What, you didn’t know there was a handbook for business heretics? Oh. How awkward that nobody told you. Well, let’s rectify that now, starting with this post. Here are ten tips to help familiarize you with some of the most basic tenets of heresy in business. There are plenty more, but this will get you started. Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. On Rules Breaking
Breaking the law can land you in jail. Breaking corporate policy, doing end-runs around procedures, and just plain getting stuff done – that will either get you fired or into the CEO’s office. Rules are merely guidelines. Guidelines are meant to guide, nothing more. If they don’t guide – if they aren’t helpful – then ignore them.
2. On Resources
Resources can be bought and sold. Steel is a resource. Laptops are resources. Humans are not, and will never be, resources. Humans are “people.” Stop using the word “resource” when what you mean is “person.” Seriously. Stop that right now.
3. On That Damned Box
Just, please, stop talking about that freakin’ box already! No heretic has ever used the phrase “think outside the box,” because heretics know that innovators don’t even see a box to begin with!
4. On Helpfulness
Boss, read these words aloud: “My job is to make your job easier.” Say it ten times, till you can really say it with conviction. Then, leave your office and go say it to the first 20 employees you see. Repeat this once an hour for a month. You can read the rest of this post later.
5. On Motivation
If you have to motivate your people, you’ve either hired the wrong people or you’ve quashed their motivation somewhere along the way. Good people are self-motivated. Give them a BHAG (a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal,” as Jim Collins so eloquently puts it) and then help them achieve it. How? Better reread #4. See you in another month.
6. On Culture
There are only three things that matter in business: culture, culture, culture. Your job as leader is to be the steward – the nurturer and protector – of the culture. The culture runs your business. You do not.
7. On Viruses
Any marketer who tells you your campaign will go viral also has a bridge to sell you. Participants way outside of your control – the general public, in other words – decide what goes viral and what… doesn’t. All you can do is your best. The web will (or won’t) do the rest.
8. On Metrics
Give me a metric and thirty minutes, I’ll show you how to game it. No joke: I dare you. Business heretics lead with just one metric: dollars. Set your BHAG, open your books, and let your culture (i.e. your people) do the rest.
9. On Books, Open and Closed
It’s 2015. You still don’t have open book management? Oh. I thought you considered yourself a business heretic. How are your people ever going to help you attain your BHAG if you’re still hoarding information like it’s 1955?
10. On Use of Your Time
What is the best use of a leader’s time? Let me answer that question with a question of my own: What makes you a leader? You lead people, right? Then every minute of your day that you spend in your office or in front of a spreadsheet or managing your boss is another minute you are robbing from your actual job, which is helping your people. Do your job. Lead your people, face to face.
Here’s the thing about business heresy: it’s different. That makes it uncomfortable to a lot of people, especially career managers. But let me leave you with a thought: chances are, the most successful business leaders you can name are themselves heretics. So you can follow all the rules, you can do the opposite of these ten tips, or you can… be incredibly successful! Hey, totally up to you. No one’s judging.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot:
11. On Giving More in Business
Heretics promise you ten tips and give you eleven. So here’s a list of just a few of the better-known business heretics I can name without blinking: Bill Hewlett and David Packard, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gore, Richard Branson, Yvon Chouinard, Herb Kelleher, Ricardo Semler, Tony Hsei, Steve Jobs, Jack Stack, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Can you name more? Let us know in the comments.
First published on Ted’s previous blog.