MOASQ

For the past six months I have been delivering a workshop for Sage partners on developing business strategy in a small business. There is nothing like teaching a subject over a sustained period of time to help you clarify your thoughts.

(By the way, I believe this is the case because of the number of times you are challenged by participants. So to those of you who challenged me, I thank you!)

In my last session in Herndon, VA, I believe I have stumbled across the Mother of All Strategy Questions – MOASQ.

Most strategy sessions begin with the following premise – How much revenue do we need to make (in the time period for the plan) and how are we going to achieve it?

The MOASQ shifts this – How much value are we going to create for our customers (in the period) and how are we going to do that?

Thoughts?

Considering Facebook Advertising

At the end of my recent failed political campaign for Texas State Senate, I took out a few Facebook ads which I believe to have been moderately successful.

The first was early in the campaign after launching my campaign Facebook site. The ad was to all anyone in the United States who had listed “Libertarian” in their profile. Within four days I had gone from 150 friends of the site to over 600. The ad cost me $100 and while I do not think anyone who “liked” the page from this ad donated money, several become regular contributors the conversation on the site lending it higher credibility to subsequent visitors who did, in fact contribute.

The second ad was over the five day period before Election Day. In created an ad specifically targeted at the four major cities in the Senatorial District in which I was running and it excluded people who were already friends of the page. In all, I received 1,227,893 impressions over this critical five day period. I am certain that this helped my campaign with name recognition and increased my overall vote total.

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What I find so fascinating about this is the ad engine works 180 degrees differently that Google Adwords. With Adwords, you are trying figure out what a prospect might type into the search box, with Facebook, you are selecting the criteria of the intended target audience. It is very powerful.

imageAs an example, I created an ad for everyone over the age of 18 in the state of Texas who listed “Accounting” as a interest. As you can see this ad, if I ran it would target 8,440. Not a large number, but certainly a very targeted list.

I see this as assisting not only prospecting, but in the creation of candidate pools for jobs.

If any of you have additional experience with Facebook ads and care to share your results, I would love to hear about them.

My First Interaction with The Geek Squad

On Sunday, I had my first interaction with Best Buy’s Geek Squad when my new Mac mini failed to connect to my Windows 7 HomeGroup network. I have to say the experience was disappointing to say the least.

This morning I got a survey from them regarding my experience. I rated them a 2 on the NPS question (what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a friend/colleague).

Here were my comments at the end of the survey. Let’s see what they do with them. Ryan was the name of the “Agent” with whom I spoke.

    1. Ryan was clearly reading from a script. While I understanding your wanting to give a consistent experience to callers, it would be better if they actually cared, rather than reading me something that says they care. I have talk to other companies tech support in India who (while it was difficult to understand them) clearly cared about my situation.
    2. Ryan tried nothing to solve the problem and made zero suggestions. I called Apple (the problem was with a new Mac mini) and the problem was solved in five minutes.
    3. I really like my Best Buy experience and I am a promoter of yours (yes, I recognized you are using Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score concept), but this was my first interaction with the Geek Squad and it was quite disappointing, put me down as a detractor.

The Most Effective Email Ever

Today, the most effective email I have ever received arrived in my inbox at 1:13pm CT.

The email was from a co-worker at Sage that I have never met face to face. Amber Kenyon is the senior strategic account manager for partner programs and works out the Richmond, BC office. One of her duties is working on the Simply Accounting partner conference, Simple Partnership at which I am a planned speaker.

It seems there has been decision to obtain special shirts for Sage team members and Amber was charged with obtaining the shirt sizes. Instead of the standard email asking for my size, Amber sent me this instead:

Good Morning Simply Staff,

I am extremely excited to let you know that you have been recognized as members of the staff to attend our Simply Partnership Conference in October. In efforts to ensure that we are organized before the event, I am going to ask you to submit your shirt size to me by tomorrow (Friday, August 13th) to ensure we get the correct size. The shirt will most likely be a golf type shirt to help you imagine yourself in it. If you do not reply by tomorrow I will have to guess and this is what you may end up with.

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I will be starting to send out more information in the next couple of weeks in regards to a schedule, presentation tools and other key bits that you will need to ensure that you are ready to go in October so stay tuned…

Have a great day everyone!

Sincerely,
Amber Kenyon
Senior Strategic Account Manager, Partner Programs
Sage
Suite 120 – 13888 Wireless Way
Richmond, BC, V6V 0A3

That, my friends, is an effective email!

I responded with my size, large, in record time. Her email is fun, witty and  has had the desired effect (at least on me) – a quick response.

Kudos Amber!

Building the Knowledge Worker Organization

Today, I welcome a guest post from Gary Crouch of CS3 Technology in Tulsa, OK. He wrote this article in the wake of the Firm of the Future session at Insights 2010.

Gary’s thoughts are flashes of brilliance and will take some effort to embrace and even more effort to fully understand and implement. His most profound insight is, “My function then as the leader of a team of knowledge workers is to attract intellectual capital to my team.”

Thanks, Gary for allowing me to post this.

Leader: someone who guides or directs others

Team: a number of people organized to function cooperatively as a group

Sometime back I read a book or article describing how the knowledge worker can and should maximize their own potential by playing the part of the hired gun (unfortunately I cannot locate the article to give credit where credit is due). For the knowledge worker, the author explained, it is in their best interest to manage their career path by hiring out to the highest bidder at every opportunistic step. This could be accomplished by promotions within the current organization or moving through various organizations that have an increasingly higher need for his/her services. Either way, the number one priority is to promote their skills and experience to the marketplace.

As I have personally benefited from implementing many ideas shared by Ed Kless in my business, I attend as many of his speaking sessions as possible. At Insights 2010, I heard Ed describe our employees as knowledge workers, our most important assets, who walk out of our doors each evening. As I had heard this before, my tendency was to get depressed thinking about just how fragile the culmination of my life’s work, our business, really has become. Then, a thought occurred to me and everything came into focus.

Earlier in the day, we reviewed the building blocks for a successful knowledge worker firm as the following formula:

Profits = Capital Management * Effectiveness * Pricing on Purpose

My thoughts focused on the capital management element of the equation. Capital is made up of various resources that the knowledge firm must manage on a continual basis. These resources include the following:

Financial Capital = Operating capital and cash flow

Intellectual Capital = The ability to maintain and grow knowledge within an organization such that it can be applied to solve customer problems

Structural Capital = The environmental components that allow an organization to function effectively such as processes, systems, methodologies, physical plant, communications facilities

Social Capital = The brand of the organization that includes relationships with vendors, customers, external influencers, product and service awareness, and so forth

It dawned on me; in many cases the ability of the knowledge worker to monetize their intellectual capital is limited. Most knowledge workers need to work within an organization for various forms of capital that they either do not possess, or do not have the ability to properly manage. For instance, they may not possess the cash flow for marketing themselves or for investing in new equipment; they may not be able to build systems to manage projects, bill their services, perform Q&A functions while chasing the next job; they may be great technical resources, but not know how to approach social networking effectively so they have a new project waiting for them when their current project is completed. These limitations of the hired gun are answered by participating in a team environment. When the knowledge worker’s specific expertise is combined with varying forms of expertise brought by other knowledge workers and multiple capital resources, only then does the application of intellectual capital bring value to the buyer.

My function then as the leader of a team of knowledge workers is to attract intellectual capital to my team. I can do this by providing the benefits of various forms of capital that the intellectual capital owner does not possess or does not have the ability to manage. If my team is effective to the point of profitability, then I am able to demonstrate the ability to monetize the knowledge worker’s intellectual capital.

Of course, money is not everything. If I also can help the knowledge worker grow in experience, knowledge and capital management abilities, then I have provided value beyond money. As long as the knowledge worker remains with the team, I also have built additional intellectual capital accessible to my team.

To be sure, the process will always be fluid. As the team gains additional experience and knowledge individually, we must recognize the additional value requiring either additional compensation or opportunities to grow. However, the combined growth inherent in the team provides even more reason for the team to remain intact.

Should a member of the organization find a more beneficial team for their situation, then the process begins again and is costly. However, the relationship has been mutually beneficial. Both the team and the organization have been profitable. In addition, intellectual capital is one form of capital that can be shared. When a knowledge worker shares his knowledge with a customer or a coworker, they do not diminish their own knowledge. In fact, through an exchange of ideas, the knowledge worker’s intellectual capital will grow as well. Concurrently, if our organization’s capital management process includes cross training the team members, the team can retain the exiting knowledge worker’s intellectual capital even as the knowledge worker leaves the team.

Through the process, the organization has gained in reputation, customers, reference sources, finances, experience and any number of other resources. The departing knowledge worker may also add to our social capital as an external influencer or even by bringing the new employer organization to our team as a customer.

Business is the process of providing solutions for others. As we continue to build our organizations, we must recognize the impact of the knowledge worker on our business models. As we provide a valuable package of organizational attributes that the knowledge worker can monetize their intellectual capital, we can help them grow. At the same time, we can increase our retained resources of financial, structural and social capital.

All in all, it is not a zero-sum game; everybody can win.

What I Believe Redux

Two weeks ago, in a post entitled, What I Believe, I put forward a declaration. It went thusly:

I believe in challenging the status quo. The way I challenge the status quo is helping professionals change their business model from a focus on service to a focus on knowledge. It happens to be a better model. Are you interested in changing?

In the fortnight since that post, I have been tweaking it in my mind and I am please to put forward this updated declaration.

I believe that small business is where the vast majority of the wealth of the world is created. I help small professional businesses recognize that they do this through developing and sharing their knowledge. It is a great model. Do you want to know more?

I am curious as to what your thoughts are about this. Did any of you make a declaration? If so, are you willing to share it below? What are your thoughts on my declarations? Do you think the second is an improvement?

Help Me Understand?

One of the key devices I use as a consultant is something I call the “Help me understand” question. I use this when there is an apparent contradiction between two statements or behaviors of a person.

The structure is this: Help me understand how A (one behavior or statement) is in alignment with B (the other behavior or statement)?

For example: Help me understand how letting one of your best people get away from your organization is in alignment with your company’s stated goal of attracting and retaining great people?

Sometimes this leads me to some very good insight and a much deeper understanding of the issues. Very often, I am convinced that A and B are, in fact, in alignment and that what was lacking was my deeper understanding.

Other times however, the person I am working with is unable to reconcile the dissonance and adjusts their behavior or statement accordingly.

Still other times I receive no feedback from the question, especially if I pose it in email. I can only assume that they make no adjustment and go on living a contradiction.

What I Believe

I have been wanting to write this post for over a week.

While the video below is nothing new, it does a great job of explaining and relating concepts I have known to be true.

 

It has inspired me to make this declaration.

I believe in challenging the status quo. The way I challenge the status quo is helping professionals change their business model from a focus on service to a focus on knowledge. It happens to be a better model. Are you interested in changing?

Please feel free to make your declaration below in the comments.

Insights MegaSession – Creating the Firm of the Future

On Wednesday, May 19th from 1:30pm to 5:30pm at Sage North America’s annual partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Creating the Firm of the Future (GEN52-1,2&3).

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

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Learning Objectives:

  • What is a knowledge firm?
  • Moving from revenue to profit
  • Moving from capacity planning to knowledge management
  • Moving from efficiency to effectiveness
  • Moving from hourly billing to fixed pricing