Monday 28 January 2008

The art of the start

Today I took a "test drive" of Guy Kawasaki's latest book, The art of the Start, by reading its first FREE chapter from his web site. It's interesting! And has prompted me to buy the book! The first chapter titled The Art of Starting, provides five important things that an entrepreneur must accomplish, a mini-chapter on the Art of Internal Entrepreneuring and FAQ.

The list of five important things is as follows:
  1. Make meaning - Complete this sentence: If your organization never existed, the world would be worse off because _________________________.
  2. Make Mantra: Mantra is something short and sweet such as Authentic athletic performance (Nike), Fun family entertainment (Disney), Rewarding everyday moments (Starbucks), Think (IBM), and Winning is everything (Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers).
  3. Get going: Follow these key principles: Think big, Find a few soulmates, Polarize people, Design different, Use prototypes as market research.
  4. Define your business model: Here the advice is be specific, keep it simple and copy somebody!
  5. Weave a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions and Tasks): Seven milestones viz., Prove your concept, Complete design specifications, Finish a prototype, Raise capital, Ship a testable version to customers, Ship the final version to customers and Achieve breakeven. Assumptions about product or service performance metrics, market size, gross margin, sales calls per salesperson, conversion rate of prospects to customers, length of sales cycle, return on investment for the customer, technical support calls per unit shipped, payment cycle for receivables and payables, compensation requirements, prices of parts and supplies and customer return on investment and finally tasks such as renting office space, finding key vendors, setting up accounting and payroll systems, filing legal documents and purchasing insurance policies.
The list of recommendations for internal entrepreneurs is as follows:
  1. Put the company first
  2. Kill the cash cows
  3. Stay under the radar
  4. Find a godfather
  5. Get a separate building
  6. Give hope to the hopeful
  7. Anticipate, and then jump on, tectonic shifts
  8. Build on what exists
  9. Collect and share data
  10. Let the vice presidents come to you
  11. Dismantle when done
  12. Reboot your brain

Sunday 27 January 2008

People and Performance

Today I started reading a book titled People and Performance. It is a collection of essays written by Peter F Drucker, on the topic of management. Published by Harvard Business School Press, this book consists of 26 essays , divided into six parts. Let me share some of the points that I noted from this book.

1. Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) added management to the factors of production, land, labor and capital.
2. J.B. Say (1767-1832) coined the word, entrepreneur, who he said, directs resources from less productive into more productive investments and who thereby creates wealth.
3. A Scottish industrialist, Robert Owen (1771-1858), actually became the first manager. In his textile mill in Lanark, Owen, in the 1820s, first tackled the problems of productivity and motivation, of the relationship of worker to work, or worker to enterprise and of worker to management.
4. The problems where the job is to restore or maintain the operation at a preset level, traditionally require decision. However, in reality they are not decisions as there is actually only one right answer. Then there are so-called managerial decisions for situations such as allocation of existing resources, especially people. Here there is no right answer but a range of optimal solutions, each with a definable risk or a balance of risks. Finally there are entrepreneurial decisions where there is no one right answer and not even a range of optima.
5. Management has to do following three tasks:
  1. Fulfilling the specific purpose and mission of the institution, whether business enterprise, hospital, or university.
  2. making work productive and the worker achieving.
  3. managing social impacts and social responsibilities.
And all these tasks are to be done in a balance between the demands of today and the demands of tomorrow.

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I hope to complete this book in next week.