September 28, 2018 - Issue 18-38

Good afternoon  ,

First, for anyone who noticed, I apologize for mis-labeling last week's issue - I failed to relabel it from the week before. 

In 1991, I was beginning to get the "lay of the land" in my new role as Operations Manager of a big natural gas producer in Indonesia. During that process, I spent some time with my key department heads to clarify focus: "Why are We Here?". 

You can read about that conversation  here - go to the  fifth paragraph to read about  my career-defining "Aha Moment". Very exciting for me!

In the article I highlight this week, Minda Zetlin*, one of my favorite business writers, describes Steve Jobs' relentless insistence on focus. He insisted his managers focus strictly on the central theme of Apple's business. 

When Jobs returned to Apple to lead the company 12 years after being forced out, he found  too many products and product lines. So he set his managers to work on prioritization, focusing on what was most valuable and important and letting the rest go. You may remember how that brought renewed vigor to Apple.

When Jobs delivered a speech at Yahoo describing this, Jeff Weiner, then a Yahoo executive and now CEO of LinkedIn, was sitting in the audience. Many years later, Weiner still remembers that speech. In 2012 he commented that prioritization sounds simple, but it's not always easy. Here's his tough question: "If you could do only one thing, what would it be?"

Here's a similar question I recommend every business leader ask his or her key people from time to time: "Why are We Here?" If they aren't sure, or if they give differing answers from each other, that leader has some serious work to do to get his or her team members working in unison. Like a team of horses, they're effective only if they all pull together in the same direction!

Enjoy reading!

John Stevens

* Minda Zetlin is  self-styled "The Laid-Back Leader". Click on her name - you'll find many interesting and insightful articles about how to lead, and do business, better.
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About John

Throughout a career spanning over 45 years my management style has been one of building teams to bring several competent people together to focus on a common objective. I noted early in my career that, in most organizations, there is an enormous amount of time, energy, and effort wasted by people working at cross purposes.

As I transition to life in the Argentine outback, my focus shifts from coaching to helping other business coaches and advisers get their message out to their prospective clients. With my first-hand knowledge of the benefits of effective business coaching, I am uniquely qualified to work with business advisers of all stripes convey their message.

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John B. Stevens, Freelance Copywriter

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