A businessman pressing an Empowerment button on a transparent screen.

Empowerment That Counts

Empowering people can be motivating and serve as a boon to your business’s results, but only if you do it right. However, nothing engenders cynicism more than pro forma exercises in prima facie empowerment. Too frequently, I find ham-fisted attempts of managers at making people feel empowered, often at the behest of some kind of edict issued by HR managers who are oblivious to the damage they cause.

Continue reading

man and woman look at the city

Ignore Prognosticators of Doom

There is no percentage in fear of the hypothetical, no matter how reasonable a hypothesis might sound. Anyone can prognosticate doom about anything someone doesn’t like for whatever reasons. The impossible is only something no one has done yet. 

Continue reading

Business meeting talking about excellence and diversity.

Excellence, Not Diversity

If you are a business leader pursuing diversity, you are chasing the wrong goal. It is not diversity that matters, but rather excellence that counts. Diversity of people is merely a natural result.

Continue reading

Leader holding up employee who stands out from mediocrity and tradition.

No Tradition in Mediocrity

If you have ever heard someone use the adjectives traditional Japanese to describe an uninspiring manager, the moniker is only half-true. Only by replacing the word traditional with mediocre can you accurately reflect reality. There is nothing traditional about mediocrity in Japan, just as anywhere else in the world.

Continue reading

Man holding strategy arrow

Strategy on Your Own Terms

The best military strategists always choose the terrain on which they will do battle, rather than allowing the enemy to choose for them. So, in business, why would you possibly allow others to define the topography of your business environment instead of choosing the topography yourself?

Yet, that is often precisely what business people do.

Continue reading

Two white puzzle pieces on a chalkboard with a chalked in lightbulb. Puzzle piece plus puzzle piece equals lightbulb going off.

Not Invented Here

“Not invented here” syndrome is not unique to Japan and is one of the most common forms of passive resistance to any reasonable organizational improvement or change in organizations everywhere in the world. Make no mistake, those who warn of the dangers of “not invented here” pretend to be doing so in the best interest of the business. Yet, it is only their individual self-interest about which they care.

Continue reading

Hands outstretched with palms up with white sleeves holding generic people.

No One is Indispensable

The success of any business rarely depends on any key manager or executive. It is only the mistaken belief in the indispensability of an executive that masks and suppresses the talent of others. Your leadership bench is often hiding in plain sight.

Continue reading

No Pain Points, No Problems

What if your prospects and clients have no pain points and no problems?

Presumption of damage is never a good way to start a relationship with anyone, whether in business or otherwise.

Not long ago, I was working with a sales team to help improve their capability to ask questions when meeting with prospects. Without fail, during role plays when I played the customer, each one asked me variations of “Do you have any particular problems?”

When I responded, “No, we don’t have any particular problems,” each salesperson was flustered and did not know how to respond. Each one, after a few awkward exchanges, simply withdrew and promised to call again at a later date.

Continue reading