Archive for May, 2015

My mother never used PowerPoint …

May 31, 2015

But she was a damn good project manager.

Today’s post is on project management with 2 thoughts:

  • How to manage our projects without our favourite presentation tool?
  • And we should have more women as project managers.

I write this blog, because my daily job is about managing people and projects, often in complex IT environments. And a large part of the day we are making, or reading, presentations to communicate. So today some thoughts how this might be done differently. And some Dilbert pictures to highlight my thoughts.Dilbert PowerPoint

My mum raised 4 kids. Perfectly multi tasking, no PowerPoint, and also no Excel and no Microsoft Project. No Workbench Breakdown Structure. No Prince-2. Just simple lists and clear rules.

Looking to todays Project Management, we are over-informed by methodologies, such as Prince-2, PMI or other. If we take a look in Wikipedia on this, we can see that the methodologies improved over the year, focusing on better planning, executing and communicating. With lots of tools. MS Project first, then copy into Excel to check it, and then use PowerPoint to explain our messages to our business colleagues, and to our management.

So what is the problem in this ? PowerPoint rules the world I would say. I think it is all about simplifying the message, having common objectives (never easy in matrix organisations), and clear communication. A small note: I am a big supporter of adding marketing people in IT organisations to ensure that all well thorough thought ideas and solutions are being translated into some screens and processes that normal human beings can understand. But this aside.

Project ManagerSo it is important to communicate on objectives and results, and explain how to do things in a simple way. So how can we do this without our tools ? Sorry, but I do not have the magic solution yet

However, it is always good to have a look how other businesses, products or people work. As an example, I am not sure that winning football teams have to fill in time sheets, or get a 64-page PowerPoint presentation. Same for F1 drivers. Even birds, flying to the south (or north ?) every year. Without presentation tools. It is about leadership, charisma and understanding the job well.

In the new technology world, we could think more on sharing information via our phones, watches, and other tweets. Or the good old Post-It’s ? Or via interactive gaming? It will be a change …

So, coming back to my mother. She was really (and still is) multi-tasking, and raised 4 sons having each a strong opinion on things. And the result was there, without PowerPoint :-).

By the way, in my current role, I have the luck to work with several good female project managers. In many ways, they are much better than me. Better feeling for personal things, better socialising, and really capable of doing multiple things at the same time. While we, as men, have to focus on how to do things right, our female colleagues do have this as a basic feature (to speak in IT terms).

My thought here is that we should have more female Project Managers in our organisations compared to today. And by the way, generally spoken in IT. In IT, we try to translate our business needs into solutions. And without feelings, and keeping things simple, and a good personal approach this might never really work. And women are just often better in these things than men.

But also without our favourite tools ? I am not sure yet: it will probably still take a while before we can say goodbye to our “old-school” tools and methodologies.

images

But I am convinced we will change one day: my mother managed all her life without those tools …

Take care, and please take a few minutes to smile when watching Dilbert’s Project Managers Video’s on YouTube.

Bas

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The truth

May 31, 2015

Good morning to all,

Just a simple small thought when I was reading the news this morning.

Press

Yesterday evening, May 30, the final for the German Football Cup was held: VfL Wolfsburg (the city of Volkswagen) played against Borussia Dortmund. Two heavy weights. And VfL Wolfsburg has won.

Wolfsburg plays, as many clubs these days, with people of different origins. And I was looking into the app’s and websites headlines of my news this morning:

  • The Dutch newspaper ‘De Telegraaf’ says ‘Bas Dost pakt de Duitse beker’. This translates into that, thanks to the Dutch player (Bas Dost), the team has won the Cup.
  • My Belgian newspaper ‘De Standard’ has the headline: ‘De Bruyne helpt Wolfsburg aan Duitse beker’, which can be translated as that, thanks to the Belgian player (Kevin De Bruyne) , the team has won.
  • On the German website of ‘Sportschau.de’, one can read ‘Naldos Gewaltschuss’, which could be translated into that, thanks to the powerful shot of Naldo (playing in the German team), the team has won.
  • And finally, on the French website of ‘Le Monde’, one can read … nothing yet. What’s happening outside France, stays for the moment outside France :-).

So, small lesson learnt today: you can read headlines, but please try to read always multiple sources, and you’ll be sure to find a large part of the truth.

Take care, and enjoy the sun,

Bas

See the Zoo

May 30, 2015

Hello to all,

Just some touristic information on my visit to the Prague Zoo today. One can spend many days just visiting the city of Prague with its beautiful castle and many interesting buildings and monuments, but today I decided to visit to the Prague Zoo in the Troja district.

Although not with perfect weather, I took a Prague boat from Rašínovo Nábřeží to go for a trip on the Vltava river to the Zoo. A 75 minutes boat trip with 2 times a passage through a sluice, with several interesting scenic views along. Boat plus entry  for the Zoo costed me less then 310 CZK (around 12 Euro).

Prague

Prague

Arriving at the Zoo is on the opposite side of the Vlatva, so you have to walk about 10 minutes to the entry. You pass the wonderful Troja castle before you arrive at the Zoo..

The Zoo itself is huge, and one of the best in Europe. Opened in 1931, it is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, and also an important difference in height between the various parts. You can take a kind of “cable car” to go up or down, if you do not want to walk up the hills.

Many interesting animals and people, and many open spaces to enjoy the environment and views. You can read all this much better in other reviews on the internet, such as on Wikipedia. The website of the Prague Zoo can be found here.

And if you want to go back to the city: just take the bus 112 at the Zoo, and go to the end (Nádraží Holešovice). Then you take the metro (line C), or a tramway (12 or 24) to return to the city.

Below you find some more photos I took today.

Take care,

Bas

The Zoo

The Zoo

The Zoo

The Zoo

The Zoo

The Zoo

Troja Castle

Troja Castle

2014 Troja Bridge

2014 Troja Bridge

The Zoo and Cable Car

The Zoo and Cable Car

More and more for free. Where is the catch ?

May 30, 2015

Hello to all, As I wrote 2 years ago, many software and services are for free these days. I had to think on again this when I heard yesterday the announcements of Google Photos. 15GB of storage for many items, including lots of photos storage. At Apple, you still have to pay for it. sale label But as said in 2013, there is a catch and cost. Your info will be available to Google (like at Apple by the way). See also this interesting blog by iMore. But, if you don’t mind your data shared, use Google Photos. It is for free :-).

Take care,

Bas

Customer experience : it can be so easy.

May 16, 2015

Hello to all from Brussels,

It is already more than a year ago since I had time to write a new blog. 

A year in which I worked hard in 2 great cities: Brussels, and, since August 2014, in Prague, where I am currently working with a great team on defining and implementing new products which will deliver a great customer experience in the near future.

And that is exactly the subject of today’s blog: Customer experience. Two important words which are in the heart of every marketeer. Two words which can not even be easily translated into other languages. And two words which deliver dreams and hopes, and bring satisfaction. And that’s just my point of today.

4732c149a048b561f5da24649ea7c1bbAccording to Wikipedia, Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. I like the word ‘interaction’ in this, because it shows that something is happening between the customer and the organisation.

During the last months, I traveled many times and had the chance to see many examples of customer experiences: from very good to quite bad. Many times, this is of course a personal matter: but that’s what it is all about.

It’s about you and me, and the experience we feel and share with our friends, family and colleagues. It is not about marketing, or building great websites, mobile apps or fantastic digital or paper brochures. It is always about the process and the people. Always !

I made a list of what I saw, felt and experienced the last days. You find a description of what I liked and not liked, why this was the case, and what the consequences could be. 

My experiences of this week:

  • The best: my local Dutch library (‘bibliotheek’) in Auderghem where I live: they always have a smile. And the team is always available to give advice, and even to order new books for me to read. Also sending me reminders to bring back my books, and sharing opening and closing dates upfront. They know me. Even with the little amount of money they can spend. Best in class. This is an example of real good customer experience.
  • Very good: the Tick-Tack taxi company in Prague. Having free Wifi and a bottle of water for you. Every time. Helping you to get in and out. Same music (Carla Bruni), and you can change this when you want. The driver is driving carefully. Only small issue: their app is only in Czech (as far as I know). Really good, so I use them all the time. And they are not more expensive than the standard taxis.
  • Also good: the new opened Marks and Spencer in Brussels. Back again after so many years. The right clothing, and excellent food. And nice people asking if you need help. Good experience. A bit crowded though today.
  • Also good: the local ‘Do It Yourself – DIY’ Brico store in Auderghem. Good support with clear explanations when we bought something for our house today. Service as it should be.
  • Less good: the Brussels transport company MIVB/STIB and their ongoing works. Although the transport offer has increased very well the last years, which is good, the indirect experience when using the metro is not always that good. Why does it have to take so many months or years to finalise ongoing repair works to create lifts, or to change metro stations? Not enough or clear information, and it seems to take often a long time to finish it. Some examples in Brussels: metro stations Beaulieu and Arts-Loi. Who is responsible? I do not know, but my overall customer experience decreases due to this.
  • Not good at all: I bought over the last years my shoes always at the same company: Mephisto, and more especially the Sano shoes. Not the cheapest, but they deliver a wonderful walking experience: my feet are happy, and thus am I. Normally. But not today. The local shop has my customer details since years as I participate in their loyalty program. They should know me, you would think. Today I had the impression they don’t! See my experience hereafter.
    • My new shoes, bought only a few weeks ago, had a default so I decided to take them to my usual shop to ask for advice. Without excuses, and without checking any customer details in her computer, the lady in charge asked me to give her my shoes – I was luckily wearing my old pair of shoes :-). She filled in a card, asked me for my phone number (!), gave me a receipt and I was informed that the shoes were sent back to the factory in France, and it might take about 4 till 5 weeks to get them back. When asking for more information, I did not get any satisfactory response or excuse. I did not feel well treated, and left the store quite unhappy. And I spent several hundreds of Euros with them the last years … This is not as it should be. Even the best marketing will not repair such damage.

We are all human beings, and we act and react with our emotions when shopping, or getting serviced. Bad emotions will be translated into changing habits. And even the best shop will loose its customer if the experience is negative. And for the ones with the good experience: I will come back. Always.

And dear marketeers, shop holders or service departments, please use your common sense. You know what I buy or use from you: please act on it. And act as a friend. A small example: if I buy some new cloths or shoes: why not just ask me a few weeks later if all is ok ? Your friends and family do this. So why not you? It can be so easy. You will learn better what I really like. 

Oh, before I forget: one more thing. Dear marketeers: why do many of you still promote your own loyalty cards? Mobile solutions exists in iOS, Android and Windows. Stop delivering your own plastic loyalty cards, and deliver common, country based, solutions. I know very well that customer info and data protection are important, but we are in 2015.   Less loyalty cards in my wallet will increase my personal satisfaction. So please surprise us with creative ideas.

Take care, and I tell you when my shoes are back :-).

Bas (an always engaged customer)