Most of us enjoy reading recipes for success. The topic of failure tends to be far less popular. And yet, in business we say "If you're not occasionally failing at something, you're probably setting your sights for success way too low." I like Soichiro Honda's quote. Here's a business legend who set very high expectations for himself and his automobile company. Yet he viewed failure in the context of it simply being a necessary means to achieving an outstanding end.
Over the years, I've also grown to appreciate the comparison of two of history's outstanding major league baseball players, Lou Brock and Max Carey. In 1922, Carey played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and stole 51 bases while only being caught twice. That's an unbelievable success rate of 96%! Yet, far more of us recognize the name Lou Brock, a St. Louis Cardinal who for many years was the major league career leader in stolen bases with a total of 938 successes. Almost unnoticed in the recordbooks, though, is the fact that Brock was thrown out a total of 307 times in his career. That's a far less impressive career success rate of 76%. Still pretty good, but less than Carey-like. Yet, Brock's the guy people still talk about, not Carey.
What got me thinking again about this whole failure to success sequencing was a post earlier this week by Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Hyatt offers some great reminders that ultimately what determines whether past failures lead to future successes depends more on our individual responses to failure (i.e., how you respond to failure when it happens). Worth reading.
By the way, as I'm sitting here on the couch wrapping up this post, Michael Dyson (yes, the vacuum cleaner guy) was just on TV bragging about how his latest vacuum wonder product was the result of 5,000 earlier prototypes, or as he put it, 5,000 failures. I think these folks are onto something.
Couldn't pass up this opportunity to congratulate all of those individuals who work with our Belmont undergraduate business students. BusinessWeek Magazine just released their list of Top 100 Undergraduate Business Schools for 2008, and Belmont has made the list for the first time ever. Wharton again topped the national rankings, but Belmont appeared at No. 89, which was good for the highest ranking of any Tennessee b-school. The program was also in some pretty good company, finishing just between the University of Arkansas (No. 88) and Louisiana State University (No. 90). The full story will appear in the March 10 edition, scheduled to be on newsstands this coming Monday. The full story and supporting analysis can be found at: http://bwnt.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/undergrad_bschool/
It's oft been said that "You can't fight city hall"--a reference, no doubt, to the collective angst of all those past local residents who felt wronged by their municipal leaders but felt powerless to do anything about it.
Don't you wish more city leaders had chosen the path of Coral Springs (FL) leadership?! C.S. is the 13th largest municipality in the State of Florida and late this past year they became the first municipality to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the U.S. President. Back in the early 1990s, city leaders decided there was a better way to run city hall than the traditional stereotypical approach. So they began making strategic decisions based on a total quality management framework designed around performance targets like resident and business satisfaction, stakeholder partnerships, and overall continuous improvement.
After several years of implementing that strategy, their results began to speak for themselves. Last year, for example, 95% of residents indicated that the city had met or exceeded their expectations for quality of service delivered. Furthermore, 99% of resident businesses would now recommend the city to others as a "place to run a business." And these results are only two of the myriad of world-class levels being achieved by city management on an ongoing basis.
Thankfully, a big part of the Baldrige philosophy is for winners to share their recipes for success with others. If you're an existing (or aspiring) city leader, I'd urge you to take a look at the Coral Springs story and how they run their city hall (http://www.coralsprings.org/baldrige/BaldrigeApplication07.pdf). Your citizens (and voters) will be greatful for any best practices you identify that can be implemented locally. If you find these ideas of interest, check with our good friends over at the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (www.tncpe.org).
TNCPE has a wonderful set of resources in place specifically designed to help community leaders improve the quality of life for their residents.
After browsing through a bookstore several months ago, I made the declaration that no matter where technology takes us, “I still love books.” There is just something about the smell of a fresh book, the sense of accomplishment you feel while watching your bookmark move deeper into the pages, the ability to share the experience by passing a favorite story along to a friend. You can browse shelves of your collection and be reminded of inspirational lessons and adventures gone by. There is just something special about a book.
Thus, you can see why I have nicknamed Amazon’s Kindle as iPod’s ugly stepsister.
Amazon appears to be capitalizing on the same digital appeal that makes Apple so successful — innovation, value and convenience. For book publishers, it’s another revenue stream that will allow them to keep producing the material we want to read. I will admit all of this is good business, even if the product is not for me.
People are certainly buying in. According to its Wikipedia entry, the Kindle sold out within six hours of its November launch, and Amazon.com is still having trouble keeping them in stock (even at the $400 premium). Sony’s version appears to be on back order as well.
It’s not on my Christmas list, though. I would rather escape with a book that I can still read despite the sun’s glare. Technology, hands off my books. Who’s with me?