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Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Drives Your Promotion?

Read some interesting posts that less than half of a group of employees think they will be promoted any time soon.


Their idea is that if they do wunnerful work, they should be promoted?

That’s not how it works.

A promotion occurs when the organization has a need, not when an employee does work they really like.

A need occurs when somebody drops dead in the traces, or when the organization expands.

Personally, I like the expansion part better, because then the promotion criteria is simpler.

You kill it, you eat it.

I’ve noticed that endless promotion consideration based on internally focused, customer agnostic systems, generally create a suboptimal promotion. Why would you let staffers who are not clueful make up criteria for a promotion? It’s a theoretical choice for a theoretical assignment that will intersect a world of consequences.

Paying customers who can and will fire your whole organization for performance provide useful guidance. If you have senior employees making up opinion-based criteria, you’re wasting money and time.

If you’re not in an organization that paying customers are growing, you are unpromotable. 
And what have you done for the fleet today? ADM Art Money’s war cry.

Join us: Monday, July 1 9:45 – 11:30 am, for Google+ The Center of the Internet, at 40PlusWashington, DCFree, informative, and entertaining.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Status Meetings – A Welcome Change

Business has changed – how we do it, where we work, what we are responsible for, and who we are working with has been radically shaken – sometimes I feel like the paint can in that shaking mixer at the paint store.

Working smart and efficiently is needed to cover the additional responsibilities we inherited as others left the organization. Nevertheless, several of the old practices seem untouched by this new reality – like the written weekly report to a manager or the Monday Morning Meeting.

An update report to the manager is a one-on-one, asynchronous communication – from writer to reader. Often in a mark-up format – freshening up the statistics while leaving the prose intact – the report shares metrics without intelligence or current conditions. Many writers see it as a time consuming task of no direct value in reaching goals and delivering results.

The Monday Morning Meetings were not efficient when everyone was in the same location – come in early or break in to the day's schedule to sit for an hour or more to speak for about 5 minutes. When locations and resources increased, these meetings became more unwieldy to schedule and virtually attend. And people resist going to meetings – too many are time wasters without obvious purpose or tangible results.

The status meeting is an effective way to share intelligence about individual and organization progress, market intelligence, and customer feedback.

A status meeting has 5 principal elements for each stakeholder to share crisply:

  1. What are your goals for this week?
  2. What results did you achieve?
  3. What changes did you make to get better results?
  4. What was the best things you learned about the marketplace, customers, competitors – what will benefit your co-stakeholders in achieving their goals?
  5. What are your goals for next week?

No need to prepare handouts or written documents for a status meeting – participants will take notes on items of interest to them. Sharing goals, results, and what was learned outside the organization, is of value to all participants and can help build teamwork in the process.

Can the status meeting scale and still be effective? General Stanley McChrystal when Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) held a similar meeting: 'As We See It' session with 70 nodes around the region for 90 minutes everyday – he said this was the most effective way to tap local knowledge of enemy activities and keep all units up to date on current information and plans.

I find that it takes about 6 weeks or so of weekly meetings to understand the meeting format and get everyone participating fully, but once there it is a meeting that participants find useful. Just the collective market intelligence alone from the status meetings can magnify the scope of current knowledge far beyond what one individual could typically observe.

Worth trying, if you want to build your organization's effectiveness.

Resources – So that's how to do it!

Join us: Monday, July 1 for Google+ The Center of the Internet, at 40PlusWashington, DCinformative and entertaining.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Breaking A Bad Decision

I was working with a board faced with a major problem...with no workable solution. These are good people, who understand their business, have been at it for a long time.

They completely understood their situation, and for the last six months no optimal, hell, no viable solution was available.

This particular problem had colored all other actions, made what had formerly been a fun operation a death march.

As their consultant, I wanted to bring some light. Im supposed to be the magic man.

We’d been through worse before. But the business has changed. Their reason for being is now called into question.

I had an opportunity to sit down with the owner. He’s a long time friend and supporter.

We agreed we weren’t making progress and we weren’t liking the results.

I suggested that since the old tools weren’t working, why not set up an internal blog, just for the board, get a promise to have each board member post their thoughts twice a week for two months.

Nobody on the outside would see our work, but maybe we would get to a different place. I would go first.

Writing a blog post requires a couple of things. One is writing, two is finding something to write. That requires getting out of your rut, finding something new.

The happy news is that a number of erroneous preconceptions got defined and fixed. Not by the readers, but by the writers.

And sure enough, it turned out that all the trust we had been building with our customers had created some requests for help. We’ve got some promising work to provide.

Will it work? Who knows? But we are getting the snap back, the confidence to create for an appreciative audience.

The original problem? It’s still there. But it’s a lot less important. If we keep doing something else, it may well go away.

New problems require new solutions.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Get a new perspective

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ideas in Action

When I was a lad, sodas were 10 cents from a vending machine. Not being fond of sweet carbonated drinks, I told friends that it would be great to have these machines dispense ice cold spring water in bottles. Of course they laughed at such a goofy idea.

My bottled water idea was a lark – just a dream – because there was no action or plan to develop it further.

Ideas without action are not a unique occurrence – this is the fate of most creative thought. Even if an idea is written down but introduced by “they should...” - it merely entertains your mind and does not create value unless you take action.

Think about it – how does innovation and knowledge create value? It comes from taking action on an idea, not just the idea alone, and applying it to get results.

Health care is changing radically due to the new law and supporting technology is evolving rapidly in response to its needs. The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health and Google Glass Meetup got together this week to start a conversation about how to use the emerging technology of wearable information devices as a tool for providing better health care delivery.

Keith Montgomery, Executive Director of Center for Total Health, describes his organization's role as a place for conversations which lead to new ideas for improving health care. What I noticed is they are not looking for new science, they are looking to get patients to be healthier by doing what we know works.

Antonio Zugaldia, an organizer of the Google Glass Meetup group, demonstrated the glasses (which are equipped with a computer, camera, heads-up display, and internet access), and was just released to the developer community. The user can transmit what she sees and receive data and graphics on Google Glass heads-up display.

Center for Total Health and Google Glass Meetup brought together health care practitioners, consumers, and app developers to talk about needs and potential solutions using this technology. By the end of the evening, several possibilities had been identified – like the emergency room doctor who thought having the patient's information and vital signs available through while he was working could improve triage diagnosis and care delivery.

While this conversation might currently be similar to a boy telling his friends about vending bottled water, Center for Total Health, Google Glass Meetup and Google are committed to caring it forward to action – results – value.

The incentive for continuing to talk is the consumers and developers are sharing their needs and solutions – asking stakeholders what they need speeds up the development of useful solutions.

The larger conversation is how to change behavior of health care consumers and providers to improve patient outcomes. For example, technology can permit a patient to monitor their health and improvements from modifying their behavior.

Ideas are plentiful and worthless – action creates payoff.

Open Source Leadership – the new paradigm

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lessons From My Foot Doc

One of the best communicators I know is my podiatrist.

Any time I see him, he’s quick, precise, and I’m immediately better. Here’s some of the things he does.

Years ago I met him, he noticed my book. “Tocqueville? Democracy in America? I haven’t read that since high school.”



In ten seconds, he had used my stuff to establish his mastery. He knew my book, I knew his school.

I explained my symptoms, he named it, what caused it, and how it was fixed. Four minutes.

I don’t give professionals much trust until they earn it. This guy is driving the bus in four minutes.

Then he taped up my foot with three, one foot lengths of tape.

I’m a jock. I play hurt. I figured I’ve been taped for football, wrestling, lacrosse, hockey, and tennis probably over 10,000 times. This guy uses three pieces of tape and takes the pain away.

Hey, that’s some taping!”

Yup, I’m pretty good.” Grin.

Took a couple of months, but I followed his regimen and cured. Working out is breaking down and bringing back the body. This was more debilitating than usual, but the cure worked the same.

Last week – I went back to see the foot doctor. Actually, two weeks before I had sent my wife to him and he had again provided sudden service. I have been in small pain for a couple of years and suddenly figured, “I know a great doctor. Why don’t I go get fixed?”

He didn’t remember me. He didn’t remember my wife, who had been in four hours earlier for a followup. Then, “oh yes, oh yes, of course I remember!” Yeah right. He just wanted to do the diagnosis.

Listened to my description (rehearsed and read) for a minute.

I bet this hurts.” One finger. Stars and planets!

I bet this doesn’t hurt.” A light thumb right next to the pain point. He’s right.

Okay. Here’s the situation” A one minute explanation. Then,

I used to have a rack of brochures. Now I just go to Google.” Picture of a foot with drawings on it.

And here’s the skeletal view.”

He screws up his face like he’s thinking. I ask, “What are you working on?”

I’m trying to figure out how much you need to know.”

What are my options?”

Well I’m going to order an xray just to show I’m right. However, if you want, I can also order an MRI so you get a better picture.”

Will an MRI help you?”

“No, I already know the problem.”

Well I’ve looked at MRIs before and I never learned anything. And let’s re-establish, you’re driving this bus.”

Good. Here’s what we’re going to do...”

Best things I learned.
  1. Establish mastery in a couple of seconds. If you can’t, notice more and learn quicker.
  2. Show ostentatious mastery in the little things. Creates trust for the big things.
  3. Nobody cares what you know. What do you know about me?
  4. The faster you move, the less extraneous crud comes into play.
  5. You can be totally respectful without really caring. Respect is not care, but constructively focusing. If you care and don’t know what you’re doing, I really have other priorities.
  6. Don’t offer more than the customer wants to buy. If you have to offer more, your solution is wrong.

Sales Lab Model – a good place to start.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Captain Dangerous

The other day at the next marina, there was a 32-foot cabin cruiser attempting to tie up to the dock. The captain was having a difficult time bringing the boat near the dock – very entertaining for the observers in our marina.

First, the boat was aiming at the dock on an angle instead being parallel to it – and it was coming too fast stop before running into the dock. The captain reversed the props and shoved the throttle to full power, jerking the boat in the opposite direction (toward our marina's dock). The captain then jammed the transmission into forward and again pushed the throttle to the max – the boat came to a sudden stop, then jumped forward quickly gaining speed, so the captain jerked the wheel which took the boat out into the channel.

The two marinas were temporarily safe, but boat traffic in the channel was now in peril. Captain Dangerous spun the wheel, reversed the transmission yet again, and went to full throttle again. Now he was traveling backwards in a U toward boats in the channel that had stopped to give him room to maneuver. He did another spin, shift, full power cycle and was now going 180 degrees from the original direction, heading toward moored boats in the marina.

For the next 20 minutes he continued these maneuvers with no better results, stopped traffic in the channel, and threatened several marinas in the area. Finally got close enough that a dock hand could toss a line to boat and he pulled the boat into the dock (first mate was almost pulled out of the boat before the captain thought to cut the engines).

It takes skill and planning to 'drive' a boat – and plenty of practice to do it well. Moves are deliberate, changing paths are anticipated well in advance and made gradually.

As I was watching Captain D from one of the boats at risk in the channel, I realized how similar captaining a boat is to leading an organization.

A leader should have a vision of the outcome, steadily move toward the goal, make deliberate changes when appropriate, and learn from experience (good or bad) to become a better leader.

Failing to do this may entertain outsiders, while putting the organization and others at risk.

Short, sweet, and entertaining – Sales Lab Videos

Monday, June 17, 2013

Earning Followership

I read some advice about how to lead after being assigned or awarded a team. The advice was all about being nice and respectful and mature, and hardworking, brave, clean, loyal, reverent, and... all good, I guess.

But people who are assigned or awarded a team aren’t leaders. They are people who have been assigned or awarded a team.

Try this: The job of a leader is to earn followers. Leadership is the actions that earn followers.

I see a lot of people floating over a team trying to outperform team members. That usually leads to an Emily Litella moment, when they realize they maybe didn’t fully grasp what good is.

Other LTG’s create new mission and vision for their group. “At last, we can do it MY way!” Mission and vision come from listening to customers. Winning is harder when you lack real customers.

Best practices are blatantly obvious or they are not best practices.

Leading is not competing with your team. Leading is not changing the rules unilaterally. Leading is taking actions every day that benefit the led, make them more productive, secure, and knowledgeable.

That’s a tough model, because usually the easy stuff was done a long time ago.

The path is constantly learning better what needs to be done, what is changing, and how to get better results easier. By the end of the first week, that gets hard.

On the other hand, of course that’s hard! If it was easy they would have given it to somebody else!

Sales Lab Handouts – You’re giving this away?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Twenty, Two, and One

We are experiencing a time of change - big change, fast change – in business, employment, markets, government. No new news here.

The nature of a job has changed as well...what do you do each day now?

How about this for a model:

20 sits (meetings) per month – to learn, share, sell, or get;

2 blog posts per week – writing aids learning – publishing increases visibility;

1 anchor event per month – where you are known to be part of the ownership team, where you can learn, show what you know, get connected, be visible (and available)and hand out nametags, recruit membership, and present.

By the end of each day, make progress on achieving your goals.

Rainmaker – 300 seconds of new possibilities

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Benefits of Failure

  1. Before you can have a breakthrough, you often need a breakdown.
  2. Failure acknowledges an ending, which is also an opportunity to start something new.
  3. The prospect of failure concentrates the mind, inspires creativity, focus, fear.
  4. Outwitting failure builds confidence, relationships, esprit de corps.
  5. Failure can cause you to examine your reality more closely. I often find some things have changed while I wasn’t paying enough attention. These days that happens often.
  6. Fail Forward Faster. 

I read a social science paper calling for a new social contract. Actually, I got about halfway through before I had had enough.

What I read was an unfundable perennial “good idea.” Especially now, Uncle Sugar’s bounty is finite, and I don’t know about you, but I usually have more wants than resources. Worse, was ignoring some fairly predictable unexpected consequences.

This wasn’t a new concept, nor were there improvements in how to provide. What was new was the writer’s  outrage we hadn’t implemented his solution. This is a lingering, 60 year fail, because it has never been polite to admit it doesn't work. 

Better to admit the failure, define why, and then, as you can, find ways to correct. 

I was working with an angry project manager. She explained that the problem was she was never given enough power and authority to do her job. I think Alexander the Great was one of the first to notice that, or maybe it was one of the cave painters. If there is enough power and authority, we’re not needed.

Question - What do you call someone who can complete a job with available resources?

Answer -  Successful.

How fuzzy would life be if we didn’t have paying customers willing and able to fire us for insufficient performance? How would we gauge our contributed value? 

Check reality frequently. Fail Forward Faster.

Sales Lab Resources – Other Things You Might Want To Know

Monday, June 10, 2013

Something of Value

Let's look at two situations:

A presenter, when asked if said she would make the program slides available to the meeting attendees said no offering this reason – this is my professional work and I will not give away my thoughts and insight.

Eric Raymond, wrote about the open source software model (he was instrumental in its development and expansion) and a confederation of volunteers wrote Apache – the program backbone of the internet – and he published it and distributed the book for free via the internet. (ten years later, ESR published it as a traditional book for sale).

Before the internet, information was metered out in dribs and drabs – a great sales technique - and it was considered a valuable 'gift' from the company contact. In contrast today, there is an incredible collection of articles, slides, white papers, videos, and other original materials available without restriction on the internet.

Something interesting has evolved from this 'free' availability of information.

The concern that if I give away the process or problem solutions, no one will buy help from me – and for some, reading a process on the internet is sufficient and they will use the information to craft their solution – no help needed, thanks!

Others will review the process but will seek out the originator for help to effect a solution to their situation – the resources may not be available internally or lack depth to be effective in developing modifications. Often, after implementing the original solution, a different problem is revealed which needs attention – who do you think will come to mind to address the new problem?

Chris Andersen decodes this internet model of providing value for free in the book Free: How Today's Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing - give away something of value to win long-term customers.

As providers or consumers we are wrestling with a new value model – and are finding there are a number of new dimensions to the model. One thing seems plain, however; restricting access to knowledge is like swimming against the current – a lot of work and very little progress.

A definition – value is something that costs me little, but you can't buy it for any price – this really helps to put the topic into clear perspective.

Experience the Sales Lab Video Channel, check it out.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rainmaker 20 – The New Business Models

Traditional business models emphasized massive size or focused specialization.

The new business models use technology and global reach to create a smaller, efficient footprint.

Users now have access to events like Google I/O and to utilities that easily complete complex tasks.

Elements of the new business models:

  • Businesses are smaller – we don't need the throw weight of the past
  • Resources are not limited to local or regional access
  • Business structure changing from hierarchy to network
  • New projects now spend less time counting and more time building – collaborative resources reduce or eliminate the hire/train cycle
  • Architecture and security instead of command and control process.
  • Outsourced functions – e.g., delivery and warehousing – eliminate using internal resources for these functions
  • Not classroom training – open access groups share knowledge via forums, events, and blogs
  • Changes are more agile – in process and software – updates are launched as needed, instead of the next revision
  • Nanoscale changed the proof of concept phase of development – faster, cheaper

Keep the scope of projects to what can be done now and what is affordable now – add additional features and enhancements when you have customers and cash flow.

Google + - Center of the Internet

Please join us at Sales Lab’s Rainmaker 20 - The New Business Models, 300 seconds of enlightenment at The Capital Technology Management Hub, 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 11th at Teqcorner, 1616 Anderson Road, Third Floor, McLean, VA 22102. The Rainmaker will be immediately followed by our headliner presentation, Dr. Lorrin Garson, From Whence Cometh PCs?

Monday, June 3, 2013


Startups often spend scarce time and resources trying to attract funding to upscale operations.

Recently, a veteran business builder pointed out that organizations that take money for operations usually end up losing the companies to their funders within three years. The funders have no clue how to operate their new company.

Rationalizing income to expense can go the other way. What if you planned your projects to match resources?

Perhaps prototypes with fewer features, or development delivered in fewer weeks?

Innovation is a sprint and even I get seriously winded in the second hundred yards. (sarcasm font)
Sroc famously said, “I’m as fast as I ever was...between two telephone poles.”

There are incredible bargains in newer technology resources. Just because you haven’t used them doesn’t justify wasting money.

Open source leadership greases a whole new speed of play.

If you haven’t got something customers want, how do you justify your salary?

It’s a different economy. Figuring out how to succeed requires hard study.

What can you deliver by Wednesday?

The Sales Model – Where To Focus