Posted by David Polakoff on February 20, 2009
The Windmills of My Immediate Mind
Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff
Whether in my corporate media tenures or in chatting with my media clients, I always like to remark, “Well, if I win the lottery tomorrow… the bonus calculation file is on my desktop in a file marked ‘Bonus Calculation’.” It was just a nicer than saying that if I got hit by a bus on my way home from work, the business shouldn’t stop on my account. And hopefully, the “IT guy” has the password to get into my desktop! Oh, and if I do win the lottery, I am “outta” here.
The concept of running your office (literally and figuratively) and your responsibilities so that anyone can step into your shoes is hardly a daily driving mantra; we all like to think that we’re irreplaceable and maybe even think that the uniqueness of our role and how we perform it provides job security; it just ain’t so.
When I prepare electronic documents, and I’m largely discussing spreadsheets, I do so in an organized and labeled fashion so that someone else can inherit it or even concurrently share it, and it is functional, understandable, and navigable. Especially in start-up environments, I need the CEO to be able to review it and even adjust sensitivities. The ease of usability of the schedule or model is a reflection of my foresight, organizational abilities, and “dispensability” (hopefully because I’m being promoted). I actually do want to create tools that others will want to use, inherit, and even replicate and customize for related uses. Besides, the last thing I want is to be telephoned while on the aqua office (i.e., the sailboat) because I’m the only one who can go in and change the cost-per-action assumption. True, there are limitations in the user’s level of software knowledge (which is why I don’t create Pivot Tables – mostly because most wouldn’t know how to use them, including myself), so make it efficient, but somewhere below NASA specifications.
When I’m brought in to consult on an existing business plan or model, it most often is not just because the creator left the venture, but because he/she did a poor job. That’s Catch-22 for me; I get to bill hours for the learning curve to figure it out; but I also have to… figure it out. Catch-22, part deux – is it easier to figure out and correct it or re-build it from scratch?
Whether it’s method of paper filing, desktop organization and computer file storage, naming of files, maintaining support for Powerpoint facts and figures, and spreadsheet building, organizing, logic, and labeling – take the extra time to organize and provide notes and instructions. It may just help when you have to return to the file, six months down the road; when the due diligence people come by for your colonoscopy; or when your underling and friend gets promoted because you’ve won the lottery.