Rugby, Uncertainty and Business

@StevieHamilton pointed me to this:

…Uncertainty, though, cannot be overcome and it can be more debilitating if players don’t know where they sit. You can manage this process when there is an end goal, but as you near this goal the need to eliminate uncertainty also arises… via England’s all-black strip fails most important test.

Although writing about the current 2011 Rugby World Cup this principle also applies to the business workplace. Uncertainty is crippling. Having a defined method of dealing with situations of uncertainty can help.

Link Roundup 2011-09-10

Link roundup of what I’ve just read that I feel is worthy of a mention:

Mike Schneider and Aaron Strout guest post on Logic+Emotion: Location-Based Marketing: What’s in it for Me?

Wayne Schulz has two posts: You’d Have To Be Crazy To Ignore Email Newsletters and Use Boilerplate Replies To Pre-Qualify.

James Huff writes Ten WordPress Features That You May Have Missed.

Make it Easy

Article over at 37signals on titled The three secrets of business analytics (no rocket science here) lists three things that Noah deems required in order to be successful. Go read it. It’s good.

When I read it I was struck by his second item, Make it easy.

In my view this is actually the hardest of the three steps. Simplifying something can be excruciatingly hard work. Knowing something about what you do is easy, it just takes time and keeping your eyes and ears open. Then remember it. Looking at lots of data is easy, it just (once again) takes time and keeping your eyes and ears open. Then remembering the patterns in what you saw. When you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t.

But making something easy. This is where you’ll do the bulk of the heavy thinking. This is where you not only spend time, but also where you think about what you’ve just extracted from the data and say “what does this really mean? Is it really a useful piece of information? Knowing it, what will I now change?” And if in reality, the answer is that nothing will change, then you go back to the drawing board and rethink it, test another idea.

This is also where some huge value comes. Because once you do find a easy way of deriving some information out of the data, that will change things, will have an impact, that’s the gold nugget you’ve been searching for.

More Cheese, Less Whiskers

On the ride to work this morning I listened to the podcast over at Duct Tape Marketing, where John Jantsch interviews Dean Jackson who “outlines several case studies in which he applies the customer’s best interest approach and produces incredible results where the sales only approach had failed miserably.”

Really enjoyed listening to this, and will a few more times yet.

via More Cheese, Less Whiskers :: Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing.

A Shred of Knowledge

A story to illustrate a point:

A young engineer was leaving the office at 5.30pm when he found the Boss standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the Boss “this is a very sensitive and important document and my secretary is not here. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young engineer. He turned on the machine, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent. excellent,” said the Boss as his paper disappeared inside the machine, “I just need one copy.”

Lesson: Never, never, ever assume that the person asking knows what they are doing.

The point here is that often when a client asks me to do X, it pays to really and truely understand what it is they are really asking for.

Thanks to Michael at http://www.compendium.com.au/ for passing the story onto me. Love it.

Style Guide

What is a style guide?

A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field. The implementation of a style guide provides uniformity in style and formatting of a document. See Wikipedia for more.

A List Apart have a style guide that I think is quite usable, such that I now loosely base our own style guide on it for an internal wiki that contains our procedures.

Writing Answers

Older post from Joe Chernov on how to write a great online answer (i.e. Quora).

I’ve printed out his post and stuck it to the wall here. The key points he makes are:

  1. Be the first to answer.
  2. Include links and/or graphics in your answer.
  3. Stick to a word count of 100 to 200 words.
I like this because all to often we we need to answer a client or co-workers question, using his guidelines makes for a more succinet answer, which means it is more likely to be read, and in turn, acted upon.
But don’t take my word for it, go read his post and get it direct.