Remember When…Google was the Anti-Microsoft

15 11 2010

Today, Facebook launched a new email service.  It has long been in the works as Project Titan.  While perhaps not a direct threat against Google, it is certainly an attack on Gmail.

Remember back to the good old days…when we walked uphill to school in the snow both ways, when children actually played baseball (and not the video game version), when information was delivered with ink and paper, when cell phones were the size of our heads…

…err I digress, remember when Google was the white knight against Microsoft.  We wanted to use Netscape just to make Microsoft mad, but IE was just better.  Ah, yes the good old days and the turn of the century.  Was it really just in 2000 when they signed the pact with Yahoo to make them the default search engine?  A mere decade it took them to go from White Knight to feared Big Brother.  It took Apple 26 years to go from 1984 to being mocked by Futurama with its Eyephone or from having their great anti-Microsoft ad campaign spoofed by TMobile in Piggyback.

Has Google really done this in less than 10 years?  We will soon see.  Earlier this month Google found itself in a little hot water over their StreetView cars that were driving around picking geographically based personal information.  I understand that personal privacy may be dead, but I would venture a bet that if there is a backlash it will be aimed squarely at Google (and ironically in this case Facebook).

Clearly not all markets move at breakneck speed, but it does tell a story of thinking about tomorrow in a more methodology approach.





Politics and Upstaging

6 08 2009

President Obama and the Clintons relationship may have just changed.  Rumors have circled that Obama has been making efforts to keep Hillary out of the public eye intentionally.  Bill, in an act worthy of an ex-President, managed to secure the release of a couple of US journalists from North Korea.

Leaders do this for many reasons, and not always for the right reasons.  We can say it is for the best in order to show who is the leader, keep the message consistent, but behind each of these are jealousy, ego, and fear.  Leaders are human as well and suffer the same issues.

Yet, this situation is a little different.  Bill in some aspects upstaged both Obama and Hillary.  It appears that Bill would only go if he received White House approval, but then again what were they going to say?  Did the Clintons just take some of the spotlight?  Or will it be forgotten by the end of the week.

Ahh, politics!!!

As leaders and managers, how do limit the impact of personal politics within the work force?  These can often play out in destructive ways.  Inititiaves undermined because managers don’t like each other, or are vying for the same promotion.  While people often talk about using information to battle politicing, it is much more of a cultural issue.





Pretty Words

15 07 2009

Listening to Sonia Sotomayor retrack her “wise Latina” comments made me think about an old Vince Gill song – Pretty Words.  “They’re just pretty words” seemed about right.  This is often the role of the politician, to say things that make people feel better.  We have limited manner in which to hold them to their words, so we often judge the words based on if we believed what they were saying.  Think of how we now perceive Roger Clemens, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, and the steroid gang.

One of the problems we have as leaders is an overuse of pretty words.  We are often asked questions that can not be answered at that time, thus forcing us to spin a response:

  • Are we having layoffs?
  • Are we selling the company?

While these hurt credibility with the front line, they are necessary to keep some level of sanity and productivity.  Yet, what happens when executive communication seems to be only about spin and pretty words.  If the rank and file feel “pretty words is all he is giving you” then we have a problem with communication and trust.  If these are broken, you can bet productivity is no where near optimal levels.

As executives and leaders we can know, or we can think we know if people are listening.  What I have often seen is that the good ones assume they don’t know and find out – thus reinforcing positive communication.

  • When was the last time you had an outside, independent team assess “trust” in the organization?
  • What would be the value to the organization?
  • What if you hear something you don’t like?




Why, Ask Why

1 06 2009

I recently watched the 2005 documentary Enron: The smartest guy in the room.  What struck me more this time was the tagline “Ask Why”, yet it appeared more like “Why, Ask Why” in the animation.  

Most organizations promote “yes” men and women.  They want people to just agree and move on.  Part of this is that we lack a mechanism to challenge conventional wisdom or leadership opinion.  While this is dangerous on a few levels, it also stiffles innovation and ultimately performance potential.

  • When was the last time you found a new way to value a customer?
  • When was the last time you found a way to measure process improvement on a key process?
  • When was the last time you specifically assigned a trusted advisor to attack business assumptions?
  • What happened to the last really good change agent in the organization?

All to often we answer requests with “yes, we can do that” when we should on occasion ask “why do you want to do that.” We need to break old molds and challenge ourselves to create a culture of action, a culture of 5% better everyday.





Becoming a Trusted Advisor

12 03 2009

Part of every sales methodology is the phrase “become a trusted advisor.” Yet we devote little time helping people become advisors to our clients, let alone trusted ones. Our sales methodologies are typically geared more towards a scorched earth policy, than a build for the long term approach. Sales people are rewarded for large, upfront contracts that help the company meet short term sales goals. And they are often punished for long sales cycles. Turning over sales reps then makes it more difficult for the next rep, as the client’s first question is “how long will this one be around?”

It is often entertaining to see how this manifests itself with clients. One can not ask (and certainly not beg – which was entertaining to witness), nor expect it. The right is earned over time.

A few things to consider as you are developing your “Trusted Advisor” sales program:
1. Are your people intelligent and insightful about the market and their customers?
2. Can they talk about the customer’s business without selling all the time?
3. Can they put the client’s needs ahead of their own?
4. How well do they listen, and ask insightful questions?
5. Are they likable, and trustworthy?
6. Are your campaigns and people consistent, or opportunistic?

There is a great deal that goes into a “Trusted Advisor” and the program, the people, and the organization need to support long term customer value. To get there, you must has a passion for your client’s goals








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