Friday, 27 November 2009

Want to be successful? Have a plan!

Oddly enough the most difficult thing about being a success is figuring out what you want to be a success at. It’s strange, isn’t it, that we are as a species so undecided. I know a few people whose talents were so obvious at a young age that they have just followed their dream. But it’s certainly not the case for everyone. But working hard at figuring out what you want to excel at is so worthwhile. Because once you have a goal you have a chance of being successful.

Of course the difficulty is the choice. There are so many things we can do, could do, or perhaps would do if we had the time/money/figure for it. But there are relatively few things we can really excel at, and it’s figuring out what we love doing, and can be really good at that enables us to enjoy real success.

Assuming you know what you want, a big assumption I know but let’s assume for the second, the next stage is to plan. Plan in detail what’s needed to be successful. Plan what could go wrong. Look at other people doing what you want to do. Consider the risks. Figure out how long things might take. How much they might cost. What assumptions you have made that might be incorrect. Go through the whole shooting match of thinking through what will be required. It takes time, quite a lot of time, but will pay you back a thousand fold.

Gandhi said “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”. Planning is a formalised and proven way of thinking through and refining thoughts into something actionable.

Pooh Bear said “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

As a bear of little brain I know exactly what Pooh Bear meant. I’ve spent a few days this week on business planning and its tough going, but oh so worthwhile.

I’ve bought Richard Stutely’s book “The Definitive Business Plan” and highly recommend it. He’s seen businesses come and go, worked on plans and budgets for UK plc (he worked at the Treasury) so comes at the subject with some authority.

So if being successful at something matters to you, have a plan!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Caffeine-free and happy

I know I promised not to mention the 100-day caffeine-free challenge (saga?) again, but it’s is just too long to go without an update. I’ve now been caffeine-free for 50 days. At least, I’m not drinking tea or coffee; I do have the occasional piece of chocolate.

50 days is the longest I’ve managed so far (30 and 24 days being the two previous attempts) but having failed twice there is not a lot that could force a cup of tea down my throat right now. That’s not to say I don’t have the occasional yearning for a cuppa, I do, but after the last failed attempt I had to make a decision – go back to drinking tea or stay caffeine free. I opted for caffeine-free because I believe it gives me more energy, fewer headaches and better sleep. Not inconsequential benefits in exchange for drinking herb teas or Roibush.

I came to the conclusion that I would need a little help if I were to make 100 days without a caffeinated beverage, so I bought the much praised book “Caffeine Blues” by Stephen Cherniske. If you are also trying to live without tea leaves or coffee beans I would highly recommend it. It is slightly evangelical in parts, but well researched and convincing. The list of problems associated with caffeine, including stress, depression, poor sleep, plus many others, is long and worrying. Yet in talking to friends about caffeine it seems many people would sooner put up with various ailments than do anything about it. Or maybe they think that a substance so widely accepted by society cannot be harmful. An interesting idea ...

So another 50 days to go, including the Christmas and New Year holidays which I’m guessing will be the most difficult. The strangest thing about this challenge has been that I’m always tempted when in a relaxed social setting, rather than at work. My workday habit of peppermint tea is now established, and I think my temperament is more even for taking caffeine out of the working day. It’s the out of work days that cause me the most trouble, the days when I’m having such a nice time that a cup of green tea would just go down a treat. Not dissimilar to having a glass of wine when relaxing with friends.

I’ve been struck by the interest in living a caffeine-free life. It seems many people are looking at ways to improve their health or perform better. I’d be really interested in others’ experiences, either through comments or by email.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Windows 7 est arrivé

There was a time when nothing less than a new dress from Harvey Nics would be required to cheer a girl up. These days a new operating system does the trick! And Windows 7 is about as cheerful as they come.

Although Windows 7 has been around for a couple of weeks, my new DirectX 10 graphics card only arrived today, so I had to wait to have a look at Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system. Just like the new frock, as soon as you try it on you wonder how you ever lived without it. The user interface is simpler, sleeker and of course the graphics are lovely.

The proof of the pudding will be in the stability, but first impressions are good. I’d been struggling with Internet Explorer 8 on Vista, so I’m hoping Windows 7 is going to put such problems behind me. We will see.

Windows 7 has some undeniably terrific new features, and lots of refinements that make it easier to use. The desktop is less cluttered than Vista through an opt-in approach to gadgets. I love the jump start concept which enables recently worked on documents or folders to be accessed easily. It’s all so much brighter, shinier and slightly lemon scented. In the absence of a credit card blow-out in Knightsbridge, it’s just the ticket for a grey November.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Database guys only want sets

As I queued for breakfast last Friday, the T-shirt in front me read “Database guys only want sets.”

Databases, it seems, are a bloke thing. This is news to me having been fascinated by databases since before SQL Server 6.5. I idly wondered what a gal’s database T-shirt might read as I looked around the room. A sea of male faces stared back at me - all of them looking as if sets were the furthest thing from their minds.

I was at SQLBits Goes West – the latest SQLBits conference for those, like me, who work with Microsoft SQL Server in its various guises.

The conference was being held in Newport, Wales, at the iconic Celtic Manor Resort. It’s the first thing you see as you enter Wales from the M4. It nestles in the steep hillside, towering above the motorway below. I’ve driven past it many times, but this was my first visit inside. It is grand and spacious and its imposing front hall vaguely reminded me of The Shining. Jack Nicholson, fortunately, was nowhere in sight.

SQLBits is a terrific idea. Organised by a bunch of enthusiastic SQL Server Microsoft Valued Professionals, it is not-for-profit and all-for-education. And bacon butties.

Last Friday’s excellent presentations were centred on the latest Beta releases from Microsoft: Office 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2. There are some deeply exciting new features which open up Business Intelligence to many more users. This has to be a good thing. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s strategy of BI for the masses pays off but from where I'm sitting it's looking good.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

1% inspiration looking for perspiration

With all the talk of metrics on Getting to Excellent over the last couple of days, it’s worth thinking about what lies behind the metrics. Because metrics only report back on inspired initiatives. Inspiration comes first, metrics second.

Thomas Edison of light bulb fame said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. (Is that why the light bulb is such a potent symbol for inspiration?) Metrics fit on the 99% side; the diligent work needed to improve performance until success is achieved. Edison pointed out that a genius is merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.

Of course, inspiration may or may not be genius, which is why measurement and evaluation are so important. By assessing the success of initiatives we are able to understand better what works and what doesn’t. Edison reckoned to have constructed 3,000 different theories, with only two being successful. Yet it was the measurement and evaluation of the 2,998 theories that led him to the successful ones.

So whilst metrics may appear dry on the surface it does follow some truly inspirational stuff.

The world is full, full, full of information. Full, full, full of ideas. And in between all of that there are some sparks of inspiration. Which, no doubt, have been honed through years of careful observation of what works and what doesn’t.

So are you working on the 1% inspiration today, or the 99% perspiration of your homework? What made Edison a household name was the diligent 99% of careful experimentation, measurement and evaluation. Genius!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Load, fire, aim!

I went to a marketing workshop yesterday; it was good, high energy stuff. I know the presenter quite well after having worked with him some years ago. He takes his business pretty seriously and works hard at it. He’s written two books about marketing and is well worth listening to.

I also happen to know that whilst he is a man of words he also pays attention to his metrics. He knows exactly what works and what doesn’t in terms of his own marketing, and regularly lets slip a variety of metrics related to his own business.

So when he stood up in front of everyone yesterday and said his philosophy is “Load, fire, aim!” I had to raise an eyebrow. He got a hearty laugh, but why do people want to encourage the thought that analysis is something that isn't necessary? We do we prefer to think that success comes from random acts of genius instead of carefully worked through choices backed by solid data?

The reality is that unless you measure and evaluate what you are doing, you will not know what works and what does not. It may be that you have to try a variety of different approaches before hitting on the successful ones, but without the measurement, evaluation and analysis we are left in the dark.

Of course workshops have to have enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep the audience happy. But don’t let bravado fool you – those who are successful at what they do are also those who measure stuff. They might not think of it as analysis, and may stare blankly at you when you talk about measurement and evaluation, but that’s what they are doing. Measuring each initiative, and then going back afterwards and figuring out just how successful it was. Was it better or worse than other initiatives? This is data driven marketing at its best, on this occasion given a rather curious name by someone who clearly thinks analysis is something to keep quiet about!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Measuring and managing performance

Why measuring financial performance matters
Business performance is financial performance, make no mistake about it. The companies with the largest turnovers, the biggest market capitalisations, highest profits are the most successful. These are the companies that make good strategic decisions and create value for their customers, as well as ensuring their shareholders are financially rewarded.

The business of business is business, and unless a company generates sufficient profit there is no opportunity to achieve softer objectives such as creating a good working environment for staff, or being a good corporate citizen.

Not-for-profit organisations also have important financial considerations. Whether financed by grants, taxes or charitable donations there is a duty to provide value for customers and stakeholders. At the very least not-for-profit organisations must demonstrate good financial control and appropriate use of funds.

So if finance is the overriding consideration for most organisations – why measure anything else?

The answer is simple. Excellent financial performance is the result of good decision making and creating value for customers, not the cause. Financial performance is a measure of how well a company has done from a number of different viewpoints: marketing, production, financial control, research & development, training, etc.

Unless financial results are measured, however, there is no objective way of assessing how effective an organisation is. It is clear that sound measurement and management of business activities such as marketing campaigns, new product development, improving productivity, or training staff are the way to achieve better financial performance.

So the burning questions remain – how do you measure and manage the performance of all these constituent parts in order to create value for customers? How do you ensure these initiatives reap the appropriate financial returns?

Why measuring non-financials matters more
As far back as the 1950’s major corporations were realising that measuring the financials was essentially a backwards looking activity. For organisations to perform better, they had to look forwards and measure the full range of activities that contribute to their success.

Perhaps the most influential writers on the subject in recent years have been Robert Kaplan and David Norton. In 1992 they published an article in Harvard Business Review called The Balanced Scorecard in which they argued that four key aspects of a business must be measured and managed in relation to the organisation’s strategy:

  1. Financial performance

  2. Customer focus

  3. Internal business process

  4. Learning and Growth.

This has been an enormously influential model – not least because it links measurement and management to strategy. Since their ideas were first published it has been adopted to a greater or lesser extent by many leading organisations.

There are undoubtedly other ways to divide up the activities of businesses and organisations, but the four quadrants of the Balanced Scorecard provide an excellent start.

Even with such a framework there are a host of possibilities, initiatives, projects and measurements to consider. Once decisions have been made as to what to progress and what to discard initiatives then have to be managed, monitored and evaluated to assess their success.

Performance management, measurement, and evaluation is a rich and varied set of disciplines that enable organisations to put a framework on the complex business of improving performance.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

What gets measured gets done

Want to lose weight? Count calories.

Want to get fit? Count miles cycled, rowed or run. Count beats of your heart.

Want to make more sales? Count the number of meetings set, the number of telephone calls made, the number of opportunities in your pipeline.

Want to develop key accounts? Count the training courses your sales people attend. Count the time they spend with decision makers.

Want to make progress on an important project? Count binary milestones passed. Count time spent on the project. Count project reviews. Count meetings with stakeholders.

Whatever you are trying to achieve there will be things you can count that give you an indication of progress. It is only an indication – the number of calories consumed doesn’t tell you whether they came from cranberries or camembert, celery or steak, but total calories consumed is extremely helpful in the battle of the bulge.

It’s the same with improving business performance. Training courses don’t directly increase sales, but over time there is a correlation. Counting sales training attended is very likely to result in improved account relationships and improved sales.

When I was practicing public speaking someone once pointed out that no one had ever been known to get worse through turning up to meetings and giving speeches. Counting the number of speeches given was as pretty good indication of the quality of the speaker. It was no coincidence that the best speakers were also those who had given the most speeches and attended the most meetings.

Making these counts visible has a multiplying effect on behaviour. When you can see the counts, and everyone else can see the counts, it encourages less calories, more miles, more meetings, etc.

So whatever you are trying to improve, finding things to measure is the first step. Don’t worry if your measurements are not a perfect guide to the achievement of an objective, just start by measuring. In my experience of working with a variety of clients, the simple act of measurement often has a dramatic and positive result.

Try it. Start counting and see whether what you are counting doesn’t start thoughts about how you can do it better, faster, or more effectively.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Thank you

Thank you are two words that are heard all too seldom in business, yet they make such a difference.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been dismayed and delighted by those two little words.

I had done some writing for a business friend as a favour and when I sent it over by email I heard nothing back. Not even an acknowledgement, never mind a thank you. I was upset and outraged. What rudeness, I thought. Maybe he didn’t like it and didn’t want to say! I was starting to feel paranoid, but he should have at least said thank you … I worried away at the incident like an out of sorts terrier.

Then the tables turned. First of all my business friend hadn’t even seen the work I had done for him, and when he did was profuse in his thanks. It was a silly misunderstanding.

Then two commercial thank you’s arrived.

The first was a letter from British Gas thanking me for not moving my contract. They didn’t try and sell me anything, nor upgrade anything. It was just a thank you. Short and sweet. I was slightly taken aback.

The second was from my bank manager. Now I was suspicious!

I had been livid with the bank over a mistake they had made. Even as a business customer I felt helpless against the might of their systems and policies. It seemed there was nothing they could or would do to get the problem resolved as fast as I would like.

On Monday morning, before my first cup of peppermint tea, the phone rang and someone gave me all the necessary details that sorted out the issue. I felt better. Maybe I had been too hard on them. They had responded. My week wasn’t going to be a nightmare after all.

Then the phone went again, this time it was my bank manager apologising for the problem and assuring me it had all been put right. By this point I felt as if the bank did actually care that they had messed up.

But when I received a bouquet of flowers as a thank you for my patience during the incident I felt suddenly and uncharacteristically fond of my bank manager. The huge, faceless Barclays had done something deeply human and warm. Crumbs!

Thank you is so powerful, so effective, and so underused. Thanks Lynn, the flowers are still lovely. (No, not all bank managers are men!)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Data Centred Decision Making

Making decisions can be tough: so many choices and no guarantees of making the right one. I’ve recently seen the decision-making process behind two decisions and both were instructive.

The first was for a social group where an interesting ethical question came up. The question and replies batted backwards and forwards. There was no right or wrong answers, but plenty of indignation and lots of opinion. Then someone sent a simple email containing the data relating to the problem. They had gone to the archives and dug up the relevant history and presented it clearly and dispassionately in an email. It was strong stuff and illustrated beautifully the uncomfortable feelings that everyone had about the dilemma. Getting the information took a bit of time but the effect was convincing and helped the group enormously.

The second was a decision at work where again feelings ran high. My co-Director had one opinion and I a different one. We discussed and argued the point but couldn’t get agreement. We decided to break the meeting to go do some research and analysis. When we came back together the decision was obvious – the data spoke volumes. We went away with a clear decision and no hard feelings.

Data centred decision making takes more effort because you have to go and get the data. Sometimes that takes quite a long time, but better decisions come out of the process. When you look at the two examples above, I think both were solved faster and more amicably by having good data.

Not all decisions lend themselves to data-centred decision making, but it’s worth asking “what data is available?” even if it only contributes to the process. Sometimes the results are surprising.

Monday, 9 November 2009

How's your business heartbeat?

Does your business have a heartbeat? A rhythm that you work to? A monthly or weekly routine that punctuates other work?

I’m referring to regular work in your schedule that absolutely, definitely, no-question, must get done sort of stuff. Many businesses have set dates for status reports, month end accounts, marketing communications, or even expenses claims. I certainly remember during my younger days resenting such deadlines – they seemed bureaucratic and always came at the worst possible time. But over the years I started to understand the benefits of such schedules and to appreciate being able to plan my work.

The most obvious example of this is statutory reporting of results. The larger the business, the more onerous and important the process, but most organisations have some statutory responsibility to disclose their financials.

If you work in a small or micro business, it’s up to you to set business deadlines and to ensure they are adhered to. As a result, many people don’t bother, and important things either never get done or get done so infrequently as to damage performance.

So what are the advantages of setting a regular schedule for regular work?
  1. Things get done faster if they are done regularly. Any job is a lot easier if you have to do it weekly or monthly rather than quarterly or even less frequently.
  2. People know what to expect. Communicating with customers and prospects, for example, is best done to a regular schedule so they know start to expect your communication.
  3. It simplifies decision making and therefore increases the chances of the work being done. Decisions about what needs to be done are made well in advance so that everyone knows what is expected.
  4. You can plan. When you know what’s needed and when, you can plan your days and weeks accordingly. This also means that bigger blocks of work can get done over a period of time.
  5. You can measure compliance. This is not an advantage if the activity is pointless, but you shouldn’t be doing it if it’s pointless. So meeting the scheduled time for the work has benefit, as does measuring compliance until it becomes a habit.
The biggest disadvantage with regularly scheduled work is that people keep on doing it after it has ceased being useful. Whilst this does happen, I think it happens less than enforcing the schedule work that could benefit from a disciplined schedule.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Aspects of improving performance

There is a strong feeling that the business world is changing. Social media is rushing towards us at an uncomfortable pace, the internet is evolving and financial crises of varying types are still with us. Added to which, many people’s jobs have changed over the last 10 years. There are many more information workers, people who frequently know more than their line manager within their field of expertise.

Yet the fundamentals of business apply. The business of business is still business. To make a healthy profit in today’s fast changing and difficult economy it is necessary to have eyes everywhere and good information. Perhaps it was ever thus, it just feels more important than ever right now.

The 4 E’s are a good starting point:
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Economy
  • Ethics
Effectiveness is whether we are furthering our goals. Obviously, you can’t measure effectiveness unless you know what your goals are. Having the right strategy is still Top Dog.

Efficiency is getting things done in a time and resource efficient way. Doing the wrong things efficiently won’t help you be more effective, and doing the right things too slowly will make you uncompetitive, which is why efficiency comes after effectiveness. In our “Getting Things Done” culture, it pays to remember to pay attention to Effectiveness before turning to Efficiency.

Economy is making sure you don’t spend too much on being effective or being efficient. Most organisations, large or small, have good systems to keep tabs on this one.

And ethics is ensuring you don’t trample over other people or squander the earth’s resources in pursuit of your dreams. An increasingly important dimension to business and living in the new world order.

Simple? On paper, sure! In practice? Well that’s where the art, science and monitoring of business starts.

It is down to each person, each team and each organisation to figure out what the 4 E’s mean for them, and how to measure them.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Quiet Pomodoro

I’ve written before about the simple but brilliant Pomodoro Technique. It is a more fun version of a technique that I have used for years which I prosaically named the Stopwatch Technique. It’s not difficult to see why one is now a world-wide phenomenon and the other is, well, a red stop watch in my drawer.

For those not familiar with either technique, the idea is basically that you concentrate on one task at a time, and work for a set period of time, stopping when time is up to take a short break. The Pomodoro Technique uses a wonderfully bright red tomato timer (beautifully red and wonderfully tomato-like). The Stopwatch Technique uses a, eerrrr, stopwatch.

Both are pretty low tech and both are effective. The difference is that the beautiful bright red tomato timer ticks rhythmically as you work and then shrills out with a loud ring when time is up. Without fail I jump out of my skin when this happens, as does everyone else in the office. I’ve tried putting it in a drawer or under a sweater to muffle the sound, but the deeper I concentrate, but more shocked I am when the timer rings out. Perhaps just an indication of how successful the technique is.

So quietly and without fuss I have been going back to the stop watch. It’s not as pretty (although it is a very groovy red) but it is SILENT. It doesn’t tick, but it does remind me that time is passing and encourages me to focus. It also makes me very aware of time and how I use it.

There are no web sites for the stop watch technique, no groups on Facebook or Tweets on Twitter, but it is a gentle, effective and most of all quiet way of reminding me to value my time and focus on the task in hand. Not bad for the £1.99 I paid for it about 12 years ago.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What makes a great leader?

I’ve been mulling over the findings from my analysis of Top American CEOs. Statistics are always interesting; learning from facts rather than prejudices. But of course statistics can be highlighted in whatever way the author wants. I know someone who was looking at the exact same data from the point of view of college drop-outs rather than post-graduate qualifications which was where I started. The way you twist and turn data can change the way you see things.

But one of the numbers that has stuck in my mind since looking at the data is the length of service that these people have with their organisations. About 80% have been with their companies longer than 10 years. The Japanese famously reward employees through length of service rather than merit, which seems very strange to western ways. Yet clearly there is something to be said for learning a business inside out.

The one thing it is difficult to see from statistics is the personalities of these people. Perhaps what they have in common is their determination to succeed, whether or not they stayed on at university and regardless of where they did their MBA.

Jim Collins is inspirational about leadership in his book
Good to Great which I am rereading at the moment. He talks of Level 5 leaders who are humble, self-effacing and steely in their determination that their organisations succeed. He describes the way they don’t take personal credit for successes, but attribute the good stuff to the efforts of their team. He also describes the way they are always prepared to take the blame for problems.

If Collins were doing his research today I wonder how many of these Top American leaders would qualify as Level 5 Leaders …

The other common characteristic amongst the 100 top CEOs is that they are all men - without exception, 100%. It is perhaps the starkest statistic of all yet I was so immersed in business schools and length of service that I missed it. Oddly enough, all Jim Collins’ Level 5 Leaders were men too. What does that say about women in business today?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The view from the top

Ever wondered who runs the top US companies? Forbes published a list in 2008 of the top 500 Chief Executive Officers in America, ranked by their remuneration, and it makes instructive reading.

I decided to take a closer look at the top 100 amongst this elite bunch and this is what I found:
  • American corporations are not run by college graduates. On average they are 58 years of age; the most junior is 43 years old and the most senior is 80 years young.
  • They have worked at their companies for an average of 22 years and almost a third has worked for their companies for 30 years or more.
  • They have been in post for an average of 11 years.
  • They get paid an average of $40m per annum. Trust me; you don’t want to know how much Larry Ellison gets paid. Even the lowest annual remuneration of almost $18m is eye-watering.
They are, of course, running some of the largest and most successful companies in America. So what are the qualifications for a successful CEO? Well it seems that staying on at school helps: two third of these CEOs has a post-graduate qualification:
  • 45% of America’s top CEOs has an MBA, with Harvard the business school of choice
  • 5% have a PhD
  • 14% have another post-graduate qualification.

One third, of course, has no post-grad qualification at all. And some don’t have a first degree, the most famous of whom is Larry Ellison who dropped out of college to start Oracle.

Only 12% of these CEOs founded their companies, the rest have either risen through the ranks or been drafted in to run the company. 75% have been with their companies for 15 years or longer.

So it seems that if you want to run a large corporation, sticking to knitting definitely helps. As does concentrating in strategy class.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Managers Behaving Professionally

I have personally seen two examples recently of Managers Behaving Badly. Unfortunately, unlike the TV series Men Behaving Badly, which was truly hilarious, bad behaviour at work isn’t funny. It’s stressful, worrying, and sometimes can have devastating effects. Only recently France Telecom was in the news for their abnormally high rate of suicides amongst their employees during at time of reorganisation.

So what constitutes professional behaviour from a manager? How can stress be reduced at times of change and job losses? With our own postal strike rumbling on, these seem like particularly pertinent questions. Some thoughts on managers behaving professionally:
  1. Define what constitutes a job well done. By thinking through in advance what you need from people, and what they need to do the job, everyone’s chances of a good outcome are increased.
  2. Acknowledge good work. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talks of exceptional leaders who took the blame when things went wrong, but never took the credit when things went right. They gracefully acknowledged the contribution of their team. Paradoxically the team held the leader in higher regard for his or her actions, rather than feeling they hadn’t contributed. It seems humble leaders are also good leaders.
  3. Do what you say you are going to do. So simple, so effective, and so appreciated by everyone.
  4. Be open and allow people to understand, rather than presenting a fait accompli. Stress is at its highest when things are being done to you, rather than you being in control. Many small businesses are facing very difficult times at the moment, but stress levels are managed because owners have all the facts and can work accordingly.
  5. If training budgets have to be cut find other ways of getting information out to people who need it. It is stressful and very difficult to work without the knowledge you need to do a good job. Be creative and encourage knowledge cafes to share information about topics that might have been dealt with through a training course before budgets were cut.
It’s a pretty stressful time for everyone at the moment, but reducing the stress and worry out of people’s working lives as far as is possible, has to be a worthy goal.