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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)

    Give Bartz a Chance

    Yahoo! Inc.
    Image via Wikipedia

    The hot news of the day is Carol Bartz being the choice for CEO over at Yahoo! There is plenty of coverage out there about the news.  It seems from everything that I’ve read and how the markets have reacted that the choice is not a popular one.  My two cents on the subject is that we should take a step back and give Bartz a chance to assess the Yahoo! landscape, make some decisions and begin to re-align Yahoo! on the determined course and strategy.  I made some early comments on this over at TechCrunch.

    Yahoo! has a tremendous number of assets and really smart people.  Products ranging from search to delicious to flickr all can be knitted together in a cohesive strategy if the right leader and decision making framework is in place.  The boat needs to get pointed in a unified direction. That is why I think Bartz could be a good choice.  She may be new to the web and to media but Yahoo! has a campus full of individuals who are passionate and go to work everyday to build great stuff.  Bartz, from what I’ve read thus far, seems like someone that can assess the playing field for the organization, distill the information and make key decisions.  She clearly understands the gauntlet laid out as she stated:

    Yahoo…a company with great assets that frankly could use a little management.

    It all seems to blur together at this point but it seems the news regarding the company has been on a downward news cycle since the infamous Peanut Butter memo.  Perhaps there was a lot of merit in that memo where the general gist is that Yahoo! had its hands in too many things and needed to focus.  That is before any of the Microsoft debacle even occurred.  Then everyone coming out of the woodwork to put their view on the situation and what they should do to which Bartz responds:

    Everybody on outside deciding what Yahoo should or shouldn’t do–that’s going to stop.

    As I said, she is going to need some time to get on the ground, assess and move from there.  She is going to need that chance to do it.  I, for one, believe she should have that chance.  Clearly, she does do:

    I can’t give you a timeline. I’m very good at listening, digging around, finding out what’s going on. I don’t expect it’ll take an extraordinary amount of time, but this is a big company. Let’s not put ourselves in some crazy timeline. Let’s give this company some frigging breathing room.

    I, again, am bullish on Yahoo!  I think they have some great elements going for it and I never quite rallied behind the concept that they were in real trouble.  Time will tell but I think picking a CEO like Carol Bartz is a step in the right direction in changing the negative momentum that has surrounded Yahoo! for some time and then getting the company plowing forward again.  That’s it, from here out, I plan to give them some room to breath.

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    Take our money!

    My wife was telling me over dinner about a store experience she had today.  It epitomizes customer frustration and leaves me shaking my head.  She was at a well-known retailer shopping for the holidays and went to them specifically because they have a 30% single purchase coupon.  (I will keep the name of them private since I have a strong suspicion this would have happened at many retailers and I don’t see a reason for one brand to take the hit for what is par for the course.)

    Anyway, she arrived at the register to be rung up. At the end of the process, my wife handed the cashier the 30% off coupon.  The response, “I’m sorry but this coupon is not valid until tomorrow.”  My wife apologized and asked if they would accept the coupon anyway to which the response was “we can’t but we will gladly hold the merchandise for you so you can come back to use the coupon tomorrow.”  Nice enough and trying to be accommodating but I must say fundamentally flawed.  At that moment, you have to close the deal and take our money!

    Here is a customer (in this economy) willing to spend $300 in merchandise and “coupon logistics and rules” is going to prevent the store from taking our money and making the sale?!?!  To bring you to the end of the story, my wife nicely said “no thanks” and did not purchase the items.  I can safely say she won’t be going back to purchase the items tomorrow.  In fact, she found them cheaper at a competitor so their competition got the revenue to boot!

    Look, I know stores have rules and rules are made to be followed.  And being an unbiased third party, I can almost buy into the “customer fairness” argument about all customers being offered the same deal.  But at some point, doesn’t one have to say, “a sale is a sale.”  When consumer spending is down across the board, you aren’t going to sell $300 in merchandise because the coupon isn’t valid for another 12 hours?  In this economy?  No, you have to take our money!  Make the sale, that revenue just walked out the door!

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    Deloitte Fast 500 – cool news.

    DeloitteThe rankings from the 2008 Fast 500 for technology companies was released today. Great news! made the list and came in at 168!

    While awards are nice, great to receive, they are not our primary focus.  We continue to concentrate executing our strategy, providing value to customers and helping job seekers find the right fit hourly positions. And we continue to build our team staying true to who we are.  What’s the most fun about what we do?  Every day we are helping people find jobs, it is that simple and that is the measuring stick we use as much as any other.  I met Pete Warden at Defrag last week and he was gracious enough to write a post, SnagAJob Makes the World a Better Place, that echos this sentiment.

    An award such as this one is, however, another validation of our business and the what we bring to the marketplace, customers and job seekers alike.  And it is always great to get recognition from a respected and impartial third party like Deloitte.

    (Disclaimer:  I work for but you could probably figure that one out. :) )

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    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

    The Five Dysfunctions of a TeamI just completed reading this book by Patrick Lencioni.  In the world of business books, I rarely say this but this book is “absolutely phenomenal.”

    Lencioni uses a very engaging story-telling method to convey the real problems any business team and particularly executive leadership teams face.  It is an incredibly fast read, I read it in two sittings.  I cannot imagine a business team (even the most high performing) that could not take some morsel from this book and focus their team towards organizational improvement.  It should be required reading for any management team out there.

    This book would also be very valuable reading for students at MBA or executive management programs.  It provides solid context for the five critical areas where team dysfunction can occur.  And the book outlines it better than any organizational behavior course I’ve taken and is a case-study within itself.

    Check out other readers’ reviews of the book over at Shelfari.  And if you want to buy it, you can find it here at Amazon.  BTW, if you want to ‘friend’ me over there, you can find me

    Okay, time to shift.  Next up, Inside Steve’s Brain.