Posts Tagged consulting
The Pareto Rule is an awesome tool and can be used in many situations. Here Paul Coles shares his insights with how companies focus on the wrong side of the equation at times.
Originally posted on Paul Coles's Blog:
When I left university I joined the British retailing institution that is Marks and Spencer, and of the many things that I learned about business, the most precious of all was that you set your business up for the 99% not the other 1%.
I know you are thinking what the hell is this guy talking about? So I will explain. Back in those heady days of the mid ’80s I queried why we were merchandising some of the most expensive product that was prone to shop lifting right next to the doorway. The answer was simple, 99% of our customers don’t steal, so make it easy for them to buy what they want, and don’t ever lose sight of this, setting yourself up for the 1% you will be destined to fail. This lesson is beautifully illustrated in a great book “Sway: The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour” by Ori & Rom Brafman, the book draws on research from social psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational behavior and reveals forces that influence every aspect of our personal and business lives, including loss aversion and in particular our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid perceived losses.
This is perhaps the reason that increasing numbers of oil companies via their service stations, make you pre pay for your fuel. Its dumb, it plays to the 1%, it at best irritates us and at worst drives us to an alternative.
Push Back: No Time
Recently I was coaching a new client on how to create new habbits associated with updating their web sites and other digital properties. To my surprise, this brought out a little push back about not having enough time to do some of the things this small business owner was being requested to do. All I was asking from the client was to put some 30 minute a day items on his Google calendar to remind him to do certain things each day.
So this got me to thinking about how to create more time in our day. As I was studying this problem, one of my old coaching sayings popped in my head. I would explain to the soccer players I coached, the game is “1% Ball – 99% Everything Else”. When we first start out learning we tend to focus on the ball, not the “99% everything else” we should be. The 1% is important, but if that’s all we focus on, then we miss all the rest.
Give me a few moments to explain how this works in business as I use this sports analogy.
Sports Analogy: Youth Soccer
I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things. Let me explain how.
When we are training youth to play soccer we focus on the basics: trapping, passing, and dribbling. These skills are not the most productive, but rather, because we need these to feel natural, almost second nature. What we want to focus on are the advanced topics: Space, Positioning, Movement, Awareness, Placement, Possession, Finishing, and Defending. In any given practice session, the more time we must spend on the basics, the less time we have to spend on the advanced, dare I say, more productive skills.
We can easily spot players who have mastered their fundamentals. ”Head-on-a Swivel” is a term coaches use when selecting new youth teams each season. If we see a person who has their head up and focusing on the 99% of the game, we know they’ve mastered the 1% (at their level of play).
So we train on the fundamentals until they become so natural that we spend less and less time on them and more on the advanced topics I listed above. Each season we expect growth in the advanced areas, and it is very noticeable when a player still challenged with the fundamentals is placed in a game with those that have mastered it.
Master your fundamentals. This is what I am recommending you do in your business and private life!
Business Example: Calendar Management
Again, I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things. Since I’m talking about time, let me explain buy using a time management tool you should be using, your calendar.
Let’s just imaging a person who spends 75% of their work hours making sure that the remaining 25% of their work hours are fine tuned to perfection. I know this is hyperbole. No sane person would do this. But it brings up a valuable point. The more time we spend on administrative tasks the less time we spend on value added tasks.
In this example, if we can improve the administrative process and thus cut the 75% time spent in half, we gain 100% of productive time back. Let’s say this person takes 30 minutes to figure out the best way to deal with a 30 minute meeting request, we would then focus on setting up a system that allows new meeting requests to flow more naturally and not take up as much administrative time to set and approve.
In the up-coming posts, we will break this down further for you.
More to Come
Part 2 – Technology Tools
Part 3 – Action Items
In part three we talk about action items for you. These will be broken down into two parts:
- Short Term Assignments
- Routines and Goals
Leave some comments and tell me what you think.
- How to Let Go of ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ in Content Marketing: Conversation with Melissa Harrison (contentmarketinginstitute.com)
- Time management tips that’ll work for your life (penelopetrunk.com)
- Boost Your Time Management Skills with These 9 Techniques (lifehack.org)
Formulas, Goals, and the Battlefield
I usually agree with Seth Godin on most things, but this one is a bit too far out for me. I’ve included the entire post on his blog below, it short, and also a link to his blog if you want to read any of the comments there. So take a quick read and I’ll continue below:
The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.
The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.
Compared to that, how are you doing?
- Seth Godin
Formula: Short Sale
I do agree with Godin that many companies sell themselves short. Always trying to lower the bar in the hope of gaining a few customers. Where I disagree with Godin on this is that it’s not because of the comparison to competitors, but rather a poor strategy for taking consumers away from those competitors based on the tactics that are short sighted.
Goal: Long Term Relationship
The tactics you use should be based on the principle that your company is seen as the better choice. There are many areas a consumer could focus to answer this question. It is your job to make the answer self-evident when it come to comparing your company to your competitors.
We fight on the battlefield of the consumer’s mind. It’s one of the smallest battlefield you will ever find yourself on, about 6 inches. You should create campaigns that, hopefully, take up territory. And if you do it well, you should hold more ground then your competitors. The strategy is different for each company. It is based on the position of your product in the market place and how our competitors currently stand. We recommend following the “Marketing Warfare” strategies laid out by Ries and Trout. So make sure your strategy fits your goals.
Because the last time I checked … your consumers aren’t looking to buy Magical Unicorns … and I’m fairly certain you haven’t hired anyone with unicorn making skills recently.
Good Hunting and would love to read your comments on this topic.
- Notes From The Seth Godin Event: Pick Yourself (styleandthestartup.com)
- How To Move Your Brand From Good Enough To Remarkable (fastcompany.com)
- Sunday Shorts – Businesses Doing It Right Edition (dannybrown.me)
- The 10 Most Echoed Seth Godin Posts (davejafari.com)
- Education Manifesto ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’ by Seth Godin (connectwithyourteens.net)
Have you ever just stopped and thought, “OK, exactly, what am I doing here?” Have you ever been asked to explain something and found yourself ramblings and your thoughts came out incoherent and and your thoughts are without any cohesion and almost on the verge of being labeled ‘verbal diarrhea’? (run on sentence intended for effect folks!!)
Force Some Discipline
There is a way you can attack this problem. This idea comes from a book I’ve recently read call “Drive” by Daniel Pink. (Good Read! Recommend it!) It’s one of the suggestions in the back of the book which you could easily overlook and just skiip by if you are not careful.
The concept is simple. Use a tool, like Twitter, to force you to craft a message in 140 characters. Twitter will only publish 140 characters of a person’s tweet. It provides a nice clean interface with a gentile reminder of how many characters you have remaining. It also provides you a negative number if you go over 140 characters, thus showing you how much you have to trim to have your entire message included in the twitter stream. Twitter simply provides us a clean and straightforward page with the needed feedback to accomplish this task.
Twitter is not the focus
You could use any tool that gives you the feedback to understand how close you are to 140 characters. Even the 140 characters are arbitrary and simply based on the fact that Twitter has this limitation. I could also use any word processor that provide the basic functionality of ‘word count‘ . You could write a simple Visual Basic program in minutes to perform the same task. The tool is not the important factor here. It is your ability to boil down your message to 140 charaters.
In the past we’ve talked about using elevator speeches, but this is more intense and to the point. Only using 140 characters to create focus.
Twitter Summary Application
- Front Office Staff – image the value you would bring if your responses were pithy and to the point. How many of us have wished we met some of these staff in our travels. Only to find out 2 minutes into a question answer session you picked the wrong person to ask ‘where the bathroom was?’ (exaggeration intended)
- Meeting Prep – Wouldn’t we all like to come into a meeting and with a short burst from the moderator / facilitator know how much I need to pay attention? In fact, I could then text my assistent to pull me out of the meeting in let’s say 10 minutes. (Note to self: I bet I could write a quick program so that when I text mesage a certain code to it, it would then rendomly generate a ‘emergency text message‘ to my department member’s phones so I can get them all the hell out of there before they waste another minute not doing their jobs!) (exaggeration intended)
- Event Planning – When I plan out an event, each hour has something it needs to accomplish. I would suggest having a twitter summary for each hour so that each hour can be easily reviewed by the facilitation staff and the owner / sponsor of the event.
- Calendar Management – wouldn’t we all like to look at a calendar event and not ask the question – what in the world is this here for and who authorized it to be on my calendar? Well a twitter summary would help there also.
- Instructions to Staff – I’ve also heard this one called ‘commander’s intent‘ as well. It would be a short burst stating what is the ultimate outcome or goal is for an activity. Sometimes these are needed so that if something goes wrong, the team, using autonomy, can make adjustments to still hit the mark by the end of the assignment.
- Classroom Setting – excellent use of a few seconds to start out the class. Let everyone know what’s going to happen in the class for the next hour to three hours. (Also see Meeting Prep above – for you resourceful students – but don’t try it in my class – I have you turn off your phones)
Taken to an Extreme
Would love to hear how you could apply Twitter Summaries. Leave a post and let me know.
- The art of complaining in 140 characters or less (swiss-miss.com)
- On the benefits of #macroblogging, observing a #Twitter stupidity, and the return of #stopshortening (dropsafe.crypticide.com)
- Don’t spend hours tweeting, says Twitter co-founder (telegraph.co.uk)
- How Twitter Can Improve Your Management In 140 Characters Or Less (businessinsider.com)
- Tell us about ‘the moment’ in 140 characters or fewer (timesunion.com)
In my posts “Start, Stop, Continue” and “Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never” I talk about brainstorming techniques that help organizations choose new ideas to improve on their environment. In the above post, the author fivewhys, gives us some other ways of selecting ideas.
- Brainstorming – Increasing Creativity and the Quantity and Usefulness of Ideas (nextstepconsult.wordpress.com)
- How We Brainstorm (markpeterdavis.com)
- First, Stop that Brainstorming? (laf.ee)
- Why The New Yorker’s Claim That Brainstorming “Doesn’t Work” Is An Overstatement And Possibly Wrong (bobsutton.typepad.com)
- Eight Tips for Fixing Your Brainstorming (leadershipforgood.org)
Originally posted on Five Whys:
This is part 5 in my series on brainstorming techniques
We’ve covered a lot of ground in helping your groups create a lot of ideas. But what do you do with them all? And how do you make sure that the ones you leave behind really are dud ideas? There seem to be two main camps here
- choose your favourite, based on gut feel
- evaluate all ideas according to some fairly simple criteria