Lean Engagement Team

The Virtual Individual 0

Dana Sednek Bowler specializes in eLearning, virtual meetings/collaboration, project management, analytics tools & strategies, and leadership facilitation. She puts these skills to work at Interaction Associates as the online learning manager.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Online

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:     Take the person who works online, all the time. Let’s say, out of their home, or they’re always virtual. What are some of the challenges they have? We need that human contact – can that be done just virtually or not?

Dana:    Definitely some challenges that folks who work from home can face in terms of that human connection and feeling like they’re connected to the workplace. Especially if they’re one of the lone few who are working remotely and everybody else is in the office, right? They’re going to miss that opportunity to have some of that time to be able to get to know their colleagues and their coworkers beyond just the work that they’re doing – get to know them on the human level. Like, the stuff that they like to do outside of work, or build friendships and relationships in that type of working situation. However, I don’t think that it can’t be done.

I actually have a lot of my colleagues and great collaborators whom I have never met face-to-face, and yet have built such a deep relationship with them because we have spent time virtually getting to know one another, beyond just the work product. We take the time out to say, “Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?” You know – what are the things that you like to do that really recharge your batteries when you’re outside of work. What are some of those things – and be able to take that time in the front-end of meetings to check in with each other beyond just the content or the results that we’re trying to achieve. If you have too much focus on results, you’re not attending to your personal relationships, or the relationships that actually help build and foster trust. That’s a critical component there. I think the other challenge that I’ve found myself – if I spend more than three weeks at my home office, not really interacting with anybody face-to-face, I seriously feel like I have atrophied skills with, like, networking and seeing people face-to-face. So I go out – if I’ve spent too long in my home office, then I go out to a networking thing or I go out to meet some people that happen to be work-related. I forget – what kind of questions should I be asking to get to know one another, like, I just forget about it, right? So, my skills atrophy, and I feel more awkward when I’m in a face-to-face environment. In order to combat that, I feel like, for me, it’s every two and half weeks is where I pretty much hit my mark where I actually need to have a human, face-to-face, contact in order to keep my skills sharp.

Joe:     So, you really should plan some type of business activity, or – can I go out with my bowling team and bowl, OK? I mean, would that be good enough?

Dana:     You know that’s interesting. I think that making sure that find time for both of those things when you’re working remotely is really critical and important. When I used to work for a company whose headquarters was on both coasts, and I was here in Denver – we actually had an office here in Denver, but I didn’t know anybody. Finding that collegial connection with others helps you become a continuous learner in your job and in your profession. So, I really do suggest taking time out for the types of things that you like – like going to bowling with your league, or, like I like to do, riding my road bike. That’s really critical because that gets you outside of the box of the stuff that you’re working on at work – but, similarly, it’s so important to be able to make connections in your network so that you can have conversations about stuff that you’re working on in general and get some kind of other expertise, or other expert insight into the work you’re doing so that you can maybe get a fresh perspective. At the same time, building these relationships for your network that are close to home, because you never know what happens in these days – one day you could find yourself working from home, and the next day you could find yourself not at that job anymore. What are the connections or networks that you fostered that can help you get your next job, or your next gig, or your next project.

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How Well are You Connecting? 0

In Kanban, we talk about how important it is to manage our work in process. In fact Jim Benson’s latest book is on that topic, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2). I have always thought that it was just as important for Sales People to manage their Work in Process or their contacts. I have written on it in the past and built Kanban boards accordingly. I seldom find agreement on this subject.

The closest source I have in agreeing with me on this subject is Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits. She appeared in a past podcast on Business901 which you can access the Podcast and Transcription here: Tuning your Business Network.

She uses her connecting rule base on the Dunbar number. From Wikipedia:

The Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.

I find her work fascinating and have incorporated it into my practice. Enclosed is a PDF of a Mind Map I created to implement her system.

Download PDF of Power Connector

How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits.


How Important Are Your Role Players 0

David Veech is the founding member of the Institute for Lean Systems and serves as its Executive Director. In this Podcast/Transcription: The Fun Side of Standard Work, I asked him about role players.

Joae: So you are saying that when you are building the team, you really do have to identify maybe even the roles within the team a little and get the right role players just like you need to build a basketball team up, let us say, or a football team, you have got to have the right role players. You have got to have a rebounder, and you’ve got to have a shooter, a passing guard or whatever.

David: Well and that is what the teams are going to find out. They are going to find out who is good at what. Even some lean organizations, even some key Toyota suppliers, even Toyota itself in Japan, they tend to have somebody kind of focused on one role. Where, to get the true benefits that I am talking about in this self-efficacy article, we really need them to do multiple things. We really need them to rotate. Now, at Kentucky, they rotate very effectively, but when we went to Japan to see them working at Toyota City, they did not rotate. Some of the key Toyota suppliers, they did not rotate.

We talked to some very expert people who were fantastic at their job, but that is the only job they get to do. Variety is one of the key pieces of a satisfying job. Despite the wonderful work environment that you might want to create, if your job sucks, your job sucks.

So, if there are jobs that suck and then jobs that do not suck quite so bad, I want you to do a variety of different things during the day. I think that will have a positive impact on a person’s feelings of their worth, their contribution and I think it will build better skills.

It is also safer because they work different muscle groups, and we have less of a chance of repetitive motion injuries and ergonomic problems. So it is really important to me that we drive this key rotation feature. So, that means the physical structure of the workplace, the engineering behind it, it has got to be in place too for the people stuff to really come out.

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Designing Your Online Experience 0

Dana Sednek Bowler specializes in eLearning, virtual meetings/collaboration, project management, analytics tools & strategies, and leadership facilitation. She puts these skills to work at Interaction Associates as the online learning manager. Dana Bowler

Interaction Associates is a leading global innovator of proven solutions that transform the way people work to deliver extraordinary business results, or, what we call, Return on InvolvementTM. The firm helps global organizations build high-involvement, collaborative cultures by developing their leaders, teams, and change agents. IA offers customized consulting, learning and development, and coaching services. It was named one of Training Industry’s Top 20 Leadership Training Companies 2012 – 2014, and was named to their Content Development Watch List in 2012 – 2014.

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Are Your Sales People Asking Disruptive Questions? 0

We have all heard of disruptive innovation, but just in case or if you need a quick overview from the creator:

Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. – See more at: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/#sthash.hJDd3P5u.dpuf

An open-ended question is one that encourages a person to volunteer more information. On the other hand, a closed-ended question can be answered with a simple yes or no response. We instruct, encourage and practice this form of questioning with our salesperson. It is the way we learn about the other influencers in the decision process, competitors and their pains and gains. It is the foremost weapon in a salesperson’s arsenal. Question

We always want to lead with questions to understand the customer’s pains and gains. Through that questioning, we find ways to deliver our product and service to satisfy those pains and gains. We do this by constructing a value proposition or value statement that resonates with our client. It is a simple process, but it is not easy either. The reason is because someone else might be able to construct a stronger value proposition.

Is the value proposition a red ocean strategy? Can we differentiate ourselves through a value proposition? Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in developing  solid value propositions and even drilling down with them to market segments. I even go further to develop value statements that can be used in finer tuning segments reaching further into tactical usages.

What if we were able to make a disruptive question? One that stopped a prospect in their tracks. One that appealed so directly to that individual market segment that it left you alone in the solution, in a Blue Ocean? Most companies according to the “Disruptive Innovation”theory end up producing products that are too sophisticated or expensive for a given market. I may take that a step further, and they say that they lose sight of those individual markets by generalization of their topics or their focusing questions.

A disruptive question will require you to know your customer well. It may require you to know your customer’s customer well. Can you remember the last time a salesperson asked you a question that made you stop and think?


What is our

Do You Push Your Sales People into the Unknown? 0

One of the mistakes, I think, that sales people have is thinking that they have to have answers. My thought is that I would rather have a salesperson that pulls my organization into the unknown. If that happens, we are asking the right questions.

Mario Andretti: “If everything’s under control, you’re going to slow.”

You could argue that by doing this you would never be selling your product, or extending the close of a sale. The truth is when you ask questions that stretch the customers thinking, many find ways to make your product/service work for them in better ways. They place their own limitations not around the product/service but rather around themselves.

Another advantage to this type of thinking is that you typically will bring others into the conversation. You engage with different parts of your customer’s organization, your own and even other vendors from both parties. This type of collaboration strengthens the opportunity.

For collaboration, co-creation and all those other “co-“ words that we like to banter about, if we are unwilling to step into the unknown, I don’t really see the opportunity? Do you?

Liz Wiseman, author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, says leaders must remain inquisitive, be able to ask the right questions and share the burden of thinking with their teams. She adds that the best leaders also push people out of their comfort zone, catalyzing a culture of contribution and innovation.

Is Trust in Sales Still Needed? 0

The Trust Equation

Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation

The above equation was a central part of a discussion with Charles Green, author of a series of books that have long been a favorite of mine.  I own all of them and even have one in both print and audio. Chales GreenThese books seem to be timeless and never more on point than the present.

Charles Book’s:

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