Friday, September 14, 2012

Pulling Together

The greatest accomplishments in life are not achieved by individuals alone, but by proactive people pulling together for a common good. Look behind every winner and you will find a great coach. Look out in front of every superstar and you will see a positive role model. Look alongside every great achiever and you will find caring people offering encouragement, support and able assistance. 

Rising to this level of interdependent thinking can be challenging and difficult. Looking beyond oneself, asking for help or accepting help can feel risky. But people are not given life to simply take from one another. We are here to give. Our mission in life is to offer our gifts to benefit one another, to create mutual gain in the world. This is called teamwork, a win/win mindset stemming from a genuine commitment to the rules that allow it to happen.

The bottom line is that it's easy for any organization to say..."we value teamwork." However, saying it versus committing to the principles to grow it can be two different things.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Worst Moments are Your Best Opportunities

That's how we judge you and how we remember you.

You are presumed to be showing us your real self when you are on deadline, have a headache, are facing a customer service meltdown, haven't had a good night's sleep, are facing an ethical dilemma, are momentarily in power, are caught doing something when you thought no one else was looking, are irritable, have the opportunity to extract revenge, are losing a competition or are truly overwhelmed.

 -Seth Godin

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Work Management and the Need to Jump Through Hoops

If you've ever been to the circus you've seen what I'm about to describe. A trainer walks into the center ring followed by several dogs who proceed to run up skinny ramps, up and down teeter-totters and jump through hoops. Unfortunately, the circus isn't the only place I've seen this.

I was talking with a colleague the other day, and she suggested that 25-55 percent of most project requirements are unnecessary. In my opinion, she is in a position to know. Her job is to consult with project leaders and project management vendors all over the world. I must admit, although I personally believed that many project managers are compelled to force their teams to jump through a lot of hoops for "process" sake, I didn't think it was that bad.

I myself have been forced to jump through what appeared to be meaningless hoops from time to time. What's more, unlike the dogs at the circus, the hoops I was forced to jump through weren't even for the entertainment of others (at least I hope they weren't). I wonder how many of us have lost our way in the morass of process and lost track of the fact that projects are the vehicle we use to accomplish something. The processes we use should serve to make the complicated world of projects easier to navigate, not more convoluted and complicated.

I have often felt like we implement complicated processes for the sake of process—when much of the work we do doesn't require such a heavy burden. Of course there are times when formal processes and governance are required for project success. However, it is incumbent upon us as project leaders to weigh the value of process against the value of providing value to our organizations quickly and often.

I suggest we consider a more flexible leadership approach. A simple project, that consists of a dozen or so simple steps in a "to do" list, neither diminishes the value of the project nor the skills of the project leader. In my opinion, the simplest solution that produces the most value is often the best. And, the project leader who recognizes that is worth his or her weight in gold.

By: Ty Kiisel, Manager Social Outreach and AtTask

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Inward Thinking - The Danger of the Mind

Our mind is a giant negative thought generator and a one-organ haunted house. It sends us messages all day long that focus on regret and pain from the past and anxiety and panic about the future. But, here's the thing: We are not our thoughts and feelings. They don't define us and they have nothing to do with our identity. Not to mention that the past is irrelevant (except for the lessons we can mine from it) and the future doesn't exist (at all!). So, combine mind-marginalization with present-moment awareness and you have all the tools you need to survive tough times in business. And, ultimately, there is no such thing as "tough" times. It's only a place that the mind did not predict so it deems it as a threat. Guaranteed shift in perspective when you marginalize the mind and see the moment for what it is - an opportunity.

Jay Taffet
President, JMT Aviation

Author of "The Zen of Financial Peril: The Art of Happiness in Crisis" ( and "Fly and Earn: The Official Aerial Photography Business Kit" (

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Practical Tips on Requirements Traceability to Help You Control Change and Improve Quality

Traceability helps you stay connected, manage change and improve quality.

Think traceability is just for compliance-driven industries? Think again. This best practice might sound technical and complex, but it doesn't have to be and it could very well be your ticket to better results. In fact, companies with mature requirements management and traceability processes achieve 75% higher success rates.

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  • Demystify traceability, impact analysis and related concepts
  • Get 5 tips on how to put traceability into action
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Strategic Work Made Simple

Have you ever played that game where you repeat a particular word over, and over, and over until suddenly, it just doesn’t sound right anymore? At a certain point, it stops making sense. The phenomenon is called semantic satiation and it happens in business all the time! We have a tendency to overuse terms until, frankly, they don’t hold meaning any longer.

Take “strategic” for example. Of course, as an E-Myth Business Coach, it would be impossible for me not to hear and use that term all the time; strategic work is at the core of what we coach our clients to do.

But perhaps we’ve used it too many times and it’s lost its meaning. So let’s put aside all the times we’ve heard it (or used it ourselves) and approach the basic idea of strategic work afresh. Often, clarity of communication and returning to the true import of a particular term can re-invigorate an organization and our relationships within it.

Keep it Simple
Strategic work to me, first and most importantly, means thinking. That’s right. Nothing fancy about it. Nothing too crazy. Just thinking about your business; whether big picture or specific, data in hand or staring into space. It is in connecting our thought to an outcome, then a plan, that is at the heart of strategic work. 

On that note, I always recommend to my clients that they should create times when they disconnect from the tactical side of the business and simply think about the larger connections, the bigger idea… the wider context.  Schedule regular brainstorming sessions with yourself and your team. Get your ideas down on paper. And be prepared to capture your thinking in a variety of situations--from ice skating to shopping. You never know when that great idea might arrive.

The Structure of Strategic Work
The word strategy has military origins. Strategy refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. One definition of strategy is “a plan, method or series of stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.”

So how do you "get strategic"? Strategic work connects our thinking to a particular goal, and provides the step-by-step plan to realize it. Without strategy, tactics (the steps) are often misguided and off target. With the clarity of the goal and the plan, the tactics often fall into place perfectly. If not, we adjust, altering our steps based on our observations. Which means that we also must make some observations and gather some data that will tell us how well our strategy is working.

Here are five steps to give you a framework to approach strategic work.

  1. Set the goal – Goal setting or identifying the desired results is always the first step. It’s much easier to hit a target that has been identified and described, than shooting at one you can’t see. Clarity of vision is critical. Once we have a clear vision, we can really begin thinking about our business in new ways; since every idea can attach back to the vision.

  1. Think – Once we understand the desired result, you have to spend some time thinking about it. You have that goal in mind and you’re attempting to connect it into a plan that can be executed. Don’t be too hasty. Zoom out, look at the big picture. Ask questions, get to the truth of what you want to see happen. Be open, set aside assumptions. Let the intuitive side of your mind and the rational have their say in how to best deploy resources to achieve results. Gather data. Get a macro-view. Obtain all the information and opinions you can before you make your planning decisions.

  1. Plan – The next phase, planning, is probably one of the weakest in many small businesses. Don’t succumb to the idea that tactics will just follow strategy and begin happening. You have to actively plan and manage the flow from thinking to doing. Planning requires good organization and the ability to think things through in logical steps, along with good communication skills to get everyone involved.  Do it yourself, or delegate it, but don’t neglect adequate planning. Get the right tools to support your efforts, and practice project management discipline in all your planning applications and you’ll soon see a huge benefit. How does the old saying go, those who don’t plan, plan to fail! 

  1. Execute– Passing the strategy into tactics. Tactics represent the tangible events that occur in business. Serve the customer. Make the product. Go on a sales call. Unless these tactics are informed by strategic work, they won’t cohere and are often accomplished in a very haphazard manner. Identifying goals, thinking them through, organizing and orchestrating the tactics through plans and systems is the best way to secure the results you want to see happen and avoid those you wouldn’t wish on your most feared competitor.

  1. Evaluate – Quantifiable objectives must be built into this entire process. You have to have a way to properly evaluate your strategy and the tactics that have been used to achieve a particular result. If you’re not getting the results you want through your present activities, then start this strategic work cycle again, since the only way to alter your results is to change how you’re doing things.
So strategic work seems simple now, right?  Quick, try it now before the word loses its meaning again!

Source: E-Myth Viewpoint

Monday, January 17, 2011

The 7 Deadly Sins of Successful Sales Teams

Selling is hard work, but it’s even harder when sales teams fall into bad habits.  When these deadly sins take hold, the team can end up alienating customers, peers, and co-workers alike.

If your team remains unrepentant and refuses to change, the end result can easily be the failure of your current sales campaign and even the collapse of your entire company’s sales.

Be forewarned.  You must, must, must take these 7 deadly sins seriously, and make sure that they don’t take hold, either on you, or on your team-members.


  • Definition: Pushing more products on the customer or the channel than they want or need.
  • Why It Happens: This is often done with the best of intentions, under the “customer is always right” maxim.  Customers and channels are not always on top of their needs and requirements, and thus order (or agree to buy) too much product.
  • What Results: When the customer or channel figures out that they’ve been “stuffed” with product, they assume (probably rightly) that you were more interested in making your numbers than in making them successful.
  • How to Prevent It: Before closing, always make certain that the customer really needs your offering and that it will assist them in building their own business.  If not, volunteer an adjustment that will put the order in line with their real needs.


  • Definition: You’ve got a product that’s so wonderful that you’re convinced that it’s the solution to every customer’s problem.
  • Why It Happens: Most of the time, this happens because you’ve let the marketing group convince you that you’ve got a product that can “change the world.”  However, no matter how fabulous you offering might be, it’s not a panacea and there are going to be customers for whom a competitor’s product is a better fit.
  • What Results: Grandiosity results in customers who aren’t well served.  They end up with features and functions that they don’t use, can’t use, and don’t want.  Worst case, they begin to see you, the sales rep, as something of a religious fanatic rather than a trusted adviser.
  • How to Prevent it: Remember that the point of selling is to help the customer become more successful.  Rather than trying to converting them to your “product” religion, dedicate yourself to making sure that your offering gets into the hands of the people who need it most.


  • Definition: Sales teams often look back to the glory days, when their product was selling like hotcakes.
  • Why It Happens: Sales professionals always know what worked in the past, but the memory of past success blind the team to changing customer requirements and major shifts in the marketplace.
  • What Results: Gradually, your firm becomes unable to develop new accounts, or take advantage of existing ones.  Revenue from your cash-cows take-over and you find yourself consistently being outbid and outsold by the competition.
  • How to Prevent It: Whenever you lose a deal (or don’t get included in an opportunity), take the time to find out exactly why.  As the market changes, adjust your sales approach so that it better fits the way that the customer wants to buy.


  • Definition: Sales teams keep taking on more work, insisting that they can close more business than the last quarter, quarter after quarter.
  • Why It Happens: Sales teams enjoy being successful and so they’re sure that they’ve got the ability to be even more successful in the future.  As such, they commit to more growth without having a strategy to accomplish it.
  • What Results: It works for a brief period of time, but then productivity begins to quickly decline.  Top performers become frustrated and leave the team.  The company begins to lose business, creating even more pressure to perform.
  • How to Prevent It: Come up with plans that are achievable given your current resources.  Then figure out how make the team gradually more productive.


  • Definition: When results are good, many sales teams start to relax and celebrate their wins, rather than develop new business.
  • Why It Happens: Let’s face it: selling is hard work.  It’s natural to want to take a bit of a rest on your laurels, especially after a big sales campaign has paid off big.
  • What Results: This is the great disaster of many successful sales teams.  Their pipeline dries up and the numbers start to decline.  This is then followed by frantic effort to build to another peak and lo! the cycle repeats.
  • How to Prevent it: During the good times, make the effort to continue doing all the things that caused the good times: relentless prospecting, cold calls, building out your network.  Make the pipeline a constant priority.


  • Definition: Sales teams assume that the buying process is moving forward because they’ve presented the deal to all the key decision makers.
  • Why It Happens: When you’ve put a lot of work into building up an opportunity, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor (without getting the sale) by simply assuming that it will take place.
  • What Results: While you’ll sometimes get the sale, it’s also more than possible that something will go awry and the buying process will stall.  You lose momentum and, eventually, the sale.
  • How to Prevent It: Assume nothing.  Stay on top of each major deal.  Continue to ask questions, listen carefully, and make sure all the bases are covered.


  • Definition: The sales team becomes (or pretends to become) overoptimistic about sales that will take place in a quarter.
  • Why It Happens: Sometimes it’s because they’re upbeat and optimistic people and sometimes it’s because they’re telling management what they want to hear.
  • What Results: When the sales don’t take place, everyone ends up looking stupid.  Or worse, you end up antagonizing customers trying to get them to buy, simply because you need to make the numbers that you foolishly promised.
  • How to Prevent It: Stay focused on reality and make sure that you are putting effort into maintaining a realistic pipeline.  Tell management what they need to know, not what you think they want to hear.