13 Oct

Why leaders are blind to the most important productivity opportunity of all

by Michael Hoffman

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Email is the leading cause of preventable productivity loss in organizations today.
Forbes Magazine (2008)

Employees spend 1 to 3 or more hours per day managing email at 40-60% of capacity.  That means they typically lose 30-60 minutes PER DAY.   Not some.  All — even the ones who believe they are extremely productive. That means you too.

It goes completely unnoticed because you probably think this is an exaggeration.  It isn’t.  Go ahead and challenge me.

Employees, many of them top managers, lose, forget or simply don’t have time to get to 5-15% or more of their email – a lot of which is highly important.  Many of these mails haven’t even been looked at.

It goes completely unnoticed because it has become status quo.  It shouldn’t because it is ravaging your business.

These otherwise highly productive employees often answer unimportant little task emails rather than pouring their focus into the most important things – systematically.  The idea of applying a methodology to the way people manage email (25-30% or more of their day I remind you) is not even discussed or considered.  Who’s in charge of email productivity in your company?  No one.  It’s not even on the map.

It goes completely unnoticed because you think email is personal and difficult to systemize.  Rubbish.

There is no other single activity in your business that is as poorly regulated and in so much need of improvement than email management, and yet…

…it goes completely unnoticed.

Why isn’t fixing email management a burning platform in your organization?

blogpicYou guessed it.  The problems go completely unnoticed; and for good reason: no one has experienced what it is like to have an entire team of employees:

  • working their inboxes at twice the current velocity;
  • prioritizing and executing what is important and urgent; and
  • having complete visibility control over what is going on at all times of the day. 
  • never late, never missing ANY emails.

Face it, most people probably can’t imagine that this is possible – THAT’s why there is no burning platform.  You simply can’t know what you don’t know or have experienced.  Wilbur and Orville had this same problem.

Click here to read all the comments from cynics like yourself and see the light.

 

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05 Oct

Inbox480 – My Personal Story – Part I

by Michael Hoffman

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Inbox480blogpost1It all started with a client.

To begin with, his IT manager had told him that 92% of his incoming email was spam and was filtered out before it ever reached his inbox. So my client never saw more than ninety percent of his incoming volume.

What my client found even more astonishing was that among the things that did reach him, he considered at least eighty percent of it “quasi-spam” — newsletters, articles and press releases, vendors trolling for new projects, social media, etc. — things that vied for his attention but were, more often than not, unwanted and unimportant.

Implications: In his unfiltered mail, out of every 100 messages he was being sent, fewer than two were essential.

So even with a spam filter, on a daily basis my client had to wade through and ultimately delete eighty percent of his email.  That’s a lot of decision-making and clicking for no return. — I asked him:

Why don’t you just unsubscribe from these senders instead of deleting them all the time?

Well, he said, every once in a while a vendor or newsletter — or even a LinkedIn group — has something interesting to say. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

So I said to him: Sounds like you could use a new inbox that only your essential senders could get into.

Exactly, he said.

That got me thinking.  I was pretty sure that others had that same problem, so we commenced work on our latest solution, Inbox480.  The inbox for 80 percent of your mail.

I480

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18 Jun

Hey Mr. Sales Director, George Trachilis is NOT nuts. Are you nuts?

by Michael Hoffman

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dedoOne of your prime objectives as a sales director is to get your teams out of their inbox and in front of the customer as much as possible. I’m not knocking the importance of email, I’m just saying that you probably see a huge benefit to having your teams managing their inboxes at twice their current rate, with 90 percent fewer errors and 80 percent more attention to priority.

A lot of leaders see email as a personal time management problem. They’re nuts.

Email, is a process. It’s a factory. Mail comes in, gets processed and goes out. It’s what transports your business all day long. If you see that as a personal problem, then you, indeed, need your head examined. Luckily, processes can be tuned up my friend (we can still get a bit personal).

Since you and your teams have been managing email about the same way since ’94 (mail comes in, you poke at it, you go home), it’s not that difficult to imagine that a company like ours could completely transform the process if we made it our core business, but to achieve a 95% adoption rate of a best practice in any area is nothing short of amazing.*

George Trachilis, the founder of the Lean Leadership Institute with Jeff Liker – and one of many Lean experts who recommend LeanMail, says,
“…It has personally helped me reduce my email management time by 50%…”

Now we can’t guarantee those insane results for everyone, but 30 percent improvement? No problem. Don’t reach 30 percent? Don’t pay. Which KPI’s do we use, you ask? Yours. Whatever you throw at us — or we’ll suggest what we think are important ones since most organizations haven’t put that much thought into inbox KPI’s. They should though, since the time spent managing email represents a whopping 25-40 percent of salary spend. Yes, if you spend 25-40 percent of your day managing email it means that 25-40 percent of your salary goes to processing email. That’s an enormous amount of money in ANY organization isn’t it? (By the way, have you ever wondered who’s responsible for this area in your organization? Good luck. They don’t exist.)

So, Mr. Sales Director, your nuts if you don’t at least pause for a second and imagine what your sales teams would be able to achieve if they doubled their productivity and focused on the 20 percent that brings you 80 percent of your profits in an area they spend a huge part of their day in. You heard me. Nuts.

*According to our 6-month post-training survey with 82% responding.
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10 Jun

Content Marketing that Converts

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew Morgen“Content is king”. I’ve heard that phrase for years. But what does it mean? Does it mean that by offering thought-provoking, useful, creative information buyers will be motivated to contact you at the right time along their complete (including pre-sales) decision path? By sending out veiled advertising in the form of ‘articles’ to random email addresses you can convert readers to action? How is ‘conversion’ defined – opening the email? Making a purchase that can be directly tracked back to the email? Let’s look at the problems.

  1. Wrong Time: Content is useful only at the time it’s needed and won’t be opened otherwise, even if your solution is needed later. Even when offering options, research, or educational benefits, your content currently targets the activity of product/vendor selection; you miss key opportunities to enter earlier, during the buyer’s necessary pre-sales activities – assembling the correct Buying Decision Team members, sorting out change issues and responsibilities, getting consensus, etc. – to become a true trusted advisor and support partner. Imagine offering the type of content that drives buyers during every decision and pre-sales activity. Then you’ve part of the solution, every step of the way, as they approach a final purchase. And they trust you.
  2. Wrong People: You get a 1% (or less) conversion rate because your missive connects with only those whose email addresses you have and, even if they might eventually be part of a Buying Decision Team, who consider it spam. It’s possible to offer content that readers seek out because it’s vital to their path toward excellence.
  3. Wrong Focus: Content is often merely an ad vaguely concealed as an ‘article’. Buyers know this. It’s possible to use content to facilitate the non-solution-focused consensus and change issues readers must attend to as they ready themselves to make a purchase.

The way you’re doing it now

  • neither attracts nor retains a specific audience,
  • ignores ways to enter and influence buyers early in their pre-sales decisions,
  • doesn’t drive customer action unless they are at the specific point of readiness,
  • merely annoys.

You’re finding the low hanging fruit who would have found you anyway. Content marketing can help prospective buyers dispense suitable information 1. into the hands of the right people 2. at the time they need it while 3. coaching them to get their ducks in a row to move forward.

It’s possible to write content on important relevant topics that readers WANT to read – i.e. the pros and cons of concrete over glass for housing, or how we can hear others without bias – and will help them go from an idea to a purchase through linking to your site, reading and saving other articles, and using them to help traverse their action route.

CASE STUDY

I get anywhere from 40-51% conversion with my content marketing. My readers take action from my articles: click on linked articles or sites; download free books/chapters; buy a product; share/RT/Like daily. Here’s what I do:

  1. I write well-written, provocative, 750-word articles that may have little to do with my services or books specifically but are of real interest to that population who may ultimately be buyers. (You found the title interesting enough to read this far, right?) I offer links that tie in to my books /services: I’ve written about diversity, leadership, collaboration, questions. Yet my services focus on facilitating buying decisions and bias-free communication.
  2. I only send articles to subscribers, and Friends, LinkedIn, and 15 ezines,  such asHR.com, Sales and Service Excellence, StrategyDriven, who often publish them to vast readerships. (Sometimes 3 or more of my articles appear each week.)  I have 3 blogs that often get onto best lists, such as top innovative content, top sales blog, top business blog. Net, net, I’m getting large distribution in really targeted fashion: those folks most likely to read and potentially need my services/products. Sort-of ‘hot leads.’ No spam.
  3. Like you, I let social media splash my content to enable interested folks to find it and start conversations. I get many new subscribers and ‘friends’ weekly. My lists grow with interested folks. Daily, I get Thank You notes that begin conversations and sell products.

Questions:

  • Why would people open your content if they consider it spam?
  • How can you compose true thought pieces that people want to open?
  • How can you use your content to facilitate each stage of the pre-sales and buying decision path?
  • Seriously: are you willing to try something different to get a higher ‘conversion’ rate? Seriously.

What you’re doing now only converts the low hanging fruit. It’s possible to enter earlier by offering valuable intelligence that will encourage curiosity; introduce, explain and target the full set of decision stages; and keep your name topmost in buyer’s minds. You’re currently taking the lazy route: throwing spaghetti on the wall hoping enough of it will stick. Do you want to write? Or enable real business opportunities?

__________

Sharon Drew Morgen is a writer/author of one NYTimes Business Bestseller and two Amazon best sellers, 7 books on Buying Facilitation® and how buyers buy, and 1500 articles (www.sharondrewmorgen.com). She is a trainer, speaker, coach, thought leader, and content writer. Sharon Drew is also the visionary thinker behind What? – her new book on how to avoid the gaps between what people say and what is heard. (www.didihearyou.com for free download and online assessment tools). She can be reached at www.sharondrewmorgen.com.

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08 May

Is this you?

by Michael Hoffman

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FullSizeRenderI’ve seen Hector (not his real name) wheeling his cart around Barcelona a few times. It’s massive. It must be extremely difficult to maneuver. One day I went up to him asked him if he really needed all of those things. He actually articulated an impressive defense.

Does that remind you of anyone you know?

It reminds me of all the people I have encountered who justify their overstuffed inboxes, piles of papers on their desks and drawers filled with goodness knows what. Just like this homeless person, they carry all their crap around (mostly digitally) and defend their ways as not being problematic at all for them. I can find everything; It doesn’t bother me; I’m a creative type; or the biggest lie: I don’t have the time (What they mean is: I don’t want to prioritize being orderly).

If someone took Hector’s cart, he would find a new one. In a few weeks it would be as big as he could bear because he is a pathological hoarder. What about you? Isn’t it true that those times you have cleared your desktop, physically or digitally, you have gotten some satisfaction – and maybe even some pride from the achievement? Yes, it eventually fell apart again because you didn’t have the correct habits in place, but that’s another story. The point is that it felt good. You felt organized and on top of things. If you have had moments like that, then you’re not a pathological hoarder. But if those moments are few and far-between you’re also not at your best. Imagine having that feeling of being at your best, not just when you finally get so tired of the mess that you painstakingly clean it up, but EVERY DAY. Just because it hasn’t worked for you in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be more consistent NOW. It just means that you need some help in finding out what the trick is – for you – from someone who has enabled many others in the past.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time to build new habits, but what if you could change this part of your life in a few short weeks? From then on, you’d be at your best EVERY DAY. Or you can continue with your cart; the one that everyone notices but you.

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24 Apr

Weird habit that saves my butt!

by Michael Hoffman

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I have this weird habit, one might think.

Before I click send on a mail that contains a document that I have attached, I open the document and check it one last time.

Even if I have already gone through the document, or have just created it, I open it once it is attached to the mail and ready to go.

Here are some of the catastrophes it has prevented in the past:

  • Wrong document attached
  • Spreadsheet opens to wrong tab
  • I missed adding a slide to a PowerPoint
  • I missed some logos on some slides
  • Misspellings

 And I’m sure there are more that don’t recall at the moment.  There is something about viewing the mail as the customer would that sharpens our mind and makes it more “real”, which gets my concentration to another level.

Some may find it weird, but I live by it.

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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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22 Feb

Atrendia Friday Video 12 – Don Tapscott – Getting Beyond E-mail

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In this McKinsey interview, Don Tapscott describes how we get beyond e-mail to the new social platforms.  He focuses on the central and compelling point that you don’t leverage knowledge through containerization, but through collaboration.

Don Tapscott

Tapscott has authored or co-authored fourteen books on the application of technology in business and society. His 2006 book, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2006) co-authored by Anthony D. Williams, was an international bestseller, #1 on the 2007 management book charts, and was translated into 20 languages (Source: Wikipedia)

This very short video is a must for those of you who want to confirm your belief that social collaboration tools are not only important, but inextricably so.

Contact me if you are interested in finding out more information about how to propel your organization in the direction of less siloing and more collaboration through the proper mindset, methods and cutting edge tools.

Click here to enjoy the video

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program

Happy Friday!

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11 Jan

Atrendia LeanMail V.3.1

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We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.1 of the Atrendia LeanMail add-ins for Outlook 2007 and 2010.

 


This new version has several significant improvements including:

  • A “Read” button has been added in order to archive mails with the category *Read for mails that you want to read at some point but don’t want to assign a Next Action or When, i.e. newsletters, articles, documents, personal mail, etc. (2010 only)
  • The “New and Due” view has been replaced with a “Today” view that shows mails that have come due today (or previously). It will no longer distract you with new mails, which you can see in the “Prioritize”, “Plan” and “All” views.
  • The “New and Due” view (now the “Today” view) has a separate button rather than toggling with the “All E-mails” view.
  • The current view is now highlighted on the toolbar.
  • The “All Mails” view (now called “All”) is now sorted by Date then by Next Action rather than Priority so that you can see mails grouped by Next Actions.
  • You are now able to drag and drop groups of mails from one date to another in the “All” mails view.  (use Shift or Ctrl depending on whether they are situated together or separated, respectively) – making it easier to have snow at the end of each day!
  • A “Snow” button has been added.  With just two clicks you can send your “Snow” print-screens to Atrendia during the course of the training or whenever you like in order to receive feedback. (2010 only)
  • A “Rapid Response” button has been added allowing you choose from a drop-down list of responses in order to cut down on time spent typing and re-typing common mails. (2010 only)
  • A “Send with Category” button has been added allowing you to assign and automatically send a mail with one or more categories.
  • Probably the most significant improvement is the fact that we have built in a work flow so that once you have prioritized your mails in the “Prioritize” view, you are transported automatically to the “Plan” view. Once you have answered or planned your mails you are transported to the “Today” view.
  • Post-it notes no longer require Next Actions; instead, the subject line is duplicated automatically in the Next Action column.
  • Tip text has been added to the buttons in order to remind you about how to use each function. (2010 only)
  • There have also been a number of small bug fixes regarding categories.

 

For licensed users only, please click on this link to download the LeanMail Add-in for 2010.

For licensed users only, please click on this link to download the LeanMail Add-in for 2007.

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