September – October, 2013

Volume 3, Number 5

In This Issue

·    Fall is Here

·    The Board of Peers Test

·    Shotguns or Lasers?

·    Junk Food for the Mind

·    Link of the Month

·    The Coffee Ring Analysis

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Fall is Here


Fall is upon us – the days are getting colder, leaves are falling, and soon we’ll turn back those clocks giving us an extra hour for a day.

As the trees shed their leaves, we too should shed some of those low-value-add tasks off our to-do lists.  The end of the year is now in sight.  What is standing in the way of you reaching your goals for the year?  This may be an excellent time to revisit our to-do lists and take a hard look at prioritizing for the rest of the year.  If we can’t get everything done with excellence, what are the top 3-5 things we can do a stellar job of executing?

A year is somewhat like a marathon race. If we pace ourselves throughout the year we can sprint to a finish at the end.  Now may be the time to commence with that sprint to goal line!


Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

The Board of Peers Test

When it comes time to fix a business process, those of us in the OpEx world are often faced with a number of choices.  Many times we’re selecting the lesser of several evils and trying to balance numerous variables with no good way to optimize all.  In short, sometimes it’s hard making a decision!

If you ever find yourself in a position where you have to make a tough call, consider applying the “Board of Peers” test.  It’s quite simple actually – just ask yourself this:  If you had to defend your actions and decisions in front of a board of your professional peers, could you logically and rationally justify your decisions and behaviors?    Want your approach to be super bullet-proof?   Then apply the “Hostile Board of Peers” test.  In this variation, you imagine yourself presenting to a Board of Peers who don’t really like you and will not give you the “benefit of the doubt”.  


This is a fast and simple way to evaluate what you are doing on a daily basis – just ask yourself “Would this pass a Board of Peers Test?”

Shotguns or Lasers? 

Is your organization taking a shotgun or a laser-based approach to running projects where you work?  In a shotgun-based approach you launch projects broadly and in mass quantities in a “spray and pray” type effort.  A laser-based approach maintains a laser-like focus on fewer, but higher-impact projects.

Which approach you choose depends on your overall philosophy.  If you are of the school of thought “We can do 100 things half-way or 10 things with excellence” – you will likely choose a laser-like approach to focusing intently on the execution of a short list of strategic projects.  If you lean more toward a school of thought such as “We’ll throw a lot of resources at this – some things will stick and others won’t, but it should get better” then maybe your folks are carrying shotguns.  Many of the OpEx methods available today prefer a laser-based approach.  The most dangerous method?  It’s what my friend Sam Waldo calls the “”Laser Shotgun” – here organizations are really good at adding laser-focused projects but find themselves doing so many of them at once, that people and resources get swamped and quality of the overall effort is compromised!

Junk Food for the Mind

Decades ago, famous motivational speaker Earl Nightingale wrote a fascinating book called The Strangest Secret in which he tells us “we become what we think about most.”  That's an interesting thought to ponder.   Here’s a quote from an unrelated anonymous source:  “As a person thinks so shall they behave.”    


Underlying both of these quotes is a simple concept:  our thoughts drive our behaviors.  What does this mean to us?  If it’s Saturday morning, you get out of bed and your first thought is “What cartoons are on today?” that will drive a certain behavior.  If you ask a higher quality of question such as “What’s the best use of my time this morning?” or “What needs to be done around the house?” or “How can I surprise and delight my spouse today?” you may find yourself having a higher quality day.  Much like there is junk food for your body, there are also “junk questions” for your mind.  To read a short article on how this phenomenon impacts us daily, click here.

Link of the Month

Data security is a perennial issue.  Do you have a password on your system?  How secure is it?  The data security company SplashData publishes an annual list

of the worst passwords of the year based on common passwords posted by hackers.  They recently released their 2013 list.  The top 3 bad passwords?   password,  123456 and 12345678.  To view the top 25 worst passwords of the year visit this link.

The Coffee-Ring Analysis

Want a quick way to look at your latest Customer or Employee survey results?   Consider using a Coffee-Ring Analysis.   That’s a nickname attached to using a Venn Diagram to sort through your survey findings.  Construction is simple, interpretation is intuitive, and it helps prioritize your efforts at a glance.

It’s your choice as to what each circle represents, but here is a popular situation: 

  • In one circle, enter the question numbers of all low-scoring questions
  • In a second circle, enter the question numbers of those questions whose scores have gotten worse since the last survey
  • The third circle represents those questions where you are worse than a comparison group (a competitor, another business unit in your company, etc.)   Alternately, the third circle can represent those questions included in a key index or are highly correlated with the overall metric you are driving (Repurchase, Loyalty, etc.)

Question numbers appearing inside the intersection of all 3 circles become an area of focus – where you scored low, are worse than last time, and are behind competition!



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© 2013 The Jeff Cole Group , Ltd.