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Thursday, October 29th, 2009

DOS Exercise

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A lot of people have checked out my article  on SWOT Analysis: Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (amazingly, an estimated 300,000 people Google “SWOT Analysis” each month, according to Google’s own Keyword Tool).

If you want a variation on an exercise for strengths, opportunities, etc., there’s another simpler one called D.O.S.

DOS stands for Dangers, Opportunities and Strengths.

DOS Exercise

It’s very simple to learn DOS. Here are the steps:

1) Pick a new goal or thing that you’re considering taking on.

2) List out the dangers of taking on such a project.

3) List out the opportunities of taking on such a project.

4) List out the strengths of taking on such a project.

I’ve been using DOS for a few years and I’ve learned it’s important you go in the order of danger, opportunity, strength because psychologically it’s best to end on a positive — this is one advantage the DOS model has over the SWOT model (in SWOT analysis you START positive with strengths and END on a negative with threats).

Here’s a DOS example on a new challenge a friend of mine’s business is having with fundraising (she needs to raise some money to fund her new startup).

Dangers (of raising money)

  • She’ll take her eye off the ball of a new product launch.
  • She’ll be distracted from managing her newest hire (an engineer)

Opportunities (e.g. what the opportunities for her to take advantage of to raise money)

  • She has 100+ “friends and family” who might be able to invest
  • She has a new advisor she could add to her advisory board who is well connected and has raised money for a couple of different startups.

Strengths

  • This woman is very persuasive and can make a great pitch!
  • She has a superb team
  • She has an amazing product

That’s the DOS exercise.

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Friday, May 29th, 2009

Effective Communication By Bandwidth

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Choose your communication channel wisely.

Cerner Corp. CEO Neal Patterson probably wished he had when he fired off a message to senior managers at his medical software maker berating them for their work habits.

Cerner CEO Neal Patterson's Slip on Netiquette

Cerner CEO Neal Patterson's Slip on Netiquette

Excerpts of the email include:

“The parking lot is sparsely used at 8 a.m.; likewise at 5 p.m….

…As managers — you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing; or YOU do not CARE.”

“You have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you…

…What you are doing, as managers, with this company makes me SICK.”

The e-mail promptly leaked out onto the Web. Two weeks after Mr. Patterson sent the message, Cerner stock lost more than a quarter of its value (tens of millions of dollars) after investors became concerned about the company’s prospects and employee morale.

That story reminded me that when you are communicating in business (or for any reason), that you should pick your communication medium based on the sensitivity of the topic. The higher the sensitivity, the higher the bandwidth of communication.

Here are four examples of channels of communication and their relative bandwidth

  • In-Person (highest bandwidth)  — Use this for your most sensitive topics.
  • Telephone (medium bandwidth) — Use this as a backup for sensitive topics in the event you can not meet in-person with your audience.
  • Instant Message (lower bandwidth) — Use this for lower-sensitivty topics
  • Email (lowest bandwidth) — Reserve this for your lowest-sensitivity topics (unless it’s accompanied by a higher bandwidth in-person meeting)

Amazingly, Mr. Patterson is still CEO of Cerner today (8 years after the slip-up) — my hat is off to him for surviving such a firestorm.

What a survivor! — And Cerner generated $188 million in pre-tax profit in its most recent year on sales of $1.67 billion so I imagine he is doing something right!

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

CEO Kobe Bryant

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I love basketball and I love business.

So I got enormous pleasure from watching the Spike Lee Documentary “Kobe Doin’ Work” on ESPN the other night (good for ESPN to make it advertising-free!).

As much basketball as I watch, I was amazed at how excellent a leader Kobe is…I think he’d make a great CEO.

Below are video clips of the entire documentary along with bullets that I think we can all borrow from Kobe to make us better leaders.

Being Nervous is Good!

Kobe: “I still get goose bumps every time I go out (on the court)”

When I heard Kobe say this, I was reminded of a mentor of mine who once asked me if I was nervous before a big speech. I said I was. She said: “Good, if you weren’t a little nervous I’d be worried about you. Nervous energy can be good energy.”

Respect the Competition

Kobe on San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: ” That’s a bad boy right there. I have so much respect for his game. He’s an incredible competitor. I enjoy playing against him. He’s a fantastic tw0-guard”

“I enjoy playing against Tony…He’s so quick.”

Preparation & Execution

“You’re thinking about all the execution, all the things you gotta do, the preparations you’ve made.’”

Kobe says he knows where his teammates will be on plays from watching film of his own players. “You don’t want to be guessing,” Kobe says.

“You don’t build a house without blueprints…you gotta know what you’re doing coming in.”

Acknowledge Competition

Kobe on Tim Duncan: What can you say about Tim…He’s the best power forward to ever play the game. Period.”

Kobe later mentioned that he stole a jump shot in which he banks it off the backboard from Tim Duncan when he played him one-on-one before an All-Star game weekend.

Kobe on Playing Other Great Players: “A lot of guys when they match up against other great players, there’s a fear of embarassment. Fear that they might make you look bad. I really don’t care. It’s just fun going up against them. If you’re playing a great player, of course he’s going to make you look bad sometimes. It’s just part of the game.”

Kobe on who’s the best at the two-step move: “Nobody does (the two-step) better than D-Wade (Dwayne Wade) and Manu Ginoboli…and then probably Tony Parker.”

Communication

“I don’t think a lot of fans understand the amount of communication, execution that goes on in a game.”

“You have to emotionally be invested in the game, play hard, play with a lot of energy. But you gotta execute. We talk about execution all the time. We can’t stress that enough.”

Self-Honesty

On a blown layup: “That was doing too  much…That was just a dumb play by me.”

A lot of times when my shot is off, it’s cuz my shot is flat. When I put arc on my ball, I’m a much better shooter.”

On watching himself in the documentary: “This is funny watching cuz I didn’t think I talked that damn much.”

Kobe on Kobe causing an offensive foul: “You idiot (about himself)…you know that’s what he (Kurt Thomas) is gonna do…and, then, I blew it.”

Take the High-Percentage Opportunities

That’s all you an ask for…you just want…high-percentage opportunities.”

Be Positive About Your Teamates

When Sasha Vucajic pushed Ime Udoka of the Spurs, Kobe said “That’s my man, Sasha, doing what he does. Feisty kid.”

Kobe on Derek Fisher: “I love that guy. What a warrior.”

“We’ve got some great passers on our ballclub.”

Kobe on Lamar Odom: “Lamar is just an incredible player…his versatility is what makes us go.”

Kobe on Luke Walton: “Luke is a much better shooter than he gives himself credit for.”

Kobe to Teammate Pao Gasol: “I’ve never played with a center who can pass like that!”

In fact, I didn’t hear Kobe say a negative thing about any teammate or opponent.

Kobe on Great Competition

“A lot of guys when they match up against other great players, there’s a fear of embarassment. Fear that they might make you look bad. I really don’t care.”

“It’s just fun going up against them. If you’re playing a great player, of course he’s going to make you look bad sometimes. It’s just part of the game.”

Kobe About Recharging (at Half-Time)

“Now’s the time to collect ourselves, and talk about what we’re doing and what we’re not doing.”

Kobe on Coach Phil Jackson

“We both love basketball…Phil and I can talk about the game, non-stop, all the time. That’s made me such a better player.”

“Phil doesn’t call plays. He draws up sequences of options and then it’s up to us a team to figure out what’s the best option at that moment in time.” “He [Phil] doesn’t want to hold your hand and walk you through it…he wants you to figure it out. That’s when you become a great team.”

Kobe on Finding his Role on the Lakers Team

“In the past I would have to score 35 or 40 points just to keep us competitive. Now I don’t have to do that. You see me directing more. I’m more of a compass, making sure we’re going in the right direction. Making sure we’re executing. Because I have the personnel [now] to do that.”

Speak The Other Guy’s Language

It was cool to watch Kobe speak Italian to teammate Sasha Vucajic to make some points…it both kept the information a bit more confidential from the opponent and also seemed to form a bond between Kobe and Sasha.

Kobe on Failure (i.e. Missing his Shots)

“You gotta forget about it…move on to the next play. I don’t dwell on missed shots at all. I don’t think about that stuff. I’m very optimistic.”

“If I miss 5 in a row, that means I’m good for the 6th one. If I miss the 6th one, that means that I’m definitely good on that 7th one…If I miss that 7th one, that means that 8th one is going in.”

Kobe on Making Sure to Love What You Do & Have Fun

“It’s such an intense game, you have to have fun. Tease one another. This is the stuff we were doing when we were kids. ”

“You rib each other, you tease each other. It makes things fun.”

“This game is such a beautiful game.”

Be Thankful

“You have to give your thanks…We’re all blessed to be in this position to do what we do.”

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Thursday, April 30th, 2009

How To Mazimize The Number of Valuable People You Meet In Life (The Connector Exercise)

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A number of people ask me how I obtained a large network of contacts (I have 3,000 names in my iPhone).

I took two of my "Connectors" to the Famous Gene and Georgetti's in Chicago

I took two of my "Connectors" to the Famous Gene and Georgetti's in Chicago

Strangely, I’ve never thought of myself as a schmoozer…I’m actually fairly introverted.

But I’ve been very lucky. A few things were in my favor:

  1. Same Career Track — I have followed a fairly narrow career track of technology/media/Internet for 20 years now.
  2. Social Positions — My positions have centered around other people (I was a journalist, a deal-maker, entrepreneur, etc.)
  3. Decently-Organized — I’m a detail-oriented/organized-type of person and so I’ve done an ok job at entering in people’s contact information over those years

So, the 3,000 names isn’t that impressive — it really just came from 20 years times of storing an average of 100+ contacts per year.

That’s just 1 new contact I made (and stored) every 3 days. I’m sure you could do that (unless you’re a monk at a convent in which case you’re probably in the wrong place right now!).

But there is one secret I was reminded of a few years ago that I wished I had implemented earlier on in my career!

It’s only briefly mentioned on page 37 of the soft-cover version of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

In a word: “Connectors.”

Here’s an exercise I’d like you to do (should take 15 minutes and be fun):

  1. Get out a blank piece of paper or word processing document.
  2. Make a list of the 40 most valuable people to you with one per line (exclude family).
  3. To the right of each person’s name, write down the name of the person who introduced you to that person (now you have two names on each of your 40 lines).
  4. Now to the right of that second name, write down the name of who introduced you to that person.
  5. If you can’t remember who introduced you to a person (or perhaps you just met at school or work then leave that line alone.
  6. Keep adding a person to the right of the previous person until you feel like you can’t go any further.

Here’s a snippet from my list:

  • Jamie>Chad>
  • Charlie>Ted>Erin
  • Jen>Ted>Erin
  • Lenny>Jen>Ted>Erin
  • Alex>Ted>Erin
  • Zack>Chris> Chad & Ted
  • Bruce>Chad>
  • Todd>Dave
  • Mike>Dave
  • Jacquie>Tracy>Erin
  • Robert>Chad
  • Mary>Dave

Now, you’ll start to notice that just a few people — in my case Chad, Ted, Erin and Dave — are responsible for connecting me to most my friends.

Gladwell calls these people “Connectors.”

I’m a Connector too, though not as good as my Connectors.

So, if you want to to expand your network, here are a few lessons:

  1. Identify the Connectors in Your Life — Find out who they are and add value to their life (so they’ll keep introducing you to others).
  2. Ask Your Connectors Who Their Connectors Are — Connectors are usually very good at having many Connectors themselves.
  3. Try Being a Connector Yourself — Offer to introduce people of value to others who need help!
  4. Leverage LinkedIn — Read why You Must Be Linked In, an article about that amazing networking tool.
  5. Read Tipping Point.

I was inspired enough by this exercise to take Chad & Ted out for a yummy steak dinner at Gene & Georgetti’s in Chicago where I presented each of them with a personalized gift. It was of minimal value compared to the value they have given me through their Connections.

Thanks, Mr. Gladwell and thank you, Connectors!

What do you know about Connectors and Networking? Please comment below.

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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

How To Improve Your Team By Playing One Of These 4 “D.A.C.I.” Roles

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Know thy role!

My good friend Jane turned me on to a framework that she learned at Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter…it’s called DACI and it stands for: D = Driver, A = Approver, C = Consulted and I = Informed.

The DACI model has helped me execute numerous projects more efficiently!

Here’s how it works:

When you are trying to get something done, ask yourself: “Who can serve in the following roles?”

Driver = This is the most important role. It’s the person who drives a project from start to completion — it’s their neck on the line to get this thing done! This is typically one person but you can be two “co-drivers.”

For larger projects, I highly recommend that you pick a highly organized and detail-oriented person to be the Driver. A less-organized person works fine as the Driver on small projects involving fewer people and items to organize.

The DACI driver’s responsibilities typically include:

  • Calling an initial kick-off meeting to discuss the purpose of the project
  • Collecting ideas & feedback on the project from those inside and outside the company (note: those people are also known as Consultants (see below))
  • Creating a detailed step-by-step plan for the project including tasks that need to get done, deadlines and how the project will be measured
  • Organizing follow-up meetings to hold people accountable for their assigned tasks and measure progress
  • Communicating updates on the project regularly
  • Lead the completion of the project

Note: The driver doesn’t have to be the smartest person and in fact I find that the smartest person on a particular topic often doesn’t make a good Driver (they make a good Consultant)

Approver = The person who will approve the project (aka “The Boss” or a senior manager)

Consulted = These are the experts that the driver will call upon to consult him or her. This can be the largest group and it is up to the Driver to make sure to find and utilize Consultants

Informed = These are the people who need to be informed about the progress of the project. They will include all the people above — the Driver, Approver and Consulted — and possibly others who want to be updated on the project but aren’t actively involved.

So, next time you’re trying to get something done: Try using the DACI approach…and get in touch with knowing thy role!

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