the designer originally wanted, you’ve “said our profit level is more important than what we deliver to the customer”.

In the book Wheels, Arthur Hailey described a conversation at the automobile company his character worked for where they were discussing the need to add a $5 brace to remove a vibration in their latest car. Their big concern was that it would cost them three million dollars, not the quality of what they would deliver to the customer. $3,000,000 is a lot of money but it was not the difference between profit and loss, but a difference in how much profit.

While the book didn’t discuss how the frame came to be poorly designed enough to allow that vibration, my personal experience would lead me to look at the frame design process. I would look for the same cost-over-quality decision when the frame was being finalized. A mind set of “if we can save $1.00 on the cost of the frame we will get credit for the additional $600,000 more profit. That shortsighted focus on short-term profits ended up costing $4.00 more in the long run.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finally got my computer back from Apple and it works!!!!!

More new posts coming as soon as I get the stuff transferred back from my external drive to my computer's hard drive and get back to writing.

Thanks for sticking with me and I promise more new stuff soon.