Monthly Archives: January 2012

Assessing Value

The following points apply equally to internal as well as external customers of your services:

  • The focus should be on the service, and the value that it provides, not the system or tools, nor the cost.
  • Costs should be considered as part of calculating ROI, but really have no bearing on value. (Sometimes cost exceeds value resulting in a negative ROI which is not good, and a warning that you should not proceed, and some services are extremely cheap, but provide little or no value).
  • Cost should include fixed + variable as well as one time + ongoing.
  • You should also consider how quickly the benefits will be realized.
  • Defining the market means looking at who is and is not your type of customer, as well as where your potential value sits in terms of commodity vs. strategic, or low value vs. high.
  • Value is not always strictly monetary, and may be tangible as well as intangible. (Increasing revenues while also keeping you out of jail for example).

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Adapting to Your Surroundings

 Winter came late this year and the river behind our house only recently froze solid. When I went down to check out the ice I found these peculiar tracks.


Every winter a group of coyotes make their way along the river, and at first glance this looked like their footprints but it wasn’t, but what was it?

Perhaps it was some prehistoric life form climbing out of the primordial ooze, something forced to adapt to its environment that has suddenly changed. If I had only arrived a few minutes earlier would I have witnessed a change so dramatic that it defies the laws of natural evolution as hypothesized by paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould?

Gould postulated that while most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, it is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. Just as I have observed in my own work with corporations, real change is a result of rapid bursts of change at irregular (punctuated) intervals. Trusting natural evolution to create necessary change can take forever. Further, if change does begin, it is not unusual for those creatures who have not changed, to reject it, and squash it before it gains a foothold in the environment, thus maintaining the status quo. In corporate environments that change has to be nurtured, supported and in many cases, valiantly protected.

As for my back yard, the question remains: What was the sudden change that caused this creature to leave evidence of its own rapid evolution?


You can decide for yourself based on the evidence that I have provided, however, a better question that you "otter" consider is what will your own evolution look like, and what direction will it take you?



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You Can’t Think With Your Tool Belt On® – 01/03/12

artwork toolbelt
The start of a new year is a good time to start new habits.

How many times have you heard the phrase "work smarter not harder?" How many people really know what smarter looks like? I believe the desire is there, but many people either don’t know how to improve in ways specific enough to their situation, or lack the time to figure it out.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

1. Invest the very first part of your day in yourself.
Concentrate on improvements that will make your days more satisfying while benefitting both you and your employer. If you are a manager, take this time for some strategic planning. If you are staff, use this time to strategically streamline the way you do things, or look for the cause of those fires you have to keep putting out.

2. Trim back the busy work. People don’t need meetings or reports; what they need are the results meetings provide. Many meetings provide no results at all. Do you really need a report, or do you need to make an informed decision?

3. Create forms and templates for repeat activities. Stop reinventing the wheel.

4. If you do have to chair a meeting or even attend one, arrive with an agenda and stick to the topic rather than drifting in another direction. The task of completing a meeting is not valuable. Producing or improving business results is. Stop leaving the conversations in the room.

This list just skims the surface. Next issue will provide additional techniques for working even smarter.

What are you doing to move to work of higher value?

© Wayne McKinnon 2012. All rights reserved.

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