Ever wonder how to get a project green-lit? Well fortunately for you I’ve had plenty of experiencing building these sorts of decks and am sharing it right here at MGMT Now. Please note we’re on a blog here so this PPT isn’t going to be the most graceful or amazing presentation of all time (I don’t have the time to do that for a freebie).
What you should come away with:
- How to structure a project document to get an investigation off the ground.
- Telling a compelling story
- Different aspects of a product/project that must be considered
- Easy, quick way to structure ideas to get what you want
See the PDF covering the presentation below:
I’ve heard of a lot of traditional companies trying to make the leap into Web 2.0, often with the gracefulness of a rampaging elephant on ice-skates. The internet is quickly becoming the most relevant, and engaging ways to attract the people you want to your product. How can you make use of this “new medium” in a way that provides meaningful results and doesn’t alienate your audience?
Consider this, if you’re a restaurant you wouldn’t trust someone straight off the street to get behind that fryer during a 6 o’clock rush, you’d want to train them first. Likewise, just because you need a web presence doesn’t mean you’re equipped to address it. There are many ways a small business can leverage existing webpages to drive your business online such as amazon, weborder24, yelp etc. Not only can you then offer your product online but make use of companies who build in a Web 2.0 interaction.
Is your Business Web 2.0′able?
Honestly unless you have some witty campaign I doubt people are going to spend their days talking about your ultra soft double ply toilet paper.
Thinking about something a little more likely though say you have a business/stocks magazine that you’re moving online (actually analyzed this specific example for a friend). This company had about 150,000 visitors a day which is huge, but they felt that they needed to modernize and drive more engagement with their customer base. So my friend asked me what could they do to better monetize that using “Web 2.0 principles” all while trying to gain some independence from Google and AdSense.
I had a couple ideas around ways they could do it:
- Tying the price of advertising to the fluctuations in the stock market as most of the ads centered around investment opportunities, and volatility makes people more likely to be more open to these offers.
- Borrow a Reddit type of model which ties company ad placement to user engagement of the ad, and additionally allowing for interaction from the company placing the ad and the consumers clicking on it.
In the end though there was 1 important factor that was very alarming towards their chances of success: their audience. Their audience seemed to be completely apathetic to commenting on their stories, or having a deeper engagement. On their top stories it was a big deal if they had 10-15 comments. Which really makes you wonder if they could possibly get anything off the ground that relied on users.
It’s an Art
Every once in a while I see an ad that draws me in. Something that is humorous, doesn’t hide that it’s an ad, and really embraces it knowing that they have targeted the right person and you are interested in what they are selling.
One of the best examples I have ever seen of this came from a friend who works at Amazon, who found this ad placed on their Facebook page.
The best part about this ad, is how convincing it is. Hell, even I want to see him hired on over at Amazon. The ad directly speaks to his experience given the fact he managed to hit that target so well with my friend. At the same time it’s non-invasive and relies on self selection from the reader.
Having a website is one thing, but without a good grasp on what your offer is, and without the skills needed to comprehend and act upon Web 2.0 opportunities you’re better off just sticking to a straight SEO and AdWords strategy.
I’ve been in an organization where we’ve had internal documents leak that were a PR nightmare. This recent leak from HP though is a great example of a timely leak to create uncertainty in a rival’s product and get customers to hold off until your product hits the market.
Businesses as a general rule love goals, people do as well. One of the most stressful moments you’ll ever come across is someone who is behind on a goal, and one of the more euphoric is someone who exceeds their goals. How could anyone ever say anything against setting goals? To do so would be almost absurd, it would be….. well it would be….. the point of this next post.
So what are goals? Usually to be meaningful they’re a set expectation based upon careful planning and forecasting and are easily measurable.
So Why am I Off the Goals Bandwagon?
I’m the type of person, who obsesses over metrics, who analyzes them, can figure out the best possible way to achieve the result, or surpass it with the appropriate amount of effort. I’ve always exceeded goal and been able to exploit success to usually achieve the desired outcome both I and my employer were looking for.
This is why I’m kind of put off by goals. The mindset of the worker is focused in with needle sharp attention on the metrics. You ask a salesperson what their margin quota is and what percent to goal they are currently sitting at and odds are they can give you both numbers at any time of the day during said month. I don’t think this sort of stress is conducive to a worker being in the appropriate state of mind to make decisions, as it creates volatility and unpredictable behavior.
I’ve seen some interesting behaviors around goal maximization which detour directly from what’s best for the business. Some would argue this is just poor goal formulation, I would argue this will always be an inherent flaw in the system, as people will always find some loophole no matter how well designed.
Another issue that’s quite common is myopia; being so focused in on one thing the person being motivated loses out on many different opportunities. This to me is the most damning as its just human nature.
- Human psychology gets in the way where goals become a driver of emotion that can create chaos in the marketplace.
- Exploitation of goals for personal gain will occur no matter how well the system is defined.
- Putting on blinders, and focusing in on the goal will cause your business to miss terrific opportunities.
What’s the Solution?
It’s extremely easy to call out a problem; it’s exceptionally hard to define a real solution. Out of my own personal experience though I would say relying on a “vision and mission statement” that ties directly back to all work done, and not providing quantitative goals may work best. This does have its own problems however as employee morale could be adversely impacted, given that rewards would be a bit more subjective and tied back to who most closely matches the vision.
In the end though I would argue strongly for this system, as any model even the most regimented has a employee satisfaction issue. Letting your employee base know they are trusted, and are free to explore opportunities that don’t always align to the highest impact area brings in creativity to find new opportunities that would be overlooked otherwise.
There was a great skit that the show MadTV used to do around a dating service that branded itself as Lowered Expectations with the Tagline “You’ve tried the rest, now settle for what you can get”. This show usually featured the biggest train wreck personalities you can imagine sending out video clips to get a date.
The example above sets a somber tone for the market on all levels. Unfortunately, I think a strong driving characteristic with humanity is the need for constant betterment, and the misconception that we should always be upwardly mobile. This is not only incredibly an incredibly naïve thought process but it’s also factually impossible. Sure you can trend upward but there are always setbacks that need to be overcome.
In my current situation after a meteoric rise into the position I had lusted over for many years, I found myself cresting the mountain only to stumble down the other side. My situation is a lot like most businesses right now.
The real question though is how should you be dealing with this momentary disruption?
Wait it Out Approach
I think this is where most businesses are, and it’s also where I’ve spent the last four months. The theory here is you rely on your cash reserves, cut back on spending a bit. The understanding is that since we’re in a downturn in the business cycle you can simply wait until the end and then surge with the upswing.
Push the Envelope Approach
This really has become the Warren Buffett mantra. The concept here is as things are depressed, there is a terrific opportunity to gobble up resources or companies at a previously impossible price point. By making use of these cost savings, you become well positioned to come out swinging while others are catching up when the market picks up.
Market Correction Approach
This is the Microsoft approach, based upon the assumption that the economy of the mid 2000’s “shot the moon”. What we’re looking at here is the idea that spending won’t return to previous levels and all business planning should be rethought to account for the market as it has been trending since 2008. This is where layoffs and drastic resetting of economic forecasts come in.
Wait it Out Approach – I see this as the “can’t make up your mind” option. It’s for the people who are not bullish but not deeply pessimistic. I also think it’s a big missed opportunity for both employers and job seekers, as they are failing to address any of the current market forces in their decision making process. Don’t be fooled it won’t be business as usual for quite some time.
Push the Envelope Approach – I love this ballsy play by businesses. This way of thinking has Berkshire Hathaway up 46% in the last 12 months. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a direction most companies are going in. When you see layoffs coming from some of the companies with the largest financial reserves, this shows that this approach is not widespread. Additionally I’d say if you’re a job seeker this may not be the best move for you. If you’re currently without a job and don’t have enough experience to compete with more established candidates taking additional years out of the workforce and collecting additional debt add-in substantial risk and offer lower benefit as degree inflation is occurring.
Market Correction approach – I really don’t like this approach by businesses, it will surely prolong the pain, and very well could result in an actual market reset. I think businesses like Apple have shown very effectively that investments in new categories and products can rapidly drive earnings with minimal risk, even complete busts like the Apple TV didn’t have a sizable negative impact on their earnings when taken alongside products that outperformed. Companies who are trading off future earnings for short term security, especially in tech are really decreasing their ability to compete long term. As for job seekers I think this unfortunately is the right mindset to have. Most companies can afford to have a couple bad quarters without destroying their brand, unfortunately a bad year for a worker can substantially impact their ability to find employment later, and stunt their career.