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OWNER'S MANUAL

5 Laws of Business You’ve Never Heard Of
 

If Isaac Newton had studied companies, he would have discovered these principles that govern how managers work.

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You've probably heard of Moore's law, or the Phillips curve, or the Financial Instability Hypothesis (okay, maybe not the last one, unless your thing is bringing after-dinner conversations to a screeching halt).

But here are five incredibly important business and economic doctrines you haven't heard of:

1. The Law of Decreasing Personality

The bigger your balance sheet, the more likely you are to be an asshole.

See: Well, lots of people. But I don't want to make their balance sheets bigger by naming names and getting sued.

So let's move on.

2. The Policy Doctrine

The more employee policies you have, the less likely you are to treat employees fairly.

See: Every big company I ever worked for.

Sure, you need a few policies. And you need some guidelines.

But any set of policies that can't be distilled to, "We will treat our employees the way we would want to be treated," is likely to leave employees holding the short end of the fairness stick.

3. The Law of Diminishing Participation Returns

The more people who have input into a decision or design, the less valuable the outcome.

See: Just about everyone not named Steve Jobs.

Yes, everyone has a voice. Yes, everyone's opinion has value.

But go ahead: Name one decision or design based on group consensus that broke new ground or created a new industry.

Sure, you need a team for implementation and development, but the best decisions tend to be made by the few, not the many.

4. The Inverse Square Rule of Proximity

The less time you spend with your employees the more rapidly their engagement and performance falls off.

See: Any crappy quasi-absentee manager you ever worked for.

Email, phone, social media... all are good ways to stay in touch with employees, but nothing—nothing—beats face time.

The less you see, interact with, and serve as a role model for your employees, the more they'll struggle to implement your vision and extend your passion for the business.

5. Eastwood's Law of Silence

The people who say the most have the least to say.

See: Maybe (but hopefully not) your mirror.

I know. We all have a personal brand. We all need to own our space. If we don't blow our horns, no one will blow them for us.

Fine.

But think about truly successful people you know. They don't brag. They don't bluster. They don't hold forth.

Neither should you. Let your accomplishments speak for you. Spend your time listening to the people who rarely speak—especially your employees.

Because when they do, it's really good stuff.

Last updated: May 9, 2012

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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