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MBWA: Master By Walking Around

In one my business school classes we had Mr. Leonard Lavin come speak to us about entrepreneurship.  Mr. Lavin is an American businessman, who founded the Alberto-Culver Company in 1955.  Alberto-Culver was a corporation with international sales whose principal business is manufacturing hair and skin beauty care products under such brands as Alberto VO5, Andrew Collinge, St. Ives (skin care products), TRESemme, FDS, Consort, and Nexxus.  Alberto-Culver was purchased by the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever on September 27, 2010 for US$3.7 billion.

When asked about his education Mr. Lavin said his business education came in the form of an MBWA, “master by walking around.”  This means that everyday Mr. Lavin is speaking with his employees of all levels and directly observing how things are run.  Words cannot express how important a ground-level understanding of the day-to-day operations.

Business shouldn’t be run from the boardroom using only preformance reports and metrics to steer its direction.  However, as companies grow, leadership finds it difficult find the time to do this crucial research.  In one episode of Undercover Boss, Gina Rivera, Founder and President of Phenix Salons INC., a franchise which offers independent salon and business professionals the opportunity to own and operate their own luxury salon suites, goes undercover to see if it will color her perception of how the company is running.  As this company is making that difficult transition from small to medium sized enterprise, Ms. Rivera realized she was losing ground-level knowledge of what her franchisees are experiencing.  A must watch!

Not enough time? Try telecommuting

Finding time to do everything on one’s list is difficult enough, let alone finding enough time to start a business. Studies show that the number one drainer of personal time is commuting to and from work.
Fortunately, the traditional 9 to 5 might be losing some footing according to an NPR article.

Now the trick is to get your boss to OK this work arrangement. One method that might be helpful is outlined in Tim Ferris’s book, the 4 Hour work week. Your mileage will vary but it might be worth a try

Just be careful they don’t saddle you with more work.

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