Steven's Blog

No One is Shooting at You

Years ago, I was having coffee with an entrepreneur who, at the time, was bootstrapping a software business. He had been a CIA operative during the Vietnam War, and told me about the time he had spent with a multinational special forces unit in Laos.

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Increase Your Attrition

Many companies are struggling to find the qualified people they need, so they resort to retaining the people they have whether qualified or not. They fight to eliminate or at least reduce rates of attrition when it is increased attrition that can do the business the most good. Retention of the best is all that matters.

Recently, the head of a large business unit of a major international company here in Japan told me that the company’s rate of attrition is of no particular concern to him, even though it is higher than industry average.

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Forget Recruiting. Poach.

Don’t recruit. Poach. In a tight labor market, there is no percentage in tentativeness. If there is any time to go on the offense, it is now.

I don’t know why recruiting firms call what they do a “search.” Who cares about a search? A search is easy, and often consists of little more than trawling through LinkedIn. Continue reading



Retain Just the Best

You want to retain just the best in your organization.

Why?

Retention, per se, is no business objective. It is retaining the best that counts, even in the tightest of labor markets.
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Don’t be a Japanologist

Japan-fatigue is real and can be fatal to your success and career. Don’t try to explain how Japan is different to executives in your head office. While such conversations are great for dinner parties, talks with students, and war stories with friends, unless executives in your head office are interested in Japanology as a hobby, it’s best to leave Japanology to academics. Executives will find discussions only frustrating and tedious.

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Your Own Worst Enemy

Businesses can be their own worst enemies when business process supplants business thinking.

The CEO of a large industrial American company in Japan told me of difficulties he faces in buying from a division of a large Japanese industrial company, not because of a lack of will to sell on their part, but rather unnecessary and burdensome bureaucratic processes that were designed to meet Japanese government procurement requirements, the division’s primary customer. Quality control processes at the Japanese seller company were impractical and far beyond what the American company required, while lead-times and costs were excessive. Adherence to process, no matter how inappropriate, dominated thinking.

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exceptional leadership

Be the Success Exception

Exceptions are “exceptional” by definition, and always exist no matter how rare. Just because research in organizational change shows a strong correlation between certain factors of success and failure does not make these axiomatic. My most successful clients make themselves the success exception, and you can too.

In my experience, I have never seen any dramatic change of any significance gain widespread cross-organizational enthusiasm before implementation, but have often seen such change succeed nonetheless despite lack of initial buy-in. So I advise that action first, buy-in later works, as long a you do things right. There is no need to delay change to seek buy-in.

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