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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Integrity Is A Low Cost Option

We met with a prospect who had an interesting offer, a real need, and a cheerful outlook. That is rare.

Only later when we were parsing what we had been told, we realized it couldn’t possibly be true. There were some order of magnitude inconsistencies between the inputs and the outputs. Oops.

There are people who are uncomfortable with their data, so they verbally adjust it. The problem is that by adjusting it, they aren’t fixing anything.

Data is neither good nor bad, shameful or ennobling. Data is a model of reality, and when you intentionally disable your model, the real results don’t get better.

A carpenter once told me, “It’s okay to talk to yersel’, Just don’t tell you any lies.”

Check out Tips 4 The Big Chair – Knowledge is Power.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Techies, Parties, and Success

Peter Corbett is the founder of DC Tech Meetup – a monthly meeting of the local community of techies and startups – to encourage demonstrations of latest technology and what's up with the entrepreneurial community. It is soundly build on open source principles - sharing and advancing good ideas. DC Tech Meetup attracts over 1,000 people to each meeting.

This month was Social Media Week – a week long collection of speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and parties - anchored by the DC Tech Meetup Keynote session.

Peter interviewed Steve Case of Revolution about lessons learned from leading AOL and Case's current roles of philanthropist and investor. Two items really popped out for me.

Case said that at AOL he learned to reinvent himself each year – shedding activities that someone else could do better and taking on new projects to learn and grow. Shedding the activities freed up time to take on new projects, while delegating activities gave others an opportunity to grow.

There are three levels of investing – each with a different purpose:
Speed-up capital investing is what Case favors – several notable winners have resulted, including Living Social, Zipcar, and AddThis.

In DC Tech Meetups, Peter is investing - in community, self, and others. The return is powerful – Forbes ranks DC area #1 Tech Hot Spot!

Become wise in 5 minute increments - Rainmakers

Monday, February 25, 2013

Controlled Fall

Different perspectives...

A walk is a controlled fall. Leaning forward increases speed.

We are generally failing right up to the point of success. It’s healthy to learn to appreciate failure and be able to use it effectively.

The only time you have excess money is when you no longer have something to apply it to, like when your working capital comes back because you lost the customer you were servicing.

The Sales Lab Model – True enough to entertain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Imaginary Relationships

A marketer was telling me how people used her product. I actually do use her product (not that she asked), and I sure don’t use it the way she said “they” do.

She told a helluva story. It was much more colorful and important than the way I use it.

I kinda wished I had a need as important as the one she portrayed.

Of course after that I wasn’t going to tell her how I used it. Lord, we are no longer worthy.

As I was driving home, I was puzzling why they were failing with such a better offer? I mean, I liked the product going in and I still like the product.

Then I thought, “What if all her users were like me...not using her product to her full potential?”

The things you convince yourself by listening to imaginary users can have a long-lasting effect, influence decisions way down the line, especially when that imaginary user becomes strewth!

I remember the first time I heard about focus groups. I thought, “Why would I pay people who won’t use my product to tell me how to change the product so they still won’t use it?” Never figured it out.

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like reality.

Check out Rainmakers, things you wish you’d said yourself!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scope Creep

Herman Wouk, at age 97, has written a new book – The Lawgiver – the story of a film project about Moses. It is also an insightful study in the dynamics of a project.

In the book, the character Wouk is the advisor to the 'money guy'. He is to read and offer his approval or rejection of the final script.

Simple – straightforward – clear role at the outset of the project.

Of course he has other projects underway as well – including writing a book about Moses – and is feeling the pressure of balancing obligations with a keen eye to time available due to his advanced age.

Early on, the writer sent Wouk for review her story notes for developing the script. His wife, Betty Sarah Wouk, acting as his agent, asked how this work fit into his agreed role? It doesn't, but he still invested time reading the notes – beyond the scope of his agreement.

Later in the project he received an urgent request from the director to review the almost completed script immediately and give his approval. Being curious, he dropped everything to read the script. His wife/agent again asked how this work fit into his agreed role and refused to permit him to give any feedback at this time.

After about three or four months, the writer completed the script and sent it to Wouk for reading. He read it and approved it – satisfying his role in the project.

The Lawgiver shows a seemingly natural evolution of the project team to expand the scope of team members, the tendency of the individuals to become more involved – with no one giving thought to the effect on their original agreement. The book does a good job of painting a clear picture of how such actions affect most of the participants in the project.

A leader wants to get the biggest bang for the buck, but scope creep causes overuse of resources and missing budgets, yielding unintentional outcomes. Being clear about roles in a project – and sticking to those roles – leads to a more rational use of resources and can open up opportunity for other individuals to gain experience.

Do you have a story to share which furthers the discussion?

Check out Sales Lab Video. Enlightenment with grins.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spam Marketing Moving Forward

I was looking in my spam folder yesterday and read a new offering

Postmaster Undeliverable I shall wait for your answer.

I have a pretty high opinion of spam-meisters. They pay attention to optimization, and iterate along profitable veins of babble. They are professionals. 

I just think we should take all we catch and bundle them with telephone solicitors and set aside one day a week to burn them alive. Call it enhanced career advisory services.

But what the heck was this?

Postmaster undeliverable is a good way to get a less clueful employee open the message to try to see what was wrong. Bam! You’ve got an infection. That’s old school.

But what was I shall wait for your answer? Looks like a throwback to the Nigerian Prince school of copywriting. I would have expected to see something that could pass for my message that got returned. Or some statement to snag my interest. Pr0n.

But I shall wait for your answer? That wouldn’t make the grade on real copy!

If you can’t be good, at least be instructional. 

Sales Lab Resources - World 2.0 in dainty sips.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Early And Late

Slow observed that golf bets are won before the first hole and after the eighteenth.

I am ten minutes to an hour early for group meetings, depending on the meeting. If they are important enough for me to attend in the first place, I want to have sufficient time to work with everyone who has something for me.

Similarly, if I am unfamiliar with the rhythm of a meeting, I’ll set aside a half hour after the performance to make sure I’m available for gain.

Some meetings profitably continue for an hour after they finish and others have people rushing for the doors when the buzzer goes off. I learn which is which from experience.

There’s a rhythm to just being present. If I don’t have an immediate activity, I’m just available, which attracts people who need to see me.

I had a nominal superior who used to frown when I would leave for a monthly industry meeting an hour early. He liked to be busy with internal urgent/not important crises.

Well, save me a seat,” he would say.

Then he would get there late, while I was running the nametag table, working with the audience. I always got back to the office after he did.

That continued to bother him at an unconscious level, and every month he had to think it through again.

Coming back later didn’t bother me. I went to the meeting to work with people who came, and if that didn’t just occur during the scheduled time, what did I care?

One day he asked me why I consistently got such easy access to the top people in our market.

There’s things I need to do by myself, things I need to do with my team, but most forward motion comes from working with others. Joy’s Law is ““No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Working with the smartest people is the hardest to schedule tightly. Forming a better idea of optimal scheduling is easier on me.

Please join us at the Capital Technology Management Hub on February 12 at 6:30 for 300 seconds of Rainmaker 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change opening for Michael Clark presenting Social Media: Evolving In The Workplace at TeqCorner

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rainmaker # 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change

Change is everywhere. Change happens at breakneck speed – BUT it takes time to recognize and adopt/adapt. Recall the typewriter return at the end of each line – and how long it took typists to stop using it in word-processing.

We unconsciously cling to the old models and cite them as ‘rules.’ The Information Interview was a mainstay for job changers to get information and referrals – it doesn't work anymore.

What are some old models/rules that are no longer valid?

Technology is a driver of change. So is the economy. So is the frontier environment where most innovation occurs.

There's more Do It Yourself (DIY) now. More Fix Yourself – reorientation of how you get and use information and vision.

Scale is easy – get 1 or 10,000 units by clicking a box on-line when ordering from a fabricator.

Do your projects on the workbench or the desktop – build your prototypes and learn valuable tips from the process.

Whether you are responsible for just you or are leading a team, or a company, shift from telling your folks What to Do, and instead tell them What you Want. Robots can be programmed to do, people can innovate to satisfy a want.

Change is disrupting the old norms.

Make something – learn – apply – improve – share with your community.

Nike said it best: “Just Do It.”

What's your story?

Join us at the Capital Technology Management Hub on February 12 at 6:30 for 300 seconds of Rainmaker 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change before Michael Clark presents Social Media: Evolving in the Work Place at TeqCorner.
Previous Rainmakers:
#17 - Breaking The Invisible Wall (12/11/12)
#15 - Dropping The Other Shoe (9/11/12)
#14 - The Myth of Full Capacity (5-26-12)
# 9 - Your Internet Personality (12-24-11)
# 7 - Mark Your Territory (8-22-11)
# 6 - Networking IS Business (5-25-11)
# 5 - Start With an Offer (4-27-11)
# 3 - How to Sell Your Skills (3-1-11)
# 2 - The Name Tag (1-5-11)
# 1 - Gifts (11-5-10)
And, Introducing Rainmakers (11-3-10)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Focus Frameworks

Last Friday I attended a fascinating presentation, Why Do People Do Stupid Things? by Thomas Hoffman of PScience Associates. There was a lot of meat in his presentation, and the most valuable idea I took away is that there are a half dozen exercises I can do before taking action that will improve my results (reducing common stupidity).

That doesn’t mean I will always succeed, but I believe I can improve my results on a case-by-case basis. Valuable morning.

Here’s the kicker. Doing all six exercises on a formal basis should take all of ten minutes. Oy!

I spend a lot of time in meetings. My butt is not shy about communicating when I’ve spent too much time sitting instead of moving forward.

So if there is a ten minute rocket docket to better performance, why do committees continue to keep the minutes and waste the hours?

One time I was installed to run a startup after an investor coup. I met the new VP Administration, who was also recruited by the investors. She was very accomplished, but curious how we were going to make headway with a mulish workforce. I bought her a copy of Robert’s Rules Of Order, and said we would run every meeting for the benefit of the minutes, since we were being closely watched by the investors, and had to report several times a week anyway.

Documentation quickly trumped chaos, and shortly thereafter our direct reports became barracks parliamentarians. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was better than what they were wallowing in before we arrived.

Often I see that managers want a system to improve their decisions and without a formal framework, spend their time going round in circles like Little Johnny With One Foot Nailed to The Floor. Especially in the current economic climate, they end up fully engaged in paralysis by analysis.

Better to adopt one system, any system, and start moving, because as soon as the system is mastered, it starts being modified, sometimes for better, often for worse.

The point is that you can’t lose if you never leave the planning/consideration stage. Of course, you can’t win, either. In the end, it’s the number of wins, not the number of losses that count. Indeed, it is most often a series of quick losses right up to the ultimate (and important) win.

Join us at the Capital Technology Management Hub on February 12 at 6:30 for 300 seconds of Rainmaker 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change before Michael Clark presents Social Media: Evolving in the Work Place at TeqCorner.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Planning Strategically or A Strategic Plan?

What's the distinction?

A strategic plan is a project, initiated by others – e.g., the CEO, the Board – with some input from the originator but little participation.

Planning strategically is a team project, initiated by the leader of the team, with the leader's input and participation.

First thing to determine for either - what does the originator want to get out of the process? Typically it is: the best path to a specific result; benchmarks for measuring overall organizational progress; the current year operating plan and year 2 and year 3 projections.

Successful planning has three key elements:

  • Why are we here? What's the mission and the leader's vision.
  • How did we get here? What is the history and key results.
  • Where are we going? What will the future be.
In the raw, the discussions may not be as neat and organized as listed about, but the content will fall into these categories.

Recently, I facilitated the day-long strategic planning session for a mission-based non-profit organization in the Washington, DC area.

The NGO has enjoyed hockey-stick growth in programs and funding for it's initial years while carefully building a strong team. It now wants to be more focused and deliberate in the path for growth going forward.

Here's a thumbnail view of the outcome in context of the model mentioned above:

  • What's the goal: structure and growth
  • Why are we here: mission is clear to the team
  • How did we get here: key programs and funding trace the successful growth path
  • Where are we going: Discussion consolidated in 5 functional groups with task-based action plans for each.

The result – a living roadmap to guide actions and evaluate situations as they come up.

Which is more likely to create success – a roadmap or a fancy dust-catcher on the shelf?

What's your view?

Join us at the Capital Technology Management Hub on February 12 at 6:30 for 300 seconds of Rainmaker 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change before Michael Clark presents Social Media: Evolving in the Work Place at TeqCorner.