Best practices aren’t enough

Trading Psychology 2.0: From Best Practices to Best ProcessesI’m currently reading Brett Steenbarger’s “Trading Psychology 2.0: From Best Practices to Best Processes.” I’m a fan of Dr. Steenbarger’s work and bought his new book as soon as it was released.

While this book is targeted at traders and investors, there’s a great deal of knowledge that can be gleaned from it that can be applied to many other aspects of your personal life as well as business.

For example, the premise of the book is that the four main ‘habits’ a trader should focus on to improve their trading are “adaptability, creativity, productivity, and self-management.”   Those four habits are ideal of any individual and any company to focus on as well.   Just like a trader, a business can have the best strategy in the world but if they can’t execute on that strategy and adapt to changing markets in a creative way, the strategy is (or will become) worthless.

I ran across this nugget in one of the first chapters and thought it worth sharing:

…what makes traders good are best practices—sound methods for deploying capital and managing risk. What makes traders great are best processes: detailed routines that turn best practices into consistent habits. Adaptability, creativity, productivity, and self-management: These aren’t just things that the best traders have. They are what best traders do—routinely.

Emphasis mine.

Interesting concept isn’t it?  Best practices aren’t enough….to be consistent and remain in business as a trader, consultant, person or company, you need best practices and best processes.  But the key to long-term success in anything is how you build, change and manage your best practices and best processes.

A best practice today isn’t going to be a best practice next year.  The same is true for processes. Something that works today may not necessarily work next year.   You need both best practices and best processes but you also need to have the wisdom to know when those need to change to adapt to the changing marketplace.

This is where the four key habits come into play.  If you can adapt your strategy you can survive.  If you can think of new ways to approach your market and client base, you can survive.  If you can be both creative and adaptable while doing the right things and managing yourself and/or your business, you’ll not only survive but you should thrive.

Best practices aren’t enough. You’ve got to add best processes into the mix.  Additionally, you (or your business) need to have the smarts and creativity to know when its time to change those processes and practices to better align yourself and your strategy with existing or future market conditions.

Back to the book…while it is targeted at trading, there are a lot of very valuable insights that can be applied to all aspects of your life…I highly recommend it.

CIO’s – what’s your focus?

Early this week, I asked a question to my readers (and myself).

The question was “What’s your focus?” and immediately after publishing the post, I read a great post titled “The HR Professional – Chasing two Rabbits” over on Fistful of Talent that basically asks the same question.

In the article, the author points out an old Chinese Proverb that says:

“A hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.”

Great proverb…and one that fits the current HR world perfectly according to the author.  The post continues with:

I’m thinking this is a similar situation in HR. There are two rabbits in its cross hairs – the strategy, the big picture, seat at the table – and the little stuff, I-9’s, Benefits Enrollment, 401K enrollment, policies, procedures.

I’d say this is the same problem IT faces today.  There are at least two rabbits in the CIO’s cross-hairs – Strategy Rabbit & Tactical Rabbit.  Which do you focus on? Can you focus on just one?

CIO’s – What’s your focus?

The role of the CIO has always been one that required an ability to handle multiple projects and juggle multiple priorities.  The problem with juggling multiple priorities is the same as the hunter trying to chase two rabbits.

While there are some CIO’s who’ve been able to handle the multiple priorities put upon the IT group, I’ve not met many who’ve done a good job of it.  I’ve met some IT groups who were great at implementing new systems but poor at maintaining them after ‘go live’.  I’ve met CIO’s who have a great mind for tactics (i.e., operations) but did a poor job with the strategic thinking that is necessary in today’s world.

So what’s a CIO to do in this fast-paced world with multiple priorities?  It’s impossible to say that you should pick the Strategic or Tactical and focus on that…but one of these ‘rabbits’ must win out over the other.

Should the CIO be focused on the Strategic or Tactical?

I think the CIO’s focus should be on the strategic aspects of IT & business…but perhaps there are some CIO’s out there who want to focus on the tactical.  Fine…pick one and focus…but you’ve got to find someone on your team to focus on the other. Find your focus and get moving….let members of your team focus on other aspects (e.g., operations, etc).

You’ve got 2 rabbits to chase…chase them by yourself and you’ll most likely miss them both.  Find another hunter to help and you’ll get both rabbits.

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