How a To Do List Alone Is Not Productive

Stress is at its highest when one is unprepared.  Managing tasks, putting out fires, and meeting deadlines is difficult without a proper task management solution.

Whether you use the latest smartphone app or just pen and paper, you probably have some form of reigning in all those tasks, big and small, you must get done. Each of these tasks is multi-dimensional in that each has a priority, an effort level, deadline, and could even be related to another task or appointment.   Managing these dimensions is the key to being proactive and productive.

The problem with the to do list, is just that, it is strictly a list.   Making a list of your to do items is critical, but it does not give you the ability to set priorities in a complete manner.  In fact, the longer the to do list, the more overwhelming and difficult to mange it will be.

The solution is pretty simple.  Of course you need a list of task items, but you need integrate both the priority and scheduling.  The easiest was to do this is to schedule them on your calendar just like you would schedule a meeting or doctor’s appointment.

Scheduling your tasks takes care of a few things in one shot:

  1. It automatically sets the priority relative to not only other tasks, but your appointments.
  2. It gives you a clear start time and end time to tackle the task.
  3. It allows you focus on the immediate tasks for the day without getting overwhelmed by seeing tasks for a week or month.
  4. It sets the amount of time you need and have available to complete the task.

Using your calendar, be it a Daily Planner or Outlook, to manage your tasks is a very efficient way to be productive.  By managing a list of tasks and taking the extra step of putting them on your calendar means you are serious about being proactive and productive.  Try it today!

Where’s YOUR Documentation?

Any good reporting/analytics team in a company must have a foundation.  Whether the reporting/analytics team is in Marketing, Sales, Finance, or Customer Service, documentation is the foundation by which companies operate and communicate.

Without documentation there is no:

  • foundation to build reports
  • no defnition of data
  • no way of effectively communicating concepts
  • evolution of data understanding
  • reporting

For each employee working at a company, we have a responsibility to maintain documentation.  When the Business Systems team comes knocking with their questions of how your part of the business operates, you will be ready.

If you are presenting sales figures to the executive team, you NEED to have an understanding of what your figures include and don’t include.  It is your responsibility to understand your part of the business.

Even the janitor requires documentation.  What’s the sequence to cleaning the offices, how often do the desks and keyboards get wiped down, to how often they need to order toilet paper, maintaining an office for busy employees depends on documentation!

So, where is YOU documentation?

The Business of the 21st Century

As a Founder of a new start-up, I am faced with creating a business for the 21st Century.  For the last 100 years, businesses have evolved with technology (Salesforce).  Those that have not, get hacked away until they tumble (Borders). 

So, as I launch my own LLC, I must take note of what will carry my company through to the 22nd century.  Here are some ideas:

  • Customer Centric – the product is all about helping the customer solve a challenge long before they even knew they were challenged.  The product responds to the customer.
  • Data belongs to the customer – Unlike some social media sites that consume data and resell it, I firmly believe that the owner of the data is the individual that inputs it.  By delivering totally custom access to their data where and when they want it, I will empower my customer.
  • Social – Everyone and everything must be connected in some way. Allow the customer to create public and private groups and interact in real time however they choose. 
  • Ease of use – Make it just so simple to use, they have no other choice.  
  • Consumer to Business Communication – Make it darn easy for customers to submit feedback and interact with employees.  From surveys to conferences, leverage every opportunity to be in contact with not just customers, but consumers in general. 

These are just some of things that a 21st century business MUST DO.  As a customer or a business owner, what other things should successful businesses do?  

Customer Experience Is A Journey

Reflecting back on my career I can appreciate the value of a customer centric organization. Not only are customer centric organizations aligned around the customer, but they typically embolden the employee with value and the ability to make decisions.

Successful organizations are those that embrace business as an ongoing conversation that involves customers, employees and a larger ecosystem. Think of successful business as a conference room where management sits at the head of the table, customers on one side and employees on the other. The dialog must be chaperoned by all parties with listening and development of dialog constantly at the core. The ecosystem enters from time to time in the form of external speakers who discuss larger topics pertinent to the business.

Sure the conference room changes over time as do the players, but the conversation must always be ongoing and open. It is like being on a trip and exploring local establishments including restaurants, shops, and even people’s homes.  It is a journey of collaboration, communication and life.

Is your customer experience a journey?

Churn as a Leaky Sink

Just like water entering a sink and then finding its way down the drain, your *aaS (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS) business will likely always have customers leaving and sales coming in.

While it doesn’t really matter too much (at least in the context of this post) whether water coming out of the faucet at high rate or low rate, what does matter is the size of the leak at the bottom… the water going out.

First of all, is the drain wide open?  If it is, your company is doing more to drive customers away than you are to acquire them.  Figure out an effective customer insights strategy and close that drain! Setup effective surveys, reporting, and a churn action committee to address the reasons why your customers are leaving.

The drain will leak. No matter what you do, you will always have a customer cancel due to death or other reasons outside your control.  Do you know how much your sink leaks?  Again an effective system of capturing data and listening to customers is important.

But, you can go one step further by simply investing in a dedicated analytics team.  Let them model churn and build predict future customers who are likely to churn. During this process, they will identify the key drivers of churn and the company can then build a proactive strategy to engaging and saving the customers that prevent your growth.

Before you know it, that sink is a little small for the water you’ve collected, so you have to upgrade to a bigger sink.  Just make sure you don’t buy a bigger drain with it.