Posts Tagged ‘Guy Ralfe’

Week In Review – Aug 1 – Aug 7, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on August 8, 2010

Integration: Keys to the successful merger of companies

by Matthew Carmen, Aug 2, 2010

Companies merge to increase profits through increase efficiency. But according to CNBC, nine out of ten mergers do not fully meet the goals of their acquisition. The main task that takes place in successful integrations is proper reparation within operational areas. This includes putting together processes and procedures that will need to take place to reach the corporate goals. In this article Matthew describes how he participated in a merger at a large entertainment company and what contributed to its success.  more…

Character and Personality #5: Don’t pull that trigger!

by Gary Monti, Aug 3, 2010

Sometimes you don’t want to confront your fears and uncomfortable situations. This causes blind spots into which organizations can fall an disappear. Instead of taking short cuts and jumping to action we should explore options, analyze our assumptions and manage risk. more…

Managing a project requires actions

by Guy Ralfe, Aug 4, 2010

Just because the project has a plan does not mean we simply have to conform to it. A plan is created when certain realities are true. But as the project is implemented, things change and new realities open up. We need to constantly update our plan and make adjustments based on changes that occur through out the implementation phase. Guy sites an example from his recent experience in this article. more…

Flexible Focus #13: Finding focus in the frames

by William Reed, Aug 5, 2010

Creativity happens much better when you are in your favorite cafe than when you are in your cubicle. Even better, the Mandala Chart offers a fresh approach that helps you find focus in the frames. Once you understand the value and attraction of working with the Mandala Chart on paper, you can increase your skills and improve your results with practice. Here are 8 steps that can help you get started.  more…

Author’s Journey #33: 7 Keys to Profitable Special Events

by Roger Parker, Aug 6, 2010

Last week, Roger discussed some of the ways authors can attract profitable speaking invitations. In this week’s article he takes the idea of “speaking for profit” to the next level, which involves creating, marketing, and producing special events like conferences, seminars, and workshops. more…

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Managing a project requires actions

by Guy Ralfe on August 4, 2010

I recently had to jump in and manage a project in deep distress. The project was 5.5 weeks into an 8 week schedule and the project was only barely 20% complete. This was a construction project so easier to measure completion than say IT projects.

When I jumped into the project we were about to be removed from the project, I begged for 48 hrs to produce a recovery plan but settled on a compromise of 24 hrs – this was my first commercial construction project so not much time!  In discussing the situation with the general contractor, they kept on telling us how far behind schedule we were against the original (baseline) project plan. This was the original project plan laid out before the project began.

The conversation was just hopeless to the situation – telling me how late each section is; does not give any direction with which to act to remediate the situation. When I asked what were the priorities and what dependencies existed I received the response “they are all critical!”

When the plan was originally built it was obviously constructed based on a number of constraints and priorities known at the time. Today those priorities were in a very different arrangement due to the impact of not having various sections complete that have an impact on others also working on the project.

What I set about doing was to produce a plan, a recovery plan, that defined the work that needed to be completed and by when based on current priorities so that it still remained a comprehensive plan. This plan set out the new objectives and the “new reality” we needed to produce for a satisfactory outcome – with this defined it was shared with the team who now knew what was required. Looking at the project this way provided tangible targets to manage the resources and production against. The obvious problem was – being told you are late yesterday and again today does not provide you any point of reference with which to act.

Another successful tactic we used was not to focus on the small details but rather identify the three or four key fronts we needed to make progress on and constantly reevaluated the plan every day to determine if we had made enough progress… and also, did we need more people and could we shift the load around between teams?

This was a recovery plan but in essence it is no different than it should be for any project correctly managed. Projects are living and evolving ecosystems – a plan helps us anticipate the future and organize a number of people/organizations for the execution of the project. What we need to remember is that when the situation no longer reflects the plan the plan needs to be adjusted and some actions need to take place as a result or the outcome cannot be the same. To manage projects you need to manage the project and not just read the plan!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Week In Review – May 30 – Jun 5, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on June 6, 2010

Quality #15: 7 tips for acting on customer feedback

by Tanmay Vora, May 31, 2010

Listening to your customers and getting their feedback is important. But if we don’t act upon it, we are wasting not only our time and resources, but also that of the people who took time to provide the feedback. In this post, Tanmay lists some simple tips to integrate customer feedback to deliver meaningful business change. more…

Leadership and Mythology #4: Sociology and Control

by Gary Monti, Jun 1, 2010

Some myths are propagated just so that leaders can exercise control. But there are limits to it. Remember Gary’s last blog? Instead of just beating the drums, what would happen if the leader asked everybody to sacrifice all they had? But if the Chief allows Newtonian mechanics to be embraced and lets loose his power, a new social order arises. Like Obi Wan sees, there are guiding principles that enable the leader to earn the trust and following of others. more…

Mortgage Challenges for the Self Employed

by Guy Ralfe, Jun 2, 2010

Guy recently relocated and started his own business. He is finding it difficult to secure a mortgage for his new home as banks and lenders have a criteria of assessment for the self-employed that he does not yet meet. His advise to those who want to follow in his footsteps – secure the credit before you begin your new operation. more…

Flexible Focus #4: The eight frames of life: Health

by William Reed, Jun 3, 2010

The word Health has a narrow definition in most people’s minds. It usually has the connotation of eating well or exercise or avoiding sickness. But it is much more than that and it impacts not only you, but people you interact with and sometimes those you don’t interact with. Follow the Mandala on Health to get a handle on your health and lifestyle. more…

Author’s Journey #24: Building your expert network and Obtaining pre-publication quotes

by Roger Parker, Jun 4, 2010

It is never too early to begin marketing and promoting your book. One of the best methods is to seek out and build your expert network. Believe it or not, experts are willing to help you – endorsing your book helps reinforce their expert status. Networking brings a whole slew of benefits – so get started today. Read this article to find out how yo can do it. more…

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Mortgage Challenges for the Self Employed

by Guy Ralfe on June 2, 2010

Another life lesson from my venture moving from the corporate world to self employment. So far a very liberating decision but filled with unexpected surprises. For the most part getting the business side set up and running has been relatively smooth, but personal finances have been a great challenge.

This has been made complicated by the fact that we are relocating to start the business, one of the drivers for making the change is to reduce the mortgage burden we have today by moving to a cheaper part of the country so that we did not overburden the business in its start up stages.

Having a solid credit score, 6 years of banking and mortgage history without any blemishes any yet when inquiring for a mortgage on a new house all the large banks would not even complete the application process because of being an entrepreneur  and self employed. Being self employed means the banks need 2 years worth of company trading records, P&L and Balance sheets. This requirement has been a result of the collapsed subprime market, but also driven by the fact that most banks want the option to sell the loans they originate to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two institutions, a little shy after the meltdown, have raised their criteria and this has flowed through the whole lending chain to the retail banks we approach for loans.

At first I found this very frustrating that I was being measured by the lowest common denominator, by someone sitting behind a computer asking yes/no questions until the computer told the operator to stop. Then I had a conversation with a good friend, he enlightened me to the reality of the current economic situation where so many people have lost their jobs and their only option has been to set themselves up as self employed businesses doing freelance work in their trade  – anyone can get a business incorporated and print business cards, but if they have not completed any regular business then they likely don’t have a secure business plan to lend against – thus the 2 years business record requirement.

During the application process, I began asking lots of questions and found this out about what it means to be self employed.

  • If you are listed as the owner of an incorporated company or LLC
  • If you have more than 15%  ownership you are self employed
  • Even if you have a regular salary, the fact that you are self employed means that you bring into the equation an element of risk in your ability to service a loan, until you have 2 years of accounting records to share.

If are thinking of relocating and are starting a new business, try and arrange some of your financing before you begin the new operation – loan officers prefer steady track records to the unsubstantiated hype of a new entrepreneur.

Another option is to explore local banks that originate and hold the loans themselves. While the general application criterion is much the same these banks take a little broader assessment of your projected finances for a sacrifice in interest rate.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Week In Review – May 16 – May22, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on May 23, 2010

How to avail of opportunities that you cannot see?

by Himanshu Jhamb, May 17, 2010

Himanshu had a thought provoking moment when a long time friend wanted to invest in one of his ventures. It brought home for him the question of how you can be an opportunity to others. The answer lies in providing what others are looking for, i.e., be of value to them. On the flip side, you need to do the same to recognize value in others and build relationships. The two work together to increase your capacity. more…

Leadership and Mythology #2: The mystical and co-opetition

by Gary Monti, May 18, 2010

Can you compete and co-operate with somebody at the same time? If you are having difficulty with this concept, think about Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Yahoo, etc. Do they only compete, or sometimes co-operate too? To be an effective leader, you have to balance competition with co-operation. more…

Performance Procrastination

by Guy Ralfe, May 19, 2010

Guy, donning his new business owner hat, has to take charge and take action. He had to deal with an employee performance issue and concludes that bearing short term pain is good for the long term gain. Of course, dealing with employees is an art and science – there are way too many considerations in play. But ultimately, it all boils down to the question: Is the employee pulling his or her weight and, are you getting your value for the money you pay them.  more…

Flexible Focus #2: Are goals traps or opportunities?

by William Reed, May 20, 2010

Goals are overrated. Yes, you read that right. In the western world, there are several traditional ways people think of goals and work towards achieving them. Following them, you either miss the big picture or miss the details or simply follow a beaten path. Flexible focus, epitomized by the Mandala Chart, is the product of eastern spiritual thinking. It is a philosophy that enables you to be free of your goals. You are not goal free, but you approach them in a detached manner that removes your bondage to your goals. more…

Author’s Journey #22: Use one sheets to sell books and build your profits

by Roger Parker, May 21, 2010

One sheets are single page, 8 ½ by 11-inch, marketing documents used by authors to promote their books and build their profits by attracting speaking invitations and promoting their coaching and consulting services. In this post, Roger tells you all you need to know to create one sheets.  more…

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Performance Procrastination

by Guy Ralfe on May 19, 2010

We have all been in that situation where there is someone that is not pulling their weight, which places a constraint on the group’s overall performance. We often like them as people but not as much their performance, but we humbly tell ourselves things like “rather the devil we know than the devil we don’t” or “it would be too much of a disruption to replace them now”

To share a recent event, we hired a support staff that was pleasant and capable of most of the tasks required of the role but just not able to grasp the importance and flows of the business. What resulted was them performing the tasks they understood and all the things they struggled with were reassumed by those that were performing the tasks before their hire.

From a management perspective, some components of the operation were running smoother as there was a dedicated resource working the admin function; however from an operational perspective we had increased our operational overhead without increasing our service delivery to the clients which was the core objective of the hire.

After more than 4 weeks of training, the employee resigned. We wondered where we were going to find another employee and the loss suddenly felt enormous considering the investment to educate the recruit. Time to start again…

A quick search of craigslist.org produced a resume, a quick call the following day had the interview  and hire conducted before  noon. The following morning the replacement employee began – a mere 48 hrs and a new employee was in training. Within a week the replacement employee is competent at all the required tasks and adding depth to the operation in areas not considered possible with the earlier recruits.

To our clients there is a noticeable improvement, to the operations staff a confidence that the back office will be taken care of and a new capacity to produce has been facilitated – exactly the original objective of the hire.

On the flip side, do not forget that if the employee is not able to perform, they will know it and it will also be producing a stress for them always being behind or not knowing if their position is secure or not.

In these situations it is both beneficial to the organization and the employee  for the employee to be  relocated or replaced. The longer you procrastinate taking action, the more the focus is on the cost incurred as opposed to the cost of lost opportunities and the decision to take action becomes insurmountable.

Be decisive for your organization and your customers  when selecting and assessing performance in a role.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Week In Review – May 9 – May 15, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on May 16, 2010

How to win the Operations vs. Finance battle: Become a trusted advisor

by Matthew Carmen, May 10, 2010

When organizations work in silos and don’t understand how the other group functions, there is bound to be tension. This is typical between operations and finance groups. But once the groups understand what the other group does and begin communicating on a consistent basis, the foundation for trust is built. That provides the platform for the finance person to build a relationship of trust with the operations group. This enables them to deliver the desired results to the company and also make their daily work interesting. more…

Leadership and Mythology #1: Purpose of myth

by Gary Monti, May 11, 2010

You need to have an internal compass. You should also understand the tribes you belong to and your roles in them. Just like that you also need to recognize your mythology. Don’t confuse it with myth. Basically, this is “sense making” at a personal and group level. more…

Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe, May 12, 2010

When you change your domain of operation, you see the applicability of the old domain concepts in the new one. In this article Guy shares his experience in applying the project management mantra of triple constraint in his new endeavor. more…

Flexible Focus #1: Inside the Mandala Chart – A zoom lens for your life

by William Reed, May 13, 2010

Would it not be cool to see your life with a zoom lens? What if you could step away from the fray to see the big picture, zero in for analysis or action, without losing track of how everything is connected? William Reed has been living in Japan for the past four decades and is able to expound on how the Mandala Chart can bring clarity to your life. more…

Author’s Journey #21: Make Tip Sheets part of your book marketing plan

by Roger Parker, May 14, 2010

In this week’s installment, Roger explains what, how and why of tip sheets and how to leverage them to build your list and attract new prospects to your marketing funnel. Tip sheets are the simplest and easiest way. Also they are powerful and effective because they don’t have to be elaborate – they are judged by their value and not by the number of words or pages they contain. more…

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Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe on May 12, 2010

We had the opportunity to present our business offer to a potential client, whilst it was one client there were 8 delegates attending the meeting and each of those delegates represented an opportunity for future business.

I am a subscriber to the thinking that all employees are in sales; however as a project manager I never used to think of my role as having to conduct sales, yet reflecting back on it a very high proportion of the project management role was balancing the commercial interests of the company with the needs and desires of the customer.

As a project manager you constantly hear the mantra of the triple constraint being mentioned. For those of you not in the know it stipulates that for a successful project the Scope, Cost, Time(Resources) and Quality  (yes four not three axes) have to remain in balance. Any change to one of these axes will result in an impact to one or all of the others.

Since our offer is about sub contracted services it was not hard to think in terms of project management, and I then thought about how the triple constraint also applies to an effective and enticing sales pitch as basically every sale is a project.

Taking each of the axes and assessing them from a sales perspective:

  • Scope – the products and services you offer
  • Cost – the competitive advantage of your products, marginal utility and value to the buyer
  • Time/Resources – structure of your organization and its ability to fulfill on your commitments and obligations, ability to adapt and handle changes
  • Quality – what are your past accomplishments, how have you ensured that the quality will remain when taking on a new sale, your organizational structure, your organizational philosophies and practices?

Just like in a project you have to carefully balance these axes, it is vital that you do the same in managing your business. Customers are looking for good partners all the time, if you can demonstrate through your pitch that you are able to manage and deliver on these axes it provides a very compelling case for any prospect to engage with you.

You may have a superb product but if you have a poor supply chain and are prohibitively expensive you no longer have a balanced offer and you immediately become average.

Remember at all times though that you are presenting for the customers concerns, and in the marketplace average and mediocre are in abundance – there these four axes are not balanced. Just by performing these four key areas well with demonstrated success you will be differentiating your business and make any sales pitch enticing.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Week In Review – May 2 – May 8, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on May 9, 2010

Can we avert failures in our life?

by Vijay Peduru, May 3, 2010

This article reminds me of one of my high school teachers. This was his famous refrain: if a rocket destined to the moon is off by a fraction of a degree, it will not reach its destination. You can change your destination only if you change your direction. Nothing happens all of a sudden. There is no overnight success. Take small steps in the right direction every day. more…

Leadership Cancers #8: Anticipation

by Gary Monti, May 4, 2010

Wow, Gary… or should I say “The sage of Active Garage”? Performing action without becoming a servant of the desired consequences has been a subject of discussion for the longest time. This is a very nuanced concept and can be easily misinterpreted out of context. But understanding and putting this single principle to practice can bring you peace of mind and take your performance to new heights you have not experienced before. more…

Are You Preventing Your House Sale?

by Guy Ralfe, May 5, 2010

One of my teachers insists on learning the art of quitting. You got to listen to this Kenny Rogers song on this topic. While quitting is an essential art, it is equally important to not shut the doors of opportunity. When you don’t give into emotions and think strategically, you can leverage every thing that comes across your way for your ultimate benefit. more…

Pillars of Success

by Robert Driscoll, May 6, 2010

Based on movies, TV and what we read in the media, we have a pre conceived notion of what a hugely successful CEO is. You cannot be more wrong. Robert has captured the essence of one CEO’s practices for success in this article. more…

Author’s Journey #20: Choosing the right incentive to build your List

by Roger Parker, May 7, 2010

One of your most important marketing and promoting decisions is choosing the right incentive to offer as a bonus to visitors who sign up for your e-mail newsletter or weekly tips. It’s not enough to offer great information delivered at consistent intervals via e-mail. In this article, Roger has listed a great array of incentives you can provide your readers. more…

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Are You Preventing Your House Sale ?

by Guy Ralfe on May 5, 2010

We are in the process of selling our house, the same house that when we bought it, we bought because of the opportunity we saw in the land and buildings to make it into the home we wanted it to be for our family – it was also at the time going to be our home for the foreseeable future.

When we negotiated for the house we were negotiating with owners that had spent the last 28 years in the house. They clearly had a lot of sentimental attachment to the house, but to me the buyer this sale was purely getting the homestead for as low a price as I could.

Fast forward 5 years and we have come to the end of our stay in the home and it is just now that the home looks like the home I imagined when we bought the house. Today we also received our first offer on the house – it was ridiculously low balled and our first reaction was that we had been slighted and victimized so in retaliation we rejected the offer.

… fortunately good help was close at hand and we were mentored through the errors we made.

Firstly we had to get to grips with what was happening – we were selling a piece of land and buildings, there can no longer be any emotional ties to this property otherwise we wouldn’t be selling it.

The buyer is looking at the property through their vision of what the property can be for them. The agent is responsible for identifying and selling the strengths of the property to enable the buyers vision. By virtue of the fact that we had an offer the agent had completed their obligation.

By us refusing the buyers ridiculously low offer closes the door and ends the conversation. Our response of a rejection may even have offended the buyer in the same way their low ball offer did to us.

The better response is to respond with a counter offer, at or very near to your asking price. This signals to the buyer that you are interested in working with them. Once this process begins the buyer is now in the thought process of getting the object of his desire.  In the majority of cases a common ground can be found and the transaction completed when you approach the sale in this way.

Another benefit of this is that even though you have not accepted the offer, the property is effectively under “negotiation”. What this does is it heightens the sense of urgency for any other potential buyer and with a right to first refusal, means that you could easily accept a better offer.

A far more powerful option than closing the door by rejecting the offer – if during negotiation a mutual agreement cannot be reached you can still easily walk away from the offer – remember it is just a piece of property.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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