Archive for category productivity

Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week


More than 35,000 companies and organizations have pledged to participate in the event. According to the official Telework Week Website, this would save an estimated $2,451,069 and more than 1,600 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere. Where these numbers come from is not entirely clear, but it stands to reason that fewer people commuting would help save money and reduce pollution to some extent.

National Telework Week is sponsored by Telework Exchange and Cisco, which makes telepresence and communication products, as well as other tools to facilate remote working.

via Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week.

To: Non-Teleworkers

I would suggest you spend some time understanding what it would take to perform your work outside the office.  As I would explain to past staffs, just because a weather day or some unplanned disaster occurred, project deadlines remain the same.  If you and your manager, or if you are the manager, haven’t spent enough time creating a work force that is flexible enough to handle the unique demands of performing all department requirements outside of the normal office space, you will find yourself in the awkward situation of losing value to the company.

Disaster Recovery Planning

OK, maybe it’s because my first job in a large IT organization was helping implement the annual remote disaster recovery test plans that I seem to gravitate to this fact.  I ask all my clients, if your office burned down this weekend, what you do on Monday.  Close shop?  Declare bankruptcy? Put everything on hold until you get a new office leased?  What about your paper records?  How about your leads?  How about your contracts in progress? Are you’re files stored off-site, and if so how long would it take to get them back and running at the new location?

These are all questions that should bring a leader or manager to the point of understanding how important teleworking can be to this scenario and their organization.

Improved Productivity

An important factor in improving your productivity is to design a work environment that helps you accomplish your work faster and smarter then your competition.  Well how about all the time you are not in the office?  Are you tied to a paper filing system … how could you change that? (Evernote.com)  Can your assistant and team members update file and get them to your quickly? (DropBox.com) Can your team, partners, and client see your calendar and plan accordingly?  (Google Calendar)  Can you conduct training sessions without having to be on-prem at the client’s location? (WebEx) Can you brainstorm with your team, partners, and clients regardless of their geographical location? (MindMeister.com)  Can you manage your To-Do list, or better yet, can your assistant manage your list for you? (Remember the Milk).

My guess the most difficult thing to change in your work space is the paper trails you live with.  You probably have become so accustomed to getting something in paper, working on it, then passing it on.  Reguardless, it is possible to go paperless.  It’s worth the time to implement also.

My Office

Over the past 10 years I have moved to a paperless process.  That is how I had to look at it.  I focused on the process, not the piece of paper or some other physical object.  Many of the web based applications I mentioned above I use today.  It allows me to complete my client requests while knowing that all the items I need are right at my fingertips.

So what have you done to make it possible to telework or telecomute?  I’d love to compare notes some time.

Good Hunting.

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Marketing Success – Jackie Chan Style


In “Success” magazine (Success.com February 2011) I found a great article on Jacky Chan. In this articles they list Jacky Chan’s 7 Traits for Success.  I found his thoughts fit nicely into internet marketing as well.  So I’m going to take his traits but add my own thoughts to each of his traits.

1) A willingness to crash and burn

I can’t stress enough that each internet marketer should try to fail, often, and big.  Two phrases come to mind “Go Big, or Go Home!” and “Failure is an event, not a title!”  Your embrace of risk might be the deciding factor that helps you find your niche.

2) A discipline for fitness

The key word being discipline.  Fitness is needed for everyone, but in marketing, we need focus, intentional creative disruption.  We often try many tactics for our clients.  We need to perform our duties in such a way that our measurements tell us which tactic produced the results and then build on them.

3) A disdain for wasted time

As Zig Ziglar wrote in his “See You at the Top” recording your activities and understanding what it takes to create positive results in critical.  Equally important is understanding what is not helping you create success.  Avoiding time wasters are equally important then improving skills.

4) A need for alternative opinions

It’s important we seek out and study other disciplines and build on the lessons of those.  Reading materials from other continents, or cultures.   Subscribe to blogs from other marketers on other countries.  Spend time discussing ideas on twitter or in blog comments.  It will improve your ability to communicate your positions to clients and prospects.

5) A set of high expectations

Never be afraid to say “That’s not good enough” and demand more of the outcomes of your tasks and tactics.  With internet marketing it often a series of “shoot, ready, aim” moments, but that doesn’t mean we can expect some impressive marksmanship!

6) An accurate moral compass

A marketer with no moral compass is simply a politician.  Enough said.

7) A relentless sense of humor

By all means, have some fun.  If you can’t laugh and laugh hard at your work, you will often find yourself  ‘chasing rabbits’.  I know we call it work, but push the limits, always create a version of your latest project that is an exaggeration of the client requirements.  By creating this outlier, you will find your other ideas less risky and at the same time take some risks.

So which one of these traits caught your eye?  Which of these traits are you doing well at?  Which one of these traits do you need to work on?  I’d love to get your feedback.

Enjoy!  Good Hunting!

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Start, Stop, Continue – Reviewed


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.

Facilitation Instructions

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

STOP Sheet

  • Redundancies
  • Obsolete Steps
  • Eliminate Points of Failure
  • Reduce Inter-Departmental Hand-offs
  • Reduce Elapsed Times

START Sheet

  • New tasks in an existing process
  • New processes
  • Purchase new software / tools
  • New classes to educate staff
  • New Hire orientation updated lists

CONTINUE Sheet

  • 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.

Good Hunting.

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