…to becoming a consultant, and it hasn’t allowed much time for blog posts. My last post was about 10 months ago - right about the time I was asked to take on finance and administration for Archetype.
Back in 2011, when I left my work in the manufacturing and supply chain world to strike out as a management consultant, I knew that things would be different, but I had no inkling that a string of events would land me in the role of VP of Finance.
I started down this path when, in addition to my consulting work, I took on several internal projects. One of those was the implementation of our SRP application - the services version of an ERP system. This put me elbow-deep into our financial systems and processes as I worked out the integration.
Because of this, when a transition left us in need of someone to lead Archetype’s finance and administration, I agreed to step into the role. I had some brushing up to do as it had been a long time since my formal training in accounting and finance. Between getting back up to speed and the inevitable sorting out required by any transition there hasn’t been a lot of time to spend creating new posts.
Even so, I’ve been jotting down notes and thoughts on several topics over the last few months and I think it’s time to start sharing a few of them. For instance, did you know that, during the 1970s, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the U.S. Army were proving out a basic management truth that any organization would do well to learn? More to come.
|—||Berkshire Hathaway director Thomas Murphy to Warren Buffet|
|—||Erik Sherman, Inc. Magazine|
S&OP = Sales and Operations Planning. Essentially, it is a formal process that helps your Marketing, Sales and Operations groups coordinate their activities. Have you ever had Marketing discontinue a product a couple weeks after Operations ordered a year’s supply of a unique part for that product? Or maybe Sales runs a promotion on an item without telling Operations to gear up for an expected spike in demand. How about a warehouse move, machine overhaul or systems upgrade right before a high volume period or critical new product launch? A robust S&OP process remedies these kinds of problems creating an organization where the right hand knows what the left is doing. Here is a good overview of the process: http://www.bizforum.org/whitepapers/CSC-1.htm
VOC = Voice of (the) Customer. It is essential for organizations to listen to what their customers are saying about vital issues such as brand, quality, features, convenience and price to name just a few. This means being able to both hear and process the meaning of what is heard. Without both aspects, the organization is listening impaired and experiences either corporate deafness or meaningless noise. Listening impairment can also come in the form of selective hearing. For example, have you ever dealt with an executive who wanted to make enterprise course changes based on feedback from a recently discovered niche web forum, a few youtube pundits or a conversation with a family friend at a Christmas party? While I certainly don’t speak from personal experience, and I’m sure that never happens at your organization, I have heard that those kinds of things have occurred once or twice somewhere else.
For the VOC to be effective it must be heard, processed for meaning within context, and then actionable. Once this happens, it is incredibly powerful. Just imagine if the VOC was considered as decisions were made across your enterprise - from the back office to the front lines. What impact would it have?
If you want some in-depth information on VOC programs, this is a comprehensive article: http://bit.ly/nZauRX Fair warning: you have to wade through some annoying ads at first, but it’s worth clicking “skip this ad” a few times.
I guess file this one under “pet peeves.” I am always irked by the mythology surrounding sales and salespeople. I get the feeling that most people see salesfolks as students of the dark arts. When buying from them, as the attitude goes, you must approach with defenses up and talismans at the ready lest they bend your will with their wicked wiles. Employers, on the other hand, often bank on this ability hoping to notice a witches’ mark during the interview. There is no doubt that unscrupulous salespeople are the source of this occultist mystique. Indeed the canny sometimes capitalize on these mindsets. Using creative techniques that would make a fortune teller jealous they foster the illusion that they are a maestro of the art of the deal: able to conjure rain through preternatural powers of persuasion. By producing results under this shroud of illusion the salesperson becomes insulated from many of the standard forms of accountability. Almost inevitably, this leads to the employer tolerating all sorts of bad behavior which then reinforces the negative image of sales and salespeople.
In reality, if true results are being achieved, beneath all the sleight of hand is some form of a standard sales process. Prospecting, follow-up, qualifying, needs assessment through good questioning, presentations, objection handling and closing are all happening at some level. Perhaps these processes are hidden to make it appear as if the results stem from some form of hocus-pocus, but they are there. No basketball player can contribute to a winning team without being outstanding at dribbling, passing, layups and shooting. In the same way, no salesperson can produce consistent high performance without mastery of the mundane but foundational sales skills. The hocus-pocus is reserved for pulling the wool over the eyes of their managers and co-workers.