Showing posts from September, 2010

What a customer-driven manager looks like

Yesterday my supervisor reminded me to finish a task she's been gently asking me to finish for months now. It involved designing a web page in Sharepoint, an internal catalogue of outreach publications that our field offices can use to find what's available and get copies. When it's live, it will save them and us a lot of time. They'll be able to see what's available and order it quickly rather than making phone calls back and forth till they get the answer they need.On the surface I had valid reasons for the delay. It's true that I had been pulled onto other projects and the system wouldn't easily do what she wanted.But on reflection there were other things going on too. Things that were blocking me from moving forward, but that I wasn't addressing directly. Instead I chose to avoid the task. They were:Fear of looking incompetent by trying and failing - after all, "I have a rep to protect" as the technical expert in the office.Ego about the p…

The Best Grocery Store In The World Doesn’t Exist – For These 10 Reasons

My grandfather, may he rest in peace, opened a small grocery store in Toronto after the Holocaust. To hear my dad talk about it, "everybody" in the Jewish community who passed through town saw the sign, frequented the store, and many met my grandfather there too.

Zayde's store was nice because it was small, homey, tasteful, and completely focused on its audience. If you were a Jewish mom doing her weekly shopping before the Sabbath, everything you could possibly need would be on those shelves. Not a million brands, but at least one of each thing.

The store also worked because my Zayde was a rabbi. Not that he blessed the food (you could die from the liver knishes) but he was part of the community and the lifestyle that the store supported. It was about money of course, but it was also more. Without his store it would have been harder to be an observant Jew in Toronto.

Because I loved my Zayde, I loved his store. It’s long since closed, but sometimes I think about it, especi…

What do you do to be more efficient?

I know this isn't the most spiritual resolution in the world, but this Jewish New Year I resolved to become more efficient even though I actually have a reputation for being pretty well-organized. Still when I looked carefully I saw a bit of time bloat going on. Here are some things that I decided to do, that I think I actually can do. Keeping in mind that if you don't have time to do great things in will never do them.

1 - Food prep at night

Let's face it, eating out is expensive and when you stop keeping track you can end up buying a breakfast sandwich, a lunch salad, and a dinner that you don't even like all that much just because you feel crunched for time. Plus if you have kids in school you hassle over what they're going to eat because even if they can buy lunch it won't be all that healthy. By preparing (not cooking; I can't cook) the next day's food the day before, all I have to do is spend half an hour in the a.m. nuking it and packing…

Psychotic Rats Don’t Build Great Brands

I heard a good lecture the other day on the importance of integrated communications (a.k.a., branding). It reinforced what I knew, but I enjoyed hearing it anyway. The speaker emphasized that you should make sure everyone in your company, no matter who they’re talking to, says the same thing about what kind of organization you are. The consistency, and the repetition, helps to create a strong positive identity that serves as a kind of photo frame for your everyday communications. Otherwise, it’s like you’re starting from scratch every time you reach out to the public. Or, worse, you confuse them with contradictory messages so that you start from zero. In the federal government, a good example is the contrast between the FBI and the CIA. They have each done a good job of defining themselves, so that you pretty much know an FBI-type when you see one and you know that the CIA-type is the complete opposite. All other differences aside, for me the key is the approach to mission – “inside th…