Markovitz Consulting

The Lockdown Unlocks Real Work

Markovitz Consulting

Peter Drucker once quipped that, “Much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”

(Value Stream) Map Your Way to a Better Post-Covid Future

Markovitz Consulting

At some point, the COVID pandemic will pass, whether that’s due to a vaccine, a 2-minute test, or herd immunity. But if you want to thrive in the post-COVID world, you’ve got to start working on operational improvements now.

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Don't Let This Happen to Your Work From Home Colleagues

Markovitz Consulting

A client of mine has started to bring some of their employees back into the office. They’re not ending their work from home policies, but increasingly higher ranking staff are coming back to the mothership, particularly for important meetings. This shift makes sense for many reasons, but it’s having three unfortunate side effects.

COVID-19 is the Best Thing to Happen to Your Company. Seriously.

Markovitz Consulting

You’ve heard it countless times before: “People don’t like change.” Change is hard.” Change activates people’s lizard brain. They’ll fight you or run away.” People don’t mind changing. They don’t like being changed.” You hear these complaints so often that you’d think they’re inscribed in the 10 Commandments by now. They’re not, by the way.) Sure, there’s plenty of truth in those sayings, but the good news is that right now—in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak—they’re less relevant than ever.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

COVID: A Golden Opportunity to Move Forward

Markovitz Consulting

At some point, the COVID pandemic will pass, whether that’s due to a vaccine, a two-minute test, or herd immunity. But if you want to thrive in the post-COVID world, you’ve got to start working on operational improvements now. After all, if you’re walking to the starting line while your competitors are already settled into the blocks, you’ll never catch up.

Are You Setting the Right Trajectory?

Markovitz Consulting

Books devoted to problem-solving emphasize the importance of deeply understanding the problem before implementing countermeasures. Many of them (including mine !) cite Charles Kettering’s maxim that “A problem well-framed is a problem half-solved.” But what, precisely, is a “well-framed” problem? I’ve written before about some of the obvious errors to avoid—couching a solution in the form of a problem, and relying in generalities instead of specifics.

Want To Be On The Leading Edge? Forget About It.

Markovitz Consulting

Don’t be seduced by the siren song of the leading edge. While it’s a nice concept, it’s not nicknamed “the bleeding edge” for nothing. All too often, companies that strive for first mover advantage bleed their products—or their entire organization—to death. Peter Golder and Gerard Tellis’s seminal study of 500 brands in 50 product categories reveals that almost half of market pioneers fail.

Leadership in World 2.0 is Going to Look a Lot Like World 1.0

Markovitz Consulting

Bah humbug! I’m tired of hearing about how much business and leadership is going to change in the “World 2.0.” It’s not. The fundamental principles of good business transcend the effects of COVID-19, the shift to work from home, new technologies, and all the other changes we’re living with now. To be sure, if you own cruise ships, an airline, or a live concert venue, you’ll have to deal with serious changes to your business models for a while.

Jumping to a Solution (Gun Crime Edition)

Markovitz Consulting

Effective problem solving hinges on the ability to frame a problem properly. Not for nothing do people repeatedly trot out Einstein’s (purported) quote that “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Spending 92% of the time trying to understand the real problem is a good countermeasure to the very human tendency to leap to solutions.

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B2B Pocket Playbook: End-to-End Guide to Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing sales teams with the content, guidance, and mentorship needed to engage targeted buyers. It’s all about equipping sales professionals with the tools they need to put their best-selling foot forward. And if sales teams want to continuously sell better -- and faster -- their sales enablement process must have a game-winning strategy. It's time for you to start selling smarter - and hitting your sales number - with the best B2B database in the market. Get started today.

Why Ping-Pong Post-It Notes Are Bad For You

Markovitz Consulting

One of my clients, a physician in an academic medical center, has been struggling with her personal kanban. She avoided all the common pitfalls—she kept finished tasks in her Done column, limited her WIP, and used Super Sticky Post-It notes to ensure that she didn’t lose any work to evening janitorial services. But she wasn’t making a whole lot of progress, which left her was frustrated with the kanban—it wasn’t helping her manage her work.

Can a Public Company Ever Be Lean?

Markovitz Consulting

Can public US companies really embrace lean? Well sure, they can deploy lean tools here and there, but the whole socio-technical system that comprises lean? I don’t think so. Wall Street pressure for quarterly profits competes fiercely with lean principles, both inside and outside the company.

The road to hell is paved with metrics.

Markovitz Consulting

Michael Harris and Bill Tayler wrote a terrific article in the new Harvard Business Review on “metrics surrogation”—the tendency for people to mentally replace their business strategy with metrics. Although these metrics are supposed to reflect the company’s progress towards its goals, the focus on metrics can destroy an organization.

Fixes That Fail

Markovitz Consulting

I survived four reorganizations during my time working in corporate America. They all looked good on paper. None of them made a difference to our bottom lines. The reorgs didn’t address the real problems with our products and pricing. Moreover, like most reorganizations, it destroyed the relationships, experience, and tribal knowledge that expedite decision-making and improve performance.

Pressure Points: How to Ensure Your B2B Pipeline Passes Inspection

This eBook highlights best practices for developing a pipeline management process that helps sales leaders and their team C.L.O.S.E (you’ll see what we mean in this eBook) more revenue through data-driven prospecting, stage analysis, and subsequent sales enablement.

Zoom? Slack? Phone? Text? Smoke Signals? Don’t Use a Hammer When You Need a Wrench.

Markovitz Consulting

Zoom is the new email—something we love to hate, indispensable but painful, both the bane and the boon of our work existence. I’d argue that it’s not only due to the inherent mismatch between normal human interaction and the limitations of technology. It’s also due to the overwhelming increase in the time we’re spending in virtual meetings.

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Just the Facts, Ma'am

Markovitz Consulting

Taiichi Ohno said, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.” You can leave out the word “manufacturing,” and apply the concept to anything in your company or your life. Facts are more important than data. When he talked about his preference for facts over data, he was urging people to go and see for themselves. Gathering facts comes from close observation of people, of objects, of spaces.

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Craftsmanship, not Kaizen?

Markovitz Consulting

“Everyday improvement, everybody improvement, everywhere improvement.” That was Masaaki Imai’s, ahem, improvement on his earlier English translation of kaizen (which you can see in this video ). Sadly, even though we’ve been preaching from this hymnal for more than 30 years, most organizations have a long way to go before the kaizen spirit is truly woven into its DNA. Perhaps there’s a better way to get people to embrace the concept.

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The Food Industry Learns the Value of Small Batch Thinking

Markovitz Consulting

The disruption caused by COVID-19 has forced businesses to adopt new ways of operating. That transition hasn’t been comfortable or easy, but it’s made the value of the small-batch mindset that we use in lean apparent in sectors that haven’t considered it before.

Marketing-Led Post-COVID-19 Growth Strategies

Businesses are laying off workers, shutting their doors (some permanently), and struggling to react to the radical destruction that coronavirus (COVID-19) is doing to our society and communities. Most have already sustained massive damage, and we still have yet to see the scope of impact of the global pandemic that has upended the globe. Any return to normalcy may seem far-off, but sales and marketing are on the front lines of restarting the economy. When the dust settles, we have a responsibility to turn our shock and grief into fierce determination, and lead the charge of responsible, strategic, sustainable future growth. However, there’s no team better suited to lead that charge than the marketing department. Marketers are uniquely positioned to provide creative solutions to aid their organization in times of change and chart a course for navigating success.

Shorter Hours Is the Kaizen Mindset

Markovitz Consulting

Are businesses finally starting to question the assumption that more hours at the office equals more value for the customer? Back in November, I mentioned that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Last week the Wall Street Journal hit the topic again.

How to Approach Your Problems the Right Way

Markovitz Consulting

One of the participants in my virtual workshop on better decision making suggested that I stop using the term “problem solving.” In his company, they use the term “ problem learning.” I hadn’t heard that expression before, but I really like it. When we talk about “problem solving,” we’re subtly pushed towards finding an answer, fixing the situation, and moving on.

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How Scientific Thinking Won the Women’s World Cup Title

Markovitz Consulting

In the glow of the US women’s national soccer team’s World Cup title—and the long record of success the team has had over the years—it’s easy to forget that victory didn’t always seem quite so inevitable. Although the team dominated and won the World Cup in 2015, a year later it lost to Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Olympics. Coach Jill Ellis noticed that Sweden employed a fundamentally different strategy than she expected. To add to the problem, many of her key players were getting older.

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How's That Zoom Thing Working Out For You?

Markovitz Consulting

We’re all engaged in a massive experiment we didn’t plan on running: what happens when we make our employees work remotely? The scientific mindset—whether you call it Kata, or Plan-Do-Check-Act, or something else—directs you to first make a hypothesis, then run the experiment, and then check the results. Only in our COVID-19 world, we’re running the experiment (working remotely) without having made any hypothesis first about what would happen when pajamas become the default work clothes.

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How ZoomInfo Helps Overcome the Top Pain Points of Inside Sales

Recent digital transformation has shifted the B2B landscape by ushering in the era of buyer empowerment. With more access to user reviews, analyst opinion, and industry research, decision-makers are more informed than ever while navigating what is now known as the “buyer’s journey.”

Open Enrollment Class for "The Conclusion Trap"

Markovitz Consulting

Do you (or people in your organization) jump to solutions? Is it hard to get people to slow down before making decisions? Do you want to get better at solving problems? If so, you’ll be interested in an open enrollment class I’m teaching at the Stanford Continuing Studies program on July 11. Better Decision Making: Avoiding the Conclusion Trap and Other Pitfalls ” is a class based on my new book, The Conclusion Trap. The class runs on Saturday and Sunday for 2.5 hours each day.

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You Don’t Have To Be A Superforecaster To Think Like One.

Markovitz Consulting

Time magazine reports that the “superforecasters” working for a spinoff of Good Judgement Open are astonishingly good at making highly accurate predictions about complex global events. They nailed the approval of the Brexit vote in 2020, Saudi Arabia’s decision to partially take its national gas company public in 2019, and the status of Russia’s food embargo against some European countries also in 2019. They’ve even been on target with epidemiological predictions about the rate of COVID-19 cases.

Why I Was Wrong About 2 Second Lean

Markovitz Consulting

It’s time to admit that one of my consulting approaches has failed. I’m a huge fan of Paul Akers’ 2 Second Lean philosophy. It’s simple, easy to understand, and has an intrinsic appeal: “fix what bugs you.” Figure out how to do your job two seconds faster each day.” Who wouldn’t sign on to a lean program that promotes that mindset?

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Better Managers Isn't Enough for Higher Engagement

Markovitz Consulting

(Note: this article first appeared in Industry Week.) A recent article by Sam Walker in the Wall Street Journal argues that better managers are the key to delivering better results. Walker cites research by Gallup showing that the quality of middle managers determines 70% of the variance between high-performing and low-performing companies.

Marketing Ops: The New Revenue Hero

As data continues to play a starring role in today’s B2B organizations, both marketing and sales operations professionals are poised to solidify their place as critical revenue drivers. In particular, the evolution of the Marketing Operations (Ops) role has created a new standard in marketing and has become a vital component of an organization’s success.

When Leaders Torture Their Employees

Markovitz Consulting

Pity the employees at a Starbucks in midtown NYC. In a misguided attempt to improve quality, the management posts monthly scores on a variety of metrics. without understanding anything about effective use of metrics. In this photo, you can see the percentage of customers who responded “Strongly Agree” on questions related to store cleanliness, order accuracy, food taste, connection, “going above and beyond,” and other areas of concern. Measurement is a good idea, but only if it’s done well.

Boeing Starliner Failure: Lessons for Your Lean Program

Markovitz Consulting

Boeing’s Starliner failed an important test flight two weeks ago. It was supposed to rendezvous with the International Space Station, but was unable to reach the correct orbit. The problem with this engineering marvel? Not the complex aerodynamics, not the critical separation from the Atlas V rocket, not the all-important re-entry heat shield. No, the problem was with the internal clock.

CEO Overwhelm Video Series is Live

Markovitz Consulting

As many of you know, I conducted a study of CEO overwhelm this winter. It wasn’t entirely surprising that CEOs (and other leaders) who embraced lean habits and principles in their work felt less overwhelmed by the demands on their time and attention. In the study, I made a few brief suggestions about how to deal with the root cause of overwhelm. But the limits of a PowerPoint format made it difficult to go into much detail.

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Do You Really Understand the Problem You’re Trying to Solve?

Markovitz Consulting

“The problem is, I don’t have a sales manager I can trust.” Those were the words of the CEO of a rapidly growing logistics company in explaining why she wasn’t spending more time on the large, critical, strategic issues that desperately needed her attention. Too bad that she didn’t read my new book, The Conclusion Trap. Then she’d realize that she really didn’t understand her problem at all. You hear people voice this kind of “problem” all the time.

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What We Learned From Our Own Data-Driven ABM Strategy

ZoomInfo has created the following eBook to help other B2B organizations gain insights on how to launch their own data-driven ABM strategy. In this eBook, we will reveal the good and the bad from our own campaign and highlight some key takeaways on how to improve your ABM strategies moving forward.

A Better Way to Visualize Hoshin Plans

Markovitz Consulting

The hoshin kanri X-matrix makes my head hurt. I mean, kudos to the person who invented it for creating something so incredibly compact and information-dense. But I’m not sure it’s the easiest way to convey the information in the hoshin plan. Small dots in three locations on a spreadsheet with text running in two directions isn’t a recipe for easy digestion. image via kanbanize.com. (I I was gratified to learn from Katie Anderson that Toyota doesn’t use the X-matrix.

What Lean CEOs Know That Typical CEOs Don't

Markovitz Consulting

This winter, I surveyed nearly 100 CEOs from a wide variety of companies—large and small, multiple industries—about their feelings of overwhelm due to the staggering demands on their time. I wanted to see if there was anything to learn from how they dealt with their managerial burdens. I found that there were, in fact, lessons to be learned. CEOs that embraced lean principles felt significantly less overwhelm than “typical” CEOs despite the fact that they had less support staff.

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It’s Not “Time Management.” It’s Lean.

Markovitz Consulting

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA , a financial advisory firm in Australia.

Are Your Values Worth the Paper They’re Printed On?

Markovitz Consulting

The unprecedented technical, logistical, and financial stresses placed on organizations today make the coronavirus crisis a crucible for an organization’s commitment to its values. There’s not a company around—not even the ones doing well during this time, like Netflix or Zoom—that isn’t wrestling with the new reality of Covid-19. And clearly, the stress is exponentially worse for companies in industries like travel and leisure that aren’t thriving in the current environment.

Catch Them If You Can: The Passive Candidates Edition

With the right tools and mindset, it’s possible to track down this candidate (and many others like them!). How? Simple: By thinking like one. To get started on your search, we’ve gathered clues you’ll need to get in the mind of your passive prospects.