Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on January 6, 2008 By Draginol In Blogging

Last year I spent a lot of time reading up to improve my business skills.  This year, I am prepared to make better use of what I have learned as well as administer some tough love in the process that will, on the surface, violate a lot of the rules of business management.

So below are some New Years resolutions I've made for business:

  1. I'm going to administer less and be more hands on to discipline ourselves on how we get things done. Not that I'm going to be some sort of nasty bastard (or more than I already am) but I'm going to take a much firmer hand on what is being worked on throughout the company.
  2. We're going to focus less on consensus and more on stream-lining the process so that we don't end up with too many chefs in the kitchen.
  3. I'm going to work harder to make people goal oriented.  Self-esteem comes from genuine achievement. My job isn't to make people feel good about themselves. My job is to ensure people achieve so that they make themselves feel good about themselves. That means telling people what they are doing wrong that is interfering with their objectives.
  4. I'm going to kill a lot of darlings. That is, we have a lot of very awesome ideas. But we can't pursue them all.  We're going to focus on the things we do best and other things will have to be pushed aside.
  5. I am going to push people a lot harder to do their best.  People will always feel better about themselves in the end if they believe they are excellent. But I saw a lot of dithering on a lot of things that kept us from getting as much done as possible.
  6. We're going to raise expectations on what can be accomplished in a given time frame.  We work at one of the coolest places in the world. That's why our voluntary turn-over is basically zero.  The way to keep it that way is for people to not feel like they're having to carry the load of others.  Compassion for compassion sake is poisonous in business because it leads people to spend 90% of the 10% who produce almost nothing rather than remaining 90% of the people who are doing a good job and could really benefit from having more direction and face time.
  7. I'm going to listen more but be more forceful in the final analysis.  We are raised to be polite and to believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But not at work they're not. Not on the company's dime.  I am going to listen to feedback and suggestions but will make the final call and enforce that.  I feel at this stage that my track record makes it clear that I know what I'm doing and that my way of doing things not only works tactically but strategically as well. Put another way, my way of doing things may not be gentle but the people who work directly with me tend to have the highest morale and best results because they know I'm not gentle and thus praise actually means something and they feel good because they know they're excellent.

I think all my New Years Resolutions revolve around a single truth: People feel good about themselves mainly from what comes from within. And at work, the best way to achieve that is through success. Therefore, my job has to be to help lead people to being personally successful at what they do. To help them achieve.

A friend of mine quipped that I used to be like Palpatine but in the past year or two, I've gone soft and spent too much time trying to be a delegating business executive.  The one part of the company I've remained  "emperor" over was the games side of things (i.e. the game that just won Expansion Pack of the Year from GameSpy and is up for strategy game of the year from numerous other websites and magazines).  The part of the company with no voluntary turn over in years, super high morale, massively high productivity, etc.  This year, I'm going to bring that to the rest of the company. It's going to be a tough few months I suspect.


Comments (Page 1)
on Jan 06, 2008

I have one you might consider adding:

8.   I'm going to not air my company's dirty laundry in a public place.  It's probably obvious to the our internal employees, which people are going lose descision making power, and it probably makes them feel like shit to see it posted publicly.

on Jan 06, 2008
I should also say that I'm going to be more quick to ban dumb asses who make stupid comments on my blogs.
on Jan 06, 2008
I should also say that I'm going to be more quick to ban dumb asses who make stupid comments on my blogs.
That's an excellent one!
on Jan 06, 2008
No offense Jeremy G but that's an idiotic statement to make. The things Draginol wrote could all have come out of any good leadership book. Too many companies fail because of a lack of leadership. I didn't see any of those resolutions as being critical of other people. They all could be summarized as 'I am going to provide better leadership'.
on Jan 06, 2008
Sounds like Brads take on 'Who's Got the Monkey?'
on Jan 06, 2008
More vertical, less horizontal. I'd be interested to hear how this works; its always been a fantasy of mine. My sense is that for such a thing to work, the leader must be terribly charasmatic. Employees tend to not take kindly to being disempowered, but they are far more likely to let go of their part of the reins to someone who inspires them.

Be well.
on Jan 06, 2008

My goal isn't to disempower but rather focus power. When everyone shares power, no one really has it.

What I hope to do is set an example for getting things done. When someone owns a given project -- and by owning means they have full accountability for its success or failure, they are ready for the power.

Too often, consensus is used to dilute responsibility.

on Jan 06, 2008
I think this is a good plan. Helping your employees to focus and to 'own' their projects is a good thing. What does happens is some leave because they feel they have been 'disempowered' as So Daiho suggested. In the long run, it is good because it weeds out the people who no longer fit the company's goals, as well as some employees will do their own self anlysis-evaluation to see if they want to be where the company is going. Kind of what is going on in my neck of the woods!
Oh and let me add that I'm not suggesting that you're planning to get rid of people, I know what you're saying is that you will re-focus your own goals on the other aspects of your business.
on Jan 07, 2008

8. I'm going to not air my company's dirty laundry in a public place. It's probably obvious to the our internal employees, which people are going lose descision making power, and it probably makes them feel like shit to see it posted publicly.

It's not "dirty laundry", it's just business.

When we were smaller, Brad was the only one setting directives.  We were massively efficient.  As we have grown, we have tried to delegate decision making.  Some places it has worked, some places it hasn't.  In the end, we are ending up with meetings and planning and discussions and...well..not efficiently operating.  We have almost 3 times as many people as we did 4 years ago, but we're not producing 3 times the work.  Therefore, we have to step back and start again with how we are creating our directives.

We have over 2 dozen software products and literally hundreds of individual products (games, suites, MyColors Themes, software, etc.).  At some point, all responsible companies have to take a step back and pinpoint what is making them successful and what is not.  You then weed out the "what is not" and concentrate on what is.

on Jan 07, 2008
9.  I will not call my customers dumb-asses
on Jan 07, 2008

My favorite is # 3-

3. I'm going to work harder to make people goal oriented.  Self-esteem comes from genuine achievement. My job isn't to make people feel good about themselves. My job is to ensure people achieve so that they make themselves feel good about themselves. That means telling people what they are doing wrong that is interfering with their objectives.

I agree with this entirely, if you can get your people to feel like they are in a positive "vertical" work environment then indeed self esteem does go up. However this is also challenging to pull off as it requires a bit of finesse- push too hard and you come across as a driver... results, results, results! Push too mildly then you come across as the buddy boss. "Hey, no worries about not getting your CCNA when you said you would... here, have a cookie!"   

on Jan 08, 2008

9. I will not call my customers dumb-asses

But, sometimes customers are dumb-asses.  Buying something from a company does not make your opinion automatically correct, nor does it allow you to say whatever you want to people who work at said company.

on Jan 09, 2008

As someone who works for Brad, I personally am looking forward to the changes he has outlined.  In the past I worked more closely with Brad but that has changed as the company has grown.  So having Brad back in the trenches more often will be a good thing.  And I really don't see it as "New" resolutions but more of lets return to some of the basics that got us here in the first place.

on Jan 09, 2008
"The part of the company with no voluntary turn over in years"

What qualifies as voluntary? Would it mean, that if life was easier I would stay, but life dictates I leave, so it is an involuntary leave? Just curious as I know of at least one that has left voluntary, so far as I know and he was on the gaming side? Not that there hasn't been very low turnover for you!
on Jan 09, 2008

We had one person voluntarily leave the games team over 2 years ago.  Hence "years".

 

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