Can’t wait to Read!

I know I am late to the game but I FINALLY ordered my copy of “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank….can’t wait to read it as it has been one of the single most frequently recommended read from folks. Not exactly an early adopter on this one but I’m hoping better late than never!

I’ll post my thoughts as and after I get through it but for those who have I’d like to hear how it changed your perspective? What you did differently after reading? Do you recommend it to friends? Why or Why not?

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

You can ALWAYS do less – (from www.37signals.com)

The hardest part about making good software that ships on time is knowing what and when to sacrifice. As programmers and designers, we often fall in love with our requirements and are unable to kill our darlings. We mistake what we said we’ll do with what must be done. It’s rarely so; you can always do less.

What stops most people from doing less is the fear of failure. The misconception that if you don’t get it all done, the rest is worth nothing at all. That without this feature or that tweak, nobody will want to use it at all. Bollocks. Most software has a tiny essence that justifies its existence, everything after that is wants and desires mistaken for needs and necessities.

The easiest way to force the insight of what can be lived without is by playing a game of constraints: You have to ship on Friday, you can’t add more people, you can’t work nights. Fixed resources, fixed time. All that’s left to give is scope. It’s amazing how creative the cuts and sharp the sacrifices become when you’re backed into a corner. It’s when you have to choose that you make the best choices.

For every 1 day estimates of a task, there’s a simpler version of that you can do in 3 hours, and an even simpler still you can do in 30 minutes. Back yourself into a corner and these versions will vividly appear before your eye. You can always do less.

Jason Fried and 37Signals are a company to be admired for lots of reasons. This is one of their recent short posts which is a great reminder that what customers want and what they need are not always the same thing and that adding features to a product does not necessarily make it better and in fact can make it worse!

Don’t build a custom application for a broad target market.

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IT AIN’T ABOUT HOW HARD YOU HIT …

I think it is fair to say that perhaps the best business lessons of our time were not taught by Rocky Balboa however I came across this courtesy of @msuster and his blog Both Sides of The Table (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/).

For all entrepreneurs, startups and business folks this is an important lesson to remember. Mistakes are going to be made and that is good. Failures will be had and those are learning experiences. It is what you do after you have been hit that is important. There is no such thing as an overnight success, ask anyone who you think is one to tell you their story and I think they will tell you….

“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how many hits you can take”

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Chris Brogan – Home Base in your Social Media Strategy

One of the biggest voices in Social Media Chris Brogan has a new post up today which includes the above diagram that Chris put together which is one of the most illustrative and on point I have seen.  The diagram, and Chris’s post, clearly articulate his theory of Home Base and Outposts.  Check out and comment at Chris’s post and pick up his book Trust Agents which is a must read if you are interested in this space.

Sit down and try to diagram you or your Company strategy and tactical plan for SM and share it!

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What do you do in bad meeting…

Lots of comments on this twitter post "Ever have(non-internal) meetings w/ someone & u know 5 min in that it isn't going to work..do you stay, be courteous or bail, I've done both" I thought I'd move th dialogue here.
 
My concern in bailing is as @mbertulli mentioned some people just don't make good impressions or don't articulate well what they are trying to convey and there actually may be a very good fit that takes a full  hour or a couple meetings to ferret out.
 
The flip side of that is if there really is no fit and you see it before they do then there is no point in wasting both your and their time.
 
Any examples of either approach working because in the moment I really just want to politely excuse myself and get to other productive work.

Interested in your thoughts?

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Great reminder from Seth’s Blog Today

In today’s post from Saul he says “If Wal-Mart or some cultural shift has turned what you do into a commodity, don't argue. Find a new place before the competition does. It's not easy or fair, but it's true”.  It is something I hear a lot of complaints from folks about but I think we all need to realize that personally, professionally and for your business, if you are not moving forward you are moving backwards….there is no standing still.  Markets get commoditized as they mature, it happens.  What separates the good from the bad (companies, leaders, people) is that they constantly innovate, constantly look forward and are prepared to cannibalize their own work in order to create a sustainable, dynamic, growing business or career.

 

Thanks for the reminder Seth….don’t complain…ACT!

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Building a Community….Step 1

My company Ivara operates in a fantastic market that is full of opportunities to engage with a robust, knowledgeable group of employees, customers, competitors and thought leaders.  While the current economy presents challenges for us and our customers alike it is also a great opportunity for us to band together and share our experiences (good and bad) and help each other come out the other end of this downturn a stronger, more profitable and better serving community than we were before.  To that end we all have to do our part in the community and it starts with adding value.  I am a huge Twitter participant and one of the biggest messages that you get from engaging in this medium is exactly that…engage! 

Like everything in life, you get out of something what you put into it and when building a community you should always be making deposits into the community bank so that at some point you are able to make a withdrawal.  As I am familiar with it I will use my industry as an example but it could be applicable to any industry.  Our industry is focussed on supporting industries on the road to operational excellence and providing people, process and technology to facilitate and sustain change in their organization ensuring improved uptime, productivity and quality from their operations.  Many operational and maintenance folks are not entrenched in the online world to the same extent we are….and why would they be?  Historically, other than personal interest, there has not been a ton of value add content and guidance online to assist them in improving how their assets run and are maintained.  This is the first challenge in building a community….providing enough valuable content consistently for them to want to engage with you using a new medium. 

How do you get offline people online???

In a word…persistence!  Over weeks, months and years continue to provide meaningful free content for people so they can use what you know to improve their business and solve their day to day business problems.  Then connect the content to the people.  The content can be delivered in an immeasurable number of ways.  We have started in the last year or so with a program to deliver blog posts, twitter updates and webinars online in addition obviously to the company website.  All of these are good delivery vehicles especially at the beginning where less sophistication for your community is probably better.  We have now added a free online reliability conference that is open to any and all customers as well as some prospects.  What works in your space?  Give it some thought, plan out some ideas, throw out some trial balloons and feel your way along.  the only thing I know 100% for sure is you MUST start and you must start now.  If you don’t someone else will.  Be there for your customer and community, be a leader and show them you are committed not to your own success but to theirs and that you want to provide them with tools, ideas, resources that will help make them look like stars in their organization.

I am fortunate that we have a community with many other people who are true experts in our field who have been forging the path online for us to follow.  It is now time for me and our Ivara to step and contribute to the community and make our overdue contributions to the community bank.

How has it been building a community in your industry?  What lessons have you learned?  please share so we can all learn and foster healthy, vibrant communities in our respective spaces.

We have a long way to go but I am committed and persistent and believe in our community!

Weekend Reading

I am a reader!  I love to read but rarely find the time to be able to dedicate hours to get into a book.  Wasn’t convinced that audio-books were for me but I have spent a chunk of time on the weekend listening to the legend Seth Godin new book Tribes on my iPod.  If you have not “read” a book using audio I would encourage to give it a try.  When Seth is making a point that is particularly relevant for me I like to stop, pause, replay and give it some thought, even make notes on how that applies in my situation.

Tribes (link to paper book) is a great read for any business leader and there are several good points that I will use to write further blog posts about my thoughts on certain topics but some of the highlights are:

  • “Be Remarkable” – think about it!  be worthy of remark.  It is easy to become irrelevant and become  a ‘one of’ in your industry.  Don’t be afraid to rock the boat, in fact you have a responsibility to rock the boat.  More to follow in separate post but in the meantime think about it…are you worthy of remark?  Is your Company?
  • The Rules of the Game Change Everyday – If you are playing the game by the rules of yesterday it is clear you will not win the game of tomorrow.  YOU MUST CHANGE.  YOU MUST FORCE CHANGE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION. Past success is in no way an indicator of future performance.
  • Lead your Tribe – People want and need to be led.  Find the Tribe members in your company, find the Tribe members in your customer base and provide the voice, tools and ability for them to get together and drive the change you need.  EVERYONE in your organization can be/is a leader.  Permission is not required, only initiative and faith.

Whether it is Seth, or Tom Peters, or whoever reading and pushing yourself to think about things differently is critical to driving change and being successful.  What have you read this week?  How did it effect the way you think about your world whether it be politically, professionally, personally.  Continue to grow as a personal….there is no such thing as standing still, you are either moving forward or moving backwards.