I went to a new cafe for lunch with my team this week. I can’t go there again.

The people were friendly and helpful, the premises are newly fitted out and rather designed looking. The food was good. But the organisation was so terrible I can’t go back. An example; the server took my order which was a takeaway order. Then took the orders of five other people. Then cleared some tables. Then sorted out drinks for another table. Then asked me to pay. I had been standing there with my wallet in my hand the whole time.

My guess is that this newly-opened cafe was started by a couple of people who like to cook, but have never run a cafe with high demand before.

There’s a cafe around the corner which serves hot food within about 3 minutes of reaching the counter. They’ve made the process as simple as they can; there’s a limited (but changing) selection, you pick up your own cutlery, the price is fixed. The result is speed – important to their clients who are on a short break from the office. It also means they serve more clients in the short lunch “rush”. That’s got to be better for business.

It got me thinking; how often do companies (or projects) start with the “beautiful picture” of what their business could be and ignore the reality? How is it that we can ignore what is really obvious to our customers?

Maybe it’s because we don’t ask – for example the data behind the “Perception Gap” infographic shows; 76% of social marketers feel they know what their customers want – although only 34% of them have asked customers what they want. So my restaurant problem scales up. Frightening.





image lunch

I Want It Now!

We’re getting it, we’re not getting it.

The rumours flew around the Internet all day yesterday, that Microsoft would, within weeks, be launching a suite of office tools for iPad.

Then the denial; sort of. Microsoft have apparently stated that the images are “not of a Microsoft product”. But stopped short of denying that such a product is being developed.

Obviously they should be developing Microsoft tools for iPads, given the rise and rise of iPad sales, and their use in large companies.

Large companies are the natural habitat of Microsoft, each with thousands of staff using outlook, word, PowerPoint and often SharePoint for intranet sites and collaboration environments. Increasingly iPads are invading this habitat – often starting in the niche areas of upper management and IT geeks.

I saw statistics for mobile access to our website today; for the first time iPad is in the lead at just under 40% – not bad for a device that wasn’t on the market two years ago. Windows phones have yet to reach 1%. Our website targets investors and analysts, a group who are increasingly addicted to iPads.

As people use iPads more and more for their work they’re going to want the office suite, I can get my work email on my iPad, and view powerpoint presentations in meetings (bonus – I’m printing less paper). It’s becoming the tool I travel with, but for the iPad to become a real work tool I need the office suite. This new way of working is a reality Microsoft acknowledge, and their 365 product is a strategic step in this direction. I really hope they’re not planning to use their old business model of locking people in – assuming we’ll buy devices with the windows operating system in order to use their software. They have to know that companies are moving towards “bring your own device” policies for IT.

So whatever the rumours, I’m hoping Microsoft are close to launching the Office tools for iPad.

Image cry

Three Cheers For The Geeks

Being a Geek makes you more productive, according to Chris Garrett, whose own geek credentials are impeccable. He points out that thinking about systems applies to problems outside computer systems, and that outsourcing to give yourself more think time is a great approach and not lazy at all.

My first study was in science (Biochemistry if you must know) and I have long held that the analysis skills and process thinking from this study have helped me since then in unrelated fields. I work with geeks and given that a lot of my job is about designing and managing websites I’m sure I have a small and happy inner geek.

So I’m really happy to see a positive take on what Geeks may bring to work.

And if you’re not sure whether you qualify as geek try this online test to check (hint being female automatically scores you extra points).

Image: Geek

The Email Vortex

It’s easy to get sucked into the email vortex and end up spending your whole day working on email and when five pm rolls around feel that you’ve done nothing. I spent about 2 hours last week figuring out some sensible rules that will work for me.

Emails relating to delegated stuff gets forwarded automatically, daily reports get sent to one folder and I can check through them all at once, but the best thing I did was automate CC emails.

Whereas once they clogged up my mailbox and made it impossible for me to prioritise or even find specific emails now they float into my mail box, and the float out again almost as quickly to a designated folder. I admit to sitting and watching this phenomenon several times.

Why didn’t I do this earlier? It’s only this year that I’ve taken over formally managing a team, suddenly there’s a whole lot of stuff people think I need to see – in fact my team take care of it perfectly well and in general there’s no need for my involvement.

Email management comes with the usual set of tips – and following them makes your day easier.

  1. turn off the on-screen notification
  2. set up extra folders with associated rules to get rid of stuff that’s neither urgent nor important
  3. turn off email, this is akin to blasphemy in some companies but it works.
  4. set an email routine to control the times you work on email
  5. if you’re really completely overwhelmed consider declaring email bankruptcy

Fortunately by following 1-4  I’m not ready to call email bankruptcy now.


image vortex via pixabay