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What I've Learned in Business So Far...

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Artisan Fan, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    A nice essay from Edward Tufte about PowerPoint, and the decline of Western thought.

    Evidence?
     
  2. Eason

    Eason Senior member

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    I've got some essays I could share from this week that evidence the decline of Eastern thought.
     
  3. MasterW

    MasterW Member

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    Thank you very much for this thread, i am subscribing right away. I think this is the best thread ever on the style forum. No offense to anybody.
     
  4. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Evidence?

    Just read the damned essay. And if that doesn't work, take one of his classes.

    Or if you prefer, I can dribble out an explanation in bullet points, one every 10 seconds.
     
  5. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Just read the damned essay. And if that doesn't work, take one of his classes.

    Or if you prefer, I can dribble out an explanation in bullet points, one every 10 seconds.


    I've read Tufte's books and I am reluctant to spend more money to get the essay. I guess his issue is with the poor practices of many PPT users but that is not the same as using properly when it becomes an effective tool.
     
  6. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    Curiosity - what is the opposite of an ad-hominem attack (i.e., using an unsupported thesis of someone who is considered an expert in a related field as fact)?

    And before you say Tufte is not an expert in this field, his thesis is on the quality of western thought. His expertise is in the visual representation of quantitative data, which is not actually the goal of every powerpoint.
     
  7. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Curiosity - what is the opposite of an ad-hominem attack (i.e., using an unsupported thesis of someone who is considered an expert in a related field as fact)? And before you say Tufte is not an expert in this field, his thesis is on the quality of western thought. His expertise is in the visual representation of quantitative data, which is not actually the goal of every powerpoint.
    I have three of Tufte's books as we were encouraged to read them at McKinsey for presenting better charts and diagrams. I think Tufte is a true expert on the chart/diagrams/visuals front, but I don't think he is recognized as a PowerPoint expert like Gene Zelazny is. There are lots of bad PPT presentations but I don't think it is the fault of the software tool. It is user error. Read my friend Shaun Rein's Forbes column. If you follow his rules, your presentation will be engaging.
     
  8. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Business Meetings: It's Not about Me or My Company I work for a pretty great organization and we usually get things right. Today on a morning call we did not. We had a major retail client of ours tell us in a prior meeting they had 5 pain points which with time and analyses we narrowed down to a nice digestable three pain points. I created a superb deck on solving these three challenges through a new technology foundation, consumer insights, and media mix optimization. Everyone on the account team was really happy with our story. So far so good. With just a business day to go, our retail head decided we needed to go in for a third time and do the "show up and throw up" meaning a capabilities pitch where we talk about My Company's Greatness. Never a good move. Result? Disaster. Paraphrasing the client's words..."this is high level, we were looking for tactics to solve the pain points we previously discussed." Takeaways: 1. Always frame your discussions with how you are going to solve the client's biggest issues. 2. If you don't know your client's pain points, then you and your sales/consulting team is not ready for the meeting. 3. Give a voice to everyone on the team. In this instance, decisions were made by salespeople that did not understand or know the story the consulting team had put together. The very best and largest deals are closed by a team that has genuinely collaborated on solving the problem. No single salesperson can craft the best solution on multi-million dollar opportunities.
     
  9. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Curiosity - what is the opposite of an ad-hominem attack (i.e., using an unsupported thesis of someone who is considered an expert in a related field as fact)?

    I think that would fall under "appeal to authority"
     
  10. Valor

    Valor Senior member

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    2 hour meetings at 9pm about legal phrasing are not fun.
     
  11. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    2 hour meetings at 9pm about legal phrasing are not fun.

    Agreed. In my view, a 2 hour meeting at 8AM is not even more fun.
     
  12. munchausen

    munchausen Senior member

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    Meetings are not fun. Seriously, I realize that they are necessary, but they also tend to waste a lot of time at most companies. And for every person attending the meeting the time wasted increases exponentially.
     
  13. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Meetings are not fun. Seriously, I realize that they are necessary, but they also tend to waste a lot of time at most companies. And for every person attending the meeting the time wasted increases exponentially.

    This is sadly so true. Soon I will (in this thread) write some guidelines to quality meetings.
     
  14. Saturdays

    Saturdays Senior member

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    Thanks for this thread.

    I will begin researching and start using this information ASAP.
     
  15. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    This is sadly so true. Soon I will (in this thread) write some guidelines to quality meetings.
    look forward to it.

    I live in Asia, home of three hour meetings where the only thing resolved is the time of the next meeting.

    Combating this, I have tended to err a lot on the side of working session style meetings, otherwise I find that people go away and do not do what they have committed to.

    Get it done while we are here, it makes the meeting 45 mins longer, but the takeaways about three hours shorter...

    May or may not work for others.
     
  16. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    Good point Matt. We talked a lot about presentations, but even in other meetings, it's key to know your audience. If you are in a consensus culture, bring limited but fully baked options. If it's a top down culture... You might wnt to vet yor ideas privately with an influenced first.

    Also, a meeting should never be shorter than it needs to be.... But long is bad. Even for working sessions, if you are going over an hour or two, there is a good chance the goal o the meeting is too ambitious. If you break things down, you can have shorter sessions with fewer people.

    Also... The more frequently a meeting repeats, the shorter I make it. And if I have a daily meeting and there is no new info, I will always cancel. That signals attendees that if I did not cancel, they will miss something important if they skip. It signals to me that if I'm canceling too often, it's time to scale back to a twice weekly instead of a daily.
     
  17. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Guide to Meetings, Part 1 Here are some guidelines I have found keep business meetings productive: 1. A meeting should have a leader, and one with authority to help guide discussion. 2. A meeting should have an agenda with some strict time allotments if multiple concepts are discussed. 3. All "stakeholders" or people with a personal/financial/ business interest in the meeting should be identified and the meeting should be structured to produce a beneficial outcome for as many stakeholders as possible. 4. Meetings that include more than six people should be scrutinized. The old saying "too many cooks in the kitchen" applies in spades to meetings. 5. A meeting should have an "End in Mind" meaning that a goal of some decision or deliverable should be detailed. What work product is needed or required by the end of the meeting? A road map of future tasks? A business decision? Assignment of task leaders and schedule? A presentation? A storyline for RFP or presentation? 6. If there are stakeholders present with competing political or business agendas, the meeting Leader should have the authority to consider fairly all input and be in a position to decide which way to go even if a stakeholder disagrees. 7. If the meeting involves sales or consulting projects, the meeting should be designed to meet that client's goals, not internal goals. This is much easier typed or said than done. 8. Most meetings should last less than an hour. In my personal experience, more time than that vastly increases the chance that the meeting will become less focused and meander all over the place. 9. Great consideration should be given to any presentations in a meeting which need more than half the meeting's time. It's hard to have a discussion if one is viewing 45 minutes of PPT and have only 15 minutes to discuss. There are exceptions but this is a general rule. 10. If a series of meetings is needed, then development of a Project Plan is essential. A Project Plan will include a timeline of tasks, assigned people for completing the tasks, and major work streams for each task. Ideal Plans will have a "progress review" at 1 or 2 places to make sure the collective team is on track to deliver properly.
     
  18. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Rules for Email 1. Read each email at least twice before hitting the send button. It takes time but it is worth it. 2. Include as few people as possible on the "To:" line but have all the required "stakeholders". Unless for an exception like Covering Your Ass, it is amazing how some might object to innocent email content. Yes, you want to keep senior people involved but they suffer often from email overload. Be sensitive to that. 3. Keep emails short and if you have to have a lengthy message, a 2-3 line summary is best. 4. Keep subject lines short but give enough data to be recognizable. 5. Think three times about using the "High Importance" flag. Some people are very sensitive to this and only want to see it in emergency/highly time sensitive use. 6. Think strongly about the perceived "tone" in your email. You don't have to be overly nice but words and tone don't come through in email easily. Think about the possibility of negative language or strong words being unfairly misconstrued. 7. Have a professional looking signature, ideally in proper company format. 8. Indicate due dates where important. If you need an answer by tomorrow, then politely let people know. 9. Be careful with attachments. Carefully select the right document and keep size to a manageable amount or use Dropbox, your firm's Sharepoint or other file transfer site. Make sure you are sending the most current document. Use the minimize function in Adobe for small pdfs to get large PPT decks into manageable 3-5 mb file sizes. 10. Respond promptly to legitimate email inquiries. It may take time on a busy day but it look really good for you as many people don't always do this. The perception is that you are on the ball. If you don't have the answer or solution right away let the sender know you are doing X to get the task done and it will likely be done by Y and the next step may be Z.
     
  19. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

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    I'd add

    11. Be absolutely sure you mean it before hitting reply all.

    12. If you BCC someone, tell them, and make sure they understand the recipient of the mail is unaware they saw it. I have personally seen this one lead to ALL SORTS of problems.
     
  20. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    I'd add

    11. Be absolutely sure you mean it before hitting reply all.

    12. If you BCC someone, tell them, and make sure they understand the recipient of the mail is unaware they saw it. I have personally seen this one lead to ALL SORTS of problems.


    I like #11 and it is related to #1. #12 is excellent.
     

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