I think I found the problem with TSA

SFO SignOn a recent return trip from the Bay Area, I snapped this photo as I was exiting the pornographic photo booth, aka the “security checkpoint.”

Aside from the general warning that your Fourth Amendment rights can be violated again at any time without your consent, the last line reads, “Your safety is our priority”.

There’s the problem! It should read, “Your rights are our priority.”

Forget Being Effective, Be Efficacious

Most of you, I am sure, are familiar with the scene in the classic movie Spinal Tap, in which Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel utters the immortal words, “These go to 11” about his beloved Marshall Amp.

“It’s one louder,” he intones.

 

As foolish as Nigel appears, he is making an important philosophical point. He is seeking the maximum total benefit from his amp and for his fans in the audience. In short, he is striving to be efficacious. This desire, to seek the maximum total benefit for a customer, supersedes in my view our desire to be effective – seeking to produce a benefit or result for a customer.

The problem is that if you are focusing on just being effective (seeking a benefit/result), there could be a perception on the part of a customer and temptation on the part of a consultant to see fixed price agreements as a way to maximize your profit and not on your customer’s profit. Focusing on efficacy (seeking maximum total benefit) removes this perception and temptation.

As an aside to those of you still mired in the efficiency v. effectiveness debate: you are now behind by two generations in thinking!

I am sure that there are those of you who believe I am taking this debate of semantics to the nth degree. I am, but I am just being efficacious.

How is your product/service/knowledge efficacious?

On Why Specialization Often Fails

My friend, VeraSage Senior Fellow and author of the new and essential Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms, Michelle Golden, was recently interviewed by CPATrendlines on why it is that specialization in professional firms often fails.

Her solution is simple, but not easy for many firms to do.

So if the choice is specialize and increase price or don’t specialize, what are firms more likely to do?

Personal After Action Reviews – Parent and Child Editions

In a recent Facebook post made by a old friend, John Stulak, (old as is long-time, not age-wise). John stated that he was 16,443 days old and that he was awakened at 3am with this thought:

The day is the natural cycle of our lives. The cycle of light and dark, being awake and sleep, has more significance than the cycle of the seasons. The day is what counts. Each day is a complete unit in itself. At the end of each day I can look back and take stock. How have I been? What have I learned? What can I be grateful for? I can hold a day’s experience in my mind quite easily. Trying to go back and take stock of a whole year is much harder. Numerous incidents and discoveries are inevitably forgotten. I also find it far more meaningful to think that I have lived through over 16,000 days this life, rather than 45 years.

imageHis post reminded to get back in the habit of doing a personal AAR (after action review) each day. In a ten-year journal given to me by my wife a few years ago, I record the answers to the following questions:

  1. What did I hope to do today?
  2. What went well? Why did that go well?
  3. What went wrong today? Why did it go wrong?
  4. What am I going to do different tomorrow?

I can’t tell you how dramatic the improvement is over time. Consulting guru, Alan Weiss calls this change The 1% Solution, improve by one percent and in 70 days you are twice as good.

About six months ago, my genius wife, Christine, developed a similar tool with our five-year old son, Sean. When putting him to bed each night, we ask him to say:

  1. One thing good about today.
  2. Hope he has a good nights sleep.
  3. One thing he is looking forward to tomorrow.

We do it in the form of a prayer after he says his Gloria Patri, as it connects to the past, present, future form of the prayer, but I think this is easily modified and adapted without a religious spin.

Thoughts?

Your Vote Needed – Best Timesheet Video

Below is a list of videos I found on youtube that are related to the timesheet with a link to a playlist I created if you want to view them consecutively. Please view them and let me know which is your favorite.

  1. Do your timesheet by joebeegnish – This would be funny if it were not serious.
  2. Time Sheet Song by liltam21 – There is even a song about this…
  3. Time After Timesheets – by PaulDesRosiers – …and a cover/parody of a real song…
  4. Time sheet drama by pumpkin1017 – …and a cartoon version…
  • timesheet by manuviora – …and even one en Española!?
  • May Timesheet Reminder by tracywald – Yes, Godfather parody…
  • June Timesheet Reminder by tracywald – …and a Matrix parody. This is a whole series from one person. I wonder what she puts on her timesheet when producing these.
  • Gordon filling out his Timesheet by 94WYSP – An absurdist drama…
  • Saw Timesheets by hordeman70 – …and a horror flick.
  • How to Create Stickies Timesheet Reminders by tsgvids – Funny for its unintentional earnestness.
  • Workamajig Creative Management: Angry Men by workamijig – Because “creatives” love filling out timesheets online.
  • Timesheets by BereaCollegium – Finally, the truth!!!

    So which one is your favorite?

    Bonus question: If you fill out a timesheet, what did you code watching these to?

    A Question on Pricing and Resource Planning

    Some weeks ago I received the following email from Wayne Schulz:

    A random thought on pricing that may be worth a mention because as projects grow in scope and typical staffing numbers shrink – load balancing of work is critical and I’m seeing clients get a quote for work in early summer, then the client delays it, then they want to pick it up in year end.

    We already tell people to add 50% to the project if any part demands night / weekend work. I don’t see why we should not have a similar surcharge for work that gets delayed into our busy season.

    Just a quick thought that came to my mind as I struggle (as I’m sure most of you are) with prospects/clients who you proposed on back in March/April and maybe started some work in June – only to have the client back off because of any number of concerns (not ready, need further data fix-up, etc).

    I have four prospects/clients whom I proposed on back in March/April and maybe started some work in June, only to have the customer back off because of any number of concerns (not ready, need further data fix-up, etc). They suddenly want to become active in what I feel is my prime season — November through January 31.

    Which leads me to my question – why the heck do I allow customers to be quoted on one price for work scheduled for our down time – and then the customer delays and comes back to us in peak season.

    Anyone try booking a cruise in the months of March or May. They’re dirt cheap. Why? It’s off peak. Try booking again when school lets out. Completely different fare structure. Why? It’s peak season.

    Yet, I pretty regularly see this happening with my projects. I have one customer where I scheduled an upgrade for June 2010. They discovered out of balance items and rather than purge data they opted to create an adjusting entry (most of which I provided while I was there in June).

    Fast forward to January 1 and suddenly they want to be live by January 15.

    Ummm – ok so I’m not that fast on the uptake but it hit me this morning. These clients are being quoted during off-season and then moving their engagements into the peak season for no change in fare!

    Just an observation – and I don’t have a good solution other than to work into my options that pricing is only valid for engagement started by X and finished by Y.

    My reply:

    Wayne,

    AMEN!!!

    The price quoted should have a specific completion date associated with it. If the customer wants to change the completion date it is a change request which may or may not include a price change. In the cases you are describing they certainly would.

    Some sample language might be:

    • “I am sorry, but the original quote was for work done during off-peak operations for us. Now that we in our peak season, there is a fee increase. You, of course, have the option to delay this until next summer for the original price.”
    • “I am sorry, but you lost your window. Our company is similar to an airport, we can only land so many planes at once.”
    • “I understand you had to delay, it happens to many of our customer, but…”

    I hope this helps.

    What might you add?

    Links to Summit 2011 Social Media Sites

    imageBeing friends with one of the event planners is a very good thing.

    We are planning a blitz on these beginning in February, but this gives you a jump start.

    Here is a list of all the social media sites for Sage Summit 2011.

    Promote away!

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SageSummit

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/Sage_Summit

    LinkedIn: http://events.linkedin.com/Sage-Summit-2011/pub/506615

    Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sage_summit/

    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SageSummitEvent

    Cool New Tool – tungle.me

    imageMy thanks to Sage partner Wayne Schulz at Schulz Consulting for turning me on to tungle.me. This free (there is a paid premium edition as well) web service allows you to publish your calendar to the tungle.me site where your customers can see what your available time is and propose scheduled meetings.

    In addition, you can add a widget to your web sites, see mine at the top right of this page.

    Effective immediately, if you would like to have a conversation with me, please click on the widget and enter the information as instructed. You must propose at least two possible times to connect.

    A Different, but Authentic, Job Ad

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to work with a Sage partner, Bill Delgado of Keystone Software Solutions, on creating a job placement ad for a position he has been trying to fill for several months.

    It is a long story, but the gist of it is that it is really hard to find someone with a very specific skill set in the software implementation industry unless you either: a) hire someone from a competitor, or b) someone from another geographic area decides to move to your location, you have to be willing to groom your own new talent.

    After a few failed attempts, however, to find the specific talent, Bill has decided to begin the search anew.

    I suggested that they might want to rethink the ad they had been placing. I dug up an article I remember reading from Peter Block on how Ernest Shackleton advertised for people to join him on his failed excursion to the South Pole.

    In the article Block suggests the following ad:

    Join our organization and become part of a place where:

    • You are expected to care primarily for the well-being of the institution and the larger society. We have no mentoring program, modest benefits and no organized way of planning your career.
    • Our purpose is to do something important and worthwhile, even if we don’t make the pages of Wired, Fast Company and Red Herring. Life is not a fashion show and we are not role models. Quick growth is overrated. Besides, who would want to go through life wired, in fast company and in pursuit of red herrings?
    • The realistic chances of getting rich quickly are actually quite slim. Only a few players in our industry will really prosper, so come to work for a place where the experience of each day is a reward in itself, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
    • Safe return doubtful. Our company is a risky place to be. The work is hard, the relationships are volatile and the management keeps changing its mind. Signs of imminent improvement are hard to find.

    Here is the ad Bill is running this week.

    Join Keystone Software Solutions and become part of a place where:

    • Our purpose is to help business thrive through a synergy of people, processes and technology.
    • You are expected to care primarily for the well-being of the organization and its customers. We have no mentoring program, modest benefits and no organized way of planning your career.
    • The realistic chances of getting rich quickly are actually quite slim. Only a few players in our industry will really prosper, so come to work for a place where the experience of each day is a reward in itself, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
    • Safe return doubtful. Our company is a risky place to be. The work is hard, the relationships are volatile and the management keeps changing its mind. Signs of imminent improvement are hard to find.

    If interested, Keystone Software Solutions is seeking candidates to provide implementation and support services for financial and business management software.  Prior experience implementing Sage MAS 90 business management software or accounting background is a plus.

    I am curious as to what the response will be. What are your thoughts on this type of ad?

    Update: Link to the actual ad on craigslist.org.