08 Jan

Atrendia Friday Video 32: What it takes to be a great leader

by Roselinde Torres

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In this TED video, Roselinde Torres shares with us what it takes to be a great leader in the 21st century, and she does so with conviction.

Can you answer these three questions?

  1. Where are you looking to anticipate change?
  2. What is the diversity measure of your network?
  3. Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?

Duration: 09:19

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!

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26 Mar

How my small company cut in half our $3.2 million dollar inbox expense in just 12 minutes!

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greasymOK, I have a small company of only 200 employees, so $3.2 million is nothing. But imagine a company of 2,000 employees that spend 2 hrs. per day on email with an average annual salary of $70,000. That would mean that they spend OVER HALF A MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY managing email.

Since we all know that email is a fact of life (nothing we can just cut out of the budget) I came up with a quick fix in the form of a memo that I sent to everyone in the company with the following 5 suggestions:

  1. Don’t check your mail too often during the day (Just enough so you don’t miss anything).
  2. Respond quickly. (I got this one from Google’s Eric Schmidt – GENIUS! – So don’t pay too much attention to rule 1)
  3. Use the OHIO rule; Only Handle It Once (unless you can’t, so don’t – and most you can’t)
  4. Prioritize your mails before responding, then answer the high priority mails first – remember that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. (I’m sure there is a way to do this in Outlook, just play around with the menus until you get it right)
  5. Don’t Cc: everyone, just the ones who really need the information (But always keep your boss in the loop and maybe a few others.)

So I figure, if a CEO of a 2,000 employee company does what I did, he could save $16,000,000 in just 12 minutes.

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. The truth is you CAN double your productivity and cut in half your email management cost. But you CAN’Tdo it with a memo, seminar, workshop, add-in, app, or any of the other methods that you’ve tried. There is only one solution on the market that works for entire populations of employees and it takes a lot more time than 12 minutes to see the results. 10 TIMES That. (Yikes – two hours!)

It takes 10 times more time than a memo, but it’s the only long-term, complete solution for your multi-million dollar black hole you call an inbox.
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23 Jan

Guest blog: Drop It Like It’s Hot, By Jesper Sommer

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Not so long ago, Sony Corp. in the US was hacked. I am sure you’ve heard about the case (it was eventually blamed on North Korea, though security experts are questioning that conclusion).

My favorite tech-magazine has this interesting article on the subject:

The importance of deleting old stuff, another lesson from the Sony attack

Sociologists have previously (around the millennium) proposed that all non-essential data should have an expiration date. Their reasons were different: we’re drowning in data, and searching through piles of old stuff can sometimes be less productive than simply throwing it away early.

Regardless of the argument I think it is something for you guys to consider. Do we really need to save all that data (mails)? Probably not.

New ImageSo why not have a 90 day auto-delete on ALL mails, except if flagged for longer retention? It would be easy simply to make a few extra categories for it:

– 180 days
– 2 years
– forever

If the user puts none of these categories on archived mail, delete them after 90 days. Or whatever nummber of days your business experience tells you is optimal … but you get the idea.

Could this work?

Could we increase efficiency (become more Lean) simply by knowing that old crap data is just GONE? Could it lead to a healthy Lean-mail culture where employees communicate better because nobody expects their colleagues to be able to dig out aging mails from their archives? Could it lead to better and more clear communication with clients?

I am not an expert on these matters. But I find the premise interesting and appealing. And it would certainly help avoid disasters such as the one Sony is going though – as put forth by ArsTechnica.

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14 Jan

Sorry, Email Won’t Die In 2015 (Or Any Time Soon)

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typing-email-1There’s a horde of startups trying to replace email.

Some of these apps, like Slack (which we use at Business Insider), take a chat-room approach.

There are enterprise messaging apps that work like Snapchat, like Cotap and TigerText.

Some mobile-first productivity apps like Quip imagine that we’ll communicate directly in the documents we’re working on.

They’re all wrong.

According to the latest research conducted by the Pew Center Internet Project, 61% of American workers now say that email is “very important” for doing their job.

That number hasn’t moved at all in 13 years. As the researchers put it:

As early as 2002, Pew Research Internet surveys showed that 61% of American workers were using email at work. In 2008, we reported that 62% of working American adults were “networked workers,” meaning they used the internet or email in the workplace….Email’s vital role has withstood major changes in other communications channels such as social media, texting, and video chatting. Email has also survived potential threats like phishing, hacking and spam and dire warnings by commentators and workplace analysts about lost productivity and email overuse.

Why is email so resilient? The report doesn’t go into that, but it’s pretty obvious:

  • Everybody has it on every device. There’s no need to download anything, no need to learn a new app or system, no need to persuade your coworkers to use it.
  • It’s less interruptive than a phone call. The only other mode of communication that reaches everybody is the phone. But placing a phone call requires the other person to be available and willing to talk, right then.
  • It’s exceptionally flexible. Most of the tools that aim to replace email require you to do things in a certain way — for instance, if I want to make sure a colleague sees a message I post in Slack, I have to tag them with their handle, otherwise it might get lost in the flow of information in their newsfeed. (Sometimes, it gets lost anyway.) When I used Yammer at a previous job, we had to come up with conventions for the kinds of things we’d post and avoid. With email, it’s basically a blank slate — you can put anything you want into the blank box and the person on the other end will receive it.
  • It’s a deliverable — a measurable part of work. Email isn’t just for communication. It’s part of work. If your boss sends an email, you pretty much have to reply. There are plenty of other tools to coordinate workflow, but everybody still jumps back into email to send certain kinds of communications, like urgent requests for information, updates on particular tasks, brainstorming, you name it. You have no choice but to respond.

There are some ways email is used that aren’t perfect. For instance, a lot of people use their email inbox as a to-do list, even though it’s hard to organize and items sometimes fall through the cracks. Here, a tool built for workflow, like Asana, may end up being better.

But for day-to-day communication, email is not going away.

Original source: Business Insider UK

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05 Nov

Answering the wrong question

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A big thank you to our partner Cameron Turner from Lean Consulting  for sharing his blog post entitled: Answering the wrong question.  And how many times have we done that?  Far too many – especially when our patience has run thin — but also when we are not paying attention or going too fast.  Here is some great advice…

Sometimes, when we are asked a question, we instead answer a different question.

In his fantastic book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ Dr Daniel Kahneman identifies that we have two systems of thinking.

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and often without control. System 2 allocates attention and concentration to effortful mental activities and calculations.

System 1 is our default setting. It is constantly drinking in data and information without us even knowing. System 1 can do things like detect hostility in a voice, simple mathematics, drive a car, recognise faces and differentiate between 2 sounds, things like that. Sometimes our attention is required but usually not.

System 2 is for our highly diverse operations and all require our attention. Completing complex calculations, focusing on a single voice in a noisy room, parking in a very narrow car space, filling out a tax form, things like that.

Sometimes, when we are asked a question, we instead answer a different question. Let’s take a real example in business:

No matter where I go, one of the area’s that tends to struggle more with performance is Complaints. And the simple reason for this is that complaints could be about anything. In some places, no 2 complaints are alike. The variation you get between cases is huge.

One of the questions I ask managers of a complaints area is “Can you measure the average time it should take to complete a complaint?The answer I always get is some variation of ‘No’. Too complicated. Too hard. Too variable. Not fair on staff. How long is a piece of string? Sometimes a complaint takes 10 minutes, sometimes it takes 7 hours!

But what is really happening here is that managers are answering a slightly different question. System 1 takes over and substitutes the question for “Is it easy to measure the average time it should take to complete a complaint?”. No.

It’s not easy, but it certainly can be done.

So, sometimes, we answer the wrong question and therefore get the wrong answer.

Lean Sigma Academy

Lean Consulting is a Management Consultancy firm that specializes in maximizing the business potential of any Operational environment. They work with firms in all sectors to achieve significant, sustainable advances in performance whilst simultaneously achieving real savings. Lean Consulting is our partner in providing Online Lean Training.

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21 Oct

To 5S or not to 5S

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I recently took part in a discussion that debated whether 5S is the best way to introduce Lean to an organization.  While this is a common approach because of the quick visual impact that gives a feeling of real accomplishment, Implementing 5S, in my opinion, is not the way to introduce Lean.

Many (most?) companies fail by starting their Lean initiative with 5S.  Even though they achieve stellar results and win the battle, they lose the war because 5S has nothing to do with Lean if it is an island unto itself. 5S is a simple-to-use tool that brings great initial results because it “cleans house”.  However, if the Lean mindset is not established well beforehand at the management level, complacency will set in before the culture is in place to prevent its erosion.  It is simply short-sighted and definitely not having anything to do with the Lean philosophy to run 5S before there is mindset, preparation, and a plan for what to do two, three and ten steps after 5S.

Achieving early success is a key ingredient in developing a commitment to Lean, but without an agreement to sustain the effort it is a cherry lacking the Sundae underneath.  Like most new initiatives, there is a honeymoon period when everyone is blissfully in love with the new concept, but as the enthusiasm wavers support is needed from management to bolster the habit until it is integrated into the DNA of the organization. I can give my kids ice cream to cheer them up and get them to do things, but it’s not a long-term strategy; and Lean is ONLY about long-term strategy.

I’m not knocking 5S. It’s an amazing tool, and fundamental to our own LeanMail training, but it’s just an isolated tool if it is not part of a concrete plan. The idea of being able to start the Lean journey with 5S as a way of getting the attention of management or enticing employees is unrealistic.  If management needs convincing, educate them instead of trying to impress them.  Even if you do impress them unless they are educated about the Lean philosophy, they will not have the rigor to go the distance, and therefore FAIL.

Facilitating your management team in explaining why they are backing Lean and why it is not a new project or new strategy but the new “(put your company here) Way” is a much better way to introduce Lean than 5S.

Giving the impression that Lean is set of tools or techniques is superficial and puts a lot of pressure on teams to show immediate results — or risk the death knell:  “Well maybe Lean doesn’t really work in our company.”

5S is a great starting point once there is an understanding of the vision, but it will never create the vision. If you don’t show people where you’re going, they’ll run around in circles trying to be efficient without being effective; the antithesis of Lean.

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21 Feb

Atrendia Friday Video 23 – A Conference Call in Real Life

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In this YouTube video you’ll relive those agonizing on-line meeting moments that make you want to pull out your hair!  You’ll be jumping up and down shouting: “So true!”.  Share this with colleagues – especially those who need some help in this area.


Although it’s fun to poke fun at this, virtual conference calls are extremely important in our work day and creating best practices for your teams, instead of relying on common sense, has become a necessity. Many novices – and even seasoned professionals are unaware of “best practice” guidelines that can determine the success of conference call.  Something to think about….

Duration: 4:04

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!

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02 Sep

Responsiveness: when should you reply to a message

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Didn't you get my mail cartoon

How quickly we respond to a message (email, phone, sms, chat, etc.) is an often misunderstood function of our work and is further complicated by leaders who institute temporal rules like “within one business day” or in less than two hours. 

Here is a partial list guidelines regarding responsiveness:

1. Responses are not mandatory.  You do not need to, and should not respond to informational mails that do not contain a request for a response, nor should you respond to mails where you are in the Cc:.  Also, we should assume that someone has received a mail if it doesn’t bounce.  “Did you receive my mail, sms, phone message, are veiled outdated control mechanisms.

2. You should not respond to every mail that requests a response.  It is always a question of appropriateness regarding the sender and the recipient.  Taking a moral approach like “you should respond to mails out of courtesy” falls prey to discourteous people who unwittingly or wittingly steal your resources with inappropriate or very low priority (maybe not for them, but for you) requests, i.e . “Hi Jim, this is Rich, I’m a friend of Bob’s and he told me that you were in Cancun last year.  Could you recommend a good resort?”  Not everything should make it into your agenda and filtering these types of requests is part of anyone’s job.

3. There is no rule about how quickly you should respond to a mail.  Time limits are a function of the type, content and sender of the mail.  Temporal limits like within 2 hours or 24-hours are enacted when organizations are not willing to spend the necessary time educating employees on importance and urgency. 

4. Unless you put a deadline on a mail, don’t expect a timely (according to the content) response.

5. The best way to know how quickly to respond to a communication is to put yourself in the shoes of the sender while remaining conscious of your own need to be effective and efficient. 

6. Quite often it is the sender that impedes responsiveness through ambiguity.  • No deadline; • too many topics; • no use of bullet points; • too complex; • you didn’t make it clear as to what you actually wanted

7. If someone requests something by a certain date it is always a good idea to let them know that you are in agreement with the deadline as soon as it is efficiently possible for you to respond so that they are not wondering if there is agreement.

8. The better you are at understanding the above guidelines, the more the right people will like you and the wrong people will leave you alone.  Think of attraction and filtering as a synergistic combination.

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12 Jul

Atrendia Friday Video 20 – John Kotter: The Heart of Change

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In this Youtube video, Dr. Kotter talks about how to win over both hearts and minds in his book The Heart of Change. Within Dr Kotter’s 8 Step Process winning hearts and minds is an important part of business thinking and a way to change behavior in an organizational or a cultural change.

John Kotter

If you are not familiar with John Kotter, he is one of the most important change management experts of our time.

Duration: 5:19

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!

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08 Mar

Atrendia Friday Video 14 – Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work

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Last week, Yahoo!, CEO Marissa Mayer, sent out a memo (directive) intended to stifle Yahoo! employees’ ability to work from home. She effectively put an end to telecommuting for all Yahoo! employees.

Interesting. In one memo, in almost silent desperation, Mayer tries to close the lid on an unstoppable movement called the future of work.

In this Ted Video, Jason Fried takes the opposite stance: that the office isn’t a good place to do work. In his talk, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work.

Jason Fried

Perhaps it’s not about being a polemic.  Clearly there are times when being at the office is important, but in these days of high-speed networks, video-conferencing, Skype and what have you, working from a home office can be much more productive than working in a landscape situation where you have to find refuge in an empty office or conference room every time you have an important phone call. You decide – that is if you don’t Work for Mayer…

Click here to enjoy the video

Duration: 15:21

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program

Happy Friday!

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