Deemphasis by Emphasis of Tangible Assets

Growing up on a farm I was surrounded by tangible assets… land, buildings, tractors, implements, shop tools, etc. Maintaining and building stuff gave everyone on the farm a sense of great pride. “We did that” was a palpable, daily utterance… even if only to ourselves. The work, save, buy model of business is a fundamental […]

The Books We Recommend During the Little Engine Ventures General Manager Training

Following a recent blog post, a subscriber said “it’s nice to see what you are reading, but what do you recommend?” And, then, “How do you put the learnings into action?” At first this is a huge request because we’ve drawn from so many books, each having influenced us in subtle ways. However, the question […]

Regarding Capabilities

As a young man, I used to say, “What I lack in experience, I make up for in ability.” It was a cute way to disarm older people and get them to hire me. But, fundamentally, I believed it. And generally, it was true. Today, as a middle-aged man, I find experience to be of […]

The Types of Managers That Fail

We recently hosted our quarterly Advisory Committee meeting in Lafayette, Indiana. Jeff Peterson stuck around afterward to share some more detailed advice. I asked if I could share his notes –which he delivered from memory–I had to write down. He agreed and proceeded to say, “There are 3 types of managers that fail.” Ultimately, each […]

Transforming Knowledge

“Knowledge is justified true belief. Wisdom is knowledge enacted. Prudence is wisdom enacted for the good of all involved. Righteousness is prudence enacted in accordance with God’s will.” A version of the above was first shared with a group of friends seeking to understand righteousness. The above is how I have come to think of […]

Capacity is Gained by Delegation

We have a saying within Little Engine Ventures: “You cannot delegate until you document.” It’s a simple rule but profound. If you want to delegate a recurring task to someone else you must train them on how to do it well. In order to train well you need to show them and the provide them […]

Strategy is Saying Yes to Lasting Margin Increases

For years I have said, “Strategy is systematically saying no.” But, while saying no is a discipline that establishes a habit of operational excellence, there is more that must be proactively pursued. You must say yes to something of greater value than your competitors. So, what is that strategy which is worthy of your focus? […]

Coping Mechanisms for High Pressure Management

Pressure can result in higher or lower output. A healthy dose of pressure can result in flow state, increased focused, and clarity of decision making and action. Too much pressure and you are crushed by the weight and stress of the situation. What’s the difference? The output is determined by how the pressure is transformed […]


An imprimatur (sometimes abbreviated as impr., from Latin, “let it be printed”) is a declaration authorizing publication of a book. The term is also applied loosely to any mark of approval or endorsement. Wikipedia Imprimatur has become a weird but helpful internal codeword for me and Daryl to use in the office. Daryl and I […]

Distinguishing Make-to-Order versus Engineer-to-Order Service Businesses

Service businesses often begin by displacing the internal development or employment of a skill. For example, “I’ll hire you to shovel while I move on to this other thing.” As the sophistication of the skils move up the intellectual stack the singular skill is often replaced with judgement balancing across multiple skills. For example, “I’ll […]