Getting many people to think about a complex problem is often the best way to come up with a solution. But you have to take steps to make the collaboration efficient. When you invite others to contribute to a project, respect their time and show up prepared. Bring together the people who are closest to the problem. Be clear about who is coming and why, and spend time considering how you’re going to tackle a problem. In some situations, it may make sense to keep the conversation open-ended and brainstorm with team members by saying: “What do you think? What’s your perspective?” In other cases, it may be simpler to share your views and ask others to weigh in: “I value your input. Here’s what I’m thinking. What am I not taking into consideration or factoring in? What resonates, and what doesn’t?”
Sometimes, small shifts in how you use your time can make the difference between feeling focused and productive at work and feeling exhausted. Give yourself permission to prioritize what’s most important to you, then align your schedule accordingly. For example, put “must do” activities on your calendar and relegate “would like to do” items to a separate list. Block out chunks of time to move ahead on important projects and activities. Try to group meetings together on certain days so that you can have one or more meeting-free days to get work done, and close your email and silence your phone (or at least the random alerts) so you can focus. Outside of work, try to have at least half of a weekend day that’s unscheduled. Reclaiming some time for yourself can bring more calm and focus to your work routine, and your life.
We hear it from people all the time, “I can’t do it.” Very often what they mean is they won’t. In the past year I have been told by various people that they can’t read more books, they can’t save more money, they can’t invest in their future. Each of them really meant they won’t. The person who “can’t” read more books had plenty of time to watch television. The people who said they “can’t” save or invest more money, had no problem finding the money to spend $5 or more on a cup of coffee every morning.
If something is important to you, you can find a way to do it. It starts with making little changes. If you can find ten minutes a day to read, it adds up. If you can put aside $1 a day, it adds up. You may not have the time to go to a gym, but you can squeeze in ten push-ups during the day.
Changes don’t have to be grand gestures. They can be small steps that lead to bigger gains. You just have to ask yourself, do you really mean can’t or do you mean won’t?
In this blog, and in the Businetiks system, we talk about focusing on your core competencies. To handle tasks outside our skill set, we rely on partners and suppliers. Choosing a partner goes beyond making sure they can do the job. Choosing the wrong partner can be fatal.
An example of this is Borders Book Stores. At one time, Borders was the largest book store chain in the United States. In the late 1990s, they made a mistake. Looking at what was needed, they knew they had no expertise in online sales. They looked for a partner that could handle online fulfillment and the design and implementation of an online store. They chose Amazon as a partner. The rest is history. Amazon took Borders online business and the company never recovered.
There’s more to a partnership than matching skills. You have to look at what the long-term goals of each partner is. The personalities of the people and the cultures of the organizations have to be taken into consideration. Make sure that you are compatible with your partner during the partnership and can trust them if the partnership ends.
On Friday, November 3, the iPhone X became available in stores. As with most iPhone releases, people lined up to get one. Reporters covering the event talked to the first person to get one. He didn’t talk about the technology or the price. What he couldn’t stop talking about was how Apple made him feel. Everything he talked about was about the experience, not the product.
Creating an experience is key to customer loyalty. When your competition is only a mouse click away, that experience keeps a customer coming back. It’s about how the customer is treated, what they see, hear, smell and feel (if you’re running a restaurant it’s also about taste). An all encompassing experience is what gets people to come to your location or event. It’s about the impression you give before the sale and the customer service after the sale.
Think about the complete experience your customer has. It goes well beyond the sale and will bring them back for more.
Managing your workload with a to-do list can be a productive way to organize your work and keep yourself on task. But don’t let your list become a collection of everything you want to do but will never have time for. Make sure each item on your list has a time and place attached.
Don’t add “write management presentation” without including the day and time slot in which you’ll do it. Also, remember to include all steps in your list. If you have to do reseach for that presentation, include “research presentation” on the list, don’t just lump it in with writing the presentation.
Consider scheduling items on your calendar. You may still want a place to write down things you hope to get to, but be sure that each day you know what you need to accomplish and when.
It is just as importance to recognize your weaknesses as it is to identify your strengths. Those weaknesses also help identify which jobs fall outside of your core competencies. However, just because something falls outside that focus, doesn’t mean the job can be ignored. How should you handle these tasks?
Get better. If your job includes areas you’re not strong in, work hard to improve. Get a mentor, ask for stretch assignments, or take a class. If you are the person that needs to attend to it, it becomes important that you be able to do it well.
Delegate. Play to your strengths. If it is not mission critical for a task to be accomplished by you, find someone who is better suited for it. Find a peer, or a contractor who can do the things you’re not great at. Outsource tasks to specialists. The time you save will be worth the cost
Move on. If neither of the above work, it’s time to look for a new job. There is no use staying in a position where you always need to hide or mitigate your weaknesses. Focus on your core competencies and get into a business that uses those to their best advantage.
What drives some companies to succeed while others languish? Why does Kmart struggle while Wal-Mart and Target thrive? What the former lacks — that the latter have nailed — is focus. Wal-Mart focuses on “always low prices.” Target caters to a similarly cost-conscious market but focuses more on image and design. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make decisions about how you will provide differentiated value for a specific set of customers. This requires deciding what your core competencies are.
Your core competencies determine what you are best at. By focusing your business around them, you provide a clearer picture of who you are and what sets you apart from your competitors. But this isn’t the only place that too many options are not a good thing.
When building operational processes, you need to simplify them as much as you can. If a process provides too many options for a set of circumstances, the process becomes inefficient and confusing. A+B=C is clear. A+B=X or Y or Z doesn’t provide a definitive answer. Your process should as straightforward as possible. Even when there is a choice, those choices must be limited. If a = yes do this, if a = no do that. It’s fine for the next step to also be a decision, but break down the options to their simplest form.
It’s important to know who your customers are. When you ask most business people about their customers, they respond by giving you the demographics of their audience. It’s good to have demographic informations such as age, gender, income, and geographic location. However, demographics can be misleading. Political analysts will tell you that according to the demographics of the country, Hillary should have won the presidency. The problem is demographics just skim the surface. What you need to understand your customers are psychographics.
Psychographic information includes habits, hobbies, spending patterns and values. Demographics explain “who” your customer is, while psychographics explain “why” they buy. Knowing the psychographics of your customers enable you to create real connections with them.
To gather psychographics you must have real conversations with your customers. Get to know them and ask them about themselves. The more you understand why they do what they do, the better you can help them.
Demographics are the tip of the iceberg. For lasting business relationships, you need to go deeper.
Amazon recently found out that you can’t always live by the data. They created their entire business around using algorithms to figure out what their customers want. Recently they hit a wall as their original shows proved not to appeal to viewers or critics and several producers came out and stated that the company had no idea what they were doing.
Take a look at the greatest companies. They were founded by entrepreneurs who followed their gut feelings, and used that with data to build the business. Look at the fall of major corporations and the Wall Street banking crisis, The disasters were all created by MBAs focusing on data. Data is an important part of planning, but it is not the end all and be all. Remember, your customers are ruled by emotions, not data.