It’s you who define you

“Work-Life Lessons From Peter Drucker” by Bruce Rosenstein (Baseline Mag, 8 April 2010). Finally, another perfect storm. That is, a spare moment or two to do some biz reading and an article worth passing along.

If there were a Business & Management Hall of Fame, Peter Drucker would be inducted, first shot, all the number one votes. If by chance you’re not familiar, here is his wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Drucker. The irony is that the five recommendations listed by Bruce are really nothing new. For the most page they all date back ages and in some form are rooted in many of the great religions. That not to say, business is substitute for faith, not at all. But we’re not just talking the business you here. We’re talking the holistic you — on and off the clock.

The bottom line… If you can’t help you and improve you, who can? In addition, when you stretch out to help and support others that also makes you stronger too. “No man is an island,” indeed.

Today’s word: relationships

“Developing Strong Work Relationships” by Kerry Patterson (BaselineMag.com, 13 November 2009).This one is as much about the who as it is about the what. “Kerry Patterson is the co-author of three best-sellers: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations and Influencer. He is also a speaker and consultant, and co-founder of VitalSmarts, which focuses on corporate training and organizational performance.” Influencer has been mentioned here before, and is recommended reading. The other two are on the hopefully sooner of later list. In the meantime these short article will have to fill the gap.

As is often the case, Kerry’s expertise doesn’t reinvent the wheel as much as it serves as another friendly reminder on how not to be that guy/gal. The bonus here is that once you invest the time to consume these tips/article at work, you’ll be able to take them home as well.

— If you want better relationships, never air your dirty laundry in public.

— If you want better relationships, seek face time with your colleagues.

— If you want better relationships, learn to listen and then speak respectfully when conversations become crucial.

Certainly not rocket science, eh? And while we’re on the subject of relationships, “Create Your Own Upturn (A shift from managing volume to managing relationships)” by David Rich (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009).

Relentless attention to getting the customer experience right will yield increased customer equity. When customers are satisfied, companies may reap opportunities to cross-sell products and services, adding to their bottom lines. If approached correctly, the customer experience can also aid the acquisition of new customers, as they determine where they’d like to purchase products and services.

Maybe not as easy to bring home to the wife and the kids but the idea of The Experience having to stick does seem to be universal. What do you think?

The difference between winner and losers

“Strategy Is Not Enough” by By Richard Brennan (BaselineMag.com, 11 November 2009). Please put aside the IT slant of the article for a moment and lend Mr. Brennan your eye. Also, for those who are not sports fanatics, please pardon his football analogy.

While the best football organizations have a clear strategy, they also have the capabilities to execute on that strategy. You can’t be a passing team without the ability to throw, catch and block. Even if you have the best quarterback in the league, without the other skills to complement him, you are not going to win many games. It is the identification of a clear strategy (we are going to be a passing team); the identification of key capabilities required to execute that strategy (block, catch, throw); and the tactics or plays with which to develop those capabilities that lead to success.

The key idea here is right. The right strategy; for the right team; using the right tools; at the right time; being managed in the right way. Contrary to popular belief, none of these operate in a vacuum. There is more to success than a brilliant strategy and/or raw talent.

On the other hand, those who understand the holistic nature of these challenges, as well as the need for ongoing and relentless motivation, are the ones who hold the trophy and drink the champagne. To stick with the sports analogy — the journey to success is an iron man marathon, not a 50 yard dash. Yes, there are times when a sprint is necessary. We have all been there. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that such an approach is the rule. It is the exception.

A “hail Mary pass” may create a lot of excitement for a few minutes, but a single play rarely wins the Super Bowl. Neither will a single (IT) project that’s not backed by capabilities drive business success. Having the right capabilities in place is what wins in both football (and IT).

They’re both on first

“Inspire Your Customers” by Jim Champy (Baseline Magazine, 24 September 2009)

“Keeping Employees Engaged in Tough Times” by Corinne Bernstein (Baseline Magazine, 24 September 2009)

Inspire? Engage? Same thing, right? Actually, right! People are people and both customers and employees are guests. They should all be thought of as such. Employees want inspired customers. Customers want engaged employees. Join in the conversation and go make it happen. Alright!

The better new days!

Baseline’s (www.BaselineMag.com), editor Eileen Feretic, via her Starting Point column titled, “The Good Old Days?” raises the flag for the slow moving biz masses and cleanly sums up how technology is not just a means to a line of business’ ends, but is now should be an integral part of those ends.

The key quote comes from Marriott’s CIO Carl Wilson,

“…we do not have technology projects. We have business initiatives that are shaped and enabled by technology.”

Somebody by this guy a beer. Now we know why they pay him the big bucks. If only more were so switched on.

The point that should be made is that Marriott’s approach, this state of mind if you will, doesn’t have to be limited to big enterprise sized companies and their solutions. As the barriers to entry for so many technologies drops the opportunities for “the little guy” increases. But you have to be looking. You have to be aware. You have to stop seeing your web site (for example) as just a web site. It’s a tool to enable you to better serve your customers. It isn’t about you, it’s about them. You can easily build a site that satisfies all your wants and still miss a good number of your customer’s needs and expectations. In fact, this happens all too often.

Bottom line… Before you engage a designer or a developer make sure you’ve done the necessary critical thinking and have clearly defined the needs – not just wants – of your customers and your business. Then if you engage someone and they only ask you about wants, and don’t focus on distilling needs just put the project on pause and find someone else. Anyone can design / develop a web site, the real question is can they design / develop the right web site for you?