Posts Tagged leadership
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.
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)
So if you are anything like me, you are in submission to the fact that there is more to learn in this world then you currently know. The truly wise among us acknowledge that our current knowledge placed on the scale of all the knowledge will always find us wanting for the remainder of our days.
The trick is to stay on the cutting edge of information that helps us achieve our goals. One of the ways I have tried to stay sharp on specific topics is by using podcasts. I currently use iTunes (most convenient at this time) and my Android phone, with the help of iSync. There are a host of podcasts, mostly free but some cost nominal amounts, on iTunes that cover a wide range of topics.
New Updates on my Listening List
So here are latest additions to my listening list:
- BeanCast – deep dive into marketing topics
- EntreLeadership – Dave Ramsey‘s leadership and business podcast
- Let’s Make Mistakes – design but irreverent with some foul language.
- Marketing Over Coffee – quick ‘on they way to work drive’ worth of internet marketing news
- Social Triggers Insiders – on of the authors I follow on Google+
- This Is Your Life – leadership podcast
Dropped from my Listening List
- No More Weak Days – Daily prayer and Bible reading. Great concept but had a hard time struggling with the KJ and Message format in their reading plan. “1 Year Daily Audio Bible” is still my preferred choice for daily scripture reading (listening).
The important thing is to keep learning! Don’t stop. If you are starting a new project, search out a podcast and listen to it while driving or exercising.
I would love to hear about podcasts you have found helpful in your daily routine. Share them in the comments.
- Import iTunes Music Playlists to Android, Sync iTunes with Android over WiFi (ravidhavlesha.wordpress.com)
- Need help subscribing to podcast in Android (ask.metafilter.com)
- Subscribe to my award winning Marketing Podcast series. It is free! (garybembridge.com)
- DoubleTwist Adds Podcast Catalogue (geeky-gadgets.com)
- Import iTunes Music Playlists to Android, Sync iTunes with Android over WiFi (madrasgeek.com)
- Evernote Podcast #33 – Heavy Breathing Episode (evernote.com)
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…
- 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)
With all the ‘Steve Jobs‘ posts flooding the internet, this one caught my eye. It is not a Apple bash piece but rather a great object lesson for those that get caught up in the “Aim, Aim, Aim, Ready, Aim, Aim, Fire” mode.
6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes
By Scott M. Fulton, III / October 6, 2011 2:03 PM
This is not an Apple-bashing piece. It is also not an attempt to cut an American icon down to size at a time when were remembering the magnificent contributions of its fallen founder. This is about how failure makes us better.Ive lost count of the number of times Ive heard, seen, or read comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison since early yesterday evening. Jobs did not invent anything – not the personal computer, not the MP3 player, not the tablet. But besides that fact, there are certain other stark similarities. One: Jobs, like Edison, was a fierce competitor who sought to control not only the delivery channel for his products, but the market surrounding those products. Two: Like the finest scientist, Jobs studied his failures and Apples very carefully, and unlike Microsoft, built his next success upon the smoking ruins of his failures.More Steve Jobs Stories6 of Apples Greatest MistakesSteve Jobs Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American InnovatorsFrom Silicon Valley to Bahrain, the Web Mourns Steve JobsA Great User Experience: The Web Legacy of Steve JobsWhat Steve Meant Back ThenReaders will likely remind me that certain of the
Marathon Not Sprint
As I mention in my “Failure is not a Title” post, we need to look at things as a long process that we learn from, a Marathon if you will, not a 100 yard dash. Yes, the above mentioned items are on the bottom of some outhouse of ideas, but the industry learned from then and evolved into what we have today.
- Think Different – The Legacy of Steve Jobs (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- Steve Jobs Reinvented What It Means to be Human (forbes.com)
- An Analogy of Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs (nytimes.com)
How many times do you find yourself in a slump. We need to shake off the old and create a new way of generating new ideas. We need to make some magic, create some sparks, razzle and dazzle, have some fun! When I read this post from Seth Godin it got me to thinking:
An end of magic
Arthur C. Clarke told us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Head back to the 1800s with a Taser or a Prius or an iPad and the townsfolk will no doubt either burn you at the stake or worship you.
So many doors have been opened by technology in the last twenty years that the word “sufficiently” is being stretched. If it happens on a screen (Google automatically guessing what I want next, a social network knowing who my friends are before I tell them) we just assume it’s technology at work. Hard to even imagine magic here.
How to Make the Magic
This is a fun exercise to take your team or department through. You can read about the process in one my previous posts “Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never“. But basically, take several idea lists you’ve created and follow the “Innovation Bonus Exercise” in the above post. Then take some of those ideas and create you own little science fiction episode of “Stargete”, “Sanctuary”, or “Startrek” in which your team runs accross a civilazation with advanced technology like some of the crazy items on your list and they now have to revewrse engenere it to gain the benefits of the new found technology.
You might be surprised how many of the way-out-there crazy ideas turn into actionable realistic projects for your team to investigate further.
It’s a fun off-site day, especially if you have a bunch of techie scifi geeks on your team!
When I hear in meetings that people don’t know why they are doing something or why a certain policy is in place I begin to wonder how much time is wasted on things we are just doing because we’ve always done them that way. This post was triggered after reading “I can’t believe we’re still doing that” which brought back a lot of memories about team meetings that I facilitated and the frustration I had because there was such a resistance to change when confronting obsolete work. Now I want to admit that I thought I had posted on this exercise in the past but after searching my archive I didn’t find it referenced. Sorry about that.
Setting the Stage
This exercise is great when change occurs naturally in the workplace. It does not need to be forced. But I must admit, when I am called in as an outsider to facilitate change meetings it is very natural for me to use this tool. If you are managing a team or organizations, there are still may opportunities to use this tool:
- New Leadership – often a great time to realign your department or team when a new leader is ready to add a new twist or their own perspective to the role of the organization.
- New Management – this is a great time to review ‘why’ we do things. There are times when the past choices are allowed to be questioned as to why we are doing something.
- Direction Change – often with new management or leadership comes a direction change and a time to evaluate past traditional work and possibly make changes.
- New Team Member – sometimes a new set of eyes brings a new perspective. And remember, those new team members have past experiences for you to gain from as well.
- New Competitor – nothing can be more jarring than a new threat in the vicinity. This change is ideal to reevaluate what the team is doing and make some needed changes.
- New Capability – learning something new is a great time to make changes. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning a new lens or gaining new tools or skills that allow you to reevaluate past norms.
- Measurement Changes – remember always “you are what you measure” and at times those measurements tell you that something is wrong or something unexpectedly went well. This is a great time to pull the team together and analyze the outlier.
Pick your change. For the most part any change that occurs in your normal business cycle becomes an opportunity to evaluate your norms and possibly make some changes. My only word of advice is that you don’t use “Start, Stop, Continue” too much.
You will need three surfaces, I tend to use three large tear off sheets taped to a wall, with each one title with one of there topics: START, STOP, and CONTINUE. You will need sticky notes and writing materials, and sticky dots handed out to each person attending the meeting.
You will provide the participants a problem to solve in which they must come up with ideas on how to improve something by stating things they would START, STOP, or CONTINUE doing. Here are some suggestions for problems to solve:
- How can we make this department better?
- How can we reduced the total elapsed time of a specific process?
- How can we reduce the duration of a specific task?
- How can we improve the customer experience?
- How can we reduce the returned product / restocking percentages?
- How can we decrease the Account Receivable averages and improve cash flow?
Have the team write their ideas on the sticky notes and place it on the correct START, STOP, or CONTINUE sheet.
Facilitation Tip: This brainstorming session is sometimes best SILENT. As a general rule if there is a superior in rank or position in the room and someone may try to “impress the boss” by controlling the session, or an (opinionated) person who naturally commands all the discussions, then make this part of the exercise “SILENT ONLY” and limit the damage.
If the STOP page seems sparse after the activity is underway, then stop the team and force them to evaluate that specific area alone.
Facilitation Tip: If you have a process map already created for a specific process you are asking the team to improve then make sure the process is visible somewhere in the meeting room. If you don’t have the process thoroughly mapped out then begin first by mapping the process into a swim-lane chart so everyone can understand what they are being asked to improve.
Group and Rank Suggestions
Have the team go through a nominal grouping exercise where they attached similar ideas together. Allow the tam to challenge each other. If an idea seems to fall into two groups then create a second sticky note and have the team move on with other groupings. Then identify any associations between the grouped items (i.e. Item 2 can’t be started or completed without Item 1 having been accomplished first).
Then have the team vote on which items they think are best. Give each person 5 or 10 sticky dots. They can place dots on any of the grouped items. They can place multiple dots on any one group if they feel strongly that a specific items needs more attention. (Don’t let them place all their dots on one item though).
This will produce a list of items the group either believes are low hanging fruit or very important and need to be addressed.
We are looking for
- Obsolete Steps
- Eliminate Points of Failure
- Reduce Inter-Departmental Hand-offs
- Reduce Elapsed Times
- New tasks in an existing process
- New processes
- Purchase new software / tools
- New classes to educate staff
- New Hire orientation updated lists
- All existing items not found on the STOP / START sheets that the team is already performing.
I hope you enjoy this exercise. Let me know how it went.
After reviewing the chart below, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these issues would drop off if companies were following the principles explained in “Marketing Warfare” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Doesn’t it make sense that the marketplace, and by that definition consumers, wins if the best companies and products battle it out? And does this change if it’s B2B or B2c?
Enjoy. I would love to read your comments on this subject.
Recently, I reorganized and reprioritized my podcast library and listening preferences. It’s been about a year and some of the material wasn’t doing it for me any more. I won’t get into the reasons or the methods right now. Just know, I started poking around iTunes, my podcast subscription tool of choice. and began sampling several different podcasts.
There is a lot of free podcast content out there and most of it is worth the price you pay for. But occasionally, you can run across some work that is truly valuable and insightful. I wanted to share just such a find.
This is taken from their about page at Venture Voice:
What does it take to start a successful business? We’re working the phone to find the answers by calling on entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and their friends and foes. This podcast (or, for the uninitiated, Internet radio show on demand) features our conversations. Listen to the voices of those living the entrepreneurial life. The excitement, trepidation and ambition heard in their tones gives us a feel for what they’re going through.
We’re interested in people in all types of industries — those who’ve already made it big and those who will soon. We want to hear about failures as well as successes. Start-ups have effects on personal lives in addition to professional lives; we explore both. If you would like to suggest someone to be interviewed, or have feedback for the show, please contact us.
Host and Executive Producer: Gregory Galant
Associate Producer: Eddie LeBreton
Founding Designer: Aaron Quint
My Time is Valuable …..
So why do I think spending time listening to 1 hour interview so worthy that I would want to pass it along to you. Just in a short time I have gained valuable insights that I believe will help even the most modest of achievers among us.
Here are some of the insights I’ve gain:
- All these people in the success stories we hear about are people just like us!
- All had mentors that helped them in the process of moving forward
- All failed … some more often then others … but all did.
- Some were visionary, Some were leaders, Some were lucky …. all tried and refused to give up.
- Some had great answers to difficult questions.
- Some seemed clueless and you end up wondering how they made it so far.
Generally speaking that if you want to become better at something then the time you spend must complement this. After all:
- If you want to become thin … don’t do what fat people do.
- If you want to become rich … don’t do what poor people do.
- If you want to become better … don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
Here’s a Sample of Titles:
I wanted to share with you some of the episodes that I recently listened to. Now keep in mind, I don’t agree with every point of view these people claim to be important. Rather I listen to their thought process and try and understand how did they end up making the right choice and what created sustainable success.
- VV Show #56 – Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software
- VV Show #55 – Graham Hill of TreeHugger
- VV Show #54 – Tim Westergren of PandoraVV Show #53 – David Cohen of TechStars
- VV Show #52 – Sam Wyly of Maverick Capital, Green Mountain Energy, Michaels Stores and Sterling Software
- VV Show #48 – Frank Addante of The Rubicon Project
- VV Show #46 – Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp
I’d be interested in knowing what your thoughts are of some of the interviews. Please drop by again and leave a comment. If there are other podcasts that you think are also valuable then please leave a comment here as well.