Winterize your call center

OpsVantage - Winterize

Running a B2B call center in the winter can be tricky; customers rely on your software to run their operation and this means they expect the customer support phones to be answered regardless of how cold it is, or how much black ice is on the road between your house and the office. But on the other hand, you don’t want your reps risking their life to get into the office. What is the conscientious support manager to do? Winterize. Just like winterizing your car, there are steps you can take to make sure your call center is ready for winter, ready to serve customers, and ready to keep your reps safe … Read More

Keys to a strong steering committee

OpsVantage - Steering Committee

If you are a project manager implementing B2B software you know the importance of having strong executive support from your company and from the customer’s leadership team; but you also know that getting a strong steering committee established can be a challenge. Of course executives want the project to be successful, but they are exceptionally busy people and sometimes don’t understand or value the importance of their role in a successful project. You may have lead hundreds of meetings, but the steering committee is different. This is a room of smart people who are in too much of a hurry to wander around for an hour – keep it short … Read More

Decide: to make work better

Decision Time

Five frogs on a log is an excellent book by Mark Feldman and Michael Spratt about acquisition integration. The book begins with a riddle: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? Answer: 5 Why? Because deciding and doing are not the same thing. The book builds on the riddle as a metaphor for fast action, I like the lesson that both the riddle and the book deliver, but there is that troublesome first step…deciding. More and more mid-size and large companies are struggling with indecision and it is vortex that drains the energy out of awesome people that want to do … Read More

You’re not a commodity

OpsVantage - You're Not A Commodity

Last week I met three people who all asked for advice on essentially the same question: How do I make a smart career move? Two of the three people are considering leaving the corporate world for consulting, the third thinks it may be time to take the next step in her career. All of them want to grow their career, but they all have a huge risk in common…being seen as a commodity. You already understand what commodities are, but I like the definition from Investopedia: “A basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type”. “Interchangeable”, becoming someone who is not seen as … Read More

Great products are built by great teams

OpsVantage - Great Products Are Built By Great Teams

The third annual study of product team performance is complete! Consistent with prior years, the results have shown that only a minority of product teams are performing well. Of course there are a variety of factors contributing to top performance, but one of five key finding from this year’s study was the important correlation between the role people play in creating a positive team environment, and positive results for the business. When asked to select which factors contributed to a positive environment for the team, high performing organizations give three quarters of the credit to just four factors: A common goal/purpose Effective product managers Skilled engineers Effective project managers/scrum masters … Read More

Change? Yeah, right…

OpsVantage - Change? Yeah, right…

Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to do mediocre work or be part of a so-so team. It just kind of creeps up on you when you’re not looking and before you know it your state of the art 1995 solution is not holding up so well. In the post You’re not a commodity I shared a story of a friend who didn’t keep his skills current and found himself in a tough spot. The same thing is happening to product development teams all around the world. The third annual study of product team performance recently concluded and one of the questions we asked is how effective teams … Read More

Empower your team

This past weekend I had the opportunity to give a presentation that shares a few tips about leading turnarounds at Product Camp Seattle. We had a good interchange of ideas and experiences, and one of the tips that generated a good deal of conversation was: “Empower and require people to fix problems. They usually do fine and you can’t do it all alone.” Every business has issues to fix and opportunities to explore. If your team is bringing the issues and opportunities to you for a decision about what to act on and how to do it, they aren’t empowered and you’re being a bottleneck…even if that’s not what you … Read More

3 benefits of disgruntled employees

We have all been in the meeting where the pointy haired manager speaks and everyone knows the plan is doomed but nobody wants to point out the obvious. Then suddenly, out of nowhere comes that voice, like nails on a chalkboard, instinctively you cringe because every time this employee speaks their biting tone of voice and an insatiable desire to complain about virtually everything drains you. This is the person you never want to have lunch or coffee with, much less stand too close to for fear of guilt by association. But…when they speak, there is this part of you that knows the core of their message is right, even … Read More

Advice to employees of an acquired company

Question What is the best advice for employees of a company that is in the process of being acquired? Answer My advice is specific to the level of the employee… If you are an executive: 1. Get your head around the fact that you may not have a place in the new organization and that is okay. 2. Do everything you can to ensure a smooth transition and to ensure your team is treated fairly. 3. Be the communication conduit to the team so they know what to expect and you can help retain key talent and prevent a the productivity dip that happens because everyone is running around worried … Read More