Monthly Archives: July 2012

//July

55 and still not getting the basics right!

According to the young shop assistant in Garmisch-Partenkirchen I don’t know how to walk correctly. I am doing it all wrong. He says that instead of landing each step on my heals I should land on the ball of my feet. Apparently this will not only improve my posture but also my perambulation efficiency too.

One hundred Euros lighter I leave the shop with a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes and the perfect solution for hill trekking. This made me think about how my clients must feel when I point out that they are not even getting the basics right.

I have come across so many CEO’s that simply do not know their company’s real cash position. I am not talking about bank balances but the real situation (revenue due in + cash in bank, less invoices outstanding, liabilities, scheduled payments, inventories and working capital etc.) – the real cash position.  You can’t get anymore basic than that. Attempting to make decisions without this fundamental information is like trying to cross a busy highway without knowing how much fuel you have in the tank. 

I didn’t learn this from a book or an accountant; I learnt it from hard experience, from deciding that I do not want nasty surprises when it comes to money.  The ability to pay taxes, salaries and suppliers is about as fundamental as you can get. A CEO armed with reliable data is more relaxed, self assured and stress resistant – even if it is not always what he or she would wish for.

Just like walking, the more we perfect the basics, the further we can go, no matter how hard the terrain.

Have a good week,

Harley

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It seems such a long time

There’s an attractive vase of flowers in the reception where the no smoking sign used to be and apart from a neat pile of post on my desk, everything appears much as I left it three weeks ago.  My inbox shows no hint of disaster or major change, in fact all I see are smiling faces that seem pleased to see me. 

One test of a really good holiday is that it should feel as if you have been away for much longer than reality.  I feel that I have been away for ages and this is supported by the fact that grass has started to grow through the tarmac on the disused outside lane of the motorway where workmen should normally be working. I guess they must be on holiday too?

People say that time flies when you’re having fun and I find that it’s true, however if you pack loads of new experiences into your brain while you’re having fun then the opposite effect is experienced when you look back afterwards, even years later.  Your holiday may go quickly but the memory remains forever.

One secret of a really good holiday is to ensure that when you are away, you really are away.  My Android phone has a great application called ‘Call Blocker’, it’s brilliant.  What you do is make a ‘white list’ of the names of the people you want to be able to reach you, in my case my wife and travelling companion, and then select the ‘White list only’ feature.  The result is that everyone excluded from your list does not get through but receives a polite message instead.  Call Blocker worked great and gave me the chance for my brain and soul to experience life without work and its constant interruptions.

Work is like having children.  They are great and we wouldn’t want the world without them but sometimes, just sometimes – it’s brilliant to have some time just for oneself.  Three weeks cannot be too much to ask for can it?

Have a good week,

Harley

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Who the hell are you?

I have just invented a new term for myself: ‘Head office syndrome’. I use it to describe the arrogance that many employees seem to have when it comes to working in ‘Head Office’. Evidence of the syndrome is ironically more evident in lower and middle ranked employees rather than with senior managers. This is might be because the senior managers are already fairly well known and do not feel the need to throw their weight around.

So what exactly is ‘Head office syndrome’? It is the use of the words ‘head office’ to convey authority… for example “Hi it’s Jessica, I am from Head office, I was wondering when we are going to receive the reports you promised us?” (Notice how Jessica makes it quite plain where she is from and then uses the word “we” i.e. “we at head office”.  More often than not, the recipient of this message is likely to react (possibly not out loud) “Who the hell are you?”  Had Jessica opened with “Hi John, It’s Jessica from Accounting and Controlling, sorry to bother you but I was wondering when I can expect your report?”  In this second approach he has no doubt who Jessica is and what her role is and Jessica is not hiding behind the head office ‘we’ but is asserting herself as the rightful recipient of the report.

Head office syndrome irritates the hell out of me because it is so patronizing when it has no place to be. It is as if Head Office is somehow on an organization chart and that it has an authority over other lesser locations such as; production units, sales offices and retail outlets – how absurd is that?

In case you are thinking that this only occurs in giant multi-nationals, you would be wrong. It can be found in every company that has more than one building.

As you can possibly sense, I am rather tense this week. The summer is here and next week I leave for my annual motorbike trip (this year Brussels to Budapest and the great plains of Hungary – ten countries in sixteen days: over the Alps and far away).  It’s time for me to re-charge my batteries and to reflect, so no newsletter or blog for a while.  

Have a good three weeks,

Harley

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