Business operations

Microsoft Lists Explained

October 15, 2020

 

For all who are working with Microsoft Office 365, Hugo Bernier has provided a series of posts to help navigate the software. In this post, he explains how to work with rules in Microsoft Lists.

Over the last few years, Microsoft has done an amazing job at modernizing SharePoint.

It used to be that the first question my clients would ask me when I would start a new engagement was “How can we make SharePoint not look like SharePoint?”.

Now, most engagements start with “How can we make our old SharePoint sites look more like the new SharePoint sites?”.

That’s a testament to the hard work of folks at Microsoft. They’ve changed how you edit SharePoint pages and sites to make it easier for everyone to quickly design beautiful content.

But lists in SharePoint have not changed at the same pace. Sure, they got a slightly updated look and feel (well, some lists, anyway), but they were still not easily approachable for every user.

With Microsoft Lists, Microsoft seems to be doing to Lists what the SharePoint team did to pages. They are modernizing them and making them much easier to use for everyone.

They’re still lists behind the scenes, but they’re no longer relegated to being hidden in a site somewhere. They’re becoming first-class citizens in Microsoft 365, crossing the boundaries of SharePoint, Groups, and Teams.

I already covered the lists templates, but in today’s post, I’ll explain how you can easily build rules to notify someone, and how rules will continue to evolve to do a lot more.

 

Key points covered in this article include:

  • Creating a rule
  • Editing a rule
  • Why put rules under automate?

 

Access the full article, Working with Rules in Microsoft Lists, on the Tahoe Ninjas website.

 

A Framework to Manage the Disruption of Covid 

 

With the pandemic hitting the second wave and going nowhere fast, Boris Galonske shares a comprehensive framework and downloadable PDF playbook designed to guide companies through critical infrastructure operations during major disruptions such as: pandemics.

The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key.

Situation today

A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus spreads across global regions comes as a surprise. Research organisations and networks uncover new facts almost on a daily basis.

Medical researchers fast-track efforts to come up with medical interventions which in the best case will be available by year end.

Politicians and financial experts carve out policy mechanisms targeted at coping with the economic consequences of the pandemic – short-term and longer-term.

Although corporations also need to review their exposures and identify mitigation mechanisms, maintaining robust operations of critical infrastructure (e.g. IT, chemical plants, utility assets, power plants, chemical plants & sites, …) today is critical.

Hence, as vulnerability of operations increases, stabilising the management response and reducing complexity is key in order to maintain operational resilience.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • What stakeholders expect
  • How risks materialise
  • Monetizing digitization levers

 

Read the full article, Weathering the storm – Establishing a playbook for critical infrastructure operations, and download the PDF on Silverbergh.com.

 

Access Expert Inventory Management Tips 

September 26, 2020

 

Discover practical inventory management tips that can help your business grow in this post on Carlos Castelan’s company blog. 

For any products-based business, it’s hard to overstate the importance of inventory management. Not only does effective inventory management help you to evaluate the state of your business and reveal various roadblocks to your success, but it also helps you to keep operations running smoothly and ensure that your customers stay happy. And when your business is growing quickly, it becomes even more vital. As we talk to customers of all sizes, we have heard several themes -that’s why we’ve provided these inventory management tips for flourishing businesses:

Use Up-to-Date Software

One common mistake made by many companies is that they continue to use inventory management methods and/or software long after it has become obsolete. And it usually comes down to costs.

But as The Houston Chronicle’s website Chron explains, using archaic inventory management contributes to a host of problems that end up costing your company much more money than the price of quality, up-to-date software. Digitized tracking allows better forecasting, reduces errors, improves customer service, and enhances efficiency. Research the market, and you will likely find a number of cost-effective options that can transform your inventory management practices.

 

Key tips in this article include:

  • Improve your forecasting
  • Stick to FIFO
  • Audit your stock efficiently
  • Check your products

 

Read the full article, Is Your Business Growing? Consider These Practical Inventory Management Tips, on the Navio Group website.

 

Innovation Lies and Other Truths

September 22, 2020

 

Robyn M. Bolton takes a lesson learned from a fairy tale to illustrate truths.

I love stories.  When I was a kid, my parents would literally give me a book and leave me places while they ran errands.  They knew that, as long as I was reading, I wouldn’t be moved.

But there was one story I hated – The Emperor’s New Clothes

I hated it because it made absolutely no sense.  It was a story of adults being stupid and a kid being smart, and, to a (reasonably) well-behaved kid, it was absolutely unbelievable.

No adult would try to sell something that doesn’t exist, like the clothiers did with the cloth.  No adult would say they could see something they couldn’t, like the Emperor and the townspeople did.  Adults, after all, don’t play at imagination.

As a kid, this story seemed completely wild and unrealistic.

As an adult, this story is so true that it hurts.

The truth of this story touches so many things and innovation is at the top of the list.

I’ve spent my career working in innovation working within large companies and as an advisor to them.  I know what executives, like the emperor, request. I’ve said what the consultants say to sell their wares.  I believed all of it.

Now I need to be the kid and point out some of the lies, as I see them.

 

Lies identified in this article include:

Lie #1: Companies can disrupt themselves

Lie #2: If companies act like VCs, they’ll successfully innovate

Lie #3: We can pivot our way to success

 

Read the full article, The Innovator has No Clothes: Innovation’s 3 Great Lies, on the Mile Zero website.

 

Six Tips to Help Align Your Organization’s Go-to-market Approach from Strategy to Revenue

 

Stephen Redwood’s clients have been asking questions about how operating models will change post pandemic and how to accelerate time to market. He collaborated with Colin Taylor, to identify six priorities to focus on when rethinking your go-to-market (GTM) model.  

Cross-functional synchronization and alignment around a unified go-to-market approach is uncommon but has great value. Transforming your go-to-market approach can increase brand value, optimize growth investments, empower sales teams and accelerate time-to-revenue. This article discusses six tips to realizing this latent value in your organization:

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Minimize your limiters (decision making and hand-off hold-ups) and maximize your accelerators (streamlined processes, formal collaboration mechanisms, clear accountabilities)
  • Build a single company-wide model to establish a trusted and consensus view of all the interlocked go-to-market activities working together
  • Clarify accountabilities and devolve decision making closer to hand-offs across the business system
  • Build a company-wide, shared sense of accountability into processes and KPIs. Establish cross business communities that bring together critical silos at the intersections of hand-offs
  • Adjust goals, provide training, communicate continuously, and keep leaders on point
  • Establish oversight mechanisms to ensure the system is continuously updated to keep it relevant

 

Read the full article, Why is our go-to-market so inefficient and slow?, on LinkedIn.

 

Do You Have the Heart of a Survivor?

 

Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength.

The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst a winter blizzard, which made flights a non-option. Enter Togo, a Siberian husky who led a team of sled dogs and covered hundreds of miles at record-breaking speed in a deadly storm to (obviously) deliver the serum, and save the day.

The premise of this (real life) story from 1925 itself gives one an instant connection to the times we live in, even if it is almost a century removed from the present day. However, watching this Disney movie a few days ago, as I munched microwave-prepared popcorn, it wasn’t the epidemic that inspired me to pick this story as a reference—it was Togo, and what he could teach us, about triumphing in such turbulent times (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

 

Areas of interest in this article:

  • The importance of home
  • Operating processes
  • Steering your business

 

Read the full article, The Heart of a Survivor, on the Thrive Global website.

 

Redefine and Reorganize for Business Post COVID-19

 

Stephen Redwood has published a series of articles that draw from his experiences over a long career in consulting to help respond to the implications of COVID-19 and build strategies for the future. 

In the face of huge upheavals with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have few reference points on which to base decisions about how their organizations need to adapt to changing circumstances. Clients have asked me for my thoughts on how to frame their thinking. It’s early days so, as Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

Organization design is too often seen as a narrow set of considerations about roles and reporting relationships. This is way too reductive. The design of an organization should consider all the elements that affect how it functions. Particularly now, when so much outcome uncertainty exists, attention needs to be given to culture, metrics, and development opportunities to drive appropriate behavior change in people. From my conversations with clients and a variety of other sources, here are some early thoughts as we learn to respond to the implications of COVID-19 for how companies operate.

 

Included in this article:

  • Planning for the future
  • Redesigning processes
  • Redefining leadership
  • Long-term transitions

 

Read the full article, How will organization design be impacted by COVID-19?, on LinkedIn.

 

This Is the New Norm – Or Is It?

 

Diane Mulcahy explains why the current model of the office worker is difficult to change despite the evidence of increased productivity from the remote worker.

No one expected (or wanted) remote work to scale because of a virus and subsequent global pandemic. But, here we are. 

The battle for remote work has been ongoing. Employees want the choice and flexibility to work outside the office at least some of the time, but many companies and even more managers resist it. Will this short-term (at minimum) and large-scale experiment in remote work change that?

It’s hard to argue any other outcome. Once companies have the processes and tools in place, and the results of weeks, or even months, of remote working, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. 

That’s a good thing. The notion of mandatory daily employee attendance in the office is already obsolete. Not one – not one! – study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance. In fact, any data that exists on work in an office reveals that most employees aren’t engaged, waste a lot of time in the office not working, and that employee underperformance is a persistent problem, despite the omnipresence of management. Even worse, the direct costs of maintaining the traditional office-based workplace are high. CBRE estimates that the typical company in the U.S. spends upward of $12,000 per employee per year for office space. It’s hard to find a return-on-investment case for office space, and much harder still to find any company that makes a compelling one.

 

Included in this article:

  • Links to studies on remote workers
  • Key drivers of daily office attendance
  • Quality of work

 

Read the full article, Remote Work Is The New Norm. Will It Last?, on the Forbes website.

 

Applying Structure to Problem Solving

 

Davide Gronchi provides two simple tools that can help collect answers to powerful questions.

Advanced analytics and machine learning are some of the ready-to-use technologies that help discover correlations and drive conclusions out of complex data sets that often describe our business and production processes. This is very helpful to take decisions aiming to prevent something unwanted to happen e.g., set process parameter to X in order to obtain product spec within tolerance.

There are many other opportunities to eliminate “waste” out of business processes that don’t require complex tools and data scientist skills but “just” common sense and good leadership. Solving problems should always start with a clear definition of “what is the problem?” Often we mix up the symptoms with the root causes, by doing so we look for solutions to the symptoms but don’t eliminate the root cause. Guess what? The problem will be back very soon…

Following a structured problem-solving approach is not difficult but requires discipline and asking the right questions, what we call “powerful questions“. These are questions that make people thinking, typically open questions that require an articulated answer, not just a binary yes/no.

Asking powerful questions should be one of the core skills of good leaders: not solving problems themselves but helping their teams to do so. I believe many have forgotten this and risk to lead teams in endless problem solving rounds without sustainable and substantial results.

 

Included in this article:

  • Fishbone diagram
  • Pareto chart

 

Read the full article, The Simple Art of Problem Solving, on the Growing Operations Advisors website.

 

How to Prepare a Pandemic Playbook 

 

Boris Galonske offers direction on how to navigate the effects of COVID-19 in the form of a detailed outline of a playbook. 

The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key.

Situation today

A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus spreads across global regions comes as a surprise. Research organisations and networks uncover new facts almost on a daily basis.

Medical researchers fast-track efforts to come up with medical interventions which in the best case will be available by year end.

Politicians and financial experts carve out policy mechanisms targeted at coping with the economic consequences of the pandemic – short-term and longer-term.

Although corporations also need to review their exposures and identify mitigation mechanisms, maintaining robust operations of critical infrastructure (e.g. IT, chemical plants, utility assets, power plants, chemical plants & sites, …) today is critical.

Hence, as vulnerability of operations increases, stabilising the management response and reducing complexity is key in order to maintain operational resilience.

 

Information provided in this article:

  • What stakeholders expect
  • How risks materialize
  • Staying in control
  • How to proceed

 

Read the full article, Weathering the storm – Establishing a playbook for critical infrastructure operations, on the Silverberg website. 

 

Contagion Dynamics and the Economic Impact of COVID-19

 

Martin Pergler shares a couple of files on understanding COVID-19 contagion dynamics, and some of the tradeoffs of managing spread vs long term social/economic impact.

People seem to be increasingly internalizing and accepting efforts prudentially required to slow down COVID-19s exponential infection rates. And hopefully we’ll converge even more from the poles of “barricade ourselves behind hoarded toilet paper” and “what me worry, I don’t see a problem yet” behaviour. However, given differences in, and evolution over time of, testing and reporting around the world, we also need to get ahead of monitoring the evolution of the outbreak and its containment in different geographies. We’ve all seen the “buy time to flatten the curve” graphic many times by now, but I think we all hope we can minimize the area under the curve, not just flatten it.

With this in mind, I’m happy to see a paper on statistical time series modeling applied to localized contagion dynamics cross my desk, from Italy no less! Pretty technical in nature, and frankly there isn’t truly enough data to draw any actionable conclusions yet, but we’re going to need analysis of this type to be able to extrapolate sensibly going forward, and to judge to what extent containment approaches — including different intensities of social distancing — are working.

 

Read the full article, Coronavirus: monitoring change in contagion dynamics, and access links to the files on the Balanced Risk Strategies website. 

 

Tough Time Strategies

 

In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times. 

You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed.

Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt. What does that mean for your consulting firm and how should you respond?

I pulled together a couple dozen “to dos” for my consulting firm clients. Nine of them are presented below, leaving a space for you to fill in your recommendation for your own consulting firm and for other readers.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Client relations
  • Budget management
  • Partnership opportunities
  • Remote work and delivery

 

Read the full article, 10 Tough-times Strategies For Consulting Firms, on David’s website.

 

How to Make Every Meeting Productive

February 27, 2020

 

Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.

We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.

 

The strategies explained include:

  • Restating the point
  • Recapping the options
  • Identifying the key factors

 

Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.

 

Read the full article in the https://outlastllc.com/three-meeting-strategies-to-overcome-stagnation/

How to Avoid Falling into the Email Communication Trap

February 25, 2020

 

Jesse Jacoby taps into a common pain point in today’s business operations — the vague or misunderstood email — and provides an easy solution to overcome the problem. 

Connecting with coworkers, clients and customers has never been easier. Gone are the days when we had to drive across town to chat with someone in a different office. When we run into a challenge or have a question regarding our work, we have a plethora of communication tools at our fingertips: email, text, instant messaging, and the list goes on.

Yet, how many times have you received an email response or stared at a text feeling more frustrated and confused than when you started. In today’s fast paced world of electronic exchange, messages can easily be misinterpreted, and emotions can escalate quickly as a result. A curt interaction, even when softened with a cheerful emoticon, can really strike a nerve. Now, not only do you still have that lingering challenge to face or question to answer, you also have to manage the mounting frustration and annoyance attached to it.

 

Read the full article, Assume Positive Intent, in the Emergent Journal.

 

Facts and Data – Spot the Difference

February 12, 2020

 

Dan Markovitz identifies the difference between facts and data and why you need both to make a fully informed assessment. 

Taiichi Ohno said, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.” You can leave out the word “manufacturing,” and apply the concept to anything in your company or your life. Facts are more important than data.

When he talked about his preference for facts over data, he was urging people to go and see for themselves. Gathering facts comes from close observation of people, of objects, of spaces. 

By contrast, spreadsheets, reports, and anecdotal accounts are not facts. They’re data. They’re two-dimensional representations of reality, which makes it easy to jump to conclusions. 

Data tells you how often a machine breaks down on an assembly line. Facts—direct observation—show you that the machine is dirty, covered in oil, and hasn’t been cleaned and maintained in a long time.

Read the full article, Just the Facts, Ma’am, on the Markovitz website.

What Lean Means for the Work Week

 

Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.

 

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA, a financial advisory firm in Australia. 

Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Of course, software firm 37 Signals has been operating four-day work weeks over the summer since 2008. And New Zealand-based Perpetual Guardian believes in the four-day week so strongly that the founder created a non-profit to promote it. Indeed, a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management indicates that fifteen percent of companies offer a 32-hour workweek. 

 

Read the full article, It’s Not Time Management, It’s Lean, on his website.

Nine Signals to Flag Faulty Assumptions & Create Opportunities

David A. Fields explains why correct assumptions can quickly become wrong, and how to test the assumptions of your consulting practice to create new opportunities.

You throw your best efforts into delivering value for your consulting clients, improving your consulting firm’s marketing, and creating a rewarding consulting environment. Then you find your work was off by a bit. Or more than a bit. Or completely wrong. Pickles-in-peanut-butter wrong. That’s no fun.

Alas, I have bad news for you and me: we’re mistaken. About everything.

I also have good news: our mistaken assumptions represent a huge opportunity for our consulting firms.

 

The article identifies nine signals that could transform your consulting practice, including:

-Unexpected success signals

-Unexpected failure signals

-Closely held belief signals

-Two transformative questions

 

Read the full article, Signs Your Consulting Firm Is Operating on Faulty Assumptions,  on David’s company website.

Explaining the Need for Razor-Sharp Precision 

Luiz Zorzella moves beyond the buzzwords to explain how a razor-sharp vision, strategy, and plan inspires buy-in and achieves results.

 

If your organization is not delivering the results you expected, maybe one factor holding it back is a lack of razor-sharp precision.

Most business leaders would benefit from sharpening their strategies: employing more clear language (calling a sword a sword), more accurately defining strategic priorities and objectives. But few actually do it. For example, most financial services companies profess to be “client-centric”, but very few actually explain what that looks like. And if you survey the organization and ask how this principle of “being client-centric” applies to practical matters, you will obtain very different answers.

 

Read the full article, Your Business Needs Razor-Sharp Precision, on the Amquant website.

The Argument for Going to the Gemba

Dan Markovitz provides a reality check on the concept of management by walking around (MBWA); how the leaders at organizations embracing lean take a different approach, and why the latter is better than the former.

Theodore Kinni argues in Strategy + Business that leaders must practice management by walking around (MBWA), a concept popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their seminal book, In Search of Excellence. That’s the best way for them to stay connected to their businesses and understand what’s really happening with their customers. As Peters puts it, “The real meaning [of MBWA] was that you can’t lead from your office/cubicle.”

I’ve got no problem with the concept—after all, it’s similar to the lean precept of genchi gembutsu, or going to the gemba.

But here’s the problem with MBWA: it’s essentially unstructured.

 

Read the full article, Please, Not Another Argument for MBWA, on Dan’s website.

The Potential Cost Savings with  BPO and RPA

December 9, 2019

If you want to know more about the potential benefits, scope, pros and cons of business process outsourcing (BPO) and robotic process automation integration (RPA), check out this article from the knowledge hub on David Burnie’s company website.

 

Both BPO and RPA aim to achieve the goal of streamlining processes, achieving efficiency and increased productivity, and yielding cost benefits.

BPO and RPA implementations allow organizations to perform back office, internal, and call centre tasks efficiently quickly. This provides enterprises the benefits of overhead cost reduction, improved productivity, better quality, and more.

Both RPA and BPO are most applicable for business processes that are:

  1. Frequent – consistent daily/weekly volumes
  2. Repetitive – e.g. data entry tasks
  3. Rules-based – the process is defined by precise decision rules
  4. Streamlined – stable, without redundant steps.

 

Read the full article, Business Process Outsourcing and RPA Integration, on the BPO & RPA knowledge hub at The Burnie Group website.