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Web Teams As A Component Of Tactical And Strategic Methods

The Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams. By Jesse James Garrett, July 09, 2003. The best teams have one important thing in common: their team structure and processes cover a full range of distinct competencies necessary for success. [WebWord]

Jesse James Garrett brings together key components (pillars) to websites that are usable and useful to readers. I highly recommend looking at his findings while addressing the 7 questions to ask before web-site integration. In this note I'll address some key points of Mr. Garrett's article, and a wonderful diagram that sums things up.

It is advocated matching individuals by strengths in each pillar areas, then assign work accordingly. This builds on peoples successes and encourages a more confident group in achieving the goals at hand. In the same vein it provides cross pollination of ideas by employing individuals on cross functional teams.

This diagram demonstrates both the elements of his 9 pillars strategy, but shows the relationships between each pillar. Follow this diagram from the bottom-up left-to-right when using it to put together a team for a web project.  Meaning, first complete strategic elements of the project starting with user research, then move to tactical elements. This is a the way the author list these element and is a logical progression to achieve desirable results.

The Nine Pillars

It is very important for the team relationship that each member understands Mr. Garrett's two end-cap items "project management" and "user research" -- these govern the progress of the group. Each connecting shape demonstrates influence on the desired outcome of the next. (i.e. Your site strategy contributes to the success of your content and technical strategy, all strengthened by user research, and contributing to the abstract design.)

This model is just as appropriate for print marketing materials and other corporate communications. Your focus should be building the customer relationship through any communication material they receive, then invite them to take action accordingly. (This goes beyond traditional marketing to an interactive one-to-one connection.)

In your content strategy focus on the readers needs and very little on selling them. Use media communications to help define readers needs, qualify them for specific products, and prepare them for a purchase. Too often we try to make a sale on the first interaction with an individual -- the more you make sure what you offer is right for the individual, the less resistance to purchase you'll receive.

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Jesse James Garrett's is the author of The Elements of User Experience.

Justin Hitt helps executive build stronger relationships that can increase profits and create loyal customers. For more information visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

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Practice Containment And Recovery In-Process

Save your people time and effort by packaging work to be easy to pickup at any point by another individual.  It's a great time management strategy because employees know where they have been, and understand where they are going in a certain project. It helps them focus on the task at hand.

To practice containment and recovery in process:

  1. Build multiple milestones within work projects.  A milestone represents a point-in-time were a certain group of completed tasks puts a project at a certain level of stability. Regularly check the progress of your projects against its own objectives and those of the business. Take time to keep projects on task and you'll always know where they stand.
  2. Define a periodic reporting structure that documents progress.  A key to improving performance is to actually understand what you are doing. By documenting processes and reporting on your position in them, you can easily stop and start daily actions to refocus resources on more important tasks.
  3. Discuss project challenges in periodic meetings.  If a group is facing problems, often someone in the group knows how to solve them. Don't hide challenges, but face them openly for the benefit of the group. There are no excuses for failure from groups who openly communicate their challenges.
  4. Define tasking as if an employee was replaced tomorrow.  Let's face it, people die, people move, and things happen. Make it easy for someone else to pickup where someone else left off. Humans have always experienced uncertainty, but rarely acknowledge the possibilities.
  5. Make it easy to duplicate effort elsewhere.  You may need to solve the same problem somewhere else, by standardizing the process, you make it easier for someone else to duplicate the effort and achieve similar results. This is useful as a contingency, as well as a means to increase production.
  6. Have a plan to recover before the need to respond.  Every company should have an emergency preparedness plan. A heavy storm could take out your key production equipment, and without a backup, your company will take unknown losses. What would you do if you lost key employees?
  7. Document single points of failure, improve your process.  Know where you might experience problems by documenting your points of failure in the product of your goods or service. This is a competitive analysis as much as it is an understanding of the value each employee shares with the company.

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Justin Hitt teaches executives how to create strong business relationships that can increase profits while improving customer loyalty. To learn more about business relationships visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

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Hiring Slowly And Firing Fast, Is Good For Relationships

Fire People Who Don't Work. If you'd like to hire people but you can't because you have no open reqs, take a good long look at the people you do have. Are any of your staff prima donnas, "indispensable", or just not doing the work? [Hiring Technical People]

I've worked with several environments who retained toxic people for fear they would do something if fired. In one environment employees were afraid to confront a rather gruff individual for fear he'd crash the software development environment -- it turns out he kept to himself because his manager wouldn't talk to him. Removed the manager and this employee blossomed.

If you want strong employee relationships, then hire slowly, and fire fast.

Every employee in your company should fit your culture, be highly qualified, and clearly present a benefit to your business objectives. If an employee isn't a good fit for your business, you'll just do a disservice to the individual and your company by hiring them.

It's like planting seeds in the wrong soil, you'll never see the bloom and eventually the potential of the seed withers away. In the same analogy, you just can't hire an individual without cultivating them for optimal growth, something I'll discuss in another issue.

On the other hand, if you have an employee who just isn't working out, then encourage them to move on. A weed in your proverbial garden of production. Help that individual find a position that better suits their personality -- and do it quickly. Bad employees poison the work environment.

How do you do this without harming the relationship:

  1. Focus on the match of skills to position.  Avoid saying, "You're not right for the position", instead say, "The position isn't right for you."  Through self-assessment, help the individual find what they like to do, and strongly encourage they moved to it. Various websites provide these tools at a reasonable licensing fee.
  2. Set deadlines for self-directed discovery.  Employees shouldn't discover what they want to do for a living while on your payroll. Some companies give employees a two week cool off period following an evaluation of work performance. In this period they receive tools to decide to stay or go -- tools they can access from home.
  3. Practice Containment And Recovery In-Process.  Instead of fearing an employee, help each employee package their job as part of the business process. Any work completed should be well documented, and each employee's tasking should be complete enough someone else could pick it up where they left off.
  4. Keep problems with employees private with the individual.  If you need to discuss an individuals performance challenges, then the first person you speak with is the employee. Confirm your concerns, get their feedback, and work directly with the source (documenting your exchange using the proper human resources procedures.)
  5. Include heavy testing and peer reviews in the hiring process.  Invest in choosing the right people, your interview process should be one of analytical qualifications, personality reviews, and popular opinion. Focus on the right fit for your business objectives. You want to hire employees who are extremely productive on their own -- or spend millions re-engineering the wrong people.
  6. Address disciplinary issues promptly after the event.  When an employee does something wrong, let them know immediately. Lay it on the table and clearly defining and correcting the mistake. Stay focused on the action, not the employee's personal traits. (Don't do this without positive feedback for actions that contribute to the company.)
  7. Avoid making hiring or firing decisions personal.  Document everything related to the decision, make sure the hiring or firing decision isn't a personal decision, but one best for the objectives of the company. If you let personal decisions guide your actions in these areas, you open your company up for law suits and other problems in the future.
  8. Personal friendships aren't the same as business relationships.  If you have to fire friends, relatives, or even your spouse, do so gently -- and focus on the business decision over personal preference. Demonstrate how it protects the future personal relationship, and was purely a business decision. You can still be friends.
  9. Regularly clean house of unproductive employees.  Make performance evaluations more frequent (monthly goal based) and yearly reviews a contingency evaluation on the position. If people aren't constantly improving in their position, they shouldn't stay. (This is heavily balanced by compensation, if people perform, they should be paid well.)

Warning:  If these strategies are taken out of context you will create an environment of hostility, "our necks are on the chopping block, waiting for the axe."  If you don't completely understand what you are reading, then don't implement it. Post your questions on theCoaching Forum or call me at +1 (877) 207-3798 for an appointment.

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Justin Hitt helps executive build stronger relationships that can increase profits and create loyal customers. For more information visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

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What Makes Profitable Customers Different?

There are over 32 differentiating factors of profitable customers that increase profits in competitive markets. While some companies struggle competitive markets, many are doing better than ever--largely because they know how to target profitable customers with little-known identifiers hidden in their own customer base.

By focusing on customers who produce the most net income for your organization, by definition, you'll create a greater return on your marketing investment. Seek to understand what makes these individuals different, so they keep coming back for more. Profitable customer identifiers are characteristics primarily held by your best customers.

Review monthly profit and loss (P&L) reports that provide a summary of the resultant revenue produced by each customer. Focus on customers in your top ten percent. To document buying related characteristics, ask the following questions:

  1. What results to they gain from your product or service?
  2. What challenges their success?
  3. How did they learn of your solution?
  4. Who do they know who also needs your solution?
  5. What do they like most about your solution?
  6. What else can you do to solve their problems?

Stay away from questions that induce negative thoughts or identify areas that you could improve. Every question must help them confirm in their own mind the specific value you provide. Listen carefully to what these customers are saying and verify any assumption you derive from this exercise.

Asking these questions show customers you're interested in them, plus provides valuable information on how to improve your service to them. It's something you must do before the competition because these questions have the potential to solidify a long-term buying relationship. In just a few weeks, you'll know exactly what makes profitable customers different and will be on your way to find more like them.

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Justin Hitt helps executives build profitable relationships with customer, employees, and strategic partners. He can be reached by phone at +1 (877) 207-3798 or on-line at https://iunctura.com/

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Simples Things Can Build Business Relationships

Robert Service. "Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]

Before you grab up the latest customer relationship software, or employee resource planning system; start with the small things today. Relationship building starts with a simple smile and handshake or even a small note saying thank you.  Complex strategies and hours of consulting won't bring you any results if you don't have these things.

Too often we are bogged down with hype used to sell us these methods, when you already have the tools you need to improve the business relationships around you. Go over each of the 8 Relationship Realms identifying one thing you can do to improve each. Slowly remove those things blocking the results you desire, and you will build the energy you need to tackle the bigger relationship challenges in your business.

Other simple things that can build business relationships:

  1. Appropriate thank you gifts for people who advance your business objectives.
  2. Show up 10-minutes early to meetings to touch base and prepare for your contribution.
  3. Acknowledgment of a job well done by employees for strategic partners promptly after the event.
  4. Invite your team's feedback and suggestions before your start new projects that involves them.
  5. Ask questions of people close to the customer, listen and take notes on how you can reduce costs while improving quality.
  6. Give thank you gifts with recurring value, something people will use frequently and be reminded of their good work.
  7. Introduce yourself to an employee you've never met, just to learn more about their objectives.

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Justin Hitt teaches executives how to create strong business relationships that can increase profits while improving customer loyalty. To learn more about business relationships visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

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