Tag Archive: business


Despite what everyone seems to be saying, lack of ‘resources’ is almost never the actual constraint.

Your real constraints are:

  • Lack of Creativity
  • Lack of Imagination
  • Blind Acceptance of Inefficient Processes
  • Lack of Focus
  • Poor Planning
  • Lack of Direction
  • Lack of the RIGHT People
  • …and the list goes on.

The truth is, ‘Lack of Resources’ is an excuse. It is a rug under which we sweep the dirt of inefficiencies, incompetencies, and poor processes. Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that we use the excuse of ‘Lack of Resources’ to foster, support, and encourage our bad habits.

Sure, getting more people is easy, but doing the right thing (and attacking the items in my list above) has the higher payoff in the long run.

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Don’t get me wrong…Anticipation can be a good thing, but, as with everything, it must be treated as a calculated risk.

I often think of the long lines that form outside of Apple stores before the release of the latest and greatest iDevice.

Once the doors open, two things are guaranteed to follow in a very short time:

  1. Apple is going to make a lot of money in a very short time.
  2. The internet is about to be abuzz with news links and blogs detailing the disappointments experienced with the new device (What do you mean the maps aren’t accurate?!?!).

It seems like, once some people get their hands on the newest iDevice, they focus their entire energy on finding every flaw with it.

Now, this may be an extreme example, but it is played out everyday (albeit, on a much smaller scale) whether you realize it or not:

It starts with the first add or the first media leak…basically the first time someone hears about a new service or device: they start dreaming about it. 

The danger in dreaming is that people start to imagine their use of the device or service. They start ‘dreaming-in’ features that may not exist, they start ‘dreaming-in’ applications for which the actual device/service may not be acceptable, and they may even ‘dream-in’ a level of usability that the device/ service may not have yet achieved.

When they receive or experience the new device/service, it is already under scrutiny: being compared against the perception that the individual has had ample time  to bake up in their minds.

There is a reason that unexpected gifts make us happier than expected ones (When you get an unexpected bonus you are happy and surprised; when you are expecting a certain dollar amount, you just get upset at how much the government takes away from it and lose focus of the extra money you have received).

So, if your goal is to make a lot of money in a short time (like a new movie), you can use audience anticipation as a great tool to achieve your goals, but, if you want to avoid criticism (or focus on maintaining a lasting seller-customer relationship), you must approach anticipation more delicately (ensure product/service features are explicitly laid out to prevent ‘over-dreaming’, etc.).

…and I think this is one of the biggest causes of the great division between Employees and Management.

If you’re having back problems, you wouldn’t buy more of the chairs that you already have, so why, when projects are running behind schedule, do we require more meetings (which detract from productive time) or try to throw more people (outsiders to the current project) at the problem (which require the project ‘insiders’ to slow their work to catch their new counterparts up on the tasks at hand)?

Again, I defer to the law of extremes:
-if you threw a million people at your problem would it go away? Most likely not. You would have a smaller, core group working and a much larger group just standing around.
-but, if you put someone who was extremely talented on the job, how would your job look? It would most likely be completed in a timely manner and to a high degree of quality.

So, which will you choose?

Finding quality people and making more productive meetings is hard, but the dividends pay off in the long run.

The Placebo Effect

Numerous studies have validated the ‘Placebo Effect’.

Simply stated, if you have a symptom which you’re trying to get rid of, and you’re given a placebo, even if you know that it’s a placebo, studies have shown that you are pretty likely to show improvement in your symptoms (and you tend to have way  less side effects!).

It’s similar to how you feel instant relief after taking a Tylenol (even though, naturally, it takes time to take effect).

I personally believe that we don’t use this to our advantage nearly enough.

As an example, I’ll let you in on one of my darkest secrets: I love playing Ultimate Frisbee, but, unfortunately, I’m not a very fast runner, so I will keep a pack of Sweet Tarts  in my pocket and pop a Sweet Tart in between games or before the game point. I tell myself its an energy pill, and BAM! I’m a running machine!

So, do you tend to be nervous at big meetings? First dates? Take a ‘smartie’ as a confidence pill! Do you get writer’s block frequently? Take a ‘smartie’ as an intelligence or focus pill!

Our minds are so powerful…let’s put them to work for us!

(Disclaimer: this post was, in no way, funded or supported by Nestlé or the Smarties Candy Company.)

SMRT

This has long been a pet peeve of mine…

Why do companies (in an attempt to stand out or be different) intentionally misspell their names?

(Heck, I intentionally didn’t get a Twitter account because “@CorporateAvenger” is one letter too long, and I couldn’t bring myself to settle with “@CorporateAvengr”.)

Today’s example is a company named “Bed Gard“…That’s right…”Bed Gard” (I’m even getting red squiggles as I type this…which is driving me CRAZY). The actual definition for “Gard” is: “a département located in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is named after the river Gardon (or Gard)”…nothing even close to the definition of “guard”.

Here’s why I hate this practice:

  1. It makes you and your company look dumb
  2. It makes you and your company hard to find (Google offered to correct my spelling to “Bed Guard”, which changes your results from Pick-up truck bed liners to toddler bed guards…)

If I was, in fact, looking for a bed guard for my truck, I would have to accidentally misspell my search to arrive at the page for this product…This is not how you make sales!!!

(Also, as a side note, with smart phones on the rise the use of numericals or special characters will also cut down on your profits, as these require more effort on the part of the ‘searcher’ to arrive at your website or to search for your company on the web.)

So, why do companies keep doing this time and time again?

That’s right, salesforce.com, you’re on my naughty list.

So, we’ve discussed the many pros of e-mail communications over telemarketing phone calls, but, apparently, something still needs to be said about these e-mail communications… Let me paint a picture of the proceeding events:

  • I heard about Salesforce.com and wanted to watch their promotional video.
  • To view the video, you must give them your e-mail address and phone number. (This is very annoying and already a turn-off, but I figured they wouldn’t abuse the privilege…)
  • Almost instantly I received a follow up e-mail asking for some more details about my business and if there were any specific aspects of the software for which I would like more information, which, honestly, was to be expected.
  • Then I received a phone call. Now you’ve crossed a line.
  • Then I received another e-mail asking if my phone number was correct and if there was a better time to contact me (These 2 e-mails and 1 phone call all happened within an hour!).
  • I sent the following response (Paraphrasing):
So far, Salesforce.com looks pretty intriguing to me; however, I am currently not in a position to take advantage of your software.
I know some folks with some influence at bigger companies, and I will do my best to bring your services to their attention, but I’m honestly a bit annoyed at the rate of your correspondence. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make them put in their own information to watch your demo videos because I’m afraid you would call/e-mail them too much and they would be turned off from your company/service.
Within an hour I had 2 e-mails and 1 phone call from you (I hung up on your phone call because I was eating lunch with my family). Please refrain from contacting me as this is my personal information. I will contact you if I have questions or need additional information about your website.
Thank you.
  • 1 month later, I received the following e-mail:
Just wanted to see if you are still interested in salesforce.comwe have some exciting new updates we are about to release and wanted to see if that is something worth taking a look at?
  • I responded that I was officially uninterested due to the lack of adherence to my request to not receive further e-mails.
  • One month later…I received this same e-mail again.
  • My response: “No.”
Just because e-mail is slightly less offensive, does not mean you can treat this medium like a telemarketer. Your approach should be adjusted to suit your medium!
E-mails can be more easily customized, and address books are easier to manage (and can even be managed by one person) – Don’t just treat your e-mail contacts like your phone contacts, with identical, generic, incrementally-repeating messages!!!
Salesforce.com, I thought you’d be better at sales than this!!!

At the company I work for, not unlike many other companies nowadays, they are really cracking down on people printing in color.

We’ve had several rounds of e-mails from executives (…or the executive’s secretaries, anyway), fancy graphs (in color) of how much more it is costing the company  every time we print in color, and some people have put fancy tag lines on their e-mail signatures, but people continue to print in color.

The solution is NOT that we need more e-mails and threats from the folks who make much more money than us, the solution is actually quite simple: Change the default setting!

That’s right, this printer is currently set to print in color by default. This means, any time anyone hits print, they print in color. To not print in color, they have to go into the settings and change them such that they will only print in black & white. While this simple task does not take much time (just a couple of mouse clicks), it does take effort, and people are, by nature, resistant to expending any additional effort beyond the base that is required to complete their intended task.

Now, what can this failure teach us about how to reach success? Make the “default” lead to your desired outcome! 

Another awesome example of this involves organ donations. In full text, it can be found here. Summarized, this study goes as follows:

When you renew your driver’s license, you have a chance to enroll in an organ donation program. In countries like Germany and the U.S., you have to check a box if you want to opt in. Roughly 14 percent of people do. But behavioral scientists have discovered that how you set the defaults is really important. So in other countries, like Poland or France, you have to check a box if you want to opt out. In these countries, more than 90 percent of people participate. This is a gigantic behavior difference cued by one tiny and costless change in procedure.

These examples should be more than enough evidence to demonstrate that you need to design your website, booth, product, marketing plan, etc such that, when a customer acts in the manner of least resistance, they are accomplishing your desired purpose. If you require any extra effort, you are losing sales and you are losing customers!

Contact us…maybe…

When I was learning to play bass guitar in High School (not that long ago), I picked up this handy little doo-dad to help me strengthen my fingers so I could play faster like my idol, Victor Wooten.

Anyway, I just noticed the “contact information” on this little guy yesterday, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised and confused at the same time…

Has there ever been a time in history when fax was the only option?

A long time ago, I bought a Sansa Fuze Mp3 player (as it was half of the price of the iPod with the same amount of memory). It has lasted several years with moderate usage, it has lived through some very extreme environmental conditions, and it’s still working to this day.

Side Note: I’m also a fan of how SanDisk does business: the Mp3 player just acts like a folder when docked to your computer (so you can just ‘click’ and ‘drag’ to add new songs…no need to work through a software like iTunes).

Honestly, it has  been a great little Mp3 player, but it has some quirks that drive me crazy!!!

  • First of all, when you’re trying to move within your song list, you have to spin the wheel to advance to the next song (you can’t just click ‘down’ or ‘up’).
  • Secondly, there is no way to jump to ‘fast scroll mode’. If you want something in the middle of the alphabet, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll until you get there (I wish you could just press and hold)!!!
  • Thirdly, you cannot loop around the alphabet (as in, if you want to get from ‘a’ to ‘x’, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll through ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’,… all the way to ‘x’. You cannot just go backwards from ‘a’ to ‘z’ to ‘y’ to ‘x’).
  • Finally, you cannot create a playlist on the go. They provide you with a “go list”, which is one pre-named playlist to which you can add a (small) limited amount of songs, but you cannot create a second playlist without hooking the Fuze up to a computer.

Now, the thing that drives me crazy about these little deficiencies are that they can all be alleviated with software, they require no additional hardware whatsoever!!!

Hardware costs money, and some companies have limited cash, so I understand why some companies use cheaper components in their products (I don’t necessarily agree with it all of the time, but I understand it).

The thing about software is that there are only two things that separate the great from the mediocre: time and intelligence (and neither of these should be in short supply)!

(Now, before someone  gets on my case, I know we all have deadlines we need to hit in order to keep up our freshness index, but, if we are in too much of a hurry, we will end up producing a far inferior product that annoys people (anyone else cram for tests in High School/College?!?). Also, I know that your software abilities are limited by the chips on which your software is running, but these chips are cheap compared to most of your hardware components).

Therefore, with this in mind, I really see a strong link between software and overall quality of the product and the company which the product represents. If there are bugs, poorly designed features, or broken links on web pages, it speaks volumes more to me about quality than a cheap part used in an assembly.

I get that your company may not always be able to afford better quality parts, but how can your company not afford to simply pay attention?

Today my gripe is against the dreaded communal sink.

It’s great in concept: with minimal capitol equipment you can facilitate the most people washing their hands at any given time.

The issue with this sink is  its real-life use: Men don’t like to be awkwardly bent over and shoulder to shoulder with other men washing their hands after they’ve used the restroom (I can’t speak for women, but I assume that this is also the case for you unless you are best friends or unless one of you has recently lent the other some eyeliner, etc).

With this knowledge in hand (and, as I can verify from all of my previous experience with these sinks), we can now see that there is typically only one person using this sink at any given time; which means that, during each use, 75% of the water being sprayed by this sink is being wasted.

On top of this, I would like to argue that there is rarely a case when these sinks are necessary. In the corporate restroom that I most often visit, there are 4 urinals, 4 stalls, and 4 of these sinks (which could each theoretically facilitate 4 people at a time for a grand total of 16 people washing their hands at one time). At most, three of the sinks are being used at a time  (with one person at each); therefore, four non-communal sinks could be implemented in this bathroom in place of the 4 communal sinks and there would be less wasted water.

Also, the water coverage for the communal sink  is far insufficient in comparison to the typical non-communal sink (as someone must attempt to get soap off of their hands utilizing 6-8 streams the size of mechanical pencil lead refills), the water tends to spray up and get water spots on your pants while you are washing your hands (which can lead to some awkward moments after you leave the bathroom)  since the water is shooting at you instead of aiming straight down, and, in the case of our communal sinks, the pedal frequently gets stuck in the “on” position as the equipment has worn over time, so it is not uncommon for these sinks to be stuck spraying when there is no one washing their hands (which, of course, is 100% of the water wasted).

I could see where these sinks could be handy (in very over-crowded conditions like community pools, etc), but this is not the right sink for anything short of such a high-volume venue!!!