A manual override


The more we can do on our own, the more we like it. Doing things on line, buying tickets at the machine, self service everything. When it works, no fuss no muss, all is good with the world.

When we need reassurance, or guidance, or have to navigate in unfamiliar waters … there better be a human to hold our hand and make things right. And all is still good with the world.

The real test comes when we don’t fit the model, or the system breaks – and hand holding just leads us to the same brick wall.

What then?

You can blame the system, leave customers hanging, tell them to go elsewhere, leave them to find their own way home (to another vendor?), send them into phone queue hell, keep hitting the same buttons hoping for a different result.

You, your colleagues down the hall, your customers, your staff, everyone hates a system that can’t be bent into reasonable shapes.

Step 1: Build a perfect system that handles every angle.

Step 2: Accept perfect is impossible so build a manual override with a well labeled service hatch and tools in easy reach.

Step 3: Prepare to pull on some overalls.

Skippy Strategy: Every system needs a manual override. Engineer out the need, engineer in the option.

Neatly filed under Skippiness on August 29, 2015



With your head down, focused on the beautiful complexity, busy with the day-to-day, out and about in the world, getting things done – how do you know the ship is still heading in the right direction?

There are any number of metrics that try to make sense of a steady-state business. Sales calls, pipeline value, order volume, production numbers, productivity numbers, acid-test ratio, cash at bank, revenue, profit. At a departmental or personal level, as many more ways as there are managers to invent them and staff to be managed.

Amongst all that noise, which is the one clear signal that gives the earliest indicator of a change in the wind?

It’s not revenue, not a results based metric.

It’s an input.

A beginning of things.

A blunt number that shows, at-a-glance, that this day or month or quarter or year is going to be ok. New enquiries, page views, trials started, requests to tender, cars parked, rooms booked, email responses.

The one metric that holds the promise of all the others. What is it?

Skippy Strategy: The more complex and steady-state a business, the easier it to get lost in the woods. Find the one number, in amongst the trees, that marks the path for all the others. Make it glance-able. Pay attention to the dips.

Neatly filed under Measuring on August 28, 2015

Heavy lifting


There are some jobs that need special equipment. Where the minimum viable product is the actual whole product. Where there are no short cuts or fast tracks and where just getting by just gets you nowhere.

Those times when you need powerful help to get things off the ground.

Luckily, there are specialists in heavy lifting. They’ve got the experience and the resources to roll into place when you need them. Large companies take them for granted, large projects have no choice.

There’s a cost of course, but it you want to play in the bigs …

Skippy Strategy: Recognise those times when you need help with the heavy lifting. Wheel in the big guns.

Neatly filed under Teams on August 27, 2015

Knowing scope


How big is it?

Not exactly. Not dimensions. No absolutes.

But an indication … are you measuring in inches or yards?

How big is the project? Should we raise thousands or millions? Two people or seventy-two? How tall, how fast, how much, how many? Company-wide or departmental? Just in the planning phase or all the way through? The entire system or thinking in phases?

The scope.

“Only cabbages? Ok then. Got it. I’m with you.”

The first question, when everyone’s sat down and after the chit chat: what are we talking about?

Skippy Strategy: Make sure everyone’s on the same page AND they know how big it is.

Neatly filed under Teams on August 26, 2015

Rocks of indifference


There are Windows people and MacOS people. Even some Linux people.

There are iPhone people and Android people. Even some Blackberry people.

Not changing, not seeing the benefits in the other system, not considering the switch. It’s nothing to do with the comparative merits of either product.

No one’s looking for a rational argument.

It’s not an aversion to change, nothing to do with risk or sunk cost or the dread of learning how to do everything, again. It’s not about stacking the pros and cons.

They’re just happy with what they’ve got.

Bringing new products to the world, new ways of doing things to your organisation, new ideas to the table …  the greatest barrier to entry is the status quo.

Skippy Strategy: Rational reasoning and emotional appeal break on the rocks of indifference. More fertile ground: someone who’s actively looking for new.

Neatly filed under Making Promises on August 25, 2015