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 2)
on Jan 10, 2008
Just had to call you on the zero is all. I would agree though, not much turn over, which is a testiment to the culture and quality of life you have built at Stardock in an industry notorious for it's low quality of life!
on Jan 10, 2008

But what I said was "basically zero". I qualified it since obviously it's not zero.  We're a software company, not the Hotel California.


on Jan 18, 2008
That's a lot of resolutions.. maybe it would help to break these down into specific action items so you can make sure which ones you accomplished? eg, kill which darling, be more forceful in which meeting.