“The question is not whether AmazonSupply will be a threat,” says Richard Balaban, who has studied the site for management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. “Rather it is which customers, purchase occasions and categories will be attacked first.” ~ Forbes magazine, May 26, 2014

The goal of Amazon, in a way, has always been to become The Everything Store, the title of Businessweek senior writer Brad Stone’s 2013 book about the company and its founder, Jeff Bezos.

But does “everything” include the world of industrial supplies? That was one question Stone attempted to answer, with the help of knowledgeable insiders and the audience, at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit on Wednesday.

Amazon was first known as an online seller of books, then of retail, then of devices like the Kindle. Since then, it’s also become a producer of Golden Globe-winning television, tried its hand at a phone (and, so far, has failed), and has its hand in same-day delivery, grocery delivery, drones, and more. (read more…)

For many organizations, as the new year begins, performance-management processes kick in.

When people think about performance management, they’re rarely enthused! The response to performance planning is typically neutral, at best.

My experience with clients is that their current performance-management systems are not as relevant to real work and real opportunities as they could be. Performance management today is typically not about developing new skills and greater contribution. Performance management is a “have to do,” so it’s done without enthusiasm.

In one job I had years ago, performance planning consisted of the boss giving each one of his six team members a photocopied list of the goals we were to put into our performance plan for the year. Our roles and responsibilities widely varied, but our boss wanted us to put in the exact same five goals. We put in what he told us to put in, and his bosses blessed our “thorough” performance plans. (read more…)

“Intellectual tasting of life will not supersede muscular activity. If a man should consider the nicety of the passage of a piece of bread down his throat, he would starve.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience,” “Essays: Second Series”

Most of us do not receive the luxury of endless contemplation. Most humans through history have not been afforded this. This is a shame, in many ways, but it’s a reminder today, when we have easy access to distractions, endless data we can collect and many incentives to be risk-averse, that even the leading intellectual of his day knew when the time to think was over and the time to act had arrived.

This applies to leaders, of course. Set your goals, and let’s get moving. Decide on whether this employee should be hired (or fired), and do so. Want to change the culture? The easiest way is to actually change the culture. (read more…)

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As a coach and workshop facilitator, I frequently get calls that sound something like this:

“I’m looking for someone who can give a workshop to my staff on the topic of _________. My plan is for us to do an introductory session in a few weeks and then follow up soon after with the next phase of the professional development. Can you help us?”

If the date and other details work out we move forward with scheduling the session. At the end, I debrief with the coordinator, to ask for feedback and to plan the next steps. That conversation often goes as follows:

“The workshop was exactly what we needed! Thank you so much. Please give us a little time and me or one of my associates will be back in touch to schedule the first follow up session.” However, on more than one occasion, that was the last that I heard from them. (read more…)

Crises often occur unexpectedly. What can never be unexpected is a leader’s response.

The leader must assume control of the response with alacrity as well as authority. Integral to the response must be the leader’s command presence and the ability to communicate coherently and correctly.

Do these things and the crisis will remain, but people involved in the crisis will be assured that someone is in charge and is mobilizing the right resources and right people to solve the problem.

  (read more…)