Weekly Thought – February 26, 2019
Fred thought in visuals, and translated those visuals into words so others could capture the ideas. He often likened his process to the handle on a pot. The purpose of the handle was to enable someone to safely and easily manipulate the pan. He believed his ability to take complex thoughts and make them communicable was like putting a handle on them.
BWFLI is deepening the relationships with the colleges and universities with which we have partnered in the last 11 years. We will be doing this through personal input, written materials, and campus visits. Thank you for helping us in this crucial work. Please pray with us each month. Sign up for the prayer network and stand with us as we lift up our Christian institutions of higher learning.
Taking Care of Business
As I have said before, during the first weeks of each year I did in-depth evaluation of the prior year and planning for the new one. One area was focused on my business. I began this when I was a corporate executive looking at my management responsibilities. And then when I began Fred Smith Associates in 1955 I continued the practice, deepening the considerations year by year.
I started by reviewing the past year, bringing forward any items which remained on the accomplishment list. First, I looked at the organization’s personnel. I wish back then I would have had Jim Collins’s visual metaphor of the bus: putting the right ones in the right seats and the wrong ones off the bus. Without his picture, that is exactly what I did each year.
In organizations I was utilizing and maximizing strengths and buttressing weaknesses, trying to get extraordinary results from ordinary people. I always made sure I had a few extraordinary people in key leadership positions. My constant reminder was to make people decisions with my head, and not with my heart. Of course, there is a healthy interplay between the two. One thing I learned early on in owning my own business was to trust the counsel of a few talented, insightful individuals whose gifts were different from mine in making key personnel hires. I found Mary Alice had an innate, impeccable ability to read character. Therefore, any high level hires were always done with a candidate/spouse dinner with Mary Alice and me. She could read people!
Next, I wrote a vision statement to guide the organization. I reviewed, revised (when needed), and implemented the vision statement each year. In this process I evaluated our corporation’s position relative to our competition, considering new services or new products.
Of course, I looked at cash flow and profit potential. I took an overall look at capital requirements and budget items. The facilities and equipment requirements were reviewed with an eye to any needed additions. Technological changes are moving so rapidly it became a primary point of interest. I also reviewed legal, accounting, and benefit plans. I wanted to make sure we were meeting competitive standards.
Peter Drucker’s outstanding model of having efficiency at the bottom and effectiveness at the top was uppermost in the evaluation of my own performance. I had two major channels: public speaking (then writing) and business ownership. For years my personal measurement has been delegating everything from the “things that only I can do.” Some of these were looked at as annual items, other as long range corporate culture ones.
Then, I looked at the potential for flexibility in the organization because surprises come and I never want to be at their mercy.
This week think about: 1) I am two months into 2019, how am I doing with my plan? 2) What are the things that “only I can do?” 3) Who is a good model for organizational planning?
Words of Wisdom: “For years my personal measurement has been delegating everything from the ‘things that only I can do.’”
Wisdom from the Word: “The Lord’s decisions stand forever; his plans abide throughout the ages.” (Psalm 33:11 NET Bible)