Strategy, It Ain’t That Simple

No it’s not. The first post is just an attempt to bring some really simple clarity to a topic that seems – in business circles – to have a lot of smoke and mirrors applied to it. I suppose that if you make your audience blind then you can charge to clear the air. Hey, welcome to the world of average Management Consulting!

Very sadly – for me – I was lying awake at 0530h thinking about the previous post of Strategy vs Tactics. It’s not simple and I think that the other key point to make is that you can also have a sub-strategy to achieve your overall strategy. I have even heard the overall strategic objective of being “there” instead of “here” not being referred to as strategy but a goal. I think these kind of differences are semantics and tend to involve more smoke and more mirrors. Use the term you are comfortable with but understand that the tactics – individual actions – differ.A Chinese bamboo book, open to display the bin...

There is of course the way that you go about achieving the overall strategic objective. I would also call this a strategy. E.g.: do you batter the front door down or tiptoe around the side and look for an open window? I am not trying to teach you individual strategies here – this is the Sun Tzu stuff I referred to in the previous post – suffice it to say that most people seem to go for the batter the door down approach when there are many many more elegant and efficient ways to achieve your strategic goal. They have a problem for some in that they are inherently more intellectually demanding and less about brute force.

Ask yourself, are you smart or just massively strong?

The Ten Rules For Dating My Daughter

This still makes me laugh and my daughter is not even a teenager yet. I was doing some electronic housekeeping on the PC, stumbled over this that was sent to me when our daughter was born. Although I like to believe I am progressive and liberal this strikes a chord deep inside.

  1. If you pull into my driveway and beep you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.
  2. If you can’t keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.
  3. I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your trousers ten sizes too big, and I will not object.
    Clown trousers

    Clown trousers (Photo credit: Eleventh Earl of Mar)

    However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

  4. I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising a `barrier method` of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.
  5. It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is `early.`
  6. I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.
  7. As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Forth Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?
  8. The following places are NOT appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka-zipped up to her throat. Ice Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.
  9. Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a pot-bellied, balding, middle-aged, dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.
  10. Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over Now Zad. When my NBC injections start acting up the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside

Background But No Skills. Is This How The Mums Feel?

As mentioned previously – one of the reasons for this blog is to make an up to date digital footprint out there in the ether. My CV is located here.

The reason for this post is that I have been turning over and over in my head the remarks a supposedly good recruiter made to me. He said, “the problem you face Dominic is that you have a strong background but no skills.” Go figure.

I am in a be nice to all mode – hence not naming him – but I was speechless. How exactly is this possible, to have a background but no skills? Did they just up and go one night while I slept?

I guess this was his way of saying “no thanks mate, you’re not for me” etc etc. I guess the time I have taken off to look after my daughter has rotted my brain and in true homeopathic style I just have an imprint left by my background, that’s all.

I now have a previously unimagined level of empathy with the skilled and competent mothers who come back to work after a child-rearing break and are gently side-lined into roles far below their capability. I have had it suggested to me on more than one occasion that I need to take several steps back. Obviously my brain is mush and this is a safe thing to do.

People are still people. Customers are still customers. They have the same basic needs, hopes, aspirations and desires that they had 3,4,5 or even 50 years ago. There seems to be a view amongst some recruiters – often the males I am ashamed to say – that looking after a child is some easy opt out and really means I am work-shy and yes; my skills have vanished.

Oddly, I retain the skills that I acquired before selling my firm. I think I have acquired more as I didn’t spend my spare  time watching Jeremy Kyle/Jerry Springer.

Quote of the day

Made me laugh out loud.

The author Shalom Auslander being interviewed on Amazon…

If you could recommend just one “must-read book” to anyone, what would it be and why?

I would recommend anything by me. This is because I’m self-centered, and broke.

The Emperors New Clothes

When you employ an expert – because you aren’t an expert in an area – like an agency, then you invest your belief as well as your money. After all, to pay for a service and then not have faith in your ability to choose is unlikely. This makes it very hard to see if you are being given good service. Who here is a fan of sticking their hand up and coughing to making a poor choice? Not me and I’d call you a liar if you said otherwise.

I am seeing a friend getting messed around in this way at the moment and am trying to balance the “cruel to be kind” bit w. just butting out. They are starting a business, have invested huge amounts of time, energy & I daresay money and they are getting v. poor service and advice on their website. 9 months after conception they go live today and the site isn’t functioning in Firefox and Chrome. After IE the most popular browsers out there. I thought this was Testing 101 to make sure the 3 main browsers were supported. When over 50% of browser users will have problems it just isn’t good enough.It looks like a tweaked WordPress template – nothing wrong with that – and yet it is still being messed up.

English: Browser usage share on Wikimedia Foun...

Browser market share

I’d big them up on this blog as I think it is a great business idea and really addresses an untapped market niche. However, I don’t want to have anything to do with driving traffic to a flawed site as it’ll hurt and not help at this stage.

I point out some errors on p.1 of the site (multiple) and now feel like I am the little boy saying that the emperor is naked. What do you suggest?

I want to suggest they fire the developers – have 2 days of pain sorting this mess out now and go with a good agency. side-a for example. Simon Ashley would do them proud with quality work and advice.

Steam in and share my experience or butt out?

Regards; The Sales Department…

A customer engages with you via email. You reply. The email obviously has an automatic signature. So what? For pity’s sake use a real name. Hank, Bill, Zachary, Claire, Emma, whatever. A pseudonym will do as I have no idea.

I just received an email signed “Regards, Sales Dept”. I wrote back – politely – suggesting that they use a name and the person at the other end, with no irony whatsoever , offered a reply to my original query and signed off “Regards, Sales Dept”. It’s enough to make you start looking for the hidden cameras. Or weep with despair.

The learning?

Email is accepted as a person to person medium so whatever the size of your business make your customer feel like they are dealing with a person. It shows a good deal of contempt for the customer not to bother to engage them on a personal level. What’s more, this is a no cost way of making your service personal. Who’d miss that one?

Messing About In Golfs

I dropped in to see Simon Ashley of Fatdaddy fame from side-a today as he is my old smoking buddy, before I quit. Still a good friend though – in case he reads this!

Simon was very diplomatic in telling me that the current theme was rubbish and then immediately set about educating me in taste – a thankless and unrewarding task for him. Given that I am not keen to chuck money at this enterprise quite yet I left agreeing to change the free theme on WordPress. Voila, I hope you like it Simon because I don’t intend changing it every few days.

As this is a blog about the many facets of the customer I felt I ought to pay an homage to Apple with the previous theme as they have excellent customer service. This is obviously the result of a customer focus ethos that goes to the heart of their business. I think they are just as obsessed with the end-user as Johnny Ives is with product design. Although I am an Android user with an iClone I appreciate the aesthetic beauty and simplicity of the Apple designs. They seem to set the way and everyone else is falling over themselves to be “like Apple”. Reminds me of the great VW Golf ad we have in the UK. It ends with of car salesman demonstrating his wares and ending by assuring the prospect that, “it’s just like a Golf“.

Quotes I Like

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”  Oscar Wilde

“If you don’t know how, know who.” – Anon