efficient


Why Focusing on Innovation is Killing America

by Jodie Marzett, of www.TheMarzettGroup.com

Innovation alone isn't enough

Innovation alone isn’t enough

 

If you believe that jobs are created by innovation, and that innovation is what drives our economy and business growth, you may want to rethink your position. Before you grimace and stop reading – hear me out.

The model most believed is that inventing new ideas results in new businesses, and from those new businesses comes the creation of new jobs. While this sounds exciting, the reality is that jobs and economic growth come primarily from entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs have customers, and those customers create more new jobs, resulting in economic growth.  In fact, all inventions require an entrepreneur to turn that invention into a product or service that has customers willing to buy it. Innovations without customers are worthless, right?

I equate this to lack of planning. If you have a great idea, and you turn your idea into a reality – a tangible “thing”, but you have no plan beyond building that “thing” (how are you going to sell it, market it, ensure it is solving some problem that exists in the market, etc.), then you just wasted an awful lot of time. If you haven’t thought through your entire business model BEFORE you start innovating, you’ve likely wasted a whole lot of brain power. Why? Because, once your amazing innovation is created, you’ll have to run around trying to figure out whether or not anyone will actually pay money for it. What if you find that people are not willing to pay for your amazing invention? Or what if you waste another year simply trying to market your new, already-built “thing” before you start seeing any sales or revenue from it? So many people waste that precious up-front time in planning things all the way out first, before they waste their time. Time is a non-renewable resource that, once gone, you can never get back. In fact, time is more valuable than money itself, because you can always make money back, but time – once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Innovators are creatives, and I firmly believe that the world needs them. It’s just that, far too often I see people jumping to build “the next big widget”, when they haven’t clearly thought through who will actually even USE that widget. Is it really something people even want? What do they have NOW that they use, and will the widget address their true problem, or is it just a band-aid to their problem? Before a creative innovates a solution, they better make sure someone else hasn’t already solved the same problem, but a different way (and often times, a better way). They also better make sure they understand the root cause – what the real problem actually is, instead of trying to solve “symptoms” of an overall problems (the typical “band-aid fix”). This holds true regardless of industry, too! It doesn’t matter if you are in the public or private sector, the saying “build it and they will come” is a risky one, at best, and more often than not it is simply a failed approach.

So, it isn’t that we don’t need innovators. Instead, to truly push us forward, we need innovators paired with entrepreneurs that are true project managers – people who understand the value of solid, up-front planning. So many organizations have “strategies”, and what they believe to be “solid plans” to achieve their strategies. What they don’t realize is that, without understanding every single action needed to achieve that plan, it isn’t a viable plan. Without understanding every single resource required to perform those actions (be it money, time, personnel, skill sets, training, facilities, etc.), they don’t actually have a viable plan – they have nothing more than a “wish”. Let’s look at this in the form of an example, shall we?

If you were taking a road trip to Disney World, you wouldn’t do it without having a plan in place, would you? For example, what gear would you pack for your trip? How many people will be traveling in the car so you can decide between driving your Honda Fit (small) or your Honda Odyssey (large)? How much money will you need to pay for gasoline on your drive? Does your car need to be serviced before you drive out? Which roads will you take to get there, and how long will it take you? Where are you starting from? Where will you be finishing? Will you have one or two hotel stops along the way, or drive straight-through? Will you bring food along for hte drive, or just plan to stop at restaurants along the way? In other words, you may not have written down every single detail, but you have a complete plan – and when you don’t, you become frustrated, irritated, and the trip itself becomes less enjoyable. The same scenario holds true in business. If you don’t have a crisp and clear plan that captures who is doing what, when they are doing it, what they are doing it with (equipment, money, people, etc.), what process they are doing it within (governance and decision-making), chaos ensues. Sadly then, not far behind that is a decrease in moral. You may claim to be an “agile” organization, or a die-hard PMI Framework follower – it doesn’t matter. If you aren’t following a plan (it can be iterative, and should be), you can’t get there. Not without a lot of retrying and inefficiencies along your path.

My point? Pair the innovators with proven entrepreneurial project managers (no offense, but simply having a “PMP” behind your name doesn’t make you a “proven” PM) to have a feasible plan for bringing those amazing innovations out into the public and private sectors. The goal is to benefit REAL customers, who will get REAL value from the end results, and who would find the value great enough to pay for it. These combinations are the power that generates jobs and spark economical growth – you cannot focus on just innovation alone, or we’ll all fail.


17 Ways to Make Your Business Process Management More Efficient

17_ways_GoogleDocs

If you have days where you feel like you’ve just wasted a bunch of time unnecessarily, you probably have. There really isn’t a nice way to put it. Don’t feel defeated, and definitely do not keep “going through the motions”! There are better ways – more efficient ways! Spare yourself from further time loss frustration, and start being more efficient! There are a number of free tools out there that can help improve your business process management methods to make them more efficient, and save your time for more important tasks! Today, I’m going to focus on using Google Docs – an awesome and completely free tool option that anyone can use. Check out these 17 ways you can become more efficient in your business process management workflow simply by using Google Docs to help you out:

 

  1.  Set up a “Getting to know you” survey for new customers, clients, new teams, or new employees to fill out. This saves time for everyone, and compiles the inputs of everyone in one location. If you choose to share this information with others, it is as simple as sharing the link. If you wish you keep it private, though, you can!
  2. Set up a survey to obtain customer, employee, or team member’s feedback. This will also result in having all of the information compiled together in one place, so you can see if there are any overarching themes, or areas requiring deeper exploration.
  3. Set up a form to solicit your peers and colleagues as means for obtaining fresh ideas, and email the link to anyone you are seeking input from. You can keep this open so that it can be an ongoing “brainstorm” of ideas that you and your team or colleagues can collaborate and build on over time, and kept in an easily accessible place for all to use.
  4. Set up a Sheet to track key articles or information you want to save for referencing later, or to share with your team. This could also be an area to track key contact information, too.
  5. If you are trying to set up an event of some sort, you could track reservations via a Sheet or Form. This would work for a team Potluck lunch, a team-building trip, or a local training event. You can set up payment tracking options, preferences, and anything else you’d like to know! You can also set the sheets to be color coded for results, for example set it up so that red displays for those not going, while green displays for those who are.
  6. Are you responsible for sales or marketing? This is another way to track your prospects, who you’ve reached out to, when you’ve last reached out to them, and information on where you met/found them, etc.
  7. Want feedback on something you’re working on? Perhaps you’d like feedback from colleagues or your team members on a new website design? Set up a survey to obtain peer feedback, and share the link with everyone you’d like to receive feedback from. You can keep it open and collaborative, or quick and one-time entry only.
  8. If you are hosting a live learning event of some sort, you can use Google Docs to serve as a live input tool for participants to provide their input, notes, questions and comments, then provide the link to all attendee so they have the rollup of all inputs, questions, answers, highlights, key notes, etc. This is a great way for everyone to benefit from not only the live event, but from each other, too!
  9. Develop a survey to obtain the “before” benchmark before any learning event, and then provide the same surey after the event, to determine how successful it was in teaching the intent.
  10. Use a survey with a shared link to collaboratively allow your customers to build up the potential topic of your next Webinar / Teleseminar / Google Hangout / Skype session for them.
  11. Generate a “Help Topic” list for customers (especially on membership-type sites) where they can add topics and areas where they are seeking more help and information. You can then track your exact follow-up with each of them to keep them satisfied, track your own response times, and more!
  12. Survey your audience (clients, customer, fans) to determine the types of devices they have in their homes, how often they use them, which social networks they belong to, and which online sites they visit most (blogs, podcasts, etc.) to improve your understanding of their needs, the kind of tools they use most to consume your information, and to find out where others’ like them may be hanging out!
  13. Hold asynchronous brainstorm sessions for teams, or colleagues preparing to do a summit together regardless of the time zone they reside in. Nice, right?
  14. Set up a sheet to track desired professional development options, such as conferences, conventions, training courses, and then check off as each area is covered, obtained or achieved.
  15. Use Google Docs to track different applications or tools you are considering using. You can do a complete compare and contrast based on tool type, and continue to build upon it as needed.
  16. If you are like me, and do a lot of book reading for continuous growth and learning, you may find it helpful to track the books you read, along with key summaries of each. You could also make this information available to your team members so they can have a ready-access list of resources in areas they’d like to learn more about, or allow them to share the books they’ve also read!
  17. Use Google Docs to serve as your sign-up sheet for preparing a collaboration with other businesses (such as an online summit, for example). This will ensure each core area is being covered, and will provide the specific topic title and the person that will be covering it, so you can immediately see status of who you have signed up, and what is left to fill.

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High performers are efficiently effective. High performers focus their energy on those things that mean the most to them. They focus on getting things done – the right things done. Before you can “do things right”, you have to make sure you are “doing the right things”! If you haven’t set your goals (and objectives for achieving them), you are not optimizing your time and energy.

High performers create and sustain heightened levels of clarity, energy, courage, productivity and influence.

Clarity – Your vision. Define it!
Energy – You must generate your own energy – and sustain it!
Courage – Be bold. Be smart. Make decisions wisely, but make them. Nothing can happen if you decide not to decide, or if you take too long and miss opportunities!
Productivity – Get stuff done – but make sure it’s the “right” stuff!
Influence – High performers have a high level of influence on the people they interact with. Know your stuff when interacting. Do your research, earn respect and you will earn influence!

To ensure you are engaging in the right activities, first you need to plan out your end goals. What do you want to achieve? You have to have a defined end-state if you have any hope of getting there. I have generated a template to help you define your desired end state. Your end state can be as simple as where you want to be 12 months from now, 5 years from now, or even 10 years from now. Using the view of your desired end state, you can develop a plan to get there!

For more tips, tricks and tools, join our mailing list! To join, click the picture below and immediately receive your free starter toolkit!

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Being Efficiently Effective! 2

While I pride myself on being efficient, living optimally within the constraints surrounding me, and loving how natural it typically is for me, I realize that efficient doesn’t always mean “effective”. If you’re trying to get to the store, your goal is to “get to the store”, right? So, would it be more efficient to walk there or drive your car? It depends. Are you trying to save gas in your car? Then walking is more “efficient”. Are you trying to save time? Then driving your car is more efficient. Or is it?

Being efficient is all about improving your situation without negatively impacting anyone else. Being effective is getting to the expected outcome. Since being efficient can have some “perspective” to it, it’s important to know what your perspective is… WHILE planning your outcome. Of course, we all want to get to our outcome the simplest, most direct route we can, don’t we? If we intend to have a new patio installed in the back of our house, and we want it in time for summer, but don’t actually complete it until the fall, we’re still effective if we’ve achieved the outcome we intended to achieve, right? But we sure weren’t efficient in doing so!

You can also see the reverse happen – you can be very efficient, without ever being effective! If you want to empty your email inbox and bring it do zero by the end of each and every day, you are being efficiently organized. But if you’re simply doing this by deleting everything out of your inbox without reading any of it, you might not be very effective (or maybe you are!). Especially if you’re in the customer service field, and your job is to respond and make as many customers happy as possible – even through email. Oops! Gold star on efficiency, but big chunk of coal for being ineffective!

Do you have any hiccups or areas in your personal or professional life that cause you to be less efficient or effective than you’d like to be? There is always – and yes, I do mean always, areas to improve. What may have been perfect one day, is probably no longer perfect the next because we live in a dynamic and changing world. Being just efficient, or just effective is no longer “good enough”. We should all strive to be efficiently effective! Stay tuned to hear what some of our top inefficiencies are, and how to address them!