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.
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…
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Note: This guest post by Richard Egan has a focus on education but the principles covered can easily be translated into other settings. Collaborative tools like MindMeister are powerful ways to bring people and their ideas together.
Online collaboration has become very popular in both education and business. We now have the ability to easily and freely share all file types using different cloud based platforms. People working collectively on a project or assignment no longer need to be in the same room or even in the same country for that matter.
Collaborative platforms have enabled educators to create online learning environments where students can benefit from sharing ideas and communicating with each other, their mentors and external organizations.
Mind Mapping and Online Collaboration
Mind maps are an excellent method for individuals to graphically represent and structure ideas or thoughts. It is a very valuable tool which can be used for project management, creating to-do lists, idea generation, planning articles or papers.
Mind mapping can be implemented for collaborating and brainstorming, it gives students a platform to work simultaneously and a facility for learning together. Introducing mind mapping to students is a great way to encourage group participation and when managed properly will generate great results.
Benefits of Collaborative Tools:
- Easier project management
- More informed decision making
- Promotes critical thinking
- Meetings and brainstorming sessions conducted remotely
- Develop new skills for a business environment
- Files stored in one place i.e. no waiting for a document to be emailed
- Improved communication between students, lecturers and research groups
Collaboration: Mind Mapping Uses
Using mind mapping for collaboration presents students with the opportunity to share ideas with peers and to think creatively through social inspiration. I have made a list of some of the situations where mind mapping can be used as a solution for online collaboration.
- Managing group projects
- Class assignments
- Sharing lecture notes
- Brainstorming sessions
- Study sessions
- Group presentations
The video below is an example of multiple users collaborating on one map – they are creating an IKEA shopping list for their office. All changes to the mind map can be seen in real-time by all collaborators
Mind Mapping Example: Project Management
The next time you are assigned a group project in school or college I would encourage you to use a mind map from the beginning. To get started you can follow these easy steps:
- Create a mind map with title of project
- Invite all teams members to be collaborators
- Have a brainstorming session with all collaborators
At this point you should have a map with many topics, ideas and tasks to be completed. The next step is to appoint a team leader who can:
- Sort and structure all the information in the map
- Delegate tasks, create deadlines and set reminders for each member
Once this has been completed you will have very quickly created a project plan and a great starting point for the project. In addition to this, create another mind map with all details of each team member i.e. contact details, to-do lists and daily schedules; it can then be linked to the main map. The purpose for this is that everyone can see what the other is doing, progress can be monitored and meetings can be easily scheduled to suit everyone.
Some of the mind mapping software providers also support smartphones and tablets meaning that members can literally participate whenever or wherever they may be!
Online collaboration is becoming ever more important and is being used by businesses all over the world to increase productivity and creativity. Following the principle that two brains are better than one many companies are taking advantage of new software being made available to them. Collaborating online has many benefits in education but it is also very important that students are prepared for such working environments after their studies.
New online collaborative tools are emerging every day with numerous platforms for saving and sharing files, conducting meetings and managing projects. Mind mapping is one such tool but with a bit of a difference, it is a visual tool. Not only can files be stored and shared on the cloud but you can also see and watch how the whole thought process evolved and how a conclusion was formed or how a plan was made. And because each collaborator can add to a mind map simultaneously no one person can dominate the direction or outcome!
- Improving Academic Performance with Mind Mapping (hbculifestyle.com)
- Mind Mapping Workshop (slideshare.net)
- How Mind Maps Can Help Organize and Create Content (contently.com)
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)
The Above Post
Excellent Post at “Five Whys”, one of my frequent sites I read, and I wanted to share this with you as well.
Enjoy and Good Hunting!
Damien Newman used the design squiggle to illustrate the Design Thinking approach to solving problems.
It’s a really neat way of communicating the basic premise behind design thinking, and I like it a lot. Applied to business model innovation it shows the initial chaos and movement that surrounds any new business model as the founders get to grips with their concept. But what happens if we apply the squiggle to customer development?
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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)