December 30, 2001

Selling your ideas

Selling the value of a project to management takes more than talking like a businessperson. It requires thinking like a businessperson. In essence, if youíre not there already, you must become a businessperson.

The overriding focus of business leaders is creating value for stakeholders. Stakeholders include owners, managers, workers, partners, and customers. The firmís leaders are responsible for articulating a vision of how the organization will create value and specifying milestone objectives along the way there.

Any businessperson worthy of the name can relate how his or her activities support those objectives and help fulfill the vision. You should be able to articulate how what you're doing establishes value in these areas. This is your "elevator pitch" and you should be able to giive it in your sleep.

Analysis and Decision-making Techniques
Here are techniques for business analysis and decision-making that we rely on continually. We suggest you run through them when making major decisions until they become second nature.

  • Trade-off. Every business decision is a trade-off. (If thereís no trade-off, itís a no-brainer.) We find it useful to list the proís of doing something and the conís of not doing it or doing something else. Try to be aware of what youíre trading off when making a decision.

  • Risk. Every decision is made with less than perfect information, and every decision entails taking a risk. The way to make sound decisions is to judge when you have enough information to move ahead and when the level of risk is acceptable. A decision-maker who takes no risk receives no reward. A decision-maker who disregards risk is a fool, a pauper, or both.

    Financial decisions trade off risk and reward. An important corollary: There is no free lunch.

  • Empathy. To understand your customer, walk a mile in her shoes. Hereís how. Make up several representative customers (personas). Give them names, positions, likes, gripes, habits, intelligence and personalities. When youíre planning marketing campaigns and learning activities, stop every now and again to slip into these personasí shoes. How does our proposal make them feel?

  • The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, describes the common situation where 20% of the effort gets 80% of the results. Itís not uncommon for 20% of the sales force to make 80% of the sales. Or 20% of the customers to generate 80% of the profits. Itís likely that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results.

    The point is that input and output are not balanced. As marketers, we break the market into pieces (ďsegmentsĒ) in order to identify and focus our attention on the significant few who produce most of the results.
    As designers of learning experiences, less is often more. Find the elusive 20% of the learnerís time that yields 80% of what is learned and put your energies there.

  • The bottom line. Earnings. Profit. Revenue minus costs. Over time, profit and shareholder value are the same thing. The total value of the shares is equivalent to the stream of expected future profits, discounted for the cost of capital. Forgive us if you find this obvious, but you must be able to relate your decisions and choices to the profitability of your organization. Otherwise, you will not be able to make sound decisions as conditions change.
    Focus on core; outsource everything else. Shareholder value (AKA market cap) is a function of sustained competitive advantage, and organizations achieve it by leveraging their core competencies. Everything else is context (overhead), and context is a needless distraction. Without careful management, context always gets in the way of core because it absorbs time, talent and management attention.

  • To get a different view, go up to the balcony. Look down from a higher level to gain a broader perspective. Try to discern whatís really going on. Back away from the trees to see the forest.

Business leaders present themselves to the world as confident, authoritative, conservative, results-oriented, deliberate, and a bit staid. Itís best to leave your clown suit in the closet when youíre selling a concept to executives. Be concise. Hit the concepts described above as they apply to your project. When youíve said your piece, ask for questions and sit down.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Risk

Risk.

Every decision is made with less than perfect information, and every decision entails taking a risk. The way to make sound decisions is to judge when you have enough information to move ahead and when the level of risk is acceptable. A decision-maker who takes no risk receives no reward. A decision-maker who disregards risk is a fool, a pauper, or both.

Financial decisions trade off risk and reward. An important corollary: There is no free lunch.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trade-off

Trade-off.

Every business decision is a trade-off. (If thereís no trade-off, itís a no-brainer.) We find it useful to list the proís of doing something and the conís of not doing it or doing something else. Try to be aware of what youíre trading off when making a decision.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Empathy

Empathy. To understand your customer, walk a mile in her shoes.

Hereís how. Make up several representative customers (personas). Give them names, positions, likes, gripes, habits, intelligence and personalities. When youíre planning marketing campaigns and learning activities, stop every now and again to slip into these personasí shoes. How does our proposal make them feel?

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Balcony

To get a different view, go up to the balcony.

Look at the big picture.

Look down from a higher level to gain a broader perspective. Try to discern whatís really going on. Back away from the trees to see the forest.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Focus on core

Focus on core; outsource everything else.

Shareholder value (AKA market cap) is a function of sustained competitive advantage, and organizations achieve it by leveraging their core competencies. Everything else is context (overhead), and context is a needless distraction. Without careful management, context always gets in the way of core because it absorbs time, talent and management attention.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bottom Line

The bottom line.

Earnings. Profit. Revenue minus costs.

Over time, profit and shareholder value are the same thing. The total value of the shares is equivalent to the stream of expected future profits, discounted for the cost of capital. Forgive us if you find this obvious, but you must be able to relate your decisions and choices to the profitability of your organization. Otherwise, you will not be able to make sound decisions as conditions change.

Do not confuse profit (the bottom line) with revenue (the top line).

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, describes the common situation where 20% of the effort gets 80% of the results. That's where to invest your energy.

Itís not uncommon for 20% of the sales force to make 80% of the sales. Or 20% of the customers to generate 80% of the profits. Itís likely that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results.

The point is that input and output are not balanced. As marketers, we break the market into pieces (ďsegmentsĒ) in order to identify and focus our attention on the significant few who produce most of the results.

As designers of learning experiences, less is often more. Find the elusive 20% of the learnerís time that yields 80% of what is learned and put your energies there.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 29, 2001

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.

The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. Zen practice is to open up our small mind.

Time constantly goes from past to present and from present to future. This is true, but it is also true that time goes from future to present and from present to past.

If your mind is related to something outside itself, that mind is a small mind, a limited mind. If your mind is not related to anything else, then there is a dualistic understanding in the activity of your mind.

You should not be bothered by your mind. You should rather be grateful fo rthe weds, because eventually they will enrich your practice.

The point we emphasize is strong confidence in our original nature.

Posted by Jay Cross at 05:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2001

Schools That Learn by Peter

Schools That Learn by Peter Senge & friends, reviewed elsewhere.

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December 24, 2001

yesterday i was shopping at

yesterday i was shopping at peet's coffee. on the counter was a 1/2 pound sack of jamaican blue mountain coffee. having sampled a pound of this rare, luscious coffee when i moved to california in 1974, i figured it would make a nice gift. then i noticed the price -- $39.99! whoa. no coffee beans rate that level of tariff. in '74 i paid $5 for half a pound of blue mountain beans at the farmer's market in el lay.

this got me thinking about how values change over time. money, sure. that's inflation. but also human values. organizational values. like trying to preserve the HP Way fifty years later. or clinging to command and control when even the military is poised to give it up. or only accounting for hard assets when soft assets have become more valuable. it's foolish to follow business traditions that date from before the PC, the net, ecological consciousness, and slow rates of growth.

by the way, the $5 of 1974 is equivalent to $17.99 today. the price of jamaican coffee has significantly outpaced inflation.

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Human Clock

Human Clock

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TIMELINES History and Art Timelines

TIMELINES

History and Art Timelines
Explore the past through this multi-disciplinary look at the chronology of historical events in relation to artistic milestones.
http://transcript.simplenet.com/arttimeline/histart.htm

Timeline: A Media History Project
This timeline Web site represents a major undertaking for its producers and a bona fide treasure for teachers and other Web surfers. The project compiles major historical events in world history in a tidy chronological format, from 3500 BCE to the present.
http://www.mediahistory.com/time/timeline.html

Western Civilization Chronology
Delve through the history of Western Civilization, from the prehistoric times of the Hominids and Mesopotamia to the American Cold War, which culminated in 1989.
http://campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/WestCiv/WestCiv.html

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2001

THE NATURE OF TIME by

THE NATURE OF TIME
by Humberto Maturana

The awarenes that the notion of time arises as an abstraction from the coherences of the experiences of the observer that he or she uses as an explanatory notion is not a problem. What becomes a problem in the long run, is the unaware adoption of the notion of time as an explanatory principle that is accepted as a matter of course giving to it a trascendental ontological status

the foundations of the notion of time in any domain rests on the biology of the observer, not on the domain of physics which is a domain of explanations of a particular kind of experiential coherences of the observer.

Experience arises spontaneously literally out of nothing, or, if we wish, from chaos, from a domain about which we can say nothing which does not arise from the coherences of our experiences. This that I say is valid for any domain of experiences, be this life, physics, quantum physics, human relations, ... All these different domains of experiences are experiential domains lived as domains of explanations of our experiences with our experiences. But our experiences are not disordered, they arise coherent as the arise in us from nothingness. So, we exist in this wonderful experiential situation in which we as observers that exist in the present, are the source of everything, even of that which we may treat in the coherences of our experiences as observers as entities that through their operation give rise to the operation of observing and the explainig of their occurrence in a closed domain of explanations. The great temptation is to transform the abstractions of the coherences of our experiences that we distinguish with notions such as reality, existence, reason, space consciousness ... or time, into explanatory principles.

Got it?

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December 09, 2001

Presencing: Learning From the Future

Presencing: Learning From the Future As It Emerges Abstract

An important insight gained from some of the more recent projects in member companies of the Society for Organizational Learning has led to the distinction between two different sources or processes of organizational learning: one that is based on reflecting the experiences of the past (Type I) and a second source, one that is grounded in sensing and enacting emerging futures (Type II). Each of these processes is based on a different temporal source of learning and requires managers to work with fundamentally different learning cycles.

The temporal source of Type I learning is the past, or, to be more precise, the coming into presence of the pastĖlearning revolves around reflecting on experiences of the past. All Kolb-type learning cycles are variations of this type of learning (Kolb 1984). Their basic sequence is action, concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and action again (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Kolb Type Learning Cycle (Learning From the Experiences of the Past)

The temporal source of Type II learning is the future, or to be more precise, the coming into presence of the future. Type II learning is based on sensing and embodying emerging futures rather than re-enacting the patterns of the past. The sequence of activites in this learning process is seeing, sensing, presencing, and enacting (see Figure 2).

Fig. 2: The Other Learning Cycle (Learning From Emerging Futures)

While OD and organizational learning have been mainly concerned with how to build, nurture, and sustain Type I learning processes (Argyris, 1992; Schein, 1987; Senge et al, 1994), some more recent experiences suggest that todayís business environment presents most companies with challenges that require a new source and process of learning. These challenges are concerned with how to compete under the conditions of the new economyĖthat is, how to learn from a reality that is not yet embodied in manifest experience.

In dealing with the new economy challenge, Type I learning is no longer effective as the single source of learning, because the previous experiences embodied in the leadership team are no longer relevant to the challenges at hand. And the experiences that would be of relevance are not yet embodied in the experience base of the leadership team. The issue for management is how to learn from experience when the experience that matters most is the not-yet-embodied experience of the future.

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Correction: A Picture is Worth


Correction: A Picture is Worth 84.1 Words

The information content of a visual program (or any diagram) might be more dependent on the author than on properties of the notation. It still seems plausible that this is the case, but future experiments must be more cautious in controlling for experimental demand factors.

...a picture is worth 84.1 words.

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December 07, 2001

This may turn out to

This may turn out to be, well, duh!, but while making breakfast this morning it occurred to me that there's no such thing as standing still in time. The universe is happening, with you or without you, and what feels like being immobile is actually swimming more slowly than the current of events. Instead of the Newtonian-world choice of taking action or not, the issue is whether to stay with the current or get ahead a few strokes or let it wash over you.

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