Most of us are involved with formal groups of like-minded folks…the companies we work for, the Rotary Club and similar service groups, economic development groups, university workshops, etc. Often such groups bring in outside speakers to inform and inspire. I’ve spoken to many such groups, usually to rave reviews. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to present such talks, as a way of contributing to the community.

The talks can range from a half-hour at a service club to perhaps two or three hours structured as a workshop for a single company or group of companies. The content and style are totally flexible, tailored to the situation and the audience.

Here is a sampling of my talks from the last few years:

Five Nasty Problems That Kill Companies

I’ll lay out five problems that hammer many of the small-to-midsized businesses (10-70 employees) I work with; these are problems that underlie shortfalls in profit, revenue growth, and morale. Why attend the talk: you’ll hear innovative framing of problems that may be eating away at your company, in a way that you might not have thought about before. And you’ll hear about solutions that work.

Top Team Development

Many smaller companies have very talented people at the top, but are missing the training and structure to get the most out of them. Often the CEO “does it all,” leaving the rest of the Top Team with less fulfilling jobs and lower overall performance. Why go: you can get a feeling for the training that larger companies offer their Top Teams, and start changing your culture immediately.


High cost of goods, high inventory, high failure rates, long turnaround times…these are issues that plague Operations. Lean is a direct frontal attack on them. Intrinsic to lean is Continuous Improvement and the systematic reduction of all these problems. Why go: if your organization hasn’t successfully implemented Lean methodologies, or doesn’t have a robust Continuous Improvement program, come and learn how to get started.

Research & Development

There are only two ways to grow your business: promotion of your existing products/services, and development of new ones. R&D is the path to a sustainable stream of new products, and it’s challenging to do it right. I worked in R&D in Silicon Valley for 20 years, and can help you lay out a process that works. Why go: if your R&D effort is chaotic and unsatisfying, come and learn how to clean it up and make it sing.

Planning for Growth

New ideas pop up; should you “just do it” like Nike says, or are you better off to slow down and do some planning first. The answer is both! But how best to plan; what is the right sequence of questions in your planning effort. Why go: I have worked with dozens of startups and existing companies to develop strategic plans, and you can benefit from that experience. At a minimum, figure out the likelihood of success of your great idea, and where to apply your effort most effectively. This one is best done as a 2-3 hour workshop, where you can make a start on your unique strategic plan.

Project Management

A critical skill for R&D, and a very helpful one for almost everyone. This class/workshop is classical Waterfall PM, developing a Gantt Chart with all the implications behind it. Why go: If your R&D team is weak on PM, this workshop is a must. And if your folks frequently engage in serious projects (work that starts and finishes), PM is a wonderful tool for getting results.

Beyond Command & Control

Many contemporary organizations have serious vestiges of the historic C&C approach to management, and they pay a heavy, but often invisible, price for it. Often the CEO is high-control, high-dominance, but doesn’t know how to escape from that pattern without letting things go completely to pot. Why go: learn how successful larger companies have moved to the Guideline approach, including the many safety net features they put in place to help assure success.


A leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist says “Measure What Matters.” He means: to really succeed, you need to figure out the main focus for the next period, put some numbers on it, and keep your eye on that ball. Why go: review how to effectively work with metrics, and how the basic metrics idea can evolve to one of the key tools in managing your enterprise