Skyfall: Letting go of the “wow” and focusing on results

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I spent this past weekend lying in bed sick.  I don’t get sick that often so when I do, I’m just not that good at it. It seems like every time I do get sick I am flat on my back, immobile.  I didn’t do much besides watch movies, drink water, and take medicine.  I am actually feeling much better today but one of the things I did do this weekend was watch Skyfall, which is the James Bond movie with Daniel Craig. I love the new James Bond and I think it’s a perfect update. They touched it up just enough for people like me who have watched every single one and love it, to still connect it back with everything that came before it, but they’ve modernized it enough so it doesn’t come out cheesy or overdone.  One of the things that I noticed, and was actually they highlighted in the film, was a move away from the exploding pens and the fancy gadgets that you had in some of the older Bond films. Bond even makes a comment about it when Q hands him his special gadgets and it’s a Walter PPK and a radio device. There’s a little back and forth about him not getting these cooler gadgets and I thought it was interesting because there’s a parallel to that that’s happened more generally in technology today.

I think for a long time there was a lot of focus in technology on selling with the “wow” factor. The more you could make something look like a cross between Star Trek and The Jetsons, the better. I think that as a whole, there’s been a much bigger focus on results since then. People aren’t as blinded by the outward pizazz. People are less likely to be blown away by a really cool graphical display and more likely to ask you questions like: what are the critical factors that go to helping an implementation succeed and then focusing in on the data they have to gather.  I think people are a lot more aware that the glitz and the glamour only become important if you’re able to hit on the implementation details to make something work. This is a huge step forward and it’s forcing people in the software development community to come up with much more practical and functional implementation plans to make things work.

I think a great example of this is Troux. They have some great graphical user interface elements but they’ve paired it with what they call an “accelerator program.” This program is something that I think every software vendor should take a note from and follow. They essentially paired their offering with several plans that help you achieve specific goals and they provide you with a set of training wheels to get you to the desired result. I think it’s just brilliant in terms of helping them help their customers, as well as help their channel partners help their customers.  When you make it easy for people to get results, not surprisingly you end up with clients who get results. That leads to buzz, word of mouth, and all the types of things that make products really successful and that’s important. So not only is Skyfall a great movie that you should go check out but it also made me think about this movement. This movement, that at least from my vantage point, seems to be a step in the right direction. By that I mean a step towards only adding the glitz and glamour once you’ve figured out how you’re going to get where you want to go, or at least understanding that getting where you want to go is dependent upon more things than just the glitz and glamour.  I’m curious what folks have to say.

*Photo by Themeplus

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Dealing with the oversaturation of your inbox

Email

I get a lot of email.  Between the different things that I’m involved in with my kids, friends, work and random other things I’m engaged in, it translates into lots of mail. It also sometimes translates into important things that probably should be kept track of but due to the sheer volume of emails incoming daily, isn’t always the easiest task. I was brought face to face with this reality again, not because I missed something but because of the effect missing someone can have on somebody.  That person was me.

Recently I’ve been working on getting a meeting with somebody that is fairly important to a business venture we’re developing. I’ve been trying to set up a mutually agreeable calendar date for a while and then finally I got an agreement for today.  I told him that I couldn’t wait to get together and how happy I was that he was going to be in DC.   The only times I couldn’t get together today were from 9-10 and 10-11. So a couple more email exchanges go back and forth then finally an email comes back saying the time he could and wanted to get together was from 10 to 11.  I read it and I was really disappointed because my current 10-11 meeting was a meeting that I couldn’t move. So I sit there and I spend about an hour trying to figure out if I should I try to move my current 10-11 which was also a very important and hard to get meeting.

I didn’t want to cancel the meeting that I already had.  It’s something that I just really hate doing. I think it’s really unfair to do that especially considering this was late last night at the last minute. So finally after much deliberation I decided to just write back and let him know that I just can’t do it at that time. I asked if there was any way to do it at the end of my current 10-11.  So after I had spent the better part of an hour stressing out and going back and forth over this thing and I send it back. Two minutes later I get and email saying, “Ok great! Love to do it and looking forward to seeing you at 11!”  So I had spent all this time being very concerned about something that my guess is, the person on the other end of the line didn’t put a whole lot of thought into.

There are a couple things you can take away from this. One of which is that it reinforces the point that if you have something really important, maybe you should pick up the phone an call them. What didn’t come through in the email is the nuance of it. I thought that the person was making a very serious point that that was the only time they had today so it was then or never. In actuality as I saw by the reply that was not the case. Maybe I could have said anytime during the day today and it would have been fine.  So it highlights the fact that while email is great for a lot of things, you don’t get all the nuance that you get from a phone conversation, Skype, Facetime, etc.

The other takeaway for me was making sure that I don’t miss any important facts due to skimming or skipping when trying to deal with the massive influx of digital communications on a daily basis.  I know that over time, you get copied on things all the time. Maybe as that continues to happen you read less and less details than you would otherwise and the tendency is to do a lot of skimming.  I’m sure that I’ve missed a lot of important things due to this trap. Basically I think that with email, especially when you get to the point where you’re cc’ed on so many things, you need some way of making sure that you don’t miss the important things. One way of doing that is to reduce the amount of things that you’re copied on and try to get people to let you know some way if it’s important.  If I’m on an email to keep me in the loop and there’s something that I really need to read, I need some way of knowing its importance.

I think one of the problems that has occurred over time is that in a lot of organizations the easiest thing to do is to add people to the email and allow people to opt into conversations if they so choose. This way people are eventually able to keep themselves in the loop if they want to be. The problem that this causes is over time it becomes harder to separate the things that are really important from the things that aren’t.  So this is one of the areas where it’s really nice to have a sort of collaboration capability in place where you’re able to opt into things. This is something that Salesforce excels at. If you look at chatter, it allows you to opt into ongoing conversations that are coming through the newsfeed. At the same time if you really need to get in touch with someone specifically, you can direct an email or something like that to them. It helps creates another tier in your communications strategy that allows you to keep people from dismissing things that might be important because they assume it’s part of this large stream of communications. So I’m curious as always to hear about anyone else’s ideas for how to manage the everyday overflow of digital communications.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Success is refusing to be unsuccessful

United_States_Champion_Santino_Marella I watched an interesting bit of a documentary the other day about Bas Rutten’s life.  Bas Rutten is an early era mixed martial arts (MMA) figure and is still a notable presence in mixed martial arts today. Since MMA has become a more widespread activity he’s become a more mainstream figure as a TV analyst with a historical perspective on the sport. I thought one of the really interesting things, not to overly generalize here, is that a lot guys that are engaged in MMA at the top levels have come from pretty hard scrabble beginnings. He had a fairly similar upbringing.

What I found really interesting was when he talked about trying to figure out what he was going to do and where he wanted to end up in life. He did a lot of reading to that end and he was always interested in famous people and biographies of successful people. He said that one of the things that he realized as he read through all these stories was that there was a common thread. The thread was that all these really successful people pushed through circumstances that might have made somebody else quit in order to succeed. So the takeaway that he had and that he used to sort of shape his life around was that success was inevitable if he kept trying.  If he hadn’t succeeded it was because he hadn’t succeeded yet. So he took this never give up attitude forward. He said, “You know maybe one day I’ll die trying but so far not giving up has been the key to my success.”  I just thought it was a really interesting take on things.

I know that at various times in my own life I look back and think, “Well maybe in that circumstance I probably should have given up a little bit earlier,” and “Maybe I hung on too long and it cost me,” but I think that the habit of pushing through is an important one. It’s important to push through ordinary troubles and even sometimes extraordinary troubles if you believe in what you’re doing and it is worth it. I believe there is something to the idea that a lot of people that are very successful are successful on the basis of simply refusing to be unsuccessful. Of course I’m certainly not going to discount good fortune or being in the right place at the right time. There are clearly many, many, many, other factors that go into being successful.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have worked extraordinarily hard, never given up their dreams, yet they never realized the success that maybe they wanted. There’s some part of me that wants to believe that those people, even if they didn’t reach the success that they wanted, that the passion that they had for trying to succeed carried them through the tough times. Maybe if they looked back they wouldn’t change a thing anyways.  That may be wishful thinking but I’m curious what other folks think out there. I know that the “never say quit” “never say die” attitude can get you into trouble as much as it can urge you forward to success, but I’m curious what stories other people have to share from both sides of that. It was a really interesting documentary on many levels but I thought that piece in particular really resonated with me. I think I was so stuck on that part because I truly believe that a certain amount of success is just predicated on refusing to be unsuccessful.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.