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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Take everything that could go wrong with a live software demo, crank it up a notch and turn it into performance art for "GRRF: The Last Lecture"

Been there, watched that, got the tee shirt!

How come my former SE asked if I had been watching him recently?

After I read this for the third time, I realized they missed one important point - never mentioned PowerPoint, TheDestroyer!

This is fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The End of the Sales Funnel?

Thanks to Kent Hammer, CEO of, who published the three paragraph version of this post in The Hammer Letter.

The sales funnel has been a foundation of sales practice since before WWII. Whole sales organizations based their activities on this model…because the funnel accurately explained the buying process.

What if the sales funnel no longer mattered?

How could you tell?

What would be a more productive model?

How would you change your selling activities?

Would you manage differently?

What if the sales funnel no longer mattered?
Disintermediation – def: Removing the middleman or intermediary. The internet is changing whole industries. Why not the sales profession?

Through the internet, all prospects are now instantly available. Instead of painstakingly identifying and contacting enough prospects, we can easily contact more prospects than we can ever service. We need to get their focus.

Originally the sales funnel was used to control information flow to the prospect, making sure they got the correct information in the right order. Prospects put up with salesmen because they were the gateway to key resources to learn about the product.

Later, the funnel was crimped to reveal how many touches were needed to interest how many people to generate how many sales, to smooth out vagaries in the demand curve, to cover for organizational mistakes, to predict post sales service revenue, and it goes on and on. The more uses the funnel was assigned, the less accurate it became, but it was easier than creating a more accurate model.

I had one sales manager tell me that the funnel couldn’t forecast individual transactions, but it did give him an estimate of monthly volume.

Today every prospect has a host of internet-enabled ways to learn about your offering. Do you really think your prospects, customers, and investors are not talking to each other on the internet?

How could you tell?
One clear indicator would be an increase of “bluebird” or out-of-funnel sales.

Selling enterprise software and IT services over the last 15 years, I realized that the top tier salesmen are frequently short circuiting the funnel, and that doesn’t count the one hit wonders who intercept a phone call and think they have created a sale.

The salesman has no incentive to admit a sale came from outside the funnel. He is paid to complete transactions.

What would be a more productive model?
Seth Godin pointed out that “prospect” is a term created by a sales organization to mark who they want to sell. Since the “prospects” often don’t know or care about their special status, Seth suggests using the term “citizen.”

How do citizens educate themselves about what you sell? Do you know? Do you participate in, add to, or help guide the conversation?

Tom Peters wrote that “Networking is helping someone.” Are you using “helping” to create beneficial relationships?

“Territories” are a way to keep customers organized…and barriers to purchasing. Before I gave a speech last week, I notified 20,000 people in two hours, using internet and face-to-face communication where I thought the audience might be found. They all didn’t attend, but it was the biggest event my sponsor ever had. I wasn’t selecting “prospects,” I was using demonstrated interest in my subject, industry, geography, and any other affiliation I could imagine.

Some “tips groups” won’t have two members from competing organizations. What about competing to see who has the best offer or the best features for the buyer? I started a $60 million dollar sale by speaking to a tips group. I didn’t even charge them for the speech!

Today all prospects are instantly available. What matters is getting the interest of enough people to support a business. You need fewer customers if you can have more volume from those customers. Of course, if you don’t satisfy your customers, because of the internet the whole world will know.

I read recently that some doctors and lawyers are trying to enforce contracts that you can’t discuss their service with others. Why would they try to choke their most valuable marketing channel?

If the funnel is over, how would you change your selling activities?
Rather than following a “Qualify, Present, and Close” for a limited number of prospects, I am dealing in multiples, telling a different part of the story at each time.

I am depending on my customers and stakeholders to share telling the story, and I am working with them and rewarding them to improve their story.

I am working hard to know where my customers congregate, where prospects congregate, and how I can put them together.

I am working hard to make sure that anyone who is dissatisfied or has an idea for improvement is publicly recognized.

What would you manage differently?
The last to suspect seem to be the sales managers. And the managers of managers. They have all mastered talking about the funnel. They insist that funnel must still be out there, otherwise they will have to learn new skills. So they continue using a tool that has less and less to do with their actual performance.

For the first time in history, there are many companies that are growing to a billion dollars in less than ten years, and as near as I can tell, they have all abandoned the funnel.

They are selling products and services and experiences, and replacing the funnel with a more accurate model of the customer acquisition process has been their key to success in story after story.

What is the state of the sales funnel in your practice?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Web 2.0 in Three Paragraphs

Kent Hammer, CEO of, a hot sales improvement outfit, asked for a short (3 paragraph) piece on how Sales Professionals can best use Web 2.0 without having it consuming all their waking hours for the current issue of “The Hammer Letter.”

LinkedIn (free version) is your personal website. Trick it out with photo, customized URL, and any websites and collateral you want prospects to know. Break the default “resume” format to something that is interesting for your prospects (They really don’t want to start with your “title and company.” They want what you can do for them!) Change the “what are you up to?” box every week so all your links get a weekly email that shows what you are doing for others.

The number of links are your power. When I saw that the real father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, has over 500 links, it was time to take action! The purpose of links is not showing off. They are very useful. Here’s an example: Recently, when the CEO of a federal contractor wanted to team with a software company that does neither online nor federal, he was repeatedly told the company had no interest. It took me three minutes to find the person in the company with the LinkedIn page that said “New Markets, New Products” and put the company in play. Our contact was a friend of a friend I had never met, but he was thrilled to get on our team.

Groups - For outbound credibility, I join groups that interest me and make a point of either starting or commenting on two discussions a week. I offer something useful to others and am amazed at the stream of people who check me out and identify themselves as wanting to buy something. This post is an example.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Event Marketing - Why See People One-At-A-Time When You Can Sell Groups of Twenty?

Do you get enough direct mail?
Too much email pollution?
Is telephone tag an expensive part of your schedule?

Would you be interested in an inexpensive way to increase the time and attention available for educating prospects about your services?

Background Information
Since the 1970's I have been designing and producing events to teach groups of people new skills and information. I use events because they:
  • are inexpensive, and
  • satisfy the participants.
I have designed and led events that met weekly for over ten years, one-week events, two-day events, one-day events, half-day events and one-hour events. I have observed how an event can be a simple, effective, low-cost, selling tool.

This is about designing short shows that sell for you.

The First Step Is Setting A Date.

Second, Create A Great Title.
The title creates interest, so I spend half my development time playing with titles.

Some say that a negative is the strongest title, i.e. "How to stop getting caught making stupid mistakes!"

I like positive uplifting titles. For positive titles, the first criteria is the "WIIFM Test" for What's In It For Me? When prospects see a clear benefit from the title, they are more likely to attend…and are already considering your offer.

I also make claims about the value of the event. The audience creates the value of the performance. Coaching them on what to expect improves their response.

Creating the Audience
Many people would now spend time developing the presentation, which is exactly the wrong thing to do!

Your primary concern should be creating the audience! We can create the presentation in forty minutes, the day before the event.

Who are your best clients? Determine why they are your best clients and then identify other groups that have similar attributes.

Who do you already know? Ask them to fill the audience, by attending and bringing others. Provide tools to help them.

What could you offer your co-sponsors for helping? Access to people in the audience, the same thing you want!

I invite my clients to events to give them another opportunity to buy. Perhaps I haven't learned what other things they want and they haven't learned all I do.

How many people do you want in your audience? I always figure maximum occupancy, standing room only, sardine packed. More than that and I take everyone to a larger room, a corridor or outside. Encourage the audience to decide they are attending a popular event!

How To Market Your Event
My best channel for producing an audience is direct contact-Walking up to someone and asking them to attend. I print and distribute invitations. I also ask others to use the invitations to bring the audience.

I send out letters every month, which brings in some attendance, but chiefly creates an ongoing communication with the companies I am prospecting.

Finally, there are excellent free media opportunities. Find them and use them. Direct mail and advertising typically produce less than 10% of my audience.

Designing Your Event
This is for selling, not showing how smart you are.
  • Make a list of twenty most-asked questions about your subject.
  • Prioritize the questions.
  • Define one or two physical exercises for your audience for every hour you will be working with them. People learn more when their learning is tied to physical activity.
  • Create value-packed handouts.
For one of my favorite events, I show people a better way to introduce themselves and tell what they do for their customers.

I talk for less than 18 minutes setting up the exercises, each person in the room gets to talk for about five minutes. People in the audience buy from each other which makes me the “expert.”

Finally, finish on time. That is more important than finishing your presentation. Your prospects need to know that you keep your promises.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gary Hoover explains good business

Oracle invited me to meet Gary Hoover, who had just sold his Hoover's database company to Dun & Bradstreet. His talk had some important points. These are my notes.

A Sense Of History

Gary just sold Hoover’s database to D&B. Says he is a “serial entrepreneur. He grew up in a GM town in Michigan, 27,000 out of 60,000 residents worked for GM. He wanted to know about GM when teachers were teaching European history.Was told to pay attention to the lesson.

Bought his first subscription to Fortune when he was 7, now owns every issue ever published. Keeps them for reference. If you want new ideas about an industry go back to the 30s and see what was written about that industry in Fortune magazine.

Next fell in love with retail, He started out as a retail analyst for May department stores, and is familiar with DC as the place where May’s Hecht’s was always trying to overtake Woodward & Lothrop. Well that took care of itself.

Wanted to start his own business, interested in big box stores. In the ’50s, Charlie Lazarus started the first big box store in Adams Morgan, called Toys R Us. Toys R Us has gone through its lifecycle and isn’t so much now, but back then it was precedent breaking.

Hoover looked at the flight to the suburbs and figured his big box store would have to be in toys, automotive supply, recreation, books. Liked books, so he set up a big box store, took it national, was bought by Barnes and Noble.

Just before he started, after seven years of research, he went to a book convention to see what was coming in big box bookstores. Got into the presentation about ‘The Future of Bookselling,” and waited for an hour. They never mentioned big box stores.

After selling the books store, set up the Business Reference company, which became Hoovers. Now working on two other ideas.

His speech was on “Requirements for Entrepreneurship.”

1. Curiosity – Entrepreneurs are always asking questions, which other people think are often inappropriate. “Nothing has ever been discovered in the same place as everyone else was looking.”

Technology (def) - Any better way of doing things.

What are you curious about?

2. Gary thinks a sense of history is important. You can only trend forward as far as you have backward historical data.

The biggest change in the last 50 years was women entering the workforce. Most went to work at banks, which continued to be open 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday, not when the customers were available. People shop nights, weekends and lunch hours. The banks, who hired the women, missed that.

Market researchers are always lagging behind the customers.

Next big themes are the aging of America, the Latinization of America, and the Asianization of America.

What would Roland H. Macy do if he were alive today? Hoover has read his biography and believes his way of thinking could fix the Federated and May department store chains.

He feels that Lou Gerstner was closer to Tom Watson, Senior than how IBM insiders remembered Watson. He said the most important thing was to serve the customer, not wear a blue suit.

3. Geography - Understanding where you are in space and time, can be your most important advantage. What is the difference between an IT consulting firm in Reston in 1994, 1999, in 2004, 2009 and in 2014?

When starting a company, ask what it should look like in 10 to 20 years. To do that, you have to establish what it looked like 10 and 20 years ago.

50 years ago, ads in Fortune always said where the HQ was. “Coca Cola of Atlanta Georgia.” Web designers today say it is not important. That is bullshit and expensive bullshit. Customers want the context for the people they are dealing with. (Amen to that…I always check location - D2)

Sam Walton said, “In a store, adjacencies are more important than price.”

Vern Harnish of asks, “Do you have a map on the wall of your office?”

Michael Dell knows a lot about China. If California (our largest population state) were a Chinese province it would be 19th largest. We don’t even know 19 Chinese provinces. The Chinese know our states and cities. They are setting up for entering this market.

Four requirements for Vision:

1. Clear words, sentences and paragraphs that mean something. Business executives and college professors can’t do this. Need a third grade vision. Best one he ever heard was a national retail chain of hat stores, Hats, Inc. Their vision? “Sell Hats, Have Fun.”

2. Commitment - Great companies do one or two things incredibly well over time. Acquisitions aren’t the way to heaven. Be really focused on what you are doing.

In the 50’s, American car manufacturers decided to get into sports cars. They came up with two, the Corvette and the Thunderbird. The Corvette was always a red 2 seat V-8. Now I am sure they have consulting studies to get into four door, SUV add-ons. But they stayed true to a red, 2 door, V-8.

In contrast Ford took the Thunderbird and moved it to four doors killed the brand, let it lie for a couple of years, brought it back, then killed it again. Today you can’t buy a new Thunderbird.

It was not what the Thunderbird lost, it was what Ford gave away by not being true to their concept. By the way, in the ’50s Thunderbirds outsold Corvettes three to one.

Ford has bought Volvo and is doing the same thing. In the US, Volvo has never been able to sell cars. They sold two things, reliability and safety. Now Ford is selling sport Volvos and convertible Volvos.

3. Serving – Saying “we exist to make a profit” is like saying we drive a car to get good gas mileage. You drive a car to get somewhere, good gas mileage is a secondary consideration. Being measured is not why enterprises exist.

When Wal-Mart started, Sears was the king of smart retailing, knowing the most about their customers, selling the highest quality, investing in suppliers, getting the right real estate for the lowest price, having the best merchandise. How did Wal-Mart surpass them?

Turns out they didn’t. Sears took their eye off their customers and started acquiring financial service companies and other services, while Wal-Mart was fanatical about supplying what the customers wanted The bottom line is “all power is in the hands of the customer.”

When someone approached Sam Walton about investing in IT systems, he would ask, “How does that help the person in line check out faster? How does that help us keep adequate stock in each store?” Anything you buy has to directly serve the customer.

4. Unique – You have to be unique.

Hoover observes that the new rage to dominate markets consists of naming the company with a computer generated word that begins with “A.” Avaya, Agilon, etc. He doesn’t think that formula is going to work.

Steve Jobs is the master of the unique. When they brought him back to save Apple, all computers were beige. He said, “Make ours pink,” and sales took off. The next time he had to save the company, he invented the i-pod.

For the future, Hoover sees four areas to concentrate on, Healthcare and services, Financial services, Travel and Education (especially boomer education). For health care, Hoover would expand the category to include Whole Foods and Walgreens.

Large firms don’t understand differentiation. To be everything to everybody doesn’t work.

When you understand how you are differentiated, it drives the business, how you define your offer, your work environment, treat your customers and employees.

5. Passion - a successful business has to be built by people who love what they’re doing. You make fortunes doing what you love.

Question (from audience) “What is the role of quality?”

Answer - Yes, we lost it and got it back. In the sixties to nineties how could General Motors have 40 years of idiot CEOs, accountants as CEOs, accountants who didn’t love the product?

Question – I have a problem being government where I have to serve everyone

Hoover’s answer - Find some area you can love. Or some customer you can love. Check out the census website. Its ease of use beats many corporate web sites.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Power Of “Thank You”

Over the Labor Day Weekend, I had a chance to slow down and think about my relationship with the phrase, “Thank You.”

As a rug rat, I remember learning both the term and where to apply it from my parents. Then there was an extended period where “thank you” was possibly weak and immature, so it was certainly not used with my peers. I think that period was called “adolescence” and perhaps was extended.

More recently, as I have to get things done, I have been shown some big examples of the wonderful power of “Thank You.”

I think I started with some idea that people should have to do something worthy to rate a thank you. Then one day I thanked someone by mistake and was astonished by the result. They really thought they had done something good, and proceeded to change their behavior to keep being extraordinary!

I was amazed.

Then I observed that most of the time I could be bothered to thank someone, they immediately thought I had observed superior performance, and even if it was momentarily confusing to them, they started doing everything they could better.

I had discovered something important.

Next I learned that people I was thanking would often tell me what they were thinking about how we could improve some aspect of our relationship. This was good stuff that made immediate sense, and I was grateful to learn it.

Customers and employers thought I was gifted.

There have been a number of customer CEO's (more than five) who said something like, “I wish I had the relationship with my people that you do. Can you tell me how to do that?”

Now we're talking a pantry of ego food.

I remember going to a ten a.m. Saturday morning meeting with the owner of a company in Herndon, VA. He was all excited that we were having this private meeting when nobody else was in the building (his requirement), where I was going to tell him the secret of my success.

I said I thought the trick was I was thanking his people when they helped me.

He said, “Well, I can't do that.”

I was back in my car at ten after ten having wasted a perfectly good golf day.

More recently, in this ugly economy, I have been holding together some unintentionally volunteer projects. At least they were volunteer until they either paid off or were shut down. And I have noticed people can get prickly when they find themselves in an unintentionally volunteer project for too long.

Several times I have seen how “Thank You” kept people in play until we can create a successful resolution.

The other day I read a study that people don't quit companies. They quit bosses. Of course, I immediately thought, “They quit bosses who don't say, 'Thank you.'”

So I think “Thank You” is more than a social lubricant, although that is important.

Thank you is also a potent motivator that causes people to find the best in themselves and deliver time, after time, after time.

About three years ago, I started ending my emails with the phrase, “Thank You” after a sales manager objected to my using Dave Garroway's closing from the early Today Show, “Peace,” to members of the Department of Defense. The warriors liked it, he didn't.

Since then I realize that I truly am thankful for the recipients putting up with my errors, typos, wrong headed thinking, and interruptions. I am really thankful for the results that come from using this instantaneous, asynchronous, communication channel.

Yeah, “Thank You” works, but it also reminds me of all that I have to be thankful for working with many gifted people.

Of course, if you want my real appreciation, comment below on what you have observed about the power of “Thank You.” Let's build out this meme.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Try A Better, Easier Way To Lead

Have you ever known a manager who agrees to a one-year plan on January 15th…and by March 1st knows that there is no way the goals can be made?

Perhaps that manager is the person your spouse married?

Yet picking a goal and achieving the goal are two different tasks. Both are necessary, but they have little in common with each other. Today we are examining how to improve our chances of achieving the goal, no matter how hard it looks.

Time Management

How many hours do you work in an average week?

How many decisions are you asked to make in a typical day?

Are you really smart enough to make decisions for others?

How many prime thinking hours do you have in a typical day?

If you spend all your time telling people how to do simple things, your successor will have to do the hard things.

Yet, your subordinates may want you to do their thinking for them. If you haven’t defined the parameters for successful decisions, they will want you tell them what actions to take. Your focus and their focus becomes concentrating on activities instead of concentrating on results.

I say that you can teach your subordinates to make their own decisions on the basis of some broad guidelines. Developing the guidelines is the true work of top management.

Which reminds me, it is easier to tell someone how to do a job you have previously mastered, than to develop your current job.

Dale Carnegie tells us that if we can’t get a week’s worth of work done in 40 hours, we won’t get it done. I have seen this enough to believe it is true. I have also observed that a senior manager who has to manage more than thirty hours a week does not have the time to make his or her organization successful. We need to build time for thinking and time for dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

If you have trouble with the thought of managing less than thirty hours a week, let me ask this question. How do you measure the contribution of people in your organization?

If you are measuring time in the office, or the color of a tie, or where cars are parked, you are missing the opportunity to build a high performance organization.

If your subordinates can trap you into telling them how to do their jobs, they can be pretty sure you won’t have the time to change the focus of what they are doing or make them accountable for their results. You see, every time you change your orders to them, all previous orders and expectations are set aside. The game is not to succeed, but to get the orders changed before being evaluated.

Let’s change that.

Pattern Recognition

Edwards Deming, the management scientist General MacArthur took to Japan at the end of World War II, said that if you spend time examining failure, you will learn a lot about failure, not necessarily anything about success.

Opportunities often occur when we recognize patterns that have previously generated successful results. Yet unless our internal business communication is about what has been learned about success, other people in the organization fail to recognize opportunities.

The opposite is easy to prove. If we communicate what works in our businesses, other employees will recognize similar situations and take advantage of them.

Phrases to Practice

Here are three speaking conventions that high performance managers can use to get the most out of their people.

“Good Job!”

“Good Job!” is not a measured response evaluating performance. “Good Job!” is a preliminary response to some excited news. It is an automatic response to make the conversation proceed and replaces comments like “I should have told you our plans have changed”, or “I already know that.”

“Good Job, and you will have to do some more work on it” will create better, faster, more motivated work than if you leave the “Good Job” out.

Company Mission

If you plan to manage people by their results, they need some basic information about the company. When they can make their decisions confident that those decisions reflect the company mission, I have seen the number of decisions required by top management decrease by 80%, with increased efficiency to customers, lower receivables and diminished error rates.

The mission statement is a basic tool that describes where the company would be in six months to a year if everything went right. The vision should be bold enough to create interest, is based on vision more than facts, and should closely reflect top management’s aspirations.

The mission statement is spoken and written as if it were already achieved, and in a certain sense that is true. Once everyone speaks the mission statement as a part of the company, it gets measurably closer every day.

What is your mission statement?

The Story or Parable

The third key technique for managing to get results is the use of the parable. This is how you define the patterns for everyone to recognize.

The parable is always true, often the story about how you dealt with a previous client. When Peter Falk as Columbo tells a story about his wife, he makes a point without accusing any of the people in the room.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie tells us that people always misinterpret parables, and that they always misinterpret them to mean what they want to happen.

If diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell and making them look forward to the trip, I suspect that parables are a major part of diplomacy.

The PSR Format

The PSR Format is a template for a story that allows people to understand more than just facts. They get context and the details provide the “hooks” that allow them to apply the stories to similar situations.

Problem (2 sentences) Establishes magnitude/importance

Solution (2 sentences) The listener will translate your specific actions into general capabilities. This is why a parable works. Use the word "I."

Result (1 sentence) Dessert or punchline. What was teh benefit, not to you, but to your previous customer?

After each PSR, qualify the listener’s interest by asking a question.

The whole process takes 45 to 90 seconds

Lyndon Johnson and Will Rogers were famous for their ability to use parables to make their points without threatening their listeners.

Negotiating Styles

All requests to obtain a result, from “pretty please?” to “MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!!” are negotiating styles.

The trick is to develop a negotiating style that suits your purpose. Negotiating strategies are based on previous negotiations and current needs. If you are going to change your negotiating style, I suggest you give more than ample warning, or subordinates who have come to love watching you grovel may miss the whole negotiation.

Usually the biggest change is that we are going to focus on defining results, not activities. Hopefully at the start of this article we established the futility of trying to think for your employees.

Restrict yourself to defining what results you need by what time. You can also define some milestones that will have to be met, but don’t pick delivery dates at this time. Also, consider a pre-delivery date to give you sufficient time to become familiar with the project before you turn it over to your customer.

The formality of writing your request on a single piece of paper may help you make a better presentation, and certainly leaves a record for everyone else.

At this point you can take the project to the person who will be doing the work. Tell them why the project is important, and what (if any) related part you will be doing.

You will get one of three responses.

  • If they reject your proposal, take the job to someone else. If you think you will be rejected on a crucial project, try to have someone reject a simpler project and be replaced first. Word gets around. If you are rejected, don’t take revenge. You may have just eliminated a disaster before you got hurt.

  • If they offer to negotiate your proposal, find out what they are willing to do. Until you are satisfied that what they are proposing will be successful, keep defining the results you want … let them propose the actions. When they accept your proposal, set interim milestones and dates where they will report back to you.

From the point where they accept, the project is out of your hands. You can then start defining the next one.

A Better Management Style

As you get experience with this type of management style (putting the time in defining the project instead of later taking back authority to recover from inadequate planning) you will pre-define a higher percentage of the issues that need to be discussed before starting a project. This means that your subordinates will work for longer periods of time without your supervision … that the amount of rework will be less … and that everyone in your organization will develop a better ability to plan, execute, and live with their commitments.

When you suddenly find that the whole organization is working well without you, don’t panic. This is the way the organization should work. Rather than getting underfoot on someone else’s project, you might draw up a list of the toughest problems facing your company and go tackle them one at a time.

I have also noticed that when this management style gets underway, your subordinates will come to you for advice instead of avoiding your criticism. To maintain that type of rewarding relationship keep using “Good Job”, your Mission Statement, and your Parables.

Meeting Formats

Poor meeting technology causes more wasted time, bad interpersonal relationships and drama than soap operas. If you find that your meetings consistently generate more heat than light, consider using a more effective meeting program.

I recommend a 4-part meeting we originally designed for sales meetings. Over the last five years I have used the format for negotiating joint ventures, putting a research facility on a profitable basis, and increasing the efficiency of several boards of directors.

The first phase of the meeting is to have everyone introduce themselves and identify the goal they want from the meeting. This doesn’t guarantee that their goals will be achieved. However, I find that people achieve more goals when they define them.

Go around the room letting everyone use this introduction;




WHY ARE YOU EXCELLENT? (Mission Statement)


This may take a couple of meetings to get everyone to figure out what they see of themselves that is excellent, but the phrase provides excellent thinking for constructive negotiation.

“Goal for this meeting” decreases the number of observers and game players in the meeting. Sometime you can ask the people at one of your meetings what value they expect from the meeting. Sometimes the answers are enough to close the meeting.

The second time around the table answers the twin questions “What did you promise, and what did you produce since the last meeting?”

No one promised anything? That’s a good indication of the value of the last meeting!

The purpose of “Promised & Produced” is to make everyone attending the previous meeting keep a record of their own commitments. This isn’t a competition or an opportunity for judgment. Instead, it is an ongoing process where each person improves their ability to forecast results and execute on schedule. This ability improves over time if encouraged.

We don’t want to hear excuses for what hasn’t happened. Nor do we need editorial comment from third parties. If you choose to manage by pointing out failure, you fall back in the trap of monitoring activity instead of results. Let each individual learn to set and monitor their own work. You provide the forum for them to practice.

The third time around the table the question is, “What did you learn since the last meeting?”

This is the logical time for excuses, but excuses lose most of their attraction after the results are public. Excuses are made to keep the results from becoming public or to modify the criticism generated by the results.

Actually, few people learned anything since the last meeting. Learning is a conscious activity. But if you force people to make up something that they learned, and tell it as a story, then they start to learn what they did between meetings. This may be the only time when the attendees get time to think about the significance of their actions. This is a potent teaching tool, as everyone in the meeting has the opportunity to learn from each PSR.

“What did you learn” can take up 45 minutes of a one hour meeting. Also during this time, people can make requests for help (not to be answered, yet), and you can introduce new projects or information.

The fourth time around the table, the question is “What will you accomplish by the next meeting?” This is when the requests are answered by promises to take action. By putting a time-out between request and response, we are giving each respondent time to figure out what can be done and give an answer that can be accomplished.

The first response comes from the meeting leader who verifies the time and date of the next meeting. Each attendee gets to write the meeting time and date in their personal calendar.

After the format for the meeting is been established and mastered by the group, the meeting leader can and should change so everyone gets a chance to run the meeting, which will improve communication skills and confidence for each member of the team.

I have run this same meeting at organizations every week for over a decade, and the only thing that changed was the quantity and accuracy of the promises as participants got better at planning and using their time.

This meeting format should be used for no more than an hour, saving the last 5 to 10 minutes for making promises. If the meeting is not completed in 60 minutes, it is more important to quit on time than to finish the meeting.

I have worked with 50 in a group, but that requires extraordinary discipline. I suggest 20 in a group. Those 20 usually need noticeably less supervision during the following week. This means management spends less time managing, refereeing, or finding fault and more time defining areas to make contributions.


Managers who master time demands, pattern recognition, communication, negotiation style, and meeting formats often find they have time for the real opportunities of managing instead of responding to crises. The teams who work this way exceed annual goals, because everyone is making a more effective contribution.

Instead of concentrating on how far behind they are at the start of the year, this group finds a rhythm for doubling performance in a predictable period of time and executing way beyond previous performance.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

IT & Leadership Interview

“Dick Davies returns to IMI TechTalk on KFNX 1100, where he and host Tom D’Auria talk about monumental shifts in the strategy and leadership in the IT industry and to their customers where technology is not the focus, but a competitive advantage. As the economy contracts, Dick tells us how business models and long accepted foundations of IT are shifting.”

The MP3 file for this interview can be found at Download <<01_industrial_technology___leadership_03_08_2009.mp3>>

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Web 2.0 Implementation Study

What is the point of all this social networking effort? Here is one case study from when I was creating the audience for “What is Web 2.0…and why should you care?” June 9, 2009 in Tysons Corner, VA.

I am frequently involved in discussions with many of you of the best way to take advantage of Web 2.0 tools. This project offered some new ideas and examples.

Here is how I used Web 2.0 to promote my event to 15,616 people in less than three hours yesterday.

First, I wrote an announcement, printed 30 copies for handout. Gave out to 4 people at lunch. Good way to check for typos.

Pasted the announcement:

“What is Web 2.0…
And Why Should You Care?”
“How the Internet, Web 2.0 Tools, and Open Source Management are reshaping our economy.”
Presented by the
Capital Technology Management Hub
Cost: Each person pays for their drinks & meal.
To Reserve Your Place, Please Email Dov Gorman at
to my blog - 15 followers.

Made a broadcast announcement to the subscribers on my Ning site - 70 members

Saw the announcement carried on the Capital Technology Management Hub on LinkedIn - 41 members

Added a discussion to the Web Managers Roundtable - 512 members

Went to the Leadership Breakfast site. Saw a discussion asking what should the rules be for posting outside meeting announcements. Offered the “Poster’s Smell Test.” If you are not going, don’t post it.

Posted my presentation announcement as a discussion on the Leadership Breakfast - 25 members

Added the announcement to the Federal IT Group - 587 members

Added the announcement to the Federal Sales Professionals Group - 1,441 members

Added the announcement to the Community 2.0 Group - 1212 members

Was asked to join a new group, Software Sales Careers.

Added a new discussion to Software Sales careers - 219 members

Added a discussion to Johns Hopkins University Association of Information Technology professionals - 22 members.

Added a new blog post on GovLoop - 11,468 members

By my count, a total of 15,616 people saw my invitation.

What I learned:
If you paint stripes on a mule, it doesn’t become a zebra. One key is to start with the right offering.

Merlin Mann says “Innovation is picking up where the last person stopped.” Or where I stopped the last time. Each step of this first attempt was forced, itchy, brain racking, and seemed slow.

Analysts will want to ask how qualified the recipients were or maybe where they were located. This time it was enough that people who share my interests were alerted. We’ll see what we learn by who shows up at the event.

I have been inviting people to come to my events for over 20 years. No way have I ever notified 1,500 people before, let alone 1,500 people in three hours, let alone 15,000! And this capability has been around for years!

I would be very interested to learn the best thing you learn from this post. Let us know!