It all comes down to communication

It’s a great feeling. You come out of a productive meeting you’ve chaired happy because everyone seemed to be on the same page. They all knew what was expected of them—your requests were very specific—and the next steps you outlined were clear and meaningful. Wonderful! Then, three days later, people are asking each other if they were even at the same meeting. Just because it was clear to you doesn’t mean it was clear to them. And whose fault is that? Sorry to say, but it was probably yours.

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Planning for success: What if your product is a hit?

When it comes to new products and feature introductions, we’ve all seen our share of successes—and flops that hit the floor with a loud and sudden THUD. Some launches were an instant hit while some got almost no traction—and certainly displayed no stickiness. But when success strikes, does all hell have to break loose? Can we prevent the process from collapsing under the heavy load? Perhaps we need to properly plan for success.

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The next step: Aircraft ownership

It’s a safe bet that within minutes of taking your first flying lesson, the thought of owning your own aircraft crossed your mind. In fact, the thought of owning one probably crossed your mind long before you ever signed up. (One thing you’ll soon learn is that you never really “don’t own” an aircraft. We like to think we are just “between planes.”)

This post is about the process I went through while joining my first partnership.

One thing many pilots do to reduce the cost of flying is to join forces with other fellow pilots. This is known as a partnership or a flying club, and it’s the road I decided to take a few years ago.

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Product Managers: Dare to make products crafted with care

Generally speaking, craftspeople take great care and pride in their work—their passion for what they do shows in the final product. Some craftspeople, however, are still remembered decades, even centuries, later. Here’s just one example. Of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of stringed instruments in the world today, only 1,100, or so, were made by Antonio Stradivari, the great Italian luthier. Almost 300 years ago, he hand-built what are widely acknowledged as the finest violins and cellos (and a few other instruments) on the planet. His are still the standard to which all other luthiers aspire. Despite now living in the age of technology and automation, we must follow in Stradivari’s footsteps. Our #1 priority should be building products that are crafted with care and designed to delight.

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Better decision making: Business lessons from the aviation world

As a pilot with a penchant for lifelong learning, I recently attended a seminar on Crew Resource Management (CRM—sorry, business readers, CRM in this context has nothing to do with salesforce.com) at the Rockcliffe Flying Club. Essentially, its purpose was to show us how to be a better—and safer—pilot by using all the tools available to us.

As I sat there, I realized how much this course had to offer me as both a pilot and a business leader. After all, efficient operations are important in both arenas.

Even if your business isn’t as heavily regulated as the aviation industry, some simplified versions of the methods used in aviation can apply to just about any business.

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Why you should pay for the software you use

Pirates (more accurately called “thieves”) have lurked around in the background of the high-technology world since commercial software was first made available to personal-computer owners back in the olden days. When people think of digital piracy, however, they most often relate it to software. But piracy can be extended to anything available in a digital format on a local device—including mobile units—where the cost of producing perfect copies is almost zero. Even more, digital piracy may soon be found in the physical-goods world thanks to the growing popularity of 3D printers. The problem is, piracy (more accurately called “theft”) can eventually lead to a product’s development being stopped in its tracks because of a lack of funding for future versions. And that may well be the biggest reason to start paying for what you use.

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Getting my wings wet: The freedom of flying floatplanes

Anyone who has earned a private pilot’s license (PPL) knows that earning the right to be the “pilot in command” is just the beginning of a learning curve that can last for the rest of your life.

From flying over the clouds or flying at night to instrument ratings and aerobatics, there are always new things to know and new experiences to enjoy. One of my favorite flying experiences so far—and by far—is learning to fly a floatplane.

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The amazing business model of Santa, Inc.

When the success of your organization depends on global delivery within a window of just 24 hours, it’s imperative for your logistics and delivery systems to be flawless. Add to that a strict focus on delighting the customers using processes that rely heavy on outsourcing and you can see just what a challenge it would be. Wait a minute! There’s also that whole “deliver significant shareholder value and growth, year after year” thing. Daunting? Yes. But not for Santa, Inc.

How does the company do it?

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Product Managers: Doing nothing is a lot of work

It’s a question every product manager faces: What do you do, exactly? I got it from a newly appointed Executive Vice President of Marketing, to whom all the Product Managers reported, about eight years ago. After a short reflection, my answer was simple. Sort of. They do nothing—but it’s a lot of work.

It was certainly not the answer he was expecting, and I somehow felt compelled to provide a further explanation to my boss’s boss if, for no other reason, than to keep my job.

But at least I got his attention.

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Passion and care: Business lessons from the top chefs

In recent months, I’ve found myself watching numerous food-related documentaries. From the Netflix show, Chef’s Table, to the PBS series, The Mind of a Chef (also available on Netflix), it’s fascinating to see the passion displayed by these culinary geniuses. It’s also interesting to see how they focus on every detail, how they all craft the unique experience they provide with care in an effort to achieve customer delight.

These shows also share glimpses of the journey some of them took to find their own voice, their unique value proposition that enables them to stand out. While each of these chefs have very different culinary styles and experiences, they offer amazing examples of customer delight. And although the lessons they teach are from the culinary world, they can be used by companies of any size and in any sector to achieve similar success.

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