CategoriesSales Consulting

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

“There is a virtuous and vicious cycle between responsibilities and relationships”. Bosses guide a team to achieve results

  • Create a culture of guidance that will keep everyone moving in the right direction
  • Understand what motivates each person on your team
  • Drive results collaboratively

 What Is Radical Candor?

  1. Radical Candor happen when you ‘Care PersonallyÓ’ and ‘Challenge DirectlyÓ’.
  • Radical: To avoid ‘not saying what we really think’
  • Candor: Communicate clearly, but also humbly
  • Care personally—Give a damn: It’s personal, deeply personal. Know each other at human level (Find time for real conversations)
  • Challenge Directly— Willing to piss people off: Telling people when their work isn’t good enough

Radical Candor is HHIPP—It’s Humble, Helpful, Immediate, in Person (in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise) and it doesn’t Personalize.” That last P makes a key distinction

  1. Obnoxious Aggression: The 2nd best thing on can do! (Care personallyâ, Challenge DirectlyÓ). People wold prefer to work for a ‘Competent Asshole’ than a ‘Nice Incompetent’. Obnoxious Aggression is a behaviour, not personality trait.
  2. Manipulative Insincerity: Worst possible quadrant (Care personallyâ, Challenge Directlyâ) It happens when people are too focused on being liked or want a political advantage by being fake or too tired to care or argue
  3. Ruinous Empathy: (Care personallyÓ, Challenge Directlyâ) “Having never criticized Bob for 10 months because I was trying to spare his feelings, I was now sitting in front of Bob firing him. Not so nice after all. When I told him, Bob pushed his chair back, looked at me, and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?’

 Moving Towards Radical Candor:

  • Start by getting feedback, actively solicit it
  • Give more praise than criticism: It guide people in right direction and it motivates people

Growth Management:

  • Excellent performance- Gradual Growth Trajectory: Recognise, reward, but don’t promote (Alert: These are not B-graders)
  • Excellent performance- Steep Growth Trajectory: Keep them challenged (Alert: Don’t be too dependent on them, they won’t stay in their existing role for long.) Remember not every Superstar wants to manage (a team, project)
  • Managing the Middle: Raise the bar; accepting mediocrity isn’t good for anybody—everyone can be excellent at something. ‘Sometimes people just need to be thrown out of nest to spread their wings!’
  • Poor Performance-Steep Growth Trajectory: The reasons could be a wrong role, too many expectations too fast, personal problem, poor fit between company culture & personality. Find the reason & correct it
  • Poor Performance-Negative Growth Trajectory: Part ways!

Remember: People change and you have to change with them. But for that you need to know the person enough (Care personally)

 ‘Get Stuff Done’ (GSD) Wheel:

 

  1. Listen:
    • Quite listening: Listening to silently without reacting any way. “I heard the things I didn’t want to hear”
    • Loud listening: Saying things to get reactions from people, and then listen. Quick to get opposing views or flaws in reasoning
  2. Clarify: ‘As a Boss, you are editor and not the author.’ It’s important to clearly understand new ideas and the people to whom ideas need to be explained. Pre-meeting: It helps people to sharpen ideas and define problems. Create safe space to nurture new ideas—‘Hack week’, ‘Blue Sky’
  3. Debate: ‘As a Boss, you job is to turn on the rock-tumbler’.
    • Keep conversations focused on ideas, not egos. Direct people to facts, don’t allow people to attribute ownership to ideas. Tell people in the beginning that they will have to switch roles, then they will listen attentively
    • Create ‘Obligation to dissent’
    • Call for a time-out, if people are exhausted or charged up
    • Be clear when the debate will end. Don’t take a decision because the debate has gotten painful. Set a decide date
  4. Decide:
    • Push decisions into the facts, or pull the facts into the decision. Keep ego out
    • People with the best-information, close to work are the right people to decide
    • The Decider must get facts, not recommendations
  5. Persuade: Emotion-Credibility-Logic
    • Address Emotions—Listener’s’, not yours
    • Credibility: Demonstrate expertise & humility (And track record of sound decisions)
    • Logic: Share the logic of the argument. ‘Show your work’
  6. Execute:
    • Don’t waste your team’s time
    • Stay connected to the actual work that is being done—not just by observing, but doing too. Block your time for execution
  7. Learn:
    • Don’t be under pressure to be consistent with your approach, opinion. “When facts change, I change”
    • Don’t change course just like that, explain clearly & convincingly why things have changed

Tools & Techniques:

  1. Relationship:
  • Stay centred: “You can’t give a damn about others, if you can’t give damn about yourself”— Put your own oxygen mask on first. E.g. of such a routine ‘Sleep for 8 hours, 45 mins exercise and breakfast & dinner with family’
  • Trust is built on consistent pattern of acting in good faith
  • Relinquish unilateral authority. Power & control are illusory
  • The way you treat people will determines whether you get best | perfunctory | sabotaging effort
  1. Guidance:
Guidance Praise Criticism
Get from  NA − Publicly
‘Is there anything I could do or stop doing that would make easier to work with me?’
− Let people endure your silence to speak out
− Listen to understand, not respond
− Make it safe & natural to people to criticise you
− Have a Management-Fix week
Give to −  Praise in public, criticise in private
−  Be humble
−  While giving feedback describe (a) Situation (b) the behaviour (good or bad) and (c) the impact observed
−  Be helpful
−  Give feedback immediately
−  You don’t need to find time for it; it take 2-3 minutes!
−  Don’t save guidance/feedback for Performance Review!
−  Praise—Contextualised, far more personal and specific
−  Don’t personalise the criticism
−  Don’t have a gender bias
  1. Team:
    1. Career Conversations: (1) Understand their Life-story (2) Understand their Dreams (3) Ask “What they need to learn to move in direction of their dreams.
    2. Growth Management: Figure out who needs what opportunities and how to provide them. Individual growth path is more prestigious than manager path
    3. Hire Superstars or Rockstars depending on the job
    4. Fire—necessary evil! Don’t wait for too long. Don’t decide unilaterally
    5. Promotions: Be fare. Reward your Rockstars too
    6. Be a Partner—Not an Absentee Manager or a Micro Manager
  2. Communication: ‘Who needs to communicate with whom at what frequency’ (When to use which conversation mode)
    1. 1:1 Conversations: Listen & Clarify. Think as if you’re having lunch or coffee, not as a meeting!
    2. Staff meeting: Learn—review key metrics, Listen—put updates in a shared document & Clarify—Identify key decisions and debates (Don’t take decisions here!)
    3. Think time: Clarify
    4. Big Debate meetings: Debate. ‘Check ego at the door!’
    5. Big Decision meetings: Decide
    6. All Hands meeting: Persuade
    7. Execution Time: Execute
    8. Kanban Boards: Learn. Make activity & worflows visible
    9. Walk around: Learn & Listen. Learn about small problems to prevent big ones

Few Key Quotes:

  • Culture eats Strategy for Lunch!
  • Don’t sandwich criticism in 2 bogus positives
  • John Stuart Mill: “The source of everything respectable in man, either as an intellectual or as a moral being, is that his errors are corrigible.”
  • “I didn’t say Steve (Jobs) is right, he gets it right!”
  • Number of small innovations gives a company its competitive advantage. Capturing one big idea is easy, but thousands of tweaks is impossible to see from outside, let alone imitating.
  • Brits despite their politeness tend to be even more candid than New Yorkers. Their education system stress Oral argument as much as written
  • “When facts change, I change”
CategoriesSales Consulting

The McKinsey Engagement by Paul N. Friga

‘Almost all major Business Decisions are the result of Team Problem Solving.’

McKinsey consultants are the special forces of the business world. Their specialty is ‘team problem solving.’ Their method is not magic; it’s quite teachable, although it requires discipline and the ability to tell a good story.

Although McKinsey itself does not use this term, the acronym ‘TEAM FOCUS’ helps remember the elements of the McKinsey method:

  • Talk – A team that cannot communicate cannot solve any problem
  • Evaluate – Teams must be able to assess their performance and make course corrections
  • Assist – Team members help each other
  • Motivate – To persuade the team to pull together, learn what drives each individual
  • Frame – Define the basic issue or problem that your team must solve. What are its ‘issue trees?’ What hypotheses will you use to test your assumptions? Framing is the most vital step in the TEAM FOCUS model
  • Organise – Frame the issues using ‘content hypotheses,’ or primary questions.
  • Collect – Gather meaningful data
  • Understand – Figure out how the data relate to ‘proving or disproving the hypotheses’
  • Synthesise – Mould the data into a believable, compelling narrative

There are three ‘Rules of Engagement’ for each element to help understand the concept and provide guidelines for implementation

Talk

Team problem solving is an interpersonal process. Its most important element is simply talking. If team members cannot speak openly to one another, they will never get anywhere. To improve your team’s communication:

  1. Communicate constantly: Over-communication is better than under-communication. Discuss everything related to the problem at hand. Interact by e-mail, telephone and in person. Document everything
  2. Listen attentively: Put aside your personal agendas while others speak. Give all speakers the respectful attention they deserve
  3. Separate issues from people: Ideas are good or bad on their own merits. Keep personality out of the equation—especially your own

Evaluate

‘You can always find something positive to say about any person—it just may take a little more looking’

To evaluate progress, establish goals. Team members must commit themselves to giving and receiving feedback, and must agree on the team’s objectives and the metrics they will use. To evaluate the work of the team, look at each members work style, areas of responsibility and achievements

  1. Discuss team dynamics: Do this at the beginning of the project, at the midpoint and at the end, in the form of an ‘after-action review.’ Discuss personality styles, conflict resolution and progress reporting
  2. Set expectations and monitor results: List all tasks and determine the order in which the team must do them. Assign tasks and ensure that each member takes ownership of his or her activities. Discuss timing. Track and document everything
  3. Develop and re-evaluate a personal plan: A team is only as strong as its members, who must learn to assess their individual strengths and weaknesses realistically. Even more important, members must share their self-assessments with one another. Team members should commit to improve in their personal areas of weakness, for example, regarding listening skills, ability to be non-confrontational

Assist

In addition to understanding who does what and to giving and receiving feedback, team members must be willing to step out of their usual roles to help others when necessary

  1. Leverage expertise: List the skills of individual team members, and then assign tasks accordingly. Make sure the team has members who possess the skills it will need to do its work
  2. Keep teammates accountable: Team members must accept responsibility for their own parts of the project. Everyone should carry equal weight. Use status reports to inform members about their progress
  3. Provide timely feedback: Make sure it is balanced and constructive

Motivate

Each team member has a different motivation: Money may motivate one; ambition, another; pride yet another. To optimise team performance, find out what drives team members

  1. Identify unique motivators: Personality often determines motivation. Use ‘personality profiling tools,’ such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance), Big Five (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and Strengths Finder, to evaluate the personalities on your team
  2. Positively reinforce teammates: Be observant. Put team members ahead of yourself. Be sincere in your praise. Don’t pressure team members. Stay in touch with the team even after the project is over
  3. Celebrate achievements: This is the best way to build positive energy. Acknowledge every important milestone

Frame

You can’t solve a problem you haven’t identified. This is where framing comes into play

  1. Identify the key question: Use precise language such as, ‘How can we improve profitability?’ Discuss the issue fully with those who know about it and whom it affects. Get their input about possible solutions
  2. Develop the issue tree: ‘Information trees’ ask, ‘What is going on?’ To make an information tree, list every aspect of the issue – all the ‘topics for consideration.’ For example, if profits are the issue, the information tree will include these branches of information: revenue, which again breaks down into price and quantity; costs, which you can split into information, such as variable cost per unit and quantity, and fixed costs. Document all information. Outline the time frame
  3. Formulate hypotheses: ‘Decision trees’ ask, ‘What can we do?’ To build a decision tree, begin with a hypothesis. Every ‘hypothesis must be falsifiable,’ that is, using data you can prove it true or false. ‘The company should improve its operations’ is a weak hypothesis, while ‘the company should double its capacity, increase employee annual bonus programs and cut its product line by 33%’ is a strong one. In addition to the main hypotheses, develop supporting or sub-hypotheses—(‘If this hypothesis is true, what else needs to be true?’)

Organise

Develop a strategic approach for your analysis. Follow these rules of engagement:

  1. Develop a high-level process map: It will answer such important questions as ‘Who will do what?’ and ‘What will the end result look like?’
  2. Create a content map to test hypotheses: Test the sub-hypotheses first
  3. Design the story line: Develop an initial story line early in the process, then amend it as you learn more. As data accumulates, the story line becomes a ‘storyboard.’ The important players must be able to follow the final story line easily

‘Begin working on the final presentation story very early in the project – almost on day one.’

‘By the end of the project, [the story] will have developed and morphed into findings, conclusions and ultimately, recommendations’

Collect

You cannot prove or disprove your hypotheses without relevant data. Therefore, collect what you need

  1. Design ghost charts to exhibit necessary data: These are ‘draft slides’ that illustrate your problem-solving ideas. They consist of titles that address the ‘so what?’ questions; ‘data labels,’ or educated guesses regarding the data; and the data itself, presented visually with illustrations such as bar graphs, pie charts or flow charts. Do not be reluctant to develop such initial slides: The problem solving process is iterative
  2. Conduct meaningful interviews: These are even more important to problem solving than ‘secondary data.’ Talk to the appropriate people. Be smart during the interviews. Don’t steamroll interviewees to get the data you want. Write up interviews as soon as you finish them
  3. Gather relevant secondary data: Keep the primary issues and hypotheses in mind.   Cite all data sources on charts and slides

Understand

Data without insights are meaningless. By the time you reach this stage, you should be able to support your hypotheses. Understand the information and formulate conclusions that can help you come up with recommendations

  1. Identify the so what(s): Ask yourself how your insights will affect further analyses and the operations under review
  2. Think through the implications for all constituents: Figure out how the insight will affect the ‘consulting team,’ the ‘client project team’ and the ‘client implementation team’?
  3. Document the key insights on all charts: Put these ideas at the top of your slides. Express them in complete sentences

Synthesise

Develop a sound, convincing argument for your recommendations

  1. Obtain input and ensure buy-in from the client: If your client doesn’t follow your recommendations, your work is pointless. Keep the client fully involved. Include all implementers. Discuss your story with the client before your presentation
  2. Offer specific recommendations for improvement: Tie each of your recommendations to ‘governing points’ such as a ‘change in strategic positioning’ or ‘operational improvements’
  3. Tell a good story: Start with the recommendations and then follow up with the data. Use a deductive structure. Group ideas logically. Use terminology that they understand. Different audiences may require different levels of data and detail
CategoriesSales Consulting

The McKinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel

The McKinsey Way provides access to the problem-solving, communication, and management techniques of one of the most admired consulting companies. Anyone can take & use these learnings to be more effective and efficient—and, successful

Problem-Solving
The three pillars of building a solution @ Mckinsey are:

  1. Fact-based: Facts compensate for lack of gut instinct & also bridge the credibility gap
  2. Rigidly Structured:
    1. Think in threes
    2. Be MECEMutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive: The problem should be broken down into issues which are MECE, means no overlap between 2 issues and at the same time all the issues should cover all the parts of the problem
  3. Hypothesis-driven: Create an Initial Hypothesis (IH) at the first meeting itself.  Dig for the facts to test whether the hypothesis is right or wrong; adjust the hypothesis to match the facts and then, repeat the process. To structure an IH, begin by breaking the problem into its components—the Key Drivers. Make an actionable recommendation regarding each driver. Later breakdown each top-line recommendation into Benefits & Issues. The above exercise will lead to an issue/solution trace.

Developing an approach

  • Understand the ‘Right’ problem; the problem is not always the problem stated! Use the 5 Whys and keep an open mind to ensure that you are addressing the cause and not the effect of the problem
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Most business problems resemble each other more than they differ. Search for solution in your database or talk to Client’s Employees, Suppliers, Sister companies or People in your network
  • Remember every client is unique!
  • Don’t make facts fit into your solution (Be flexible while approaching a problem. Don’t let a strong initial hypothesis become an excuse for inflexibility)
  • Pluck the low hanging fruit first; solve the easy problems. Continue to hit singles, not home runs. The way to success is to solve hundreds of little problems
  • Make sure the solution fits for your client and they can implement it. (A wonderful business solution is useless if the company lacks the resources to follow the advice)
  • Sometimes you have to let the solution come to you!
  • Sometimes problems may be unsolvable. Suggest alternatives

80/20 and other rules to live by

  • 80/20 Rule
  • Don’t boil the Ocean (Do smarter data analysis)
  • Find & focus on the Key Drivers that affect the business
  • The Elevator Test—Explain your solution in 30 seconds (Only recommendations. No reasons)
  • Always think of the big picture (Is it the most important thing you should be doing right now?)
  • Learn to say “I don’t know” (Rather than giving silly solutions; because people will find out!)
  • Don’t accept “I have no idea” (Ask few open-probing questions. Combine it with cultivated guessing)

Selling the study
Mckinsey never sells or advertises, it markets by very valuable insights and publications. The right way to sell a service or a product is to be there at the right time and make sure the right people know who you are.

Assembling a team

  • Choose people with right skills, and personality
  • Bond with the team and know them (at a personal level!)
  • Let the team know what they’re doing & why they’re doing

Managing hierarchy
The One rule: Make your boss look good. If you do so, he will make you look good as well Do your job well. Keep your boss informed, but no information-overloaded

Doing research

  • Always start with the Annual Report
  • Look for outliers in data (Why has it happened, why they look especially good or bad)

Conducting interview

  • Before an Interview:
    • Make an Interview questionnaire. Know what do you want
    • Have Interviewee’s boss set up the meeting
    • Plan to do Interview in pairs (One person asks questions, other person take notes)
  • During the Interview:
    • Listen carefully
    • Paraphrase —Helps to correct wrong understanding
    • Use indirect approach to get to a topic, be sensitive to the Interviewees sentiments
    • Use ‘Columbo’ tactic: Present the facts that appear to conflict, give the person the benefit of the doubt, and then ask questions for clarification
    • At the end of an interview, always ask, “Anything else you wanted to tell me or I missed to ask?”
    • Don’t have long interviews (aim for 30 minutes)
  • After the Interview:
    • (When you are back in office) Always write a thank you email or call in person to oblige for the interview

Conducting interview

  • Be prepared. (Good practice: Share a pre-read)
  • Purpose of brainstorming is to generate new ideas—leave preconceptions out of the room; bring the facts, but find new ways of looking at them
  • Remember: There are no bad ideas; there are no dumb questions
  • There are diminishing marginal returns on duration of a brainstorming session

Making Presentations

  • Resist the temptation to tweak your presentation right up to the last moment
  • Walk all Stake-holders at the Client-side thru’ findings/recommendations before gathering them into one room
  • Keep slides simple—one message per slide

Managing Internal communication

  • Keep the information flowing. Over-communication is always better than under-communication
  • Three keys to an effective message
    • Keep a message concise
    • Ensure your message contains everything your audience needs to know
    • Ensure the message has a structure
  • Always look over your shoulder; maintain confidentiality

Managing Internal communication

  • Keep Client team on your side
  • Engage the Client in the process. Difficult or impacting solutions need support from all levels of the organisation
  • Be rigorous about implementation
  • Deal with liability Team members

Surviving at McKinsey

  • Find someone senior in your organisation to be your mentor
  • Make travel an adventure will lighten your load.
  • Take these 3 things with you wherever you go: Clothing, Tools–writing pad etc. and Personal-care items
  • For recruitment, use case-based interviews to test analytical thinking process
  • To get a life: Make one day a week off-limits; don’t take work home and plan ahead
CategoriesSales Consulting

Simplicity By Edward De Bono

Simplicity:

  • One of the main purposes of simplicity is indeed to make life easier. Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. Something does not have to be comprehensive to be useful.
  • The real purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking. The human brain allows information to organize itself into routine pattern of perception and of action. So, when we look at something we instantly recognize it instead of having to work it out every time.
  • When local leaders have the ability to make their own decisions within clearly defined frameworks and with clearly defined general objectives, then the system is simpler and more responsive
  • There are times when complexity in a machine allows greater simplicity of operation
  • In any communication there is a fundamental challenge to simplicity. The main aim of communication is clarity and simplicity. Usually they go together – but not always. Communication is always understood in the context and experience of the receiver — no matter what was intended. Too simple a message may be elegant but might be open to misinterpretation

How to Simplify:

Much more important than simplicity as a value is simplicity as a habit. This means that simplicity becomes an automatic part of the design process whenever thinking is used. Values can be ignored but habits cannot be ignored

 Underlying them all are three key questions:

  1. Core purpose: WHY? Why are we doing this at all?
  2. Value: WHAT IS THE VALUE? Both the positive and negative values. Both for the user of the system and for the system itself. (Difference between value & benefit: ‘Value’ is the potential that resides in a thing and ‘Benefit’ is the delivery of that value to a person in certain circumstances)
  3. Delivery: HOW? How are we going to carry this out in practice? It is usually the delivery mechanisms which need simplifying. The purpose of any operation is to deliver value to someone. The best operations deliver value to everyone involved.

Approaches:

  • Do a historical review
  • Shed, slim, cut and trim (Remember: If unnecessary things add to clarity or simplicity they should be retained)
  • Listen with ears & eyes
  • Combine different functions and operations
  • Deal with the bulk and make provisions for the Exceptions
  • Restructure
  • Start afresh
  • Do Provocative Amputation: What happens if we drop this?
  • Do Wishful Thinking: ‘wouldn’t it be nice if. . .’
  • Use Ladder approach: make each small process, or part of a process, somewhat simpler a la Kizen

The Simplicity Design Process

“What is needed is not more technology design but more ‘value concept’ design. Technology can deliver almost any value we design — but we are lagging far behind in the design of value.”

The design process consists of knowing where you want to go, finding ways of getting there and considering the various factors involved. There are four aspects:

  1. Thrust: Gives a clear sense of what we are trying to do, what we are trying to achieve.
  2. Alternatives: What are the delivery mechanisms—Standard approaches? Special approaches? (Remember: Avoid temptation to settle for the first approach that seems to Work & think further)
  3. Considerations: Use these to know which the best-suited alternative. These include constraints, resources and If there’s a conflict (e.g. between cost, practicality and value or simplicity and practicality) the priorities become important. Conflicts solved by a further design process or by a straightforward ‘trade-off’
  4. Modification: Even when we have decided on the delivery mechanism there may still be a need to modify this mechanism to take into account the various considerations. (Remember: Excessive modification usually destroys any simplicity)

Remember: While operations can be designed for the bulk of users, controls and instructions have to be designed for the most basic of users.

10 rules of simplicity

  1. You need to put a very high value on simplicity—Not 2nd order objective. When things are highly complicated we do often wish for simplicity. But when things are not complicated we rarely strive to make something as simple as possible. If something is not a problem it does not get any thinking time A search for simplicity should enable us to rethink everything – not only problem areas
  2. You must be determined to seek simplicity: It is necessary to invest time, thinking energy, design effort and money in trying to make things more simple. This attitude should also be encouraged by the surrounding organization
  3. You need to understand the matter very well— If you don’t, then the result of your efforts will be “simplistic’ rather than simple. Simplicity has to be designed. In order to design something you need to know exactly what you are dealing with and what you intend to achieve. True simplicity comes from thorough understanding. It is simplicity after understanding that has a value. Simplicity before understanding is worthless.
  4. You need to design alternatives and possibilities: Analysis important is in simplification but in the end one has to ‘design’ a way forward. The first idea is unlikely to be the best—Produce more. It is not a matter of designing the ‘one right way’, but designing alternatives and possibilities, and then selecting one of them.
  5. You need to challenge and discard existing elements— Not everything that is there really needs to be there. Things which were needed at one time may be no longer needed. Where something cannot be justified then ‘shed’ it
  6. You need to be prepared to start over again—Modify if you can, if you cannot start afresh. Be clear about what you are trying to do and then set about designing a way to do it ignoring the existing system entirely. This is more difficult & expensive and less likely to be acceptable. Hence, it will need justification—What Benefits and why they cannot be gained thru’ modification
  7. You need to use concepts. Concepts provide the first stage of thinking in setting the general direction and purpose. (Remember: The precise purpose of concepts to be general, vague and blurry) The purpose of the concept is only to ‘breed’ ideas. The ideas themselves do have to be concrete and usable. Develop concept first and then find alternative ways of delivering that concept with specific ideas and concrete detail. Once you have extracted the concept you can clarify it, improve it, change it and redesign it.
  8. You may need to break things down into smaller units
  9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity—You may need to trade off that comprehensiveness for simplicity. (e.g. Perfection vs. Simplicity) This trade-off requires a clear sense of values and priorities. Make deliberate and conscious choices
  10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed. User or Owner, Customer or Operator, Designer or User?

A few guidelines:

  • Do One thing at a time
  • Verbalize—Think aloud. (Verbalizing forces precision on thoughts which are vague, indistinct and apparently complex. You do not have to agree with what you have just said to yourself!)
  • Breaking things down into parts and Analyse (Dealing with separate things as if they were one is a most common source of complexity We are excellent at seeking ‘what is’ but very poor at designing ‘what may be’)
  • Take Small steps: A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Sometimes you need to carve out the next step

Dangers of simplicity

  • Oversimplification: Oversimplification means carrying simplification to the point where other values are ignored. Simplification stops when the values derived from simplification are balanced out by the increasing loss of other values
  • Simplicity may be Unfair: If you do not fit into any of the simple boxes you will be unfairly forced into one of them — or ignored completely
  • Simplicity can be insensitive at times
  • Simplicity may be Boring: Richness and complexity are not the same thing. Richness is a deliberate choice — complexity is merely an absence of simplicity
  • Simplicity may kill evolution: If a system is kept rigidly simple because any deviation threatens the simplicity, then these adaptive changes may be excluded
CategoriesSales Consulting

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing By Al Ries & Jack Trout

Al Ries and Jack Trout, successful marketing strategists, have distilled their years of marketing experience and findings into 22 Laws that govern the world of marketing. Violate them at your own risk!

  1. Law of Leadership: Being first beats being better any day. Remember the second guy to climb Mt. Everest?
  2. Law of category: Now that it’s very hard to gain mind share in a category where competition already exists, it’s better to create a product in new category than trying to attack existing categories. You do remember the first Indian to climb Mt. Everest, first woman to climb Mt. Everest. Create a category where you are first.
  3. Law of Mind: Leadership in getting first to the mind of consumer, not necessarily the market
  4. Law of Perception: Marketing is about perceptions. Reality doesn’t exists outside our mind. Honda leads in US but only third in Japan (after Toyota and Nissan). If the quality of the car was the most important thing it should have the same position in all markets. In Japan, however, people perceive Honda as a manufacturer of motorcycles.
  5. Law of Focus: “The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind”. Owning means that if people hear or see this word they usually connect it with a company that “owns” this word. FedEx owns “overnight”. You can’t take somebody else’s word.
  6. Law of exclusivity: Don’t try to take over a word that is already owned by competition. Burger King tried to take over word “fast” from McDonald; failed miserably. As did FedEx “worldwide” from DHL
  7. Law of the ladder: Marketing strategy should depends on your position in the market. If you’re No. 2 you use different strategy than if you’re No.1 or 3. Be honest about that position in the campaign.
  8. Law of duality: In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race. McDonald & Burger King. Coca-Cola & Pepsi. Nike & Reebok. Crest & Colgate. Become the top 2 or join them ASAP.
  9. Law of opposite: If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader. Leverage the leader’s strength into a weakness. Don’t try to be better than the leader, try to be different.
  10. Law of division: Over time a category will divide and become two or more categories. Cars became luxury cars, sport cars, RVs, minivans etc. Don’t target multiple categories with same brand. When Honda wanted to go up-market it created a new brand, Acura.
  11. Law of perspective: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time. Never sacrifice long-term planning. Sales improve profits but reduce the reference price.
  12. Law of extension: There’s an unhealthy practice of extending the brand equity. Instead one should create new brands to address new markets/products.
  13. Law of sacrifice: You have to give up something in order to get something. Usual suspects include product line, target market, constant change (stop forcibly changing yourself).
  14. Law of attributes: For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute. You have to find an unclaimed important attribute to own. Key is OPPOSITE, not similar.
  15. Law of candor: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive. Candor is disarming. Every negative statement you make about yourself is taken as true. Then twist it. “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.”, “The 1970 VW will stay ugly longer.”
  16. Law of singularity: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results. In marketing only thing that works is a single, bold stroke. To find that singular idea marketing managers have to be down at the front in the mud of the battle not at headquarters.
  17. Law of predictability: Unless you write your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future. Spot trends. A company has to be flexible enough to attack itself with a new idea.
  18. Law of success: Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. Don’t be arrogant, drop the ego, be objective. Question everything. When companies become successful, they substitute their own judgment for what the market wants.
  19. Law of failure: Failure is to be expected and accepted. Drop things that don’t work instead of trying to fix them. Don’t punish your people for failures they will stop taking risks.
  20. Law of Hype: The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press. The amount of hype isn’t proportional to success. Real revolutions arrive unannounced.
  21. Law of acceleration: Successful programs are not built on fads but on trends. Best thing you could do would be to dampen the fad. By dampening, you stretch the fad and it becomes more like a trend. Maintain a long-term demand for your product by never totally satisfying the demand.
  22. Law of resources: Even the best idea won’t go very far without money. Marketing is fought in the mind of the prospect. You need money to get in the mind and you need money to stay there. Use your idea to find the money, not the marketing help. The rich get richer because they have the resources to drive their ideas into the mind.
CategoriesSales Consulting

The McKinsey Mind By Ethan M. Rasiel & Paul N Friga

Framing the problem: Break the problem into component elements. MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) is the way we should look at problems. Sometimes similar problems have occurred and provide a good guideline for problem solving. We should be able to form an initial hypothesis in first sight. This will help us to focus, and to save the time. This is based on intuition and works successfully. The last is that a problem is not always a problem, so decide what exactly a problem is. Quick and dirty test (QDT) on hypothesis: what assumptions need to be true in order for the hypothesis to be true

Design the Analysis: Just focus on the key drivers responsible or the problem. Then look at the larger picture from different viewpoints. Don’t strive hard to find that the stage you will find the solution. Sometime the solution just flow to you during the process. Don’t boil the ocean. 20/80 rule applies. Get the analytical priorities straight: Which analyses are indispensible and which is just gravy.

Gathering the Data: Write an interview guide, find out the specific persons, decide on methods like interview, feedback from interviewer, thank you notes, careful planning of the interview process are important for data gathering. Don’t make your interviewee uncomfortable.

Interpreting your results- Find out the useful data. Usually 20 % of data will fulfill your 80% needs. Make charts for everyday progress, work according to your facts and be prepared to leave your solutions. Always ask “so what?” i.e. the implication of the insights. Perform the sanity check on data

See through the client’s eyes, and respect the limits of the client’s ability in implementing the result

Presenting the Data – Be structured, know your audience and act accordingly. Know the solution thoroughly that we can explain clearly in 30 seconds. Keep it simple, one message per chart. Avoid overloading the information. Pre wire everything, get the client to buy-in during the process to avoid surprise

Managing your Team – Get the right kind of people. Look for diversity, not in academic terms but also in terms of behaviour. Communicate. Keep everyone in the information loop. Always promote the team bonding. Spend time together and reward well. It helps in long run.

Feedback and evaluate frequently, and make it balanced

Managing your Client-

Sell your solutions to clients without letting them know. Just be careful about structuring your promises and engagements. The client should be encouraged for participatory role than a listener. Engage the client in the process. Keep the client team on your side. Learn to deal with liability client team members. Pluck the low hanging fruit. Get buy-in thorough the organization.

Share and transfer responsibility with the client. Make them heroes in the company.

Managing yourself – Most important part is you, give ample attention to yourself. Find out your own mentor in the organization, make your boss look great, encourage your subordinates. Delegate around your limitations. Make the most of your network.

Respect your time and say ‘No’ if necessary. Share the load. Lay down your rules for family and yourself and stick to them. Manage your work life and family life balance.

CategoriesSales Consulting

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” 

Habits are intersection of Knowledge—what to do, Skill—how to do it and Desire—motivation to do it. Habits CAN be changed. For that one needs to overcome gravity of old habits, and one will require much effort in the initial stage (just as a Rocket needs thrust to overcome Earth’s gravity pull)

The 7 Habits progress us thru’ 3 stages: (a) Dependence (b) Independence & (c) Interdependence

First 3 Habits help progress from ‘Dependence’ to ‘Independence

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First

Next 3 Habits help progress from ‘Independence’ to ‘Interdependence

  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize

The 7th habit is Sharpen the Saw—for one’s renewal and continual improvement. To be effective, one must find the right balance between ‘Production’ and (improving one’s) Production Capability

Habit-1: Be Proactive

“Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions”

What distinguishes us as humans from other animals is self-awareness and ability to choose how to respond to a stimulus (Animals respond to a stimulus like a computer responds to a program).

“Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose”—Victor Frankl (Freedom to choose self-awareness, imagination, conscience, or independent will). If you’re unhappy, unsuccessful, etc., it’s because you chose to let something make you that way instead of choosing your own response. Being Proactive means assessing situation and developing a Positive response for it

Everyone has a “Circle of concern,” representing all the things that one cares about. In order to be proactive, focus on the things that one can influence—Circle of Influence—rather than by simply reacting to external forces. The more one focuses on things outside your “Circle of Influence,” the fewer things one will be able to control, and circle of influence shrinks. In contrast, if one focuses only on those things within one’s control, the Circle of Influence grows
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

In everything you do, begin with the end in mind. Start with a clear destination— clear picture of your ultimate goal. That way, you can make sure the steps you are taking are in the right direction

The best way to start is to develop a principle‐centered# personal mission statement. It describes what we want to be (character) and to do (achievements). Extend the mission statement into long‐term goals based on personal principles

  • People can be spouse-centered, family-centered, money-centered, work-centered, pleasure-centered, friend or enemy-centered, or self-centered. Whatever is at the center of your life will be the source of your security, guidance, wisdom, and power. But, you must center lives on correct principles. Other centers subject to frequent change, correct principles don’t! You can depend on them. (The difference between values & principles—Robbers can have good values, but they are wrong in principle. Values govern behaviour, but principles ultimately determine the consequences)

 

Habit 3: Put First Things First

“The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

We are caught between the urgent and the important, and quite often we react to urgent matters—whether important or not. But one must act to take care of important matters, even as urgent things scream for attention. When you focus on Quadrant II, it means you are thinking ahead, working on the root-cause, and preventing crises from happening! To focus energy & time on Quadrant II, you have to learn how to say “no” to other activities, and to delegate effectively“Think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things”

Manage your life according to your needs & priorities. Focus on doing what fits into your personal mission, & maintaining the proper balance between Production & Production Capacity

Practice this regularly:

  • Identify your key roles—business, family— whatever you think is important.
  • Think of 2-3 results for each role that you will achieve in a week (Think ‘Week’—Thinking Days will get you to focus on tasks and Thinking Month reduces the sense of urgency)
  • Decide actions for the week
  • Act

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

With Win-Lose, or Lose-Win, one appears to get what one wants for the moment, but in long term the results negatively impacts the relationship. For effective Relationships, we must commit to creating Win-Win situations. Relationships are like emotional bank account. By proactively making deposits, you can be sure that when the time comes, you can withdraw from it

You must develop the three character traits essential for Win-Win

  1. Integrity: Stick with your true feelings, values, and commitments
  2. Maturity: Ensure the balance between Courage and Consideration. “To go for Win-Win, you not only have to be nice, you have to be courageous”
  3. Abundance mentality: Believe there is plenty for everyone

If no Win-Win, then use No Deal option as a backup. No Deal option liberates you from needing to manipulate people and push our own agenda

To ensure the spirit of Win-Win within an Organisation, align the reward system with goals & values

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Here are his 5levels of listening: (1) Ignoring (2) Pretending to listen (3) Selective listening (4) Attentive listening & (5) Empathic listening.  And, quite often we tend to listen from our frame of reference (even if we are listening attentively) and have these “autobiographical responses”: (1) Evaluate—agree or disagree (2) Probe—ask questions (3) Advise—based on our own experience “We prescribe a solution before we diagnose the problem and (4) Interpret—explain people’s actions based on our own motivations

If you want to interact effectively with people and influence them, you must first understand them. And, it is always in your Circle of Influence to seek first to understand (Needs stop motivating people once those are satisfied. Satisfy the need to be understood, and you can move on to being productive)

Empathic listening is with the ears, eyes, and heart—for feeling, meaning & understanding. Listen to people not with intent to reply, to convince, to manipulate; listen simply to understand —emotionally and intellectually—to see how the other person sees things. Empathic listening is a powerful emotional deposit, because it provides the speaker with ‘Psychological air.’

The other half of this habit, then, is being understood. Use the Greek approach for your communication of Ethos—character, Pathos—relationship, and Logos—logic of what you’re saying

Habit 6: Synergize

“The basis of synergy is that two people can disagree, and both can be right. It’s not logical. It’s Psychological.”

The real essence of synergy is valuing the differences— the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people. “The key to valuing differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

By understanding and valuing the differences in another person’s perspective, we have the opportunity to create synergy, which allows us to uncover new possibilities through openness and creativity.

Synergy can be created as the culmination of the first five habits and confidence, integrity, and empathy

Synergy allows you to:

  • Expand your perspective “If a person of your calibre and intelligence has a different opinion, let me understand it”
  • Have courage to be open and encourage others to be open
  • Avoid negativity, and look for the good
  • Solve conflicts and find a better solution(than individual solution)

Once people have been through synergy, they’re not the same again.  They know that the possibility of such mind-expanding adventures always exists

Habit-7: Sharpen the Saw

7th Habit surrounds all of the other habits and makes each one possible by preserving and enhancing your greatest asset— yourself

To sharpen the saw means renewing ourselves, in all four aspects of our natures:

  1. Mental: To renew mental health & expand mind. Action: Read, visualise, write, plan
    Physical: To enhance our capacity to work, adapt, and enjoy. Action: Exercise, nutrition, stress management, rest and relax
  2. Emotional: To develop meaningful relationships. Action: Seek to deeply understand other people, make contributions, maintain an Abundance Mentality, and seek to help others find success
  3. Spiritual: To provide leadership to life and reinforce commitment to value system. Action: Meditation, communicate with nature, immerse great literature or music
CategoriesSales Consulting

Insanely Simple by Ken Seagall

To  Steve Jobs Simplicity was religion. It was a weapon. It is Core Value No. 1 that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other tech companies making it the most valuable company on earth. Simplicity in how Apple is structured, how it innovates, how it speaks to its customers.
People Prefer Simplicity. And as it becomes more rare, it also becomes more valuable

How to keep it Insanely Simple: The Steve Jobs’ Way
1. Think Brutal= Be brutally honest.

Just say what you have to say. Straight. No restraint. No partial truths, And hard reset between meetings. Make honesty the basis of all interactions. Being straight like that, everyone knows where exactly they stand. understanding what was done right, what was wrong, and what needs to be done. That clarity- propels organizations. Simplicity has a merciless side. Good enough isn’t enough. Submit only work that you believe 100% in. Every manager has to be a ruthless enforcer of high standards. Accept no Compromises, make no compromises. Be vigilant as honesty can be replaced by calculation and relationships can get ‘managed’ rather than nurtured.

2. Think Small=Work with a small group trustworthy of smart people

Simplicity’s best friend is Small groups of Smart People. Start small, keep them small. Everybody present in a meeting should be essential. Small Project teams with talented people given real responsibility- which drives them to deliver quality thinking. No Big Company behaviors. Apple is organized like a startup- the world’s biggest startup!
– The quality of work is inversely proportional to the no. of people involved in the project
– The quality of work increases in direct proportion to the degree of involvement of the ultimate decision maker. Not at the very end but on-going.

Simplicity is an all-or- none proposition. No picking & choosing allowed. Creativity came before process. Be the sworn enemy of idea-killing processes. When process is king, ideas will never be. Understand & appreciated the creative process- which, in certain ways, is the absence of process. Know that if you enable a small group of smart people, good things would happen. Be a cultivator, nurturer, hirer of creative people.

3. Think Minimal=Focus on one thing, one idea. Weather product or ad cut the crap, cut it down to the essence. When in doubt, subtract, ie. Minimize.

Focus is saying no to the 100 other good ideas that are there. You have to pick carefully. Customers demand & appreciate choice. It is the overdose that becomes confusing and hence damaging. Consumers appreciate a simple shopping experience. The faster & simpler you can make the buying experience, the more business you will do.

Being complicated is easy. It’s simplicity that requires serious work. For this, the organization must be willing to take a serious hard look at itself. And it never happens by itself. Simplicity needs a Champion

Minimizing can be a tremendously powerful tool- but often it requires great audacity. For good ideas to not get lost, minimize the processes thru which these ideas must travel
To capture the attention pick its most compelling aspect and present it in the most compelling way. People will always respond to a single idea expressed clearly.

4. Think Motion = Aim realistically high, have a plan and don’t give ‘enough’ time.

Simplicity never stands still. Put a small team of smarts to work on a plan and put the plan in motion. No time-outs allowed. Only when people are kept in constant motion do they stay focused with the right kind of intensity. Work isn’t supposed to be easy; it’s supposed to be gratifying- and keeping a team in motion is what gets you there. Progress is more important than process. His bottomline was that the ship had to be moving forward every day. If you weren’t helping, that’s when you get into trouble

5. Think Iconic = Find a conceptual image that actually captures the essence of your idea.

A single iconic image can be the most powerful form of communication. Like Einstein, Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King. The press ads just had a b&w portrait of an Apple ‘hero’, an Apple Logo & the words ‘Think Different’. Think different defines Apple .

6.Think Phrasal= Express an idea in simple words, simple sentences, simple name

Product naming is the ultimate exercise in Simplicity. It requires one to capture in a single word or two, the essence of a product or a company- or in some cases, create a personality for it. Human beings are naturally programmed to identify products by single words. Apple makes great use of Common Sense when it names products. It also aims for consistency (iMac/iPod/iPad/iPhone!)

7. Think Casual= Not formal, not slick but straight, to the point. Don’t Present: Converse

No slick presentations to Steve. He preferred straight talk and raw content. Brief & interactive presentations between a small group of smart people meeting in a casual atmosphere: Just simple conversations. Steve considered most meetings to be brainstorming sessions. He never asked the agency for a formal presentation- He just wanted the agency’s best thinking! The only formal presentations he made was when he was on stage unveiling a new Apple product.

8. Think Human = Allow your heart to have a say in the matter.

The genius of Apple is that it often sees human potential where other companies do not, and it has the design & engineering skill to bring its vision to life. Apple does not actually invent the idea from scratch. The concept may already exist but be missing only one thing: Simplicity. The curse of Simplicity it looks deceptively Simple. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. It took something that was inherently complicated and made it wonderfully simple. Simplicity is what makes people feel like they know you, understand you and ultimately trust you.

Apple doesn’t dilute its marketing plan by segments. At the end of the day it is about people: what stirs their imaginations, what keeps them satisfied, and what makes them smile.The customer has to get it in a second-’it has to improve our lives by an order of magnitude over what’s already available.

9. Think Skeptic= Be sceptical about the skeptics, the No-Sayers, the ‘experts’

Never take no for an answer. ‘F… the lawyers’ ‘Take advice, not orders’ . If somebody says ‘It can’t be done’, they mean ‘It can’t be done without extraordinary effort’

10. Think War= Use every available weapon; and the most effective: your passion

Simplicity allows people to focus on one thing. Conversely, focusing on one thing helps achieve Simplicity. Simplicity is the greatest business weapon of our time. Technologically, Apple has established itself as a master of miniaturization. Philosophically, it has established itself as a master of Simplicity. ‘When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions’

Simplicity is not the goal. It is the guiding light that can help a business achieve its goals. Simplicity is a concept. It’s a way of looking at every part of your job, the jobs of those around you, and the way your entire company operates. That involves taking a look at the processes that are in place and figuring out how to reduce them- not reinforce them.

Once you start seeing the world thru the lens of Simplicity, you will be astounded to know how many opportunities to improve the way the business works.

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