Silence Is Not Agreement

10 09 2009

I Want My Money Back

Have you ever bought something from an infomercial and found out a month later that, you not only bought the item, but that you also bought a $39.99 membership that you never wanted? Well, these folks are using the awful tatic of opt out which enables them to sign you up as long as you don’t speak up and say no. It’s a terrible pratice and getting out is not an easy feat. Many times you are bounced around from person to person or told you need to put it in writing. What! Put it in writing, I didn’t have to put it in writing to get in, why do you need to put it in writing to get out. “That’s our policy sir”, says the rep on the other end of the phone.

So Quiet In Here

Now, have you ever called for a decision and drew silence from your audience? Of course you have. The question is what did you do with that response. Your action at a time like this is important. You are the decision maker and you have the power and you have voiced your opinion and know what you want to do, so you could pull the “silence is agreement” card, which essentially signs the team up for whatever decision you make without really having their input and buy-in. Sounds like the opt out tactic, does it not. At first it doesn’t seem like a big deal, because no one spoke up, You hold the decision card and are simply exercising your right, right? Well, just like when we receive that extra package attached to the infomerciap item we bought and we are upset and raising cain to get our money back, your team members will come calling sometime in the future when the decision takes a bad turn. They will let you know they want off the ride that they never signed up for in the first place. You will find yourself giving back the trust and influence currency you used when you opted them in to your decision.

Silence is a Clue

Silence is not agreement, it is a clue that somethings not right. If no one is speaking up, they may not agree or may be missing information. Many times your audience is silent because you haven’t exposed the team to the information far enough in advance to give them time to think it through. To set the stage for quick decisions, have a briefing with key stakeholders before the decision and get a feel for their potential response. If you can, get their commit before the group session. After the briefings, you will have a feel for the direction the team wants to take and will have significantly reduced the likelihood of drawing silence in decision meetings.

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Lead With Style

2 09 2009

Inspiration

So I found quite the interesting site through a Chris Brogan tweet. JadenCraven.com and she reviewed a wonderful FREE little ebook by Steve Charzin called Marketing Apple. It so resonated with me, that I had to talk about it. You can find it at MarketingApple.com. It inspired the name of this post.

I’m A Fan

I’ve been a fan of all things Apple since my freshman year in high school. And I’ve always recognized the style leadership of Apple products. iPhone, iMac, Mac Book, Mac Air all impress me. These are the machines I play with when I’m at Best Buy. Steve confirms that Apple’s edge is Apple’s attention to style in his ebook and

Steve Knows

Steve knows what he is talking about. Just read his ebook and you’ll see what I mean. I’m such a believer that style can give a product an edge that I’m working on a product now that plays off the sleek styles of Apple products. I admittedly only own one Apple product at the time of this post which is the iPhone that I’m using to type this post. If I had my way, I would own at least one of all the Apple products, but that is quite an expensive undertaking. For me it came down to the fact that I was an engineer working for Intel Corporation and was more loyal to the brands with Intel Inside than my love for Apple. Now that Apple has Intel inside, I’m looking hard at the products again. Style creates visual stimulation which makes people want to interact with you and your product. Style makes people want to bring a product into their personal space and interact with it. This does not just pertain to products, but to anything that you want to present to an auidience.

Spotless

Ever been looking to buy a car online…how many did you look past because the picture didn’t show a shiny exterior and a spotless interior? Those owners who spent those hundreds of dollars to spruce it up no doubt got more calls and got the price they were asking for. They had what we call pride of ownership and these folks know that if the package is well polished that it is makes customer feel good about receiving the product into their lives. When a company, business, or individual leads with style, they create an emotional connection with their customers or audience. It’s a feeling, not a feature, an experience, not a solution, a community, not a product or project. Steve’s ebook is packed with excellent information, and it is also packed with style. It is a awesome combination and one that I strive to recreate in everything I do.

Connect with @chrisbrogan
@jadencraven and
@stevecharzin





Lead by Collaboration

28 08 2009

Lately, I’m hearing more and more that teams are stuck in the waterfall way of doing things when it comes to software development. Why, I say, why?

We Can Do Better

Today’s technology makes it possible to work closer with our customers so that we deliver exactly what they need instead of something that we think they are asking for. In the old model, we had to draw up a set of requirements that included every feature that could be conceived. With the technology available during that time waterfall Model made sense because we were mostly disconected from our customers with very slow Internet speeds when we were connected. The model of the Internet also was not yet one of collaboration, but more of a information display model. There were a number of computer limitations like the floppy disc with low storage capacity, database technology was in its infancy, and email was brand new. We can’t imagine the internet with such limitations today, but it had to start somewhere.

No More Limits

The most limiting factor was the fact that the network infrastructure was slow, sporadic, and costly. The fact that a business can acquire reliable high speed internet connectivity all the time is one of the biggest potential productivity boosters for business. It is especially important to the small business owner because it levels the playing field. I say that it is a potential productivity booster because a business has to recognize the power of what it has in its hand. If the methods aren’t updated to take advantage of the latest technology, then the business can no longer compete. Technology is changing at a rapid rate, but old mindsets are a little harder to change and so we make little progress compared to what we could accomplish. I work continuously with highly skilled engineers implementing the most technologically advanced systems in the world. We make the things that move the world forward by quantum leaps and yet try to hold on to large requirement docs in favor of smaller requirements with tight feedback loops. The large documents fits in a clunky disconnected computer world, but the smaller documents with frequent adjustments and constant feedback fits in todays world of thin light connected computers. We no longer need documentation that is 100 pages long upfront, but we need to start with say 10 pages and add to that over time as the project progresses. We can collaborate with customers real time using internet collaboration tools creating documentation on the fly for the next phase or feature of the project. The key to delivering exactly what the customer wants is feedback early and often.

I do think a project needs a high level view of each feature or phase from the point of conception through product delivery, but detailing every aspect is not necessary. Better to detail in windows of 2 to 3 quarters out and leaving anything past that at a high level.





You Don’t Need a Title to Have Influence

2 08 2009

We can make a difference in this world, changing it for the better without any delegated authority whatsoever.    I want to show you that people with titles are not the only ones that can get things done.  Actually, there are folks behind the scenes with no titles at all making the world go ’round.  These are the folks who are unafraid to challenge the status quo despite their rank and file.  For these folks attitude is everything.  Take for example, President Obama when he was a community organizer on the street.  “Community Organizer”…that’s not a title, that’s a description.  He wasn’t a boss, or manager, but a leader, an “influence leader”.  He used his art of persuasion to work with the city and the people to improve the conditions.  He couldn’t call for the money needed for improvement  just by demanding that it happen as one with delegated authority, but he had to facilitate town meetings, understand motivations, fears and craft persuasive arguments to affect change a little at a time.  That type of leadership reveals a quality in influence leaders that is paramount and that is patience.

Patience is a big virtue in influence leaders because influence leaders have to first negotiate with all parties involved to bring them to the same page without the safety net of making an autocratic call.  Negotiating requires time, give and take, back and forth.   Without the patience to work through negotiations, the leader will become frustrated, annoyed, disconnected and either give up or deliver a lose/lose or win/lose resolution instead of the win/win outcome that everyone desires.  Once  a leader is in that state of mind, he is no longer an effective influence leader which brings me to another important quality found in influence leaders, listening.

Listening is a common quality among influence leaders.  People want to work with other people who will listen to them.  They want folks in their lives who will hear their side of the story.  I’m a husband and father and I understand very well how important it is to just sit and listen.  I’ve dealt with many situations at home just by hearing it out.  I didn’t have to provide a particular solution or share my brilliant insight, I just had to listen.  That is all that was required.   It is no different outside the home, because when people know that they can trust you with what they say they will tell you things that they will not tell others.   It is a safe place for them and people would rather be safe than vulnerable.  This gives the influence leader inside knowledge to make better decisions to impact the change necessary be successful.

Leaders who pratice patience and good listening skills will find themselves ahead of the game with co-workers, managers, friends, family and others.  Leaders that practice these will find that they have what is needed to influence, changing hearts and minds,  without  the traditional authoritative role.





Seize Your Moment: Realize Your Dream

2 07 2009

And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed.Genesis 37:6 KJV

Read Genesis Chapters 37, 39 – 41

1. What a Dream. Joseph had to be shocked and devastated by the devious plot of his brothers to sell him into slavery.  As shocked and devastated as he must have been, after arriving at Potiphar’s, his new master in Egypt, he managed to get about the business of making the best of of his situation.  Joseph successfully rose to the top of every situation, no matter the predicament.  Whether he was a son, a slave, a prisoner, or a citizen, he always persevered to a position of favor and authority.  While in prison, Joseph’s time had come to realize his dream and he seized his moment in Gen 40:14 where he interprets the dream of the baker and the cup bearer.  Having used his gift, he was later summoned by a troubled Pharoah to interpret his dreams and soon found himself second in charge of all of Egypt where eventually his brothers and his father would be subject to him as in his dream.

Questions: (1) What are some of the character traits that Joseph portrayed throughout the scripture? (2) Through each very difficult circumstance, Joseph remained faithful to God.  How did he do it?

2. Practical Life Lessons.  As we look into the life of Joseph, we see that life is not always easy and that there will be seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of barrenness.   God shows us through Joseph, that we can  be ready for whatever comes our way.

Questions: (1) In Genesis 47 during the years of plenty, Joseph put away 20% of all the produce of the land;  Is this amount still relevant today?





Fail Well

22 04 2009

Fail Well:  Live well after a failure

In life failure is inevitable, trust me, you will fail at some point. What you do with that failure after that will determine if you continue to do well in life or not.

Many of us think of failing and start shaking in our boots, but studies have shown that 80% of what we fear never happens. So most of our lives, we live in fear when the only reality is the fear itself. There is no substance behind the fear. Wow! That statistic should set us all free. A failure is never as bad as it seems. And that fear paralyzes us and steals the most significant dreams. If you come out on the other side of a failure above the ground, then you still have work to do for God and mankind, so you might as well get busy.

The grave is full of books that were never written, art that was never painted or sculpted, big ideas that never saw the day of light. Don’t let it happen to you.

Change your perspective. See failure as just a step in the evolution of your success. See failure as what shapes you into the person that you need to become to attain the prize ahead. See failures as the steps on your stairwell to greatness.

Failure is necessary, but we must be careful to use failure properly. We cannot internalize failure because then it becomes a shackle. It can bind us with fear and hurt and self-doubt if we internalize it when it happens.
Failure is neutral like a brick and bricks can be used to build a home or a prison. You choose what you do with the failure in your life. Also, remember this point, that when you do fail, you are not a failure, you had a failure. So, fail well my friends, fail well.

More Resources

http://www.badmintonsecrets.com/why-failing-is-good.html

http://www.helium.com/items/575355-recovering-from-failure

twitter.com/JohnCMaxWell —  Get His Book “Failing Forward”





Never Never Never Give Up!

13 04 2009

Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~Japanese Proverb

“Success is achieved through perseverance, so never, never, never give up!” I still remember the day I came home and told my wife that. I don’t remember the particular goal that I had in front of me at the time, but that statement became the motto for the Tillman family. If you have ever called my home, you have heard it on our voicemail. You can not make any significant impacts in the life of others without this character trait in your repertoire. I have heard people say, if you are struggling with it, then you might need to try something else. I disagree with that. Success is hard. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Success is not easy
Business owners know this all too well. A profitable business is a result of many qualities that you have learned successfully over time. A well run business has many aspects that are all working well together. A business needs great customer service, quality production, good financial habits, etc. To get a business to this state, the owner has to work relentlessly on each of these. How does it all happen? Late nights of going over the books while everyone else is sleep, refining product recipes that are already good so that customers are wowed the next time they interact with the product, remaining on the phone with a customer for as long as it takes to resolve their issues and so on. This is what it takes to win and late nights and brain storming sessions for product improvement and extra customer care means less sleep for the body. This concept is not easy to adopt for most. Hey, there are only 24 hours in a day, so if you add something else to your life then one of those 24 hours will need to be occupied by it. And if you are a productive citizen, then you probably work 8 hours or more per day, sleep 8 hours, relax for 2, spend a couple of hours eating, drinking, exercising, grooming etc… you get the point. You have to starting giving something in that routine up once you decide to achieve more. Due to the excitement of achieving something new, sleep is usually the first to take a hit and you also don’t have as much time to watch TV or go to the movies. Most people are not willing to give up their sleep or syndicated TV shows and so they consciously decide to remain the same.

Pain is weakness escaping
Those who have reached the boiling point (where the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change) are ready for to make some sacrifices. It will not feel good, but it will be necessary.

It is much like an athlete striving for that perfect body so that he can perform at his peak. The workout is great, but the morning after is quite painful. When we workout, our muscles actually breakdown and as they heal the tissue is rebuilt stronger and this process is painful. Success requires us to persevere through the inconvenient pain. Think of that pain as weakness escaping.

After many late nights and false starts and brick walls and financial difficulties, you may say what many have said before you, “It just ain’t worth it”. I challenge you to be the few and not the many and persevere. If you are passionate about what you are doing, then come hell or high water, you must persist. Reach for that single degree that will bring your dream out of the world of imagination into reality. Read and watch material that will encourage you to persevere. I’ve embedded a video that personifies perseverance, watch it.

Again, the pain you feel is weakness escaping, so be strong, have courage…persevere.