Archive for News

What Makes A Good Boss?

Like a boss

By Tom Fedro

How many books have been written on this subject?  I remember a decade ago there were two bestsellers out at the same time.  The first suggested the key was “servant leadership” which meant the boss was there to serve his employees and to help them become all that they could.  The second focused on “execution” and said the company should be run entirely as a meritocracy—get rid of the non-performers and keep firing/hiring until you had a good staff.  I’ve read books that said the best bosses managed by “walking around” and others that said the only good bosses around were “hands off” bosses.  One thing that seemed strange to me in this contradictory mess of advice was that every author was successful.  A number of successful businessmen shared their advice on how to succeed and you couldn’t follow the advice of all of them.

Gradually, I came to the conclusion that the success of the authors (assuming they really followed their own advice) had less to do with their actions and their philosophies than it had to do with the fact that their behavior was consistent.  The servant leader was a servant leader on Monday and a servant leader on Tuesday, Wednesday, and the rest of the week as well.  Mr. Execution demanded the same performance on every day of the week.  Employees went to work knowing exactly what to expect and they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel of behavior every single day.  Perhaps, then, the single greatest attribute someone in management can have is consistency.  I’m not ready to say it’s sufficient for success, but I think it’s a fair assumption to say that it’s necessary.

How does a manager (at any level) remain consistent in a world that’s changing so rapidly?  I think the key is to consider the question from the perspective of consistency of aim or consistency of purpose rather than consistency of action.  No, that doesn’t mean you get to be a sweetheart on Monday and an utter jerk on Wednesday.  What I mean is that you can make your employees understand that your goals for the company are clear.  When your actions are presented in light of your goals, they gain consistency even if the actions represent a change in direction.  For example, assume your clear goal for a tech support department is a service level commitment and you’ve been harping on a policy you think will result in faster response time.  Now assume the policy was a complete failure. If you change policy while explaining you were wrong about the policy’s results, and you need to try something else in order to meet the service level commitment, you’re consistent.

This isn’t the last post I’ll write about effective management, but I think it’s the most important.  Employees know we’re human, and when we let them know that we’re aware of that as well, we gain rather than lose respect.  Consistency is reassuring to an employee and by itself increases employee productivity by setting clear expectations that remain even when job duties are in flux.

Revolutionary Concepts

revolution

By Tom Fedro

Business gurus have to keep in business, right?  Sometimes I think that’s why we end up with a new management flavor of the month just about…well, just about every month, I suppose.  There are always new books in the business section of the local store or on Amazon or even at an office supplies store.  It’s amazing to me how often I see the words, “The Revolutionary New Way To” followed by something like Motivate Employees or Increase Profits or Boost Productivity.  For just twenty bucks or so, I can join the revolution.  I’ll admit it, there are times I can’t help myself.  I’m a businessman and an entrepreneur at heart, and that means I sometimes splurge on books with titles like these.

Let’s face it, though.  For the most part, everything revolutionary has already performed the coup.  When I read the typical two-hundred page book, I usually don’t.  What I mean is that I read with great interest the introduction which promises me brilliant insight throughout the book.  Then, I read the first chapter full of excitement.  Then, I read the second chapter with considerably less excitement.  Then, I end up skimming the book and trying to find something from it that’s valuable.  There’s always something useful, but almost nothing revolutionary.  Realistically, business just isn’t that complicated.  It all comes down to supply and demand and profit and loss in a macro sense and operational efficiency in a micro sense.  I’m reading looking for something life changing, but I end up with a tip or a trick or two.

Why is that?  Maybe I’m cynical, but I think it parallels news and information.  When I was younger, there were local newspapers, national magazines, and three networks for news.  Now, there are multiple 24 hour news channels, and an unlimited feed of news stories online.  None of that happened because more things became newsworthy.  Instead, the media became adept at creating news to fill the gaping maw of emptiness.  I think that’s what we see in business.  There’s a constant desire for the next brilliant business revolution, but let’s just face reality.  Most businesses who operated correctly ten years ago or even twenty are still operating correctly.  The real questions CEOs should be asking don’t have to do with how to do business but with how to respond to a changing marketplace.

To me, the revolution we really need is an approach to our changing customer that takes into account their new needs (real and perceived) and their new buying habits.  Remember that your customer base is subject to the same unending flow of information that we are, and this access to information means we’re no longer their primary method of education about our products.  Buying cycles are far longer in the initial stages and then blisteringly fast from a truly qualified lead to the close.  It’s time for the gurus out there to start finding ways to help companies with that, not a revolutionary new business process but a revolutionary new way to think of Sales and Marketing.  Let’s face it, I’m going to pick up the next business book I see, but I’m still holding out hope for the one I really need.

The New Funnel

funnel2

By Tom Fedro

I remember back in elementary school (okay, vaguely—but no jokes about how long ago that was, please) when I first learned about converting measurements.  Back then, we’d spend forever turning inches into feet, feet into yards, cups into pints, pints into quarts and every other measurement of volume, distance, and time into other measurements of volume, distance and time.  Then things got crazy when we had to learn how to change centimeters into meters, milliliters into liters, and so on.  Want to drive a kid insane?  No problem.  Add in converting from standard measurements to metric system measurements.  I remember a test in which we had to measure various shapes in order to discover their area.  We had to be careful to use the correct ruler (some of us, the correct side of the ruler) so we measured in the right system.  If you measured correctly, you got good marks.  If you tried to use a standard ruler for a metric question, you failed.  If you didn’t use the correct formula for determining the area of a square, you failed.

Well, you probably know by now that I’m not just reminiscing.  I belong to about twenty news feeds too many, and on one of them, a marketing piece popped up.  With my background in marketing, sales, and business development strategy, it’s hard for me to pass up on clicking on a title that involves marketing.  This particular post declared that the funnel model of marketing is dead.  That’s right.  Dead.  Not in trouble, not sick.  It’s dead.  I read with interest, and I’m always amazed at how quickly business experts move to declare the end of something.  You see, I don’t think the funnel is dead at all.  I think it’s just been converted. A short while ago it was liters, and now it’s gallons, or something like that. Just as a European in the United States has to put some thought into distances expressed in miles before beginning a journey, marketing executives now have to put some thought into how they measure marketing effects and a customer’s journey into the funnel.

The funnel represents a fairly clear understanding of the path from a potential customer to an actual customer, but the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action) process is no longer influenced in the same manner it was a few decades ago or even one decade ago.  I find it interesting that so many marketing experts are ready to throw away the model instead of learning new ways to understand and influence customers within the various stages.  Certainly, there are new factors to consider that might give us four or five different kinds of prospects in the Interest or Decision stage, but realistically, they’re still in that stage, right?  Has all of humanity changed into something else or have people instead changed the way they gather and act on data?  I think it’s the latter, and I think marketing professionals have to start thinking about the funnel in a different light, but I’m not ready to say it’s not a funnel just because I have to measure it with a different ruler.

Five Million Critical Trends You Must Understand in Cloud Computing

Cloud2

By Tom Fedro

Okay, I understand the reasoning behind it. The blogs you’re supposed to write to catch the eye of your potential reader should be list based.  FIVE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BATMAN.  TEN SURPRISING TRENDS IN DESIGNER SOCKS.  EIGHT REASONS TO EAT POTATO SKINS.  THE TOP FIVE REASONS TO DRINK A GALLON OF WATER EVERYDAY.  These lists are everywhere, and since I focus on technology, I invariably end up reading a ton of posts.  I’ve been struck by the number of lists coming out about the cloud.

  •  Five Cloud Computing Trends for 2015
  •  Seven Cloud Computing Trends for 2015
  •  Four Big Cloud Computing Trends for 2015
  •  Five Cloud Computing Trends That Will Be Big in 2015
  •  Four Game-Changing Trends Coming to Cloud Computing in 2015

Why is everyone hyped up about the different trends in cloud computing?  The answer’s simple.  Cloud computing is the current future of technology in much the same way that hosting was once the current future and networking was one the current future and ecommerce was once the current future.  We’re in the midst of the process of cloud computing becoming a mature industry and a mature technology, and in the midst means it’s in flux.  In flux means speculation, and speculation means “Four Trends You Can Expect in 2015.”

If we add up all of the unique trends we’re supposed to see, there will be hundreds of them, so I prefer to think of the cloud in much the same way as I think of all technology.  We call departments that handle it IT, Information Technology.  Cloud computing is all about information management, disbursement, storage, and dissemination. It’s the logical next step in the information age.  If I had to bet on the future of cloud computing, I’d focus on the information.  How do the so-called trends indicate what cloud computing will do to help its stakeholders store, access, and utilize information.  Any other approach might make a good title for an article, but it misses the point entirely.