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New River LeanCoffee Starting up

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

So I am starting a LeanCoffee group in the New River Valley. We’ll probably meet in one of the Panera Bread location…Blacksburg or Christiansburg.

Contact me if you want to join and be part of it.

Allan

 

Lean Coffee started in Seattle in 2009. Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith wanted to start a group that would discuss Lean techniques in knowledge work – but didn’t want to start a whole new cumbersome organization with steering committees, speakers, and such. They wanted a group that did not rely on anything other than people showing up and wanting to learn or create.

Now, Seattle Lean Coffee happens every week, is very popular, and requires only that someone who has been there before shows up – and even then it’s just so they know where we stash the post-it notes.

HOW DOES LEAN COFFEE WORK?
The format for a Lean Coffee is very simple. This is intentional. It is meant to be the least structure necessary for a coherent and productive meeting. No more, no less.

1. Set up a Personal Kanban

Create a Ready | Doing | Done -> The simplest Personal Kanban

In this Personal Kanban we have the items to discuss, what we are currently discussing, and the discussed columns.

This provides a structure for the conversation. Next we populate it

2. What to Discuss

People all get pads of post-it notes and a pen. They then start to add their topics for conversation into the “to discuss” column. These can be literally whatever people want to discuss or follow a theme. Right now, we want to encourage as many unique ideas as we can.

When the ideas start reach a certain point (an you’ll be the best judge of when that is), each topic gets a 1 to 2 sentence introduction. This way people know what to vote for.

3. Vote and Talk

Each participant gets two votes. You can vote twice for the same thing or for two different topics. Simple put a dot on the sticky you are interested in. Tally the dots. Then you are ready to have a conversation.

The power here is that you now have a list of topics everyone at the table is interested in and is motivated to discuss for real.

For more info, go to leancoffee.com

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Social Media Seminar – We took a risk and…it paid off!

August 23, 2010 1 comment

So last Thursday I had the privileged of moderating the Social Media Seminar For the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Business Expo. The panel is listed on the previous blog.

When I had spoken with Catherine Sutton from the Chamber a month ago, the panel was going to each spend 10 min giving a presentation. After forty to fifty minutes, there would be a Q and A session.

That just didn’t seem to sit right with me so I made a few suggestions and Catherine was very willing to try them out. I wanted the interaction to mimic social media. I was not sure that Catherine would go with it. It was going to be a risk because it was the first time we met and we had never worked together before.  Apart from the faux pas I made addressing her when it started, I think it went rather well. This is what we did:

  • Instead of me introducing the panel, it was much more effective having the panel introduce themselves briefly. It saved me from memorizing or making a statement about their achievements and credentials only to have them say “Oh, if only half of that was true…” in order to be modest. This panel would never do that but why take that chance.
  • We nixed the podium. Rather we sat comfortably and interacted with them at a peer level. Sharing information. It was an attempt at mimicking social media.
  • I gave out my mobile number (should have used google voice’s instead) and my twitter account. Attendants could tweet,  text or simply put their hands up. This way they could take their time to formulate it and not interrupt the panel of other attendants. It also prevent them from simply giving up when they failed to see an opening to ask their questions. That went very well and NRVLiving broke the ice and tweeted…
  • I am sure you recall a time when you spoke and did not realize the time. In order to prevent boring the audience, I gave the panel a hands signal which essentially meant ” wrap it up” and pass the mic back to me. The panel was exceptionally responsive to that made my job very easy and enjoyable. We even had many instances of some friendly banter.
  • I had the privilege of knowing most of the panel and we had the chance to have lunch earlier at Jane Dalier’s of the Valley Business Front. She was an exceptional host and the food and conversation was very stimulating.
  • During the event, Anne and Lynda suggested texting people at the expo and the first one that came in won a $10.00 prize. It was spontaneous – and the audience and panel had  fun with that.

I am looking forward to moderating more events open to this kind of response, energy, humor, and interaction. It was definitely a social event! The hour and a half went so fast we hardly noticed it. We forgot to take a break!

One word to describe the event – “Extemporaneous”.

4 Reasons to attend this Social Media Seminar

August 18, 2010 1 comment

Social media the last few years have gone viral…pun intended. It seems everywhere you turn, there it is. I was asked to be on the social media panel for the NCTC (New River Corridor Technology Council) a couple weeks ago. This week I will be moderating a panel consisting of bloggers, SEO experts, social media experts for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

You think you know “social media” till you have to be on a panel or have to moderate one. I have learnt more in the last couple weeks than I have in the last year. I am not an expert nor do I claim to be one. It is just an intriguing area for me and I use it often. As an entrepreneur, a business advisor and coach, I have to ask myself and others that are experts in this area some tough questions:

1. What are the security issues surrounding social media

2. How to create an effective social media strategy for your company

3. How to leverage it effectively and efficiently to get your message across and to interact and dialog with the group of people that COUNT

4. Finally with regards to marketing – what is the ROI and how to measure it…

The panelist are:

1. Anne Giles Clelland is the former founder of business new site Handshake 2.0 (www.handshake20.com ) and the President and CEO of Handshake Media, Inc., which is a new media PR firm.

2. Janeson Keeley is the owner of JTKWeb in Roanoke where she specializes in Web site development and search engine optimizations. She is also the founder of TweetVA (www.tweetva.com ).

3. Dan Smith is the editor and co-owner of Valley Business FRONT.  He has been a journalist for more than 40 years and is the founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference.

4. Lynda McNutt Foster is with Fast Training which is a one stop source for small business. They utilize Synergy Sessions (www.synergysessions.org) that focus on tools and techniques that promote education and collaboration for small business owners.

I am looking forward to asking some tough questions and learning from these experts. Feel free to let me know if you have anything you would like me to ask the panelists.

4 Reasons to attend this Social Media Seminar

August 18, 2010 1 comment

Social media the last few years have gone viral…pun intended. It seems everywhere you turn, there it is. I was asked to be on the social media panel for the NCTC (New River Corridor Technology Council) a couple weeks ago. This week I will be moderating a panel consisting of bloggers, SEO experts, social media experts for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

You think you know “social media” till you have to be on a panel or have to moderate one. I have learnt more in the last couple weeks than I have in the last year. I am not an expert nor do I claim to be one. It is just an intriguing area for me and I use it often. As an entrepreneur, a business advisor and coach, I have to ask myself and others that are experts in this area some tough questions:

1. What are the security issues surrounding social media

2. How to create an effective social media strategy for your company

3. How to leverage it effectively and efficiently to get your message across and to interact and dialog with the group of people that COUNT

4. Finally with regards to marketing – what is the ROI and how to measure it…

The panelist are:

1. Anne Giles Clelland is the former founder of business new site Handshake 2.0 (www.handshake20.com ) and the President and CEO of Handshake Media, Inc., which is a new media PR firm.

2. Janeson Keeley is the owner of JTKWeb in Roanoke where she specializes in Web site development and search engine optimizations. She is also the founder of TweetVA (www.tweetva.com ).

3. Dan Smith is the editor and co-owner of Valley Business FRONT.  He has been a journalist for more than 40 years and is the founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference.

4. Lynda McNutt Foster is with Fast Training which is a one stop source for small business. They utilize Synergy Sessions (www.synergysessions.org) that focus on tools and techniques that promote education and collaboration for small business owners.

I am looking forward to asking some tough questions and learning from these experts. Feel free to let me know if you have anything you would like me to ask the panelists.

5 reasons people fail to meet their goals

June 29, 2010 2 comments

s.m.a.r.t.

By following the acronym S.M.A.R.T., one can avoid setting oneself for failure. S.M.A.R.T. stand for specific, measurable, attainable, result oriented and timely goals. This subject of goal setting inevitably comes up as I work with companies and their executives. It seems to be the exercise of choice for a strategic planning session, yet many of these goals go unmet.

Goal setting has the tendency to bring out the finger-pointing-blame-game in some people. During my years as a consultant, executives and managers would share a list of historical and lofty goals with me…which have usually gone unmet. The general feelings are “if I do not do it myself, it will not get done”…at least not get done properly. I am sure you have seen that. This causes disillusionment and saps moral and motivation.

The reasons companies/executives fail to meet their goals are many. Here are 5:

1. They are not SPECIFIC enough.

2. They are not MEASURABLE or being measured.

3. They are not attainable or ACHIEVABLE. They may be too lofty or idealistic.

4. They have not identified the RESULTS they want to achieve.

5. Finally, they do not TIME or have a deadline for meeting those goals.

Jim Flowers, the Executive Director for the Virginia Tech Knowledge Works at the Corporate Research Center, is often heard saying, “Inherent in every goal is permission to stop trying”. The first time I had the chance to hear it was at an Entrepreneur Summit in 2009. His alternative to “setting goals” was “making commitments”.

This reminds me of the World Cup Soccer games taking place in South Africa. Why does the US team consistently concede the first goal to the other team? Is this the underdog mindset? Even the commentators say, “It seems like the team is still on the bus during the first half.” Can this be a commitment issue? What would be necessary for then to be willing to take and maintain the lead?

Ask yourself the same questions: What is preventing you from meeting and exceeding your goals?

Allan is available for consulting/coaching and can be reached here.

Should Businesses be on steroids? Part 2

May 11, 2010 2 comments

In the last post, you may draw the conclusion that steroids is bad. That is NOT what I am saying. Just that a company might not want to seriously evaluate their marketing campaign because it may indicate something is wrong.

So when would one use steroids in real life?

Cortisone is a type of steroid produced naturally in the adrenal glands and is released into the blood stream when the body is under stress. This short acting response helps our fight-flight reaction and enables us to deal with pain in order to perform in extreme conditions.

People experiencing acute or chronic pain can get a synthetic cortisone injection directly applied into the area of inflammation such as the joints or in the spinal and cervical areas. These are more potent and can last from days to months…a way to manage pain or mask a problem. It can help someone break the cycle of pain long enough to go through rehab and/or let the body heal itself.

What does that idea mean in business?:

1. There may be a time for a company to be on “Steroid” – like bringing in an infusion of cash, or hire consultants.  It is like that shot in the area of pain.

2. You can use this idea to help break the cycle of  low productivity, low moral, bottlenecks, stagnation, or even to take the company to the next level of growth (e.g. to manage change).

3. It should be used as a stop gap till the organization finds a long term solution. This is not unlike the current “top-hat” BP is deploying to handle the oil leak in the gulf.

Allan can be reached for a free initial  consultation to determine whether you need that “shot” and how to develop a long term solution.

Should Businesses be on steroids?

April 22, 2010 1 comment

I hear it quite often. Especially when a company or individual is marketing something. The idea that someone or something on steroids is a great thing baffles me.

Now isn’t that one of the big controversies surrounding baseball? I do not know since I am not a baseball fan. Trust me, I tried. I even went to the local baseball games with my kids. We spent most of out time at the food stands. I also heard last year that a bodybuilding contest was going to test for performance enhancers and almost no one (I think no one but not sure) showed up…

So is it a really a good idea? As for me, whenever I hear:
1. This is selling on steroids…
2. This “insert business gadget” is on steroids…
3. This is networking …you got it…”ON STEROIDS!”

I think to myself, hmmm, wonder what the side effects of attending that, or purchasing that or using that product might be?

How about you? Want some:
1. Baby formula on STEROIDS?
2. Free Range Chicken on STEROIDS?
3. STARBUCKS Coffee on STEROIDS?

Okay, when I was researching on the side effects of steroids, the site that promoted steroids claims most of those side effects are myths. Perhaps you believe them. As for myself, I will stay with the organic approach. Whether that is business or food related.

It is clear that those that use steroids in real life do not really want to publish that fact. So why do businesses and marketing professionals use that phrase?