Thursday, April 20, 2017

Episode 6 - Business Skill 4 - Deliver - Part 1


Show Notes for AppsJack Podcast Episode 6 - Delivering Products and Services

We had a great conversation with some seriously smart and educated peeps about the future of product & service delivery, differences between products and services, virtual reality, robotics, human needs and work.  Listen soon!

  • Topic: Delivering Products and Services
  • Recorded 4/15/17 in West Seattle, WA
  • Guests: Josh Bosworth, Steve Kubacki, Ele Munjeli, Andrew Sengul

SECTION 1 - DEFINITIONS AND EXAMPLES - DIFFERENCES AND COMMONALITIES BETWEEN DELIVERING PRODUCTS & SERVICES - DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHAT MAKES A PRODUCT AND SERVICE THEMSELVES

  • Eli
    • Beyond staff augmentation
    • Bundling services into a product
    • Services as they interact are discreet
    • Better to think of services as products
    • Can't / don't want to sell "golden handcuffs"
    • "Productized services"
    • Product is the mature interface of the service
    • Cloud is / was abstract and nebulous but truly is concrete and needs to be
    • Virtues of productizing services
    • Have a set price for the service is a key maturity step
    • Continuing to abstract and simplify
    • Mass customization as a goal for infrastructure
    • "Nobody misses the cashiers."
    • We don't idealize servants (people in services) because of democracy.
  • Andrew
    • Toil is linear work that doesn't scale
    • Can toil be eliminated?
  • Josh
    • Do services necessarily have humans involved?
    • Shovel example
    • Shovel ordering today - digitally
    • Old ways of getting shovels
    • Outcomes of services
  • Eric
    • Product as a metaphor for maturity
 

SECTION 2 - THE IDEAL ROLE FOR HUMANS IN OUR BUSINESS AND WORK PROCESSES - FUNCTIONS TO RESERVE FOR HUMANS - WHAT WE SHOULD NOT AUTOMATE - ETHICS

  • Josh
    • The power of human massage and touch. Irreplaceable?
    • Analysis as part of the sales/delivery process seems to still be appreciated.
    • User reviews the "analog" of storytelling in the digital domain.
  • Eric
    • Ripple effects caused by small human interactions.
    • The idea of 'displacement' when people are no longer needed in systems/processes/supply chains.
    • Need to think systematically to plan to pick up the waste and displacement (delta) from a previous change. This has always been a thing.
  • Ele
    • Differences between "good service" and just plain service.
    • We don't like to see servants (people in service/delivery processes).
    • "The new paradigm of work."
    • Now mass customization, not mass production.
  • Steve
    • The importance of human touch for human development.
    • Need to create and reserve social connectedness.
    • Nature is unique and unpredictable, dynamic.
    • Humans have a draw to uniqueness.
    • Surgical outcomes are dramatically better if the doctor spends time talking to the patient.
    • Not all occupations suit everyone.
  • Andrew
    • Many automated processes lack storytelling.
    • New economy and new job variety is very limited.
 

Section 3 - The future, the fidelity of virtual reality and the built world

  • Andrew
    • The empathy box.
    • Journey the game.
    • A VR world for politicians who love fame but do it safely and virtually.
  • Eric
    • Help the politicians by helping them get out of the way.
    • 5 Senses and fidelity: just how complete is the virtual thing?
  • Josh
    • Experiences with VR.
    • Desire to see loved ones in VR space.
    • The VR hardware store and associate.
  • Steve
    • The power of imagination.
    • We're kind of doing virtual reality in our minds.
    • VR and religion.
    • What do we want to practice in VR?
    • Directly vote through our machines to make decisions.
    • Make the world more diplomatic.
  • Ele
    • The human brain is kind of digital (neurons fire on and off).
    • VR is a matter of fidelity.
    • Dreams are a virtual experience.
    • Use of VR in Taiwan to build empathy between people.
    • VR to extend our humanity.
    • VR to "visit your mother" and other loved ones.
    • Politicians should be open source robots.
    • VR as a place to be safely deviant.
 

SECTION 4 - THE FUTURE OF WORK, EMPLOYMENT, TOIL AND COERCIVE SITUATIONS - IDEAL JOBS - PROS AND CONS OF AUTOMATION

  • Eric
    • The coin of automation. What is it?
  • Ele
    • Automation as liberation technology; eliminating toil.
    • Automation is your super power.
    • Delegation is a kind of automation.
    • Need to teach automation, its pros and cons.
    • Automation as a spiritual practice. Recognize toil when you come across it. Design and decision-making / project management issue.
    • A personal journey to automate all of our own toil away.
    • Craft is not toil.
  • Steve
    • Automation is not necessarily a good thing.
    • Automation creating more and more poor people.
    • The way we're dealing with automation is not working.
    • Does automation always create greater choice for the employee?
    • When things are automated, who are the beneficiaries (goes up to the top and to the automaters).
    • People need merit, accountability, decision-making so it is not toil.
    • Job, work environment and mindset all have an impact on what is toil and gives meaning.
  • Andrew
    • Toil and non-toil tasks.
    • The cost of non-toil tasks.
  • Josh
    • Toil very subjective and situational. Hard to generalize about it.

 


Check out this episode!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Show Notes for AppsJack Podcast Episode 6 - Delivering Products and Services

We had a great conversation with some seriously smart and educated peeps about the future of product & service delivery, differences between products and services, virtual reality, robotics, human needs and work.  Listen soon!

  • Topic: Delivering Products and Services
  • Recorded 4/15/17 in West Seattle, WA
  • Guests: Josh Bosworth, Steve Kubacki, Ele Munjeli, Andrew Sengul


Section 1 - Definitions and Examples - Differences and commonalities between delivering products & services - Differences between what makes a product and service themselves

  • Eli
    • Beyond staff augmentation
    • Bundling services into a product
    • Services as they interact are discreet
    • Better to think of services as products
    • Can't / don't want to sell "golden handcuffs"
    • "Productized services"
    • Product is the mature interface of the service
    • Cloud is / was abstract and nebulous but truly is concrete and needs to be
    • Virtues of productizing services
    • Have a set price for the service is a key maturity step
    • Continuing to abstract and simplify
    • Mass customization as a goal for infrastructure
    • "Nobody misses the cashiers."
    • We don't idealize servants (people in services) because of democracy.
  • Andrew
    • Toil is linear work that doesn't scale
    • Can toil be eliminated?
  • Josh
    • Do services necessarily have humans involved?
    • Shovel example
    • Shovel ordering today - digitally
    • Old ways of getting shovels
    • Outcomes of services
  • Eric
    • Product as a metaphor for maturity

Section 2 - The ideal role for humans in our business and work processes - Functions to reserve for humans - what we should not automate - ethics

  • Josh
    • The power of human massage and touch. Irreplaceable?
    • Analysis as part of the sales/delivery process seems to still be appreciated.
    • User reviews the "analog" of storytelling in the digital domain.
  • Eric
    • Ripple effects caused by small human interactions.
    • The idea of 'displacement' when people are no longer needed in systems/processes/supply chains.
    • Need to think systematically to plan to pick up the waste and displacement (delta) from a previous change. This has always been a thing.
  • Ele
    • Differences between "good service" and just plain service.
    • We don't like to see servants (people in service/delivery processes).
    • "The new paradigm of work."
    • Now mass customization, not mass production.
  • Steve
    • The importance of human touch for human development.
    • Need to create and reserve social connectedness.
    • Nature is unique and unpredictable, dynamic.
    • Humans have a draw to uniqueness.
    • Surgical outcomes are dramatically better if the doctor spends time talking to the patient.
    • Not all occupations suit everyone.
  • Andrew
    • Many automated processes lack storytelling.
    • New economy and new job variety is very limited.

Section 3 - The future, the fidelity of virtual reality and the built world

  • Andrew
    • The empathy box.
    • Journey the game.
    • A VR world for politicians who love fame but do it safely and virtually.
  • Eric
    • Help the politicians by helping them get out of the way.
    • 5 Senses and fidelity: just how complete is the virtual thing?
  • Josh
    • Experiences with VR.
    • Desire to see loved ones in VR space.
    • The VR hardware store and associate.
  • Steve
    • The power of imagination.
    • We're kind of doing virtual reality in our minds.
    • VR and religion.
    • What do we want to practice in VR?
    • Directly vote through our machines to make decisions.
    • Make the world more diplomatic.
  • Ele
    • The human brain is kind of digital (neurons fire on and off).
    • VR is a matter of fidelity.
    • Dreams are a virtual experience.
    • Use of VR in Taiwan to build empathy between people.
    • VR to extend our humanity.
    • VR to "visit your mother" and other loved ones.
    • Politicians should be open source robots.
    • VR as a place to be safely deviant.

Section 4 - The future of work, employment, toil and coercive situations - ideal jobs - pros and cons of automation

  • Eric
    • The coin of automation. What is it?
  • Ele
    • Automation as liberation technology; eliminating toil.
    • Automation is your super power.
    • Delegation is a kind of automation.
    • Need to teach automation, its pros and cons.
    • Automation as a spiritual practice. Recognize toil when you come across it. Design and decision-making / project management issue.
    • A personal journey to automate all of our own toil away.
    • Craft is not toil.
  • Steve
    • Automation is not necessarily a good thing.
    • Automation creating more and more poor people.
    • The way we're dealing with automation is not working.
    • Does automation always create greater choice for the employee?
    • When things are automated, who are the beneficiaries (goes up to the top and to the automaters).
    • People need merit, accountability, decision-making so it is not toil.
    • Job, work environment and mindset all have an impact on what is toil and gives meaning.
  • Andrew
    • Toil and non-toil tasks.
    • The cost of non-toil tasks.
  • Josh
    • Toil very subjective and situational. Hard to generalize about it.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

AppsJack Capable Communities Meetup – March 2017 – Delivering Product & Services Discussion

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 4 PM
Kirkland, WA


A few business associates and I gathered last Tuesday to talk about challenges relating to delivering products & services.  Delivering products and services is the fourth element in the APQC model.  I showed up at about 3:30 and struck up a conversation with Alan Andersen who was already there.  Alan is a leadership coach and consultant.

I’ve been fortunate to get to know Alan better over the last couple of months and it’s been a good experience for me.  Alan is well read and has so many experiences working with leaders and teams from which he can draw experiences and stories.  We sat and chatted and then a few more people showed up at our table, the Captain's Table.

Richard Webb, always a powerful and interesting force, showed up and we started to get into the meat of the delivery topic.  James Tuff, an entertaining and vivacious technology sales executive and entrepreneur, showed up and sat at the head of the table.  After long we had eight at the table including clinical psychologist and writer Steve Kubacki, an intelligent, insightful, opinionated professional and mountaineer.  Steve is great at these events in that he helps us stayed grounded, balanced and on point.  Steve regularly shares perspectives that help us see things from a more human, less business, perspective.  Tonight was no exception.

My new friend, Thomas Mercer, was sitting to my right.  I was drinking iced tea in copious amounts; I had been sick with a fever earlier in the week but was starting to spring back to life.  Spring was upon us indeed.  12 years prior, Thomas and I had finished the same master’s program at the University of Washington Foster Business School: information systems where we learned about the internet, networks, business.  And when things like Facebook were brand new.  Thomas previously ran a medical practice business that helped people with irritable bowel syndrome with diagnosis and treatment.  He explained to us his time working on that project and ho it related to the challenges of delivery.

Lee Carter, sitting to my left, is a business development manager for Ciber, a technology consulting firm with some major clients in the area, recently relocated to the Seattle area from Dallas, TX.  We were also graced by Bruce Follansbee’s presence.  Bruce is always good for conversation, putting people at ease, and book references.

One of the first things I asked about was blockchain and its relationship to delivery.  Per wikipedia:
blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block.[6] By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data — once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered retroactively. Through the use of a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server, a blockchain database is managed autonomously. Blockchains are "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically."
Richard and Thomas seemed to know quite a bit on the subject and shared what they knew with us.  There was discussion about whether the blockchains should be open or closed, transparent or not.  Issues related to security and privacy were major pivot points for our discussion.  Richard suggested that we loop in Ellen Mooney into the conversation; I guess she is an expert on the topic of digital democracy.

We were pretty much all over the map in the beginning of the discussion, going from micro levels of delivery (firm or product perspectives) up to the macro levels (global supply chains, politics and economics).  Richard talked about Amazon’s CIDC pipelines and brought up the term “logistics engine”.  Many at the table agreed that Amazon is doing very amazing things these days and that their ability to delivery and run supply chains is amazing.  For many years, Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue in the world, has been known for its logistics and methods like “cross-docking” but it seems that Amazon, between its online presence and many innovative new products and services has begun to eat into that area of innovation.  Much is happening with Amazon.

We talked about hypothetical scenarios where Amazon could, for example, run dentist offices and use 3d printing for delivery of replacement teeth.  It didn’t seem very far-fetched.  Richard mentioned and recommended the movie Elysium which has some interesting and futuristic elements to it where people get scanned with lasers and good things happen.

I realized at some point in the bubbling conversation that the differences between delivering services and delivering products really are stark.  APQC has even recognized this issue by breaking them out into different L1 elements, making the model 13 items, no longer 12.  I think it’s important to pick one or the other for the sake of focus, clarity and conversation.  Delivering products seems a bit easier in that they are tangible and “real”, whereas delivering services seems a bit more human and ambiguous and challenging, at least to me.  Richard doesn't believe that the distinction is all that different.  Similarities between delivering services and managing customer service (the next area in the AQPC model) seem obvious and will be the target of future exploration.

We got into a pretty detailed conversation about banking, the flow of money, financial systems and corruption.  Richard is very passionate about the many issues of corruption and it helps to have Steve there for his thoughts on humanity as well.  Richard gave examples of Visa being able to run all transactions in the world on its system alone.  Steve made some interesting points about capitalism, such as:
“Capitalism is about wiping out the competition as much as possible so you can waste as much as you want.”  
Steve’s a funny guy and I don’t disagree with the point.  I know some people who definitely act that way.  For these people I know, the goal is to get really rich and make a lot of money now so they can chill out, retire and do very little later.  They aren’t trying to create economies or markets or anything, they are trying to dominate existing ones.  In a word: take.  Not my kind of verb.

Someone mentioned the book by Chris Anderson “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” and cited that it was interesting.  James Tuff shared about a new business idea he is working on in the transportation and informatics areas and we all found it interesting helping him think about how he could deliver that set of products and services.  We had a lengthy and fruitful conversation with Reba about her challenges and ideas for competing and delivering value in the very rapidly changing real estate industry.

Business is highly complex and so is delivery.  Delivery is where the rubber meets the road.  Analyzing any business from the perspective of delivery is difficult because of the natural complexity.

Stay tuned for the upcoming podcast episode on delivery when I will sit down with Josh Bosworth and Steve Kubacki to bat the topic around.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Episode 5 - Business Skill 3 - Market and Sell - Part 1


Podcast Episode 5: Sales & Marketing Show Notes - AppsJack Capable Communities Podcast

 

SECTION 1 - WHAT IS SALES AND MARKETING?


  • Introductions to Andy Scott and Alan Andersen
  • Marketing gets people interested in being *willing* to hand over their money
  • Sales extracts the money and seals the deal
  • Sales and marketing has been around forever
  • The channels have changed
  • There's still oftentimes a need for face-to-face interactions for some large transactions
  • There's a cap or threshold for some transaction sizes
  • The trust of the buyer is a big issue
  • There's also a threshold at the bottom (cost of entry) which has gone way down for suppliers/producers
  • Is the playing field per se "level" now for the little guy to compete with the big guy?
  • Andy: you can't compete on basic requirements and expections.  Need to compete on guarantees, outcomes, promises and value.
  • Hard to look at sales and marketing exclusively without considering delivery, supply chain management, customer service and the rest of business.
  • Doing the marketing and sales strategy activities should define the actual scope, size scale of delivery (size of the project).
  • Size and scale of a company determines the size and scale of go to market strategies and approaches.
  • Need to get extremely clear on the target audience for the product overall and project/phase.


SECTION 2 - MARKETING STRATEGY AND ACTION PLANS


  • Steps include market research, determining target markets, your positioning and uniqueness, competitive analysis, methods and how (marketing mix), budgeting, measurement of success, improvement plan
  • Still need to create a business structure/rhythm/cadence and probably have an outside party review performance on a regular cadence to identify what to adjust
  • Need to look at the present activity system (what's happening) and identify what to change / do more.
  • Marketing may not always be the most important measure, depending on the maturity of the business.
  • Andy: "I don't want to help someone provide a bad service."
  • Alan: People should "sell the right thing".
  • What are the buying criteria?
  • Pre- and post-facto lenses, being proactive vs. responding.  Need to do both.


SECTION 3 - SALES AND SELLING, SALES STRATEGY


  • Alan: The brain is Teflon for anything positive and Velcro for anything negative.
  • Buyers do need to beware and do their own due dilligence.
  • Buyers should seek to find a place of trust.
  • Need to differentiate to overcome people's objections about usales and selling (giving up their money).
  • People want to be able to purchase without risk.
  • Alan: "Need to design guarantees and the brand promise in such a way that you can absolutely deliver."
  • Important for the sales person to see what they do as literally helping get value in exchange for money (an ROI).  Get more out that when they put in.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering is common for some employees in employment interviews.
  • Sales strategy is defined by Alan, incentive structure and rewards are discussed.
  • Charisma seems to be quite required for good sales
  • Eric lists attributes of good sales people.  Actions and behaviors: help, educate, inform, inspire, empathize, facilitate  Attributes: honest, forthcoming, competent, confident.
  • Issue between the good attributes of a person and the performance context that could create issues.
  • Andy lists 5 types of sales people: relationship builders, hard workers/grinders, lone wolves, problem solvers, challengers.
  • Challengers were the best because they: understood customer well, understood customer's business well, educated, understood fit between their product and customer's needs, understood customer's buying process, pushed back and created some degree of tension.
  • Customer loyalty driven by "their rep offers unique perspective", "rep helps navigate through alternatives", "rep helps avoid problems", "rep helps them through the buying process", "rep has support of full organization behind them".
  • Andy: "There's more to it than (just) relationships."
  • Alan: "Go out and be helpful."
  • Help people understand how the process and experience will be going forward.  Help them feel and be comfortable.
  • Need to move beyond relationship as cliche.

 


Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Podcast Episode 5: Sales & Marketing Show Notes - AppsJack Capable Communities Podcast

Section 1 - What is sales and marketing?


  • Introductions to Andy Scott and Alan Andersen
  • Marketing gets people interested in being *willing* to hand over their money
  • Sales extracts the money and seals the deal
  • Sales and marketing has been around forever
  • The channels have changed
  • There's still oftentimes a need for face-to-face interactions for some large transactions
  • There's a cap or threshold for some transaction sizes
  • The trust of the buyer is a big issue
  • There's also a threshold at the bottom (cost of entry) which has gone way down for suppliers/producers
  • Is the playing field per se "level" now for the little guy to compete with the big guy?
  • Andy: you can't compete on basic requirements and expections.  Need to compete on guarantees, outcomes, promises and value.
  • Hard to look at sales and marketing exclusively without considering delivery, supply chain management, customer service and the rest of business.
  • Doing the marketing and sales strategy activities should define the actual scope, size scale of delivery (size of the project).
  • Size and scale of a company determines the size and scale of go to market strategies and approaches.
  • Need to get extremely clear on the target audience for the product overall and project/phase.


Section 2 - Marketing strategy and action plans


  • Steps include market research, determining target markets, your positioning and uniqueness, competitive analysis, methods and how (marketing mix), budgeting, measurement of success, improvement plan
  • Still need to create a business structure/rhythm/cadence and probably have an outside party review performance on a regular cadence to identify what to adjust
  • Need to look at the present activity system (what's happening) and identify what to change / do more.
  • Marketing may not always be the most important measure, depending on the maturity of the business.
  • Andy: "I don't want to help someone provide a bad service."
  • Alan: People should "sell the right thing".
  • What are the buying criteria?
  • Pre- and post-facto lenses, being proactive vs. responding.  Need to do both.


Section 3 - Sales and selling, sales strategy


  • Alan: The brain is Teflon for anything positive and Velcro for anything negative.
  • Buyers do need to beware and do their own due dilligence.
  • Buyers should seek to find a place of trust.
  • Need to differentiate to overcome people's objections about usales and selling (giving up their money).
  • People want to be able to purchase without risk.
  • Alan: "Need to design guarantees and the brand promise in such a way that you can absolutely deliver."
  • Important for the sales person to see what they do as literally helping get value in exchange for money (an ROI).  Get more out that when they put in.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering is common for some employees in employment interviews.
  • Sales strategy is defined by Alan, incentive structure and rewards are discussed.
  • Charisma seems to be quite required for good sales
  • Eric lists attributes of good sales people.  Actions and behaviors: help, educate, inform, inspire, empathize, facilitate  Attributes: honest, forthcoming, competent, confident.
  • Issue between the good attributes of a person and the performance context that could create issues.
  • Andy lists 5 types of sales people: relationship builders, hard workers/grinders, lone wolves, problem solvers, challengers.
  • Challengers were the best because they: understood customer well, understood customer's business well, educated, understood fit between their product and customer's needs, understood customer's buying process, pushed back and created some degree of tension.
  • Customer loyalty driven by "their rep offers unique perspective", "rep helps navigate through alternatives", "rep helps avoid problems", "rep helps them through the buying process", "rep has support of full organization behind them".
  • Andy: "There's more to it than (just) relationships."
  • Alan: "Go out and be helpful."
  • Help people understand how the process and experience will be going forward.  Help them feel and be comfortable.
  • Need to move beyond relationship as cliche.


Didn't discuss / next time:


  • How campaign and opportunity management work - the modern information systems of business development


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Selling and Marketing Your Best and Worst Ideas - Meetup Recap

We first talked about the differences between sales and marketing.  Someone stated that marketing is demand generation.  Someone else stated that marketing is pulling and sales is pushing.  I asked why those verbs.  Someone else chimed in with the idea that there are different types of sales that need to be considered such as consultative sales and transaction-based sales.  Our definition of the differences still seemed to be lacking.  Mike Pritchard, always brilliant, offered that "sales is the closure", which to me makes good sense.  I asked if sales are the outputs and marketing are the inputs; everyone seemed to agree.

There are two primary ways to look at sales 1) holistically as a total system of lifetime value, care, etc. and 2) as the process of generating revenue and income (not delivering, etc.).  Both views seem valid in today's age.  Richard Webb showed up and told a story of a recent conversation he had with an executive Chief Sales Officer who looked at the system as the latter (just income generation), not the former (comprehensive system).  The individual had said that "we have people" for the other parts and did not seem overly concerned about the delivery or operations part, just the selling and income generation parts.  This bothered Richard and others and Richard even said, "I am anti-sales".  Clearly this is not the best idea, to be anti-sales in business, since it is so key and critical to the process, but why the rub and why do some of us feel so strongly against sales, and sales people for that matter?

Within sales there are at least two models where either A) the sales person hands over to an account manager or person for delivery and/or customer care and B) where they continue to own the account through and through and to be responsible for retention, customer satisfaction, etc.  We all seemed to agree that the latter model is preferred.  There is a division of labor that may be necessary, however, between the sales person and the delivery team.  To me, it seems quite reasonable to "firewall" the sales team from the delivery team and to separate those two worlds and cultures for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness.

The ideas of "deal shaping" and "deal crafting" were mentioned as difficult skills and I personally thought of our new president, Donald Trump and his "art of the deal".  I think many of us revere and admire sales people and realize it is a hard job.  But maybe that is just a fallacy.  Surely not everyone can do it well or skillfully.

There is another view of the sales person as simply an "order taker".  The idea there is to keep it simple and have the sales and customer intake process be very easy and pre-described such there is a predictable and reliable input to the rest of the organization.  This kind of role, however, may not be very well suited for some individuals who like to hunt and kill big game (customers) and find that practice fun and realize the complexity and uniqueness of each new account or project in some larger  more complicated contexts.

Our buddy James Tuff, who has been in sales for most of his life, shared stories about the value of sales and sales people and how it should be a noble profession.  I agree with James and in general have the utmost respect for good sales people but I could say the same for good dishwashers.

Richard, referring to complexity and disorder, mentioned that "most enterprises are federated small businesses" and I agree with that.  Having worked at Siemens, Microsoft and others, I have seen this first hand.  And it can even be said that some business are federated big businesses, which is totally true.  In general, we need to keep in mind the size of the organization when we are talking about sales.  The used car lot is one thing but if we look at other big businesses trying to land and keep major accounts, that's another thing.  But there are common patterns and practices we can follow.

We talked about the extreme importance of sales.  One person said that sales was currency and Christian said that there was a certain invincibility about sales and sales people because they are the ones that bring in the money that makes everything else possible.

Bruce shared that there are some buzzwords used to describe sales and value such as "trusted advisor", and "loyalty" that he thinks are overloaded and poorly used.  Bruce has had a lifetime in sales and is an expert in the matter.  Bruce continued to explain that he has worked for good sales organizations, Xerox being one, that provide good incentive structures that worked quite well in creating a balance between "selling and leaving" and helping sales people see quality as total and mandatory.  The aspects of compensation that Bruce mentioned were 1) salary 2) commission and 3) being tied to customer satisfaction so the sales person had an incentive to ensure that there account was successful in the long term and could not simply walk away without facing a significant penalty.

David Slight chimed in and expressed the importance of quota in this mix and that very many companies behave on this premise that their earning targets are set and then they back into individual and regional quota to make it happen.  It is a very tops-down model.

We switched subjects a bit and started talking about marketing again, given that we had covered a lot of territory on sales as a standalone topic.  One person (it could have been me) suggested that marketing is all about enabling.  David brought up the idea that Product Management is a business function that seems to be doing a good job of bridging the gap between customers and delivery.  I agree with this 100% but would add that account management (sales?) still needs to be tied to and coupled with it for success.  It cannot be the place of Product Management to own success for individual customers.  There needs to be someone in mix who knows the customer pain and situation and can best integrate all of the companies products into the base organization for success and value.

I raised the point about differences between delivering products and delivering services and how APQC had recently broken these two topics apart.  I had felt like it was a good decision but David disagreed and said that they really are the same things.  I disagree on this point and we will get into their similarities and differences next time around on the meetup and podcast.  David was talking about how Digital Products might really be / are Services and I can agree with that basic point.  It is indeed becoming a very blurred line, especially when  you include virtual reality and other technological views.

Richard took us off on a (good) tangent about corruption and incentives and still was fairly convinced that sales and selling were evil.  Bruce offered the book A Whole New Mind in this context.  Mike Pritchard believed that the percentage of sales people was definitely decreasing but I shared ideas about maybe how all of us are becoming more and more sales people (less overt, yes) on such platforms as Facebook and other places where we are virally marketing ideas.

James continued to argue the point (and I think rightfully so) that he "trusts people over machines, frankly".  I want to have follow-up conversations with James about the % of times he interacts with machines in sales and information gathering processes vs. humans and how much of his $ goes to machines and not people.

Mike Pritchard brought up the idea that sales were maleable and something that could be controlled (a simple process at least) whereas marketing was more mysterious, complicated and complex.  Jonathan, in speaking of sales, believed that you have to work with carrots and not sticks but I disagree and think that there are many contexts in which sticks (negative consequences) are 100% required to get good performance.  Complacency is a real issue.

We got off on a tangent again about how (good) sales is really about personal accountability and ownership.  Alan Andersen came to life and led us in a great discussion about leadership, ownership and their importance.  David chimed in and did not love the silver-bullet-style importance being placed on leadership and offered that the two skills of empathy and self-effectiveness are huge when you look at 16 PF models.  Leadership is both inate and in some ways can be learned.  Some people are more natural at it than others.  And it does indeed boil down to attitude and beliefs.

Alan brought up a good point about leadership which is that you first need to be able to lead yourself.  Then you can lead others and lead leaders.  But self-discipline is step one.  David continued to diminish the value of leadership per se and continued to believe that in more of a holocracy-based society that words such as citizen over leader might be better and more appropriate.  I agree with David and think that leadership as a topic is overplayed yet of course required.  David said, "There is a whole new way of working." and I agree.  Our technology is changing the way things are and will be organized.

As was mentioned above, our view of sales really does depend on the organization's maturity and it is one of the practices that needs to mature along with it, if not indeed lead that maturity effort.  There was agreement that being proactive is better than reactive.

I finally asked a few of the people there if the true skill in sales was facilitation and there was some agreement around that idea.  Confidence was also brought up as a core attribute of good sales.  But then Berry reminded me of competence, which brings us back to the full systems idea and its importance.

The next topic will focus on the delivery of products and services and then beyond that we will talk about customer service holistically.  Once we are done with the customer service topic we will have talked through the full "value added chain" and then delve back into the support processes of HR, IT, Finance, etc. that hold up and bolster the rest of the business functions.

My name is Eric Veal and I want to thank our attendees at the meetup last night.  They were: myself, Christian Harris, Richard Webb, James Tuff, Bruce Follansbee, Mike Pritchard, Berry Zimmerman, Alan Andersen, David Slight and Jonathan Olson.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Episode 4 - Business Skill 2 - Develop and Manage Products and Services - Part 1


AppsJack Podcast Episode 4 - Developing & Managing Products and Services

Recorded 2/11/17 in West Seattle

On the show

  • Eric Veal
  • Andrew Sengul
  • Christian Harris
  • Steven Kubacki

 

Part 1 - Butterfly effects

  • How do small changes and decisions ultimately create huge changes down the road
  • Need to innovate and change, continuous transformation is required

 

Kubacki

  • Past behavior predicts future behavior
  • A person's ego needs to be fairly flexible
  • Compartmentalization
  • Chaos and non-linear dynamics
  • People want to eliminate and reduce conflict
  • Idea of random eliminatation of people within a company
  • Fear of failure

 

Andrew

  • Example by Andrew of a single checkbox feature that crashed an entire system
  • Examples of the C: drive, NT, DOS and other legacy with in Microsoft
  • Q-DOS
  • Local Maximums work for a time and place but there's something better out there
  • Ego
  • "Very happy crews tend to produce very bland films"
  • Gravity well effect

 

Veal

  • Seduced by Success
  • Dead & Bloated vs. Struggling Entrepreneur scenarios
  • GM almost went bankrupt
  • Organizations build up inertia and baggage and legacy that prevents them from being successful now
  • Backward compatibility has held Microsoft back

 

Part 2 - Fixing Messes

Q: Can you think of any cases you had to clean up?

Eric

  • Acuson purchased by Siemens and the following merger
  • What are the challenges we see people facing today?
  • Competing forces of innovation
  • People are trying to develop things
  • People perceive development differently
  • Incubators and accelerators like Y Combinator to nurture
  • Feedback is a learned response, an interaction between the object and context
  • Sometimes you need to retract and shrink

 

Andrew

  • How entities connect with the public
  • Trump bypassing the media
  • There are those who want to develop and others who want to simply preserve statis
  • Entropy is part of any process

 

Steve

  • The more centralized and larger, the less flexible, adaptable and the more moribund
  • GE has a knack of creating new companies within itself
  • Negentropy
    • Systems are constantly building and getting larger
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negentropy

Part 3 - Planning and design

Eric

  • Planning is really boring
  • Want a balanced view across the portfolio
  • Need agile mindset
  • If we are trying to create balanced organizations, then why don't we design them that way?
  • Flexibility/Non-Linear/Yin/Chaos/Manual/Dynamic/Random vs. Control/Linear/Yang/Order/Automated/Programatic/Planned
  • Hire a random person

 

Andrew

  • Planning is a way of life
  • Scenario Engine
  • Helps to do many things at once and have multiple projects in many phases
  • Agile and Scrum can be quite bureacratic
  • Order and Chaos each has a seed of the other
  • Ask people to look at something from the perspective of a different person
  • Psychodrama
  • Fictional conversations

 

Christian

  • How effective your planning is depends on your experience of what you are trying to plan

 

Steve

  • Linear and non-linear intertwining
  • Planning is linear
  • The bias in many organizations is to move toward planning and linearity
  • How do you offset this tendency for bureaucracy?
  • Doing the opposite or "not-doing" is good to break the "linear set"
  • Example of Google's 20% time for innovation
  • Let go of the old and let the new arise
  • The pretending becomes automatic

 


Check out this episode!