Mikey Likes it and You Will Too

Posted January 19, 2012 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized

Like Mikey, I found a new piece of hardware that I can say “I like it”. I  expect it will become a good friend in the months ahead. A new product from Blue Microphones called Mikey Digital  is a high-quality microphone to capture meetings, conference calls, business  meetings or even to make your own voice recordings in high-quality. The genius  of Mikey Digital is that it plugs into your iPhone or iPad and easily replaces  any other recorder and/or microphone that you have been packing.

Many of you that read Fill the Funnel are road warriors, or at least work  outside of an office or cube much of the time. Working out of your briefcase or  laptop bag is a way of life, squeezing everything you might need into that small  space. Combining equipment or replacing existing tools with smaller and/or  lighter alternatives is always a relief. Blue Microphone’s new Mikey Digital  microphone for iPhone/iPad will serve you well.

Mikey Digital directly connects to iPhone or iPad and is instantly recognized  for use with any audio or video application. Whether shooting video,  recording a keynote at a conference or capturing your next team meeting, Mikey  Digital captures truly professional recordings on-the-go with a stereo pair of  Blue’s premium condenser capsules and built-in sensitivity control. For the  non-techies, it simply means that you are using a professional-grade tool that  gives you stunning results.

Blue Microphone's Mikey Digital Microphone

Mikey Digital also features a multi-source input jack that allows for direct  connection of an iPod or a lavaliere micand other sound sources  to record with the highest possible fidelity to get that track into your audio  recording.

If you are experimenting with the use of online meetings, webinars, Skype and  Google+ Hangouts, the investment in a quality microphone should be top of your  list. I not only help clients figure out the best web tools for their needs, but  also the hardware. The number one item on my list for those applications is a  good quality microphone. The last thing you need is to sound like you are  talking through a tin can on a string with your prospects and customers, yet I  hear it every week. Listen to the sound quality of the speakers on your next  webinar. A quality microphone will make all the difference in the world.

Some things to consider before you purchase:

Blue Microphones Logo A little bit about the company. Blue Microphones has been  around for some time, and manufacturers and entire range of microphones from  Desktop USB through Studio Mic’s. Many podcasters online today are using Blue’s Snowball USB microphones. You just have to like a company  that names its products Snowball, Yeti, Tiki or Woodpecker. If you are serious  about sound quality, give these guys a look. By the way, the Tiki listed above is a really  strong product if you are working from your laptop rather than an iPhone or  iPad.

Might be a good time to thin out that laptop bag and lighten your load, while  improving the sound quality in everything you record. If you know someone who  lives this lifestyle, it is never to early to grab one of these for a holiday  gift.-from fill the funnel

Some thoughts on Innovation

Posted December 12, 2011 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized

Innovation momentum is growing.As the global economic climate stabilizes, more and more companies are starting to look beyond the survival mode mentality that took hold in the fall of ’08.  These companies see that they now need to refuel their revenue generation engines with new and differentiated offerings to the market.  New products for existing and new audiences are viewed as key to building market share and driving top line growth.  Companies need innovation now, and they understand with the ever increasing pace of market change, they need continuous innovation.  There is broad consensus that innovation capability is one of the key competencies that will distinguish winners from losers in the years ahead.

Many companies are still just arriving to the innovation party. The number of companies that have taken a serious look at innovation and taken concrete steps to build innovation as a value driving core competence is still small.  Most companies are just beginning to question whether there is a better way than relying on serendipity for their innovation.  This means that there is a big opportunity for companies to take the high ground and drive their organization forward through innovation while the competition is still trying to figure out which end is up.

Companies are acting on, not just thinking about, innovation deployment. Those companies that have internalized the importance and high-value of repeatable innovation best practices are not sitting on their hands.  They are seriously pushing awareness, innovation skills development, and IT infrastructure to support their innovation mandates.  These companies also realize that while grassroots acceptance is important, a corporate innovation initiative will never deliver to its potential if it isn’t backed by a top-down mandate tied back to corporate objectives.  Innovation is about change.  Developing a sustainable innovation culture requires a change in the corporate psyche and hence requires serious attention and management focus.

Innovation delivers value to companies that take it seriously. Innovation takes many forms, but it always creates value.  Everywhere I went, I heard stories of how using repeatable innovation methods had overcome challenges, expedited time to market, and raised the value of key projects within organizations.  At Samsung for example, I was shown a new model of refrigerator.  The manager showing me this refrigerator pointed out a key feature in the product that was blocked by a competitor’s patent.  Using the innovation skills they have mastered over the years, Samsung was able to create an alternative non-infringing design that allowed them to find freedom to operate and with it a fast path to market.

So, what does all this mean to you?  The bottom line is that now is the time to get moving when it comes to getting your innovation engine firing on all cylinders.  The companies that invest in innovation today will emerge as the leaders with new revenue driving products in the future and create new market differentiation.  While those companies that choose to wait on innovation will be left behind as the laggards in the new economy, never regaining the luster they lost in this most recent recession. – from innovating to win

Innovation in Brewing

Posted November 7, 2011 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized


Innovation Beer Summit

Recently, I had the opportunity to learn to make beer.  I joined a group of friends and together we brewed six varieties of beer.  There are innovation lessons to be learned from most things.  Here are some innovation lessons I took away from my beer making debut.

Science There is science behind making beer.  Understanding what is happening in the process helps you achieve the desired results.  This is true for every domain in which I see people working in the trenches of innovation.  No matter what you are doing, there is a body of knowledge that precedes your efforts.  If you don’t have good access to this knowledge, you are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past and waste a lot of effort reinventing the wheel.  High performance innovation organizations understand the need to knowledge enable their innovation workers by providing them with the best, purposeful knowledge research and delivery systems.

Team During our little beer making party, we brewed 6 varieties of beer in one evening (90 minute IPA, Summer Ale, Belgian Blonde, Vanilla Honey Porter, Oatmeal Stout, and Scottish Ale).  Getting it all done required teamwork and collaboration.  In business innovation practice this pressure to achieve high-value innovation outcomes with limited resources and time is de rigueur.   To achieve results requires the same type of committed and connected teamwork for innovation workers.  Companies seeking to maximize the effectiveness of their innovation workforce must employ innovation frameworks that connect people to one another when they need based on what they know.

Tools Making our beer, we have at our disposal the right equipment to make the job easy and efficient: steam controlled boiling vats, wort cooling filters, automatic bottle sanitizers, etc.  Listening to others in our group recount the horror stories of making beer in their kitchens without these tools reminded me of what I see all too often walking into companies that have not begun to deploy state of the art innovation platform technology.  Innovation workers struggle to make sense of problems and find the fit between problem states and solution spaces.  Companies need to invest in providing their workers with the right tools and skills for innovation success.  Sure, you can start a fire rubbing sticks together; but why not give your teams modern torches and set them loose to burn up the competition.

Experience Having the brew master watching over us made a huge difference.  He was able to tell us in advance what to pay attention to and how to ensure the quality of the final product we were producing.  Preserving, tapping into, and leveraging grey beard knowledge is a huge problem for many companies.  Make sure you have systems in place to harvest and disseminate this knowledge to empower your entire innovation workforce and enable the generational transference of your corporate tribal wisdom.

Immersion My beer making experience was great.  One of the best aspects of the experience was its immersive nature.  While we were engaged in brewing or bottling, that was the focus of our activity.  There were no interruptions, no need to divert our attention and focus, no co-opting of resources by some other urgency.  Of course, we all have to deal with the realities of the real world when we are working in the trenches of innovation.  But, managers need to find the way to carve out protected time for innovation workers to focus on what’s important, not merely what seems urgent.  You have to willing to invest in your people, giving them the time to master and apply innovation best practices to their innovation tasks.  You will find this is an investment that will pay big dividends by both delivering the benefits of accelerated innovation and product delivery, but also greater per worker productivity.

$35 Million Missing Clause

Posted December 14, 2010 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized

This is all happening because I didn’t write, “I’ll charge you 1.5 percent” – John O’Quinn

What’s the value of a clause? About $35 million if your name is John O’Quinn. His firm failed to include a clause authorizing the deduction of “general expenses” from settlement payouts in a breast implant class action.  And this month, an aribtration panel ordered the firm to pay $35.7M in damages to the clients who were overcharged. Expensive mistake.

Surprising mistake, too. If there’s one thing you’d think law firms are good at it would be drafting a tight costs agreement with their clients. But unlike most other agreements a firm drafts, costs agreements are unbillable. The time you spend drafting one is time down the drain. So the incentive is to get it done fast, and get onto to real work that makes the firm money.

Which is what makes costs agreements and engagement letters such perfect candidates for automation. You build in all the right clauses for the matter at hand. You make it easy to draft an agreement that’s relevant and tight. And your lawyers can get the job done quickly and without mistakes.

Of course, there is one thing worse than a bad costs agreement: no agreement at all. That’s a mistake Glenn Judge won’t make again. The Pennsylvania lawyer claimed a deal for $175,000 worth of fees for referring a client to another firm. But it wasn’t in writing, and it wasn’t disclosed to the client, and the U.S. District Court decided he wasn’t entitled to a penny. – from the exari blog

Sales is Hard Enough

Posted November 13, 2010 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized

Over the past 20 years or so CRM has exploded on the scene, from GoldMine to ACT! to Siebel and now Salesforce.com and its SaaS brethren.
CRM has done wonders for automating the sales process and helping sales people execute on a cadence of sales activities, follow a standard process and keep up with customers. Unfortunately, this is only half the battle in creating a truly efficient prospect-to-pay process.
Most sales cycles require a number of sometimes complex and burdensome documents to proceed to closure. And, if our experience is any guide, it is the creation of these documents that causes immense pain for most salespeople and can delay and even lose sales in some cases.
NDAs, Proposals, Services Statements of Work, Business Cases, Sales Contracts, even customized collateral can be automated to accelerate the sales cycle, reduce the need for lawyers to create and review large volumes of contracts, and increase compliance with internal process and procedures.
Document Assembly can solve this problem by creating standardized templates, clauses and business rules that are owned and controlled by legal and/or sales operations so that every document that is created is done so in a compliant fashion. No more rogue Limitation of Liability clauses or unprofitable pricing.  No more out-of-date templates or old bottom drawer contracts re-used inappropriately.
While ensuring compliance, document assembly also empowers salespeople to create the necessary documents themselves in real time (with non-standard deals automatically escalated to legal on an exception basis). No more backlogs means more satisfied customers.
So, if the documents and contracts in your sales cycle are somewhat negotiable and fairly repetitive and predictable, and if the creation of these documents is slow and painful, you might want to consider automating them. – from the exari blog

Collaboration For Innovation: Why Can’t We All Work Together?

Posted October 28, 2010 by Chris
Categories: Uncategorized

A recent article on ComputerWeekly.com noted that 80% of CIOs are increasing their investments in collaboration tools.  At the same time, many organizations are struggling with restrictions on which tools may be used.

For corporation innovation initiatives, this is an important issue.  Building a strong culture of collaboration is vital to fostering productive innovation.  To help build a healthy, sustainable innovation ecosystem in the enterprise employees must be provided with an environment that equips them with the proper skills, tools, and knowledge resources to improve their effectiveness.  Included in this support must be a practical framework for collaboration around innovation.

Too often, companies tend to build organizational silos that cut workers off from key information and from each other.  This is anathema to innovation.

Innovation thrives when knowledge flows through the enterprise to the workers that need it.  This knowledge is often not documented, residing in the minds of the workers.  This is why it is essential to enable the connection of people to people based on what they know.  The right collaboration framework can help make this happen.

Conversely, the wrong framework can create frustration as workers feel it is difficult to connect and share knowledge and leverage that knowledge in their work.  Many employees find that tools are not compatible and that it is difficult to capture their collaborative exchanges in a meaningful way that can leveraged.

A good collaboration framework is one that enables employees to connect without the need to leave the context of their innovation work.  The framework should make it easy to integrate the discussion into the innovation process and capture the tacit knowledge of the enterprise for reuse.  It must be simple for workers to engage with one another if you are truly going to unlock the value of the organization’s tribal wisdom. from innovate to win

Don’t Be an Amateur – Be a Pro

Posted October 3, 2010 by Chris
Categories: Awareness, Belief, Character, Context, Creativity, giving, Influence, Leadership, Life, Music, Starting, Strengths, Vision

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There are many people who have interests that they call hobbies. They spend time tinkering with these interests, but it sits as a “weekend warrior” type committment. These days you can not have that kind of mentality about your life or your pursuits. In the deep recesses of your mind, you know the ideas you have, the plans you would like to make, the accomplishments you would like to achieve. Whether it is creating a piece of music, painting a masterpiece or leading a village to freedom, you have heard the echoing voice in your mind for years. At times the voice would rise in volume and your heart would race with the thought that “maybe” this could be the time.

Sadly, you shrugged off the feelings because you “had to make a living” or you needed to be “reasonable” in your aspirations. You must shake yourself free from such damning thoughts and thrust out your hand and begin. The greatest resistance and frustration you will face is when you begin your work, that thing that you know you were meant to do. In the genesis of action when the hand touches the plow, that is the moment when the pull from the opposition is at it height. It does not come from some outside place, you know that very well, it comes from within, the center of your individual universe. A cry bellows out from the caverns of your core and screams for you to stop and let things remain as they have always been. Out comes reason after reason for you to quit and go back to the “normal” life you have been living. This is indeed the moment of truth and you must face this moment alone. At this time it is just you fighting with your own ego for supremacy of the control of your Self.

Something happens in the ether when you make contact with your work, when musician touches her instrument and artist picks up the brush. When the writer grasps the pen, a surge of energetic passion envelopes him and suddenly he is no longer alone. The Source has brought to him help and supply. Once you have set you face in the direction of your inner call, all of Heaven is allied with you and your certainty grows. From seemingly nothing the seeds of inspiration begin to germinate and flourish. A once barren mindscape is now fertile with ideas and endeavors.

In the eyes of those around you, you may seem a little off – mad even. What the onlookers do not know is that you have connected with the Muse that will bring sustenance and peace. Not in the form of success or reward, but of accomplished work. To do a thing for the money is to prostitute the Divine. To do a thing for the doings sake is the work of the professional. An amateur does not understand the importance of finishing, staying late or misery; the professional understand that nothing is done without it. The diabolical nature of the Ego is to make you believe that you are all that matters – the individual. It gives you the OK to think that you are separate and what you do bleeds over into no one else’s life. This sinister lie is only emboldened by those around you who want you to maintain the equilibrium of the group by not trying to be who you were made to be. The pack wants to set the rules and punish those who break them.

You look around at your adopted pack, but find no solace as before. Your mind has been awakened and can never return to its previous state. The only way to continue to stay with the pack is to renounce your feelings – your “knowings” about yourself – and submit to the culture of the pack. Submit to the unwritten law that we will all keep the peace as long as no one tries to step out and be their real Self. The reasoning is simple. To be one’s real Self is to succeed and accomplish and achieve, and that is what we most fear. The greatest fear we have is that we will become who we know, deep inside, we are.

But that side-eyed contempt of life will not do for the professional. Perhaps the half-hearted amateur will never write the novel, or the symphony, or the play; but truth be told it was never going to be written or sung anyway. Amateurs abuse the gift, they tarnish the sacred and humiliate the holy. Amateurs are enamored by their own unrealized visions. Professionals know that the work is flowing through them from somewhere else. Professionals honor the work.

Step free from the shadow of the pack and step into your Self. Acknowledge and begin the path to be who you were meant to be. The first step is the hardest, but the result will be the upswell of inspiration and ultimately the completion of the task. Don’t wait, procrastinate, piddle, dwaddle or put off. Step up, step out, move up and press on. Do what you know you must do…now!