What does work accomplish?….for many businesses….great work….creates profits. A great business has an impact on its customers. Buying a company’s product results in the usefulness of that product….and for most businesses that’s where it ends.
Businesses/organizations need a lastining impact on their customers and community. While we (in our family business) had a positive impact on our customers….we could have had a better impact on our community. Though we were not located in any one specific community, at least in the surrounding neighborhoods.
From Seth Godin:
“Marketers make two mistakes over and over. They create average, commodity products and expect that people will pay extra for them. Or, in the other direction, they lose their nerve and don’t charge a fair price for the extraordinary work they’re doing, afraid that people will find a substitute.”
Pricing was always a challenge in our competitive business environment. Although our product lines were for the most part unique to us….there was some overlap. We did our best to have a “fair price”….and be competitive. Sometimes we lost the sale….we still had to make a profit….to stay in business.
Overall….after many years….we did do extraordinary work.
In 1960….summer jobs were hard to come by in Muskegon. Fortunately, an eight week job was available at General Telephone Company of Michigan.
The job was counting switches….that were opening or closing during an hour time frame. These were mechanical switches in large banks….more than likely to get telephone traffic data.
It was not hard work (unlike that at the Norge factory….another summer job)….it was somewhat tedious.
Yet working at General Telephone was great experience in developing a solid work ethic.
Sword and Plough
Sword and Plough uses military surplus to make fashion products….create jobs for veterans….and make a profit.
From ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/08/surplus-tents-become-fashion-items-as-army-officer-ceo-creates-jobs-for-vets/
A good story….the lessons learned: Great ideas….require great execution.
The military at times is often at odds with itself….sometimes exceptional leaders….sometimes barely competent. However….combining ambition….common sense….and doing the right things develops talented people and effective leaders.
Outstanding 1st/Lt. Emily Nunez and Betsy Nunez.
Man-Mur Shoe Shop – Raleigh
Man-Mur Shoe Shop is a Raleigh institution (50 years)….shoe repair not a glamorous business except for the owners of Man-Mur.
From WRAL: http://www.wral.com/landmark-raleigh-shoe-shop-has-saved-soles-for-over-50-years/13907274/
A nice story….about the value of work….successful business and the love of doing it.
The best statement: “do the best job you can and then a little more”.
Warren Bennis was one of the most impotant thinkers on leadership….he invented the study of corporate leadership.
“Central to his thinking was a distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are people who like to do things right, he argued. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon. Managers help you to get to where you want to go. Leaders tell you what it is you want. He chastised business schools for focusing on the first at the expense of the second”
I would agree with the last statement….while an excellent MBA program at Michigan in 1967….the emphasis was more on management. The thinking at that time was that strongly managed companies were the most successful. That is true to an extent. In 2014….great companies….usually have great leaders.
In my experience….organizations rise or fall dpending on leadership. One excellent example is a book from some years ago – “It’s Your Ship” (Mike Abrashoff).
Get the Job Done
There is a rather new blog about Air Force leadership (http://www.jqpublic-blog.com/ ). The latest posts have been about an air wing commander and squadron commander. Wings and squadrons being the primary operational units of the Air Force.
The current posts revolve around the relief (firing) of a squadron commander (Lt. Col.) by the wing commander (Col.).
Some of the posts are quite contentious. perhaps not surprising as the wing commander doesn’t seem to be well-liked. Reading these posts also means reading between the lines….and trying to unravel the real story.
I had a boss (Lt. Col.) who was unqualified for the job….not a leader in any shape or form. Roy….my cubie mate was a navigator so he could escape from time to time. Our solution was tell the boss what he needed to know….keep him in the loop….yet do what we needed to do to get the job done. It worked.
The ongoing discussion on the wing commander and squadron commander probably won’t get any resolution. All the more importance of getting the job. done…developing good leaders.