Volume 2   |   Number 5   |   May 2014

graduation Attending our daughter Rachel's graduation from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst campus a few weeks ago, I was amused by the graduates' efforts to improve upon this well orchestrated 144 year old ritual of pomp and circumstance, putting their imprimatur on the proceeding (or their caps and gowns, as the case may be).
Although clearly excited about commencement, the graduates also exhibited a sense of trepidation knowing they'd soon commence with real world realities, including paying off their student debt. Which, as it turns out, is why we parents by comparison seemed a whole lot happier at graduation!

So what does any of this have to do with business execution? Arguably an executive's greatest challenge today is building and sustaining an innovative culture - making disruptive products and finding better ways of doing things. Yet, this challenge often runs counter to achieving economies of scale through effective, repeatable processes.

 I'm more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives."
- Seymour Simon
The finalists for the summer edition of the Merrimac Valley Sandbox Entrepreneur/Accelerator program have been announced! We're still looking for additional mentors so if you're interested to join the fun, come to the Mentor Orientation & Entrepreneur Mixer, June 17th, Sandbox Office, 175 Cabot Street, Suite 100, Lowell

Ben Horowitz, of the venture capitalists Andreessen, Horowitz, provides a practical approach to managing unique business situations in "Hard Thing about Hard Things". His maxim to "Take care of the people, the products and the profits, in that order" cuts to the priorities executives must address to increase their chances for business success.

articleOneEmbracing disruption
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results then "insanity" is exactly what businesses need to be successful. Or as someone once advised "Insanely Great." Let me explain.


To create a truly innovative organization, disruption must be encouraged and harnessed as part of a business's DNA. Hiring graduates is one way to plant the seeds. But to grow those seeds to maturity, an organization must learn to harvest the innovative potential of every employee.

Ed Catmull, CEO for Pixar calls it "protecting the new" - creating a nurturing environment for empowering and motivating employees not just to take risks but also 
engage and grow them for the future.
Try some of these suggestions to create a disruptive culture in your organization:
  1. Hire people with the most appropriate skills. While many companies translate this statement into "hire only A players", executives must truly understand what skills their organization needs. In business, as in sports, the best athletes don't always make the best players.
  1. Build jobs around employee skills, not the other way round. Most job descriptions present detailed lists of work to be done but little or nothing about expectations. Setting the right expectations contributes to giving employees a sense of purpose, guiding them in the face of changing work conditions.
  1. Encourage new employees to own a project while you or your senior managers mentor and train them. This action works to promote employee responsibility and accountability as well as growing and challenging your existing staff.
  1. Recognize and talk up employee successes. Let the employee and the entire organization celebrate the accomplishment - money and benefits don't work all the time as motivators.
  1. Listen to employee needs and provide frequent feedback - identify where they're excelling or need improvement. Cultural norms change and understanding what drives and motivates your employees today is necessary for engagement. Active involvement from managers creates team building.
Whether you're an executive or a newly minted employee, the measure of your success will be determined by the measure of your difference. To paraphrase the Most Interesting Man in the World"Stay feisty, my friends".

 P.S. Congratulations and great job to Rachel Katz!

About Us: With our unique insights and expertise, F.A.C.T.S. provides practical, cost-effective solutions to clarify and execute your business vision and objectives. We specialize in creating and implementing financial, operational and performance management solutions for your toughest business problems.
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