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Avoiding Tunnel Vision February 22, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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I just finished some light reading – supposedly non-business related – only to have a reinforced opinion that there are connections everywhere.  Granted, the book being non-fiction automatically puts it into the realm of being about real people – and what is business but dealing with real people?

The book itself might seem of little consequence to engineers, managers, or consultants.  “Paramedic: On The Front Lines of Medicine” by Peter Canning, an EMT from Connecticut, is about his years performing medicine “on the streets”.  In the early chapters, we learn a bit about what it takes to become a paramedic.  One of the most critical items is to avoid the “tunnel vision” that accompanies arriving on a scene with preconceived ideas about what you will find – regardless of how the incident was reported.

It should be abundantly obvious that this attitude is just as important in non-life threatening situations as well.  It comes down to the question of how well you have been trained to properly assess your client’s needs and act appropriately, regardless of why you got the phone call in the first place.

Maybe you have been asked to improve the client’s profitability.  He doesn’t know what the problem is, he just has general symptoms: not meeting goals, poor morale, and lack of new customers.  Do you jump in and recommend a new marketing campaign?  Round up the employees to discuss “change management”?  How could you possibly suggest a solution without taking some time to understand the operations and the root causes of these symptoms?

You can’t.

To do your job properly, you must assume very little.  It is safe to assume that the company craves profitability, just as the paramedic bases immediate care on oxygen and blood flow.  But beyond that, it requires an in-depth examination.  The problem?  Neither patient enjoys being examined.  But you’ve got to get the gloves on and get in there.

Don’t try to solve the wrong problem and do more harm.

Why Are You Innovating? February 19, 2010

Posted by Jason in Insider's View Relapses.
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So many names have been suggested for the last decade; the Digital Decade, Hysteria Decade, the Aughts, the Naughts, the Double-0’s. It could just as well be called the Innovation Decade — not because of any particular real innovations, but because that’s what we all thought (and continue to think) we should be doing, even if (more…)

What’s Your Mission? February 16, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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Today was about goals.  The external environment changes rapidly.  Much more rapidly than we would often prefer, and sometime more often than we are able to match.

But it is still necessary to set goals based on the information you have available at the time.  This isn’t to say that we should obsess over particular achievements, however.  With every change comes the opportunity to revisit our goals – and our personal and business mission statements.

As an entrepreneur, you are in the unique position of having a personal mission that meshes quite nicely with that of your business.  After all, for many, the business is their life.  But the larger the organization, the more it becomes necessary to reaffirm the business mission, and to further ensure that it still does indeed reflect the personal goals of the founders.

Don’t be afraid of changing the goals in the middle of the game.  Also don’t forget that it’s okay to decide that your personal goals don’t necessarily fit with the organization’s.

Marketing, Really? February 3, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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A short time ago, I posted a question to LinkedIn.  I thought I was being clear, but perhaps there was some room for mis-interpretation.  Nevertheless, I’m always happy to clarify and get more specific than is sometimes possible in a one-shot question.  What I was not prepared for was the stack of marketing spam.

Coincidentally, I posted two questions at about the same time.  One has garnered zero responses in 22 hours (not too surprising) while the other has attracted five in half that time (one of which I had to report as blatant abuse of the TOS).

I hypothesize that the second one was like honey to ants.  It had all kinds of keywords that the trolls look for: social, marketing, media – and was categorized in the “internet marketing” box.  So far, no surprises.

What really got my attention was that these people who were “selling” or at least strongly suggesting that I use their services had absolutely no idea who I was, who my own market was, or why I would even be interested in them at all.  Really?  You’re selling MARKETING SERVICES!  If you can’t take five minutes to research a prospect, why in the world would I pay you money to do research for mine?

Here is some friendly advice: If you are going to the trouble of answering questions on LinkedIn, at least show some effort.  I don’t even care if it’s a one line response, but at least make it pertinent to the discussion.  Marketing spam merely highlights how poorly you are able to listen, clutters up an otherwise useful conversation, and isn’t really helping your business.  It certainly isn’t helping others to educate themselves.