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Most people have been frustrated by rules and policies that make their work more difficult, often transferring time, and sometimes financial, cost to the individual for theoretical benefit to the organisation. Hacking Work attempts to show how people can bypass apparently stupid rules to the benefit of both the individual and the organisation. However, when the hacker does not properly understand the reasons for the rules there can be considerable risks for both the individual and the organisation.
Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results
Rarely does a book on economics and finance entertain in the way that Michael Lewis achieves with The Big Short. Not only is it a great read but The Big Short also explains how financial products and practices worked and effectively brought the financial world to brink of total collapse. Michael Lewis has pulled off a tour de force; he has created a financial thriller with a great story of greed, possible fraud and incompetence whilst clearly explaining complex financial ideas. In the end, a few small funds succeed in beating the frighteningly incompetent big financial institutions and for once, it is a true story.
Web sites exist for a wide range of reasons but to be successful search queries must be able to find them and so sites need rank well in search results. Most visitors will find web pages by searching through Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and others. As result, good search engine optimisation is the tool that maximises the visibility of the site and is the key to generating traffic for the site.
The Art of SEO sets out to demystify search engine optimisation and explain what search engines need to be able to rank web sites properly. SEO is often seen either as an arcane and mystical process or as a battle between web content providers and the search engines. As The Art of SEO explains in the opening chapters it is neither. In reality, search engines and web site owners with original information to share have a common interest in providing relevant information that matches web searches.
Although the technical aspect of customer complaints may be obvious there may be other matters that increase the significance of the issue for the customer. The secret of effective complaint resolution is recognising the underlying issues and dealing with the whole of the complainants problem.
Perhaps the most difficult issues for complaint processes geared to putting right the technical failing which caused the complaint are those that impacted a third party in some way. Often, these may have caused difficulties or embarrassment for the complainant in their relationship with someone who is important to them or it may have caused them personal embarrassment.
Now that so much business is done on line enterprises often have very little face to face or even telephone contact with customers. The problem of faceless customer relations began with mail order and was already being exacerbated by the growth of call centres. The opportunity to understand customer needs through informal conversation has all but disappeared.
Solidus has long argued that complaints are the last real opportunity for such contact but the potential benefits are being squandered by rigid processes, scripted responses and even dehumanised e-mail and web-based systems.
It is often said that a customer with a complaint about a supplier spreads that news widely and rapidly so that within 24 hours most of their immediate friends and family are aware of it. If the complaint is not dealt with quickly and effectively the complainant rapidly becomes a “product terrorist” and is actively damaging the expensively developed brand. Even worse are the customers who never complain and move directly to “product terrorism” telling all and sundry how bad the supplier is. With the advent of internet forums and social media they do not just tell their friends and family, it can go global, instantly. A brand is soon damaged.
Despite the protestations of PRINCE practitioners and other advocates of project “management” methodologies project management is not all about process. What really separates effective project management from the rest is decision making at all levels of the governance structure.
In my first job after leaving Durham University I was often left in charge of an entrepreneurial small business. This was in the days before e-mail, mobile phones and even fax machines were something of a novelty; we still used a telex service for urgent overseas correspondence! When the owner went away on his occasional overseas business trips his instructions were very clear: “… if a decision really needs taking then you must make it, take using the best of your knowledge and ability. If you do that in good faith there will be no blame if it turns out wrong; I will sort it out, few decisions are irrecoverable”.
He meant it and lived by it, as I have ever since. The point was that delaying a decision is usually worse than not taking the necessary, even if painful, action. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic would do well to learn that lesson as they tinker with sticking plasters for the financial crises. The politicians are learning what many project managers have discovered, the consequences of indecision just keep mounting up and make the eventual decision even more difficult.
The lesson is that if a decision needs taking then it should be taken with the best information available. A timely and good enough decision is far better than a perfect but too late decision. The only perfect understanding is with hindsight “what we should have done is…”. A bureaucratic approach to project management is often engendered by project methodologies which hinder speedy and effective decision making. Waiting for more information leads to the old cliché “paralysis by analysis” – an appearance of activity whilst the problem continues to grow.