No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition

No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition

Featured, Improvement, Process
As fans of Monty Python know, no one expects the spanish inquisition. The humorous take on the idea that people don’t expect to be questioned (see the original skit here) also makes some points that are crucial to the success of businesspeople. What can we learn from the insanity that is Monty Python? Here are some takeaways: Have as much information as possible: The skit starts with a man coming in and saying there is trouble at the mill. He has no other information and is unprepared for the follow up questions. While it makes the skit funny, in business you want to make sure you can answer questions. Know your subject. Be prepared: The inquisitors are hysterical and extremely non-threatening because they are unprepared. They don’t know their lines…
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Draw The Map

Draw The Map

Featured, Improvement, Innovation
The easiest way to get somewhere is to follow a map. By doing this you're following a tried and true path, one which has been traveled before and has been proven to get you to your destination. It minimizes the risk. It also minimizes the chance of a new discovery. It eliminates the possibility for innovation. To become a market leader you need to be the first, be the best, or be the cheapest. Following what has been done before will not get you to any of these results. You need to be the one drawing the map, not following it. Yes, if you're the one who draws the map the risks are greater. So are the rewards. To draw your map: Look at what's been done. See what can be…
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Make Decisions Simpler for Your Customers

Make Decisions Simpler for Your Customers

Customer, Featured, Improvement
When asked, consumers almost always say they want more options. But their purchasing behavior often indicates otherwise. Consumers are often overwhelmed by the flood of product information and choices available to them. Many report unnecessarily agonizing over trivial purchases. This cognitive overload causes them to make poor decisions, repeatedly change their minds, give up on purchases altogether, or regret the purchases they do make — none of which is good for your brand. Help your customers simplify their decisions. You can reduce choice by getting rid of less popular products. Or you can simplify their choices by helping them navigate their options and giving them trustworthy information they can use to weigh the alternatives.
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Manufacturing Is Dead, Long Live Manufacturing

Manufacturing Is Dead, Long Live Manufacturing

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Improvement, Innovation, Personal Growth
There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the fate of manufacturing and how to bring it back. The problem is that its the wrong question. Manufacturing can't come back because it didn't leave. It changed. Of course manufacturing isn't the only thing that has changed. Business in general has changed and morphed. Where most manufacturing was once done by hand and people tightened screws manually, now those screws are tightened by robots and fewer manufacturing jobs are available. Or are there? Jobs in manufacturing have changed. Where a worker is not needed to assemble every piece, workers are needed to program the machines that do that work. People are needed to maintain and fix those robots.  Jobs haven't vanished they have changed. To stay on top of…
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You Have All The Time You Need

You Have All The Time You Need

Featured, Improvement, Process
Recently on social media we shared an article about great books to read this year. One comment to the article was, "I don't have time to read one book." This is a person who will not improve himself because he can't get out of his own way. You have all the time you need to get things done, if you think they're important. It's a matter of focus and time management. No time to read a book? How much time do you spend commuting? Standing in line at the supermarket? Waiting for a meeting? You can use all this time to "read" if you but audiobooks on your phone and keep headphones handy. Have a long drive to work? Look into traffic patterns. It may take less time if you…
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To Beat Burnout, Assess How You’re Spending Your Time

To Beat Burnout, Assess How You’re Spending Your Time

Evaluate, Featured, Improvement
Relentless stress can easily lead to burnout, but it doesn’t have to. Reassess your schedule and make time for self-care. Start by taking a few minutes to look at exactly how you’re spending your time over the next week. This can be done on paper, in a spreadsheet, or in a productivity app. For each block of time, record: what you’ll be doing whom you’ll be with how valuable the activity is how you’ll feel afterward using a scale from one to 10, where one is angry or drained and 10 is joyful or energized. At the end of the week, pinpoint the activities that negatively affect your mood and take action to limit them. Use that recovered time to do things that boost your energy. And set aside time…
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Reboot Your Business and Refresh Your Mind

Reboot Your Business and Refresh Your Mind

Featured, Improvement
If you want to succeed, both personally and professionally, you need to reboot periodically. The constant pressure of daily life, pending projects, and never-ending deadlines takes a physical and mental toll that will keep you from doing your best work. In order to get your best performance, here are some tips to reboot. Close The Files: Take your files from the past year (quarter, whatever period of time you choose) and move them into a seperate file. Get them out of your current files and place them somewhere that keeps them accessible if you need them, but that you won’t be looking at every day. These are things you don’t need to use, so get them out of your way. Schedule Down Time: Too many of us wait to take vacations…
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Use Social Media to Learn More About Your Industry

Use Social Media to Learn More About Your Industry

Featured, Improvement
Social media may seem to be an endless stream of selfies, political rants, and clickbait articles, but there’s a lot you can learn from it. In fact, you can use social media to build professional skills, knowledge, and relationships. Start by thinking about what you want to learn. If you’re keen to know more about your industry, follow smart industry leaders on LinkedIn and Twitter to see what they’re reading and talking about. You can find industry hashtags on Twitter to discover great new resources. If you know the specific subfield or topic you want to learn about next, you can focus your reading in that specific area to develop expertise. Think about skill gaps, too: If you do a lot of presentations and are getting tired of those boring…
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Scarcity Can Be An Asset

Scarcity Can Be An Asset

Evaluate, Featured, Improvement
You have a great product. Your customers love it. Should you offer them more? That seems like a simple question. However, many businesses that jump at the chance to expand find themselves expanding too much and overshooting demand. It isn't just small businesses that have this problem. The NFL recently found themselves in the same situation. After years of increasing demand they expanded their games to Thursday night. Then they started broadcasting on Twitter and Yahoo. Then, much to their surprise, their ratings started dropping across the board. The NFL failed to realize that what made their product successful was that supply was limited.  Additionally, the quality of the games shown decreased. Scarcity was their friend. By decreasing scarcity, they also decreased demand. Don't assume that demand for your product…
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Get Comfortable With Collaboration

Get Comfortable With Collaboration

Featured, Improvement, Process
We praise collaboration for improving problem solving, increasing creativity, and spurring innovation. Done correctly, it does yield all these benefits. But it can also be scary. Here are three facts you have to accept, and embrace, about collaboration before it can work: You won't know the answer. There's no point in collaborating on a complex problem if you know how to solve it. Be comfortable with ambiguity and accept that you aren't necessarily the expert. Roles will be unclear. Responsibilities are often fluid. Be ready for the role you play to change with each phase of the work. You will fight. If you avoid conflict, nothing will happen. Knowing how to debate tradeoffs between options means knowing how to productively argue.
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