Archive for July, 2008

A Fix for Information Overload

Remember the fax machine – a once glorious piece of technology that will likely start collecting dust in the corner of your office – and how it made business communications seem like magic in the 1980s … Imagine how much time you’d waste if you were checking that fax for new messages 50 times a day. Well, that’s exactly what the average worker does now with e-mail every single workday!

As great as e-mail is, the technology can often impede efficiency. A 2007 study by research firm Basex reported that businesses waste $650 million a year because of so-called information pollution. Between e-mail addiction, spam and the time we spend interrupting our work to constantly check messages, information overload is hurting us. Throw cellphones, crack-berries, and instant messages into the mix and it’s clear we have a serious problem.

The New York Times reports that some of the nation’s biggest tech firms, including Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Google, have formed a nonprofit to come up with a solution to this digital dilemma. Aptly called the Information Overload Research Group, it held its first conference on July 15. The group hopes to come up with major solutions to this problem soon.

Google, probably the biggest enabler of this digital overload, is already doing its part. The company’s E-mail Addict lets users click on the “take a break” button, which turns the screen gray and displays the following: “Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 15 minutes!”

So is Intel. The chip maker has a program called “Zero e-mail Fridays” which encourages workers to use face-to-face communications when possible.

So what are other solutions? We also have a major information overload in the Project and Workforce management industry. Definitely more project management automation, less spreadsheets, real-time reports based on a central repository of project and workforce information can reduce the flood of emails and meeting we all experience today … until technology gets us even further away from the hole we are in right now.

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Preparing like champions

Recently, we had a demo session for a potential client. The demonstration was lackluster to say the least. The reason for the poor showing was not a miss-match, though. Rather, the problem was human in nature — a simple lack of preparation.

Last Wednesday, I sent all Tenrox employees an e-mail on the importance of this often overlooked but critical task. Here is the email:

There was a side discussion in the last few minutes of the sales meeting about the lack of sufficient preparation for demos. Account executives said Solution Consultants do not prepare; and I have heard the exact same comment made by solution consultants about our account executives.

While I do not consider myself a success story, I think most of you would agree that being one of the main players that contributed to building a great company gives me some credibility to voice my opinions on this topic and to complain to each and every one of you about what I have heard in the last few days from people I deeply care for, very much enjoy working with, and count on for all of us, as a team, to win the game of life.

I spend 3 to 6 hours on research on the net and/or visit a couple of stores before I buy even a $500 video camera or digital camera; don’t you? Then how is it that you guys are not willing to invest the time to prepare for a demo or a customer call/meeting? And to work on such preparation as a team? Instead of researching for hours to spend money don’t you think it is worthwhile to invest some time to prepare better so you can make more money?!

Preparation will always be the No. 1 ingredient for a successful outcome. The same was true 2,500 years ago:

confucius300-2“Success depends
upon previous
preparation,
and without such
preparation,
there is sure
to be failure.”
- Confucius

 

When I look back at Tenrox, I can see that every time I prepared, worked very hard towards a goal, prepared and practiced even more … I got extremely positive results. And when I “assumed”, tried to “wing it”, got “cocky”, thought I could do it “alone”, or figure it out “alone”, “underestimated” the opponent, … I lost.

Most of you have heard me idolize Michael Jordan before; the same praise and admiration applies to Tiger Woods, Warren Buffet, Steffi Graff, … I really question how uniquely talented or gifted these people are … I think their most important talent is their understanding of the critical importance of preparation and practice. Michael Jordan, and champions like him, are always the first to show up for practice and the last to leave. They discuss and debate strategy with their teammates continuously and are extremely unselfish, on and off the field.

So the choice is yours. We can be a mediocre team who wins once in a while, tries to wing it in the game of life … or we can be a team that practices, works hard, prepares, plans and continuously adjusts … so, in our own way, we can become a championship team like the Chicago Bulls who won the title 6 times in a span of less than a decade … everyone in that team feels like a champion no matter whether they were playing defense or offense … the pride, joy and great memories of those years will be in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives … that is the feeling I want all of us to have when we think of our “Tenrox years”.

So can we start preparing please?!

I’m pleased to say I’ve received a a lot of positive feedback from our internal teams. I thought some might not take it too well. But most told me they need to work on preparing better since they are investing so much effort with every prospect any way.

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