Steve Marr Blog

Steve Marr's contributions
Category >> Management
Aug 06

What Is Prompt?

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Words like prompt, soon, shortly, or quickly have different meanings to different people. When using words that require action by a certain time, you need to be clear and specific.  Follow Solomon’s advice who said, “Through presumption comes nothing but strife.” (Proverbs 13:10, NASB)

Jul 10

Helping a New Manager Transition

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

When a business promotes a person to supervision or management, there needs to be a thorough discussion of the challenges that will allow promoted personnel to start out on firm ground. I have learned some key points to cover.

May 17

When an Industry Declines

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Recently Walmart and Sears have closed their in store photography centers. In past generations, parents would dress up the family for the annual portrait. Today, few use a professional photographer.

When I was younger, I fancied myself a pretty good amateur photographer. I bought a Nikon 35 millimeter with several lenses. The camera cost around $5,000 in today’s dollars. I took a lot of shots using slide film and printed the best. In the past, taking pictures was costly and required skill to fully utilize the equipment.

Now cameras are cheap, easy to use, and digital. The expense of printing wasted shots is gone; you just delete them. Most of us can take enough pictures to get a few that turn out well. We don’t need to pay $50-$100 for a set of professional pictures.

However, good photography is a skill.  You need to get the lighting right, the people in the right place, and catch the best expressions. Not many people have this skill, and fewer people make a living doing photography. We need to be alert and understand these changes in our industry.

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and said, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” (Jeremiah 18:4, NIV) When the industry we work in is out of shape, we need to be willing to be molded into a different profession or job.

Subscribe to the free Business Proverbs e-mail here:

May 10

Time is Money

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

I receive requests asking for my free time regularly. If I said yes to each request, I would get little else done.  I filter these requests for free time into three categories.

Some requests come from people with whom I have a relationship. For example, a good client asked me to help provide a perspective on a church building issue.  I was happy to accommodate. We need to share ourselves in ways that strengthen our relationships. Another example was that a good friend asked me to talk with their daughter about starting a new business. I was happy to assist.

Apr 15

Make Effective Trade-offs

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

I have a problem.  I want the best cost, the fastest speed, and the top quality all at once.  Reality teaches me that I can’t always have all three.  Often, I need to choose.  Some people say that you can have any two, but not all three. However, I try to find a balance among all three.  I try to find the best trade-off in any given circumstance.

When I approach a project, I determine my goal, what is needed, when it is needed, and how much it will cost. Each becomes a moving part requiring management.  That’s also where trade-offs occur.

Consider the budget process.  I start by asking two questions:  what funds do I have available and what funds should I spend? A business startup may have $1,000 to invest on a website. Expensive, original art work is not a possibility with this budget. The starting place involves stock images with original copy. With modern web tools they can get the website up and running in a few days at a low cost, but it won’t be the most impactful site. The budget required a trade-off:  using low-cost tools and in-house skill for higher priced web design services.

Time is another important component.  When a customer wants delivery on the first of the month and will cancel the order if not met; then, saving money or improving quality is a moot point. You must meet the time demand.  However, when you have limited staff or budget; that could be difficult.

 I was working with a ministry to launch a project. They needed a marketing specialist who was expensive. I suggested that they work out an arrangement with the expert to give him extra time to complete the work, but at a lower cost. The expert was able to use the job to fill open time over the next months. The time trade-off produced excellent quality at a lower cost.

In another example, I was working with a client who opened a new store location. They had messed up and not started the build out until late. This required spending more money on a contractor to get the place ready in time.  It was an unfortunate trade-off.

When I needed to hire a house painter, I talked with several people. One was very expensive but his quality was masterful. However, I didn’t need masterful quality for the minor improvement I was after.  Instead, I selected a competent painter at a lower price. The difference in the finished work was minimal. Had I restored an 1850 home, I would have hired the high cost expert.

Each project is different. Don’t let impatience make you spend more for faster delivery when it isn’t necessary.  Spend more for quality when it counts, but understand when to cut back when it doesn’t. Consider each moving part, its relationship to the project, and know what you require in the end.

Subscribe to the free Business Proverbs e-mail here: