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Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Everyone knows how bad the BP oil spill is by now. But apparently it didn’t have to be this bad. After it happened, Holland (who has an intense oil clean-up system in place) offered the U.S. its full services to clean up almost all of the oil. Only the U.S. said “no” because “really clean” isn’t clean enough …

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    1. Do you have Campaigns and strategies?
      This isn’t a number, some may say not even tangible, but you won’t get anywhere unless you’ve actually defined some processes that can be measured. A lot of people are just going on these sites, putting up a profile and waiting for something to happen. Having an outline and plan of action is a sign of success, it shows that you have at least a basic understanding of social media and some of its components. This is your first benchmark. It is also important to realize that these plans are not static and require constant appraisal for effectiveness.
    2. Getting heard?
      At this point, response means any response at all. Some traffic followers or comments should be coming in. The quality of the response doesn’t matter at this point, you are just checking to see that the ‘broadcast equipment’ is working.
    3. Getting response?
      Once the ‘broadcast equipment’ is up and people can hear you, it’s time to draw them in. This is where feedback matters, if people are just stopping by and not commenting. Your media isn’t being very social and you won’t be able to obtain as many viral references as you’d like.
    4. Getting useful response?
      Getting ‘thanks’ and ‘very informative’ feels good and will confirm that your efforts are on the right track, but it’s better to get comments that add to the conversation and help point out in which direction(s) you should be heading next. Ask for comments, ask questions and encourage further discussion.
    5. Is there is growth trend in followers/readers?
      You should be gaining more interest in your niche via effective targeting, i f not your are shooting in the wrong direction and need to adjust. Coupled with this is that the followers must be the ones you want, not random individuals
    6. Is the scope of your followership spreading?
      There is no reason what you are talking about isn’t compelling to other groups. You may have to present it differently in a different context, but there are thousands of other people in interest groups that parallel yours. They are reachable via the change of a few key words and can result in a wider audience.
    7. Are others referring to you?
      In any social network, there are people to talk to about a given subject. They are known as experts in that circle of friends or associates. You should be able to count the number of people that name you as a resource, that number should be going up every week.
    8. What kind of negative feedback are you getting?
      You will get negative feedback, that’s just how it goes. What is measurable is how you categorize this negative feedback and rate it according to the use it has toward your online efforts. If people are referring to you as a spammer, con or some other such negative association, it it obviously time to rethink a message. There may be other comments as to lack of clarity, completeness or that your are a ‘me too’. Negative feedback that is good to hear it the kind that disagrees politely and intelligently with what you have to say. That is a proper conversation and will bring out a productive discussion.
    9. Are click through rates going up?
      If you are running ads, it is essential that you monitor them for how they pull in visitors. When people click on ads it represents interest and can provide you with valuable information as to what you yourself should be providing. The ads may make little money, but they can provide great marketing info.
    10. What is the quality of the network around you?
      The individuals connecting to you and following you should be of an increasing caliber:
    • They should have a healthy network of their own.
    • They should be people who are actively participating
    • They should be in a niche related to yours
    1. They should be comminicative
      Having these kind of friends is growable and measurable.

    This is no doubt an incomplete list, since other measurable criteria will emerge as the science and technology evolve. Please feel free to comment with your own ideas. I’d love to hear your experiences.

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    Businesses of all sizes embark on thousands of projects for new products and services every year. Unfortunately, most projects are doomed to fail outright, or at launch, because the original success criteria were not met. Some project failures lead to delays in product launches, such as the AirBus A380; others, like Boston’s Big Dig, incur huge cost overruns. These examples, as well as the results from survey after survey, show that American businesses have not been able to figure out how to consistently get products and services delivered on time, on budget and with the highest quality.

    Why is that?

    Businesses invest a great deal each year in people, consultants, processes and technology to improve project success rates, but to no avail. Don’t get me wrong, there are individual examples of excellence, and success rates have improved over the years, but there has not been the kind of dramatic increase that one would expect given the size of the investments businesses have made.

    The bottom line is, businesses can talk a good game, but the majority are not ready or willing to make the “true” investments needed to achieve meaningful change—the type of change that will deliver on time, on budget, and with high quality near 100 percent of the time. There are eight steps that, if followed as a single unit and truly embraced by the entire organization, provide the roadmap to project management perfection.

    1. Definition
    It is critical to start with a solid foundation. The foundation must be built at the organizational level and not with individuals. It is imperative that, from the CEO down, there is understanding and buy-in when it comes to defining or redefining the following items:

    * Roles and Responsibilities: This can be painstaking, but the effort will pay off when it’s time to execute. The exercise may outline the need to develop new organizational structures to better support efficiency and communication within the delivery teams.

    * Standards: The creation of a project management methodology will allow for consistency in delivery and terminology. An added benefit can be bringing new employees on board who rapidly move up the learning curve and thereby provide immediate value.

    * Policies: Having a set standard and a consistent methodology provides the platform to document and enforce policies. It’s difficult to document when things are moving quickly and always changing, but taking the time to do so will provide benefits such as improved control measures. Performing audits allows you to proactively identify risks and gives you the ability to mitigate them before they turn into a true problem.

    2. Evaluation
    It’s important to know where and when to make investments to achieve the goals of the business. Unfortunately, there are always more ideas than there are resources to execute them. Therefore, organizations need to formalize a process for evaluating which new projects should be approved. The process must define the decision-making criteria that will be used during the evaluation, and also take into consideration the firm’s capacity and capabilities to successfully deliver the projects.

    3. Resources
    Without people—or more importantly, the right people—the ability to succeed as a business is near impossible. Your resources were hired for specific reasons, such as unique skill sets or deep industry experience. Creating an environment for success is crucial to your business and to their careers. Taking the time to match the staffing needs for a new project with the skills you already have is critical.

    4. Goals and Objectives
    It happens way too often that team members don’t understand why they are doing what they are doing. They don’t know how important their project or task is to the success of the business. It is critical that goals are clearly defined for every project, from corporate initiatives down to one-off departmental projects. It is also important that they all tie together. Even the smallest project should support corporate goals in some way.

    5. Control
    One of the true single points of failure to the success of any project is the lack of control, specifically around scope and budget. Most people realize that for every action there is a reaction, but for some reason that logic goes out the window when it comes to a project. How many times have you heard, “My request is easy” or “This is just a small change.” Project stakeholders say these things without realizing the impact of their “small change” on the project plan or budget. In order to succeed, project stakeholders must understand that a change to the scope, timeline or budget for a project will produce a failed project if those variables aren’t subsequently adjusted to accommodate the change. As well, project managers need to define a strong change control process that is embraced from the highest levels down. This is not easy, but if accomplished, it will allow you to deliver your product and services on time and on budget.

    6. Monitor
    “Joe, how’s the project coming along? Well Frank, let me check the Magic Eight Ball.” I say that in jest, but it’s true that many businesses do not formally and concisely track the status of projects. It is critical that you and your team fully know and document a project’s progress, stakeholders’ commitments, results achieved, and the leading indicators of success as well as potential failure. The knowledge from the information gathered from your monitoring will determine the decisions that are made; the course of corrections that may be needed; and the comfort that your projects are being tracked. There needs to be transparency into and accountability to the plan, goals, budget and scope in order to achieve confidence that the information is accurate and actionable.

    7. Measure
    Goals have been set, plans have been created, and commitments have been made. After all that work, it would be a shame to not know if project objectives were quantifiably met. Being able to define, capture and track the metrics surrounding each project and the entire portfolio of projects is a must have for any executive and management team. There are many methodologies, such as Six Sigma, that place a great deal of importance in the ability to capture and quantify success or failure. There is a lot of power in black and white data. You set the bar and there is only one answer—yes or no—at the end when asked if it was a success. The data and the history that is captured will pay benefits when making initial decisions during the evaluation step. You can baseline the proposed project against those in the past and determine what changes may be needed in order to give a new proposal the best chance to succeed and not repeat past problems. You can only learn from your past if the past has been documented for reference.

    8. Improve
    Even in the most successful projects there is always something that could have been done better. Being able to capture those lessons will enable an organization improve its project delivery capability and deliver more complex and challenging projects in less time, for less cost.

    I highlight the following three areas for improvement:

    * Invest in people: Improve the skill sets of your people with training and by giving them challenging project assignments.

    * Continual improvement: Formalize a process to capture the lessons learned for each project. That process should also outline how recommendations for change are prioritized, approved and implemented. As with other items, measure the progress of each step and each approved recommendation to determine if its goals were met.

    * Project technology: Be on the lookout for how technology can help increase the efficiency and quality of your project delivery.

    These eight steps, if individually implemented, can improve your ability to get your products and services to market on time and on budget. But if you implement these eight steps collectively as a single unit, your business will gain a greater competitive edge, increase quality, enhance its agility, and most importantly, improve client satisfaction. Your clients will sing your praises if they are able to get their products and services delivered when promised and on budget. So don’t wait! Take action now and implement your eight step program today.

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    107 smartphone.jpgAnyone hoping to make an internet start-up work should go for the mobile platform first, then do a standard website after, said technocrat and founder of the Geek Squad, Robert Stephens in an interesting interview with sustainablejournalism.org. Mobile is where it’s at according to Stephens.

    “If I were to advise a company on what to build going forward: don’t build a website” he said. “Build a mobile app or interface first, and then build for the larger screens.”

    Geek Squad is a successful company founded in 94, that fix computers in person, or through 24hr phone and online services: but if he were starting up these days, Stephens said he’d do it differently: “I tell people now if I started the Geek Squad today I wouldn’t start a computer repair company. I’d really develop a mobile development company.” Stephens reckoned his advice was good for start-ups of any flavour, journalists for example.

    The launch of the iPad had given the mobile computer market a huge boost and shown that that format size is not just about making phone calls.

    “I don’t know how much longer they’ll be called phones but that’s really the central device. Because most of us are moving and mobile, on the go. So our mobile device will be the one we interact with the most.”

    And the fact that its only got 3 inches of screen space can actually be a good thing…
    “The last thing is that the constraint of the mobile screen is actually really liberating in that when you only have a small set of real estate to design your interface for, you can only put so many buttons. Just think of the Google start page, versus the AOL, the Yahoo startpage. Much cleaner.”

    Read the full interview on sustainablejournalism.org

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