Monday, August 31, 2015

The "Bar Tab" app

There is so much I can say about this, but it's clever. Whether you use Lovelock's "Flower of Service" framework or the "Outlet selection and purchase" step in the consumer decision process - this frictionless purchase process is good marketing.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The car wash satisfies some interesting needs on a Sunday night

Sure, I'm caught too. But I'm watching a whole bunch of people who really aren't very good at it try to get their cars washed. I can whip through for $5 but one of the guys - for sure - has spent $15 already.

Still, it satisfies a need. A need to take responsibility for the washing of your own can, and the need to start fresh on Monday.

That's why I'm in the line.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Working in political places: it's all a game

This time around I'm not worried. I'm doing some work in a place that appears to be pretty political.

Some of the stuff I've been involved with has "gone to poos and wees" and some of it is down to me. Not all, but some.

I will be interested to see how this plays out. I like the people I have been doing stuff with and now I get the chance to see how it goes when things are not so rosy.

It's almost fun. I'm not worried - just interested. I'm managing what I can control and alerting people to the things I can't. It will be a chance to see what my new friends are made of. If I get thrown under the bus, then I suppose I'll know.

But if the past is any indication I'm notoriously hard to kill.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to be considered more than a lightweight

As I get older, I realise that through my life when I thought I was playing with the big boys they really just patting me on the head and letting me run with busy work. At some point where I was managing millions of dollars of sales accounts they expected me to be more than just an enthusiastic, well meaning amateur. Results really began to matter. And that was a challenge because I didn't even know what it meant to play like a grown up in the business world.

These days I have 35 year old middle managers study an MBA course under me. Most of them have learnt these things through osmosis, but sometimes I get an electrician who has just been promoted to section manager and they can use these points.

So in order to be considered a serious player you should:

Think more than a few weeks ahead
The level in a management tree is directly related to how forward looking they need to be. A leading hand on a factory floor needs to be concerned about today's production, or the week's. A senior manager is trying to get ahead of next year's challenges. How do senior managers deal with this week's problem? They don't - they deal with this week next year's problem. How? They write policy, they prepare budgets and they give their line managers the tools to do their job. If you're dealing with this week's challenges then you're a senior manager in name only.

Know who your business's customers and stakeholders are
The only reason a business, or a not for profit, or a horseriding club, has a reason to exist is for its customers. So you need to have a crystal clear idea who those people are. And if they're not customers but they're in the mix, then they're stakeholders - and if they're not on your radar you're acting like a line supervisor, not a senior manager.

Understand the value your business creates
Those customers are only having anything to do with your because you solve a problem for them. Perhaps your business provides them raw materials, distributes their product or gives advice. Why on earth are they paying you money? The best managers know they live and die by their customers remaining perfectly clear on why they're together.

Be honest with yourself
How did that meeting go? Well? Does the other party think so? The worst and most amateurish managers I know will leave a meeting saying "that went well" while the other party is hatching sophisticated plans to break out at some time later. "I'm a pretty good leader - not great, but good. Aren't I" is the saddest question I've ever had a boss ask me. I just knew they hadn't grown beyond an adolescent level of self understanding.

Remain fresh, and know when it's time to quit
Quit this one and start kicking goals somewhere else. After a while, people start getting sick of you and you should be moving on. Don't be afraid - there are dozens of opportunities and the people who worry about the future have every reason to. If you don't reinvent yourself or move on - even in the same position - people will take stronger and stronger steps to remove you. They should. If you really are learning and growing, you will never have to face that pain.

So, 25 years ago when I had bosses tell me that I lacked maturity I didn't know what they meant. I do now. You may be 53 years old and still be not be ready for any real responsibility. Just check the items above.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Students - your email grammar says something about you

Students - everyone else will be trying to get ahead of you. If not now - in uni - for sure once you leave. This is no longer the game where you get a prize just for playing.

Don't let other people score a free kick on you. Every piece of communication says something about how professional you are. Even if it's sent from a phone or posted to Facebook.

What do you think a person is likely to think about you if you send them this email:

"I am in a 4pm Monday tutorial, i have no attended yet as i have been unwell. i was looking to send my tutor an email regarding my absents..."

Sure, I'm just a lecturer in your first year Uni course but do you really want to be the person who sent that email? If you choose to be then that's fine, but don't be surprised when your friends are enjoying success you don't for some inexplicable reason...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

It's so easy to plagiarise

It's so easy to plagiarise - and you might not even know it.

Sure - copying another person's words is the most obvious plagiarism, and we have remedies for that. Copy/paste the sentence into Google and - busted!

But when you see a piece of art that really captures your imagination, and you produce your own version? Probably plagiarism. Sure the line between being inspired and plagiarising is a little fine, but as with the photos below - no creative addition means plagiarism.

This was the ad agency for the AFL, and the AFL acted swiftly, decisively and ethically in dealing with the problem.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Batch processing my emails: Karma for poor communicators

I'm managing three email accounts for three different personas of mine. It means I check them on about a two day rotation. Purely a practical thing, and it's had an unexpected upside. When a person sends me an email that I can't act upon, their whole process just gets held up until the next time I check that email account.

So a person who tells me they need a report from me but hasn't given me the material we agreed they would - a two day delay. The student who wants me to clarify a minor admin issue but gives me no hint as to which course they're in? Two days.

I've spoken in the past about a stupid tax - where doing something dumb costs me money. This is more like Karma for poor communication skills.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vacuum pac facts

I love a fighting brand. I like Pureland Tofu. But I'm getting frustrated by their packs gassing up before their expiry date. Sure, I just flipped it last time, at the local supermarket, but when i buy a product that says use by October 10 and it's showing degradation by Aug 1, it's an inconvenience.

Yep, a pack that is gassing does not mean it's dangerous. But it is suboptimal.

But time for an information opportunity. If you buy anything that is vacuum packed, you can take it back for an exchange as soon as it has anything inside it that looks like air. Cos that's not how it's meant to be.

The rate I'm going, I might have a piece of tofu in the fridge in 2025; every time I've decided "let's go" the pack has gassed up, with two month to run.

No biggie, but for the manufacturers they could put a shorter shelf life on it or get a better estimate of their shelf life. And, for the record, my temperature control was fine.