#1521 once

I have written several dots about the need to repurpose content and encouraged readers to use material over and over. It seems that this applies in the information technology area as well.

A colleague described the OHIO method that they use as a guiding principle in their database design: Only Handle Information Once. 

If you enter a name once, it should be able to be retrieved in all the other ways that the information is desired. A content update in one area should automatically refresh the material in all the pages on the website. A database should track fields across users rather than requiring multiple entries.

I think the OHIO principles apply in settings beyond technology infrastructure. It has been a long-held belief that you can best manage the paper beast by only handling mail once before deciding to act, file or recycle. Reading emails could follow the same process. Taking notes allows you have ready-made documentation rather than having to look facts up again. Instantly entering comments into a database allows automatic sharing of notes rather than having clients repeat the same information in the future.

Think about OHIO the next time you find yourself touching information twice. It’s a long drive across the Buckeye State and you don’t want to do it over and over again.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Thanks to Coby and Mike.

#1520 harried

I recently was at a restaurant with a large group of people. We had reservations for 20, which the restaurant gladly accepted, but seemingly gave no further thought to the implications of that decision.

As a result, one waitress not only serviced our entire party, but was responsible for many other tables as well. We waited an hour to order, had food sitting out on trays waiting to be placed on the table (thus it was cold when it was delivered), salads were missed, and in short, our two and a half hour meal was not a stellar experience.

And at the same time, we could have asked no more of the waitress herself. She was in perpetual motion, hurrying between our table and others, serving food, taking orders and tending to requests. There was not much more one individual could have done; it was the restaurant ownership that dropped the ball, not her.

Think about whether you have structures that even occasionally put your employees in impossible situations. Do you put your employees in predicaments like this waitress without additional support at “crunch times?” Have you failed to coordinate what sales promises with what production can deliver? Do you put your reputation on the line by providing sub-par service just to save a little in wages?

The waitress is the face of the restaurant, but no matter how pleasant her smile and how accommodating she tried to be, the overall experience was a bad one. Your front line can only compensate for so much. Their earnest efforts to do the impossible don’t make good service possible. Don’t expect otherwise.

beth triplett
leadershipdots@blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



#1519 two

Yesterday I wrote about social listening, a strategy for intentionally being aware of social media exchanges and trends with the intent of appropriately mentioning a brand in the conversation.

One of the biggest insights for me was that the major products that use this have not one but two different teams of people involved in the on-going process. One team is exclusively focused on the listening aspect: they follow high traffic spikes and ascertain the influencers who are driving the conversation. But when they discover something relevant, they pass it along to the response team to craft a message to post. 

I would not have considered that two teams were used in the process, but it makes total sense. The listening team needs to be analytical and technologically savvy, creating algorithms and ascertaining when traffic is noteworthy for its volume or content. The response team members are the communicators: the witty, politically astute word mavens who can drop just the right spin into the conversation. It is rare that the two divergent skill sets are found in the same person, thus the two teams.

Think about the tasks that you ask your employees to perform. Have you thought of the skills required, rather than just the functions that are required? Would you be better off splitting the duties differently to allow strengths to shine in diverse staff members? Do you have one team when you may be better with two? 

Listen to the advice of the professional social listeners and delineate responsibilities in ways that match tasks with talents. I think you’ll “Like” the result.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1518 popcorn

At a recent meeting I attended, we heard a presentation regarding strategies for “social listening.” This entails a strategic and deliberate process to follow social media posts on targeted topics, and then to intentionally connect a brand to the conversations. It was a fascinating concept and the speaker opened our eyes to a whole world of possibilities of how the process could benefit our organization. Everyone was excited!

I likened the board’s reaction to a popcorn popper where a new kernel had just popped. Yes, it was exciting. Yes, social listening is a good thing and could benefit us. It may be the exact right thing to pursue. 

But before rushing off and crafting a social listening plan, it is important to remember that there are many other kernels that could be popped. Especially in the technology area, it is easy to get excited about the new app/system/software/hardware that you see, without putting it into context as to what objectives it is designed to meet or what need you are trying to address. 

Whether it is in technology or any other new initiative, think about the other kernels in the popper before you rush out and implement something new. Just because it is good, doesn’t mean it is right for you right now.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1517 included

On a recent tour of a new residence hall, the tour guide pointed out that laundry was “free” to the students. Others quickly amended his statement to acknowledge that laundry wasn’t really without cost, rather it was part of the overall residence hall charge.

Then when we were in the hotel, some members of our party were commenting on how they loved the “free” happy hour amenity with hot hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages. This, in addition to the “free” hot breakfast, popcorn and snacks. In reality, these services do not come without having the user pay, it’s just that funds are not provided on a transactional basis.

The same is true at Southwest, where “bags fly free.” Yes they do, provided that they are accompanied by a fare-paying passenger. And free wi-fi, parking or notepads and pens at a meeting are also only free in the moment. Free shipping is certainly accounted for in the price of the item (or Prime membership).

When we stop to think about it, we rationally know that “free” really means “included” in the cost, instead of a separate charge. But we don’t often stop to ponder. People like the notion of “free.” They like it a lot. 

Think of how you can take advantage of this mental sleight of hand. What you can bundle together and offer under one blanket charge so you can offer something for free to your customers? Can you promote a service as “free” that you are offering anyway? Is there a way to eliminate a series of smaller charges in favor of one comprehensive one?

Try to directly charge nothing for something and delight your customers as they herald you for giving them something for nothing.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1516 dropped connection

I was surprised to hear a commercial for Sprint from Paul, the “can you hear me now?” former spokesperson for Verizon. Apparently he has switched his allegiance and is now touting cell service for his previous competitor.

Paul, an actor, is nevertheless a powerful spokesperson for Sprint. He had established himself as an iconic figure and his “can you hear me now?” became pervasive in pop culture and went way beyond his ads. So when he says: “there is only a 1% difference in coverage, can you hear that?” it has more credibility than if anyone else was saying it.

I wonder what evolved (de-volved?) in Paul’s relationship with Verizon that not only caused him to leave, but to actively promote their rival. I have written before that organizations would be wise to consider how they treat former employees as well as how they pay attention to current ones. Apparently Verizon didn’t get my memo!

For those who are enlightened, how you say goodbye to staff and the communication you have with them afterward can go a long way in your public relations efforts. Current employees are your organization’s ambassadors, and former staff can be too, if treated with respect and good will in the transition process. Departures may not always be the employee’s choice, but the employer always has an option of how to treat people during the separation.

Think about Paul the next time you are saying farewell to an employee. After all the money spent in branding him with Verizon, it seems like a bad connection that allowed him to wind up hawking phone plans for Sprint. Take the high road to keep from dropping the call with your former staff.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#1515 sharpen

Thought leader Dan Pink recently shared a post in which he described his favorite pencil. It does not have an eraser, so I am sure it would not make my list, but it started me thinking about writing implements in a way I had not done before.

There is something for everyone, even when just considering pencils and not the many other choices that abound for hand-written communication. CW Pencil Enterprise is an entire store dedicated to selling just pencils and their accessories. And who knew that an elite pencil sharpener could cost over $500? I could buy boxes and boxes of my trusty Ticonderogas for that price and just toss them when the tip was dull!

I am not a connoisseur of pencils, so what I know about them, and what I want to know about them, is very limited. But for others, choosing the right one is an art. To start, the Pencil Enterprise’s blog shares a handy chart of what all those letters on pencils mean. From there, you can learn more about the graphite/clay composition of the lead, the wood, the width and so on. 

All this reminded me of the concept that experts notice nuances whereas non-experts only can observe broad characteristics. Show me an enrollment report, and undoubtedly I will have 20 questions whereas you might have none. Show me a pencil and I might ask if it is a #2, but otherwise I would have no further inquires for the Pencil Enterprise staff. 

A job of the leader is to help those around you see those fine distinctions and know more questions to consider. Share your expertise in areas where you have it, and ask experts in other areas to sharpen your knowledge about points you can’t even fathom.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com