Archive for June, 2010

33 Management Lessons from Bloemfontein

Posted in Uncategorized on JuneMon, 28 Jun 2010 23:27:29 +01002728pm10 24 PMpMon, 28 Jun 2010 23:27:29 +010027Monday 09 by nielsendinwoodie

The World Cup – an international football tournament eagerly contested every four years by well-coached teams of highly skilled sporting professionals and England – provides many valuable lessons for students of business management and communication. Try this test.

Leadership style: Discuss options. Choose either (a) an autocratic approach that includes infantilising team members by restricting personal freedoms and withholding task allocation until two hours before major teamwork-dependent activities, or (b) jubilant co-operative goal-achievement based on the Maradona Principle.

Use of technology: Consider recent evidence and justify either (a) adopting well-tried 21st century technologies that increase both the accuracy and impartiality of critical decision-making at work, or (b) sitting on your fat backside jabbering sentimental crap (Blatter Theory) about errors of judgement always leading to a good discussion.

Skills training: Conduct a Pareto Analysis, selecting either (a) to assess individual team members’ skills against a set of proven world-class KPIs following the South American Dunga paradigm, or (b) to decide that abilities crudely honed in a scally scouse alley will do despite regular evidence to the contrary in international meetings situations with representatives of so-called minor subsidiaries.

Praise as incentivisation: Produce a cost/benefit analysis of both (a) ladling approbation on undeserving employees while cranking up the expectation of interested stakeholders to impossible levels, and (b) introducing the same employees to the stark truth by puncturing their overblown, overpaid hubris.

If you answered (c) to most questions, turn your paper over, wipe your tears and try again.

NOTE: If the imbalance between work performance and remuneration, as applied to both managers and team members, continues to stretch the bounds of credulity, candidates may resolve to choose another activity to observe. Like rugby.

Ok, thank God that’s all over and we can now watch some decent football without finding our hearts in our shoes. We can also concentrate on our jobs again and get back to the business of winning work. On which note, here is the next tip in my series on successful bidding.

TIP #5/8 Give them benefit, not information
Check your sentences pass the So what? test. If they don’t, rewrite with added benefit. A bid document must project benefit to have a chance of winning, because clients don’t buy information – they only buy benefit.

In other words, tell them how time, money or stress you’ll save them – and try to quantify how much. The phrase That means is a useful fulcrum point between the information and the benefit. Putting the benefit in a sentence on its own focuses the reader on your offer.

In evidence statements, quantify how much time, money or stress you saved the client on similar projects.

Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages people remember


32 Sobbing in unison

Posted in Uncategorized on JuneThu, 10 Jun 2010 18:02:09 +01000210pm10 24 PMpThu, 10 Jun 2010 18:02:09 +010002Thursday 09 by nielsendinwoodie

Everyone has gone crazy. Car horns punch the air. A mood of delirious expectation and hope has filled the streets and the tiny kitchens of the country. People nod at strangers and gather round massive screens in public squares that transmit rapid flickering images against a relentless soundtrack of drum and bass. This is just the build-up. And we are already overwhelmed, willingly, by World Cup Fever.

Of course, someone in Darlington will claim they prefer watching Bargain Hunt, but the rest of the population… we will do nothing to resist the wave of collective fanaticism that a football tournament allows us, three times a decade at most.

It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s the chance to come together that we crave. This is the function that sport performs, the opportunity to act out a collectivist culture, instead of the individualism that marks our usual days.

Come on En-ger-land!
If England go out in the quarter-finals, we don’t really care – just as long as we can stand together, with flabby booze-streaked faces, arms round each other’s shoulders, sobbing in unison as our penalties go pinging over the bar and Germany’s dent the net. The reason we want to get to the Final on 11 July is not particularly to lift the trophy, it’s just to keep the moment going.

They are rare, these moments of mutual understanding, when we are certain of our communal identity. We haven’t this good a time since Diana died.

Media morons
As far as the media are concerned, it doesn’t matter at all which event draws us together. Consider the mawkish perpetuation of the Cumbria tragedy ten days after the event. There’s no actual news to report any more. Hasn’t been since day two. So what we get instead from the journos and cameras still desperately camped in the town is intrusion into people’s personal grief. Despite the polite requests of the locals to be left alone, what our breakfast news relentlessly supplies is voyeuristic, prurient non-news and banal interviews in search of a reason for us all to cry.

Content is secondary. The priority is to engineer a collective emotion and then milk it for days on end.

How does this relate to winning work in business?
Well, it’s a good reminder of what not to do. Competitive pitching and bidding requires content that’s specific and full of quantifiable benefit, not generalities and gestural puff. The fourth of my eight tips on winning bids is one of the most important. It’s the need to prove your firm commitment to the project the client has put to tender, not the one you didn’t win last month.

Customise and personalise
Clients are offering you a business opportunity. If the best you can be bothered to offer them in return is a generic response because it’s quicker than investing time in thinking about their job, don’t be surprised when you lose. Everyone can smell a cut and paste a mile off.

Name names. Be project-specific. Say you not the client. Talk about them before you blah on about yourselves. Be personal. Prove you care.

Not like this:
We provide our clients with the highest standards of quality on all our projects. We have a strong track record of working with existing design teams in an integrated manner, to predict and mitigate quality issues. Processes of consultation will be undertaken with the client’s consultants and involve key stakeholders on this current scheme.

Like this:
West Frampton is a scheme that Pike City Council needs to be proud of. Working with your design team of Ashfield and Dyke – and also local stakeholders such as the West Frampton Residents’ Association and the Butterfield Cooperative – will let us respond to your local issues, with a clear understanding of what quality means to you.

Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages people remember