News + Views

Don’t Just Sit There, Keep Movin’


By Frank J. Rich

Some time ago I stopped at a store while driving through New England. The sign on the front read Rucki’s General Store. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I just stopped to stretch my legs and look around. Outside the store were a number of signs announcing the goods inside – Home Raised Quality Beef, Fresh Corn, Blue Seal Grains (and pet food), and fresh milk. I wondered about this last one; what in the world was “fresh” milk, I thought. Isn’t all milk fresh?

I stopped for a moment to inquire about the milk. Mr. Rucki, as I recall, was tall, spindly, and bespectacled. He had an expectant look on his face as though worn down by the many passersby who lived the experience I was having. “What’s fresh milk?” I asked, adding, “Isn’t all milk fresh?”

“Yup,” he said, answering the last question first. “Some fresher than others,” he added. At that moment I was reminded of one of Will Rogers’ quips – “Nothing you can’t spell will ever work.” I decided to keep it simple and not ask him to describe the processes of homogenization, pasteurization, and airborne bacteria. (more…)

June 11, 2013 |

Awareness, Use, and Innovation


By Frank J. Rich

Cycles are a persistent part of most things. Even the weather, though seemingly capricious in nature at times, delivers the seasons with cyclical preciseness. In efforts to simplify the world we live in, no less a complicated marketplace, cycle analysis helps. Cycle time reduction is one of the methods applied to organizational change that squeezes efficiency from random growth. And efficiency reveals the advantage of speed.


As the “Point Zero Five to Five Rule” suggests, only .5% to 5% of the time, in most products and services, is there value being added. The conclusion: only cost and not value is being added. Consequently, most cycle time analysis models not only simplify but enable processes with more efficiency, flexibility, less cost, and improved quality.


How might enterprises employ a simple cycle analysis that sees through the complicated math-based cycle models to drive growth? Let’s give it a try. (more…)

June 4, 2013 |

Failing Smart


By Frank J. Rich

Enterprise models often emphasize quick results. Why? The market moves more quickly today than ever, technology forces disruptive change, and innovations are increasingly more destructive (in the short term) than productive. Even the hint of technology advancement (for its effect on the use model) is often enough to stall sales of it. Yet, to affect a market with a new product idea or advancement takes an average of two years. It’s much the same to establish a new business of most any kind. How, then, do we manage the uncertain task of delivering new products to market and new enterprises of promise?

Many of us build our toys two to three times, an errant determinism that shuns a careful review of the directions. We’re just built that way, especially men. We are experimenters, not unlike Thomas Edison, who preferred to view the 10,000 attempts at an incandescent light bulb as experiments and not failures. Perhaps, his optimism or sheer determination, a rose by another name, was sufficient to chase defeat or at least the blahs, propelling him to achieve his goal of lighting the communities of America inexpensively. And in the process, proving “planned failure” as a model of achievement. Most of the experiments worked, however briefly, and then one remained lit, its filament burning for 15 hours into the darkness. (more…)

May 29, 2013 |

The Day Before Tomorrow


By Frank J. Rich

My work helping technology companies find effective positioning in their marketplace brought my company many “start-up” organizations as clients. They are an exciting lot – full of the energy required to get an enterprise off the ground and market ready, the commitment necessary to the investment in dollars and blood that are common to them (sweat equity), and the enthusiasm and attitude that informs value and productive ends.

Born of the natural inclinations in us to do our best (actualization), they march steadfastly forward without the usual fear of risk, carrying their dreams with them, not depending on others for their fulfillment. Formed of the brightest and the best in their field, start-ups are a model of what is purely “good” about capitalism – the view that “nothing comes from nothing” (ex nihilo, nihil fit). A collection of individuals organized for a common purpose, the desire to express a better way to accomplish something is their driving force – a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) that quickly and easily orders the doings of our lives, an MP3 Player to encourage our moods, flash memory to hurdle the limitations and size of magnetic drives, a “computer for the rest of us” with an apple at its core. While the VC (Venture Capitalists) who invariably fund these newbies, may be cursed of short-term goals, most start-up founders are focused on the triple play that drives success – satisfy a need, solve a problem, add value, and the promise of a long-term run at it. (more…)

April 30, 2013 |

You’ve Got To Stand For Something


By Frank J. Rich

It is often said that those who defend everything stand for nothing. It’s another version of the logical conundrum so common among the PC crowd – “there are no absolutes.” Clearly, the logic comes apart when you consider that the absence of absolutes reveals the presence of one.

You have heard me talk about the purpose and value in the concept of “a single organizing idea.” It’s a form of patterning that builds momentum around something of value. After all, it is “something of value” that everyone seeks, and they’d like to pay as little as possible for it. That’s what increases the value. It’s an old idea; what the military calls a “battle cry,” and trancendentalist’s call a mantra. It’s what organizations may call their DNA – the characteristic way in which they behave. And it is this unique quality that is necessary to driving a unified approach to the marketplace, that which qualifies all great organizations. While the terms may be variously familiar to you, the concept of a single organizing ideal (in this case) is the rallying pole around which great organizations find the energy necessary to achievement. Not coincidentally, it also forms the basis of the value proposition that attracts the best people. (more…)

April 24, 2013 |

The Dark Side… of Leadership


By Frank J. Rich

The glory in achievement may have no rival. Its consummate joy is the font of self-esteem, the carrot of all vision statements, and America’s corporate pro patria. The energy in this driving force has fueled great acts, great companies, and great nations. Few things measure significance more than the accomplishments of a manager on the move, machine-like in his fluid drive toward results. Yet, despite its winsome genes, achievement has a dark side.

Years of assessing executive behavior have revealed an obverse side, a counterpart that over time threatens performance. The virtues of drive and determination notwithstanding, overachieving leaders may have hit a wall of diminishing returns, counterbalancing in their wake of fury a faulty motive. The inexorable focus on “doing” the work of goals and tasks, targets and revenue growth, can actually retard performance over time. How? Simply by a misplaced motive or goals obsession. The result is misguided use of control and coercion, rather than empowerment through collaboration and coaching. The measure of it is lost productivity. (more…)

April 16, 2013 |

Main St Awakening…


fjr_roiBy Frank J. Rich

America is yet to regain its stride after a protracted recession. The economy may not be as bad as some guess, and then again, it may be worse. We hear daily about “The Market” – largely a group of 30 Industrials that measure a “representative” slice of the total economy. Just 30 companies; it seems an inadequate number to judge an entire economic system.

The Standard & Poor’s Market Index may be a better measure of economic health, but it too profiles the financials of only 500 major companies. It would appear that such a small sampling of America’s finest might not be a sufficient barometer of the largest economy in the world.

The above indices may account for roughly 75 percent of the U.S. equity market by capitalization, but against the backdrop of 28 million American companies, how might we measure the contribution to our economy made by so-called small companies?

Non-employer firms make up the bulk of companies in the U.S.; some 22 million. All businesses account for roughly $15 trillion in annual sales, and small businesses account for roughly one-half of all revenues and employment. (more…)

April 15, 2013 |
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