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This why we need special rooms to be innovative

10 Jun

innovation cave

One of the myths around innovation is that you need some kind of ‘special conditions’ to bring out the creative in you. See the Google workplace and just about every ad agency in the known universe.

I love these rooms with their funny pics and pinball machines and pool tables.

And I like how I get to wear my jeans – wow I feel so free!

Hang on there … I’ve got an idea coming. Here it is.

No wait. It’s stopped somewhere up the line to get some new passengers on board.

The names of those passengers are Mr Tired, Ms Bored, Mr Lazy and the Count of no account.

We’re all creative and we don’t need any special conditions to think of new ways. Just some energy and imagination.

The Niche

10 Jun

There are a lot of good reasons to service a narrow market aka a niche.

niche

Here’s some info I found on Quora.

Niche Marketing

If you try to target all markets you will be in big trouble, because you’ll find yourself surrounded by a load of competition and it will be hard to showcase your unique value proposition.

A rule of thumb is to start narrow and then grow wider.

Start talking to one group of your audience and be specific about their needs and desires so that you can attend to them with your product and services.

Benefits of niche marketing:

  1. Less competitive – a small market means less competition. Carrying out good research across a small market makes it easier to find out the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and makes your product or service better.
  2. More affordable – you won’t be spending money on a broad target group, so you won’t waste money on advertising.
  3. Customers are more loyal – you will be able to nurture, teach, and understand them much better.
  4. Audience is easier to target – you know where they hang out and what their interests are, which makes it easier to target and offer them your solution.
  5. Focused – trying to offer different services for each market can be inefficient, whereas having one nice one will help you to be much more efficient and focused on one single market.

All you have to do is find yours.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-upcoming-digital-marketing-trends

 

How to study

11 May

Recently my son had to study for up coming exams. I realised that he didn’t know where to start. So I put together this simple and practical infographic.

Great thingsto do with just

Hands on works

1 Oct

Bee a hands on leader

Real leaders often get in there and get their hands dirty. They come up with coal dust directly from the coal face. They do the do and lead by example. They show the ‘how’ to their people. They take the strategy and implement it. They man (can you still say that?) the phones and provide excellent customer service and in the process delight their customers. They fill in when staff aren’t able to. They work shoulder to shoulder and win respect from their people while at the same time gaining an understanding of who their people are (Emotional Intelligence.)

In small business owner/directors have to be hands on.

I was always taught that in order to be a ‘boss’ I would need to know what was entailed in even the most menial task. Only then could I delegate correctly.

Bees are workers and they build amazing structures that hold up human existence. They are pollinators who manually transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilising the plant so it can grow and produce food. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.

Be like a BEE.

 

VET FEE HELP … is THE PARTY OVER?

9 Jan

vet feeI’ve been involved in vocational education and training now for over 20 years initially entering the sector by pure chance. I started with TAFE and found that my real experience in business and in a number of industries was key. In other words I wasn’t just a teacher.

Over time I worked in the not for profit sector managing the NEIS program for small business entrepreneurs, worked as a trainer/assessor for international colleges, became an instructional designer because of the lack of or poor quality of training materials, became experienced in the online environment and then worked for VET FEE providers.

With VET FEE – I started with face to face and suddenly found myself in classrooms with diverse people (many of whom didn’t want to be there.)

I’m a skilled and entertaining trainer so I was able to gain the respect of the students and turn the focus around. In one particular group I had a mix of an 18 year old right up to a 60 + . We had fun and they learned.

In the online sphere I worked as a course coordinator/program advisor/training manager while also developing learning materials designed to tell realistic stories around workplaces making the experience valid and interesting.

Online can be a lonely place so I worked with a team of mentors who managed students/learners to assist with progression and motivation. I quickly found out that just because your online, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be treated personally. I worked directly with learners and found that they were tremendously happy to have some help that transcended a downloadable pdf with too much information (or not enough) and a few distended assessment tasks.

Working with and managing mentors and trainers/assessors has also been interesting. I found that for the most part they are hard working, dedicated and creative if they are given the opportunity and the leadership.

So it’s still people to people: online or off.

Yes. There have been changes and it seems that the money tree has lost its leaves. There are more hurdles to jump for providers and brokers and this will see a downsizing of the industry as it’s no longer viable to employ vast numbers of employees to service the learners.

It will also be harder for RTO’s to sign up students and there are so many other hurdles (LLN etc) it’s looking like a steeplechase.

But one thing hasn’t changed. People still need to be trained. They still need qualifications on their CV’s.

CUT YOUR OVERHEADS NOT THE QUALITY. 

My advice to RTO’s who are scratching their heads … have a small but dedicated team who know what they are doing. Make the content interesting and current by discontinuing/limiting off the shelf content and providing other content.

One good trainer and a small team of mentors who understand the content can train and progress your learners … and they’ll be happy.

Australia in a state of change…so what’s new.

Industries grow and shrink but my family had a business that started in 1933 (midst of the great depression), and operated for 70 years.

How did we do that?

By keeping our eye on the ball, changing when trends changed, offering personalised service and our own unique products + promoting our brand personality.

Skilled operators will keep operating and make money.

Contact me and redefine your business model.

 

 

 

Always merry and bright

24 Jan

Henry Miller

Henry Miller is a hero of mine ever since I read a biography of him ‘Always Merry and Bright.’

An original voice and a trail blazer, he was known for breaking with existing literary forms. An author of over 60 books including The Tropic of Cancer, his writing remains powerful and brave. He left New York to go to Paris in 1930 to follow his dream of becoming a writer and to mix with other artists. What he found was struggle and poverty. To overcome this he asked all his friends to send him $1 a day. An early crowd funder.

What I love about Henry was that he was delighted with life including all the troubles and travails. He kept on at his art even when he was criticised and his books were banned.

Being always merry and bright is a mindset. It’s a way of looking at things from a distance.

Seeing as work takes up a large percentage of our lives, this is more than important – it’s a necessity.

Managers should never stop people being happy at work. Happy is a key to productivity and makes way for open thinking and creativity … something business always seems to strive for.

A tough micro managed environment leads to a loss of motivation.

There’s no happiness.

You can sense a creative environment and you don’t need special spaces with pool tables and signs on the wall.

You just need the right leaders. They create the environment.

Working hard and not getting noticed

20 Dec

Untitled-1

When I was a kid you could buy a brand of bubble gum that had these silly signs on a cardboard plaques called ‘wacky placks.’ One of them I found quite amusing. It said Work fascinates me … I can sit and watch it for hours.

As I’ve weaved my way through so many workplaces I have worked alongside many amazing people who don’t get recognised for a whole lot of reasons. These people may not be the greatest communicators and they may not have ever had the skill to position themselves to get recognised but they still keep producing.

In their hearts they bow to anonymity.

They practice humility on a daily basis.

They fix things and get teams working.

But they’re hardly ever up at the rostrum or at the board room table.

Leaders … real leaders understand humility and no ego. They know what’s going on in their business. And more importantly they see who’s doing what.

Not everyone is a big talker who knows how to be noticed.

Take care of these people and surprise them with some thank you’s and pats on the back.

They are the engines that run your business.

Working with Gen wotever

30 Aug

dobell

Quite recently I have had the privilege of working with a team of Gen Y’s. I think that’s their gen name (as opposed to genome) anyway. Their a bit older than Charles Lloyd Jones in this William Dobell portrait. They’re younger than me anyway. 

We have been working on a huge and creative project – something I couldn’t do on my own. These gens have been working with me and I have been managing them and their output. 

And yes … it’s true, they do work differently. They are definitely not your old time bank clerk types. They have different clocks and they can drift off but never too far.

What I have enjoyed is telling them stuff. It’s creative and we do a lot of writing. I tell them about The Confederacy of Dunces and the Catcher in the Rye. About original writers who also wrote and thought about freedom and how it dwells in the mind a lot of the time.

I give them tasks and I check up on them with a ‘how’s it going?’ lame style of management. I don’t get too concerned when they wander off and they do from time to time but I do keep track on deadlines.

We get along fine and they are producing – and more often than not, they surprise me with their work.

So I say Gen wotever. Show people respect and listen to them. When you delegate tell stories and have a laugh. 

Oh yeah … and say thanks.

Often

it’s a mad mad mad world of metrics

12 Jul

harold lloyd

We all know about metrics. The back end of the internet. The analytics. The tracking mechanisms of sites. 

They come in all shapes too. Line graphs. Dials. Segments. Bar charts. 

And they are great and necessary. How else do we know ‘how we’re doing!’

This is about productivity and we all have to be productive don’t we? Work, work, work …

There’s no time in an asynchronous world to stop and think. 

Why would you do that? There’s stuff to do. People are restless and they want it NOW.

I’ve spent time in organisations where metrics are key drivers, and that is fine. But when dials and graphs are key drivers, then strategy can go out the window if there is weak and lazy leadership.

Strategy is of the utmost importance. It’s the beginning of innovations. It’s the way to do things differently and better.

The fast knee-jerk get this done now attitude is a band aid solution.

Metrics can freak poor managers/leaders out because these measures make them or their area look bad, so they rush to fix something and it sets an unrealistic pace where mistakes are made and people break down or worse – feel like galley slaves, rowing to the beat of a drum.

I’m all for measurements and monitoring because I like change. 

But don’t let it freak you out. Sit down and think about things. Come up with new ways of doing things.

Calm down

resilience and taking it on the chin

14 Jun

Image

This is the Alcántara Bridge in Spain, built by the Roam Emperor Trajan between 104 and 106 AD. That’s almost 2200 years ago. It’s not modern engineering but it’s lasted. It’s prevailed. Can you imagine the hordes of people and animals and vehicles that have crossed it. The fights and battles. The life and death it has seen in that time.

The bridge has resilience built into it. That’s why it’s still here. It has strong foundations.

People at work work together. Sometimes they’re called teams. Teams support each other if they’re functioning. It’s a necessary element in all teams including sporting and in families. That’s nice isn’t it?

But guess what. S%$t happens (I censored that for you!)

But it does, even in the most highly functioning teams because people are people and we have moods, emotions, short comings. We’re not all nice all the time.

I heard about a man who was known as a man of god. That was his life. Doing good things for people who others shunned. He was also a boss. I heard that every morning he would walk into his offices and lose his block. He would systematically fire people and then an hour or so later re-hire them (or something like that.) This was devastating to his team of kind hearts and do gooders. But they stayed with him. Why?

Because they allowed him his childish behaviour because they recognised that he was angry and stressed. It wasn’t them.

It’s hard dealing with difficult people. But when you do and the sky doesn’t fall, then you build your understanding and resilience so the next time the boss loses it they know what to do. It’s called emotional intelligence.

Great teams have this resilience and it allows them to build trust and understanding one block of stone at a time.