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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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Resume Advice --
A resume is not a statement of facts. It's a declaration of intent.
From Rands in Repose: A Glimpse and a Hook

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Meaningless Metrics -- From Seth...
"Just because we can measure it doesn't mean it's important."
...and a good example from an ad agency that's taken a step in the right direction...eliminating timesheets and the resultant pressure to equate producer effort with customer value...
It has proved several hypotheses: You can run an ad agency without pricing by the hour; without using timesheets; owning your own intellectual property; and creating customized compensation agreements based upon the subjective theory of value.

Anomaly's success, like so many other Professional Knowledge Firms that have eliminated timesheets, prove something else. They prove that the best pricers in the professions are those without timesheets, and I believe this is a causal relationship. Getting rid of timesheets is not the end, it's the means to becoming better pricers. Not having timesheets forces firms to think about results and value, not inputs and costs.
Another step in the process of replacing cost world thinking with more meaningful throughput (value) world thinking.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Less is Still More -- From Aa..ha! [Thinking Inside The Blog!], via Jack Vinson, comes a German proverb...
Who begins too much accomplishes little.
Sounds like a familiar theme from some of my past writings (Less is More - 2000, Less is More - 2002, Overwhelming Demands - 2004, and others, I'm sure. Checking out the source list of proverbs, another proverb grabbed my attention...
It's the whole, not the detail, that matters.
And the whole is the collection of projects and initiatives that make up the portfolio of work to be accomplished. From a 2003 post on prioritization...
Effective prioritization involves understanding first what is important to the organization in question...its goal(s) and the strategy that has been determined to be the path to achieve it...One of the first things we need to do is to back up a step and get clarity on the interdependent tactical objectives that make up a viable strategic plan. We need to do this in order to prioritize (in many cases, kill and replace) the projects they have on their plate.
It's a matter of keeping the bit picture in front of the mind. The devil may be in the details, but the angels (and the real goals) are in the architecture.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Italy in Turmoil as PM Quits -- This headline caught my attention this week.

Must have been an important project.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Questions of Change -- For the better part of a year, Jack Vinson's been reiterating important questions when faced with a decision about a proposed change (distilled from some of Goldratt's thinking. I've been remiss in point them out. He mentioned them in November in a piece on "what good looks like"...
1. What is the power of the technology (change)?
2. What is/are the limitation(s) being overcome?
3. What old rules were followed because of the limitation?
4. What rules need to be followed now (as a result of the change)?
Hopefully, the "old rules" of number 3 were put in place as defensive work-arounds related to undesirable situations. The "new rules" are partly the new process and partly reinforcements to ensure the change does what is intended over time.

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Data and Guts - Online marketing guy Jonathan Mendez writes about the value of going with one's gut...
My experience is that having too much data is more likely to lead to a wrong decision than having too little data...

Don’t get me wrong. I live for stats and metrics: CPA to ROAS to BA to OB and ERA (yes, baseball my favorite analytic endeavor). Yet, having too much data can be paralyzing. It can make overall strategies harder to execute. Each decision can become more and more difficult. It can turn into a data puzzle with no end.

So, next time you have consumed enough data to get that inkling in your gut go with it.
The question for me, however, is whether "enough data" is the precursor to the "inkling in your gut," or if one understands the environment sufficiently from a macro view, the "inkling in your gut" shouldn't serve as a hypothesis which is then tested by data. Of course, "enough data" could be made up of long general experience rather than specific detailed numbers.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Fun: Help Desk Assistance, ca 1400 --
(via Esther)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Disciplined Procrastination - "Procrascipline" -- Bren at Slacker Manager revisits the previously proposed idea of procrascipline...
It's important to be clear about when and why you engage in disciplined procrastination. To my mind, this is fundamentally different from regular procrastination primarily by virtue of the element of consciousness. Procrascipline demands that you've acknowledged the outstanding problem/question/work at hand and that you’ve got a plan for it. Regular procrastination is simple avoidance, without the element of being conscious about why you’re stalling or what the plan for resolution might be.
Sometimes it's not a matter of an improbable/impossible "yes" or a dismissive "no," but one of thought through "whoa".

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Managing Priorities -- Merlin, over at 43 Folders, is soliciting answers to an interesting question...
So my question to you guys: what does "priority" really mean to you in practice (not theory)?

Does it represent the highest value item in your world — that for which you will reject other work? Is it the thing that's currently causing the most stress and anxiety? Or is it the thing that you're the most behind on and are therefore the most horribly embarrassed about? What makes you set an item's priority to the "high" setting, and then how does that help it to get done faster? Does priority planning ever fail you?
I encourage my readers to chime in at 43 Folders.

For me, it tends to be a multi-faceted decision process...
  • Supporting client promises comes before process improvement (as painful as that can be).

  • Short term deadline work come before work associated with longer term deadlines.

  • More valuable outcomes come before less valuable. (Ah, but the measurement of that value...)

  • Almost done comes before unstarted.

  • Lunch comes before...

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Fun: Procrastination --

the show with zefrank [”pro-cra”]

I'll get back and comment later.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Growing - Need Help -- Web Developers, Designers, PMs, SEM and SEO folks, and more, needed in North Jersey. More details here. And here. And here.

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Stressful Living -- A refreshing piece on how to achieve a stressful life...
1. Attempt to control absolutely everything

This is one of the more practical ways of achieving high levels of stress, and can be applied in a variety of ways in almost every situation you are likely to encounter. The key to this method is the fact that you never really have much control over anything, and so it generates stress in proportion to your illusion of control and the imagined responsibility you have as a consequence...

...Try to control other people; both what they do, and also what they think. The reason why this is so effective is that we can easily perceive other people to be difficult, incompetent, and unreliable, which gives us plenty of reasons why we need to control everything ourselves. The stress factor here lies in the fact that trying to control other people is much like herding cats; requires enormous effort, and you know deep down that it’s futile and ridiculous to even attempt. But if you manage to hold onto the illusion that you can actually gain and preserve absolute control over other people, this can be easily integrated into your everyday life as a reliable source of stress.
More on simply embracing and enhancing stress rather than namby pamby advice for reducing it.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

The Most Important Trait? -- According to a survey at CIO Blogs...
What's wrong with this picture?

That item leading the survey with 38% of respondents - the ability to juggle multiple priorities - is pathetic. It's management's responsibility to determine the priorities, either by edict or, preferably, by some systematic process, and to provide processes to minimize re-prioritization as much as possible. If left up the the folks doing the work, either juggling and multi-tasking will occur, resulting in dropped balls and unnecessarily extended delivery dates, or those folks doing the work with choose a priority, which may not coincide with the priority best for the firm.

I've got to believe that this survey was put together with tongue firmly in cheek. I want to believe that this survey was put together with tongue firmly in cheek. Please tell me they (including those who responded) were kidding. Please.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Unfocused -- I recognize that things have been a bit light in weight and sparse in frequency around here. I've actually been quite unfocused on other things recently, for those who care about stuff other than management and who aren't easily offended. There's a whole world of stuff going on out there.

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Beyond Budgeting --
Budgeting, as most corporations practice it, should be abolished. That may sound like a radical proposition, but it is merely the final (and decisive) action in a long running battle to change organizations from centralized hierarchies to devolved networks. Most of the other building blocks are in place. Firms have invested huge sums in quality programs, IT networks, process reengineering, and a range of management tools including EVA, balanced scorecards, and activity accounting. But they are unable to establish the new order because the budget, and the command and control culture it supports, remains predominant.
Budgets are like commitment estimates in projects - self-fulfilling prophecies, and a source of wasteful use-it-or-lose-it behavior.

(via Forthcoming's naivety scene post)

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Defining Project Success (But for Whom?)

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Predicting Uncertain Futures

Project Conflicts

Project Determinism (and other myths)

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Removing Bottlenecks - A Core Systems Design Principle

Stage Gates and Critical Chain

Ten Top Sources of Project Failure (The Executive Version)

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