Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"Companies Not Well-Positioned to Compete as War for Talent Intensifies, Accenture Research Finds"

As the economic climate continues to improve, the talent war will flare-up but companies will not be prepared. The Accenture survey report details that companies SAY they want leaders and they want organizations that can adapt to change quickly. Only 8% of those companies say they are meeting those goals. The problem is that companies have been focused on controlling bottom-line costs. The first thing to be cut is training and development. Usually. Lip service is paid to training as a means to improve employees skill-sets and productivity, but few companies follow through. The companies that succeed will and indeed, are shifting their strategy towards growth and they understand that to grow, they need talented leaders at all levels.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

New Links

I added a few new links to the pool. Leader to Leader is a quarterly journal from the Drucker Foundation. Some of the biggest guns of the thought leadership world are referenced. There is a very comprehensive achive as well.  War, Chaos and Business talks about the ideas of John Boyd, a strategist that developed "OODA loops" (observe, orient, decide, act). Some of you may know this from Xerox decision making processes as "PDCA" (plan, do, check, act). Site also discusses how Sun Tzu's philosophies can be used in the business world. Keeping with the Sun Tzu theme, to which I am partial, Sonshi is all Sun Tzu, all of the time. There is also a great resource here of other strategy works from: Clausewitz to Machiavelli to Caesar to Vegetius. Check it out.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Michael Hyatt's Power Point Resources

Power Point is a necessary evil in the business world. The on-going discussion with a project team I am working with is how many do we need as an introductory presentation for our service. I will ALWAYS vote on the l-o-w end. I believe any presentation should be three slides long. Slide 1: who we are. Slide 2: what we do. Slide 3: here is how we will make you PILES of money. If you have to use PowerPoint, learn some graphic design. Some. Not become an expert. Hyatt's list of resources will help any presentation.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

On Customer Support

I will warn everyone now that there will be a tendency to talk about customer service and support, multi-channel management and CRM related topics in this blog. On Customer Support was written by David Kay back in May of this year and published at I just pulled this document out for another project I am working on. The article details four shifts in customer support.
  1. From Product Support to Solution Support - no longer can the support group afford to be isolated from the rest of the product "team" or company. Support, in many cases is the only time you get to talk to your customers. Product development, marketing, sales etc all need to listen. There is also a shift taking place from measuring customer satisfaction ("c-sat") with LOYALTY.
  2. From Reactive Support to Proactive Support - in the past, customers would call for support, give their pedigree information (name, id, etc), open a ticket and then disappear once the problem was solved. The shift is happening where customer information is being gathered and analyzed to identify common threads. The idea is to NOT have a support organization. In this shift, if customer A contacts you with a problem, you can then look at your entire customer base and identify other customers that will or may have the same problem and then proactively contact them to fix it!
  3. From Solving Problems to Improving Products and Knowledge - This means taking the best support agents OFF the phone (solving customer problems) and assigning them to the task of increasing the ORGANIZATION's ability to solve problems.  Use these team members to build the knowledge bases. Use them to perform root cause analysis on problems and feed back solutions to all members of the product team, not just support.
  4. From Just-in-Case Training to Just-in-Time Knowledge Transfter - The speed at which new problems develop is making it next to impossible to pull entire teams together for "training"...especially in a 24/7 world. The idea is to relentlessly build the knowledge base to allow front line agents to adapt on the fly.

Kay states:

Rather than making existing processes more efficient, they redefine the value delivered by the support organization away from the negative (fixing broken products) and towards the positive (increasing the value of the customer relationship). This allows the support organization to drive customer loyalty and profitability, taking a leadership role that rightly belongs to the most customer-facing organization in the company.

Huzzah to that! Those of us who have been and still are on the front lines have been saying this for YEARS.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Will RFID Spark the Next Revolution in Retailing?

The Wharton site requires registration but does not cost anything. RFID is a technology I have been watching. Remember the Tom Peters' rule from below: the technology is useless for the first 5 years. RFID - radio frequency identification tags are starting to generate a buzz. Wal-Mart is laying on a big push. The dream scenario that we have been hearing about for years is that every item in the supermarket will be tagged. We won't have to wait in a checkout line anymore. Nor will we have to use the self-service lines which I can never seem to navigate through and I consider myself a reasonably tech-saavy guy. Scanners will "read" everything in your cart, you will be direct billed to your debit account, and away you go to soccer practice.

The market seems to be letting Wal-Mart and Target work the kinks out of the system. Costs for tags are still too high. Scanning technology isn't where it needs to be yet. But it will be. Forrester analyst Christine Spivey Overby says:

One of the biggest barriers to making RFID work is figuring out how to manage the data.

The amount of data that can be generated from these tags from ALL stops in the supply chain is staggering. The economic impact will be interesting to watch. If I am a large retail store my inventory costs just got cut. I can get very close to just-in-time delivery. As a consumer, my refrigerator will be able to link to the grocery store and have my basic, week to week items ready for me to pick up. I won't have to get out of my car.
I saw a link the other day and didn't save it where there is talk of putting RFID tags into children. Lojack for your kid. Not sure how I feel about that but this isn't the forum for my Big-Brother-Let's-Suspend-The-November-Elections rants.

The Brand You Survival Kit

I thought it fitting to start this blog out with a link to a Tom Peters' article from the June issue of Fast Company. The article is classic modern-day Peters. Adapt or die. Everybody is a mercenary ("contractor" as the Bush administration calls them) or should at least be thinking and acting like one. He's been on this rampage since 1997. Like CRM and VoIP, it is finally starting to click. I am a disciple. I love his simple six word mission statement: Service Clients, Develop Talent, WOW! Projects. This article is the executive summary of The Brand You 50 and its similar chapters in the recently published Re-Imagine!. In short:
  • Turn every project into something the recruiter or person doing the hiring is going to get excited about.
  • You must market yourself. Accomplishments on a resume are NOT ENOUGH.
  • Don't settle for being a jack of all trades. Master something. But be able to adapt at a breakneck pace.
  • Loyalty to the "company" is dead. Loyalty to your peers is crucial. Build your Rolodex or your Outlook contacts ported over to your palm pilot.
  • New technology is useless for the first five years. But you need to know its out there and be ready to use it when it becomes useful.
  • Constantly re-invent yourself.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

First Post

This is the first post for this blog. Awhile back it hit me that there is a LOT of "management" information out there that would be of use to some people. Unfortunately, the people that need this information the most usually do not have the time to sort through the hundreds of newspapers, journals, magazines, newsletters, and let's not forget websites. We here at hope to bring you the best management theories, tips and practices to help you with your careers, your projects, your teams, your bosses and your companies. Bookmark us and come back often.