Posts tagged “Lessons

Buzzword Rationale (Connect the Dots)

Posted on September 29, 2017


At the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, there is a display related to Project Kansas, the ill-fated 1985 New Coke initiative.  If you look closely in the display case, you see project documentation rife with military references: Project Kansas is a bold-stroke attempt for total victory. It is a sweeping effort to redefine the selling proposition, not just for sugar colas, but for all soft drinks. In its size, scope and boldness, it is not unlike the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944… And so it goes for buzzword rationale. Apply military jargon to inspire victory, discipline and coordination. Mention dot-com and Y2K in the late 1990s to trigger technology spending. Later, connect risk management initiatives to the Enron scandal, local economic disruption to Walmart,…


Posted on September 23, 2017


There’s usually a gap between expressly permitted and expressly forbidden. And there’s an art to finding an appropriate balance between 1) pushing forward into desired space and 2) overstepping reasonable boundaries. Take a lesson from permission marketing concepts, and perhaps Bait Car: Officer: “Did anybody give you permission to drive or take this car?” Entrapped Criminal: “I gave myself permission.” Officer: “So you gave yourself permission to drive?” [Laughing.] Entrapped Criminal: “Basically” [Smiling.] *

The Pixar Process

Posted on June 30, 2017


The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC had a fascinating Pixar exhibit in 2016. Getting a small peek into the work within the studio gives a real appreciation for the concepts (like simplexity) that are applied in the Pixar process: And how research, collaboration, and iteration wrap around Pixar’s story wheel: “…You are sure right about the importance of a good story in movies. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of work (and rework, and rework and rework) to get it right. And even then quite often we’re not 100% pleased. As John Lasseter likes to say, our films don’t get finished, they just get released.” –Pete Docter While they’re no slackers when it comes to research,…

Theory of Mind

Posted on February 17, 2017


I once had a client turn down a proposed project manager due to perceptions. The manager had worked with the client previously and had familiarity with the environment – which was a selling point – but his role on previous projects had been more supportive than directive, and the client could not picture him operating in a lead role. To the client, it was as if the person stepping into the project manager role was the exact person that had ended the previous project a few years ago. There was no consideration of the experiences that had transpired in the meantime, the other projects that made the lead more valuable. Or the fact that developments happen outside the realm of our observation. It relates to Theory of Mind,…

The Financial Swim

Posted on September 4, 2015


As summer comes to an end, I was asked to provide advice to departing interns. Alongside the professional development discussions, I always recommend mastering personal finances. While it may take time to gain experiences and chart an individual financial path, here are my basic ‘SWIM’ recommendations to get started. Save Aggressively Save at least half of your income. You probably can’t do this with a high debt load, so get out of debt. Why save fifty percent plus? Traditional lower savings guidelines assume you’ll have consistent salaried income over your career, and you may not. You’ll also want to avoid dependence on individual work income or social support in the long run. If financial independence is a priority, push your savings rate to 80-90%.…

Lessons from Maersk CFO

Posted on February 14, 2014


Maersk CFO Trond Westlie outlines his rules for success in Issue 9 of EY’s Capital Insights: Use what’s already in the business but improve upon it. Even though you may have different views on how things should be done, the business has evolved over many years. You need to optimize what is already in the business. You have to make sure the processes that drive the finance and performance management functions are structured and transparent. Everyone in the organization needs to know about them. Get rid of budgets. They are a waste of time. The world is changing so much, so the only thing budgets are good for is cost control. And most businesses know how many cars, offices and people they need, so…