Nov 14, 2007

The Craft of Power

The sultan (of Persia) had sentenced two men to death. One of them, knowing how much the sultan loved his stallion, offered to teach the horse to fly within a year in return for his life. The sultan, fancying himself as the rider of the only flying horse in the world, agreed.

The other prisoner looked at his friend in disbelief. "You know horses don't fly. What made you come up with a crazy idea like that?

"You're only postponing the inevitable."
"Not so," said the first prisoner. "I have actually given myself four chances for freedom.
First, the sultan might die during the year.

Second, I might die.

Third, the horse might die.

And fourth… I might teach the horse to fly!"

The craft of Power,
R.G.H. Siu,

What is a Leader? What is a Manager?

What Is a Manager?

The classic definition of a manager is one who gets done through other people. You may be planning, directing, controlling, hiring, delegating, assigning, organizing, motivating, disciplining, or doing any number of other things managers do on a daily basis. No matter what you do, though, you are working toward a goal by helping others do their work.

You are a manager if:

1. You direct the work, rather than perform it. Are you frequently tempted to pitch in on a regular basis or to do thework yourself, rather than delegate? If so, you’re not spending your time wisely or well. Occasionally, you may have to roll up your sleeves and work with the team on a rush project. Remember, though, you were hired to manage the staff’s work—not to be part of the staff.

2. You have responsibilities for hiring, firing, training, and disciplining employees. Staff development is an important part of your job. Such development often determines whether staff members stay with an organization or leave for better opportunities. In addition to regular performance appraisals, you should work with each person you manage to determine a career path.

3. You exercise authority over the quality of work and the

conditions under which it is performed. As a manager, your first obligation is to your people. In part, this obligation means you work to ensure a safe environment for them and to uncover potential threats to that environment. (Does your team know what to do, for example, if all the lights suddenly went out or if a bomb threat were received?) The

obligation also means you owe your customers—internal or external—the highest-quality outputs.

4. You serve as a liaison between employees and upper management. Managers wear many hats. Among them: traffic cop, psychologist, coach, minister, diplomat, and envoy. In this role, you serve as the link between those doing the work and those who need or benefit from the work being done. The liaison serves as a buffer, a praiser, a translator, and a seeker-of-resources to ensure the work is done more efficiently and the employees are recognized when they’ve completed it.

5. You motivate employees and contribute to a culture of

accomplishment. You’ve no doubt heard that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is “that little extra.” If you’re totally committed to your job as manager, then you’re aware of the need to motivate, to instill pride, to create a climate in which innovation can flourish.

What Is a Leader?

While the manager works to carry out the aims of the organization, the leader serves to create new aims, tweak old ones, or initiate new courses of action. Leadership is what Sam Walton was promoting when he

encouraged people to “eliminate the dumb.” The leader challenges

the status quo, in the most positive and diplomatic of ways, in order to continuously improve. It is the leader we turn to when we feel that “good enough” is not.

You are a leader if:

1. You believe that, working in concert with others, you can

make a difference. It’s fairly easy to make money. But leaders strive to make a difference. They are willing to make sacrifices and to inspire others to do the same. When John F. Kennedy inspired Americans to give up their life style and join the Peace Corps, he admitted he was asking them to accept the “toughest job you’ll ever love.”

2. You create something of value that did not exist before.

When you hear of someone being a leader in a particular field or when you hear of something being the leading edge, you know that person or that thing stands out by virtue of being first or being different. If you can point to one improvement you have implemented in the last six months,

you can rightfully call yourself a leader.

3. You exhibit positive energy. We gravitate toward individuals

who exude confidence. Their magnetism attracts us and we become willing followers. Call it charisma, call it enthusiasm, but know that such individuals easily lead others by virtue of their passion for accomplishment. If you fit this description, then you are known for the way you “attack” various tasks. Your fervor is unbridled. You see hurdles as things to overcome. In short, your energy energizes others.

4. You actualize. The true leader goes beyond vision to create

a new reality. He* actualizes the dream he has inspired in others. In the process of self-actualizing, the leader is becoming all that he can be and making others believe they can do the same. The leader is committed. He believes the collective actions of the whole team will lead to mission accomplishment.

5. You welcome change. Through his commitment to action, the leader treads virgin territory. He spots vacuums and works to fill them. He sees

what is invisible and inspires others to make the ideal real. Leaders know that change is progress. And to lessen the fear that progress instills, the leader is out front. He knows that he must take an “I’ll go first” approach to convince others that change is not only necessary, but that it can be good.

Engineering and Management

A man in a hot air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted. "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The woman below replied. "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 114 and 115 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information. The fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip." The woman below responded, "You must be in management."
"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you've managed to make it my fault."

Nov 11, 2007

Email Killer Organizer rev. 1

Talk about email distractions, interruptions, unfinished drafts, unread emails, read emails edited to unread status just for review? Well that is no smart way of following your ToDo emails, or tasks!

You insist on those kept Unread? you're simply missing a lot on your objectives and you think you know better! that's the catastrophe!

Let's start by deciding on the purpose of emails in order to categorize them:
-Cc, only to be kept informed
-Cc, but to follow-up as interested
-Cc, project related
-Cc, task related
-To, take action
-To, reply
-To, delegate
-To, ToDo
-To, reflect, read
-To, decide now
-To, decide later
-To, read later when free

Two major components are to start with:
The Rules Wizard and Custom Search Folder Bookmark

Use the Rules Wizard to redirect any incoming messages directly to a specified folder. Right click on that folder and set option to show unread messages only.
Use Custom Search Folder creation with required important criteria (last 3 days incoming messages, Unread ALL messages, To Do tagged category messages, flagged messages, Today Emails, Today Sent Emails, etc...)
Right-click on custom folders to show Number of messages ONLY (not unread ones)

So now you have a like Dashboard that you can start your day with, showing only important Searched criteria folders, and in case you like to see those folders with misc emails, ads, subscriptions, or important messages, you can see them without wasting time going through the threads!

When your Rules are numerous and efficient, you would reach a state where if you see emails in Inbox folder alone, this would suggest that this is either a new contact, new junk, unknown sender that you can either ignore for now, or review later for quick deletion.

Want to go that step further in extreme organization and time efficient optimization?
Use IMS systems integrated in your Outlook that allow you to Dismiss, Delegate, Unsubscribe, Auto-File, defer, and Alert tasks and messages. The system is smart, it will suggest your next moves and reminds you of pending or scheduled tasks generated from messages.

Xobni is a service that shows a thread ribbon on the right side of Outlook, showing the Contact, related messages, statistics of best email times, email usage, related file Attachments, frequent conversation sharers, etc...

Having all the above is not enough... Using it is the real deal:

1. First thing in the morning:
  • Review your Calender
  • Review your daily task list
  • Review your alerts
Use the Dashboard to size up the day

2. Twice Daily:
  • Act immediately? Reply, Delegate, or Review and File
  • Act later? Defer, Create a Task or Appointment
  • No action required? Unsubscribe or Delete
Get Tasks out of Inbox and onto the Dashboard

3. Throughout the Day:
  • Work on your Tasks by project
  • Review high priority messages only
  • Review all related information on To Do's
Get your Work Done!

Nov 10, 2007

What Your Leader Expects of You

The relationship between boss and subordinate figures largely in any team's success. Communication is key to maintaining the harmony of the boss/employee relationship.

Relationships between bosses and their subordinates figure strongly in any team’s success. When those bonds are working as they should, they drive performance and growth over the long haul. Yet while the leadership literature specifies actions bosses should take, it says little about the actions leaders should expect from their followers.

How to promote effective leader-follower relationships in your team? Former AlliedSignal CEO Bossidy advises forging a boss-subordinate compact that defines a mutual set of crystal-clear expectations.

For example, as a direct report, you’re expected to offer your creative ideas. Your boss wants to hear them, because even seemingly crazy ideas can spark spectacular successes. As the boss, you’re expected to tell your people where the business is going, why, and how they’ll benefit if they accomplish key goals. This clarity helps people see how their jobs contribute to the enterprise overall.

When each side fulfills its part of the boss-subordinate compact, your team and company benefit.

The boss-subordinate compact spells out additional expectations for both parties:

As a Subordinate…

  • Get involved. If you’re a manager, step in the moment someone falls behind with his commitments, when an interpersonal conflict crops up, and when a crisis erupts. And deliver bad news to your boss yourself.
  • Collaborate. Overcome differences between you and others so you work together effectively—even if you don’t like each other.
  • Lead initiatives. Don’t be reluctant to associate yourself with unproven ideas, especially those that cross functional or unit boundaries. Raise your hand, and you’ll climb the ladder faster than those who don’t.
  • Develop your own people. Take as active an interest in your employees’ development as you do in your own—if not more. Go out of your way to criticize and praise your people when they need it. And get directly involved in performance reviews, supplying people with specific, candid, and useful feedback.
  • Stay current. Regularly read and watch the news. What happens in the world affects what happens with your team, your marketplace, and your competition. Also know what’s going on with your customers—how they’re changing, how their competition is changing, and how technology and world events are affecting their strategies. Your customer relationships are key assets: bring them to the table.
  • Drive your own growth. Seek perpetual education and development—not necessarily by going to school but by finding exposure to new people and ideas. Seek feedback from your boss, and accept demanding assignments.
  • Be a player for all seasons. Demonstrate positive behaviors even during hard times. You’ll sustain your ability to motivate and inspire your own people no matter what’s going on around you.

As a Leader…

  • Define specific goals for your people. Specify the achievements you expect from your employees as a team and as individuals, as well as what they are going to be measured on over a given period. You’ll help them decide where to invest their energy and time.
  • Be available. If you expect your people to stay up to date and keep you informed about what’s going on, be accessible when they need to see you. And don’t come down on them if they bring you bad news.
  • Compensate employees fairly. Ensure that people understand how the compensation system works, and that they’re rewarded for specific contributions to goals you’ve laid out.-(hbr)

Becoming the Boss

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you'll hear tales of disorientation, even despair.

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you'll hear tales of disorientation, even despair. As Hill points out, most novice bosses don't realize how sharply management differs from individual work. Hampered by misconceptions, they fail the trials involved in this rite of passage. And when they stumble, they jeopardize their careers and inflict staggering costs on their organizations.

How to avoid this scenario? Beware of common misconceptions about management: For example, subordinates don't necessarily obey your orders, despite your formal authority over them. You won't have more freedom to make things happen—instead, you'll feel constrained by organizational interdependencies. And you're responsible not only for maintaining your own operations—but also for initiating positive changes both inside and outside of your areas of responsibility.

Armed with realistic expectations, you'll more likely survive the transition to management—and generate valuable results for your organization.

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you’ll hear tales of disorientation, even despair. As Hill points out, most novice bosses don’t realize how sharply management differs from individual work. Hampered by misconceptions, they fail the trials involved in this rite of passage. And when they stumble, they jeopardize their careers and inflict staggering costs on their organizations.

How to avoid this scenario? Beware of common misconceptions about management: For example, subordinates don’t necessarily obey your orders, despite your formal authority over them. You won’t have more freedom to make things happen—instead, you’ll feel constrained by organizational interdependencies. And you’re responsible not only for maintaining your own operations—but also for initiating positive changes both inside and outside of your areas of responsibility.

Armed with realistic expectations, you’ll more likely survive the transition to management—and generate valuable results for your organization.

To succeed as a new manager, Hill suggests this approach:

Myth Reality To Manage Effectively Example
Managers wield significant authority and freedom to make things happen. You are enmeshed in a web of relationships with people who make relentless and conflicting demands on you. Build relationships with people outside your group that your team depends on to do its work. A U.S. media-company manager charged with setting up a new venture in Asia initiated regular meetings on regional strategy between executives from both businesses.
Managers’ power derives from their formal position in the company. Your power comes from your ability to establish credibility with employees, peers, and superiors. Demonstrate character (intending to do the right thing), managerial competence (listening more than talking), and influence (getting others to do the right thing). An investment bank manager won employees’ respect by shifting from showing off his technical competence to asking them about their knowledge and ideas.
Managers must control their direct reports. Control doesn’t equal commitment. And employees don’t necessarily always follow orders. Build commitment by empowering employees to achieve the team’s goals—not ordering them. Instead of demanding that people do things her way, a media manager insisted on clarity about team goals and accountability for agreed-upon objectives.
Managers lead their team by building relationships with individual members of the team. Actions directed at one subordinate often negatively affect your other employees’ morale or performance. Pay attention to your team’s overall performance. Use group-based forums for problem solving and diagnosis. Treat subordinates in an equitable manner. After granting a special parking spot to a veteran salesman—a move that ruffled other salespeople’s feathers—a new sales manager began leading his entire team rather than trying to get along well with each individual.

Don’t Go It Alone

  • Recognize that your boss is likely more tolerant of your questions and mistakes than you might expect
  • Help your boss develop you. Instead of asking your boss to solve your problems, present ideas for how you would handle a thorny situation, and solicit his thoughts on your ideas
  • Find politically safe sources of coaching and mentoring from peers outside your function or in another organization


How Successful Leaders Think

The secret to becoming a great leader? Don't act like one. Instead, think like one.

Brilliant leaders excel at integrative thinking. They can hold two opposing ideas in their minds at once. Then, rather than settling for choice A or B, they forge an innovative "third way" that contains elements of both but improves on each.

Consider Bob Young, cofounder of Red Hat, the dominant distributor of Linux open-source software. The business model Young created for Red Hat transcended the two prevailing software industry models—winning Red Hat entrĂ©e into the lucrative corporate market.

How to become an integrative thinker? Resist the simplicity and certainty that comes with conventional "either-or" thinking. Embrace the messiness and complexity of conflicting options. And emulate great leaders' decision-making approach—looking beyond obvious considerations.

Your reward? Instead of making unattractive trade-offs, you generate a wealth of profitable solutions for your business.

The Idea in Practice
What does integrative thinking look like in action? Contrast conventional and integrative thinkers' approaches to the four steps of decision making:

Step 1: Identifying Key Factors
Conventional thinkers consider only obviously relevant factors while weighing options. Integrative thinkers seek less obvious but potentially more relevant considerations.

Bob Young disliked the two prevailing software business models: selling operating software but not source code needed to develop software applications (profitable but anathema to open-source advocates) or selling CD-ROMs containing software and source code (aligned with open-source values but not profitable). Seeking a third choice, he considered CIOs' reluctance to buy new technology that would be complicated to maintain. Viewing their reluctance as relevant eventually helped Young see that selling software service would be a superior alternative to the existing product-based business models.

Step 2: Analyzing Causality
Conventional thinkers consider one-way, linear relationships between factors: more of A produces more of B. Integrative thinkers consider multidirectional relationships.

Young analyzed the complex relationships among pricing, profitability, and distribution channels. He recognized that a product based on freely available components would soon become a commodity. Any electronics retailer could assemble its own Linux product and push it through its well-developed distribution channel—leaving Red Hat stranded. Analysis of these causal relationships yielded a nuanced picture of the industry's future.

Step 3: Envisioning the Decision's Overall Structure
Conventional thinkers break a problem into pieces and work on them separately. Integrative thinkers see a problem as a whole—examining how its various aspects affect one another.

Young held several issues in his head simultaneously, including CIOs' concerns, dynamics of individual and corporate markets for system software, and the evolving economics of the free-software business. Each "piece" could have pushed him toward a separate decision. But by considering the issues as an interrelated whole, Young began to realize only one player would ultimately dominate the corporate market.

Step 4: Achieving Resolution
Conventional thinkers make either-or choices. Integrative thinkers refuse to accept conventional options.

To pursue market leadership, Young devised an unconventional business model. The model synthesized two seemingly irreconcilable models by combining low product price with profitable service offerings. Red Hat began helping companies manage the software upgrades available almost daily through Linux's open-source platform. It also gave the software away as a free Internet download. Thus, Red Hat acquired the scale and market leadership to attract cautious corporate customers to what became its central offering: service, not software.

The Battle for China's Good-Enough Market

Claim your share of China's ballooning cohort of midlevel consumers by managing the risks and opportunities inherent in this pivotal middle market. Do this, and you'll strengthen your competitive position elsewhere around the globe.

Between now and 2030, China will account for one-third of the world's GDP growth. Yet many multinationals are losing share in this critical market. That's because local businesses are targeting China's ballooning cohort of midlevel consumers with reliable, low-cost products that are displacing multinationals' premium offerings. And the regional upstarts making these "good enough" products plan to use the same strategy to challenge incumbents in other emerging markets.

To defend your China position and prevent local competitors from becoming global threats, say Gadiesh, Leung, and Vestring, consider entering China's good-enough space. For instance, attack the competition from above by lowering your costs and distributing simplified, reasonable-quality offerings. If you can't reduce your costs quickly, use acquisitions to gain a toehold in this space.

By managing the risks and opportunities inherent in China's middle market, you'll claim your share of this pivotal market. And you'll strengthen your competitive position elsewhere around the globe.

The Idea in Practice
Gadiesh, Leung, and Vestring offer these guidelines for entering China's good-enough space:

Attack from Above
Moving to the good-enough segment in China is risky if you're already thriving in the premium space. For instance, your new offerings could cannibalize your high-end products. To mitigate the risks:

* Analyze the differences between China's premium and good-enough segments. You may discover strong geographic distinctions you can capitalize on.

GE Healthcare expanded sales of its MRI equipment in China by creating a line of simplified machines targeted at hospitals in China's remote and financially constrained second- and third-tier cities.

* Determine which capabilities and resources you'll need to seize opportunities in the good-enough space.

GE Healthcare assigned a special team to observe target hospitals' operations. Members also talked with administrators and physicians to determine the kinds of medical equipment they wanted, features they needed, possible price points, and required distribution and services. GE then reconfigured its existing networks of sales, distribution, and services to serve this new market.

* Stake claims in the good-enough space to box out emerging local players and global competitors that might be eyeing the same target market. By entering this space ahead of the pack, GE Healthcare defended its position against local upstarts, capturing 52% of the $238 million market in 2004.

Use Acquisitions
If you can't alter your cost structure or business processes quickly enough to compete with local players, consider mergers and acquisitions.

Anheuser-Busch owned 27% of Tsingtao Brewery, one of China's largest brewers. It outbid competitor SABMiller to acquire Harbin, the fourth-largest brewer in China. The acquisition enabled Anheuser-Busch to reach the masses while preventing Harbin from swimming upstream.

Note, though, that non-Chinese acquirers are facing tougher M&A approval processes. To increase your chances of gaining regulatory and political approval:

* Draft a compelling business case for the acquisition, citing benefits for local companies and authorities.
* Be willing to adjust the structure, terms, and conditions of the deal.
* Engage in heavy-duty relationship building, to woo critical players.

Also, to ensure that each acquisition delivers the maximum possible value:

* Select a target company that offers cost and distribution synergies with your firm and whose products won't cannibalize your premium brands.
* Overinvest in the due diligence process.
* Take a systematic approach to postmerger integration.

Building a Leadership Brand

How to grow the best leaders? Make sure they live and breathe your company's brand.

Thousands of companies spend millions on leadership development-only to get lukewarm results. Why? They rely on leadership competency models that identify generic traits (vision, direction, energy). Then they try to find and build next-generation leaders who fit the model. Result? Vanilla managers and executives who aren't equipped to manage their firm's unique challenges.

There's a better way, say Ulrich and Smallwood. Build a leadership brand: a shared identity among your organization's leaders that differentiates what they can do from what your rivals' leaders can do.

To build your leadership brand, first articulate what you want your firm to be known for by your best customers. Then link those qualities to specific managerial traits and activities. For example, Wal-Mart wants to be known for its everyday low prices. So it strives to hire and develop managers who are frugal and unassuming and who can drive a hard bargain.

Brand your firm's leadership and you deliver unique value for investors, customers, and employees-elevating market value and sharpening your competitive edge.

The Idea in Practice
Ulrich and Smallwood recommend these practices for building your leadership brand:

Nail Leadership Fundamentals
Though generic leadership competencies won't differentiate your firm from others, they're still important baseline skills for all leaders. Train your firm's leaders to master these five fundamentals:

* Strategy: developing a point of view about the future and positioning the firm for continued success
* Execution: building organizational systems that deliver results and make change happen
* Talent management: motivating, engaging, and communicating with employees
* Talent development: grooming employees for future leadership
* Personal proficiency: acting with integrity, exercising social and emotional intelligence, making bold decisions, and engendering trust

Connect Executives' Abilities to Your Desired Reputation
Decide what you want your firm to be known for, then link those brand attributes with specific leadership skills and behavior. For example, pharmaceutical company Teva's brand qualities included integrity, which managers embodied by ensuring employees delivered products on time.

Assess Leaders Against Your Leadership Brand
To ensure leaders are living up to your leadership brand, regularly assess their actions and accomplishments from an external point of view. Invite key customers, investors, and community leaders to periodically evaluate your leaders through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Let Customers and Investors Teach
Incorporate external expectations into your leadership-development efforts by:

* Giving customers a voice in training-program design
* Making sure customer expectations inform every aspect of leadership courses
* Using customers and investors to observe training sessions and to offer feedback about the content's relevancy or act as expert faculty for certain training programs
* Giving managers assignments that demand a customer "lens"

Procter & Gamble helps its leaders gain a consumer and P& L perspective early. Instead of assigning new hires to positions in individual departments such as finance, marketing, or HR, it places them with cross-unit "brand teams" who are responsible for meeting customer expectations.

Track the Long-Term Success of Your Leadership Brand
A strong leadership brand translates into superior financial performance. Evaluate the success of your leadership brand by considering how much confidence investors have in your future earnings (as expressed by your company's price/earnings ratio) and how much customers value your brand (as expressed by market share).

Nov 8, 2007

Does E-Mail Distract? Not if You Take Charge

Q. Reading and answering e-mail is taking up more and more of your time at work. How could this affect your work?

A. There is no doubt that e-mail, with its unparalleled ability to interrupt thoughts and offer other distractions, can sap productivity and undermine our ability to concentrate at work.

Some workers maintain that they can work simultaneously on e-mail and other tasks. But in fact, "our brains aren't able to do two things at one time," said Kathleen Nadeau, a business coach and clinical psychologist who specializes in attention deficit disorder and time management.

"We are constantly interrupting one task to attend to another task," she said, "and that leads to very rapid cognitive fatigue."

Q. Is there any way that e-mail can have a positive effect?

A. Some psychologists say e-mail interruptions can enhance creativity and productivity — up to a point.

Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist whose work focuses on the effects of multitasking and interruptions, said that when we receive work-related e-mail messages, they often stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, our creative center, and make us better at problem solving.

But there is a limit, Dr. Cox cautioned. "We don't know how many e-mails puts a person over the edge," he said, "but clearly at some point, it no longer leads to greater productivity."

Q. Should you try to limit the number of times you check e-mail during the day?

A. Ideally, yes, though your ability to do that will depend on your job and your industry. Most organizational experts suggest setting aside two or three times a day to check e-mail.

Christi Youd, president of Organize Enterprise, a consulting firm in Salt Lake City and author of "Organize Your Office for Success," recommends checking twice daily — "ideally at about 10 a.m., when you've got an hour or two of work behind you, and then again after lunch, at 1 or 2 p.m.," she said.

On the other hand, Debra Condren, a psychologist, author and career consultant in New York and San Francisco, said that creating specific times for checking e-mail could sometimes create more stress, especially if you miss an important message from your boss or a client.

She also said that because people have a tendency to remember an uncompleted task more vividly than a completed one, unanswered messages may stay on our minds and annoy us.

Kerul Kassel, president of New Leaf Systems, a productivity consulting firm in New Harmony, Fla., said that if it is impossible to ignore incoming e-mail for big chunks of time, putting limits on your viewing time can help. "Limit yourself, for instance, to 10 minutes each time you check," said Ms. Kassel, who also wrote a book called "Stop Procrastinating Now."

Q. What should you do when the in-box is overflowing?

A. Before opening any new messages, you may want to scan for those you are most likely able to answer in two minutes or less, and tackle those immediately.

"You don't want to have to open it again later and re-analyze the same message," said Mike Song, chief executive of Cohesive Knowledge Solutions, an e-mail efficiency and business etiquette training firm in Guilford, Conn., and co-author of "The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your E-Mail Before It Manages You."

You can also use a preview function, which lets you read the first line or two of a message and immediately delete what you don't need, said Eric Abrahamson, a professor at Columbia Business School who teaches organizational management and is the author of "A Perfect Mess." That may include chain letters, jokes, CCs and messages from colleagues who send departmental communications to a long distribution list, he said.

Q. What about e-mail that you can't delete and can't answer immediately, but that still needs an eventual response?

A. Create filing folders and name them with nouns. Don't use adjectives, which are more likely to vary according to your mood, Ms. Youd said.

Another way is to prioritize messages by using flags, an option available in Microsoft Outlook and many other e-mail management systems. You can use color-coded flags — red for high priority — to remind you that certain messages have not been answered. Then sort the flags by color, Mr. Song said.

Q. What should you do with messages you want to save?

A. Create a long-term storage folder, with topical subfolders if necessary. "This is for meaningful items like research papers and articles that enhance your professional knowledge," Mr. Song said.

You can also just archive old e-mail and use a search tool to find information when you need it, said Mr. Abrahamson, who archives his old messages every three months. "I particularly like the Yahoo Desktop Search; it's a beta program right now, it's very powerful and it's free," he said.

Q. How can you cut down on the amount of e-mail you receive?

A. Don't hit "reply" too often. It can be all too easy to become ensnared in a long line of unnecessary e-mail courtesies and illusory urgencies.

Remember: the fewer messages you send, the fewer you are likely to receive, Mr. Song said.-(NYTimes)


Nov 5, 2007

How to Solve Problems by Focusing on the Solutions

The power of NLP comes from its fast and effective way of dealing with problems and difficulties. If we could summarize NLP in one equation, it would be: present state + resources = desired state.

The present state is where the person is, with his challenge, difficulty or problem he wants to solve. The desired state is a future state where the person has found the solution. The resources are qualities, values, beliefs, ideas, understandings or notions the client needs to develop to be able to jump from the present state to the desired state, which is the solution.

Now, to deal effectively with a situation, we have to define clearly what the present and the desired states are and what the differences are, very specifically.

Here are 6 steps to define very specifically where the client wants to go.

First, construct a clear and precise definition of the objective. What do you really want to obtain? Is the objective desirable? Are you attracted by the objective? When do you want to reach the goal? Where? With who?

Second, what is the result after reaching the objective? What is the outcome of the outcome? Does this further outcome attract you? Is it desirable?

Third, what are the proofs that the objective will be reached? How do you know the goal will be obtained? What will you see, hear and feel then? How and when will you be satisfied?

Fourth, determine the constraints. What could prevent you from achieving the goal? What are your chances of attaining the goal? What are the risks? What are the consequences on others, the system?

Fifth, find the resources. Can you accomplish this goal? Is it under your control? Do you think you can do it? What other resources would you want to achieve the goal in terms of money, time, people or qualities?

Sixth, Take action and decide. What will be the first step you're going to take to accomplish the goal? When are you going to start?

These are a lot of questions. Questions are essential to define a clear desired state and to handle change more effectively. Go over these 6 steps, over and over again, whenever you need to solve a problem or set a goal.-(motivation works)
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