Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eight perspectives on business

Tom Peters wrote The Brand Called You in Fast Company in 1997. Few of us read the print edition back then, but thanks to the Internet you can still read the article; and it's probably so much more relevant now than when he wrote it with such prophetic foresight before the turn of the Millennium. (And, thanks to the Internet, Fast Company is still earning ad revenue off the article; but that's another story!)

Bottom line: take control of your life and career; treat yourself as your own enterprise.

So for some years I've organized everything I do, whether for the companies that pay me a salary or my own initiatives, according to some basic principles.

I think it was Peter Russell in The Brain Book who claimed that our brains can manage to hold an overview of up to nine things at once. Trying to handle more increases our stress.

Combined with Peter Drucker's insight that the only things that matter in business are the innovation (R&D) that meets the needs of customers identified by Marketing, here are my eight perspectives on running a business. Everything I do falls into one of these eight buckets and I use them to structure filing in email and computer folders and even the odd bits of paper I still have to keep.
  1. Marketing - Everything involved in understanding what customers want
  2. Sales - Everything I do to bring solutions to the awareness of potential customers
  3. Implementation - Most businesses 'build, deliver, deploy.' You actually have to do something to get paid before moving on to Support
  4. Support - Systems and processes to look after existing customers and keep them coming back for more
  5. Admin - This is where I keep all those finance, personnel, infrastructure and other resources
  6. Projects - There are normally one or two areas of special short-term focus that I pull, temporarily, out of my other filing areas to make sure that I give them my complete attention
  7. Suppliers - Every business needs resources from outside, even if it's just an Internet connection
  8. R&D - This is where I make sure that I keep an emphasis on the Innovation that Drucker encourages
And the ninth area? I keep Number 9 for Personal, Family, Friends and non-business interests.

I've probably got ten years' experience of organising my life this way. It's worked for me in the big corporate wage-slave world; running a non-profit; as a principal in several small or startup companies; and it's helped me keep track of my personal life. Try it yourself: I hope this insight helps you stay focused!
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