With ROWE, How do you Know?

We’ve been discussing the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) concept lately looking for ways to make our company more ROWE-like. ROWE comes from the book Work Sucks where two HR professionals from Best Buy set out to change their corporate culture for the better. The idea is to focus on results, not hours in the office or number of meetings attended.

We’re debating some of the following questions:

  • What benefit, if any, is there for positions like customer support that need to be available for specific hours (e.g. 9 – 5 M – F)?
  • How are performance issues handled?
  • How does ROWE affect more collaborative roles where several people need to work closely together?

What do you think of ROWE? What challenges and successes have you found because of ROWE?

You Might be an Entrepreneur If…

I was at an EO meeting and a person said that the love of trying the difficult was an entrepreneur trait. That got me thinking about the “you might be an xyz” chain emails that went around in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Well, here goes my rendition of “you might be an entrepreneur if…”:

  • You’ve gotten energy from someone telling you you’re not going to succeed
  • You’re blissfully ignorant when it comes to how hard it’ll be to make your business successful
  • You’ve maxed out your credit cards on the business and still press on
  • You’ve worried about meeting payroll
  • You’ve been rejected by angels or VCs when trying to raise money, or to even get a meeting
  • You think your idea is the greatest in the world before you even have a customer
  • You’ve pulled an all-nighter getting ready for a pitch
  • You’ve been told by a parent to get a real job
  • Your spouse has been repeatedly asked if you work by yourself out of your house
  • You have a goal to join EO or YPO once revenues are high enough

Those have all happened to me many times. Man, it is fun to be an entrepreneur!

What else? What are some other indicators you might be an entrepreneur?

Three Ways to Think About Business Focus

At the EO Atlanta Strategy Summit today, where we planned high-level goals for next year, one of the board members talked about a book (I don’t remember the name) where the author argued that there are three main areas of business focus:

  • Operational excellence
  • Product innovation
  • Customer intimacy

The main thesis is that a business needs competency in all three, but should only focus on one. For example, Walmart leads at operational excellence, Apple leads at product innovation, and Starbucks leads at customer intimacy.

What are some other examples for the the three categories? What one does your business focus on?

Steve Jobs and Richard Branson Micromanage Success

I’m continuing to read the Richard Branson book, Business Stripped Bare, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Steve Jobs and Richard Branson share a similar trait — they care so much about the brand experience that they micromanagement it at the CEO level. This level of passion for the brand is something many large company CEOs could learn from.

One section in the book, on page 98, has a passage from Richard Branson’s diary talking about him flying on the first Virgin Atlantic flight to Japan:

Need slippers in Upper Class, not socks. Need Japanese beers…Japanese tea from London, no good. Japanese food from London. Tastes good but must be better presented. Looks like fish and chips. Saucers for Japanese teacups.

Of course, we’ve all heard how Steve Jobs controls every last detail of the Apple products, all the way down to the packaging. Clearly, great brands like Apple and Virgin share the common trait that their CEOs ensure no detail is missed.

Have you seen this with other brands? Which ones?

Work that Gives You Energy

Have you ever tackled an issue, spent hours on the task, only to realize that you have even more energy than when you started? Some work takes energy, some is neutral, and some actually invigorates you. One of the tasks I’ve been trying to do lately is to pay attention to what things I get really excited about, what things are a pain, and what things are indifferent to me. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Grab a journal or use a note taking app on a smartphone and record everything you do that gives you energy and everything you do that saps your energy
  • Do this diligently for a week and see if you find any patterns or trends
  • Ask yourself what you can do to re-organize your life to do more of the energy giving projects and fewer energy taking projects
  • Also ask yourself how you can compartmentalize your energy taking projects or do them at certain times when you’re already low energy (e.g. right after lunch or late in the work day)

What do you think? Have you tried an exercise like this? What did you learn?

Herb Kelleher + Richard Branson Primary Attitudes

I just started reading Richard Branson’s new book Business Stripped Bare and am enjoying learning about his approach to business. Richard Branson exudes such a passion for creating new products and businesses, while ensuring an outstanding customer experience. In the book he mentions that he believes in Herb Kelleher’s primary attitudes espoused at Southwest Airlines. Here are those attitudes:

  1. Employees are number one. The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.
  2. Think small to grow big.
  3. Manage in the good times for the bad times.
  4. Irreverence is OK.
  5. It’s OK to be yourself.
  6. Have fun at work.
  7. Take the competition seriously, but not yourself.
  8. Think of the company as a service organization that happens to be in the airline business.
  9. Do whatever it takes.
  10. Always practice the Golden Rule, internally and externally.

These are strong primary attitudes and I believe in them as well.

Do you agree? What attitudes would you add?

Entrepreneurs and Relationship Networking

At this morning’s Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter awards event, the keynote speaker, Harvey Mackay, focused his message on the power of relationship networking and a Rolodex. Here’s some of his advice:

  • File away every person you meet and follow-up with them on a regular basis
  • Capture as much person information as possible (e.g. personal preferences, trips, likes, etc) and use that as a foundation for future conversations
  • Always seek ways to help your network and never expect to receive something in return
  • Dig your well before you need it (build your network and relationships before you need to tap into it)

I don’t consider myself a good networker but I feel I’m decent at it. I do appreciate the value it provides and I recommend employing these concepts to other entrepreneurs.

What do you think? Is networking important to you? What advice do you have on networking?