Monday, November 24, 2008

The Art of Laying People Off

The Art of Laying People Off

Guy Kawasaki of How to Change the WorldGUY KAWASAKI OF HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD | NOVEMBER 18TH, 2008 - 11:47 PM 

I hope that you never have to lay off or fire people, but the reality is that you will as you advance in your career. If you are scoffing (“Guy, you are clueless: We’ll never downsize, because we’re growing so fast, and I’ll never make a bad hire”), then you’re my intended reader.

  1. Take responsibility. Ultimately, it is the CEO’s decision to make the cuts, so don’t blame it on the board of directors, market conditions, competition, or whatever else. In effect, she should simply say, “I made the decision. This is what we’re going to do.” If you don’t have the courage to do this, don’t be a CEO. Now, more than ever, the company will need a leader, and leaders accept responsibility.
  2. Cut deep and cut once. Management usually believes that things will get better soon, so it cuts the smallest number of people in anticipation of a miracle. Most of the time, the miracle doesn’t materialize, and the company ends up making multiple cuts. Given the choice, you should cut too deeply and risk the high-quality problem of having to rehire. Multiple cuts are terrible for the morale of the employees who have not been laid off.
  3. Move fast. One hour after your management team discusses the need to lay off employees, the entire company will know that something is happening. Once people “know” a layoff is coming, productivity drops like a rock. You’re either laying people off or you’re not—you should avoid the state of “considering” a layoff.
  4. Clean house. A layoff is an opportunity to terminate marginal employees without having to differentiate between poor performers and positions that you’re eliminating. It’s good for the marginal employee because he’s not tainted with getting fired. Finally, it’s good for the employees who remain because they will see that you know who’s performing and who isn’t.
  5. Whack Teddy. Most executives have hired a friend, a friend of a friend, or a relative as a favor. When a layoff happens, employees will be looking to see what happens to Teddy. “Did he survive the cut or did he go? Is it cronyism or competence that counts at the company?” Make sure that Ted is dead.
  6. Share the pain. When people around you are losing their jobs, you can share the pain, too. Cut your pay. In fact, the higher the employee, the bigger the percentage of pay reduction. Take a smaller office. Turn in the company car. Reassign your personal assistant to a revenue-generating position. Fly coach. Stay in motels. Sell the boxseat tickets to the ball game. Give your 30-inch flat-panel display to a programmer who could use it to debug faster. Do something, however symbolic.
  7. Show consistency. I cannot understand how companies can claim that they have to cut costs and then provide severance packages of six months to a year of salary. You would think that if they wanted to conserve cash, they’d give tiny severance packages. Typically, there are three lines of reasoning for generous severance packages:
    1. Cutting head count, even with severance packages, is cheaper than keeping the employee around indefinitely, and we don’t want any lawsuits.
    2. We have lots of cash, so our balance sheet is strong, but we need to cut heads to make our profit-and-loss statement look better.
    3. Wall Street (or your investors) is expecting dramatic actions, so we need to do this to show the analysts that we’ve got what it takes to be a leader.

    None of these reasons makes sense. If you need to do a layoff to cut costs (and conserve cash), then provide minimal severance packages, cut costs as much as you can, conserve as much cash as you can, and deal with your guilt in other ways. If nothing else, it’s a consistent story.

  8. Don’t ask for pity. Sometimes managers go to great lengths to show the person they’re laying off (or firing) how hard it is on them. Th is reminds me of the old definition of chutzpah: A boy murders his parents and then asks the court for leniency because he’s an orphan. The person who suffers is the one being terminated, not the manager.
  9. Provide support. Usually, the people getting laid off aren’t at fault. More likely, it was the fault of top management—the same top management with golden parachutes. Hence, you have a moral obligation to provide services like job counseling, résumé-writing assistance, and job-search help. There are firms that specialize in helping employees during “transitions,” so use them.
  10. Don’t let people self-select. We had a joke at Apple during the dark days of the late eighties that went like this: We would announce that employees who want to quit should come to a big meeting. Those who want to stay at the company should not attend. Then we would let the people go who didn’t attend the meeting and keep the ones who wanted to quit—because the latter were smart enough to know that we were in bad shape or that they had better opportunities elsewhere.

    The point is that if you let people choose to get laid off or retire, you might lose your best people. Deciding whom to lay off is a proactive decision: Select the go-forward team to ensure that you never have to lay people off again. Do not leave this to chance.

  11. Show people the door. With few exceptions, all you should do is let people finish the day, maybe the week. (My theory is that Friday is the best day to do a layoff because it lets people have a weekend to decompress.) Showing people the door seems inhumane, but it’s better for both the people leaving and the people remaining.
  12. Move forward. Let people say good-bye and then get going. This is when leadership counts. In bad times, you separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. After the layoff, this is what the remaining employees will be wondering about:
    1. Guilt: “Why did I survive the cut and my colleagues didn’t?”
    2. Future of my job: “Will I survive the next round if there are more cuts?”
    3. Future of the company: “Will the company survive at all?”

    So you set—or reemphasize—goals, explain what everyone needs to do to get there, and get going, because the best way to move beyond a layoff is to get back to work.

Immediately after a layoff, you might want to retreat to your office, turn off the phones, stop answering e-mails, and avoid everyone. These are the worst actions to take. This is the time for you to motivate by walking around. Employees need to see you, talk to you, and get your help and advice. They don’t want to think their leader is cowering in some foxhole. The brave face that you put on may be a charade, but it’s an important charade.

Reprinted by permission from Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.  In other words, I asked myself if it was okay. If you liked this chapter, there are ninety-three more where this came from.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Planning Fundamentals are Business Fundamentals

Planning Fundamentals are Business Fundamentals

How do absolute business fundamentals relate to planning fundamentals? I really believe that's a critical question. Business planning has to relate to the real business principles.

I can think of five key business fundamentals that should underlie good business planning:

  1. It's about results. It's not planning for the sake of truth or beauty. It's not planning for the sake of the document, or formatting. It is about what you need to improve, manage, and plan your business.
  2. Form follows function. What's included in a business plan isn't necessarily anything more than what you need to understand and manage your business strategy (the heart) and work out what's supposed to happen when, and how much it costs, how much it brings in, and who's in charge of it (the flesh and bones). It might never get off of your computer. Or, if you need a so-called business plan, or a summary memo, or presentation, or elevator speech, then that is output from the plan on your computer. It's not the plan, it is output from the plan.
  3. Metrics and tracking equal accountability. Plans should be concrete and specific. How will you know, after time goes on, whether or not you are implementing your plan? That's a matter of things you can measure, and having the discipline to measure them, and track them. And the result, when it's done right, is accountability.
  4. Planning assumes change. You don't plan the next year so you know what to do regardless of what happens. No, instead of that, you plan the next year so you know what the plan was as you track results, and changing assumptions, and then manage that plan.
  5. Planning isn't accounting. Accounting starts today and goes backwards into time, in ever increasing detail. Planning starts today and goes forward into time, in ever increasing aggregation. The tables look the same, but the concepts are very different. Furthermore, while accounting is about profits, planning is about cash flow.

That idea became last Monday's webinar called Back to Fundamentals, which I gave as a free contribution to Global Entrepreneurship Week, and which Palo Alto Software is now rolling out on the Web in four 10-12 minute segments, one per day, plus a final one for questions and answers.

Before I tell you where to click to view those recordings, I should warn you that you have to input an email address, or the click doesn't work. Having said that, you can click here to get to the page and then you add your email address and click the "watch the video" button to view it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

10 Steps to Take Action and Eliminate Bureaucracy

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Article by Leo Babauta. (Follow me on Twitter.)

I’ve worked in a few offices where the paperwork, endless meetings, and other bureaucracy was ridiculous — so much so that the actual productive work being done was sometimes outweighed by the bureaucratic steps that needed to be taken each day.

When the focus is on action instead of bureaucracy, things get done.

I’ve worked for both private businesses and government agencies, and let me tell you, both require too much paperwork, too many steps to get things done, too much reporting, too many meetings, too much planning and too much training. Each of these things is usually management’s answer to a problem, but they add more problems, including a tendency to slow things down and get less done.

A better answer than adding extra steps and meetings to a workday is to focus on action. Create a culture of action and hire people who get things done. Eliminate as much bureaucracy as possible and get things moving.

Today we’ll look at some good ways to do that, based on my experience both as a worker and a manager. Believe me, I know the tendency to throw training and meetings and reporting and planning at a problem, but I also know how frustrating that can be for an employee who just wants to get the work done as effectively as possible. Why am I sitting in on another meeting when I could be getting work done? Why am I filling out more paperwork instead of actually doing the work?

Here are some ideas to get to the action and cut out the bureaucracy:

1. Know what you want to get done. Often bureaucracy happens when people focus on processes and forget about what the end result should be. Where are you trying to go? Find the shortest route to get there, rather than making things complicated. Visualize your desired result, and keep the focus on that.

2. Know your priorities. Keep in mind the most important work your company or organization does. It almost certainly isn’t paperwork or meetings (with a few exceptions, possibly). Of course, if you’re going to have a meeting with a potential client in order to sign him up, that’s probably a priority. But for many employees, the real work will be something else: writing code, writing articles, designing, making calls, crunching numbers, etc. Know the important work, and focus on that.

3. Eliminate paperwork whenever possible. How many forms does your company have? Much of that uses the same information. Can a simple computer program or online form be used instead, so people don’t have to fill out paperwork but can just fill in an online form where the basic information is stored and re-used so it doesn’t have to be re-entered? Often using a computer program (online or off) will also automate things so paperwork isn’t needed. Or just eliminate the paperwork altogether if it’s possible — sometimes it’s just better to take action without having to fill in things.

4. Cut out processes. Are there steps and approvals and work that people have to do that can be eliminated altogether? Keep an eye out for these processes and eliminate when possible. Every time someone is doing something routine, ask whether it’s really necessary, or if can be reduced or eliminated. Can several steps be cut out to make things quicker? Often the answer is a resounding “yes”.

5. Empower people. Often a manager becomes a bottleneck, requiring his approval before anything can get done. Worse yet is when approval is needed several times along the way, meaning it has to be bounced back and forth a bunch of times. Better: give people clear instructions about how to handle things and when approval is authorized, and allow them to handle it. Monitor things closely at first to ensure that they know how to follow the instructions, then give them more room to work independently and just report to you every now and then. Make sure the instruction include the circumstances when they need to alert you to any major problems.

6. Don’t put off decisions. Worse than a manager becoming a bottleneck is a bottleneck where decisions are delayed and things pile up. When a decision is required, try to make it quickly. Make sure you have all necessary info, know what criteria you’re using to make the decision, and then make the decision immediately. The longer you wait the worse the problems become. Indecision is the enemy of action.

7. Have the information you need ready. If you don’t have information, you can’t make decisions properly. This is often the reason people put off decisions, but they don’t always realize it. As a result, they sit on a decision for awhile. Instead, go and get the info you need so you can make the decision immediately. Better yet, have the information sent to you beforehand, so you have everything you need to make the decision when it’s time. Figure out what information is needed for your regular decisions and have it regularly on hand.

8. Keep “Action” at your forefront. Put up a sign on your desk that says “Action”. Make this your mentality throughout the day. When you are putting something off, remind yourself to take action. When you have a bunch of steps you have to do, remind yourself that eliminating steps leads to taking action sooner. When you’re in a regularly scheduled meeting (like, every day), ask yourself if this is preventing action.

9. Look for action-oriented people. When hiring or selecting a team, look for people who get things done. This can be seen in their track record. Give them a trial and see if they tend to focus on actions and decision, or processes and paperwork. Action-oriented people will get things done more effectively.

10. Reward action. Reward team members as well as yourself for action taken. Rewards could be as simple as praise or as big as a promotion or a bonus to the most action-oriented employees. These rewards tell your company or organization — or yourself — that action is a top priority.

“Action is eloquence.” - William Shakespeare

If you liked this article, please share it on, StumbleUpon or Digg. I’d appreciate it. :)

Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself

I recently received a copy of a great ebook that I think a lot of you will enjoy … it’s from Chris Guillebeau and it’s an amazing guide to becoming an entrepreneur and being your own boss. I’ve done this myself and highly recommend it to anyone who likes to be independent and is highly self-motivated.

Some of the chapters in the ebook include:

  • Info on creating multiple income streams
  • Ways to make money via blogging, selling information products, consulting, photography and more
  • Affiliate and ad programs
  • Creating a launch event
  • And a whole lot of other stuff I don’t have room to list here

In addition to the ebook, the package includes three mp3 audio guides:

  • Questions & Answers on Very Small Businesses
  • 24 Actions You Can Take Today to Create Online Income
  • 18 Tips to Get Traffic to Your Website or Offer

I recommend this package to anyone looking to work for themselves.Click here to view more details. (Affiliate link.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Art of the Customer Surveys

The Art of the Customer Surveys

Guy Kawasaki of How to Change the WorldGUY KAWASAKI OF HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD | SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2008 - 08:05 AM 

As a small business owner, you’re probably concerned about what your customers think of you, and many of you have done, or would like to do, customer surveys. A buddy of mine, Dave Wanetick, shared some interesting thoughts about customer surveys. He is the managing director of IncreMental Advantage.

  • Accurate reads on customer thoughts are nearly impossible. Responses can be swayed by just one word or even the order in which the questions are asked. Some have compared trying to read customer sentiments to the soothsayers of yesteryear who tried to divine meaning from chicken entrails. Consider how one word conjures up drastically different recollections in this real-world exchange:

    Lawyer to Witness: How fast was the car traveling before it ran into a telephone pole?

    Witness: Forty-five miles per hour.

    Lawyer to Witness: How fast was the car traveling before it smashed into the telephone pole?

    Witness: Sixty-five miles per hour.

  • Depending on who is responding to the survey and in what setting, the results can change. Many survey respondents, for example, are self-selecting, which skews the results. Sometimes asking the same people the same question at different times of the day—for example, before or after a meal—will yield different responses.

  • Customers do not want spend time answering surveys. Completing a survey that takes longer than the delivery of the service in question is annoying. The mere act of sending a customer a survey can so greatly annoy some people that it tarnishes the company’s brand. Thus, customers often race through surveys to get them over with, and their haphazard responses are a precursor to the collateral damage that will result from relying on such information.

  • Excessive soliciting of feedback will inevitably result in criticism. Unwarranted criticism is most likely to be evoked when people believe that their ability to criticize is a sign of their intelligence. A serious problem arises when this criticism shakes the employees’ confidence. This criticism can demotivate sales people and render them less effective.

  • Some customers are not worth having. The peril in soliciting extensive feedback is that the most critical and demanding suggestions are likely to come from customers who offer the company diminishing prospects for profitable returns.

  • Customers who are only moderately disappointed with a company may become irate when their concerns are not addressed. Thus, companies that rely on extensive surveys are faced with a dilemma: either bend to the customers’ wishes or suffer their wrath when failing to do so.

According to Dave, some of the most revealing customer surveys can be quite simple. Dave cites Fred Reichheld’s idea that one can distill customer satisfaction surveys down to one question:

“Would you recommend our service to your friends and colleagues?”

This is a powerful question because it gauges whether or not customers like your product enough to put their own reputations on the line with their friends and colleagues.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

9 rules of innovation from Google

1. Innovation, not instant perfection 
Trial launch with a beta. Perfection can evolve
2. Ideas come from everywhere 
"We let everyone comment on an idea. Comments lead to new ideas."
3. A license to pursue your dreams 
"We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that
they'll build interesting things."
4. Morph projects, don't kill them 
Change projects which seem no market ready into ones that market needs
5. Share as much information as you can
Snippets - Every Monday, all the employees write an email that has five to seven bullet points
on what you did the previous week. Being a search company, we take all the emails and make a giant Web page and index them."
6. Users, users, users 
Users, not money
eyeballs translate to either subscription services or advt. revenue
7. Data is apolitical 
Decision should be based on data and not on closeness to a person.
8. Creativity loves constraints 
There is always a constraint and you need to think out of the box to get over it.
9. You're brilliant? We're hiring 
"...wanting to work on big problems that matter, wanting to do great things for the world,
believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and
"If I'm an entrepreneur and I want to start a Web site, I need a billing system. Oh, there's Google Checkout. I need a mapping function. Oh, there's Google Maps. Okay, I need to monetize. There's Google AdSense, right? I need a user name and password-authentication system. There's Google Accounts."
"This is just way easier than going out and trying to create all of that from scratch. That's how we're going to stay innovative. We're going to continue to attract entrepreneurs who say, 'I found an idea, and I can go to Google and have a demo in a month and be launched in six.'"
Google Checkout, Google Maps,  Google Adsense, Google Accounts

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Truth about Pricing

The Truth about Pricing

Any Entrepreneur that's ever tried to bring a new product to market has had to deal with one frustrating fact – no one knows what to charge for it! No matter how well you think you can predict the market or how much research you've done, until people start paying for your product you're still just guessing.

Even then, when people are actually forking over their hard earned cash for your product, you still don't know if you've optimized for the best possible price to generate the greatest number of sales.

Fortunately there are some simple strategies you can employ to quickly arrive at a happy medium and give yourself a little piece of mind.

The Binary Nature of Pricing

The first pass you'll want to take at pricing is to eliminate all of the people that weren't going to pay you to begin with.

What may shock you is that when it comes to a consumer's perception of pricing, it's not always the actual amount that scares people; it's whether or not they have to pay at all. Pricing is more or less binary for consumers – they are either going to pay or they won't – the actual price is incidental.

Having launched ten companies myself, all in different industries ranging from automotive to financial services to television casting, I've found that in each case you get a group of consumers that are willing to pay just about any reasonable price for the product, and a group of consumers that won't ever pay a penny.

There's something that goes off in a customer's head when they have to pull out their wallet. Up until that point the value you were providing may have gone relatively un-noticed. But when the customer has to break out their credit card and start typing in those 16 magical numbers, they think twice about the value of your product.

Instead of developing your pricing to lure the group of people that just aren't willing to pay for your product, focus on maximizing the yield of the customer who will pay for your product. It's a lot easier to get someone to pay 10% more for your product than it is to reduce the price of your product and get more people to pay for it.

The "Freemium" Model

Next you'll want to figure out how to separate the paying customers from the non-paying customers, without alienating either.

Leave it to the overzealous Internet nerds like me to invent a word like "Freemium" to explain a basic price gateway model. Freemium is a word used to describe giving a portion of your product away for free in order to attract interest, then charging the most passionate customers for premium benefits.

I'm not entirely sure, but I think this model was pioneered by Baskin Robbins every time they handed me a free sample of chocolate ice cream in order to convince me to buy an entire cone. These days the freemium model appears when I want to sample a song on iTunes but have to pay to download the whole song onto my iPod.

The beauty of the freemium model is that allows you to test two pricing strategies simultaneously. You get to see how many customers would be interested in your product for nothing at all to gauge the overall interest in your product. It then allows you to learn exactly what about your product people are most interested in paying money for.

Try every Possible Price

Once you've separated the paying customers from the non-paying customers, you still need to settle on the right price to charge them. There's one simple answer here: try every possible price.

I'll give you an example. At, a site that allows people who want to get out of a car lease to connect with people who wanted to get into a car lease, we charged people to post their car leases on-line. The problem was, we didn't know how much to charge them, so we tried every possible price.

Our early estimates figured we would probably get around $24.95 per posting on the site. We constantly tried new pricing strategies to figure out what would be the right price that consumers would accept.

Wouldn't you know that after six months of testing we found out the number was over $100 per post!

The only thing that kept us from simply making four times as much per sale was our willingness to test the sensitivity of price. Had we gone with our gut instincts we would have vastly undervalued the product and left a whole lot of money on the table.

It Pays to Try Everything

The only thing you can rely on when picking the price of your product is having to change it – a lot.

If you can develop a system to test as many possible price points with as many consumers as possible, you can hopefully uncover that hidden gem that is your perfect price. Until then, keep trying something new. It's the only surefire way to win.


Wil Schroter is the Founder and CEO of the Go BIG Network, the largest network of startup companies and entrepreneurs at He is also the author of the new book "Go BIG or Go HOME".

Monday, September 29, 2008

How To Select Accounting Software For Your Small Business

Posted by:Business week online on September 16

Here’s a step-by-step approach to help you decide which program can best serve your business accounting needs:

1. Determine and create a list of the specific types of accounting functions you want to perform. At a minimum, the software should handle cash disbursement and cash receipts, post all charges to the profit-and-loss statement automatically, and offer a complete reporting package. Reports should include a detailed general ledger, balance sheet, income statement (profit and loss), and cash-flow statement, as well as specific function reports for payroll and job costing.

2. Don’t pay for features and functions you won’t use. The typical small business writes fewer than 100 checks per month, makes 10 to 20 bank deposits per month, and produces 20 to 100 invoices per month. It doesn’t take a major accounting program to handle these functions, and it’s not worth it to buy a program that has lots of features you won’t use and that end up making the program more difficult to operate.

3. The most important step is to talk with other people in businesses similar to yours about what accounting software they use and what they like or don’t like about it. There is no better source for finding out about a program than those who have been using it for a while.

Gene Fairbrother
Business Consultant
National Association for the Self-Employed

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More vs. enough

More vs. enough

Lesley reminds us of Herzberg's work on hygiene.

It's not just theory, it's a vitally important marketing concept. It's easy to believe that joy lives on a simple curve. If you give me more of what I want, you give me more joy.

If one baseball game is good, season tickets are better. If $300 an hour for consulting is good, $400 is better.

Improved = more.

It turns out, though, that there isn't just one curve, there are two. The second one is about hygiene. Not just being clean, of course, but being in an environment in which certain requirements are met. All the farm-fresh groceries in the world won't make you happy if your kitchen is filled with bugs. A high-paying job that delivers a screaming boss, no job security and a home life fraught with tension isn't a stable place for most people. Not because the money isn't there, but because basic "hygiene" needs aren't being met.

Hygiene We see this with computer hardware and software (crashing is a hygiene issue). We see it with thrift stores for food (freshness, or the appearance of it, is more important than money for many people). And we see it with every human resource issue.

Next time you try to grow market share, while it may be tempting to lower price or offer more features, perhaps it's worth considering addressing unfixed hygiene issues instead.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Power of Red

The Power of Red

via How to Change the World by GuyKawasaki on 8/27/08


The Pope dons red Prada kicks, politicians break out red ties in election season and that darn Netflix package always seems to stand out in a crowd of manilla and ivory mail. Why red? Do humans have a penchant for the rainbow’s most fiery color?

This study released in 2005 discovered that red-clad athletes out-performed competitors donning blue uniforms and suggested that the win discrepancy occurred because of an innate association of red with dominance and assertiveness. New research goes further in exploring the power of red. Researchers at Germany’s University of Münster threw judged competitions like tae kwon do into the mix and found that referees awarded athletes in red an average of 13 percent more points than azure-wearing sportsmen. So, why exactly does red provide such a distinct advantage?

The German study attributed their findings to an unconscious bias, but did not conclude where the bias stems from--suggesting that the reason could be as simple as red being more eye-catching. Other studies suggest that our weakness for red comes from primates’ unique color vision that in the past allowed the first humans to forage the forest and successfully locate ripe fruit. Instinctive or not, red definitely boasts some serious power.

While red might not be the color choice for a business looking to soothe and relax customers, like say a meditation studio or spa, if a company hopes to grab a bit of attention and give off an assertive message, strong shades of red might do the trick. Redbox, Red Lobster, Red Hat, (Product) Red and countless other companies have created instantly recognizable logos, websites and packaging that all appeal to our predisposition for all things scarlet, cherry, ruby, and straight-up red.


Small is the new big by Seth Godin

Small is the new big by Seth Godin

Big used to matter. Big meant economies of scale. (You never hear about "economies of tiny" do you?) People, usually guys, often ex-Marines, wanted to be CEO of a big company. The Fortune 500 is where people went to make… a fortune.

There was a good reason for this. Value was added in ways that big organizations were good at. Value was added with efficient manufacturing, widespread distribution and very large R&D staffs. Value came from hundreds of operators standing by and from nine-figure TV ad budgets. Value came from a huge sales force.

Of course, it's not just big organizations that added value. Big planes were better than small ones, because they were faster and more efficient. Big buildings were better than small ones because they facilitated communications and used downtown land quite efficiently. Bigger computers could handle more simultaneous users, as well.

Get Big Fast was the motto for startups, because big companies can go public and get more access to capital and use that capital to get even bigger. Big accounting firms were the place to go to get audited if you were a big company, because a big accounting firm could be trusted. Big law firms were the place to find the right lawyer, because big law firms were a one-stop shop.

And then small happened.

Enron (big) got audited by Andersen (big) and failed (big.) The World Trade Center was a target. TV advertising is collapsing so fast you can hear it. American Airlines (big) is getting creamed by Jet Blue (think small). BoingBoing (four people) has a readership growing a hundred times faster than the New Yorker (hundreds of people).

Big computers are silly. They use lots of power and are not nearly as efficient as properly networked Dell boxes (at least that's the way it works at Yahoo and Google). Big boom boxes are replaced by tiny ipod shuffles. (Yeah, I know big-screen tvs are the big thing. Can't be right all the time).

Today, little companies often make more money than big companies. Little churches grow faster than worldwide ones. Little jets are way faster (door to door) than big ones.

Today, Craigslist (18 employees) is the fourth most visited site according to some measures. They are partly owned by eBay (more than 4,000 employees) which hopes to stay in the same league, traffic-wise. They're certainly not growing nearly as fast.

Small means the founder makes a far greater percentage of the customer interactions. Small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them, quickly.

Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to change the business model when your competition changes theirs.

Small means you can tell the truth on your blog.

Small means that you can answer email from your customers.

Small means that you will outsource the boring, low-impact stuff like manufacturing and shipping and billing and packing to others, while you keep the power because you invent the remarkable and tell stories to people who want to hear them.

A small law firm or accounting firm or ad agency is succeeding because they're good, not because they're big. So smart small companies are happy to hire them.

A small restaurant has an owner who greets you by name.

A small venture fund doesn't have to fund big bad ideas in order to get capital doing work. They can make small investments in tiny companies with good (big) ideas.

A small church has a minister with the time to visit you in the hospital when you're sick.

Is it better to be the head of Craigslist or the head of UPS?

Small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big.

Don't wait. Get small. Think big.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We are back !

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Sample Website Goals & Objectives

Craig Borysowich (Chief Technology Tactician)


Project ABC will provide a Web-enabled sales force automation system.


The goals of the project include:

Process Focused Goals:

· Improve flexibility and ability to respond to Marketing initiatives.

· Improve system accuracy and responsiveness.

· Improve performance measurement and reporting capability.

· Reduce administrative overhead and cost of commissioning.

· Improve financial analysis, controls, and audit capability.

Business Focused Goals:

· Increase quality.

· Reduce delivery time.

· Reduce cost.

· Implement change faster.

Management Focused Goals:

· Manage risk better.

· Improve reliability of budgets and schedules.

· Provide a better working environment.

Engineering Focused Goals:

· Provide greater integration of engineering principles into the process.


Project ABC will replace the functionality of the following pre-existing systems:

· Sales Commissions System,

· Sales Manager Compensation System,

· Branch Unit Commissions and Sales,

· Daily Sales Report.

Project ABC will provide the functionality described in the Project ABC Phase II Business Analysis summary.

Critical Success Factors

The success of the project will be evaluated against the following criteria:

· Decrease time-to-market.

· Reduce new compensation plan development time by 50%.

· Reduce bonus development time by 50%.

· Improve target incentive opportunities.

· Improve representative and branch productivity by 2%.

· Reduce field effort spent on statement review by 50%.

· Reduce unassigned accounts.

· Reduce cost and effort.

· Reduce number of adjustments by 80%.

· Maintain % adjustments flat with new plan/bonus introduction.

· Reduce finance commissions systems front-end support requirements by 50%.

· Reduce system maintenance cost by 20%.

· Eliminate 95% of transactions performed by HQ Commissions Systems.

· Empower field to initiate 95% of transactions.

· Reduce HQ ad hoc programming by 20%.

· Reduce field ad hoc programming.

· Reduce process cycle time.

· Reduce statement distribution time by 50%.

· Process all adjustments within 30 days.

· Calculate all monthly commissions within 12 hours.

· Implement Compensation Plan system changes within 30 days of receipt.

· Reduce number of manual payroll adjustments by 50%.

· Improve financial control.

· Increase audit recovery payments by 10%.

· Reduce growth in commissions expense.

Identifying your Website Objectives

Craig Borysowich (Chief Technology Tactician)

Gain an understanding of the goals and objectives of the organization. Review the organization's mission statement. Focus on:

· what the organization does,

· how they do it,

· why they do it.

Prepare Site Mission Statement

Prepare a statement of the purpose of the site. Make sure the site is aligned with the overall objectives of the organization. Briefly describe in a paragraph or less the main goal. For example, the site may be intended as a reference source, a marketing tool, a training support vehicle or an electronic commerce venture.

Define Goals and Objectives

Expand on the goals identified in the statement of purpose. Be more specific about the objectives and indicate how and when the success of the site is to be measured. Include both short-term (i.e., six months to a year) and long-term (i.e., a year or more) objectives. Consider the implications for ongoing site maintenance. This sample shows the goals and objectives for a Web-enabled sales force automation system.

Identify the Audience

To be successful, the Web site design needs to meet the needs of its potential users. Take into consideration the following factors:

· knowledge,

· skills,

· background,

· needs and expectations,

· frequency of use,

· tools and browsers,

· bandwidth,

· language,

· terminology,

· culture.

Often the site design must be flexible enough to accommodate both the novice and occasional user as well as experienced and frequent users.

Determining What a Website will Include

Craig Borysowich (Chief Technology Tactician) Posted 12/31/2007
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Prepare a high-level outline of the information content to appear on the site. Identify the sources of the information.

Chunk the Information

Start breaking the information into a logical organization (e.g., chronological, or sequential). Organize the information by a consistent theme such as user audience, task, topic, chronology when age is important (e.g., newsletter), or use a hybrid of two or more groupings.

Identify the Features

Identify the functional requirements of the site. These are the high level business processes that the site will support.

Tips and Hints

The content and features included on each site depend on the site objectives and must be defined for each site. Here are some common elements that frequently occur on Web sites to consider when planning your site:

· home page,

· what's new page,

· submenu pages for large sites,

· link page to other related sites,

· frequently asked questions page.

Organizing Website Content

Craig Borysowich (Chief Technology Tactician) Posted 12/31/2007
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Develop an organizational structure for the site as a container to hold the information content and functionality. The structure should:

· show hierarchy (importance and generality),

· show relationships between the chunks of information,

· be functional (usability).

For example, consider the following organizational structures proposed in the Web Style Guide:

· linear,

· hierarchical,

· tabular,

· web.

Linear Structure

A linear structure presents the information in the order it is intended to be read. Generally, this approach does not work in an on-line, hyperlinked environment. However, it is useful in some cases to present a small amount of information where order is important (e.g., the steps to follow in a process).

Hierarchical Structure

A hierarchy classifies the information and presents it as a tree structure to the user. For example, a hierarchy can be based on priority with the most important information appearing higher in the tree and the least important on the bottom. It can also subdivide the information by going from the more general to the more specific.

Tabular Structure

A tabular structure presents information in a grid. The reader follows either a vertical path to obtain more detail on a specific topic, or a horizontal path to view information on the same level for a closely related topic. There is no hierarchy of importance to the information.

Web Structure

A web essentially has no structure. The user can jump easily from one element of information to any other element. This type of structure relies on the user's knowledge of the information for navigation.







· simple structure

· works well for narratives that flow in a logical or chronological order

· useful for presenting sorted information (e.g., glossary)

· in general, works best for small sites or for displaying indexes


· provides a structure for organizing complex information

· hierarchical organizations are familiar and easy to understand

· easy for users to remember the site structure

· requires thought and planning to develop the right organization


· works for presenting information topics using the same categories (e.g., course curriculum, catalog)

· user must understand the relationships between the information categories


· most flexible

· least structured

· confusing to use, relies on the user's knowledge of the information to navigate the site


For very large Web sites, consider using sub-sites as a way to further divide the main site. The elements within a sub-site share the same organizational structure and graphical look and feel. Sub-sites within the main site may vary in their organizational structure.