Thursday, October 28, 2010

Performance Measurement

It is a painful period in the growth of youngish companies, from that of a start-up to that of a SME (Small Medium Enterprise). With this transition come many growing pains come many challenges:

  • how do we measure ourselves toward our goals?
  • what goals are worth following?
  • what happens if people don't meet these goals/expectations?
  • are the people who go us this far still the people we need tomorrow?
Plainly, you get what you measure and you measure what you get.

If your goal is not measurable it probably is not objective (knowledge, faith, confidence are all highly subjective but too often in peoples goals).

Goals should link to our bottom line, short, medium or long term. After all, if it doesn't help us ,make money it can't really be that strategic (I recently heard a person remark that strategic is often used as a euphemism for not profitable).

Have to be willing to call people to the carpet if the goals are not met, and that includes making very hard decisions linked to the last question.

The people who may have gotten you out of the gate might not be the people who should take you all the way into port. Just like the people who you need right now, might not have been the right people when you were boot-strapping the business.

One of my acquaintances, recently on noting that many of their companies technical staff might not be up to snuff on some of our more recent offerings, asked what would happen if we were to institute a "testing" or "assessment" of skill and capability. Unfortunately, my answer was that we would first have to decide what we should measure, what would make a good technician? And for that the company is still, not out of the dark.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Airplanes !!!

The Oatmeal has more good flight annoyances in this cartoon (link)
Other annoyances

"My bag should not get crushed, so yours will have to": The person takes the "rollerboard" and places it sideways in the overhead compartment when it can fit wheels first (yes, "rollerboard" is the airline business colloquialism for the Rolling carry-on, go figure).

"What no liquids?": It is not like it is a brand-new rule to ban liquids in containers larger than 3 ounces from planes. Are we still confused about it?

"I paid for a seat so I get both armrests": If you haven't noticed that little arm rest between each of us is technically for both of us, but when you put your elbows comfortable resting on them you actually are quite a way into my space.

What are yours?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Customer Service = untapped oppurtunity

Recently Simon Sinek posted a view regarding Customer Service Re:Focus: You Shouldn’t Need To Wield A Gun To Get Customer Service. There he asks:

My question is, why do I have to hold a proverbial gun to a company’s head before I get a decent level of service.  That's not good customer service...  
 Customer service is when a company works everyday to keep your business so that they never face a threat of losing it. 

Each call from a customer represents an opportunity, to further your position with the customer or go backward. One truth to consider when putting together the customer service philosophy at any business is to remember there is no benefit to the idea that customer service is about maintaining customers. In business, you are either growing or shrinking, but generally you cannot ever hope to stay the same. After all, staying the same means you are losing to the people who are growing--even modestly.

If the phone rings at customer service, you already have what is most likely an incipient disgruntled customer--an embryonic pissed of user, or future flame mail sender, or angry blogger in the making. It should be your mission to convert that call into a [insert your company name here] super fan, Facebook fan, or follower.

It is an opportunity to interface with your customer, one who took the time to call you (before they voted with their wallets and feet). Embrace that opportunity and make it matter, instead of looking at it as a chore.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pretending that what you think is worth reading....

And the question is "What is Blogging?" (either full scale or micro--like twitter).

A friend from college (a Brother of Sigma Pi-Zeta Epsilon Chapter) recently expressed an interest in writing a book. I quickly suggested that he follow-up by looking into (tm) an Amazon company that offers Print-on-demand services and marketing support.

I had also looked into and some other PODs but so far am liking the the most. But here is the rub, I myself have not attempted to publish anything. So how can I say which I like better. Suffice to say that did not frighten me away with it's rules and fee structure.

So now I have to get down to the business of writing. Which this blog was supposed to be a test bed for. Now I need to follow the advice of many other bloggers and authors on how to get this done.

Write everyday and write everyday. Whether or not anybody cares about what you write, you can leave that up to them for a while.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Business Travel and organization

Keeping track of you travel itineraries while on the go can be very complex. Carrying about printouts of hotel confirmations, flight information, transportation requirements and other trip essentials can be downright frustrating and risky. After all, losing those pieces of paper leaves you at the mercy of the hotel, airline, and can put in arrears in a hurry.

Lately I have been using two different business travel tools, WorldMate Live and TripIt.

Each has mobile applications that assist in keeping track of itineraries. Merely email your official itinerary from any number of air carriers, hotels, or travel agents and your itinerary automatically updates. Once the itinerary is loaded you will be able to view your travel plans via the mobile application or any web browser.

From the mobile app you can quickly find:

  • Dates and times of flights and hotels bookings
  • confirmation numbers (as long as they were included in your confirmation letter
  • accommodation names
  • Maps (based on addresses included in confirmations

For the most part they both provide the promised itinerary details, well and serve their need. So it comes down to the other value-adds.

In this I prefer the Worldmate Mobile for its:

  • currency converter (3 currencies simultaneously)
  • world clock (4 cities at a time)
  • weather look-up
  • hotel booking (direct from
TripIt is a little quicker with the loading of new itineraries, and has more social networking plug-ins (if you care), and an online calender that Outlook or other iCal or *.ics feed readers. This means that you automatically get the itinerary added to your Calendaring application. Pretty handy.

Maybe in a few thousand more miles I will have a better read on which is better, but for now they each have their merits, Worldmate on my BB and TripIt on the web.