Lane on … Values; Not Just for the Soft

I admit it, I used to think that shared values exercises were just so much kumbaya. But, the longer my career, the more I understand them to be critical to any organization’s success. I think the reason so many of us undervalue them is that we've been fortunate enough to work in organizations that worked well and there was a strong sense of shared values. When you have them, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like without them.

Lane on… The Cannon

Those of you who have been to my office will know that I have seven feet of shelf space dedicated to business books.  None of the books are dogs.  Dogs don’t get saved, they get donated.  But among the keepers, some are timeless core books and some are either too narrow to be used often, or so technically deep that they will expire at some point and be superseded.  Technical books become obsolete fastest because our understanding is expanding so rapidly.  I thought it might be interesting to decide what goes into the Lane Cannon (and thereby what is left out).

Lane on… The Evolution of Business

My oldest daughter and I recently went diving and hiking in the Galapagos islands, long a bucket list destination of mine.  In Puerto Ayora, the principle town and jumping off point for adventures, they sell a tee shirt that says:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change  – Charles Darwin

Lane on… When to Sell Your Next Deal

A customer calls to ask you to participate in a competitive bid in order to retain their business.  This is a frustrating situation.  You’ve been serving this customer, successfully, you thought.  But now they are asking you to “sharpen your pencil”, “provide them with any new ideas you have”, “share with them your methods and approaches”, and “explain your cost and profit structure.”

Lane on … Richening the Mix

If you think of your business like a car with an internal combustion engine, you need to be operating at an Air to Fuel Ratio (AFR) of 5:1 where air is sales and fuel is profit.  An AFR of 5:1 is equivalent to 20% profit.  I can already hear some of you saying “in my industry that’s not possible, on average we run on 5% margins (or some other low number).