Sunday, May 30, 2010

Finding the Pulse

It never ceases to amaze me how much time we spend on standard operating procedures, process mapping, documentation, flow charts and customer data entry only to find ourselves constantly supplementing it with human intervention to “fill-in the gaps” or to tell the “real story”. Now don’t get me wrong standardization and documentation is important (as long as it leads to greater efficiencies and greater quality control), rather it is the haphazard human intervention that I am pointing to as the problem.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I’m Not Into You Being That Into Me

Guest Blog from Bruce Wedderburn, Vice President, Global Channel Sales at Huthwaite.

Recently I had a call with a sales person, let’s call him Fred, who wanted to discuss how a partnership with his firm could be beneficial for Huthwaite. He was referred to me by a colleague and I was very open to speaking with him. In the first few minutes of our discussion he dropped into the conversation the names of two colleagues from my college drama class, the name of the high school that I attended in Australia and that he, like me, also admired the artwork from another friend of mine who happens to promote her exhibits through social media.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Demanding Customers! Aren't we all?

Henry Ford once said that "a business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large" and many books and case studies have been written on how exceptional service has been a competitive differentiator for a whole host of businesses over the years. The "Nordstrom Way", for example, is one that immediately springs to mind.

Given that nobody will argue with the power of customer service and follow-up in building customer satisfaction and loyalty, I recently asked a gathering of sales professionals what was the one major change they were seeing in buyer behavior and their unanimous answer (and this was a gathering of about 30 individuals) was that the demand for instantaneous support and service had increased dramatically.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There is no future in the past

Yesterday I was in Dublin, Ireland at a meeting of the Dealmaker Partner Network (DPN) along with the leadership of the TAS Group and Infomentis. This was my first visit to my native land since last year and gave me an opportunity to talk to people and assess the full impact of the recession on this former tiger economy. The prognosis is, unfortunately, not good for the short to medium term future as the country rebuilds (unfortunate choice of words I know) after the bursting of a property bubble that rivaled anything seen in the US or elsewhere.

The papers and the TV stations are full of backward looking introspective pieces on what happened to the economy and why and who is to blame, all valid questions and while I agree with Churchill's assertion that those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it there is a greater urgency and I would argue time better spent figuring out where to go from here. Thankfully some efforts are afoot, including a Government sponsored think tank of leading Irish business people and academics who are charged with identifying how to foster and support innovation in Ireland and what industries or market segments Ireland is best placed to service in the future. I am happy to add that my brother-in-law who is CEO of Merrion Pharma, an Irish bio-tech success story that continues to excel, is a member of this think tank.

 There are many parallels at the individual business level to what is happening at the national level in countries large and small as they grapple with an uncertain future after the certainties of the recent past turned out to not be certain at all. Businesses need to quickly move from the initial reactive mode that is essential to survival during the first wave of a recession to a more future focused mode that repositions the business for success as a recovery (however slow that recovery may be) begins to take root. There is always a temptation to stay in reactive mode for too long or to forlornly wait for the return of the norm which of course never comes because business is a dynamic organism than evolves and changes, eventually settling into a new norm that marks a new cycle.