The 2012 Plan

Planning works. A year ago, I shared The 2011 Plan and last week I shared the success story of that plan when I wrote “How to make what you write come true.” Finding a planning method that works for you is, unfortunately, not so easy. I’ve settled on a method that combines Chris Brogan’s three words method and the visual thinking approach of Sketchnotes, which results in the drawing included with this post.

The 2012 Plan dissected

Growth – One of last year’s words was “customers” and it turned out to be the key word. We learned two important pieces of information about our customers in 2011: Who they are and where to find them online. Armed with that knowledge and the other two words in this year’s plan, significant growth of the ventures I am involved in is achievable.

Automate – Late last year, I had an “ah-ha” moment related to automation. A task worth doing manually is worth automating. If it’s not, then stop doing the task entirely. Your business is not truly systemized until most – if not all – of the business processes are automated. It takes more time to delegate and train those to whom you are delegating if the process is not automated. Automated tasks have a much higher probability of being done correctly.

Teams – It’s one thing to hire people to help you. It’s quite another to empower them to manage the team without you. This year, progress must happen without my involvement. Handing over business processes that have been automated is one way to ensure this outcome. While I can and sometimes will be a player on the teams I help create, I don’t intend to ever be the coach.

Back to growth

The strategy that came out of this planning exercise is: More and more of my time must be dedicated to tasks focused on long-term enterprise growth. Some might call this sales. I’ll be out searching for the relationships that allow us to partner our technology and knowhow with new audiences in 2012.

Here’s to an awesome 2012. Lets’ do this!

Are you solving business or techincal problems?

I just concluded a conversation during which I realized why my success has grown so significantly over the last two or three years. In a nut shell, while ColorMetrix products can be used to solve technical problems that is not what Jim Raffel does. I solve business problems.

image of solving business or technical problemsSolving technical problems is a race to the bottom

My company, ColorMetrix, still makes and sells a world class cloud based verified color solution. And you know what? Many of my “competitors” in the space where we used to generate 90% of our revenue now give away (or include) verified color solutions in their products. If that does not define “race to the bottom” I do not know what does. It’s darn near impossible to compete with free.

If, however, you add supply chain color strategy, based on over 20 years experience in supplying verified color solutions, now you can compete. You need to solve business problems with your technology products. See how that’s different than solving a technical problem? Solving technical problem is relatively easy compared to solving business problems that reduce costs and/or generate revenue.

It starts with your technology but ends with your business skills

Your technology can and will get you in the door. The problem is the level of entry that you will make into an organization. You’ll be dealing with engineers and product managers. Not bad people but people who are already working on existing business ideas.

How about writing and speaking about solving business problems with your technology? Now, you have a shot at entering an organization at the director or higher level. Not only that, you’ll be part of the team that plans new product or service before development even start. Your technology could become an integral part of a solution with a five or ten year life cycle.

Your current technology offering may not have what it takes to make this transition. Or, your business skills may need brushing up. Dig deep and look for the unique value proposition you and your technology can offer. When you find that value proposition you will only be competing with yourself.

Creativity and Coloring

image of creativity and coloringWhen you were young how did you color?

Did you color inside the lines?

Did you color the grass green and the sky blue?

Did you color the background or just the object?

How would you color today?

I believe we can find answers to our creative outlook in questions like these.

Photo Credit

Creativity the Idea Box way

After writing the role of coffee in blog writing I received a suggestion in the Idea Box for several future blog topics. Scroll down a bit and take a peek over to your right to see what the idea box looks like.

As I read through the reader’s ideas it occurred to me that a post like this would address his second and third idea. The idea box has now generated ideas for two posts I have written and several more to come in the future.

  • How about something that tells us how to sell to a CEO or if you are an employee, how to sell an idea to a CEO. What are the things a CEO thinks about so we can align our message to become more compelling?
  • I love the post on ideation and would like to see more on that.
  • The importance of creativity and how businesses desperately need that creativity.
  • Being able to laugh at yourself and having fun along the way.

See how the idea box has created new ideas for posts and expanded my creativity circle to include you and every other reader of this blog?

Creativity and drawing: skill or mindset?

creativity and sketching

The following are notes I captured at a recent Translator lab hours session.

It’s not the drawing that’s creative, it’s the thought.

Sketching isn’t drawing.

Drawing or sketching is the output of the creativity.

…and that can be applied without the sketch.

how “good” or “bad” is talent or craft and is the output.

I wish I could remember who said what. Thanks to the miracle of blog comments, feel free to jump in and take credit where due and expand upon the ideas.

Photo Credit