Merry Christmas to everyone. (I know that some countries where this is read Christmas is not an official holiday–but have a merry one anyway, on me!)

I have used the time between Christmas and New Years every year for probably 35 years as a time of intense reading, reflecting on the last year and visualizing the opportunities for the new year. We’re in Florida at my son’s house for Christmas. As a life-long Ohio resident with snow as a usual Christmas guest, 75 degrees does not feel like Christmas weather.

The first two books I’ve dived into are “Necessary Endings,” by Dr. Henry Cloud, and “Moral Intelligence,” by Lennick and Kiel. I’m about done with Cloud’s book. If you have never read anything by Cloud, you’ve missed a treat. “Boundaries” and “Integrity” are two of his latter books. “Endings” packs a lot of insight into the necessity to prune things from your life or business or come to necessary endings of relationships, businesses or other things.

During the reading, I was reminded of a system of Bill Hybels, founder and pastor of one of the largest churches in the country as well as founder and leader of the annual Leadership Summit that draws thousands to hear some of the top leaders in the world. He identifies six things (tasks, people, projects, initiatives) where he needs to focus extra energy for the coming six weeks. He puts his “6 x 6” on a 3×5 index card and keeps it on his desk to remind himself where to focus energy during his day.

During some other scanning, I ran across some advice on education and learning from Stanford professor Dr. Tae (dr.tae.org ; universitae.com). Check him out. The secret to learning, “Work your ass off until you figure it out.”

On the business side of things for the end of the year, I’m thinking about software implementation. Business has endured 25 years or more of huge investments in ERP software. These applications promise to bring together most of the business systems of a company — accounting, order entry, customer service, HR, sales force automation, order fulfillment, and more. But implementing such huge sofware can be challenging, especially if it entails changing business processes in conjunction. I first heard the term “SAP pain” in the early 90s. Well, lately, I’ve seen at least three news stories of companies suing their ERP vendor for the trials, tribulations, lost sales and grief of these huge projects.

Speaking as someone who implemented a small version of business software that only needed to integrate three departments in a company that was $125 million in 1979, I can understand some of the problems. Usually everyone is at fault–from failure to define the project enough to unduly raised expectations to over-promised benefits.

We still have so much to learn.

Maybe we can all work on that in 2012.

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