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strategy & change
Who moved my Hummus?

#change is the only constant in life, Heraclitus

~ 4 min read.

I read the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson years ago but it never stuck. As the years passed and I started getting into slippery situations at work and with clients, only then I started recalling the main takeaways from this book. It is written as a parable – You’re supposed to draw your own lessons from what the story implies.

I’ve replaced Cheese by Hummus to make it more relevant. You can thank me for finding the below book summary by Will Chou so you don’t have to buy the book or even worse, read it.

[Spoiler alert: Summary at the end of this post so don’t scroll down yet.]

Who Moved My Hummus? Book Summary

Who Moved My Hummus has 4 characters:

Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. Two are humans who are the size of mice named Hem and Haw. They live in a maze and have to constantly find Hummus as food to survive.

The mice have a simple strategy. They test each pathway until they find one with Hummus.

The humans think they’re more sophisticated, but you’ll find out later that it backfires on them (as implied by the title).

One day, all of them find a ton of Hummus in one spot that looks like it’s enough to last them a lifetime. They end up spending a long time here.

The humans settle down and slowly get arrogant. They show off their Hummus and brag about it. They take it for granted. They get stuck in their old ways.

The mice are always vigilant. They’re ready to move on if the Hummus disappears. They’re always checking to see if the supply is getting lower.1

One day, the Hummus runs out. The mice foresaw this and they move on to discover more Hummus.

The humans didn’t foresee this. Their arrogance blinded them to the slowly dwindling supply. But they won’t leave the area to look for more. They’re fearful of what’s out there in the maze. They have gotten used to their old habits. They started to believe they were entitled to the Hummus.

They scream angrily, “WHO MOVED MY Hummus?”

Hem and Haw decide to stay because they hope the Hummus will appear there once again. They get bitter, complain that they worked hard to find the Hummus and deserve more.

They start using sophisticated tools to dig behind the walls because they think the Hummus might be there.

Eventually, Hem, gets smart and decides to explore the maze for more Hummus. Hem tries to convince his partner to go with him, but he couldn’t.

Hem finds tiny bits of a new type of Hummus in the maze, which he brings back to Haw. Haw refuses to eat it because he only wants the old type of Hummus. He has grown accustomed to what he’s used to.

Hem keeps exploring since these tiny bits aren’t enough to sustain him.

As he journeys to new areas of the maze, he pushes past his fears and learns many life lessons. He writes a few lessons on the wall from time to time to encourage himself to move forward and for Haw if he ever decides to follow him.

He finally finds a new place deep in the maze that has a ton of Hummus, including all sorts of new types. He meets Sniff and Scurry again, who arrived here long before he did.

Lessons learned:

  • Change Happens They Keep Moving The Hummus
  • Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Hummus To Move
  • Monitor Change Smell The Hummus Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
  • Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Hummus, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Hummus
  • Change Move With The Hummus
  • Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Hummus!
  • Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again They Keep Moving The Hummus.

The authors of the story have mentioned that the Hummus in the book represents anything a human aims for such as money, fame, reputation, happiness, achievements, etc.

For a scientific approach to Change Management, companies have built tools and techniques suitable for any major change impacting an organization, its people, processes or technology. To learn more subscribe to our #PMTuesdays series or get in touch with one of milestoen’s advisors.

About the author: Joe Zarur is a Strategy & change advisor at milestoen and a co-founder at Sympaticus HealthTech.

Sources: Milestoen book of knowledge, Spenser Johnsosn, Will Chou.

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By joe zaarour
A project management ecosystem

~ 4 min read. There seems to be a lot of disparate information about project management out there. PMI (project management institute) is doing an awesome job with the certification process but the sad truth we all know (those who are PMP certified) is we study concepts and processes and memorize them to pass the exam knowing that they make no sense in real life scenarios.

Managing projects for over 10 years with sizes ranging from $10k to $20 M including portfolio, programs and PMOs (project management offices) with big4 global consulting firms and attained 3 certifications in project management from IBM, PMI and McGill, I crafted a distilled collation of what runs through the mind of a true senior PM & project executive or sponsor [emphasis on the word true because titles are a dime and a dozen in this region!]

At milestoen, we’ve broken down our PM ecosystem [aka toolbox] into 6 components [we love acronyms so we’ve coined the term REEDM for rationale, equation, elements, dimensions and methodology]

  1. Rationale

A project is defined as a temporary endeavor, to create a unique product, service, or result.

The temporary nature of projects indicates that a project has a definite beginning and end. Although repetitive elements may be present in some project deliverables and activities, this repetition does not change the fundamental, unique characteristics of the project work – this is stated to contrast a project [uniqueness] with continuous operations [process output ex. a factory].

2. Equation

The rationale falls short with mentioning that a project in general has finite resources at its disposal and those are budget, timeframe, and a clear scope of work. [ ex. you have $3000 to develop within 30 days a 3 page booklet about a local event]. These 3 elements constitute the equation a PM has to continuously balance.

The latest addition to the above is Value; In the sense that is what we are developing (over the project duration/time) creating the value needed by the client. So in our case, awareness of the local event in question. Value changes over time as the project starts to see the light and therefore it is important to continuously ensure project objectives are aligned to the business case.

So Value is a function of budget, time and scope (and maybe quality of work). As well, lately a considerable number of our clients are moving towards outcomes based engagements; meaning that we (as a project team) are remunerated based on the outcome we produce on projects.

3. Elements

In order to determine how the work is done, there are 3 elements to consider; although we are developing a unique output, there is a (1) process to follow for the (2) people with specific skill sets having the right (3) tools at their disposal.

4. Dimensions

Just like anything in life there are layers to peel along one’s journey, in our case a technical and a behavioral dimension. Think of it as a science and an art – the science is the quantifiable or tangible part and the art is more on the intangible or qualitative side.

  • Technical: There are tools at our disposal as PMs to use in order to ensure our project is going in the right direction. Kind of like the dashboard of your car (if the oil gauge is malfunctioning or the service engine displayed or one is going too fast or too slow you’d better be aware). PMI defines this best as the knowledge areas (left side column from PMI’s PMBOK 5th edition):
  • Behavioral: A lot of PMs get this wrong – they fail to recognize the non-technical human demeaner element involved in bringing sometimes complete strangers together from different backgrounds with different skill sets and ask them to sit in a room (or on a conference call) for a certain period of time and come up with a product or output. There are several facets of the behavioral side of project management but I will mention a few here mainly the stages of team development, elements of change [aka change management], and conflict resolution [knowing how to deal with and resolve conflict by recognizing when to push and when to back off].

5. Methodologies

There is no one size fits all for project methodologies or systems. In most cases, teams choose to use a hybrid of several methods depending on the size, nature and complexity of the engagement. The most common are Agile and Waterfall.

  • Agile: Short iterations of work are delivered with little upfront documentation of specs or requirements. Frequent delivery aims to ensure visibility of progress, creating opportunities for real -time feedback and changes in scope throughout the life-cycle.
  • WaterfallProjects progress sequentially through a series of steps and phases beginning with specs or system requirements, and moving through design, implementation, testing and release. Phases can lasts for weeks or months.

Traits of a good PM: people person, ability to lead, to delegate, to have integrity, excellent communicator, enthusiastic, empathetic, remain calm under pressure and some domain knowledge.

This wraps up our PMTuesdays series for this week. Stay tuned for more…

About the author: Joe Zarur is a Strategy & change advisor at milestoen and a co-founder at Sympaticus HealthTech.

To learn more about Business strategy and IT/ICT digital transformation subscribe to our PM Tuesdays series blog or connect with one of advisors.

Sources: Milestoen book of knowledge, PMI, IBM.

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By joe zaarour
A disruptive approach to strategy

~ 3 min read.

A one-size fits all ?

Every now and then we share insights from our experiences with clients such as Government departments along certain service lines, in this case a Strategy project.

Milestoen’s strategic objectives were to analyse and frame client issues from a new dimension and Identify, prioritise and plan areas for improvement of a Government department with 20 divisions, 12 applications and over 30 services.

Building a citizen-centric strategy beyond vision, mission and goal takes an honest deep dive into core and non-core competencies passing through dark alleyways, shattered glass windows and rusty steel file cabinets to find one’s raison d’être.

When I used to work for big4 / MNCs / global consulting firms, we attended trainings, workshops, shadowed “experts”, jumped on conference calls, mined internal knowledge databases in search for skeletal gems to tweak and begin the re-discovery journey of our own skills, knowledge and combine that with the latest benchmarks and trends applicable and customisable to our project on hand.

A typical [notice the space between the A and Typical] approach to a strategy engagement would cover following structure and topics: 

Value Identification > Value proposition > Value Deal Making > Value Delivery

  1. Analysis: Asses business strategy, develop constituent business model, and identity chokepoints and improvements
  2. Architecture: Determine strategic business value / model, Operationalise business model, define target constituents, asses current capabilities and develop shortfall impact.
  3. Investment: Define and prioritise opportunities and develop transformational roadmap.

Not a linear but a flexible integrated framework logically connected to ensure consistency with strategic direction

One of the tools we use is a *Constituent business modelling canvas that helps us dissect the institution to individual business units that contains similar activities supported by appropriate assets, such as people and technology.

The tool allows us to aggregates business activities into cohesive and loosely-coupled components that can be shared across a firm.

The methodology focused on stakeholders definition, risk management, inputs & outputs, process reengineering, change management and business value creation.

Curated Sample deliverable

Sources: Milestoen book of knowledge, Harvard business review 

About the author: Joe Zarur is a Strategy & change advisor at Milestoen and a co-founder at Sympaticus HealthTech.

To learn more about Business strategy and IT/ICT digital transformation subscribe to our blog.

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By admin
peel the orange

 

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By joe zaarour
Deconstructing 4-hour life-hacker Tim Ferriss

~30 sec read. I’m an avid listener and follow of Tim Ferris. My interest started with his 4-hour work week and continued to the current podcast series he hosts with 70 M downloads!

I know you all like short posts and bullet f… points so here you are; I summarise below some of the secret ingredients hosts were able to extract from Tim, with focus on how he build his reputation, the idea for the 4hww and his latest muse/podcast business/obsession. I must admit here I am the one obsessed with his podcast series! There is something addictive about a) listening to podcasts, b) about Tim’s voice and c) the regular business and marketing techniques he follows:

  • A strong joke is when half the room laughs and half doesn’t
  • So what that means is, write for the minority / niche (10 %) of your followers that will love the piece
  • Hit 10 percent and have them love it
  • Then rotate articles
  • There is no sure path to success but to failure which is trying to please everyone
  • Be different from what’s out there
  • List what thought leaders and business constructs want in terms of attributes or rules (specs) then do the opposite
  • Focus on the tactile and not abstract make them actionable and shareable. Ex what is the book you re-gift the most ? is one of his favorite questions to his guests
  • Do not get distracted by social media focus on your art (on building your core product/idea/masterpiece)
  • Shut out distractions
  • Do deep work
  • Forget the most followed influencers they are hard to read instead look for the thought leaders these influencers looked up to and get to them.
  • Recommends: The 22 immutable a laws of marketing ( the old one not the new internet) create new categories !!!! Ex lifestyle design Tim
 Stay tuned for more hacks from milestoen.

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By admin
Stages of team development

Team development stages milestoenEver wondered if there is a structured approach to how new team members bond, fight and perform on projects?

Well the cold truth is every project or temporary engagement – with a definite start and end date- you lead as a team leader or a project manager introduces a new environment; a situation where team members are driven outside their comfort zone , even if some members are familiar with each other’s work.

Every new situation (project) imposes a new set of game rules at the beginning until the rough edges are smoothed out and every member gets a better understanding or acknowledgement of their size, function, responsibility and role on the team. So, without further ado, we introduce the well known concept of ‘stages of team development’.

Assumptions underlying this model:

Every group will go through some part of each stage; the more the group members. know each other and have worked together before, the less time spent in the first three stages.

The stages often play out simultaneously or in different order.
Teams go through different performance cycles throughout the project – each of these cycles requires a different leadership style. These stages are classified into 4 groups; Forming: Initial judgments about teammates are made, Storming: Control issues emerge, Norming: Productive works begins, Performing: Optimum productivity reached. Using Project Management Institute’s terms, there is one last ‘stage’ called Adjourning: Project is done, team moves out of the project

Stage One: Forming (Awareness): The Immature Group

Theme: orientation

Behaviors desired: commitment to group goals as task behavior, friendliness and concern about others and interest in relationship with others
Outcomes desired: commitment and acceptance of team and of others
Actions and activities: learning what’s expected
Leader’s role: high-task, low-relationship to compensate for low follower readiness
Leaderships skills and techniques: value clarification, visioning, communication through myth and metaphor, and goal setting to develop acceptance and commitment as individuals need to understand how they relate to team and team’s relationship to organization
Task of individual: getting acquainted, assessing strengths and weaknesses, participating in goal setting

Stage Two: Storming (Conflict): The Fractionated Group

Theme: resistance
Behaviors desired: acknowledgment and confrontation of conflict openly at task level and listening with understanding to others at relationship level
Outcomes desired: clarification and belonging
Actions and activities: leadership struggles, incomplete communication, arguments and personalizing events; members appear confused and dissatisfied and output is low
Leader’s role: maintaining adequate production while building group competence requires high-task, high relationship
Leadership skills and techniques: active listening, assertiveness and conflict management to resolve stage two issues, and flexibility and creativity to support open environment and set climate for new ideas
Task of individual: listening actively and attentively to all viewpoints, supporting the development of and encouraging supportive environment for expression of ideas, confronting and managing disagreements to clarify purposes, roles and procedures
Stage Three: Norming (Cooperation): The Sharing Group

Theme: cohesion
Behavior desired: inclusion of others in decision making to meet task needs, recognition and respect of differences to meet relationship needs
Outcomes desired: involvement and support
Actions and activities: open exchange of feelings, facts, ideas, preferences and support; less dissatisfaction as ways of working together are clarified
Leader’s role: low-task, high relationship to promote participation and involvement, providing more opportunities for group members to take responsibility
Leadership skills and techniques: use of the techniques of playfulness and humor, entrepreneurship and coalition building (networking) promote involvement and support communication, feedback and affirmation
Task of individual: appreciation of differences, recognition of group success as source of personal power and resources, use of feedback to support collaborative working relationships, greater involvement in decision-making
Stage Four: Performing (Productivity): The Effective Team

Theme: interdependence
Behaviors: contribution and valuing of new ideas and the ideas of others
Outcomes: achievement and pride
Actions and activities: working collaboratively to challenge their potential; celebrating success in the achievement of more complex goals helps sustain enthusiasm and maintain momentum
Leader’s role: delegation reduces need for interaction with staff to low-task, low relationship
Leadership skills and techniques: problem solving, planning, and decision making skills provide opportunities for achievement; mentoring helps to foster achievement in others
Task of individual: sharing in group accomplishments and productivity lead to sense of satisfaction and pride
Enhancing team performance can result from various activities. Examples include:

  • Involving team members in the planning process
  • Establishing rules for dealing with conflict
  • Improving the climate for team discussions
  • Improving stakeholders interactions by holding off-site facilitated events …

Hope you enjoyed this quick snapshot. To learn more please connect with us or subscribe to our blog.

Joe Zaarour, PMP

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By joe zaarour
Critical path analysis

As with Gantt Charts, Critical Path Analysis (CPA) or the Critical Path Method (CPM) helps you plan all tasks that must be completed as part of a project.Critical path milestoen

 

They act as the basis both for preparation of a schedule, and of resource planning. During management of a project, they allow you to monitor achievement of project goals. They help you to see where remedial action needs to be taken to get a project back on course. It took me a while to grasp this critical path concept not because it’s complicated but due to the lack of clarity around the available data.

What is critical path?

This seemingly complex topic is nothing more than a logical 2 dimensional tool you can use to determine the so called ‘important tasks’ or ‘hot tasks’ … nothing more than the tasks with the longest durations AND the tasks that fall on a crucial project path that is called ‘critical’ where if any of these ‘hot’ tasks is delayed, then the project outcome is at jeopardy.

Why is it so important?

CPM milestoenIt gives us a real-time snapshot on schedule lead & lag activity for risk response planning and an accurate representation of the most critical components of the schedule. It is the sequence of events for which, if any event is “improved”, the overall process will be “improved”. Here, “improved” is defined by reference to a specific performance measure.

The precedence relationship notation is included to improve the readability of the model, but the arrows are not used by the simulation. For simulation, the precedence relationships are established by the preconditions and postconditions of the events. A critical path is made up of activities that cannot be delayed without delaying the end date of the project.

How does one compute the critical path?

So what is the critical path and how do we determine it? Well, let’s first take a look at a network logic diagram for a simple sample project.

Each activity has a duration measured in weeks and the arrows show how each activity is depending on other activities to finish before they can start themselves. In the sample activity A must finish before C can start, and D can only start once C has finished etc. We can also see that activity C can only start once both A and B have finished.

From the diagram we can determine three separate paths:CPM milestoen

Start – A – C – D – Finish: 8 weeks

Start – B – C – D – Finish: 9 weeks

Start – B – E – F – Finish: 7 weeks

The critical path is defined as the longest path in the diagram and in our example it is path B-C-D that is the critical path of 9 weeks. What’s so critical about it? If one of the activities on the critical path is delayed the entire project is delayed!

Example, if activity D is delayed 1 week, the project will be delayed with 1 week.

But if activity E is delayed 1 week, it will not delay the project because the path activity E is on will just be 8 weeks and still be done one week ahead of the BCD path.

So the critical path is made up of activities that cannot be delayed without delaying the finish of the entire project.

What happens if activity E suddenly is delayed 3 weeks? In that case the B-E-F path becomes the new critical path of 10 weeks and the finish of the project is delayed. The project manager must now determine how to handle this delay or accept it as the new critical path.

Will a project only have one critical path? A project can easily have more than one critical path and in that case the project manager must know all of them.

Hope you enjoyed this quick overview. To learn more please connect with us or subscribe to our blog.

Joe Zaarour, PMP

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By joe zaarour
Earned value analysis

earned value milestoenHistory:

Earned Value has been in use since the 1960s when the Department of Defense adopted it as a standard method ofmeasuring project performance. The concept was actually developed as early as the 1800s when it became desirable tomeasure performance on the factory floor. Today, it is both embraced and shunned, often in response to prior experience orstories told “in the hallway.”

What is Earned Value (EV)?

A method for analysis of project performance? Is it something that is gained through some progress (ex: completed activities)? Or a measure of progress? Say for instance, a Uniform consistent basis for project performance. Let’s take a closer look:

  • EV improves cost control & provides a reliable indicator of project health.
  • EV metrics also enable forecasting to predict Estimate to Complete (ETC) and Estimate at Completion (EAC).
  • EV compares the budgeted cost of work performed (earned) to the budgeted cost of work scheduled (planned) and to the actual cost of work performed (actual).
  • EV trending helps to identify troubled projects early in the lifecycle before they fail (even though time & money spent seem to indicate “progress”).

Note: Other tracking measurements include: % Complete compared to planned % Complete; Actuals compared to planned Actuals, # Test Cases completed versus # planned, etc.
aka EVA = Earned Value Analysis, aka EVM = Earned Value Management
What are the elements of EV?

Figure 1- Traditional cost analysiscost analysis milestoen project management

 

Earned Value provides the basis for cost performance analysis. If you want to know what’s happening to the cost of yourproject BEFORE it is completed, you need to know what the planned cost at any time was and also what the cost of thecompleted work is. Referring to Figure 1, should this project manager be happy or concerned? It seems that the actual costsare considerably below the planned cost. This appears to be good news. However, unless you look at the planned cost of thecompleted work, you don’t really know if this is good news or not. That is exactly the missing information that Earned Valueprovides.

Figure 2- Earned value elementsEarned value analysis fig 2 milestoen

 

 

In order to understand Earned Value thoroughly, we must become familiar with all the elements of the Earned Value method. Figure 2 provides an overview of these elements. While many people shy away from the acronyms used to label these elements, they quite accurately describe the elements. The project management practitioner should be familiar with the formal acronyms.

Earned value analysis fig 5 milestoen

 

The BCWS is the Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled. Quite literally, it represents the budgets of the activities that areplanned or scheduled to be completed. In the discussion of how to apply Earned Value, we shall see how this is developed and why the BCWS curve has the traditional S-curve shape.The ACWP is the Actual Cost of Work Performed. Again, quite literally, it represents the actual cost charged against theactivities that were completed. Later we shall see how we deal with activities that are in progress but not yet completed.

The BCWP is the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed. This is the traditional Earned Value that we speak of. It represents theplanned or schedule cost of the activities that are completed. The distinction between the BCWS and the BCWP is that theformer represents the budget of the activities that were planed to becompleted and the latter represents the budget of theactivities that actually were completed.

These are the three major components of Earned Value. At any point in time, we have the planned work, the actual work andthe cost of the actual work. This allows us to make the full analysis of our project progress and performance. Some of theother, related terms shown in Figure 2, include the Budget At Completion (BAC), the Estimate At Completion (EAC), theSchedule Variance (SV) and the Cost Variance (CV). We will learn more about these in the discussion on how to applyEarned Value.

EV Challenges

  • Time: Formal EV using off the shelf tools is the ultimate but it takes significant time from PM’s, Development, Testing, Management (Bottom Up estimating @ work package level, WBS maintenance, merging WBS’s, Time Entry precision from everyone charging, working the various exceptions with tasks/resources, etc.)
  • Cost: Formal EV increases project costs, so estimates must include EV activities and the customer must pay for it.
  • Quality: Resources who are charging to the project aren’t always accurate (ie. Actuals, % Complete, revised ETC hours, revised End Dates). Another issue is missing data.
    InfraStructure: Tools, procedures and resources are needed to support formal EV. For example, estimation tools must be configured to align with WBS tasks (not just monthly totals as with IFP tool on the AT&T account).

These challenges are manageable, but many organizations are not practicing EV because of these restrainers. It’s estimated that less than 30% of all PM’s use EV on their projects.

Joe Zaarour, PMP

Source: T Wilikins, J Zaarour, IBM GBS

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By joe zaarour
Hey Google where did all the traffic disappear?

IT seems publishers like Huffington Post, Daily Mail, NewsweekDailyBeast, Time, Sports Illustrated, Us Weekly,and Rolling Stone amass a total reader audience of around 300 million combined – not bad!

Their top referrals are google and facebook among others (see below buzzfeed chart), so imagine when publishers take a 30% dip in readership, oh it happened over a period of less than 7 months according to buzzfeed

However – and here is the catch – traffic from Yahoo increased to over 21 Million in March alone.

Also, traffic from social media and mobile apps seems to put a dent in traditional content relevance as we know it today.

And this brings us back to the whole g+, a defensive last call to save the dwindling traffic bandwidth (and consequently advertising revenue)

Is the G giant declaring defeat or are they just redirecting their efforts to more lucrative disruptive innovations such as Glasses and Now…

In all cases, I still wonder what the best mechanism for evaluating data relevance online is going to be and how well will this tie in to advertising.

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By joe zaarour
the science of marketing [karma, luck, success]

How do you explain when others seem to achieve things that seem to defy all the assumptions? Why some leaders are able to inspire, and others don’t? 

1. Success patterns (apple, ibm, martin luther king, the wright brothers, …)

Simon Sinek calls it the golden circle – the why, how and what of companies DNA. Steve Jobs had a different name for it but consistently proved it at both of his major ventures at Pixar & Apple.

  • why – why does your company exist [purpose, cause, belief]
  • how – say how you do what you do differently [unique selling proposition, etc.]
  • what – what you do [your product or service]
 
A typical sales pitch [outside in]: 
  •  what – we make great computers
  • how – they are beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly
  • why – eh… wanna buy one?

An inspirational compelling reason to buy [reverse the operation, inside out ex; apple]: 

  • why – everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo – we believe in thinking differently
  • how – the way we challenge the status quo, is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, user friendly
  • what – we happen to make computers, wanna buy one?
People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it ! Ie, they buy because of what you believe in or stand for !

What you do serves as proof of what you believe  [as in Martin Luther King’s speech I believe ! – people showed up for themselves, not for what MLK did – but for what he believed and that related to them and what they believed in]
The Goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe! 
The Goal is not to sell people who need what you have, but to sell people who believe what you believe 
I have a dream not I have a plan speech inspired tons of followers. Will you buy an mp3 player from dell? Then why do you buy an mp3 player from a computer company? or a phone? or a dvr?The truth is, you want to do business with people who believe what you believe.
Now, indulge with me for a moment, what I`m about to say is odd but hear me out; Let us attempt to compare the above theory with something tangible maybe science or say biology! The human brain – well at least the part responsible with decision making! I`m no MD and neither is Simon I believe but check this out: The main brain sections are dissected into 3 basic sections that oddly enough align with the golden circle above.

  • top section: neocortex –  corresponds with the ‘what’ level  analytical, rational
  • middle 2 sections: lymbic brain sections – feelings, behavior, decision making, no capacity for language  [trust, loyalty]
So when we communicate from the outside in [what-how-why] people can understand a vast amount of complicated information [facts, figures, science, etc.] but it just does not drive action or behavior!
But when we communicate inside out  [why-how-why] we are talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do – this is where the gut decisions come from [it just does not feel right to buy this, because the part of the brain that controls decision does not control language!]
The first 2.5 % are the innovators! If you want mass market success or acceptance of an idea, it cannot happen before the tipping point of 15-18 % penetration market point. So the obvious key here is to try to close this [early adopters] gap highlighted below fast. The innovators and early adopters are comfortable making these gut decision based on what they believe not on what is available. These were the ones that stood in line for 6 hours to get the new ipad 3 or HD and these constitute your target market and barrier to adoption and acceptance of your product.

There are leaders and those who lead !

[ted id=848]

This Marketing & Entrepreneurship series is supported by selekt, a project+cycle management advisory based in Beirut, that provides project management & social media solutions and consultancy. 

connect with me   Inline image 1    

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By joe zaarour
disrupting traditional brand-building techniques by facebook

Recently, Facebook in conjunction with Forrester Research conducted a joint study where they picked the brains of top C-level and VP-level marketing pros in an effort to gage their perception on social media & brand building (possibly among other unstated objectives of course…)

I found it timely and interesting to highlight key finding especially now that facebook has rolled out the mandatory upgrade of their pages – timelines/milestones, etc. – and their new marketing strategy. As well, more and more social brands are overflowing with cash due to increasing online advertising spending and funding headed their way…

How do/ or I should say did market leaders create brands?  

Have we discovered the holy grail of the customer’s brand-building journey?

What is this gap that traditional marketers are unable to fill?

Let me try to address the above important questions as I summarize the key findings of this report.

The so called new customer-brand journey if you are planning to win in this connected world looks like this: Articulate, connect, engage, influence, integrate, and rejuvenate. We will get to that in a sec… bare with me.

What is more and more evident is that social media [$$] has overtaken all other marketing channels and is redefining the rules of the game, but you have to be mindful of think tanks & trend setters motivated solely by advertising revenue…

Traditional vs new rules:

More and more, social media is affecting every stage of the brand life cycle journey. According to forester, here are some interesting snipets:

  • Marketing leaders believe that social is highly important to brand-building, their current strategies are out of sync with how consumers prefer to interact with their offerings.
  • Consumers are increasingly turning to the advice of Critics through social networks as they compare products. For instance, the percentage of consumers who use ratings and reviews to inform their decisions about online purchases increased from 12% in 2009 to 57% in 2011
  • Consumers have become increasingly influential in this brand-building process
  • Consumers generated over 500 billion impressions about brands through social media – one quarter of these came through online advertising
  • 80 % of consumers said they are more likely to try a new thing based on friends’ suggestions made in social media
  • Consumers expect and are highly willing to interact with brands on social networking sites, but – and here is the catch – they expect something in return! Duhaa of course they do, so be ready to fork out some exclusive deals or secret information

So by engagingly interacting with customers, marketers are able to create the buzz, build the brand personality, motivate people to form a connection with your brand, inspire people to share brand message and maybe even help position the brands and finally communicate directly & instantly with customers! According to the study, Southwest airlines and Bing are benefiting from this phenomenon through friends of their fans whose extended network creates up to x 34 multiplier on audience reach.

Back to filling pot holes (I’m inspired by a rainy day and jam-causing pot holes)… We introduced earlier the analogue vs connected world, but here is a step by step snapshot of how ‘socializers’ expect marketers to step in and bridge the gap:

This Marketing & Social M series is supported by selekt, a project+cycle management advisory based in Beirut, that provides project management & social media solutions and consultancy. Images courtesy of facebook/forester public paper. 

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By joe zaarour