9 Tips for email from Eric Schmidt

emailI must admit that while emails are obviously phenomenally efficient and fast as a mode of communication, there are days when I dread opening up my email in the morning, only to  be faced with an avalanche of useless junk – I’m sure you’ve had days like that too?  I’ve seen these types of hints before but when  I saw the name behind this one, I was intrigued.  So here they are.  I would love to hear back from you to see if any of these make any sense.

 1.       Respond quickly: That’s obvious and his logic makes sense – especially from a stakeholder management perspective.  However, there are times when I need to let things percolate in my mind so I may deliberately want to slow down my response to send a subtle message.

  2.       Be crisp:  Yup – could not agree more and one that I struggle with.  He quotes Elmore Leonard, “I leave out the parts that people skip”.

  3.       Clean out your inbox: I  find this very ironic given the author of Google is probably responsible for half the email I get and regardless of how many filters I set up – I still get tons of email that I have no interest in. So Eric, you could do your part to help out here???

 4.       LIFO: Another obvious one but I have found relevant emails when I’ve gone through older emails in my humongous inbox looking for something else – I bet you have too?

 5.       Be a “Router”: This basically refers to forwarding information to others who will find it relevant.  The issue here is that you are defining what is relevant for someone else.  I know that being the recipient of many such forwards that a lot of them I really had no interest in but someone assumed that I did.

 6.       Don’t use bcc:  Hmmmmmm, Not sure I understand why or agree with it.  Do you?

  7.       Don’t YELL:  I’ll agree except when you are really frustrated with customer service reps who have screwed up your cigar order for the 5th time – then it’s time to YELL!!  Or when you are trying to get your kid’s attention.

 8.       Make it easy to follow up on requests – And when they don’t for the 5th time, then is it okay to YELL?

  9.       Help yourself to search:  I found this to be the most intriguing because a lot of time is wasted by all of us in searching for that one email that we know we got but cannot find right now and need it right away.  The Search function is the least utilized and one that could save a ton of time if we learned  how to do it better.  Using descriptive words and then knowing how to use them in your search is fairly obvious but one that we often ignore.

 What is you experience with email?  Any long term frustrations?  Helpful hints for the rest of us?  Would love to get an email back from you.  :-)

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A Fond Farewell to a Colleague and Friend

jimlivingstonIt is with heart-felt sadness that we bid a fond farewell to our colleague and friend, Jim Livingston who passed away suddenly last week.  Jim was not only part of the TMG family for a number of years, but was also a father, brother, uncle and husband.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Theresa, Matt and Aiden. Jim’s knowledge, warmth and sense of humor were gifts he shared with all of us. We miss you, Jim.

Here are a few of Jim’s contributions to this blog . . . . . . . .

Bagpipes and Business

When not focused on my work with The Mpower Group, I spend some of my time learning and playing the bagpipes. When I share this with people, they usually have many questions about the pipes.  But, I think the similarities between playing the bagpipes and working with businesses are very interesting.

IT Adoption

With annual IT spending topping two trillion dollars globally, it makes sense for organizations to assess whether they are receiving the value from these investments.  Unfortunately, the answer often appears to be no.  Why is this?

What’s the Right Model?

Congratulations to Louisville, this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion.  Comparing Louisville, with last year’s champion, Kentucky, highlights how two very different organizational approaches can achieve the same result.

 

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When Supply Chains Kill Thousands That Could Become Millions!!

fixtheSCBy now it is obvious that the Ebola epidemic (regional) has the potential to turn into a pandemic(global).  Every agency (WHO, CDC etc. etc. ) has been extremely vocal about the threat.  Not only is the virus spreading but it is also mutating.  New strains are already emerging and spreading and the threat of the next mutation becoming airborne cannot be ruled out.  Entire suburbs are being quarantined, violence has erupted, air/ship traffic is non-existent and yet the virus spreads and is a few international passengers away from total disaster – from a few thousand tragic deaths to catastrophe.  All because of the lack of a Supply Chain.

 A potential solution does exist (small bio-tech) which has saved a few lives (ZMapp) but unfortunately it cannot be manufactured fast enough on a sufficient scale and then delivered to the areas where it’s needed the most.  The traditional model would be for experimental trials to test out the drug, then the small bio-tech scales up somehow or the  patent is acquired by a bigger player and then  the drug is commercially released at a price point that would let it make its profits until the drug becomes generic and affordable.  Clearly this particular Supply Chain cannot wait that long to be developed.

 A different model is needed that can accelerate at warp speed the delivery of ZMapp (or other solutions) to not only save those in the region but also prevent a global catastrophe.  Competitors have to collaborate.  While the profit motive of bio-tech firms is what leads to advances like this, a solution must be found that might protect the profit (a financial guarantee by WHO?) and therefore allow ZMapp to release its patent.  Johnson& Johnson and Bavarian Nordic are pooling their research and are therefore accelerating their trials and release of their drug.  Perhaps a consortium facilitated by a global body that would allow the various companies to pool their research and be guaranteed a return is an option? 

That only addresses part of the problem.  Governments also have a role to play in providing a regulatory regimen that is flexible enough to deal with desperate times.  While ensuring safety is critical (so we’re not compounding the problem) prudent risk management should dictate a more accelerated approach to development and trials.  Not only that, but governments also  need to play a very active investment role in providing capital(link). 

After scaling manufacturing, ensuring distribution is still a major challenge.  Transportation can only happen if the pilots/crews are willing to go to these areas.  That means  they need to feel confident  they will have access to the drugs, if they are infected.  That’s a totally different flavor of Supply Chain Risk Management than we are used to?  That logic extends to the distribution channel that actually delivers the drug to the patients (doctors and nurses) and there is a huge shortage of that currently in the infected areas and the supply continues to dwindle as medical professionals are leaving in droves for fear of infection.  That risk has to be mitigated for that channel immediately.

Desperate times require desperate measures and desperate ideas.  Normal Supply Chain models clearly cannot work in situations like this and we as a profession must challenge ourselves to come up with a totally disruptive model that can be deployed immediately.  The lives we save may be ours?  We would love to hear any disruptive ideas that you may have to address this challenge.

 

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When The Strategy Consultants Leave……

transformation

Nothing against the strategy consulting firms and we do our fair share of that kind of work but it is intriguing to find bewildered client after bewildered client – once the strategy firms have left.  Leaving behind  a client Executive Team convinced of the tremendous value that is lying untapped inside their organization only if their organizational leaders could get their act together and Transform their organization.  No mention is made of the various elements of any Transformation Roadmap that must be put in place (Governance, Competencies, Change Management etc. etc. etc.).  The effort required from the Executive Team is especially absent and especially critical.

Large numbers are thrown around (red herrings) that generate lots of excitement at the Executive level and dread at the leadership level.  There is no mention of the “investment” that will be needed for the Transformation – investment of resources, political capital, executive and leadership attention, churn, funding for training and external help, etc.  In the absence of all of these things, the timelines and expected results become unrealistic and the Transformation is doomed for failure before it even begins.

While nothing that the strategy firms have said is ever wrong, it’s what’s not said that causes the problem.  If their strategies are not Adopted, the value from their work diminishes significantly and leads to frustration at the leadership level – who wait with dread for the next strategic engagement with their Executives.  How many times have you been at the receiving end of what I’m describing?  There is no discussion of where the resources are going to come from and whether the active and visible political support will be delivered by the Executive team.  Expecting different results from the same group of people without enhancing or changing their competencies seems illogical but far too many Transformation plans don’t address that.  Not having an active Change Management competency to help manage the inevitable churn is just adding significant risk yet it is often ignored.  Implementing governance structures to help resolve issues and accelerate decision making seems obvious but very often missing.  Yet no mention is made of most of these – and these are all, ALL – Predictable and Inevitable – for ANY Transformation. 

The poor leaders of the organization feel like they’ve been through the wringer after a year or so when hardly any progress is being made on the Transformation and the executives keep asking for progress updates against the promised results that the consultants presented.  Funding requests are viewed skeptically because the results are not there.  The organization has been through churn and people are losing trust in their leaders – yet more and more is expected from them.  As they say – the height of folly is to keep doing the same thing over and over again yet expect different results.  The executives make a change in the leadership and wait for the next strategy consultant to come in – and the cycle starts all over again.

 

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Selling the Change – Think Like a Sales Person . . . . . Part II

changesLast week we started exploring “Selling the Change” and approaching it from a sales perspective.  We all recognize that change is hard.   As professionals in a Shared Services environment (Procurement, Supply Chain, Strategic Sourcing) one of our primary roles is that of a change agent as we are trying to play a more strategic role within our organization.  Getting suppliers to work with us under a more strategic context is the easy part.  Getting our own organization (sometimes even our own Procurement people) to do things differently is another story. Building a better process or adding new technology is not how you make change happen.  It must be sold!!!  Without the cooperation and acceptance of your internal business partners, you will never be successful.  So, “Sell the Change” you must.

Here are the Top Ten Critical Selling Principles:

  • Principle #1: Identify your Market Segment (stakeholders)
  • Principle #2: Know how the customer (stakeholder) likes to receive communication
  • Principle #3: Build the Brand
  • Principle #4: Selling the Product
  • Principle #5: Educate your customer (stakeholder)
  • Principle #6: Develop Effective Collateral
  • Principle #7: Establish a Need / “Burning platform”
  • Principle #8: Highlight the Value of Change
  • Principle #9: Anticipate Objections
  • Principle #10: Illustrate what Others have Achieved

Last week we took a closer look at the First 5 Principles.  Now, let’s take a look at the Last 5 Principles:

Principle #6:  Develop Effective Collateral
Under this principle you may have a picture in your head of a sales person whipping out a fancy, slick brochure or folder that points out all of the “features” they are offering.  But effective collateral takes what may be a complex process or thought and makes it simple.  Decide on the key messages you are trying to deliver and make them:

  • Simple but not simplistic
  • Creative as well as analytical
  • Always, Always, answer the question “so what”

Principle #7: Establish a Need / “Burning Platform”
This principle is critical because in order to sell the change you need to find a compelling reason for someone(s) to change.  In many organizations, change may be required simply to survive – “if we don’t make this change, we will go out of business”.  In other cases, the change can be positioned more positively – “this new system will give us a competitive advantage” OR “this leadership program will allow you to be in-line for a promotion”.  Regardless of the reason, this must be presented to your customer (stakeholder) and will be at the foundation of your sales pitch.

 Principle #8:  Highlight the Value of Change
Have you ever heard of WIIFM or What’s In It For Me / Them?  This is also a critical component of your sales presentation.  Understanding what is valued by your customer/ stakeholder (their Value Drivers) is necessary for a “sale”.  You need to sell the benefits to them, which means that your  pitch must be customized to each stakeholder.  In addition, if your solutions are designed based on the value drivers of your customer adoption, will be easier as well.

Principle #9:  Anticipate Objections
This principle is also important.  Take the time up front to anticipate any objections your customer/stakeholder will have and build them into your approach.  For example, here is one of my favorites:

blog082114

Being prepared to respond to any objections will let the stakeholder know that you took the time to address both their needs and concerns.

Principle #10:   Illustrate What Others Have Achieved

Everyone likes to hear what others have achieved and accomplished.  In addition, stakeholders may not be comfortable being on the leading (bleeding) edge of change.  Providing benchmark information will go a long way to help sell the change.

Well, we have now covered the Top Ten Critical Selling Principles which we applied to “Selling the Change”.   Here are some other tips to consider:

  • Sell to all levels of the organization – not just executives
  • Always pre-sell to executives to make certain you have
    political coverage
  • Involve your non-Sourcing  / Supply Chain team members
    to sell too 
  • Sell early and often
  • There is no such thing as relevant over communication
  • Benefits sell, features don’t
  • Tailor your “pitch”  – different audiences require different messages

 By the way, do you know who should be the first person you hire for any major change initiative?  It should be a sale / marketing professional . . . .think about that :-) !

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . .

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