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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Fun Twofer: Time Saver or Time Waster -- Does it save time to aggregate the aggregators, or does it just serve to lead one down the rabbit hole, only to emerge hours later?

Case in point - I wouldn't have been mesmerized by this exercise in cause-and-effect had I not stumbled across it on

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Communicating Current Reality (2) - 3-UDES Example -- Responding to a comment (to a recent post on Communicating Current Reality) that asks about sources for the 3-UDE approach to developing a CRT...

While waiting for me to work up a full explanation, check out an example of the process (sort of a meta-example, using the process to justify the process) in an old "work in process" presentation I posted a while back. Once the quicktime video on the page loads, use the play/pause controls to pace yourself through it.

More to come...

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Pricing a Project - Interesting article on pricing projects in a web design/agency environment.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Best Places to Work in NJ (Again) -- Once again, the source of my paycheck, DigitalGrit, Inc., has been honored as one of the best places to work in New Jersey. For the second year in a row, we ranked in the top five in the medium-sized company (25-199) category.

Last year we were #1 -- this year, #4. Despite the minor slip in ranking, we're proud of this, since in the same timeframe, we've been working with the potential stress of being one of the fastest growing tech firms in NJ.
Growth and great people = Satisfaction. Who could ask for more?

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Jazzy Quotes - On creativity...
"Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple."
    - Charles Mingus

"Itís taken me all my life to learn what not to play."
    - Dizzy Gillespie

"Master your instrument. Master the music. And then forget all that bullshit and just play."
    - Charlie Parker
...via Presentation Zen: Jazz and the art of connecting

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Communicating Current Reality (1) - Joe Ely poses the following:
"TOCís Current Reality Tree is the most analytical and robust of the numerous methods of getting to root cause. Iíve used it several times. In each instance, it has led me to a very sound root cause, to which the solution became obvious. In each instance, I have been completely unable to communicate either the process or the result to others. The work and simple, logical elegance was for naught."
Joe and I carried on a brief "comment conversation" over at his blog, and we quickly got to the intial nub of the issue...
FRANK: Joe - Another question - Your CRT process. Was it a Dettmer style CRT, focusing on a single entity root cause, or did you use the 3-UDE/core-conflict process that roots the CRT in a conflict/dilemma? If the former, did you turn the results into a "Communication CRT" with a conflict/dilemma at the base?
JOE: Frank, I used the Dettmer model. And, yes, I did (at least attempt to) make it a communication model...I did put the conflict/dilemma at the base.

My gut feel was that the logic tree itself created so much mental "noise" that the users were unable to then "hear" the resultant root cause.

Make sense??
FRANK: Yes it does - That's exactly where the first response on my blog was going to head, if I could get f'ing Visio to work for me. The tree is most useful as a back-pocket reference if they don't follow your logic. Another way of using it is in small pieces, defining critical connections without throwing the whole big collection of boxes and arrows at the audience right up front.
JOE: Very helpful, Frank. Thank you.

I can see I succumbed to a perhaps normal tendancy. After putting a lot of work into something like a CRT, one wants to show the work and the elegance of the logic. The listener, OTOH, particularly if senior management, wants to know "what's the deal here" rather than the entire process behind it. "Give me the baby, not the labor pains."

Seeing the tree as a back up is very helpful.

Thanks, Frank!
Joe Ely
You're welcome, Joe. Like I said, "initial nub of the issue". Watch this space for more on the subject of analyzing and communicating root causes and core problems with Current Reality Trees (CRTs).

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Driving While Stupid - Traffic may be hazardous in the developing economies, but let's be honest - it's no less hazardous here, thanks to multi-tasking when we shouldn't. (I'll plead guilty to some eating - no hot drinks, though - and some iPod fiddling, but most of the time in the car, I either listen to 45-minute to hour-long podcasts that consume my commute, or put it on shuffle for music.)

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Fun: It's All About Flow -- Stop lights? traffic cops? We don't need no stinkin' stop lights or traffic cops!

Actually, if you take a look at this video, I think you might come to the same conclusion as me.

Left to their own devices, and setting aside the safety aspect (watch the pedestrian in the lower right at about 1/4 of the way through the video and the white car coming out of the side street at the top right a bit past half way through), traffic flows with less and shorter delays than if lights or cops interfered.

Skill fills in when rules fail.

(hmmm...How about replacing "skill" with "agility"?)

By the way, while this video is from India, my experience on the roads in China is similar, although our guide in Guilin a few years did give us a pair of rules to follow when crossing streets - "Don't make eye contact with drivers and don't hesitate once you start."

That's enough stream of consciousness rambling for today. Have a weekend, folks.

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Question for Joe E -- Joe, in your comment/challenge, did you mean "work through" the building of a CRT or the presentation of a CRT?

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Teams and Blame - Johanna Rotham asks, "Are Your Managers Part of Your Team?"

Hugh Macleod (faceitously, I hope) provides a reason for not including them.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Keep Your Five -- I recently commented to a co-worker that Iím not a high-fiver and that Iíve never high-fived in my life (leaving him with his hand hanging in the air).

My response was probably not exactly true, but given the combination of not really being effusive in expressing emotions, a general pessimistic/cynical personality (appropriate for a project manager), a touch of bursitis in my right shoulder, and having never really crossed into the world of jocks (with which I associate the practice), I can accurately say that Iíve never comfortably high-fived anyone in my life.

That said, I run the risk of being accosted tomorrow by passing along the information that...
National High Five Day falls on the third Thursday of April each year, which falls this year on April 20, 2006. The holiday originated at the University of Virginia in 2002, and has since spread across the nation, and around the globe...

More info at

...and at...

As one of the videos on the latter page says, ďBuy Into the HypeĒ

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What To Do About Competition - Taking the subject of yesterday's post (copying/competition) one step further...
"Become their friends and grow the market together, much better for all - in particular the customer."
...from Sig at Forthcoming. All in line with my usual admonition about benchmarking and "best practices"...someone else's best practice probably won't fit your needs. Look within for your strength. Mininmize time/effort worrying about what others are doing. Let them worry about catching up or keeping up with you.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Go For It! -- Why you shouldn't worry about being copied, from Paul Graham.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

StateMaster: Statistical Time Sink - If youíre at all interested in statistics of economic, educational, or quality-of-life nature, donít go to unless youíre ready to lose a bunch of time wandering through things like toothless population and who voted for Nader in 2004.

Happy to see that my home state fares pretty well in a lot of the stats gathered there.

Actually, looks like a great resource for any of you who have kids that have a social studies report to do. There's one for countries, too. Hmmm...Do they still call it ďsocial studiesĒ?

(Linkage via fellow Central Jerseyan Jeff Jarvis)

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Current Reality - Perceived or Explained? -- Seth Godin describes...
: "Two things marketers do:
1. Do the work necessary to be sure that your perception of the world is similar to the world as it is.
2. Create the stories (and the experiences to back them up) that change the world as it is."
...and goes on to highlight the usual failures associated with the first. The Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes can be used to address this through the use of a Current Reality Tree to lay out the logical underpinnings that support or explain one's "perception of the world." This aspect of marketing runs parallel to the need, in any situation involving persuation, to start from a point of "agreement about the problem."

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Project Management --
"Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."
  -- Dr. Samuel Johnson
And that's what project schedules are for.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Off Topic - China Pics -- There are now a bunch of flickr sets of pics from my recent trip(identified with ďChina 2006Ē in the name) now up online.

Wangfujing Food Street - Beijing.
Thereís one set that gathers most of my favorites so you donít have to wade through all 660 pictures spread across all the sets. (Slideshow)

And check out this one if you want to risk symptoms of being exposed to a terminal dose of cuteness.

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The State of Online Feed Readers - A good review of various web-based RSS readers. If you're not reading blogs via RSS, you're wasting time and effort.

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Totally Useless Information -- This coming Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

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