Are You Working Your ‘That’s Stupid’ List

Best new job advice I ever received: Write down everything you are asked to do that appears to be stupid, inefficient, or unproductive. Check the list in 6 months. Are you now mindlessly repeating those stupid, inefficient and unproductive tasks with gusto? Why do such tasks live on? Momentum is built into your company’s reward system and human nature. The following three rules demonstrate what I mean. Rule 1: Do it the way it’s always been done and it will get done while causing X amount of frustration over and over again. (You get rewarded for getting it done, over and over again) Rule 2: Change the way it’s always been done and you will cause 10 times X frustration once, while reducing or eliminating the repetitive problem long term. (You get rewarded for innovating – Once.) Rule 3: People rapidly adapt to small frustrations, forgetting they are even there. If you have fallen … Continue reading

Sales Vs. Marketing – The Struggle For Productivity

60% of sales professionals felt that input from marketing DID NOT improve the effectiveness of their sales cycle in a poll this year by Sales and Marketing Management. At the same time, 35% of marketing professionals felt that their sales organization DID NOT effectively use the tools they implemented for their use. Mutually supportive groups who point fingers at each other often have process measurements that are not relating well. Marketing can be measured by output of items and meeting dates, whereas sales is evaluated continually along the sales process continuum. Try placing each marketing tool available on the process map used to evaluate sales. Usually there are items that don’t fit well anymore and holes that need filling. Done well, enough poorly fitting tools can be identified to free up the resources necessary to provide focus on new ways to support the sales process. In a creative organization where marketing strategy is in … Continue reading

Foreign Exports Drive Sales or Indicate Attitude?

At today’s Economic Development Council Richard Paullin, Chief Operating Officer – Illinois Global Partnership, told us that only 12% of Illinois Manufacturers export goods. Not surprising given my earlier post on how few manufacturers in the region are working to adopt technology more fully in their business. The stat that caught me, however, was that the firms that were selling internationally on average were growing 20% faster and paid employees 15% better. The good news is that Illinois Global Partnership is working on developing infrastructure to help smaller and mid-size businesses develop overseas markets. The question is, if only 10% of manufacturers have the management savvy enough to actively pursue technological improvement, how many businesses will jump at the opportunity to strategically diversify their business internationally? Where does your company sit? Are you actively pursuing foreign markets? Have you tried and given up due to cost, complexity or financing? Is … Continue reading

What’s Your Company’s Clue Quotient

Advanced, Progressive, Struggling and Disengaged were categories given out to manufacturers at a recent Chicago Economic Development Council meeting. Two things stand out about these categories: First, if you are in any category other than Advanced you are at severe risk of having the world markets pass you by. Second, 75% of manufacturers in the greater Midwest fall into the bottom two categories. I found the definitions of each category to be enlightening and relevant to any organization, not just manufacturers. Advanced – Organizational recognition of change and active pursuit of technology. (Have a clue)     Progressive – Ownership recognition of change but low implementation. (Getting a clue) Struggling – Ownership debating the need for change. (A clue is in the area) Disengaged – Ownership not actively involved or sees no reason to change or implement technology. (Clueless)   There are few reasons why an organization can’t move itself up in these categories, positioning itself for … Continue reading

Warning, Conventional Wisdom Ahead

I overheard a conversation at lunch today between two business folks. Now I don’t know whether they were boss/employee or just colleagues, but the older one uttered a phrase that all but stopped the discussion – “Well, conventional wisdom says…” There are many phrases that masquerade as positive feedback or analysis but are truly meant to stop whatever ideation or innovation is occurring. “Conventional Wisdom” is one of the worst offenders. Used by an authority figure (Manager, CEO, Industry Analyst, Consultant, Mentor, etc.,) its hidden meaning screams “No that isn’t how we are going to do it.” It could also mean, “you don’t know about which (or to whom) you are talking.” Either way, this is an ideation and innovation stopper. “Conventional Wisdom” should not be a static thought, but one that is challenged over time and experience. Businesses change, customers change, investors change – so yesterday’s conventional wisdom could … Continue reading