The Teamworking Pocketbook

A pocket sized guide to teambuilding and making teams work right.
Teamworking Pocketbook

The Teamworking Pocketbook
By Ian Fleming
Management Pocket Books, 1999
ISBN: 190377621X

This little 94-page book manages to pack a huge amount of sensible advice into a tiny package. It is organized as single pages on a single topic, with related topics gathered together into chapters. The chapters are:
*    What is a team?
*    Challenges facing teams
*    How to build a team
*    Leading the team
*    Potential team problems
*    Successful teams
*    Reading list
Cute illustrations also fill the book and add to the message.

Because of its size, this is a book that stands a good chance of being read. Plus because of its arrangement you can dive into individual pages or read it through in one sitting, whatever suits.

If you have to either work in or, more particularly, lead or encourage teams in your organization, this is a really good, easy to read and cheap source of great information.

The E Myth Revisited – Why Most Small Businesses DonĂ¢

The E Myth Revisited is a classic and must read book for people in business or considering getting started in business.
E-Myth Revisited Book

The E Myth Revisited
Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
By Michael E. Gerber
HarperCollins, 1995
ISBN: 0-88730-728-0

This is a classic book, even as a revised edition of the original The E-Myth. This book takes you through a completely revised way of thinking about business and your role in it.

Chapters include:
*    The Entrepreneurial Myth
*    The Entrepreneur, the Manager and the Technician
*    Infancy: The Technician’s Phase
*    Adolescence: Getting Some Help
*    Beyond the Comfort Zone
*    Maturity and the Entrepreneurial Perspective
*    The Turn-Key Revolution
*    The Franchise Prototype
*    Working On Your Business, Not In It
*    The Business Development Process
*    Your Business Development Program
*    Your Primary Aim
*    Your Strategic Objective
*    Your Organizational Strategy
*    Your Management Strategy
*    Your Marketing Strategy
*    Your Systems Strategy
*    A Letter to Sarah
*    Bringing the Dream Back to American Small Business
*    Taking the First Step

I would say the core idea in this book is that the thinking and reasoning of why we often choose to start our own business is not the thinking pattern that will lead to a successful business. It is easy to get trapped into working in our business. We often start a business because we feel we can do something better than others that we see, often our boss. Or because we can do some thing better than we see many others doing it and feel we can and should turn this skill into money.

So what this book sets out to do is to overturn our thinking and help us to get our thinking right from the beginning, or if we are already in business, before the foreclosure or closing down sale sign goes up. It does this by taking you through the problems with conventional thinking and tries to substitute a good way of thinking that can carry you through the inevitable issues. Illustrated with lots of personal stories to put things in perspective, it is a surprisingly quick read, as you yearn to understand more and change your thinking.

The fact is that this book has done precisely that for countless business people all around the world. It is simple, direct and easy to understand. It may not be so easy to put into practice, depending on how disciplined you are, but I can say that this book went a long way in changing my ideas about business and getting my business on a much sounder basis.

If you are in business or contemplating starting a business, whether in the creative industries or not, you need to read this book, listen to the audio book or whatever it takes. It will help you work your business better, rather than work in your business and be trapped in the process.

The Power of Nice

rnA book that argues that there is a better way than the ruthless, cut throat and self-absorbed approach to work and relationships that is often pushed as the best way to get ahead.
The Power of Nice
How to conquer the world with kindness
By Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
Inspired Living, 2007
ISBN: 9781741750959

This seems to be an Australian printing of the ideas in The Power of Nice: How to conquer the business world with kindness audio cd, published by Oasis Audio, 2006 by the authors and Jay Leno, or the authors’ book The Power of Nice : Eight Ways to Kill the Business World with Kindness, published by Doubleday in 2006.

Based on the Nice People Finish First principle, the book sets out to show that the way to success is to be nice. This runs counter to all the books and common knowledge that says otherwise, but it makes sense. Having never felt comfortable with the win at all costs approach, both because it did not feel right and because it seemed like a good way to generate a lot of long-term negative karma for only short-term gains, I had resigned myself to not getting as far as I might. However this book, illustrated with lots of examples from the author’s own business lives, tends to show otherwise.

This is a fairly short book of around 120 pages, so it is a quick read. It is broken up into the following chapters:
*    The Power of Nice
*    The Six Power of Nice Principles
*    Bake a Bigger Pie
*    Sweeten the Deal
*    Help Your Enemies
*    Tell the Truth
*    “Yes” Your Way to the Top
*    Shut Up and Listen
*    Put Your Head on Their Shoulders
*    Create a Nicer Universe

The book makes a strong and compulsive case of using the power of nice to guide everything, from the way your business treats employees to how you negotiate. Filled with personal experience, I found it a very inspirational read and, I think, offers both a moral and more effective philosophy for how to run your life. The good thing is that you can read this book, decide to experiment and put it to the test to see if it works for you.
Given it is such a quick read, give it a go, try the ideas and see for yourself.

Getting Referrals

Referrals are one of the best and also cheapest ways to obtain serious leads for your business.
One of the principles in business is to examine how much it costs you
to obtain a new customer. This can get complex but one of the aspects
which is often ignored is the time you spend with a potential client
who then does not use your services or buy your product. Wouldn’t it be
nice to have someone else do this pre-screening for you so that a much
higher percentage of contacts turn into real clients?

One way to achieve this is by referrals. Word of mouth is one of the
best ways to get new clients because the person doing the referring has
already done some pre-screening for you and if people already have a
good relationship with the referrer, some of that good will extends
over onto you. Now you can get word of mouth from existing customers,
but this may not be enough, especially if you have a new business.

A solution to this lies in business referral networking groups. These
exist virtually everywhere, either as a local initiative or as part of
a national or global networking organization. Local Chambers of
Commerce should know about ones operating in the area. And if there
isn’t one, start one. The concept is of a group of business people who
come together regularly (often over breakfast) to become familiar with
each other’s business activities. The idea is then that in the normal
course of their business they come across someone who is in need of
your services, that they will discuss with them your business and then
offer a referral. Most such groups suggest that not only is the
potential client given your details but also that their details are
passed directly to you by the referrer so that you can be proactive in
establishing contact.

Most referral groups try to limit membership to one business in each
business category and some heavily restrict you from talking outside of
that area. This can be a problem these days, especially in
technologically oriented businesses where many of us do multiple
things. But generally it can be worked with and eventually the other
members of the networking group will find out about the full range of
things that you do anyway. The format of meetings vary but most provide
a brief time for everyone to describe their business each meeting and
also on a rotating basis give people a longer time to make a
presentation about their business. They also generally encourage
‘opportunity meetings’ where you schedule time to meet with another
business and mutually discuss your businesses and try to discover any
interesting opportunities that this might open up.

These groups can be amazingly effective. They have a financial cost for
membership but also require a regular time commitment, which varies
from group to group. Some meet weekly, many fortnightly and some
monthly. The thing is to shop around and find a group or groups that
suit you and whose requirements you can meet.

Search locally but here are links to a few to get you started:

Knowmentum (www.itsnotwhatyouknow.com) is an online group.

LeTip (www.letip.com) is a US organization.

Business Network International (www.bni.com) organises chapters in over 20 countries.

Time for a Shake-up in Patent Law

With the European rejection of changes to their patent law to cover software patents, perhaps it is time for a re-think worldwide
The massive vote against a proposed
change to patent law in Europe to create a single approach to patenting
software means that perhaps all countries should reconsider their
patent law on software, at the very least. The European Parliament rejected the law 648 to 14, with 18 abstentions.

Patenting of software in the US has reached absurd levels. The US
patent office has basically dropped all assessment, or so it appears,
and is granting patents unless someone objects. This forces much more
litigation than should be happening and this is very bad for innovation
from small companies who can not afford to defend themselves against an
attack from a large company with deep pockets and retained lawyers who
need to justify their payments. US companies have been patenting all
sorts of things that have had substantial prior use on the basis that
if they get the patent it is up to other people to challenge the patent
in court. They hope it may just appear easier to pay a nominal
licensing fee. Indeed the true decadence of the present system is
obvious with a number of US companies effectively stopping all real
trading and simply generating revenue off of patents and through
litigation.

It is my view that the US government is allowing the interests of big
business to drive intellectual property issues, and that this will
ultimately bite the American technology sector on the arse as the
centers of innovation move elsewhere. Patenting of software is one
example, as are the patenting practices in bio-technology and the
ongoing extension of copyright to protect Disney.

Could the rise of patent protection actually be stifling innovation? An
article in NewScientist magazine on the 2nd of July, 2005, entitled
“Are we on our way back to the Dark Ages?, by Robert Adler, discusses
the work of Jonathon Huebner that the rate of real innovation per billion of world population peaked
in 1873 and has been sharply declining ever since.Whilst this work is
highly disputed it does raise some interesting ideas about what
constitutes real innovation as opposed to mere refinement.

Perhaps it is time the whole world had a good look at intellectual
property laws and re-evaluated the types, relevance and appropriate
protections granted under the various forms of intellectual property
rights. And also the obligations.