I’ll have a Yogi Berra please

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015)
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015)

While I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Mets (well, and Yankees) legend Yogi Berra this morning. I felt compelled to share a conversation had on my Facebook page during which Yogi gave us one last chuckle.

One commenter suggested that Yogi was the “Arnold Palmer of baseball” to which I responded that we needed to create a drink in honor of him. I came up with the following:

  • Half club soda
  • Half seltzer
  • Half carbonated water

My plan is to order one at a restaurant in the near future. Here is how I envision the conversation:

Me: I have a Yogi Berra.
Server: Never heard of that sir. What is in it?
Me: Easy it is half club soda, half seltzer and half carbonated water.
Server: Okay… Wait… what?

As a youth I proudly wore number 8 in honor of him. He was the manager of the Mets at the time.

Yogi is truly a hero of mine. Not only is he the only person I can think of who bridges the Met-Yankee divide, but his legendary reformulations of quotations are always inspirational.

When speaking I often refer to him as “that great American philosopher, Yogi Berra.” In my book he is up there with Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Will Rogers.

My personal favorite quote: We made too many wrong mistakes.

Much wisdom in that.

RIP, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015)

On Airquotes Firm of the Future Thinking

Firm of the Future BookYesterday, a former colleage of mine sent me this piece by Jim McGinnis of Intuit. In the interest of full disclosure, and as many of you already know, I work for a competitor of Intuit’s, Sage. Please note this is not about me slamming a competitor from a product standpoint, but rather I am calling out errors in Mr. McGinnis’ thinking. I have never met him and I am sure he is an affable fellow.

This is not an attack on him, but the ideas presented (or lack thereof) in the post.

Mr. McGinnis proposes a three step process to becoming a “Firm of the Future.”

  1. Get on the cloud.
  2. Become a trusted advisor.
  3. Get connected.

Needless to say, I find this listicle a bit, err, lacking.

For example, the first sentence of the first paragraph of his first step is:

In the cloud, you can meet client expectations, stay relevant through improved efficiency, achieve greater collaboration, realize more time savings and lower your costs.

Oh where to begin.

Let me offer a listicle of my own as a critique. I shall entitle it Five Ways This Sentence Completely Misses What Being a Firm of the Future Really Is About. (I know, my headlines suck.)

  1. “In the cloud” – The “cloud” is just a technology. It is not a change in a business model which is what moving to The Firm of the Future really is. It is a change to how the organization creates value for and captures value from its customers. Admonishing folks to “get on the cloud” is a akin to saying “use pencils instead of quill pens” or “use Excel instead of an adding machine.” Yes, it is important to do, but it is not a business model innovation.
  2. “Client expectations” – As advocates for The Firm of the Future, both Ron Baker and I suggest using the word “customer” not “client.” Why? Well I wrote whole blog post on that one.
  3. “Improved efficiency” – Customers do not care about the efficiency of a firm, they care about the firms effectiveness. Ask yourself this, if you have a brain tumor, do you want an efficient surgeon or an effective one? Clearly the latter. At VeraSage there is an entire blog category dedicated to the topic of efficiency versus effectiveness. We call it the “Eff’ing Debate.” I believe that great business strategy is the art of staying one step ahead of having to worry about being efficient.
  4. “Time saving” – Time cannot be “saved.” Time is a constraint to which all of us who live in this time/space continuum are subject; it is not a resource. Our time is not “worth” anything. There is not a single customer of a professional firm who wanted to buy an hour of time; they wanted the results of the hour. Peter Drucker said, “Sell what your customers buy.” DUH! Yet, professionals keep putting “hours” on invoices. Nobody wants hours. In addition, when one is billing by the hour what exactly does “time saving” do? It reduces your price. The more efficient you are the less money you make. What a terrible model! Some argue your rate will go up. Perhaps, but the reduced time it takes is sometimes a factor of ten or more. Nobody’s “billing rate” increases by a factor of ten, perhaps even over the entirety of their career. The author even acknowledges this later in the post.
  5. “Lower your costs” – Beside the above mentioned “and your price” if you bill by the hour, this  is simply not true. Costs do not change much in any professional firm since they are overwhelmingly fixed. Cost allocation might change, but again, customers do not care how you allocate your costs. Have you ever walked into a Starbucks and thought, “Gee, I hope these guys have their costs allocated correctly.” I doubt it.

And that is just the first sentence of the first step. Other errors:

  • Using “Trusted Advisor” I do a session on why professional should not use this term in the marketing. Short form of the argument – Saying “I want to be your trusted advisor” to a prospect is like asking “How many kids do you want to have?” on a first date. Quite a bit forward don’t you think. Oh, and another blog post.
  • Use of the phase “flat-fee pricing.”
  • Use of the phrase “value billing.” Again, a post on this subject from 2009.
  • The the choices of “low medium and high” are not meant to be target at “small medium and large clients.” There’s that word again.

I got more, it is an entire two day class.

On the Enterprise Software Podcast

espodcastAt Sage Summit 2015, I had the honor of being interviewed by Bob McAdam, Todd McDaniel, and Darcy Boerio, hosts of the Enterprise Software Podcast. They “talk all things enterprise software a couple of time each month.”

Specifically, they wanted me to talk about value pricing, but the conversation ranges from hanging out at the Mint Lounge (now known as the Spirits Lounge – see photo below) in the Holiday Inn in Fargo, ND to the best pizza place in Allen, TX.

spiritsYou can tell by listening that I was pretty amped up on adrenaline from being at Sage Summit. In fact, I blathered on so long they had to break it up into two episodes. That said, I think I did a pretty good job of sharing some of the basics of value pricing including why timesheets need to be trashed, the need to “move off the solution,” and how to work through Mahan Khalsa’s Five Golden Questions in order to extract the understanding of the value to the customer.

Have a list to both right here:

Part One

Part Two

On Jesus and Redistribution

The following meme was posted on a Bernie Sanders Facebook site:

As a Libertarian and a church-going Catholic I see zero contradiction in this. I personally believe the best way to “justly distribute the fruits of the Earth and human labor” is via the free market or what I prefer to call “market tested innovation and supply” in deference to Dierdre McCloskey.

The Church is a private institution. As long as government is not involved, members of a private institution can work toward whatever goal they wish, so long as they do not impose this belief on others.

In the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-14) Jesus says:

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

This is a pretty specific rejection of the notion that Jesus (or the Gospel writer) calls for “just redistribution” via coerce force.

Do we as a society have a moral obligation to help our fellow humans? Yes, we do. Furthermore, we get to decide what the best way to do that is for each of us.

Should government be the mechanism to insist upon this obligation? Hell, no!

Sage Summit 2015 Session – Changing conversations by asking effective questions

This is the third in a series of three posts I will be doing featuring slides and audio from my sessions at Sage Summit 2015. Sorry that the audio is not quite the best.

Changing conversations by asking better questions

This session is dedicated to the possibility that professionals can greatly increase the value they provide to their customers if they hone their skills at asking better, more effective questions. Developing and enhancing this skill is not easy because it requires us to rethink and relearn conversation habitss. If you would like to learn how this questioning approach can strengthen your customer conversations, join Ed Kless us for this discussion-based session.

Slides

 

Listen

Sage Summit Sessions – Creating vision and strategy

Unfortunately, the audio for these two sessions did not turn out at all listenable. Therefore, I am ust posting the abstracts and the slides. Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions.

Creating shared vision in a small business

Have you defined a vision for your company and shared it with your teams? A shared vision enlists others in the work and provides guiding principles for day to day activities. Creating a shared vision can be hard work because it requires you to examine goals and beliefs and weave them into a cohesive picture of your future. If you’re ready to start this work on behalf of your organization, join Ed Kless to make this part of your 2015 action plan.

Slides

Creating strategy in a small business

Even small organizations can create and execute meaningful strategic plans. Creating a well-defined strategy is hard work and not for everyone, as it requires us to begin to say “no” to stuff we usually say “yes” to. You are hereby invited by facilitator Ed Kless, to open a dialogue about how best to go about creating a strategy for your small business organization.

Slides

Sage Summit 2015 Session – Leadership in the age of the quick fix

This is the second in a series of three posts I will be doing featuring slides and audio from my sessions at Sage Summit 2015. Sorry that the audio is not quite the best.

Leadership in the age of the quick fix

Leadership thinking is is often based on manipulation – trying to “get someone to do something” which isn’t necessarily effective. Coming to terms with this idea is difficult and not for everyone because it requires us to examine some of our most deeply held beliefs and either dismiss them or at least think differently about them. If you are interested in rethinking the way you approach leadership, you are invited to attend this session.

Slides

Listen

Proud Dad Moment

“Merkle’s Boner! Merkle’s Boner!” Sean, my son, shouted at the TV to a surprised and somewhat horrified group of relatives last night.

For those of you that are not up to speed on a play that happened a mere 107 years ago, “Merkle’s Boner” is perhaps one of the most infamous (unless you are a Chicago Cubs fan) plays in baseball history.

In the heat of a pennant race, on September 23, 1908, with the scored tied 1-1 and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Moose McCormick was on at third base and Fred Merkle on at first base for the New York Giants. Al Birdwell rocketed a single into center field plating McCormick for the apparent winning run.

Giant’s fans stormed the field as was the custom after every game because the exit was out in centerfield and the Giant’s rookie first baseman, Fred Merkle, never got to second base mostly due to self preservation from the the on coming fans.

Cubs second baseman and future Hall of Famer, Johnny Evers, noticed this and called to centerfielder Solly Hoffman to thrown him the ball. With the Giants and their fans celebrating around him, Evers recevied the ball from Hoffman and promptly stepped on second base forcing out Merkle.

By rule, this would mean the run would not count and the score would remain tied. It was thusly ruled and the game was then scheduled to be replayed at the end of the season should the Giants or Cubs not be the clear winners of the pennant. Well, you can guess what happened. The Cubs and Giants ended the season with identical 98-55 records. The Cubs, this is before the Curse of the Billy Goat, won the game 4-2 and went on to win the 1908 World Series.

 

Now back to August 9, 2015 and Sean’s reaction.

Our family was asembled in the living room watching the end of the Cincinnati Reds/Arizona Diamondbacks game which ended with a bases loaded hit by rookie Chris Owings. The official MLB record says, “Chris Owings singles on a sharp line drive to center fielder Billy Hamilton. Paul Goldschmidt scores. David Peralta to 3rd. Jake Lamb to 2nd.”

Only Jake Lamb and David Peralta never made it to second and third, respectively. Just like in the Merkle game, an alert fielder, this time shortstop Brandon Phillips retrieved the ball, albeit from a security guard, and then tossed it to Hamilton who by this time was near second base. Hamilton caught the ball then touched second base. He then threw the ball to shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who was now standing on first base. Suarez then tossed it third baseman Ivan DeJesus who walked across the field and touched third.

Now this whole thing is just a mess.

First, shame on Peralta and Lamb for not touching the next base. Despite the result (a D-backs win), this was really dumb on each of their parts as the only people storming the field were their own teammates. I personally feel the “walk off” win celebration in the Major Leagues has gotten a bit out of hand.

Second, Phillips, or really Hamilton, should have retrieved the ball himself. Once the security guard touched the ball, it is likely a dead ball, although I am not 100 percent sure about it becasue it was in the field of play and not in the stands. Clearly, if the guard was in the stands and out of play, it is a dead ball and the rest is moot, but it is possible that by ground rule, the security guard on the field might, in fact, be in play. That said, if it is not a ground rule in Arizona then, it is a dead ball and the next paragraph, as mentioned, is moot.

Third, why did the Reds touch second base first? As they needed two outs, not just one, they needed to first force out Peralta at third before forcing out Lamb at second. Touching second base negated the force out at third. They should have first tossed the ball to DeJesus at third for the second out of the inning and then to Phillips, or whoever was at second, perhaps Hamilton. Had the Reds done this, the scoring would have been as follows: 6-5-8, or more precisely, SG (for security guard)-6-5-8. EIther way, it is a pretty odd double play combination.

Fourth, it turns out that all of this is moot because rule 5.08(b) in the 2015 Official Baseball Rules (4.09(b) in previous editions) reads, “When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the result of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base.” I hope this rule gets changed, it should require all runners touch the next base to which they are forced.

Fifth and lastly, I am very proud of my son for recognizing the situation and making the connection to the Merkle play. And, that is really why I wrote this post.

Sage Summit 2015 Session – Measure what matters

This is the first in a series of three posts I will be doing featuring slides and audio from my sessions at Sage Summit 2015. Sorry that the audio is not quite the best. 

Measuring what matters (to customers)

Do your performance metrics reflect what’s truly important to your customers? This session explores the ways companies can increase financial performance by changing from inwardly facing measurements to measurements that extend outside the firm. Changing these metrics often requires firms to think differently than they have in the past. If you’re ready to think differently about your company’s measurement systems (or think you might be ready to think differently), join this conversational session facilitated by Ed Kless.

Slides

Listen

My Sage Summit 2015 Sessions

Sorry I am a bit late with this, but I have had a few requests for me to do this post even at this late date.

Here are the sessions I will presenting at Sage Summit 2015:

SageCity Live: Increasing user adoption – Tuesday, July 28th, 11:45am – 12:30pm – SageCity Live

This will be an intimate conversation on a topic I will presenting more formally on Thursday (see below). I hope to gather more stories for sharing and maybe even provide some advice to a Sage Customer or two that they can use back at their office.

Measuring what matters – Tuesday, July 28th, 4:30pm – 5:15pm – Learning commons 5D

Do your performance metrics reflect what’s truly important to your customers? This session explores the ways companies can increase financial performance by changing from inwardly facing measurements to measurements that extend outside the firm. Changing these metrics often requires firms to think differently than they have in the past. If you’re ready to think differently about your company’s measurement systems (or think you might be ready to think differently), join this conversational session facilitated by Ed Kless.

Creating strategy in a small business – Wednesday, July 29th, 11:45am – 12:30pm – Learning commons 4C

Even small organizations can create and execute meaningful strategic plans. Creating a well-defined strategy is hard work and not for everyone, as it requires us to begin to say “no” to stuff we usually say “yes” to. You are hereby invited by facilitator Ed Kless, to open a dialogue about how best to go about creating a strategy for your small business organization.

Creating Shared Vision in a Small Business 
– Wednesday, July 29th, 1:30pm – 2:15pm – Learning commons 4C

Have you defined a vision for your company and shared it with your teams? A shared vision enlists others in the work and provides guiding principles for day to day activities. Creating a shared vision can be hard work because it requires you to examine goals and beliefs and weave them into a cohesive picture of your future. If you’re ready to start this work on behalf of your organization, join Ed Kless to make this part of your 2015 action plan.

Leadership in the age of the quick fix – Wednesday, July 29th 3:30pm – 4:15pm – Learning commons 4D

Leadership thinking is is often based on manipulation – trying to “get someone to do something” which isn’t necessarily effective. Coming to terms with this idea is difficult and not for everyone because it requires us to examine some of our most deeply held beliefs and either dismiss them or at least think differently about them. If you are interested in rethinking the way you approach leadership, you are invited to attend this session facilitated by Ed Kless.

Increasing user adoption – dealing with resistance – Thursday, July 30th, 11:45am – 12:30pm – Learning commons 4B

Has your organization’s productivity or effectiveness been challenged by employees that are resistant to change? Perhaps you have new processes or tools you need them to adopt? This session is dedicated to the possibility that we can increase the level of adoption of new systems, processes, and tools in our businesses by changing the way we interact with our teams. If you are interesting in joining this conversation about dealing with resistance, you are invited to attend this session facilitated by Ed Kless.  

Changing conversations by asking better questions – Thursday, July 30th, 1:30pm – 2:15pm – Learning commons – Learning commons 4B

This session is dedicated to the possibility that professionals can greatly increase the value they provide to their customers if they hone their skills at asking better, more effective questions. Developing and enhancing this skill is not easy because it requires us to rethink and relearn conversation habitss. If you would like to learn how this questioning approach can strengthen your customer conversations, join Ed Kless us for this discussion-based session.

The Soul of Enterprise Live!

In addition, Ron Baker and I will be broadcasting live three episodes of our radio show The Soul of Enterprise from the Broadcast booth each day from 2:00pm to 3:00pm. We will be featuring Sage Customers and Partners, as well as Sage Summit Speakers and even a Sage Colleague or two. Come on by to listen in or even heckle some!

Book signings

Ron and I will also be selling ($20) and signing copies of our new book, The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on business in the knowledge economyat both 5:15pm on Tuesday and 3:15 on Thursday. All purchaser will receive a free Kindle-only edition of the book should they desire.