Project Management Operational Problem Solving Implementation & Change Management Strategy & Alignment

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, May 29, 2009

Billboarding Mobile -- In yet another step down the path of mainstreaming mobilized marketing, Mobile Marketing Watch reports that CBS Outdoor Launches Large-Scale SMS Services:
"In launching txt2go, CBS Outdoor becomes the nationís very first out-of-home media company to provide a complete text messaging solution for its clients. The add-on feature creates an affordable new avenue for advertisers looking to package into their media features like digital couponing, sweepstakes, direct response and point of purchase. The technology will allow advertisers to track responses to their marketing in real time, and do so on a scale theyíve likely never been able to before."
This combination of the oldest of old school out-of-home, on-the-road advertising and the newest ubiquitous channel should help solidify in the minds of marketers the need to include the unique communication benefits of mobile as part of a complete program of outreach to their target audiences.
You've laughed
At our signs
For many a mile
Be a sport
Give us a trial
Text Burma to Shave

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NY Times Skimmer -- After several weeks (months?) of use, the New York Time Article Skimmer has become my regular first source of straight news online. Great navigation and interface. (If only the iPhone's NY Times app weren't so glacially slow updating, it might have been a close second, but now I never use it.)

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Say No -- Doing less gets more done.

From Godin today...
"...Saying no to loud people gives you the resources to say yes to important opportunities."
Read the whole thing.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Unfocused: Friday Fun: A Band from Brazil -- Great 60's rock from a bunch of contemporary 20-year-olds from Brazil - Garotas Suecas. Found them, along with some other interesting singers/bands on NPR's SXSW Wrap-up.

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Creator vs. and Revisor -- OK. I'll admit it. As a project manager for creative endeavors, concerned with keeping the effort moving toward promised delivery dates, there's the occasional frustration with multiple reviews and revisions impinging on the schedule. Sometimes (?), even after the one or two or three contracted revisions and "final approval" has been granted, there's someone else who has a better (or maybe just their own) idea for a minor tweak to a few words or to the position or color of an image on a website.

Or sometimes, during the original production of the deliverable, the original copywriter or designer is of the perfectionist bent. Where I see output that is "good enough", the "creator" has changed role to become "revisor", as described in a recent Engines of Our Ingenuity podcast (transcript)...
"Thereís a scene towards the end of the 1984 movie Amadeus where an impresario demands that Mozart finish the opera he promised. "Oh, it is finished," Mozart replies. "Up here," he says, pointing to his forehead. "The rest is just scribbling."

"And thatís our "genius" fantasy, isnít it? Einstein, poring over dreary patent applications while working out the theory of relativity in his head. Mozart, taking musical dictation from God, as a pathologically envious Salieri imagines it in Amadeus. The perfect product is somehow out there in the ether, perfectly finished at the cosmic factory. We just have to find it -- the rest is just scribbling.

"But it rarely works that way. Maybe it never works that way. A creator may work at a white heat, but thereís a cold shadow by his side. Let's call the shadow "Revisor." Revisor has no first thoughts, only second thoughts. Revisor also has a terrible case of OCD. He's always asking the same question: could it be better?"
"Could it be better?" Of course it could. Everyone involved askes that question throughout a project. But assessing and defining the incremental amount of "betterness" versus the impacts on the budget and schedule of the project are sometimes non-trivial exercises.

The thing is, though, my frustration is usually only a short-term exasperation and actually can serve a purpose. It gives me something to whine about so people keep it in their head that we're managing schedule and effort/budget as well as the quality of the product. (Although when (usually) the tweaks come from the client side, I don't whine too loudly. Just enough to lay some subtle guilt on the "revisor" through hints that these are unexpected changes and that there is not necessarily zero impact -- unless, of course, they are so significant that a scope discussion is triggered.)

Actually, if the project is appropriately sold, and expectations are realistic, the classic project management dilemma of delivering top quality versus delivering profitably and on time rarely ever really kicks in if I've been able to set up the project with appropriate schedule risk buffers. But that's a subject I've touched on before, many times.

So, Mr. or Ms. Revisor -- revise on toward perfection. I'll let you know when you might be causing problems and have to start considering what's "good enough".

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Have You Ever Quit? - Slacker Manager Phil Gerbyshak has, but he's come to the realization that ...
"Iíve only quit my managers, not any companies"
Sounds about right to me. Go read the whole thing.


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

On the Media: Wolfram, Sullivan, and Craigslist -- This week's episode of On the Media focuses on a couple topics related to the web; an exploration of Wolfram Alpha (Hmmm - Everything in Googleland is perpetual beta. This one calls itself "alpha".)...

...and a First Amendment analysis of Craigslist's "adult" problems...

As a bonus, there's also an extended interview with search maven and editor-in-chief of, Danny Sullivan (mp3).

"Must-listens" for those of us interested in the world of search, which obviously is a huge component of these interwebs.

(If you're reading this via my Facebook Feed, use the "Original Post" link to access the audio players for the first two stories.)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Unfocused: Friday Fun: Regarding The Jonas Brothers - From kottke:
In a nutshell: Disney is selling sex to kids, pretending they're not, and making a fortune while forcing their audience into cultural bankruptcy.
Hey. They've been doing that since Annette Funicello.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tradeoffs of Today -- Overheard in a Facebook comment thread...
"The sole reason for Facebook's existence is to sell users to advertisers. The sole reason we are here is to be tracked and used as data. The trade off is getting to have this virtual playground."
Nicely put.

Reminds me of one of Scott McNealy's realistic zingers from a few years back
"You already have zero privacy--get over it."
What, me worry?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Microsoft Project and Basecamp -- IntelliGantt: Publish and synchronize Microsoft Project with Basecamp

Note to self: Check this out.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Digital Darwinism - Good article from Booz & Co's strategy+business site on evolution of the marketing and media ecosystem:
"...The marketing and media ecosystem has arrived at an evolutionary threshold. Old structures and ways of working persist but are fundamentally challenged by newer, more dynamic, more innovative alternatives. Numerous developments have brought the industry to this transition point. Consumers have more control and choice. Their media usage has fragmented. Many more advertising platforms exist. And marketers are insisting on greater precision in targeting and accounting for their ad spend.

"The recent economic turmoil only accelerates this evolutionary transition. Companies across the ecosystem have to acquire or develop three dominant traits to survive: relevance, interactivity, and accountability..."
Read the whole thing.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome to the Hunger -- and welcome to Monday morning.

Stay hungry.


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Friday, May 08, 2009

Unfocused: Friday Fun: Internet Memes -- Scary how many of these online distractions and diversions I remember fondly.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another Point of View on Civility -- From Rageboy's commnentary on the 10th anniversary of Cluetrain:
"While some have suggested that civility is the most important value we should propagate in our social exchanges, I think that sometimes the most honest conversation can go a little like this.

'Fuck you!'

'Yeah, well fuck you too!'

"After that, if the guns don't come out -- very important not to come to the table armed -- some kind of actual communication can take place. I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but I think too much civility can be toxic. After you. Oh no, after you! But I insist. But you are too kind.



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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

GETS Thee to an OASiS -- Following up on last week's post on consideration, Matthew at Lean Project Consulting writes...
"A Toyota executive says that to be able to deal with issues, they first have to have a cordial environment. This for him is OASiS representing Ohayo (good morning), Arigato (thank you), Shitsurei-shimanshita (pardon me), and Sumimasen (excuse me; I'm sorry). Being polite are the first step in creating a culture that encourages open and collaborative communication. Especially with people on the front lines. Especially when we need them to say whatever they must to whoever in the organization.

"A colleague of mine (thanks Rebecca McCoy) suggested another acronym - GETS. Good morning, Excuse me, Thank you, Sorry. Anyway, the point isn't this silliness. It's having a cordial environment."
Read the whole thing at OASiS for projects.

Cordially yours...

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Big Enough Is Big Enough -- A while back, I posted a couple pieces about size and growth; about sustainability being a smart replacement for growth as a focus/goal for an organization. Seth Godin chimes in on the same topic...
"More, more, more is rarely the mantra of a successful person.

"There are certainly some businesses and some projects that don't work unless they're huge, but in your case, I'm not sure that's true. Big enough is big enough, biggest isn't necessary."
Read the whole thing at Infinity--they keep making more of it.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Applying "Science" to Investment -- From the NY Times: They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street, about the rise and fall of "quants" in the world of investment.

Gotta love this quote:
"In physics there may one day be a Theory of Everything; in finance and the social sciences, youíre lucky if there is a usable theory of anything."
(with apologies to my old TOC friends)

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Artful Tweets -- From Rands In Repose: The Art of the Tweet:
"There are two kinds of tweets:

Original material. This is you talking to everyone.

Retweets, quotes, and links. This is you forwarding a thing that you find interesting to everyone. For simplicityís sake, letís just call these retweets.

Thereís another type of tweet that I want to talk about briefly and thatís the conversational tweet. What does this tweet tell you?

@commanda No clue

Not a thing. As youíll see with the three following guidelines, my Twitter expectation is that each time I glance at my Twitterstream that I can something of value in any tweet. While conversational tweets are interesting for you and the recipient, they leave the rest of us in the dark."
Read the whole thing.

Made me think about my tweeting style. Thinking could be a good thing.

Yes, it could.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Required Reading: Requirements --
  • Requirements Writing for Product Management - A long slideshare presentation covering a range of aspects of requirements and their management.

  • Why requirements stink - "Requirements suck for two major reasons. 1. Requirements is not Design... 2. Too many cooks."

  • Waste in requirements - Asks "how do useless (?) requirements get into systems when...many important features are never implemented?" Relies on good comment thread to approach an answer.

  • Non-Functional Requirements - Minimal Checklist - For IT efforts.

  • How to align stakeholders around project scope without a requirements review and sign-off process - A few months ago I posted about how requirements walk-throughs are a necessity in any good requirements development process. Iím here today to tell you Iíve changed my opinion. Itís not that walk-throughs lack value. They definitely do. But the timing, scope, and methods of these reviews might need to be reconsidered. A structured requirements walk-through is not always appropriate...

  • Requirements Walkthroughs - A response to the previous link about eschewing reviews and sign-offs. (...and my source for that link. Thanks, Craig.)
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    Friday, May 01, 2009

    Unfocused: Friday Fun: Evil Bucket List -- And something to avoid so you have more time to complete the list...keyboard drool.

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