Thursday, October 28, 2010

Increase your performance with four easy steps

The best way to improve your performance in life is to measure, plan, change and review.  Want to improve your performance?  Lets view these four steps in action using physical fitness as our example.
  1. Start measuring.  Find some parts of your role/life that can be measured and measure them.  For example - how much time do you spend each day working on your fitness? 
  2. Start planning.  After you have your measurements then you will have a clear idea on where your issues may be and you can start planning on what and how you are going to improve.
  3. Start changing.  Put your plan into action.  Start making changes - small ones at first and then grow those changes into larger and bigger changes.  The important thing here is that the changes are incremental and sustainable in the long term.
  4. Start reviewing.  This is where you begin the cycle again from step one.  Look at where you were when you first measured, assess the plan - did it work?, were the changes too much - just enough - or too much?, then start all over again.
The more data and measuring you do, the easier it is to judge if you are improvinr or not.  Another aspect to this is getting a coach.  Find an expert who can look at your performance impartially and who can guide you towards making improvements.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting your customers attention - number 2

I love this video.  What happens is customers (movie goers) interact with the a part of the product (in this case a movie) and have a real life experience.
This is great.  Shifting a two dimensional experience into the real life - unforgettable!
This simple method of creating the customer experience is the glue that companies need to engage and entice with.  Get real people having real life experiences with your offering.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaming up with others is smart strategy

Meeting new people and developing relationships with others is one vital key towards future growth and success.  Step outside of your usual and comfortable circles of friends and take a risk.
I like to attend events with people with whom I would otherwise never meet or interact with.  One such person that I have met recently is Tabitha Roder.  Tabitha is an e-learning specialist and is involved with a project called 'olpc' (one laptop per child).  Now I had never heard of olpc or Tabitha (no offense) before I went to a conference.  I am so glad I took a risk, introduced myself and made a new friend.
The same goes for you.  Here's the challenge -
  1. Register for a conference where you know no-one and none of the content.
  2. Set yourself a goal of how many people you want to meet and have good converstaions with.  Example - 3 people per day.
  3. Get peoples business cards and contact details - and follow up!
"A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Growth and improvement is both constant and attainable

While reading the book 'Be Iron Fit' the author shares a very interesting anecdote about understanding what it takes to achieve and to be a better performer.  He shares a story where he was down on himself because he did not achieve the goal he set for himself when he tried.
Upon review he found that there was 1:40 seperating himself from the guy who beat him.  That equated to a 1% increase in performance.  How hard is it to increase performance by such a small amount?
I love the idea of this story in that with concentrated effort and small improvements then big changes can take place.  When you add together a number of 1% performance increases you can quickly move up to a 3% or 4% increase without noticing.
The same goes with being a good manager, marketer or mobiler.  Through changing our manufacturing methods, marketing returns on investment or ability for mobility then we can grow both ourselves and those around us.
Start by asking yourself the following question - where can I improve my performance by 1% in the next month?
Think about it - if you can improve what you do by 1% per month every month by the end of the year you will have increased your performance by a staggering 12%!
Try these quick areas to start changing and growing -
  • Communicating with others,  Say it once and say it clearly.  Don't repeat yourself.
  • Measure your statistics.  You need to know if what you are doing is actually affecting change or not. 
  • Re-evaluate what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.
  • Get someone else to assess you and tell you what they see.  Then change.
Growth takes time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Mask of Command

Not everyone who is placed in a situation where leadership is required is able to command a sense of control.  Some people may even struggle with the thought that others are following them and are relying on them to blaze the way ahead.
When leading people it is important that someone takes charge.  At least one person has to take on the role of responsibility and accountability.  What is needed in the heat of the moment is that the leader at least appears to be in control.
In the book "The Mask of Command" John Keegan looks at this whole area by examining great leaders of history.
As modern leaders it is also important that when we are in charge we also work hard to at least appear to be in control.  So how do we do that?  Here are my thoughts -
  1. Start planning and implementing early.  In any situation the best way to exert control is to be the person with the plan.  By having a plan then you lead the way and others follow.  You decide what you want the final product to look like and start coordinating  everyone towards that goal.  Then get the plan rolling. 
  2. Get a consensus.  If you are going in a direction and no one is following you - then you are merely going for a walk.
  3. Double check your plan.  No plan is fool proof or 100% ready to roll when you start out.  When you are wearing the mask of command it is important that you get started on a path first, and then recheck your plan and path once you are rolling.  The idea is to create momentum and then the task of changing track is so much easier. More complex issues will arise if you have to complete a u-turn. 
  4. Public supporters count.  Let your closest supporters know that you expect a combined front of support from them in public.  Even if they vehemently oppose what you are trying to do or the methods you are undertaking.  When you are in charge it is vital that you have a support group that will be vocal in their support of you (at least in public).  One great saying I remember is 'praise publicly, criticise privately'.  That is if someone has an issue with the leader or the plan then they should agree with you in front of the entire group but have the ability to discuss it openly and frankly behind closed doors.
We have a saying at our Toastmasters club which I think is entirely appropriate for these situations - 'fake it until you make it'.  Check out this video which demonstrates this fact in a funny way -

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Knowing Your Styles Affects Your Project Management Skills

When you decide to start a new project or undertake a new event it is important that you get it right.  The easiest way to get it right is to understand who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as understand how you fit into the bigger picture.
Here is the way that I usually approach things and some of the lessons I have learnt when it comes to project and event management.
I usually try to get as much done as quickly as possible.  This is the classic boots and all approach.  All of the energy and ideas are created at the very beginning and are implemented very, very quickly.
Positives of this approach.  A plan is out together quickly and efficiently and the work gets started.  Big tasks are handled quickly and are moved off the list of things to do.  Energy levels are high and momentum can be created at this stage.
Minuses of this approach.  Stakeholders (internal and external) often are not consulted and a bulk of the projects are completed on the fly.  Often there is a lack of resources allocated and not all the possible scenarios are thought through.
What have I learned?
  • One key thing I have learnt is how I operate as a person and what my personality type is like.  I am a project starter and less of a project finisher.  I am good at spreading energy and enthusiasm early on and getting people to jump on board.
  • Small early wins lay the platform for bigger wins later.
  • I am aware that I need other people who have an eye for detail and who are better planners than I am.
  • I have also learnt that I need to engage internal stakeholder to assist with the project both at the beginning as well as bringing them in at later stages.
  • By spacing out your helpers getting involved you can use them to inject new levels of enthusiasm and energy as the project continues along. 
  • Early starters may need to drop out when they lose focus or momentum but that is not really a problem.  By releasing those people they can then revitalise themselves with a new project and if they want can rejoin your project at a later time.
So you there you go.  That's how I work.  I know what I'm good at and equally (hopefully) what I'm not so good at.  How about you?  What is your personality like and how does it affect the way you work?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Want new customers - get their attention! (Stand Out)

Getting peoples attention is the first step in getting them to engage as a customer.  Many people don't know that you exist or that you have a product or service that can help them out.

The key is getting those people to stop and look again at what it is that you have on offer.  If you have a product or offering that is just like everyone else's then you'll need to try really, really hard to get their attention.

If what you do is a little uncommon then you have a great chance of really engaging.  Like Seth Godin talks about the growth areas are on the outside of the circle, not in the middle.

So how do you do it?  How do you get people to stop? 
  1. Take a simple example from a complex method or process and explain it to people.  In the past week I used some little wooden shapes to get peoples attention and explained to them how wood processing works.  I also had a number of plant specimens and a microscope for people to look into.  Then I was able to explain to them what we do in plant biotechnology and science.
  2. Aim at people who aren't your target customers.  With the wooden kiwis I had I would look for older people (novelty value) and young kids (toys) to give them to.  Then with the older people I know that they will tell their family and friends about what they have and the kids get their parents to come and have a look at our stand and talk to me.  Its that simple.
  3. Get in peoples way.  This is the same as the two points above but more active.  Position yourself in such a way that people see you by chance and want to look at what you have on offer. 
The key is to get people to stop, talk and think about what you do.  If you can achieve these three things then you really are well on your way to gaining new customers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out of Order

Due to travel and work this blog is out of order until further notice (or Monday - whichever happens first!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Demonstrating Real Leadership

Real leadership is a persons ability to see a need or a gap and having the courage to take charge. 

Here is my example.  Today we had a large bunch (about 120) school kids jam packed into one small room and area.  They were fidgety unruly and generally noisy.  That's what kids do!

What I really did was show leadership. At this point in time the staff member who was co-ordinating the event had to go elsewhere because other staff members hadn't shown up.

Where the leadership aspect comes into play is where I took the lead and tried to get the kids attention and got them thinking about the environment they were in.  I did this by asking them questions, moving their attention away from themselves and interacting with them.

Then when the appropriate staff turned up I worked with the co-ordinator to get the kids heading in the right direction (focus groups).  In this case leadership was demonstrated through getting the kids (13 and 14 year olds) to focus on something bigger than them and something worthwhile.

Leadership was also displayed by the co-ordinator who made fast decisions, co-ordinated people, got responses and then debriefed at the end.  Leadership is best shown in the heat of the moment that at the end of the crisis.

Leadership isn't always demonstrated through big events and world changing actions.  Real leadership is displayed when someone has the courage to step into a situation and make a difference. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Passing the Job Interview Test

I have had the privilege of helping to interview for a new role at our organisation.  There were three excellent and top quality interviewees who each had very different personalities but similar skill sets.

So here is what I observed -
  1. Walk into the room full of confidence and take advantage of the room.
  2. Don't talk too much.  If the interview panel go quiet or stop asking you leading questions then shut up and start listening.
  3. What you do outside of work is just as important as what you do inside work.  Being involved in clubs and teams shows that you think about others and are involved in the community.
  4. Use multiple examples and stories from your past.  Try not to get stuck repeating the same story or point.
  5. Name drop but don't drop bombs.  That is mention names of people that you have genuinely worked with and who know you.  Don't say you know the CE or similar if you really don't.
  6. Make eye contact with the interviewers.  When you shake hands with someone - look at them.  It's that simple.
  7. Dress nicely completely in your own style but in a way that fits the role that you are applying for.
  8. Talk about what you think the key goals would be for the organisation and how you will help achieve those goals.  In education - it's all about helping people succeed and achieve.
These are my observations from three very classy and high profile applicants.  Unfortunately there's only one position on offer.  Lets hope the best candidate accepts the offer when it comes!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Social Media Statistics

Amazingly even now in 2010 some people still aren't convinced that social media is a valid tool for marketing.  Honestly!  (Some of those people work at my workplace...)

If you click on the following link you will find a whole buch of statistics that relate to the Asia Pacific region speciifically -

So how do we as an education organisation engage?
  1. Facebook.  This is an interesting one.  Our main institute page has over 500 fans (which is not too shoddy) but the other pages for individual schools don't seem to be able to gain any traction.  The other interesting side to Facebook is that there are lots and lots of international students who use it to find out what the institute feels like and to let others know they are coming.
  2. Twitter.  Twitter is great for connecting with specific industry groups and organisations.  There is where we are able to engage in each of the different business units with our customers.
And what are great examples from other education providers?
  1. RMIT.  These guys are based in Melbourne, Australia.  They effectively engage using twitter and facebook to keep on touch with their stakeholders.  They design and implement their marketing strategies across all their various media channels.
  2. NorthTech.  For a polytechnic based in the far north of New Zealand these guys are great.  They are using YouTube to quietly and efficently show the world what they are up to.
The choice is clear.  Engage with customers in a non-threatening easy way through social media or keep hammering away using traditional methods like print media.  The choice is yours.  I know which one I prefer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good verses The Bad

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Social Media Policy

If your organisation is considering getting embracing social madia as a genuine tool for marketing and advertising - go for it!  It is super simple to use and it is generally free (except for the man hours of course).

If your organisation is going to get started I recommend the following -
  1. Establish some protocols and policies.  Make sure people know what the rules are around what they can and can't, should and shouldn't say in regards to your organisation.  If there are no rules - the people will run wild.
  2. Embrace the people using the technology.  Start by getting the people using social media for their own personal use to take up the challenge of using it to promote your organisation instead. 
  3. Get edgy in what you are doing and the tack you take.  With the internet you can tell your potential customers a different story.  Get a bit wild and maybe even a bit wicked.  On the internet - cool stuff spreads quickly.
  4. Pick the right web space to use and locate yourself in.  Different internet users use a variety of web platforms and pages.  Like all marketing the idea is to find where your customers are and go and speak to them where they are.
At the end of the day the statistics around social media use in your country are quite astounding.  Embrace social media before social media embraces you.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help! I need somebody!

You're stuck.  What do you do?  Call for help.  Try these tips -
  1. Ask someone who knows.
  2. Get evidence and examples of what they have done that has worked.
  3. Edit don't author.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

gapingvoid gallery

Every day a new cartoon is created that relates to the world of business.  Over at the focus is on creating small cartoons everyday that will both put a smile on your dial as well as get your brain ticking over.

Head over to the website by clicking this link and check it out for yourself - gapingvoid gallery

Monday, October 4, 2010

Navigating the Political River

When you start working for a bigger organisation (like more than one employee or owner) then the ability to make a decision or create action can be stifled.  This is the time that your ability to negotiate the currents and torrents of politics.

Here are a few points that will help you in your quest - 
  1. Be quiet, watch and learn.  The idea here is to listen more than you speak.  Watch what is really going on in your workplace. 
  2. Know the players.  The key here is to know who is in control of what and how much influence each person has.  This is where positional power vs real power comes to the fore.  Even though one person may have the job title sometimes there may be another person who can influence that person.  Know which is which.
  3. Create alliances.  I recommend creatiing multiple small wins for key players as and when you can.  I do not condone kissing up because it mjight get you somewhere.  What I am for is being yourself and creating genuine wins for others.  You reap what you sow.
Political savvy is an important skill in every aspiring managers arsenal. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Personal Learning Networks

No man is an island.  And no man (or woman for that fact) knows all that there is to know about the world.  So how do intelligent people keep in touch with what is happening in the world in regards to evolving innovation, trends and happenings?

Teachers/educationalists have a framework called a Personal Learning Network (PLN).  Basically what happens is a learner (in this case - you) plug in to a bunch of media sources and then start engaging and learning from others.  What a PLN does is provide a structure for the learner to understand how each media source fits in to the overall learning pattern.

While the PLN idea is usually used by educators it is relevant for anyone and everyone who wants to learn and continue to expand their learning and their worldview in the modern world.

This presentation here explains how it works -

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