Archive for June, 2010

June 25, 2010

Personal Branding Tips from Guy Kawasaki….

Came across this on the web….Personal Branding Tips from Guy Kawasaki….

Make Meaning, Not Money. If you’re into personal branding with the goal of making money, stop now. You will attract the wrong kind of people into your life. Instead, start with the goal of making meaning. What better way to align all your actions with your long-term goals. What kind of meaning will you make? Kawasaki suggests two ideas for inspiration: 1) right a wrong, or 2) prevent the end of something good. What will you do to make the world a better place?

Make a Mantra. In three words or less, what are you all about? Kawasaki believes that mission statements are useless. He says, make a mantra instead. FedEx stands for “peace of mind.” What do you stand for, in the simplest terms?

Polarize People. Personal branding pundits often advise against being a “jack of all trades,” or a generalist that isn’t very good at something specific. What does Guy believe? He suggests being great for some people rather than trying to please everyone. Do not be afraid to make people react strongly for or against you. As my former business partner used to remind me, you’re not doing something right unless you’re pissing someone off. That doesn’t mean be a jerk. That means just don’t try to appeal to all people, or you’ll end up a mile wide and an inch deep, mediocre to everyone.

Find a Few Soul Mates. We’re all on this journey together. It’s silly to think we are alone in our careers or in our life. Find people who balance you. Then make time for them. If you’re busy, make plans in advance so you have to schedule around them. You’re only one person, so surround yourself with people whose skills round you off.

Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will always agree with you. That’s a fact of life. So don’t let criticism or doubters bring you down. As you live out your mantra, it’s your responsibility to be strong in the face of “no,” and “you can’t do that.” Guy says, ignore people who say you won’t succeed. Use negative words as motivation. Prove people wrong.



June 15, 2010

10 Questions to Ask the “IT Guy”…

Good article I found…

If you run a company, you’re probably used to your “IT Guy” telling you that you need to do this and that.  It seems like there’s always an opportunity to upgrade, update, replace, implement, and install technology.  It could be new hardware, new software, new accessories, a new phone, a new server, new cabling…a new widget even…it could be anything….

How do you know when it’s just the IT guy finding “something to do” and when it’s really something that makes sense and will add value to the organization? After years of being in the IT industry and working with business leaders, we’ve come up with a “reasonability” test of 10 questions that can help establish if something is really worth doing and, if it’s worth doing, how it should be done.  The next time your “IT guy” (or anyone actually) suggests something, ask these questions:

1.    What is the business justification for implementing it? If there is not a specific business justification for doing it, there’s a good chance it’s not worth doing.  Will it increase revenues?  Will it reduce costs either over the short term or long term?  Can it improve the company’s competitive position in the marketplace?  Will it improve employee morale?  What is the business reason for doing it?
2.    Who is the one person who will be responsible for the success of the project? Many times your IT Manager will encourage the organization to implement some new technology, but then the success of the project will depend on other departments and/or users in the organization.  Who will be responsible?  Does that person have the authority to see the project through to its success?  Responsibility without authority doesn’t work.
3.    Define “success” for the implementation?  What will it look like?  What specific results will we see? Make sure everyone in the organization is on the same page when defining success.  Is the “go live” date part of success?  Are certain functions required?  Are certain reports required?  Have a clearly set definition of success.
4.    How much will it cost?  Upfront?  Ongoing (monthly, annually)? What something costs is never a simple thing.  There’s the initial cost.  There’s the ongoing cost.  There might be annual maintenance.  There might be annual support.  There might be future phase costs.  Make sure you get the number that includes EVERYTHING.
5.    Who will be responsible for the cost?  What happens if it goes over? Is the IT guy taking responsibility for the cost?   What are the repercussions if the cost turns out to be different?
6.    How long has it been on the market? Ask how long its been on the market.  Is this a new technology or an old technology?  If it’s an upgrade, will you be the first company to install the upgrade, or has the upgrade been out on the market for a while?    Our approach is generally to not be the first user of anything, whether it’s an upgrade or a new product.  We like to see products get at least six to 12 months of legs before recommending that our clients go forward, unless there’s some compelling business reason to ignore this rule.
7.    Can you get at least three references? Are there references for what’s being recommended?  While it’s great to spend the time calling the references, it’s even more important to know that references can be provided.  If someone can’t provide at least three references, the product or upgrade is likely suspect.
8.    Will there be downtime associated with the installation? Really.  Will the implementation happen over a weekend or during the week?   What happens if the installation fails?  Can you go back?
9.    Who do our employees contact when there is an issue?  How do they contact them?  Who is taking responsibility for support?  Is it an internal resource or an external resource?  What are the expectations for support?  24×7?   9-5?   How much downtime will you allow if the new technology causes downtime?  Is there a backup plan?
10.    Will training be required?  Who will do this?  How long will it take?

A lot of times training is taken for granted, or the need for training is minimized.  Don’t.  Training is the secret weapon of technology.  If you train your people in using technology, experience has proven that they are significantly more motivated in using the technology successfully.

June 8, 2010

What is more important: people? process? or technology?

The following post was also featured within the E2.0 Community:

I often see executives and project managers take charge of projects and focus on process first, people second, and technology last when it comes to change…   While I understand the thinking behind that mindset, in today’s world it is very difficult to leave the technology as an afterthought.  And when it comes to changing how organizations collaborate & socialize in this globalized web 2.0 world, technology is usually part of the answer.   Now some argue that technology should be secondary to process & culture when it comes to change.   On the other hand, sometimes the “system” actually causes the bad behavior or doesn’t allow or encourage the right human behavior.   So what is more important – people, process or technology?

If a CEO wants to know why engineers don’t act “social” and share knowledge across teams, then it’s a probably a people or cultural issue or incentives aren’t aligned accordingly or management isn’t encouraging it. Technology alone won’t change that. Social behavior is not something that can be mandated or dictated by management. Otherwise it’s just another thing we “have to do” and is viewed as a task or work. Social behavior is a two way street between workers and management with a heavy emphasis on management ….. who needs to encourage, promote, and reward good behavior. And the technology if implemented correctly should be there to support the culture, enable socialization, and hopefully easily facilitate the desired behavior. I’d argue that you can’t always treat the technology and the system as secondary to culture……as the system influences the process and culture as much as process impacts technology.

Some corporate cultures don’t promote collaboration or social behavior because of the systems they have in place.   The airlines for example have terrible antiquated systems.  And if the process is not easy or takes too long because the person behind the counter is typing too many letters and codes or doesn’t know how to easily do something — workers and customers may say “why bother” and everyone is frustrated by the “system”.

At a macro level, social behavior within a country is often influenced by the “system” of government.  The founding fathers of the US seemed to focus first on creating a “system” that ultimately empowers and protects people’s rights.  I’m not sure if there’s enough focus on “process” in government.  If there is one — well, it’s probably inefficient at best.  While I don’t think you can leave the “system” as an afterthought, government systems might tell us how important the process actually is.   Of course too much process & control is no good either as history has taught us.  Anyway….

Technology in so many ways today influences the way we socialize, collaborate, and share knowledge …. Today, workers rely too heavily on email & instant messaging as the main source of communicating, collaborating , and sharing knowledge where information gets lost and workers can’t filter out the noise and simply miss or ignore the “message”.  Blackberry’s are great (I have one), but sometimes they simply add to the problem vs. make us more productive….

It seems safe to conclude that you have to treat technology, people, and process equally if you want your organization to become that social and collaborative enterprise everyone talks about and puts in their grand “vision” statements.



June 8, 2010

How to kill a sale…

Here are nine ill-advised sales tactics that actually happened last week. Do them, and you’ll likely sabotage your chances of closing the deal:

1. Begin without introducing your team. Even better, don’t ever introduce them. Your prospective client will be left guessing whether or not the people you’ve brought to the table will be part of the execution team they plan to put in place for you, whether what they say is credible, or if they’re even an employee of the firm.

2. Bring participants, but don’t let them participate. Great idea for you to say something such as, “They’re here, but we don’t let them talk.” That will impress.

3. Don’t ask who else is in the room. And definitely don’t ask ahead of time who will be there. That way, you’ll be sure to run out of handouts, and you’ll be clueless as to who you’re selling to and what’s important to them.

4. Go right into your presentation without ensuring you understand your prospect’s objectives. We had two firms (one, a prestigious one you’ve probably heard of) that came to the meeting obviously unaware of what was in our incredibly detailed and specific RFP.

5. Ask basic questions that were already covered in the RFP. If you want to really make a bad impression, ask some questions about your prospect’s personal background that are either in the RFP or easily available via Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

6. Make your presentation look as if it could have been made for ANY other company. Provide no steps you’ll take specifically for your prospect. Actually, just use a boilerplate presentation and don’t do any research on the people or the company, and certainly do not read the RFP. That would require you to do some preparation. Leave the word “Draft” right on the front of your proposal, and “Insert company name” at the bottom of each page as well.

7. If you are in doubt about anything, make lots of assumptions and don’t ask questions. That way, you are bound to offer a solution that’s irrelevant.

8. When you’re asked a direct question, don’t answer it. Just start blabbing away. If you don’t know the answer, talk as long as you can until everyone in the room, including you, wishes you’d just said initially, “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that.”

9. Don’t bring key members of your team. If a critical aspect of the project depends on a particular person on your team, make sure he or she is not present. That way, all the questions posed about that aspect cannot be answered. See #8.

The bottom line is that potential clients want to know that you understand the parameters of their projects, and that the team they will be working with is capable, observant, and reliable. If you can’t even do that (which is the bare minimum) when you go into a sales meeting, be prepared to leave without the business.

June 1, 2010

Managing Knowledge in an Era of Information Overload

The following article was featured in Greater Charlotte Biz Magazine….

Managing Knowledge in an Era of Information Overload
By Rich Blank
The Starbucks ExampleImagine for a moment you walked into a Starbucks and the barista didn’t know how to make a cappuccino or latte! It’s well documented that Starbucks spends more on the education of its employee partners than it does on marketing. And no doubt that education, that “management of coffee knowledge and expertise,” is shared through some type of explicit training classes and written material.  There is also much time spent outside of the classroom, mentoring the barista hands-on and promoting a culture of sharing tacit knowledge and best practices of making a consistent and quality cup of coffee every time. Without their ability to manage and share knowledge and investment in people, Starbucks probably wouldn’t have been able to grow as fast, wouldn’t have been able to adapt to changing markets and customer needs, and wouldn’t have been able to earn billions in revenue. Starbucks provides a good example of the importance of knowledge management and impact that it can have on the bottom line.Knowledge Management 

Knowledge Management (KM) has been one of those buzzwords that have been talked about for almost two decades, offering the promise of somehow capturing that explicit and tacit knowledge as a strategic asset to leverage to competitive advantage. Some of the drivers around KM efforts include:

• sharing valuable organizational insights

• avoiding redundancy of effort

• reducing on-boarding time and learning curves for new employees

• retaining intellectual capital due to turnover or aging work force

• adapting to changing customer demands, environments and markets

So what do these drivers have to do with SharePoint?   Well, do any of these drivers relate to your SharePoint initiatives today?   Microsoft SharePoint is a valuable product to address these objectives. SharePoint is a fairly simple, highly reliable collaboration and information management platform that connects and empowers people through online business communities, where they can collect and share important tacit knowledge, documents and keep track of projects. The consolidation of knowledge onto SharePoint helps cut costs through lower training costs, increased IT productivity and cost-effective maintenance, all within a governable and compliant platform.  Although Starbucks wasn’t able to take advantage of SharePoint (it didn’t exist back in the 1990s), it provides a good example for the need to manage knowledge as it evolves.

Today, e-mail is overused and overloaded as a primary tool for communicating, sharing information and documents, and making decisions. Information is all over the place and exists in multiple repositories. Companies don’t know what they know and don’t know. Knowledge workers expect a Google-like experience within their organizations but just can’t seem to find the information they’re looking for. Information continues to grow exponentially and end users continue to experience the daily glut of information overload. Ultimately, information gets filed irretrievably, deleted or lost.  What can we learn from Starbucks’ success and their understanding that people and knowledge are indeed valuable corporate assets that rivals the way we think about raw financial or customer data?

We can learn that the keys to a successful KM initiative and ultimately a successful enterprise deployment and adoption of Microsoft SharePoint lie in the strategy, the people, the process, and the execution. It is important to have a good partner for implementation of the platform, one that addresses these specific areas: strategy, change management, process excellence, systems integration, and delivery management. The balance and intersection of these domains is how organizations can maximize the ROI of enterprise 2.0 technologies like SharePoint.

While collaboration has become one of the latest buzzwords, by itself collaboration is simply a process in which we connect, create, find, capture, share, and consume knowledge. And collaboration in the past and today continues to happen in the absence of SharePoint. However, in order to fully realize the potential of KM, it is essential to recognize and utilize the SharePoint technology as the collaboration platform, and then leverage it as a mechanism to manage and share knowledge.

Fully utilized, SharePoint is not just a platform for collaboration, but an ecosystem for capturing and managing knowledge that can transform your organization and help you realize the promise of SharePoint as a true enterprise collaborative knowledge management platform and strategic organizational asset, allowing you to identify opportunities and act upon them in a timely manner by getting the right people the right information at the right time.