Welcome to our newsletter, newly re-named TECHMANAGE without the "dot com" due to a subscriber who pointed out how some e-mail systems read the .com as code for launching a program. He very nicely said "DON'T DO THAT" twice now, so I thought it was a good idea to listen. Thank you, David! (You know who you are).
Last month we introduced a new feature...a pop quiz with incredible prizes. The resounding thunder of anticipated responses more closely resembled the sound of grass growing. (Seems that the questions were of the sort that only an industrial researcher could love.) So this time, we're taking a slightly different direction (see "Survey").
In this issue:
1. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
First question: what's a picture? Charts, tables, graphs, diagrams, clip art, photos, video clips. Not to mention WORD PICTURES and formatting to make your words stand out like a picture.
TMA site: map where our building is located in Chicago.
Check out Purchasing Magazine's Web site archives:
Click on the "Plastics Outlook" link of the current issue, August 13.Complementing the text are a table that draws your attention to hard numerical data, and several bar and line graphs that reveal trends at a glance.
For a great illustration of a social network, go to:
A site that presents information on where venture capital funds were invested by geographic region in the U.S.:
The map shows the dollar amount invested by major geographic region and a click on a given area of the map will take you to information broken out by industry segment, company name and amount invested. Clicking on a company name listed takes you to a basic company listing and their web site, if available. You could produce a paper-based report containing the same information by reference "links" to appendix items or numbered tables.
The next is a site with seriously good content on outsourcing... that hits you right off with an amusing cartoon and rolls straightaway through a couple of introductory paragraphs to the essential bullet points. Pie chart, bar graph, bullet lists, tables, diagrams, a reference list and an Appendix.
And that's just a part of the "Executive Summary" mind you. Wonder what the actual paper is like.
2. Color (with a caveat)
A world of difference. With inexpensive ink jet printers from the likes of Canon, Epson, Hewlett Packard and others, you can greatly increase your audience's retention of your important points (and keep them awake, besides).
My preference for paper-based reports is for gradients, rather than "flat" colors, and pastels. You may want to use primary colors, judiciously, for special emphasis, but your readers could get bleary-eyed with page after page of bright yellows and crimson reds (not to mention saving on ink and curling your printed pages as gobs of the stuff slather onto your sheets).
Tasteful (politically correct?), short, and to-the-point. And funny, please! If not, you're better doing without.
4. Stories, Analogies and Metaphors
No matter how new and different a concept is, with a little thought you should be able to draw a comparison. Of course, the older you are, the easier this is to do...the one saving grace of growing ancient!
5. Animation One of my favorite books is Andrew Grove's (Intel's CEO) fascinating book "Only the Paranoid Survive". Many chapter excerpts have a graph or illustration. The book's Web site has a simple, yet very effective graphical animation:
6. Sound, video and VR
Whatever you do, be sure the bells and whistles don't overpower your message. What works at a trade show to attract attention to your booth could be terribly distracting if you are giving a technical paper at an engineering conference. Not that engineers don't appreciate midi sound clips, photos of stunning sunsets and the like, but if you've sat through a talk where the presenter was more in love with technology than the subject matter, you'll know what I mean. Lesson: don't let the medium overpower your message.
7. Formatting Bold, indent, double indent, boxes, highlighting, shading, font size and style.
Even plain-ASCII e-mail text can be formatted. Note how we tend to use numbers, indentation, short paragraphs, capitalization, simple page-wide dividing lines and other very basic means to help your brain assimilate what's in the text. If you'll go to our Web site, you'll see the richness that color, bullets and other tools can make. What we're trying to accomplish here is allowing subscribers with just the most rudimentary e-mail program to derive the same information as someone with all the latest features.
8. And now, a caveat:
Sorry for shouting, but I know you've all received handouts passed on to you by someone else where the message is all but unintelligible. Pretty pictures, gorgeous graphs, but no meaning behind them. You had to be there, probably taking copious notes. And if you weren't there or didn't take notes, the likelihood is that those pictures without many words won't mean much when you look at them a year from now.
Keep in mind that a white paper or a report without graphics to illustrate important points may be boring, but it is still likely to contain information of value. At the other extreme, a report or a white paper that is nothing but tables, charts and graphs (even in color) is more likely than not to wind up as useful as a sheet of white paper.
As hinted at in our July issue, in September we'll be talking about a few means for collecting and organizing some of your internal information. Later we'll begin exploring developments in knowledge management thinking.
Lean and Meaningful
By Roger E. Herman and Joyce L. Gioia
We're excited about bringing you TWO book reviews this month. They both offer a look at important new realities that businesses must understand and adapt to. And they each contain a valuable bonus at the end of the book.
Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, USC calls Intellectual Capital "the first to provide a framework, a practical guide, and a theory of the significance of intellectual capital."
It also provides a solid rationale for taking seriously the most recent (and still evolving) business practice for improving competitive advantage by turning organizations into well-oiled, super-efficient economic engines: knowledge management.
An award-winning member of Fortune magazine's board of editors, Mr. Stewart writes with flair and wit. It is clear that the subject of his research and writing in this area stems as much from his own powerful intellect as it does from mere reporting on a shift in value chain essentials.
An organization's intellectual capital may be thought of as Caesar's segmentation of Gaul: "es omnis divisa in partes tres" that is, as being made up of three parts, in this case Human Capital, Structural Capital and Customer Capital. Very nice. Elegant, in fact, as you will come across "10 Keys to This" or "A Dozen Steps to That" (of which we are just as guilty, as you will note above).
Stewart begins with the most elusive Capital - and the most squandered during the re-engineering/downsizing heydays - Human Capital. He explores beyond the "People are our most important asset" platitude of almost every annual report to reveal the near-scandalous: "Routine, low-skill work, even if it's done manually, does not generate or employ human capital for the organization." You'll have to read the book to find out just which Human Capital generates wealth.
Structural Capital occupies two chapters, "Knowledge Management" and another near-scandal until you get into it: "The Danger of Overinvesting in Knowledge". How much Structural Capital does your organizations waste on the "push" variety of Structural Capital? You know, weekly reports you don't need, cc'd e-mails and faxes. By the way, Structural Capital is the stuff of databases and other means that enable knowledge transfer.
Third is Customer Capital, what executives are referring to when they reverently intone that their companies are, indeed, Market Driven. This is the basis of relationship marketing, data mining, single-sourcing, among others. This means really connecting with those who buy from you, thereby avoiding the destructive downward spiral of pricing wars.
[Actually, I misled you earlier. Stewart DOES offer "Ten Principles" (for managing intellectual capital). But that's O.K. They appear near the end, by which time the three Intellectual Capitals are firmly imbedded in your subconscious.]
The "piece de resistance" appears in the Appendix: "Tools for Measuring and Managing Intellectual Capital". Use these quantitative proofs of the pudding when you need to nail down tangible, bottom-line arguments for the green-eyeshade folks, arguments for capitalizing on the new economic wealth, especially as physical assets, the economic value representing the industrial age, transform into costly millstones.
You may go directly to Amazon's Web site to purchase this book at a discount by clicking on this link:
Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia are fellow Certified Management Consultants; they look at the future of organizations, one eye on the bottom line, the other on the people, to come up with a focused - and balanced - vision of the successful enterprise of the twenty-first century.
At first glance, the concepts of "Lean" and "Meaningful" appear to occupy opposite sides of the corporate spectrum. Lean and mean? In the current parlance, yes. Profitable? Not too likely as the power shifts from employER to employEE.
You've likely already read a number of books and articles observing the demise of the lifetime (and even multi- generational) work at a single employer and the transition to employees as a kind of general contractor, with full control over their careers. Some observers even go so far as to suggest that individuals eventually will be selling shares in themselves, becoming a "franchise" similar to that of an athlete or perhaps a Martha Stewart.
What Herman and Gioia have done in "Meaningful" is to articulate for savvy employers what they must do to keep these newly-independent franchises (the ones they want, that is) in their productive employ.
Chapter 3 "Becoming Lean" starts out: "Lean is an attitude." Indeed. And for a woefully large number of organizations now afflicted with corporate anorexia, WHAT an attitude!
In chapters 6 through 19 Herman and Gioia present more than 200 mini-cases as examples of organizations illustrating the impressive bottom-line value in practicing one or more of their "10 Elements of Meaningfulness;" each chapter concludes with Key Concepts, and Action Plan and End Notes for reference.
As in "Intellectual Capital" above, "Lean and Meaningful" pays an extra dividend at the back. Chapter 20 "Getting Started" offers a practical approach to the daunting task of changing a corporate culture that no longer works. This final chapter is followed a list of additional reading; resources with full contact information, including Web site addresses; and their "piece de resistance", one-page commentaries on the concepts of this book by the likes of Jim McCann, CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS and Perry D. Odak, President and CEO of Ben & Jerry's.
Visit the book's Web site at www.leanandmeaningful.com and click on the address below to purchase it at a discount from Amazon.com:
In October and November, I'll be teaching several courses on advanced Internet-based research with fellow consultant and business associate Jeff Molander through the accounting firm of FERS. Please contact Andrea Wagner, Director, Technology Education, FERS at 312-245-1910 or
Speaking of courses, back to school's not just for the youngsters anymore. If you're looking for the strength to keep those walls from tumbling down, consider joining the on-line study of Joshua beginning mid-September. Details at:
I will be at the Osaka Chamber's annual week-long, 2-part business convention to be held on October 19-23.
From October 19-21 is Global Business Opportunities Convention (G-BOC). G-BOC is an annual international business-oriented event aimed at creating new business opportunities through an innovative match-making process. Exhibitors and attendees come from around the world. More information at:
From October 22-23 is Global Venture Forum (GVF), a forum for companies and entrepreneurs in new, high-tech, and emerging fields of business to meet with potential Japanese partners. More information at:
I'll be speaking at the Marketing Research Association on November 6, also with Jeff Molander, at their Fall Education Conference, "Winds of Change: 20/20 Foresight," exploring new ways to leverage technology to increase strategic advantage... in San Diego. For more information, see:
A new, free e-mail and on-line management newsletter is available from Capability Snapshot Inc. (CSI), called "Ideas for Leaders." Prepared under the supervision of Dr. Max Garfinkle, President and co-founder of CSI, its premier edition is an article titled GAINING WORKFORCE COMMITMENT, an essential strategy for competing in the 21st century, as discussed in the two books reviewed in this newsletter.
Demonstrating several precepts outlined in the first article of this newsletter, the on-line version has simple, yet very effective graphics to illustrate important concepts. You'll find the article and means to subscribe to their newsletter at:
CEO Capability Snapshot Inc.
4460 Sherbrooke St. West
Westmount, Quebec H3Z 1E6
Finally, I've been appointed to the Board of the Chicago Chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC), responsible for two areas: technology information and application and (2) local roundtable discussion groups. More on technology and IMC below.
We've got a great roster of hardware and software tools of particular interest to management consultants; you know, portable, productivity enhancing and wired to the world. There'll be contests and drawings along with tutorials, on the basics and advanced tips/tricks.
We're still looking for a few more good products: laptops and color printers, especially, but other toys too! Consultants, if you've got expertise in commonly-used application software, here's your chance at 15 minutes of fame. For more information, contact me (Jo Gucwa) at:
312-984-5050 (phone) 312-984-5057 (fax)
Details of confab at:
What is the single greatest barrier you see to the success of your organization?
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