Daily Archives: January 6, 2007

Great Scott’s Business Advice (Scott Adams, the Supply Management Guru)

Back in November, when I was smelling that sweet, sweet Bay Area air, I told you that Scott Adams, also recognized as a genius by the SpendFool (source), was a Supply Management Guru and pointed out numerous examples of the great advice that he’s been giving away for free every day on his blog.

As you may have guessed, the advice just keeps on flowing. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, but it is there, and the effort is worth the reward. For those of you who may have missed it, here’s a small sampling of the great advice he’s given us all since my blog entry in November.

November 27, 2006 The One Problem with the World
“Genius looks just like stupidity to the observer.”

Is the last recommendation from your underling really the dumbest idea you’ve ever heard, or has your oyster coughed up a pearl? Sometimes a radical idea may sound moronic on the surface, but actually be a damn good business idea when explored in depth. Remember, once- upon-a-time outsourcing to China, Software as a Service, and long-term hedge contracts were all considered idiotic by big business who had always not done business that way.

“My magical solution is to give humans the power to tell the difference between a super genius and a moron. I think this would solve every problem in the world because chances are that the smartest super genius in each field has a good idea how to fix that field. But the only solutions being considered are the ones coming from tall guys with good hair.”

It’s not the cover … but the contents … of the book that count.

November 30, 2006 Bill Gates for President
“In an earlier post I said Bill Gates would make an excellent president because he’s a successful businessman, makes decisions based on reason instead of superstition, and has a track record of trying to help the poor through his foundation.”

In other words, it’s not cool to shoot from the hip, do it the way you’ve always done it, use hearsay, or pluck the petals from a flower when making a multi-million or multi-billion dollar decision – every decision you make should be be based on a rational analysis of the situation, using logic and whatever mathematical or scientifically based decision support tools are at your disposal. Don’t blindly compare bids just on quoted unit costs, put them through an apples-to-apples comparison in a cost modeling tool to find out what the overall cost is.

“I’ve always felt that you should pick a president the same way you’d pick an attorney to help you out of a dangerous legal problem. Do you want the attorney who dresses nicely and belongs to your church? Or do you want the attorney who can rip out your opponent’s heart and put it on the hibachi before he dies? Maybe it’s just me, but I want an attorney who is part demon. And I want a president who isn’t afraid to make rational decisions.”

Don’t just hire someone who can talk the talk when hiring your leader, hire someone who can walk the walk and get down and dirty in the details when the need arises. Make sure the person is confident, able to hold her own, and not afraid to back away from a fight when it’s the right thing to do.

December 7, 2006 Acting Smarter Than You Are
“.. you must learn to stop talking so much. Talking is the surest way to inadvertently showcase profound ignorance.”

Don’t speak just to hear the sound of your own voice. Speak when you have something intelligent to say, and make sure what you say is intelligible. Furthermore, make sure you take the culture of your audience into account when speaking. If you’re a Texan talking to a potential outsourcing partner in China, telling them you want to switch suppliers because “your last supplier was greasy as fried lard and you’re just waiting for the day they open up a worm farm” and “you’re hoping that you can get down to the lick-log without burning daylight” will not mean a thing to them and, furthermore, they might think you’re nuts.

“It’s important to agree with people if you want them to think you are a genius.”

Now, you certainly cannot do this if they are irrational, uninformed, or otherwise wrong, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find examples of them being right, point them out, and incorporate their more useful suggestions into your own decisions. After all, if you just tell your people that they’re wrong all the time, they probably won’t stick around very long. And then you’ll have to give Eric Jackson a call, and I’m calculatingly confident that will cost you a pretty penny.

December 9, 2006 Thinking Fast Makes You Happy
“I recommend coffee and exciting books.”

An alert mind is an effective mind. ‘Nuff said.

December 11, 2006 How to Know that Your Presentation isn’t Going Well
” I think you can conclude it’s time to end your presentation if anyone in the audience is:

  1. Giving himself a sponge bath with saliva and a balled-up piece of paper
  2. Turning a long sleeved shirt into a vest by removing the threads that hold the arms on
  3. Pretending to be a mime in a glass box
  4. Engaging in any form of self-gratification
  5. Creating prison themed origami”

A good presentation is important. Really important. Extremely important.

December 14, 2006 Those Darned Voting Machines
“Voters simply aren’t that good at predicting the future. Every bad president we’ve ever had managed to get a majority of the votes. Sometimes twice.”

When it comes to running a company, democracy isn’t always right. The only people voting on an issue should be people who understand the issue, both the pros and cons, are affected by the issue, and are responsible for the issue and the consequences. Bob might want it blue, but if the blue die costs an extra 2M and adds no real marketing value, then he should be forced to accept it metallic. Besides – the MacBooks are metallic, and they’re selling like hot cakes.

December 17, 2006 My Donut Theory of the Universe
“I think the real reason anyone believes anything is because uncertainty hurts. So we pick a side and rationalize it later. … Personally, I’m totally comfortable with a state of eternal confusion. It’s practically a lifestyle.”

We don’t always know all the answers. We’re only human. And that’s okay. It’s much better than making up an answer, which is likely to be wrong, treating it like gospel, and failing miserably in the end.

It's too bad Scott Adams had to take these classic posts down on request of Portfolio Hardcover when they published Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain that was a collection of his blog posts through part of 2007.