Something Ralph Kiner Taught Me

Screen-Shot-2014-02-16-at-10.48.31-AMHad he not passed away last month, today would have been the first game of the season where Ralph Kiner would have joined Gary Thorne and Ron Darling in the broadcast booth at CitiField in Flushing.

To honor his memory I share with you the following poem he taught me:

These are the saddest of possible words:
Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”



Who Are Your Heroes?

At the Academy Awards, Matthew McConaughey gave the most talked about speech of the evening upon receiving the Oscar for Best Actor of the year. The speech begins about 45 seconds in.

Matthew McConaughey – Acceptance Speech…

At about 2:40 in, McConaughey answers my favorite interview question. In fact, if I could only ask a candidate one question, it would be “Who are your heroes and why?” I guess that is actually two questions.

My reason is that it is the best question in order to get to know someone. Most people answer family members, spouse, parents, grandparents, even their kids.

While there is no right or wrong answer to the question, the answer I like to hear least is, “No one, I do not have heroes.” To be frank, if I am the interviewer and someone answers the question this way, it is highly unlikely I would recommend hiring that person not matter how qualified they were for the position.

I thought McConaughey’s answer was excellent.

What are your thoughts on the question and McConaughey’s answer?

About Some Webcasts

Over the next few months I will be delivering some webcasts that are aimed mostly at accountants. However, most of the material is applicable to all knowledge workers and professionals.

The webcast belong to one of two series: Tax Free Tuesdays and $5 Fridays. As you might guess the Tuesdays sessions are free, while the Friday sessions will cost you $5.

Here are the details of the first three sessions:

  • Friday, February 28 at 1:00pm ET – Creating Strategy in a Small Firm – This session will be dedicated to the possibility that even small firms can create and execute meaningful strategic plans. Creating a well defined strategy is hard work and not for everyone, as it requires us to begin to say “no” to stuff we usually say “yes” to. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue about how best to go about creating a strategy for your small firm.
  • Tuesday, February 25 at 1:00 pm ET – Top Ten Business Myths – This session is dedicated to the possibility that many myths exist about business and it would be better to rid ourselves of these ideas. Thinking about these myths is hard because it requires us to examine some of our most deeply held beliefs and either dismiss them or at least think differently about them. If you are interesting in having a conversation about business myths, you are invited to attend this session.
  • Friday, March 7 at 1:00 pm ET – Introduction to the Professional Knowledge Firm (aka Firm of the Future) – This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating and capturing value in a professional firm. We will explore two business models: the firm of the past and the firm of the future. We will also begin a conversation about the four transformations that need to occur in order for firm to make the transition successfully.

Once you click on the class, please click either Request for the Tuesday free webcasts or Add to cart for the $5 Friday classes. If you have any questions, you can email me at ed.kless @ or comment below.

Putting the MOASQ to work

A while back I wrote a post about what I call the MOASQ or Mother of All Strategic Questions in which I opined that the central focus of any strategy should be about creating customer value, not about generating revenue.

Last week I was working in a consulting role with an organization that shares some space with other groups. As we sat down at the conference table, I was struck by what had been sketched out on the white board by a group who had used the room prior to us. I snapped a photo.

IMG_0117Notice that this clearly illustrates a strategic conversation in which revenue generation was the focal point. Keep in mind, I am not against revenue generation, but it is an effect, not a cause.

I took the liberty of replacing Revenue with Customer value.

IMG_0118My belief is that had this shift been made, the conversation would have been very different than it was. I’ll admit, I do not know the outcome of the previous meeting. It might very well have been extraordinary, but I truly believe it would have been better still had Customer value been on the white board instead.




On Net Neutrality

Because of a recent court decision, net neutrality has been the topic of conversation on a few of the pages I follow.

My position is that the problem is in the defining of “net neutrality.” While words often have their meanings transformed over time (“liberal” as an example), the phrase “net neutrality” is one that I do not think has ever been pinned down with a very specific meaning.

Here are the two definitions that I see most often used:

  1. No company may impede access to content.
  2. The Internet should be free from all government regulation.

In pondering these two definitions, one can see that they are sometimes contradictory. If I believe in the first, it would be logical that I would need government to intervene if an entity does, in fact, impede access. If I believe in the second, it would be logical that an entity could impede access and that no regulation is needed to stop the practice.

As a libertarian (classical liberal) I think it is the second.

The important point is this – when someone asks, “Do you favor net neutrality?” the only correct reply is “What do you mean by net neutrality?”

Comment on The Value of Timesheets by PM Hut

In a post entitled The Value of Timesheets, PM Hut offers this, “The data being tracked by timesheets is used in several areas: for project costing/estimating future phases or projects; for the purpose of time management; and most importantly, for billing and payroll.”

My comment in full:

Using timesheets to measure doneness of your project is like using a smoke detector to measure the doneness of your toast, by the time the alarm goes off it is too late.

In addition time spent is not costing because it is based on the faulty assumption that all hours are equal. We know this to be false, yet ignore it. It is like still saying “but what if we fall off” even though you know the Earth is now round.

Lastly, more often than not, timesheets are lies. I have asked hundreds of professionals if they have ever falsified a timesheet (up or down by the way) and every single one has admitted that they have done so. In many cases, they say almost all of their timesheets have at least one falsehood. Folks do not put actual time time spent, they put what the believe is should be, sometime more, but more often less. To base future work on these figures is crazy.