Three Laws of (Robotic) Board Members

Originally posted April 3, 2014 as a LinkedIn post.

Just started reading a great new book this morning – Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors, by Brad Feld and Mahendra Ramsinghani.

Their discussion on board member obligations around duty of care and duty of loyalty reminded me so much of Isaac Asimov’s classic Three Laws of Robotics that I thought I would posit … the Three Laws of (Robotic) Board Members:

  1. A Board Member may not injure their CEO or, through inaction, allow their CEO to come to harm.
  2. A Board Member must obey the orders given to it by the Chair, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A Board Member must not neglect their own vested interests and must defend fellow Board Members vested interests unless it is interfering with the first or second rule.

And of course there also needs to be the prequel, the Zeroth Law:

  • A Board Member may not harm Company Stakeholders, or, by inaction, allow Company Stakeholders to come to harm.

Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto [1]


[1] Future posts will cover my belief that most of what you need to know in business can be learned from 70’s classic rock and 80’s hair metal, like this great song from Styx. When ROCK and WORK collide you get WROK.

I wanna wrok!

Worth the Read: Three Links to Improve Your Sales Organization

Originally Posted on June 4, 2013 on the Force Management blog.

economic growth newspaper

Today I’m sharing three posts that got my attention in the blogosphere. When it comes to improving your sales organization, who doesn’t love a good list to get you thinking? And, Oracle’s problem in sales execution (outlined below) is something I’ve seen with hundreds of clients. A sales execution problem centers on management’s operating rhythm.

I’ve added my own thoughts to these posts. Let me know yours in the comment section below.

9 Shortcuts to More Effective Sales and Marketing Collaboration

Business to Community blogger Matt Heinz has a great list here. I’d suggest a 10th shortcut (which is related to Matt’s 4 & 5). Have members of sales and marketing (and product marketing, engineering and channels) work together in a multi-day session to create the actual sales messages the sellers will be using. Force Management clients refer to this session as “white collar prison” when we do this in Command of the Message®, but they mean that in a good way. At least by the time they see the results!

Top 20 Reasons Why Sales Managers Suck at Coaching

Wow. Jonathan Farrington writes, “17% of all sales managers are effective at coaching.” I’ll say it again, Wow. Here are two I would add to his list:

1. Their company has not defined competencies for the different sales roles, so when themanagers coach they’re coaching to the wrong areas.

2. Sales Managers don’t have a list of defined competencies for being a sales manager. Oh, by the way, being an effective coach is one of them.

Oracle Blames Third-Quarter Miss on Sales Execution

After their missed earnings expectations Oracle’s CFO recently said, “the problem was largely sales execution, especially with the new reps.” With a name like Oracle isn’t that something they should have seen coming? If you’re having sales execution problems and your sellers aren’t ramping up quickly, you likely have an ineffective management operating rhythm, specifically around your sales planning and talent management responsibilities. Hopefully, Oracle will realize this. Time will tell.


Tom Martin, Executive Director of Operations

Tom Martin is a 20+ year veteran of the sales methodology and training industry. He has a diverse set of global experience with sales (direct, indirect and inside), channel management, marketing, SFA/CRM, consulting, finance, legal, training, systems and operations. He serves as Force Management’s Executive Director of Operations.