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June, 2012:

Think Externally, Even Internally

Why do many people operate on a different metric of what represents “good work” when working on an internal project as opposed to an external project? Internal meaning when the output and deliverable are to constituents “inside the firm” and external meaning those “outside the firm”. I see this behavior often, there is not a place I’ve worked where I have not seen it, and have never understood it. In my experience, it occurs more often, or at least more noticeable, in presentations.

Here are some fundamental things to consider:

  • spell check, seriously
  • review material before sending it on unless you are sending as a work in progress
  • if it is a major deliverable, build time in for someone to review the work for you (do the same for them)
  • think about your audience, what are they trying to get from the meeting, output or presentation
  • think about what message you want to make sure your work conveys or your presentation delivers
  • think about things that you didn’t cover that may be relevant
  • use a baseline exec summary in front of lengthy material to ensure your recipients get the top line
  • think about the questions that others may have and answer them in the up front
  • Basically treat all of your major work output as if it were going to be viewed externally. It is a great principle to have and allows you to develop the skills and producing great output for when it matters most: deliverables to senior management, customer presentations and demos, annual budget cycle, VC pitches, board meetings, etc.

    Think Externally, Even Internally.

    (disclaimer: this may not necessarily apply to when blogging from your mobile device which is what I am doing right now)

    Boil the Puddle

    I am looking at the ocean and reminded of a topic that I’ve been meaning to post on. There’s a saying “Don’t Boil the Ocean”. Too many people try to and it rarely works. Trying to do accomplish a major undertaking all at once makes the task seem daunting and unattainable. You could be launching a product, installing a new process or taking a new offering to market. If it is big, the task often to team members seems insurmountable.

    So I am coining a new phrase: Boil the Puddle.

    This strikes strong parallels with the Minimum Viable Product concept that in my view is the best way to get something new to market. Attack the effort in bite size easily consumable chunks. Establish iterative milestones so you can figure out what is working is working, what’s not, build on your successes, and get to failure quickly, learn and adapt. Let the team see success and most importantly, progress. Momentum breeds momentum. And your seemingly insurmountable and unsolvable task is suddenly…solvable.

    Boil the puddle. Not the ocean.