Feb 092011


Our Iceberg Is Melting is a short and cute book discussing a serious adult topic. It was lent to me by one of my employees, which made me interested in reading it. The book by change management experts John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber is a fast and easy read and features several adorable illustrations depicting penguins and their habitat. Our Iceberg Is Melting, likely picking up on the theme of Climate Chaos and the recent penguin-themed films, creates a fable of penguins and habitat change to parlay a story about change, how to manage it, deal with it and get groups to adapt and adopt it.

One of the best-known books regarding change is undoubtedly Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. That book was also a succinct read wrapped in the coat of a fable and so comparisons would be logical – even if Johnson had not penned the introduction to this book. Unfortunately, while understanding and being sensitive to the theme and the importance of the topic, I was not a fan of Who Moved My Cheese and the same could be said regarding Our Iceberg…

The author attempts to enamour us and simplify the topic by picking a fable and using lovable penguins to boot, but lost in the shuffle is whether a change was necessary in the first place. No proof is offered. One needs to beware and watch for ‘change’ being used as a crutch and as an excuse for lack of willingness to address issues or drill into problems and challenges. More honestly in this regard would benefit most corporations and entities. Taking for granted that a change was indeed a necessity it is unclear why moving to another iceberg would mean a move to a better environment. Could the new iceberg be undergoing the same change and, therefore, the same problems? Moreover, could the birds be fleeing their problems in lieu of facing and repairing them?

The authors’ allegories and paradigm might well stand, yet a blanket pro-change statement, without examining need or necessity in the first place, is partly what ails many an organization and is unfair to the reader who is told to stop resisting change or else… and no justification is required. Indeed, the author insinuates that a resistance to change or demanding empirical evidence make one a “NoNo.”

Nevertheless, Kotter and Rathgeber offer the following process for enacting change. This seems simplistic, but essentially rational, although, never mind the propaganda effect of posters, signs and visual cues, alongside the need to sidestep and replace opposing views, which the authors advocate.

The process is:

1- Create A Sense Of Urgency (act immediately)
2- Pull Together The Guiding Team (leadership skills and credibility required)
3- Develop The Change Vision And Strategy (contrast the future with the past)
4- Communicate For Understanding (convey the vision)
5- Empower Others To Act (help those who are onboard)
6- Produce Short-Term Wins (an immediate win, no matter how small, is helpful)
7- Don’t Let Up (accelerate the momentum and push hard)
8- Create A New Culture (the new ways need reinforcement for a while).

Feb 032011


In Drive Daniel H Pink, a former political aide-turned author and lecturer, overturns the conventional notions that operate modern companies’ dealings with its people and debunks what we think are true regarding motivation and people management.

Much like a Malcolm Gladwell, who translates academia and science into layman’s terms for wider dissemination, Pink digests behavioural and management science from the last 50 years into a surprisingly effective essay regarding how to motivate human beings, which conventional and accepted ideas are gibberish and which actions are counter-effective. The book is interesting in its audacity and perhaps startling in both its conclusions and how so much that is so tested and known in some circles has not seeped into mainstream business. I say ‘perhaps’ because much of the contents is actually coherent and often what many of us have experienced and subconsciously identified, but never put quite found in one tome and in this way. Many managers, business owners or human resource professionals should prepare for a jolt judging by how seldom these ideas are practiced and, indeed, how often they are resisted. Apparently, much of the business world is still in the Dark Ages.

Speaking of which, Pink begins with definitions of Motivation 1.0 (early/basic man who seeks survival), moves to Motivation 2.0 (the carrot and stick model for reward and punishment) and his central theme of Motivation 3.0, which address intrinsic motivators for creative and non-routine work. Imagine how a reward could be a negative. Pink does! And when one thinks about the impossibility of that notion Pink pulls the example of volunteer-run success of Wikipedia versus the paid staffers of the deceased Encarta, which was previously a product of Microsoft. Perhaps Motivation 2.0 is increasingly irrelevant in the Western world. While routine and programmatic work can be outsourced, heuristic and non-routine work generally cannot. Since job growth in our circles is mostly from the latter carrots and sticks are a dangerously anachronistic paradigm that need to be severely reconsidered. As well as Pink explains the concept well; imagine the ways we have to go when imagining telling a sales manager to forego assigning a bonus/commission-based model to his or her salespeople. Unlikely, right? Pink seriously challenges that type of thinking. Adding rewards to pleasurable non-programmatic work has the opposite effect and indeed make the job unpleasant. Taking the extrinsic reward away renders the job pleasant in itself and gives it a sense of purpose and achievement. Pink will explain that financial incentives will make performance worse. Rewards, science shows, narrow the focus when the work calls for thinking and creativity and excitement. To be clear, he hesitates to render the same judgement for algorithmic work.
Having said that, Pink clearly elaborates and explains that ‘baseline rewards’ need to be sufficient for this model to work.

In the second part of Drive, Pink explains the three elements of true motivation. These are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. He then offers examples, actual case studies and techniques for unleashing these elements. Most managers and leaders prefer and seek Intrinsically motivated people (he calls them Type I) to Extrinsically motivated (type X) individuals. What if there was a template for unleashing the latter and harnessing the ensuing talent and energy? To be clear, Pink insists on fairness and equity being a prerequisite, but not as a form of carrots and stick rule. Going back to the three elements, Drive addresses the dominance of purpose over profit, specific goals over constant reward systems and giving people control over their work environments (including team-mates, work hours and tasks) as essential to motivation and success. Imagine it. Pink and many businesses did and the case studies are enlightening. The examples are there, but whether, as the book jacket proclaims Drive is “paradigm-shattering” depends on the dissemination and acceptance of the idea at the top echelon of the business and workforce entities. After all, Daniel Pink is telling sales managers, just to cite one example, to stop the commission-based system and to instead discover that the new hires have longer-term visions of their work. The news is that the message is hard to dismiss.

The book is padded with chapter summaries, conversation starters, an index and even a helpful glossary. This makes it a useful handbook on top of its exciting content. Having read it three times over the last several months, useful and exciting are certainly appropriate words here.

Challenging conventional wisdom could be termed Drive’s first and last word were it not for its drawing from actual academic studies and learnings.

Jun 262010


How To Get Your Competition Fired advances the idea of The Wedge, a sales methodology that not only takes the prospect into consideration, but also places an emphasis on the need to deal with existing incumbent or in-progress competitive pressures. Randy Schwantz honed his sales skills in the insurance industry; however, one cannot see why the ideas and scripts in his book would not apply to other industries. Speaking of scripts, Schwantz is adamant early on that he will offer concrete and tangible examples, which he fulfils. The book was provided to me by an ethusiastic CEO, which encouraged me to read it.

The Wedge, therefore, focuses on dislodging the competition or dethroning the current provider. The difference, however, is the book’s emphasis that the process should happen at the customer’s own volition. As the seller drives the process and executes the script, the customer is driven to ask for the seller’s goods or services. It is a risky proposition – claiming that a regimented and scripted approach applies universally – but there is much to conceptually like here.

The book’s core premise is that consultative selling is limited in scope with its emphasis of a two-way dynamic in sales, namely that of the buyer and the seller. The situation, this book emphasizes, is more akin to a triangle. Competition exists and ignoring it, or not giving it equal consideration, is not clever. Good point.

The first step for a seller is to know his competitive advantage. With competition possibilities on price or product being unlikely or limited the emphasis falls upon service, of which the author insists on the proactive kind, which the customer currently does not see from its provider. As such, the demonstration of the differentiator begins now even before a sale has been agreed to. It is time to showcase what the possibilities are, what is not currently being delivered and what the opportunity cost of staying with the current provider is. In the comparison game, the contrast is amplified when the prospect sees the gap between service currently offered and what could be. This is partly why a direct criticism of the competition is ill-advised. The emphasis, again, is on allowing the customer to connect the dots independently. The big question is how to get the prospect to feel negatively towards the current provider? The answer flows from the pro-active service possibility and vision that the seller helps create. The customers need to know that they are under-served. Once this vision is initiated, the pain is leveraged as The Wedge. The possibility of getting the pain to go away forms the reason why the customer will begin to believe it is time for a change. This is facilitated through giving the customer control and predictability. How? First, by conducting extensive pre-sales research. Asking question is next, but one must beware of customers fudging on the truth or not being able to articulate their pain. Much of the emphasis here goes towards knowing the competition and the type of experience it is providing the coveted customer. This is where the suggested script comes into play.

Armed with this information the book recommends pivoting this information into a picture of a pro-active service including allowing the prospect to draw (imagine) a picture of your superior service. The Wedge aims to allow the customer to have a picture in mind, feel the pain of missing the superb service and thus expecting it and soon asking for it. As a psychological concept pain avoidance is a bigger motivator than seeking pleasure and therefore without felt pain there is little chance of a win.

The research before the direct interaction includes: 1- our strengths versus the competitors, 2- our weakness versus the competition’s strength and 3- our strengths versus the competition’s weaknesses. It is with number three that ensures one a win.

The Wedge Sales Calls has the following steps including example scripts, which follow the research and making the customer feel comfortable with you:

1- Picture Perfect (where the customer is to draw a mental picture). “I’m curious. When you receive (name of service) so that you don’t have to worry about (the pain), are you comfortable with the process?”
2- Take Away (where the rosy picture you drew of your service is yanked away – in line with the above-mentioned supremacy of pain avoidance). “Well, perhaps it’s not that important because (give any reason).” You repeatedly tell the customer that you are momentarily setting each issue aside as it is not very important.
3- Vision Box (allow the customer to tell you). “In regard to (area of concern), what would you like to see happen?”
4- Replay (emphasis). “Here’s what I’m hearing you say you want (repeating what the prospect said in Vision Box). Have I got that right?”
5- White Flag (the customer is now saying it). “So what would you like me to do?” In this section delivering a proposal is not enough and should be refused as a stand-alone next step. For the proposal to be accepted the customer must be willing to fire the competition. Hence, see the next step.
6- Rehearsal. “That’s the easy part (referring to the delivery of a proposal). May we talk about the hard part? How will you tell your other rep that it’s over?” That is, would the customer actual deliver the bad news to the competition should the proposal be acceptable. The book suggests being upfront about the difficulty of delivering a bad news to the competitors. The rehearsal is important because the competition will attempt to play defensive and match your offer. “Are you comfortable with everything? So it’s done. Great. I’ll go to work,” Only now will you, in fact, draw up a proposal.

The book does deliver on the tangible aspect of its technique and believes in a regimented approach. However, this strength can easily also be a weakness for obvious reasons. Moreover, while discussing the book’s negatives, the reader will notice a fair amount of postponement and stretching of material and pages before the book delves into the meat of the matter. Nonetheless, the build-up is not irrelevant. Each chapter offers a succinct summary as well and the book includes an index.

This book was handed to me by a company president and my curiosity factor was high. How to Get Your Competition Fired (Without Saying Anything Bad About Them): Using The Wedge to Increase Your Sales is different, interesting and possibly more concrete in its content than the average sales book.

Mar 122010



Coincidentally, only after picking What Is Six Sigma did it occur to me that the book is related to another one I recently put down. In fact, What Is Six Sigma was mentioned and cited in What Is Six Sigma Process Management? By Rowland Hayler and Michael Nichols, which I put down in December. The fact that the books have the same publisher and similar cover designs should have given it away, but either the clues did not register or the power of subconscious is greater than believed!

The book at hand is really for all levels, which appeals to the beginner in me. The material spans from introductory and nuts and bolts to advanced. Most readers would be able to benefit from the contents if not utilize it as a starting point. At less than one-hundred pages, the book is short and does not contain a glossary or index.

“Six Sigma puts the customer first and uses facts and data to drive better solutions,” states page two, while beginning page fourteen the authors – whose credential are both academically and in practice impressive – assert the six themes of Six Sigma to include 1- a genuine focus on the customer, 2- data and fact-driven management, 3- processes are where the action is, 4- proactive management, 5- boundaryless collaboration and 6-drive for perfection; tolerate failure. This last theme insists that companies need to be ready to handle problems and willing to take risks. Theme number five is often promoted outside Six Sigma circles, but rarely given air. Perhaps this formal process could be its saviour? This chapter also insists that while some of the aforelisted might already be on your company’s agenda, this system brings them all together.

From there, the book gets considerably more technical in its mid-section delving into processes, techniques, statistics and analysis. These tools, skills and processes aim to deliver 99.99966% accuracy into the company’s near future. As the book admits, Six Sigma isn’t about incrementalism, yet the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve & Control) cycle is best suited for projects that are “meaningful and manageable” the authors counsel.

The end chapters have advice for members of the Six Sigma working groups, non-members, senior executives (champions and sponsors) and provide the reader with a somewhat limited and cursory set of real-life examples. At one point, the authors get into advocating for Six Sigma beyond describing and defining the system. The promotion takes the form of unconcealed advertising. Given that – that is if the authors choose to go into this space – a more balanced take would have been beneficial. Insisting that anyone disagreeing with Six Sigma is an obstructionist or defensive or that folks involved with Six Sigma are holding a ticket to promotion, while others might be making a career-limiting move (p.75: “Doing so is potentially risky to your long-term employment…”) is dubious and unhelpful at best. These pages take earlier assertions (p.22: “Black Belt-hood as a springboard to … promotions and bonuses.”) to a new level. If the authors have chosen to wade beyond description and definition of the process and into advocacy then a balanced approach is called for. After all, many companies and individuals never get involved in Six Sigma and have turned out well. Nevertheless, What Is Six Sigma is both interesting and beneficial and a good, quick and concise read for those interested in the topic.

Mar 122010


who moved my cheese

Who Moved My Cheese? is a perennial favourite and oft-cited book dealing with change management and perception. Having just re-read The One Minute Manager – written by the author Spencer Johnson and his co-writer Kenneth Blanchard who supplies a foreword here – picking up this book was of even more interest to me. This book is a short and an easy read given its many images, compact text and larger font.

It is not difficult to understand the many scornful reviews of this book. Change is an important concept and a reality. The book makes valuable points regarding the notion and its inevitability. Much of the parable and its lessons, which are simply put, but are anything but, are true and the stuff that make or break companies and people. Having said that, the writer’s simplification and quite one-sided take on the world of change is shocking and rather insolent.

Yes, change might be (and is) everywhere, but it should not be a self-fulfilling prophecy and a crutch – or metaphor for – irrationally explaining away anything and everything. Companies/societies/families and their respective leaders/politicians/heads have responsibilities and one of those is guidance and disciplined change or, better yet, improvement and pertinence. It is a wonder that the metaphorical characters receive no guidance or signposts. It is as if the author is advocating a free for all laissez-faire regime where anything goes and no responsibility is expected of those whose positions, experience and remuneration is based on management and assistance. Worse, the non-thinking mice are lauded, while the analytical ‘little men’ are derided. While not seeing or expecting change is indeed dire, and not reacting to it is worse, criticizing the thinking men is taking things one step too far. Spencer Johnson suggests Hem And Haw should think less and be more animalistic like Sniff and Scurry when in ‘The Maze.’ It is odd and, to use hyperbole, reminiscent of the behaviour seen in fraud and failures like Global Crossing, Adelphia and Enron where everyone did as they were told and did not give it a single thought. After all, ‘change happens’ these folk probably were thinking (or weren’t). Even the markets know that too much change is bad as evidenced by corporations fleeing revolutions or stock markets plunging in the face of change for its own eternal sake.

Let us be careful, Who Moved My Cheese? has a commonsensical idea and is correct in its insistence that people like their ‘cheese’ and hold on more firmly the more of it they have. This indeed is a recipe for future failure. It is what we would call behaving like a fossil, but there is no guarantee a better cheese is available elsewhere, or contrary to what the book claims, something else will be discovered… just by virtue of a mindless search. It is offensive to say that employees, workers, citizens should not expect any “benefits” as per page thirty-eight. That is both contrary to logic and unfair to people who have built a society or made a company what it is. Without a carrot, no one will bite after all. What does make sense is page forty three’s reminder that that one needs to stay sharp, adapt and not lose his or her edge. Doing the same thing over and over is indeed dangerous in most circumstances. What I certainly liked about the message was that one should not be afraid. What would one do if he were not afraid?

Humans have learnt to analyze and hopefully re-analyze as a learnt behaviour that is conducive to survival. Most of our learned behaviour stems from millennia of adapting to conditions and the instinct to survive. Even mice do the same despite the author’s metaphor to the contrary. It is only after such a process that one can approach change. And one option might be to not go on a search when no supporting evidence exists that setting out would be desultory, contrary to rational thought or the opposite of the lessons of experience. “Movement in a new direction” might fulfil the promise of new cheese or might lead to a drop off the cliff.

Not to belabour the point, but having read the book one remains unconvinced of the absolute supremacy of one option over the other. Remaining static, stationary and unimproved is not fruitful. Making changes for the sake of changing and doing so out of habit or as a way of hiding the actual reasons behind an occurrence is also disingenuous. Change is a fact, will happen and can, and often is, for the better, yet promoting it for its own sake or as a pretext is dishonest and that is where Who Moved My Cheese? goes too far.

Mar 122010

A Classic And Simple Management Tale


It is likely reasonable to deem The One Minute Manager as a classic among management books. The obvious theme is managing people and employees, but the cover promises ways to simplify one’s life, get more done and be less stressed. Along these lines, the authors have penned several other tomes including The One Minute Father/Mother, The One Minute Sales Person and others.

The One Minute Manager emphasizes human dynamics and managing people as a means of achieving results. It might seem foreign or simplistic to some who espouse technology over people, blame employees first due to a preference for a top-down culture, care more for corporations than people, and ironically end up serving neither or those whose books and programs are not served by conceding to the fundamentals, but that highlights the need for the book even more.

At first, the notion might seem absurd or a stretch, but the book is not a gimmick. The authors are a Ph.D. holder and M.D. respectively and have based the short and straightforward book on research into human behaviour and stimuli. This was my second time reading The One Minute Manager (The ‘One-Minute’ Manager?) and it felt as interesting as the first time, which was back in 1996. After all these years, the advice of Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson rings true as does the endorsement of C-level persons from firms like Chevron and Jack In The Box.

Perhaps like the reader, the book’s narrator is a somewhat incredulous and curious person who is justly sceptical about the concept. He meets a man who is a ‘One Minute Manager’ and has three tips. While these might sound simple and obvious the detail and methodology is the key. Using a story format, the book hones in on the three basic components of human management each of which should take approximately a minute to accomplish following the initial discussions and training that come with being a new employee or the initiation of a new project.

1- One Minute Goal Setting. The technique insists on writing one’s actionable goals down in a concise format of one page with no more than 250 words. That leads to knowing how to constantly measure performance, reviewing them and agreeing to them with one’s manager.

2- One Minute Praising. This is part of an upfront contract. Praise should follow the commendable action immediately and be specific. Impart sincerity by offering a slight physical touch and encourage more of the same.

3- One Minute Reprimand. This is also part of an upfront understanding. The criticism happens as soon as the manager knows of the mistake and is very specifically about a behaviour and not the person. This is followed by a few seconds of silence and a reversion to the praise of the person overall. Do not dwell on it. Be tough at first in order to make sure the pleasant part comes second.

People Who Feel Good About Themselves Produce Results. The number one motivator for humans is feedback on results.

Dec 072009

The Application Of Six Sigma Concepts To Improve The Customers’ Experience


What Is Six Sigma Process Management? is a relatively quick study at just over 100 pages; however, given a methodical structure, plain language and ample diagrams the authors render the subject as simple to absorb as possible. Being a rookie in the field the book’s methodology was indeed straightforward. How that translates to experienced readers, black belts and consultants in the field is best read in other reviews, but the presence of a concise description of all concepts involved was a plus in this circle. Having said that, a better compilation of definitions and a glossary are missed.

The authors’ definition is that “The Six Sigma Process Management methodology is a practical approach that focuses the tools and rigor of Lean Six Sigma on your critical processes in order to help you identify the most strategic and customer-focused opportunities for Lean Six Sigma projects in your organizations.” The book next relates this topic to what every company has and needs to improve upon, namely products (or services), delivery and value for employees, suppliers and customers. This is where the concept of SIPOC (Suppliers, Input, Process, Output and Customers) is connected to the basic methodology of DMAIC (define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control). In the case of the `Customers’ the process must be value-add i.e. customers must be willing to pay for something the company does that can be done correctly for them the first time around that has gone through a transformation before being delivered.
This book defines what it means when it speaks of a process management in Six Sigma (“end-to-end core processes” are those high-level processes that are the primary drivers of value, satisfaction and profit), goes into detail in the implementation and management phase, discusses the tools needed and ends with a snapshot of what a future organization practicing the science would ostensibly look like. One such process is the obvious one, order-to-cash. However, an inordinate amount of emphasis is given to the management of the process. The authors emphasize the needs for constant and consistent executive sponsorship and the imperative that “process governance” be maintained. The authors’ practical experience in the field likely renders the judgment that strong leadership needs to be sustained for any Six Sigma process to succeed. The presence and approval of executive leadership will prevent an emotional and practical disconnect on behalf of the participants and the failure of the project. And here is a simple formulae for measuring the effort: R(esult) = Q(uality of the solution) x A(cceptance of the solution).

As the book admits, Six Sigma Process Management (SSPM) is not for the faint-hearted. The inter-linked process requires detailed self-examination, metrics, analysis and supervision. However, it can be done and needs to be done and the tools are outlined here. Clearly, the message is that variations and detours are possible, and have been successes at companies like GE or Amex, but the hierarchy and the basics are not in doubt for these practitioners. SSPM will help identify the current processes, deducing what needs to be done and mapping a near-future strategy with the vital Voice Of Customer in mind.

Oct 132009

How To Get A Business Network & How To Work It


The book’s subject matter certainly appeared aggressive promising “Networking results 24/7” and how to “attract a following in person and online.”
A couple of warning flags go up right away. The book’s presentation seemed gimmicky right off the bat with its proclamations in bold letters or the promise to “Access FREE reader resources” on the author’s website. Having come across the same thing in several other, perhaps coincidentally weak, books the presence of quotations at the top of each chapter from famous characters also added to the misgiving. The most discouraging however, was the back cover proclaiming the author to not only be a writer, but also a developer of networking products, career accelerator, consultant, keynote speaker and founder of the “Center For Networking Excellence.” Author Liz Lynch will justify the omni-directionally and exponentially growing universe soon enough and incorporate these activities, in what she deems, as a necessity in her concise book, but as a general comment could the whole ‘life-style’ and ‘branding’ imagery be a turn-off? Who isn’t tired of actors who record albums, CEOs who run for office, crooners who get parts in movies, rappers who design clothing and have fashion shows and talk show hosts with magazines? Indeed, Gwyneth Paltrow was just on TV reviewing gourmet food in Spain. It is de rigueur but by now also so corny and cheesy, yet as mentioned Liz Lynch goes on to insist it is all part of the plan she advocates. Indeed, the author advertises for herself and her website often and the book is full of self-references, but that could be taken in two ways. She justifies much of it in Chapter 9, Head For The Limelight.

Smart Networking quickly earns its stripes by doing a couple of things correctly. Firstly, the book is systematic. Liz Lynch consistently outlines the steps needed in sequence. Secondly, she provides specific examples of what she means. She provides these in quotation marks. Here is an example of a sentence one can use as a template: “I work with many different types of clients, but most of my work lately has been with professional service firms.” These two features establish that Liz Lynch is knowledgeable in her subject matter and is serious about imparting the knowledge to her readers in a way that would help.

Her system splits the book into sections about:

1- Connecting with one’s self (how to develop the right mindset)
2- Connecting One-to-one (having the skills to take advantage of interactions and bringing value)
3- Connecting One-to-many (by leveraging the tools and means) and finally
4- to do what is right and putting it all into action.

In the course of the book, one learns how to be smarter in networking, how to use the concept of leverage to generate revenue and how skill plus will yield success. She also seeks to comfort and reassure the readers by recalling how she was nervous and ruffled when she began networking, something that surely should relieve many. There is some repetition here, but there are several solid ideas as well. The author expounds on her suggestions to draw people in using one’s expertise, ideas (for example, as relates to the many laws and regulations in place), going to where like-minded people are (including co-workers), raising one’s profile (leveraging blogs, e-newsletters, Facebook, Linkedin and others as well as giving speeches or volunteering, working at sign-in or as a guide depending on one’s level of shyness) and also to introduce people to resources and others and to assist where possible. Much to her credit, she similarly advocates returning favours, giving and helping others whenever it is possible to do so. Not much of it is revolutionary of course, indeed much of it is elementary, but the specifics only add to Lynch’s insistence that networking is a process and should be progressive. The book does mention that MySpace is bigger than Facebook, which is no longer true, but later in the book the author does admit that things are dynamic and change all the time in the Internet sphere.
One side issue is the persistent misuse of grammar. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an issue if the phrase ‘network smart’ weren’t such a core mantra for the author. Has her copy editor not heard of adverbs? Or is accuracy and language subservient to catchiness? It might be a personal qualm, but grammatical mistakes always detract from identifying the writer as an expert.

She devotes a special chapter (and more) to the Internet and strongly encourages one to leverage it as much as possible. Aside from signing up for the aforementioned websites and interacting, Lunch suggests one’s blog be cross-pollinated with one’s website. The blog is to include regular updates, surveys, and questions for readers, ideas from other posts and blogs, photos/videos, guest authors, interviews and links. Blogging is not only a pro-actively positive tool, but is also indispensable given how the competition is doing it. She supports contributing to ezinearticle.com and signing up for Google Alerts as a means of gaining ideas to write about. She also details tips for the e-zine/e-newsletter she suggests successful networkers need to set up.

The Internet’s transformation into a marketing tool or the inevitability of the need to network “24/7” aside then Smart Networking succeeds because it is systematic, specific, provides an actual worksheet and is up-to-date.

So, I am off to get my ‘personal’ cards…

Jun 232008

Knowledge Deployment 101 – 103


Artful Persuasion is a compilation of tips, tricks and wisdom on how to persuade others, change their minds, align, and influence people favourably.
Just shy of 300 pages, Harry Mills introduces and expounds on the topic through chapters divided into ‘Thoughtful Persuasion’ (credibility, impressions, talking, asking targeted messaging. et cetra) and ‘Mindless Influence’ (contrast, reciprocation, consistency, authority, scarcity, conformity and liking). The book also features several quizzes, by-lines and diagrams to better illustrate the point. Oddly enough, the book ends with a chapter wherein an expected explanation on examples of influence and leadership goes awry and becomes a silly iconography of sorts.
That little biased narrative aside, Artful Persuasion is an informative book, even if it soon becomes apparent that there are no short cuts per se; just techniques that need to be learnt and practiced.
A bigger question, in the meanwhile, is the legitimacy of such techniques. You decide.

Feb 082008

As Good As It Gets Given The Subject’s Limitations


Having some knowledge of the subject, I am of the mind that selling is next to impossible to teach, learn and predict. This may raise eyebrows, but let’s deal in veracity, shall we?
Man has not invented or perfected the science which can predict human behaviour, reaction or rsponse. Psychologists and sociologists may well be the first to tell you so.
Given this context, no text can claim to have mastered the art of selling – it just is not a possibility.
Having said that, SPIN Selling does as good a job as any; having researched and field-tested its recommendations and results. That is as good as it will ever get – and yet, as mentioned earlier, there are no guarantees.
As such, I admire the book for being best-of-breed, but have to believe that neither this nor any other method will come close to covering it all or covering it precisely.