Working with younger teams

With recent college grads, it’s hard the resist the temptation to dump tasks with detailed instructions.  While this can aide in the learning, it will not engage younger employees.  The underlying purpose resonates and motivates.  Without detailed instructions, these employees can be left to create products we couldn’t have dreamed on are own.  Strike the balance between creativity and structure erring on the side of creativity.

Waste vs Necessity

What’s the line between wasting your time and doing something that is a necessity?  Working in finance, I understand the value of an audit, but feel when answering auditor’s questions, I’m only wasting my time.  Audit is not what draws me to business.  New deals and growth draw me to business.  When auditors ask for certain assumptions, I cringe, since often times these assumptions can be debated for days/weeks/months before a hard conclusion.  Let us cut the internal discussions and lets start creating something of value.  Again, I understand the importance, but ultimately a mediocre audit versus a great audit won’t generate an extra dollar of cash from a customer.

Story Telling

I’m realizing the importance of reading may not be in the facts you acquire, but the stories you learn.  As humans, we learn better through story telling.  Jesus told stories.  Lincoln told stories.  We should all work to tell better stories.  A great way to do this is through spending time with our friends, communities, and reading.  Tonight, I’ll be reading.

Why to start

I heard a story today that hammers home the idea on why to start on any project (especially in the age of the internet). The full story can be found here, but is summarized below.

If you’ve heard the “oldies” song Rock Around the Clock (RATC), it is because a child recommended his father and some friends listen to a random, no one has heard of, song (RATC).  His father happened to be Glenn Ford, a famous actor of the time and just starting filming on the movie Blackboard Jungle.  The friends who heard the song were the movie’s producers.  RATC ended up being played in the movie a few times… sparking an entire new genre of music, rock-n-roll.

It’s hard to imagine rock-n-roll not existing, but there was a time that people had never heard an “uptempo” song.  Had Bill Haley and his Comets never released RATC, had Peter Ford not enjoyed music as a child, had it been someone other than Glenn Ford listening to the song… who knows where music would be today.

Moral is, the song was out there and was discovered.  Had it not been there, the world today would be different.  What do we have inside of us that is not yet out there?  I’m still discovering this for myself and am excited for what lies ahead.

Pay Incentives

When pay incentives are not aligned with business longevity, this makes me nervous.  General Electric (GE) recently announced that Senior Vice Presidents will get 20% bonus if they hit both 1) structural cost and 2) operating profit targets.

Both these targets are misaligned.  This will drive two outcomes:

  1. There will be layoffs, decrease in business investment, decrease in travel.  Though these cuts are often necessary, these decisions decrease employee moral and should be done with care.  The moral is further diminished when employees find the cost cuts are implemented to increase the bonus of 15-30 people in the company.
  2. More importantly, the focus on operating profit will increase pressure to hit reporting targets.  If you have an understanding of accounting, you know operating profit is easy to manipulate even with SEC regulations.  The operating profit target may be reached, at the expense of earnings integrity.

Ultimately, I believe without solid cash performance, any company should be punished in it’s stock price.  Cost cuts will generate reported cash, but operating profit targets don’t have to.  I do not believe the  incentives put in place for GE Senior Vice Presidents will drive the right behavior or make the company more valuable for shareholders.