Good People and Bad Process

One of the most frustrating and unfortunately common things in business is when good people follow bad process. In the ideal state, process is established to deliver repeatable success. Process can often be looked at in waterfall terms, meaning step 1, then step 2, options reviewed and step 3, etc. Looking at today’s business environment where change is constant, process should be looked at in a more agile-way. That is, finding opportunities to review process and ensure its efficient more frequently. It’s hard, especially for established businesses where process has meant continued success over an extended period of time. Even with success, innovate or die. There’s no need to get complacent, challenge your processes. Stress test them often and don’t take them for granted. Processes are only as good as the means to ensure they’re up-to-date.

Friends don’t let friends follow bad process.

Don’t call it a comeback…

It’s a new year and new resolutions to set and break. This is less of a resolution and more of a commitment to sharing. I’m surprised this blog hasn’t been reclaimed for neglect from child protective services. Luckily, its not and I’ve kicked my own ass to put more effort into it. I’ve met so many amazing people and cherish my relationships, experiences and what I learn from them more than anything else. This is dedicated to the amazing people in my network and hopefully positively contributing to that network via this blog.

Don’t call it a comeback. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

What I Wish I’d Known in College

Jason Loehr, circa 1997Some of the most rewarding work I’m involved with is my role on the Advisory Board for WKU’s School of Journalism, specifically the Dept. of Advertising. My man Cliff Shaluta runs the show and has been a mentor and friend for a long time. He continues to fight the good fight for bringing the best possible education and experiences for students amid the political bs that challenges higher education.

Recently, I was asked to come back to campus to talk with the Ad majors and faculty about my experiences in the “real world”. It’s a super cool opportunity anytime they ask and I’m always quick to respond.

During one of the Q&A’s, had an interesting question on “what would be the three things you wish you’d studied or done in preparation for your career experiences”. Good question. I don’t remember exactly what my response was, but here are my thoughts as a follow-up:

1. Finance – Math is hard. Working with financials is such a critical task, especially in leadership roles. The concepts of budgets, forecasts, pro forma’s, etc. are all skills I was able to learn and adapt, especially with my MBA studies. The practical experience of trial by fire worked for me, it would have been even better to have better experiences in my undergrad studies.

2. Psychology – The basic details of a Psych 100-style class are great, taking it a step or two further would have been even better. I’m fortunate to have focused in this space recently during my times in healthcare, especially behavior change, engagement, human factors, etc. In undergrad, it may not have had the impact, but the exposure and interest would have been beneficial. The approaches and tactics of psychology are key building blocks to much of the work in experience design, engagement strategies and more. It’s been written in articles from the NY Times to Gallup that successful leaders, especially CEO’s, have a great appreciation and knowledge of psychology in their ascent up the corporate ladder.

3. Sales – It’s one thing to sell ideas and concepts to peers or others inside organizations. It’s another level altogether when it comes to selling a product or service, more importantly in selling the greatest product of all, yourself. In my career transitions between client and agency work, the pressure, environment, tactics and general experiences with sales have been diverse and powerful. I’m very grateful for that diversity, adding to that experience in undergrad years would have been even more helpful.

I did leave the students with one quote that I’ve reinforced to my teams over the years. “It’s not about the what, it’s about the how”. Too many times I’ve seen great ideas and good answers to questions fall on deaf ears or backfire altogether because of a failure in how the information was communicated.

It’s such a competitive market right now for jobs and talent. Experiences are important, especially coming out of college. Being able to take on any experiences while in school is extremely valuable, being able to hit the ground running. Two other things I mentioned to the students were to spend time learning about emotional intelligence and to not jump straight into grad school. Emotional intelligence is important to help with working in teams, leading and especially in dealing with the corporate world. Grad school was so much more valuable to me after experiences in my career. I found myself applying what I learned on a regular basis. Without that experience I just don’t see as much impact.

Very rewarding stuff. I’m sure there are other things that come to mind. What else am I missing for these future leaders of tomorrow? Add your comments in.

Make Those New Year’s Resolutions Stick for You and Your Work

Welcome to 2011. It’s here whether you like it or not. The gym is packed.

A new year brings new opportunity. Change is a good topic and everyone’s talking about resolutions. The idea of New Year’s Resolutions is good, both for individuals and even for organizations. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some thoughts on making your resolutions happen this year.

1. Be SMART about your resolutions. Kinda cliché, however it’s a smart approach that people often neglect. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-bound. I’ve also used strategic for the “S”, meaning there is good context or purpose being met with the resolution.

2. Quality not quantity. This is true for organizations or teams, but especially for you as an individual. Too many can be tough to manage and make it harder to achieve.

3. Track it. Measureable is so important when it comes to the SMART method. Really need to be able to track progress against the target to show progress and get that sense of accomplishment. The resolution or goal shouldn’t be taken lightly. The more diligent your tracking is, the more it will be top-of-mind and be a better environment to lead that behavior change in. Especially for health items, Google Health has nice tracking features to establish a target and track progress.

4. Write it down. On paper. Write the resolution down on paper with a pen or pencil. Writing it down will help you be more likely to remember it. Not just once either, jot it down in different places from notebooks to post-it notes in drawers or your gym bag as you start off with the resolution. Use technology as a friendly reminder but don’t rely on it exclusively.

5. Tell a friend. There’s strength in numbers. If you get an opportunity, tell a friend about your resolution. Talking about it will help you remember it. Leveraging your social network in particular can be helpful in getting that friendly nudge to make your resolution stick.

Change can be good. The New Year is always a good time to evaluate current/future goals, whether it be a commitment to a hobby or re-visiting the social media targets for Q1.

Behavior change is not easy. Don’t get frustrated.

For me personally, my primary goal for 2011 is dedicated to the marketing team at Mad*Pow, especially Megan and Courtney.I certainly have dropped the ball since jumpstreet.  I’m re-dedicating myself to this blog and being more active in outlets to communicate and talk strategy. At least one blog entry per week is my KPI. I’ve met some amazing people in 2010 and been on great initiatives. If spreading the word on those experiences can help others, I’m in.

So, what are your resolutions for 2011?