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Philosophy vs. Fact – Part 2…

You might remember that I started down the philosophical path last year (see http://thequoteguys.com/2016/06/philosophy-or-fact/ ).  I didn’t get very far.  That’s OK; in the business world, sharing philosophical ideals can be a career mine field:

Seek those who find your road agreeable, your personality and mind stimulating, your philosophy acceptable, and your experience helpful.  Let those who do not, seek their own kind. 

Jean-Henri Fabre

If your boss and boss’ boss are not of your kind – watch out for the BOOM!

Recently, as my business team was putting our 2017 plans in place I found myself at the precipice of entering a philosophical discussion.  I was tempted to start my pontification but those in the meeting were not of my kind.  I decided to avoid the BOOM!  Now I turn to you instead; lucky you LoL!

In the sales profession, the more sales meetings I attend; the more sales people I coach; the more sales MeetUps I join; the more sales blogs I read; the more sales videos I watch; the more sales books I digest – most seers, soothsayers, philosophers, and pontificators I witness (this seer, soothsayer, philosopher and pontificator included) are presenting their philosophy as if it were fact:

It seems to me that no soothsayer should be able to look at another soothsayer without laughing. 

Cicero

To further their/my persuasional pursuits they/I offer a variety of “independent research” as proof behind their/my philosophy, which in actuality is simply other seers’ and soothsayers’ philosophies posing as fact.  Have you ever noticed the volume of sales research accredited to the Harvard Business Review ©? Remind me again – how much sales experience is associated with Harvard?

IMHO, much of this “research” isn’t based on the Scientific Method (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method ), rather it is a compilation of interviews where the interviewees are – you guessed it – simply sharing their philosophies.

I’ve often wondered:  if these research firms ever went back to the same people with the same questions at a later date, would they come to the same conclusions?  Or would the interviewees’ philosophies have changed?

Whether the glass is half empty or half full depends on whether you’re drinking or pouring. 

Anthony Boxer

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a believer in deep thinking.  The sales profession has been one of the oldest and most confounding endeavors on the planet.  What works for one person; doesn’t for another.  What worked on one prospect; blows up in our face on another.  Many have claimed to have figured it out – and they are all still working for a living.  One would philosophize that if something as instrumental to our way of life as sales was “figured out” – the one who did the figuring would have retired to a private island in the South Pacific, yes?

In today’s world of “Big Data” one can find supporting data (posing as “research”, in support of soothsaying) to back up just about any sales philosophy:

With today’s Internet, everything can be recorded.  And everything is a lot. 

Unknown Sage

At the end of the discourse, my philosophy is that each sales professional should have a sales approach that works for him or her.  If it works – it’s the right approach; and, I might add the right philosophy.  If it doesn’t work – then logically it’s the wrong approach:

Manley’s Maxim

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

Or so says this soothsayer – submitting my philosophy for your consideration – as fact, naturally.

GAP

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Resistance…

I find the dichotomy intellectually interesting.  Sales professionals by and large make our living selling the next new thing to our customers and expecting our customers to embrace the change that comes along with replacing their old, tried and true things with our new-new things.  Yet, we sales professionals are among the most change-resistant folk on the planet.

A few months ago I was assigned the task of building a new course in my company’s sales training curricula.  When I reviewed the draft of the content I was to use, I whined.  Actually, I whined, stomped, argued, pushed back, pleaded, plotted and cajoled in every possible way I knew to try and avoid the assignment.  My boss was patient, pleasant, and steadfast.  He reminded me of my responsibilities; reminded me that the President of our company stated this course would be rolled out by September 1st.  My boss asked me if I could get it done by the deadline (but he really wasn’t “asking”):

At first speechless, Acheson had said he was not qualified to meet the demands of the office.  “This”, responded Truman, “was undoubtedly so, the question was whether he would do the job anyway.”    

Harry S. Truman

It is more accurate to say I didn’t have to develop the training from scratch.  I was expected to “tweak” the training that had been developed for another part of our company so it would better align with our resellers.  Since then, there have been frequent meetings with my cross-functional team trying to decipher just how to “tweak” the class and deliver the assigned content…

In all my years in business, I have found that people in meetings tend to agree on decisions that as individuals, they know are dumb. 

John M. Capozzi

Of course, all along the way I looked for opportunities to insert my personal, professional preference – which was to do nothing.  I didn’t like the new content; I preferred staying status quo.  “No change” was my mantra.  I was reacting just like many others when faced with making a change – hide!  But, as we all know progress is based on progression:

The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished. 

Benjamin Franklin

So I toiled on to complete my assignment to the best of my ability.

I mean, just because this new content was not something I dreamed up doesn’t make it bad.  It’s just new; different; requires me to make a change.  Who knows?  It might turn out that I actually like the new-new way.

I’m not sure what the root cause of my resistance has been.  Maybe I thought I would fail with this assignment; let my boss down; disappoint my clients….

It seems to me that the largest impediment to a healthy attitude toward failure is our inability to distinguish between just plain being stupid and failing on the way to great success. 

Unknown Sage

Yes, change comes with challenge.  As it turned out, I was able to create the new content.  And to help with my deployment plans, I delivered a “dry run” for my internal colleagues.  I “crashed and burned”.

It was back to the drawing board to make the necessary improvements.  Then, last week I delivered my 2nd go ‘round – this time to live clients.  The outcome?  Well, no one quit; no one got hurt; so I’m calling it a success!

They’re still a little reluctant to the change their ways and adopt the new training, but that’s OK.  I can relate.

GAP

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Speak the language?

Today, business discourse in general and sales interactions in particular, involves asking questions, true?  Lots and lots of questions, yes?  See what I mean?  Point made?  ‘nuff said?

OK, OK, I’m simply trying to demonstrate that today’s business language involves asking a great many questions.  The more skilled we are in the language of questions, the more successful we can be.

Think about our doctor and her ability to diagnose ailments.  Doctors ask us lots and lots of questions so we can participate in the process more so than simply offering a body part for repair.  Our tax accountants ask questions; our lawyers too.  Many professions involve the asking of many questions; but not all.

Contrast our interactions with our doctors to that of our auto mechanics.  With the latter, there is less question/answer dialog, isn’t there?  Many auto mechanics have drop boxes where we fill out a form, leave our keys and expect them to fix the problem.  “I hear a noises coming from the right-front-end” might be the only clue we offer our mechanic – expecting him to perform a miracle from there (and hopefully, inexpensively too).

Of course, auto mechanics don’t always welcome our assistance:

            Labor Rates 

    Regular                                 $ 24.50

    If you wait                               30.00

    If you watch                             35.00

    If you help                               50.00

    If you laugh                             75.00

Unknown Sage

In my profession, sales people ask our prospects a plethora of questions.  However, many times we are not asking questions because of our natural curiosity and true interest in our prospect’s situation. Too many times our questions are more self-serving; more product-feature-focused; more trial-closing-oriented.  Did we not read the book?

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey 

HABIT 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Let’s turn the table.  Have you ever noticed the times we’re comfortable with the questions we’re being asked, and the other times questioning irritates us?  How about those forecasting calls?  How about the times when a subject matter expert needed for our deal asks first if our deal is even “qualified”?  Same question our Sales Manager asks – often!  Some questions can be very irritating, don’t you agree?

Maybe we all can agree that it’s not so much “what” we ask; rather it’s “how” we ask it.  It’s our tone of voice; choice of words; the directness; the quantity; the repetition of our questions.  I mean, it’s not supposed to feel like an interrogation (unless I suppose, we are interrogators – or Sales Managers).

If our dentist displayed the same chairside manner that we do during sales calls, we would become a totally toothless society.  I mean, if we applied the same tone, language, and directness we use in our sales role to our social life, we would all become hermits ostracized by family, friends and potential companions who would consider us rude and totally uncouth!  Not to mention our toothlessness.  But I digress.

There are also times where we ask questions about things the prospect finds obvious.  That’s not good:

In a visit to a utility company to study its best practices, teams from Sprint Corporation in Westwood, Kansas, were shocked to learn that some corporate cultures weren’t quite as rigid as theirs.  When the Sprint teams asked questions regarding dress code and attendance policies, the firm responded that its policies were come to work, and wear clothes. 

Bob Nelson

So I submit to my fellow sales professionals for your professional consideration – shall we add a little more professionalism back into our profession?

GAP

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The answer…

Have you noticed how frequently we are occupied today in seeking (or providing) “the answer”?

If you’re like me, many times “the answer” to a stated question or posed problem isn’t quite that simple.  My Father-in-Law, who was a carpenter, would respond to our home improvement feasibility questions with, “It all depends”.  How’s that for a non-answer, answer!

Take the mathematical problem; How much is 1+1?   In the precise, mathematical sense the answer is simple:  2.  In the real world of our business endeavors however, “precise” and “simple” are typically fantasies, true?  Our real world problems can be summarized:

Addendum to Murphy’s Law: 

In precise mathematical terms, 1+1 = 2, where “=” is a symbol meaning seldom if ever. 

Unknown Sage

And Murphy was an optimist.

So if our clients and colleagues today just want “the answer” to thus and so, what are we to do?  If their paradigm is – No discussion; No clarification; No interaction; No time – just give me the answer.  Oh, and by the way – it needs to be the “right answer”.  Oh, and I almost forgot – the faster the better.  What are we to do?  What is the (right) answer to such a problem?  Go ahead –please email it to me.  No, don’t call – I’m too busy to chat – in a hurry – you know.

Nobody is in a rush for the wrong answer. 

Robert D. Cohen

Well OK, Mr. Cohen.  But it seems like everyone is in a hurry.  So I ask again, what are we to do when we’re asked for “the answer” knowing that it “all depends”?

In business today there is in many cases an absence of “right answers” vs. “wrong answers”.  There are actually lots of right ways to do things (and lots of wrong ways too).  Answering business questions today is a thinking game.  If no thinking is required – then that is called a “transaction”.

If a question (aka transaction) does not require our interaction; if it can be self-serviced; that’s what’s known as an App on our Smart Phones; or a url on the Internet.  Anything left over probably requires thought – and thinking probably requires interaction – and interaction definitely requires time.

Whatever the business problem posed today is – there is likely not a singular answer – there are simply advantages and disadvantages to each of several “solutions” to be considered.  And how many of us state that we are in the “solution business”?  (At our company we even have people with Solution Consultant as their business card title.)

But if “solution” is mistaken for a “right answer”; and if a “right answer” is mistaken singularly as “the answer”; then don’t we run the risk of winding up back where we started?  Unknown Sage, help us:

Winfield’s Dictum of Direction-Giving: 

The possibility of getting lost is directly proportional to the number of times the direction-giver says, “You can’t miss it.”

Maybe answers can be automated.  Is that why we have so many automated call directories when we phonesomeone with a question?  Is technology “the answer”?

Gattuso’s Extension of Murphy’s Law: 

Nothing is ever so bad that it can’t get worse. 

Unknown Sage

OK, automation is probably not the answer.  Maybe, just maybe the solution is not “the answer” at all.  Maybe the answer is actually taking the time and completing the interactions in order to properly understand “the problem” in the first place.  Maybe the answer is the collaboration around the pros and cons of multiple, applicable answers.

Who da thought?

GAP

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The right person…

Have you ever noticed how many times the topic of selling to the “right person” comes up?  If you’re a sales leader, have you noticed how often you ask the question, “Who is the decision maker?” in your forecast meetings?

If you’re a Human Resources Manager, or a Controller, or an IT Director, have you ever noticed how many times sales reps you meet with ask, “Now in addition to yourself, who else at your company will be involved in this very important decision?”

If you’re a sales rep, have you ever noticed how many times the prospect tells you, “I’ve been designated the point person at our company for this evaluation”?  Stymied!

WOW!  I’m not sure who this mystical person known as “the right person” is that everyone seems to be seeking.  There is so much being said and so much being written about the “right person” that it makes me wonder why everyone else we meet with is considered “the wrong person”?

Do we believe that if we just get through to the right person we will win the business?  Can it actually be that simple?  Probably not; LoL!  What are we afraid of, a little conflict; some dissent?

Alfred Sloan, Chairman and CEO of General Motors for years was in a Board meeting about to make an important decision.  He said, “I take it that everyone is in basic agreement with this decision.”  Everyone nodded.  Sloan looked at the group and said, “Then I suggest we postpone the decision.  Until we have disagreement, we don’t understand the problem.”

IMHO finding the “right person” is a fantasy.  In business, there are not “right people” or “wrong people” – there are just people.  And to run a business today, it takes a village, yes?  Sometimes the prospect’s people want to interact with us to help facilitate their purchase decision.  Truth be told, most decisions in Corporate America today are made by committee, true?

I mean, according to our favorite, Unknown Sage the mythical “Decision Maker” is a rare sighting:

A decision is what people make when they can’t find anyone to serve on a committee.

Though we still insist on seeking that mythical “Decision Maker”, how professional do we go about our search?  Remember this old adage, “People buy from people they like.”  How likable can we be when while continuously seeking the “right person” we imply everyone else we come across must be the “wrong person”?

It reminds me of the sales reps that called my wife to follow up her inquiry on buying an indoor riding arena for her and her horses.  Only a few sales reps agreed to meet with her without her husband participating.  They must have assumed I was the “right person”.  I wasn’t.  Only the firms that met with her ultimately had a chance to win the contract.

For sales professionals today, sometimes our role is simply to help the prospect complete their purchase transaction – nothing more.  No relationship; no consultation; no joy; just the transaction.  In fact, if the “right person” at our prospect could download an app on their phone vs. dealing with us to begin with, they probably would.

And as it turns out, the “right person” is the company (and committee) that transacts; with their own buying process; that may or may not match our preferred sales cycle; and that we may or may not even be invited to participate in.

Hmmm, from the prospect’s perspective I wonder, “Are we the right person?”

GAP

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A peek inside…

So I was writing one of my little ditties recently at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop.  My wife, children and grandchildren were there – one of those precious, informal family gatherings I am so blessed to enjoy.

It was the usual small talk – weekend plans; work; school; the weather; the Broncos…  They don’t mind when I sometimes multi-task during our coffee clutch and type a sentence or two.  But the other day when I softly uttered, “600, all right!” our small talk was interrupted.  “600 what?” they inquired.  And that’s when I revealed a peek inside.

I’m generally a very private man; introverted really.  I’ve created a public-facing façade in order to pursue my professional responsibilities.  I don’t know – maybe I should share with you the same peek?  It’s said in the marketplace today there is value with genuineness.  There’s nothing particularly earth shattering behind the way I write; but my family was quite amused; maybe you will be too.

First, 600 is the number of words that comprise my ditties.  600 – exactly.  Not 599; not 601; each one must be 600 before it’s finished.  Truth be told: I bang out an initial draft in about an hour.  Then I typically spend 6-7 hours editing; re-writing; adjusting; word-smithing; until (A) I like the piece, and (B) it is exactly 600 words.  Yep 600; welcome to my world. (LoL!)

As you already know, I like sharing personal experiences and life’s little observations.  Not for self-promotion purposes (although we all have an ego, yes?); and certainly not for monetary gain (I haven’t figured out how to peddle these pieces yet).  I do wonder sometimes whether I’m being read, and if so why:

People who read me seem to be divided into four groups; Twenty-five percent like me for the right reasons; 25 percent like me for the wrong reasons; 25 percent hate me for the right reasons.  It’s the last 25 percent that worries me. 

Robert Frost

It’s all good, though.  Writing is my way of “thinking out loud”.  I like to pose situations to my readers so you can:

Read about it briefly (600 words – exactly)

Decide if it relates to you

And if it does, allow you to observe what I did in that situation so you can;

Determine if I am a blithering idiot offering nothing more than a little comic relief in your day (which I suspect some have already concluded)

Make you feel good that if I have been able to make a living being as inept as you believe I am, there is hope for you

Invoke you’re knowledge and experience with the situations I write about resulting in the thought of, “Nice try Gary, that’s not how it works; what you should have done was thus and so…”

And as a result I’m actually providing you the service of reinforcing what not to do in certain circumstances

Which may also be of value

Sometimes, I might even offer sound advice based on good judgment.  You see, I believe I have finally learned where good judgement originates:

Good judgement comes from experience.  Experience comes from bad judgement. 

Unknown Sage

Of course, I hope my readers don’t take my judgments too seriously:

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong. 

Dandemis

So there you have it; for better or worse; a 600 word peek inside the process and the paradigm behind these little ditties.  Welcome to my world, indeed. (LoL!)

GAP

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Differentiate or die…

Read it?  It’s the title of a business book that’s been on my “To Read” list since July of 2007.  Maybe I should get around to reading it!

You see, I’m finding myself discussing pricing and discounting tactics with my clients a lot lately.  Are you finding yourself in frequent pricing; discounting; deal-approval activities too?  No?  Well then please teach us how you are differentiating.

OK, while waiting for our Teacher to arrive, permit me to offer further opinion on our dilemma when differentiation is absent.  Preface:  I admit I am the owner of the statements, “Never lose a deal over just money”; and “I’m not too proud to discount”.

However, I try to balance this thinking with the off-setting viewpoint:

In absence of differentiation, the only thing the client has to talk about is price.

If this reflects today’s reality, than pricing (and discounting) actions should be our tactic of last resort and employed only after we have executed everything in our power to differentiate, yes?

But exactly how do we differentiate?  Exactly?  Oh Teacher – chime in whenever you want.

Well, while we’re waiting for our Teacher, permit me to offer additional opinions about what is, and what is not, differentiation.  Let’s start with the old, “walking the walk; talking the talk” wisdom:

Men are all alike in their promises.  It is only in their deeds that they differ. 

John Baptiste Moliere

In the movie Batman Begins, the lead actor echoed this when revealing his identity to his heroine – remember?

It’s not who you are inside but what you do that counts.

So, how are we at the “doing”?  It could be the key differentiator our prospect is looking for.  But “doing” what?  What’s the key?  What’s the secret?  Where’s our Teacher?  Is it in one of the many business books I haven’t read yet?  Perhaps not.

When I’m on the buy-side working with a sales-person, the difference maker to me is all of the little things vs. one big secret.  Are they prompt; courteous; articulate; helpful?  Do they follow-up before I buy; after I buy; when I’m having an issue? Proactively?  All the little things:

If we oversold or under delivered, then it wasn’t a sale; it was a lie.  Lying is easy; selling is hard. 

Rick Page

Look I get it – if I’m buying something that requires me to interface with a sales representative vs. just transacting online, then what I’m buying probably has a degree of complexity (and corresponding risk) associated with it.  I’m seeking the sales professional’s clarification skills; her problem-solving skills.  It’s how she helps me think; helps me make an informed decision – not “closing me”.

I’ve noticed my clients are so busy they only want to interact with me when they believe I can add value.  In my world, absence of value = “gone dark”.  So every time I’m interacting with my clients I’m seeking their value – and sometimes it’s simply the little things within our interactions:

That Mary is the Under-Vice President of Expectation Deflations for the western semi-region tells you nothing.  That Mary is wicked smart, totally frank, and a trip to work with tells you everything. 

Rick Levine

You know – their job is tough enough; when my clients call me I try to lighten their load not add to it.  I may not be the smartest; most technical; most skilled resource at my company.  But I do try to be a trip to work with.  And sometimes that’s differentiation.

How about you?

GAP

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To our Customers…

Recently, I wondered whether modern technology was actually making Customer Service worse (see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/03/making-matters-worse/ ).  Well, it has been said:

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do. 

Dale Carnegie

So, to avoid seeming foolish, permit me to share a few thoughts about how we can improve Customer Service vs. just complaining about it.

If we come in contact of any kind with our customers, we are customer service representatives of our companies.  In Ernie Humphrey’s recent post, “CFOs: True Customer Service is a Competitive Advantage” (see http://www.proformative.com/blogs/ernie-humphrey-ctp/2015/03/22/cfos-true-customer-service-competitive-advantage#comment-25042 ) he suggests that CFO’s should not only support the delivery of great customer service – they should own it!

Permit me to add to Ernie’s list of how to leverage customer service as a competitive advantage:

  1. Attitude – Everything starts with attitude. Let’s check our problems at the door; Customer Service is about addressing our client’s problems. And yes, when they call they will be calling with a complaint never a compliment.  And yes, they will likely be grumpy so be prepared.  And yes, our Unknown Sage reminds us:

The customer may not always be right, but the customer is not the enemy.

Let me pause and applaud John Hanson, Owner of Infinity Logo Solutions.  John’s provides my wife’s company the most stellar customer service I have ever seen!  Every time she calls – he returns her call, promptly.  Every technical issue she runs into – he either helps resolve, or if he can’t he guides her to the person who can.  Every time she needs him to come on-site for a repair – he responds cheerfully, whether the service issue was her fault; a warranty fault; or no body’s fault.  Every time – even on weekends.  His customer service attitude is stellar!

  1. Anticipation – Just like our children, if they don’t get the answer they’re looking for from Mom; they’re going to ask Dad.

CS_Dept_Cartoon (1)Yes, we sales types do exaggerate on occasion.  So let’s everybody get over it.  We should anticipate that the customer sometimes exaggerates the sales rep’s exaggerations.  It’s our job to return the dialog back to reality – just like Mom.

  1. Technology – Yes, I said it; we should use technology to help us deliver excellent customer service. With email, cell phone, IM and social media, our goal should be “Near-Real-Time-Response”; even if it’s bad news:

Bad news does not improve with age. 

D. Michael Abrashoff

And let’s use voice mail to improve customer communication, OK?

Standard Greeting – “I’m on the phone or away from my desk”… 

OK Captain Obvious, can we be any more vague?  How about adding “for Monday” or whatever the day is so they know we were at least in the vicinity of our voice mail today?  And if we’re actually out of the office how about adding the next date/time we plan to listen to messages?

BTW with my voice mail greeting, I’m never “in a meeting”; customers hate it when we’re “in a meeting”.  I’m only “with another customer” or “out of the office”.  The customer is still unhappy, but at least I didn’t add fuel to their fire by being “in a meeting”.

If we’re good at customer service – they will call us more frequently, so be ready.  When they call us less frequently – they’ve given up hope; they’re abandoning us (which of course is how customers ultimately fire us).

So here’s to our customers who call us for service:

The customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer. 

GAP

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Department transfer…

I’ve been spending so much time in the Department of Unintended Consequences lately, I’m wondering if I’ve been transferred awaiting the paperwork?

One of the (many) things I really like about my job is at my company personal initiative is encouraged.  In fact, our CEO has coined the sound bites, “take the hill”, and “we must” and offers examples of employee initiative during his quarterly “All Hands” meetings.  Of course, a minor downside to “taking the hill” is occasionally things don’t turn out quite the way we originally envisioned.

Recently, I was “taking the hill”.  Has this happened to you?  You know, you’re trying to “go the extra mile”; do something “new and improved”; because “we must”; and Boom!  Word is received from the Department of Unintended Consequences (aka DUC!)  I tried to duck, but too late:

Harrison’s Postulate:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. 

Unknown Sage

It started off benign enough; I had formulated a plan for a local client gathering.  My VP and our Regional Managers had been speculating about a “Client Day” for months.  Well, after “talking about it”, I decided I would “take the hill” and make it happen.  Someone yell, “DUC”!

As it turns out, my colleagues apparently expected me to form a committee first.  I think everyone wanted to offer their input on how to do an event.  My bad – I actually know how to do events.  And I don’t do well in committees:

Another mystery commonly observed by committee pathologists is that the time consumed in debate is dominated by those with the least to offer. 

Norman R. Augustine

The first word from the Department of Unintended Consequences came from one of my colleagues.  She was now thinking that doing a client gathering was a bad idea.  She wanted to know who authorized me to “take the hill”.  Huh?  And the committee was assembled.

Turns out, the committee is not insulated from the Department of Unintended Consequences, either.  What started as an idea for a local, casual, inexpensive event now morphed into something where clients and Regional Managers were flying in from all corners of North America.  The increase in size and expense now meant we needed to revisit the agenda.  Yep, word from DUC:  Lots of people wanted speaking parts.

Thankfully, my VP knows me well enough to shield me from the committee.  He served as my delegate.  You see, I try to execute with excellence in order to avoid criticism.  He knows that I don’t react well to criticism.  However, when I do get criticized (Because none of us are immune, true?); I seek counsel from the wise:

The incident of an undersized lawyer in an acrimonious stump debate with the massive Robert Toombs.  Toombs called out, “Why, I could button your ears back and swallow you whole.”  The little fellow retorted, “And if you did, you would have more brains in your stomach than you ever had in your head.”

Abraham Lincoln

But I digress 🙂

The client day event turned out well; the Regional Managers participated and enjoyed themselves; the agenda was modified to accommodate speaker requests; and the hill was taken!

However, we did receive word from the Department of Unintended Consequences after the event – I had misspelled the company on a client’s name tent.  He emailed the entire committee a cell phone picture of my error; probably posted it to social media, too.  Someone yell, “DUC”!

GAP

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Management and the NBA…

I was thinking about the start of the NBA season recently, when I received an email from my company’s CEO.  He was informing all of the employees that it was that time of year again where each employee will be receiving a survey that Top Management will use to get an indication of how things are going from the “front line”.

I appreciate the fact that our CEO is interested enough in our view points that he would take the time and invest the money to conduct an employee survey through a confidential and independent firm.  However, it did make me wonder if in today’s electronic, wired world Tom Peters’ approach of “management by walking around” is dead?

Of course, were I in our CEO’s role I might wonder about the candor and intentions behind the responses I will receive.  Hopefully, Scott Adams’ perspective won’t apply:

As far as I can tell, every layer of management exists for the sole purpose of warning us about the layer above.

Scott Adams

There tends to be a natural tension between employees and management, true?  In most cases that tension helps drive the overall company to new heights.  However, according to our favorite Unknown Sage sometimes that tension can be a distraction:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” 

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” 

“You must be an engineer”, said the balloonist.  “I am”, replied the woman, “How did you know”? 

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” 

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”  “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know”? 

“Well”, said the woman, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.   You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

Well, at least that manager and that employee were talking.  Good things come when management and employees communicate.

During the final seconds of an especially tense game, Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones called a time-out.  As he gathered the players together at courtside, he diagrammed a play, only to have Larry Bird say, “Get the ball out to me and get everyone out of my way.”  Jones responded, “I’m the coach, and I’ll call the plays!”  Then he said, “Get the ball to Larry and get out of his way.”  It just shows that when the real leader speaks, people listen. 

John C. Maxwell

Whether my CEO or the NBA, when we listen in the pursuit of excellence above pride – the sky (or an NBA Championship) is the limit!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.