Lists – Making and Use Thereof

We’ve all used them – lists of things to do, things to buy, places to go, people to call, tasks to execute – the list is endless.  It’s the simplest of management tools and one of the most damaging.  We even compile lists of lists.  Compiling a list is […]

Secrets Aren’t Secret

Because I’ve spent a lot of time in the Washington, DC area working in and for the federal government, I’ve been asked frequently about recent news reports coming from the national capital.  Most of the questions are of the type, “Can the President/FBI/CIA/NSA/etc. really do ___________________ and keep it […]

When Things Go Wrong, COMPLAIN!

I generally encourage people to lower their voices and think before they speak – perhaps to not speak at all – it makes for more reasoned communication.  But there is one area that I personally violate that rule – when things go wrong.  And when things go wrong, I […]

$20 Sorry

I enjoy collecting stories that have a moral.  This is an ancient method of teaching exemplified by Aesop’s Fables, a collection of short stories that always illustrated a lesson about life.  We remember stories when we don’t remember facts or statements.  As humans, we’re wired that way.

The stories always […]

Theories X, Y and Z

Every organization has a culture established at its beginning and changed only with considerable effort and pain.  Leadership and management will operate on the basis of one of three theories of people – Theories X, Y and Z.

In a Theory X organization, people are considered lazy and therefore management […]

The Misuse of Audits

Two things happened that involved me within the last 24 hours that concern audits:  I completed an audit of an organization and I read a column in the SpokesmanReview about audits in Medicare.

I’ve been doing audits, and their cousin, inspections, for more than 30 years.  I remember what it […]

Highly Satisfied

I’m a big fan of customer surveys.  Not of giving them because mostly the results are skewed by the apostles and terrorists – I’ll explain later.  I’m a big fan of filling out the surveys for several reasons.

First of all, so few people actually fill out the surveys at […]

Five Questions to Ask

Recently, my business partner (and daughter), Meredith, was describing the products she saw at a craft trade show.  There were many wonderful products that she was excited about but, at the same time, there were products that left you scratching your head because they were neither innovative (the theme […]

Tactical Thinking vs. Strategic Thinking

Last week I wrote about the need to look ahead.  Today, I thought I would amplify my thoughts considering recent news reports without mentioning the specific actions but looking at the difference between tactical thinking and strategic thinking.

Tactical thinking is focused on the here and now or what’s close.  […]

Look Ahead

My wife and I go through a ritual most days – I’ll ask her sometime in the morning or early afternoon if she has given any thought to what to have for dinner and does she want me to get something out of the freezer?  Invariably, she’ll say no, […]

Looking Like a Professional

I’ve been an adjunct professor for most of this century, teaching graduate students quality and operations management as well as entrepreneurship.  Now, mind you, these were GRADUATE students.  For the most part, they had experience in the workplace after college.

And yet, they weren’t professionals.  By that, I mean they […]

Completed Staff Work

When I was supporting the Air Force in Washington, DC, I quickly learned a phrase that I hadn’t heard before but it represented a concept I was very familiar with – Completed Staff Work.  Completed Staff Work meant that you did everything so the only thing a colonel or […]

Close Enough

There was a saying that was used when I was in the Navy, particularly among the nuclear navy personnel, that emphasized doing a job well without going overboard, “Close enough for government work.”  The saying originated from federal contractors being able to sell the government shoddy material because inspectors […]


Have you written your 2017 resolutions yet?  If you have, then you’ve surely made them SMART, haven’t you?

SMART is the acronym for






SMART is the basis for supposedly good goals because it keep you from creating pie-in-the-sky goals that have little basis in real life.

But I have a problem with […]

2016 in Review

It’s the end of the year and it’s a common feeling to feel that the year wasn’t a good one – we didn’t accomplish much – we’re no better off than we were at the beginning of the year.  It isn’t true but the little devil sitting on our […]

2016 Holiday Season

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little […]

Lessons Learned From Infamy

December 7, 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian Islands.  There are newspaper inserts and TV specials as well as countless articles and speeches retelling the stories and pointing out the lessons that were learned.  Usually, the lessons can be summed up as “we […]

Planning is Important – But NOT for the Reason You Think

We are always planning – it’s fun and we get to focus on the future where everything is possible.  And Americans are forward-looking people.  We rarely focus on the past except to provide a guide to the future.

But planning in America is usually a terrible process – in fact, […]

What Samsung can learn from Chicago-Strength Tylenol*

In September 1982, the world was shocked at the cyanide deaths of seven people in the Chicago area.  It was soon followed with the discovery that Tylenol was the common link.  Johnson & Johnson mounted a total recall of Tylenol, halted production and distribution of the product and broadcast […]

Where We Get Ideas – And Make Them Our Own

The artist Picasso once said – “Good artists imitate, great artists steal.”  It’s a statement I’ve repeated many times to clients and others because it illustrates an important concept of where we get ideas.  After all, “There’s nothing new since the Greeks” is a very old proverb.

Of course, there […]