Geoffrey James is an award-winning columnist and author of a new book called Business Without The Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know which has got to be the most timely book of 2014. I asked him for a list of the top ten ways to remove BS from a business, and this is what he provided:
1. Managing. Redefine managing as “setting direction and coaching” rather than “command and control.” Apply common sense rather than waste energy on management fads. Avoid telling ridiculous lies like “there is no truth to those layoff rumors.” Be a role model rather than a taskmaster.
2. Emails. Start each email with a single short sentence defining the decision that you want the recipient to make. Structure the email into a few bulleted arguments that support the making of that decision. If necessary, append a document containing background detail.
3. Meetings. Hold meetings to make decisions (the future) rather than share information (the past). Prior to each meeting, distribute a summary of what’s already known. Provide an agenda that defines the needed decision, lists what must be discussed to make that decision, and ends with the next steps required to make that decision real. Limit all meetings to less than one hour, which should be easy if you implement the above.
4. Jargon. Use common words and phrases rather than biz-blab. “Write to” people; don’t “reach out to” them. “Use” a program; don’t “utilize” it. “Take advantage” of a situation; don’t “leverage” it. Create “business deals,” not “win-win synergies.” And so forth.
5. Emotions. The words you use to describe your experience defines your experience. Remove the sting from difficult situations by substituting weak words like “dislike” for loaded words like “hate.” Similarly, increase your level of joy by substituting strong words like “I feel terrific” for weak words like “I’m hangin’ in there.”
6. Schedule. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your results normally come from 20% of your efforts, while 80% of your efforts produce only 20% of your results. To achieve your goals more quickly, spend 80% of your time doing the 20% that really matters and the use the remaining 20% of your time doing something that makes you happy.
7. Work hours. Multiple studies have shown that consistently working more than forty hours a week creates a temporary productivity boost, followed by a steady decrease of productivity. While you’ll sometimes need to work long hours, balance it out by taking additional time off for friends, family and activities unrelated to work.
8. Presentations. Make your presentations like TED talks rather than college lectures. Tell a story rather than attempt to convey information. Use slides sparingly and only to make a story point more vivid. Use the 20/20 rule: cut your presentation to twenty minutes or less and rehearse it at least twenty times before exposing it to an audience.
9. Marketing. Treat marketing as a set of measurable tactical activities rather than a strategic effort that’s too important to measure. Create a strong brand by providing excellent products. Don’t try to fix a product problem by “rebranding” which only makes things worse. Discourage marketers who haven’t worked in Sales from giving advice to your salespeople.
10. Career. Today everyone is a freelancer and that therefore you must constantly be selling yourself and your ideas. Define your dream job precisely but have a flexible plan to achieve it. To bolster your courage, always have six month’s salary laid aside and at least three other job opportunities under development.
If you’d like to learn more about removing the BS from your business, be sure to read Geoffrey’s book, Business Without The Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.
Related: The Meaning of Meaning (LinkedIn)
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