rowing up in New York, when a tweeter was something to be heard and not read, I was wired with a deep regard for sound technology,
largely because my dad used to work as an audio engineer for CBS. We had tons of equipment around the house - reel to reel tape machines, speakers, microphones, mixers and miles and miles of cables, tape and speaker wire.
When it came time to purchase my first stereo, we headed to our mecca for recorded music, Manhattan, for a uniquely male, Katz family rite of passage. (Note to my son, Mikey, your time is coming!)
In a concentrated, four to six block area around W56th Street, there were several high-end audio emporiums, each featuring multiple brands of amplifiers, tuners and speakers in mind-numbing combinations, sizes and prices. To make things even more complicated, I couldn't rely entirely on my dad's expert opinion - especially regarding the speakers - since each person's musical ear is unique. How to make the right choice?
To test amplifier range and speaker fidelity, shoppers were urged to bring a record album (no pops or cracks, please) of their favorite music genre for testing. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
was a popular choice among rock music fans.
The album track Breathe
's opening chords features the pulsating rhythm of a beating heart. If your amplifier/speaker selection could reproduce those bass frequencies without distortion, you knew you had made a good choice.
Today, decades later, much has changed in the way audio equipment is selected. But the concept - apply a simple, consistent tool when sorting through complex choices and situations
- still applies.
And not just in music. The concept is equally valid for business executives who need a clear and simple way of making on-the-ground decisions in real time, based on the unique situations and competitive conditions they face. In short, these leaders need fewer options, not more. My recommendation, therefore, is very straightforward:
Think of business execution as the integration of three distinct elements:
- A business process
- A tool or applied technology
- People (the most important element)
Consider, for example, the model of a typical sales call. It involves 1.) a defined selling process; 2.) a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) or similar tool for collecting and disseminating customer-related data; and 3.) the salesperson and the customer.
If the sales staff needs to step up performance, questions one might ask include:
- Is your staff (people) sufficiently trained (process) in the selling process?
- Is your CRM (tool) adequately preparing the staff (people) with the information needed to service their clients?
- Is the staff properly measured (process) and incentivized (tool) to meet its sales goals?
I think you get the idea. When business executives view execution as an integrated system, rather than as a discrete list of separate decisions, a clear picture emerges.
Even as the issues which face a growing organization necessarily become more complicated, this simple, consistent, decision-making framework can bring focus and clarity to the most opaque situations.
And as for those speakers
I purchased in New York all those years ago? They sound just as sweet as the day I first heard them.