Monday, September 26, 2011

Are Businesses Run By Idealists or Crooks?

Neither, with a few exceptions.

Businesses are run to meet buyers' needs and to make a profit. How they behave is subject to the urgency of the buyer's need and the value the buyer places on satisfying that need.

To illustrate, let's look at two ice water stands set up by some neighborhood kids.

Scene1: The local marathon finish line is in the neighborhood and the two ice water stands are set up by the finish line. Stand One is at the finish line – ice water is 25¢ per glass, and Stand Two is 20 yards past the line – ice water is15¢ per glass.

Which stand gets the runners business? Stand One get the business because the buyers urgency is to satisfy the thirst not shop for a 40% discount.

Scene 2: The popular local park attracts a lot of visitors and the main park trail ends in the neighborhood. Stand One is at Trail's End – still charging 25¢, and Stand Two is 20 yards further – charging 15¢.

Which stand gets the park visitors business? The urgency of satisfying the thirst is significantly less for the visitors than the marathoners, consequently, the value of a glass of ice water is lower and a majority of visitors will seek out the lower priced water of Stand Two.

Scene 3: The local road cuts through the neighborhood with few cars per hour. Stand One is located at the speed bump and Stand Two is 20 years further up the street – no change in the pricing by either stand.

Which stand gets the drivers business? Probably neither since there is no urgency of need and many other alternatives the driver can seek beyond the two local stands.

Is Ice Water Stand One being mercenary for charging a high premium because of its prime location in Scene 1?

Is Ice Water Stand Two being predatory for discounting prices significantly in Scene 2?

Probably not – the stands are responding with their approach to meeting the buyers' need-value proposition and to market competition.

While Stand Two may have set prices based on a “fair profit” as an idealist, the more likely reason is the discount is an attempt to influence the buyers' need-value mix to attract sales. Similarly, the premium charged by Stand One is recognition of the urgency of the buyer to satisfy the need while recognizing the buyer has a competitive choice is value takes precedent over urgency.

Do these principals scale to other businesses? Yes, and they become more complicated as new variables are added which affect cost, output, and regulatory or social restrictions.

Buyers won't buy unless they believe the need will be addressed by the seller's solution and the price is compatible with the perceived value.

Is this why organizations with money in the coffers but few customer sales are not interested in buying services to improve operations or upgrade technology – and won't invest in improving the sales process?

What are you seeing?

 SalesLabs next Rainmaker, (Number 8!) is Google + Your Personal Website, Fast, Free, and Findable! the first 300 seconds of the Capital Technology Management Hub, at 6 pm, Tuesday, October 11th. The headliner is Overcoming Mobile Challenges in the Federal Government - Sponsored by TeqCorner, featuring Ferhan Hamid, CEO and Vikrant Binjrajka, CTO of INADEV.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Google Event

We have been using Google sites and other features to great success. We would like to share with you an event for business taking place on Tuesday September 20th. Using Google Sites and other Google tools participants will leave the session with a website and their business address registered with Google Places, which is searchable on Google Maps. Check it out if you are in Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland – it's located in Manassas, VA, and it is $0 cost.

The event:

Google and friends are coming to town to get your business online!

Virginia Get Your Business Online events are completely free. Space is limited, so we highly recommend that you pre-register online to reserve your spot.
If you don’t have a website or Google Places listing, you’ll find everything you need to get started – web professionals at your side every step of the way. We’ll also provide the computers or a plug-in for your own laptop.
If your business is already online, you’ll find tools and resources to help your business succeed online.
At these events you can:
  • Get a free website and Google Places listing
  • Get 1:1 advice and tips
  • Learn more about online marketing
  • Network with your fellow small business owners

Manassas - Tuesday, September 20th

Hylton Performing Arts Center
10960 George Mason Circle
Manassas, VA 20110
Doors open 7:30 am - 7:00 pm
For more information and to register for this free event go to:

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Normal – Asynchronous Collaboration

When we were all physically located in the same building collaboration was a collection of meetings to reach the stated goal. First to flesh out the details of the project – go from concept to specific, consensus from contributors, logistics & interim deadlines from participants, and collective review of it all. Meet and work together – or go away and work, come back & share.

The outcome was labor intensive and time consuming – all these people meeting together for all those meetings – to satisfy the original purpose or charter of the project. The initial development and interim refinement of the project was a function of the participants' ability to articulate ideas and persuade others to adopt them – the result was often consensus conservatism or the leader's fiat.

Innovation is difficult in such an environment – it's hard for an innovative thinker to convey a new idea or approach verbally and achieve the needed consensus – even with visual or written aids. Collaboration was often just the same old work with a rotating resource pool. Breakthroughs and radical new approaches or products were rare.

In the environment of the New Normal the model is changing (or has) with a number of independents or small firms coming together from different locations to collaborate on a project. Once the initial discussion of the project vision, the goals, the time line, and the assignment of responsibilities has been completed – usually not with all participants physically together in the same room – the work begins. Under the New Normal there is a shift in the method of approaching the work, however.

It is common for one of the contributors to work up a high-level but detailed view of some or all of the project outputs and send it to the other collaborators for review and comment. During this process, the contributor has fleshed out specifics, relationships of components, design strengths & weaknesses, and alternative or innovative approaches to achieving the project goals. With focus comes learning, with application comes understanding.

The other collaborators review what's provided and offer feedback and alternative ideas. Adjustments are incorporated as necessary and the next contributor takes this work to build on for the next level of forward progress in the project.

I am part of an asynchronous collaboration project to develop a software tool – one contributor wrote descriptions of what the tool is intended to do, how he would use it, and an outline of the output to the user. From these documents, I developed the design architecture for the tool and noted additions needed, and interrelation ships in operation. The third collaborator coded the software from the design diagram and added several additional items while streamlining access to the different elements. Between each stage was a brief conversation and agreement on changes & additions.

Each of us learned more about the tool and discovered element to add or modify for greater effectiveness, while gaining a deeper understanding of how best to support the end user. We have also noted that this approach does not add to each person's 'hands-on' time, but it significantly eliminates the non-productive meeting time of the past collaboration process.

With collaborators today in many different locations and organizations, balancing multiple projects, and being compensated on results rather than time spent, the New Normal asynchronous collaboration is a more practical approach to working together. In addition, innovation is built in to each stage – it is implemented and can be reviewed in practice, not just talked about in concept.

Share your experience with asynchronous collaboration by commenting on this post.

SalesLabs Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of Mark Your Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Observer or Leader?

I go to a lot of meeting about leadership and similar topics and sometimes I get a flashback to the high school dance – where a few folks are dancing while others are looking on trying figure things out (and even practicing some moves) so they can join in. Leaning against the back wall are the cool kids – they claim to know the latest dances but just talk about it rather than actually hit the floor.

The dance image is a pretty good analogy for people in the practice of leadership – the Doers, the Pupils, and the Observers.

The Doers are engaged in actively executing the role – learning from the experience.

The Pupils are soaking in everything they can to master the tools of leadership – learning from others' experience.

The Observers are watching and reporting on leadership activities – recounting what others have learned and experienced.

Leadership requires doing, learning, and working on how to do it better. It is a continuous process because leadership is not a formula, it's not a set procedure, it's not a few rules printed on a flash card – successful leadership is dynamic and is adaptable to changing circumstances. It strives for results and points everyone toward the same direction to achieve them.

I once had a boss who refused to listen to a problem brought to him unless a solution was also offered. He gave me a valuable lesson in leadership – be a doer, be a thinker, and be engaged. This approach encouraged innovation and got rapid results.

An innovative approach to an issue requires more than simply creating new-speak by redefining key terms, or imposing a raft of new rules – often this creates churn but not movement, and can delay real doing. Observers can be guilty of offering such solutions in their quest toward how things should be, which supports their reporting about leadership.

Which approach – Doer or Observer – fosters results and movement toward the stated mission – the hallmarks of a leader? So, by extension, does it come down to a choice between being a Leader or being an Observer?

How do you feel about this distinction?

Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Tuesday, September 13th with 300 seconds of MarkYour Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader. Come join us!