ICONDA Solutions

Engineering Team Performance

 

How are your Customer-Facing Engineers getting on?

Customer-Facing Engineering Teams include Sales, Marketing and Applications Engineers, and also Product Engineers and Developers in many organisations. Whether their customers are external or internal and whether support is their primary task or not, they face complex challenges. For example, how do they …

  • Get the attention of customers who are overwhelmed with information and other distractions?
  • Satisfy customers who are expecting an out-of-the-box experience, even for the most sophisticated technology?
  • Simultaneously do a great job with customers while attending to a myriad other tasks ?

ICONDA offers Hands-On Consulting and Learning & Development Solutions …

We put our Technical Sales, Marketing and Applications Engineering expertise at your disposal, working either under your management or on a project basis. This is a good option if you need immediate help to deploy products and services.

You benefit from our experience in Hardware and Software technology together with the communication skills underpinning ICONDA’s Learning & Development Solutions.

We provide Training and Workshops to boost the performance and wellbeing of your Customer-Facing teams, combining traditional and web-based techniques. These solutions are underpinned by a set of powerful tools and online resources, purpose-built for Customer-Facing situations.

This tool-based approach is built around the ICON9 system, the Process Communication Model and the Five-Minute Coach tools. By tailoring these complementary tools and methods to your situation, we enable your team to quickly integrate them into their professional lives.

Our Latest Post

The Hurry Monster, RIP

Apparently, I suffer from an affliction which most people manage to avoid. [...]  😉

Self-deprecation notwithstanding, I’m still trying to simplify the world into something that I can understand/remember, and the above diagram is one result.

I call the inner loop a Short Circuit ...

... read more ...

Other Ideas and Info ...

The Hurry Monster, RIP

Apparently, I suffer from an affliction which most people manage to avoid. A weird mixture of intellectual laziness and hyperactivity, it once led me to attempt the reduction of German grammar to a handful of equations. Preferably to one equation. Einstein had managed it for physics, I reasoned … 😉 Self-deprecation notwithstanding, I'm still trying to simplify the world into something that I can understand/remember, and the above diagram is one result. I call the inner loop a Short-Circuit –...

A Problem-Solving Experience

Cycling quite fast down a narrow mountain road, I met a lorry coming up it. The result was eight broken ribs on one side, a broken shoulder on the other and a huge problem with getting out of bed. Problem-solving methodologies can be usefully classified as either Systemic or Analytical and this was a great occasion to try them both out. The first morning, desperate to get out of my hospital bed and service my needs, I wriggled, waved my legs in the air and groaned for over half an hour before...

Anna Karenina and Client Encounters

Anna Karenina and Client Encounters All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This, the first phrase of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, is remarkable for how it sticks in the memory. In complex relationships such as with families or clients, Tolstoy teaches us, there is one way to get it right and an almost infinite number of ways to go wrong. To be happy, a family needs security , physical comfort, time together, rituals, mutual consideration, and so on. All happy...

Best practices Exchange for Engineering Team Leaders

I recently setup a Best Practices Exchange (BPXchange) as an experiment in learning through sharing for busy Engineering Team Leaders working in different companies. The challenge was to find a format that would allow added-value exchanges in a reasonable time, taking into account the logistics of scheduling and hosting the virtual meeting, the selection of topics and the facilitation of the exchange. And we did it! The first BPXchanges worked like magic! So, if you’re interested in...

Best Practice Exchange outcomes

The rubber duck image is inspired by a software development "best practice" of sharing difficult problems with a rubber duck. The act of explaining brings clarity and so this technique accelerates software debug. It also follows that a rubber duck learns many best practices over the course of its career … I recently setup a Best Practices Exchange (BPXchange) as an experiment in learning through sharing for busy Engineering Team Leaders working in different companies. The I recently setup a...

Engineering Support Beyond Do, Doc, Done

Do, Doc, Done captures a way of working that is popular among support engineers and which often works well. For example : a case comes my way in the issue tracking system. I fix it (Do), send an email or write a comment when I close the case (Doc) and move on to something else (Done). There’s nothing wrong with this reactive process, but it can be even more powerful when a touch of proactivity is added, in the form of a Double-check. A recent...

Engineers Add More Value with a Balanced Problem Solving Approach

A multi-million dollar chip production line is halted, but it's not clear where the problem is coming from. An independent consulting engineer is called in. She walks all around the production floor looking at the screens, the indicators, the dials, the cables, the mousetraps. She examines some log files and makes a Google search. Then she edits two lines in a particular configuration file, and all is well again. The plant manager is extremely happy until he receives her invoice: €10,000. He...

Helping Engineers Maximise the Positive Impact of their Expertise

It's well known that many professionals have difficulty communicating with people outside their speciality and it's not unusual for start-ups to be frustrated by an indifferent world – "why does nobody appreciate our great idea??"! Ironically, this problem exists because we're intelligent. If we weren’t preoccupied by the complexity of our subject, then we'd get to the point more easily, our explanations would resonate with others and we'd grow in confidence and skill. As it is, we tie...

Circuit Archaeology with the Help of Amiq

What do you do when you have to perform risk analysis on a 20 year old circuit design and the information available consists of 30 vintage, undocumented VHDL files? (VHDL is a Hardware Description Language – an HDL).In my case, a quick email not only provided the solution, it also restored my faith in human nature and the power of generosity and trust in business.A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Amiq’s offices in Bucarest to stage a communication methodology...

The Customer-Facing Few

Consider what it takes to build an aircraft carrier and put it out to sea. Tens of thousands of contractors crossing multiple disciplines, organisations, states and countries are involved. Another ten thousand or so do the actual construction. About five thousand sailors then sail it out of port. Finally, a handful of pilots take to the sky. And so the ultimate success of seventy to eighty thousand people depends on these few pilots – the only ones to actually make contact with the...

Team Building and Training as One Activity

Nowadays, classroom-based professional training is all about learning activities – labs, simulations, role plays, serious games, and so on. Over the past ten years, I would say, there has been a major shift away from subject matter lectures towards experimentation and coaching (the business of acquiring information and theory tends to be done online wherever possible). As well as a place for experimentation, classroom training also provides great opportunities for team building. Of...

Teledyne Dalsa Warding Off the Hurry Monster

The Hurry Monster (not to be confused with the Worry Monster – a cuddly toy – and the Panic Monster – a superb invention of Tim Urban’s) frightens us into rushing tasks that we would otherwise perform brilliantly. And he can have a disastrous effect on Customer Communication. He’s looming in the background of the above group photo, taken after a training on Excellence in Customer Communication at Teledyne Dalsa in Krailling, Germany, last month. Martin Grzymek’s, Teledyne Dalsa’s Director of...

Energy Control & Pre-Match Planning – the Axcelis example

Axcelis knows how to manage high energy with precision – its core business is the supply of ion implanters to the semiconductor industry. The company provides vital machines for the manufacturing process behind modern electronics. Axcelis certainly contributed to building the device with which you are reading these words! The training program that we’ve launched together aims to harness a different kind of energy – the human kind – and apply it with precision to the challenging task of...

Preparing for Customer Intimacy with Communication Training

KORTIQ knows that its Product Development Team – now busy creating advanced Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) solutions – is critical to winning customers and building long-term commercial relationships. It’s strong technical culture is an asset that it can be proud of and must exploit. Exposing this culture and the people who embody it is key to a business stratagem known as Customer Intimacy. To enable it, we launched a training program – Excellence in Customer Communication - at KORTIQ’s...

Metacommunication: the importance of talking about talking

Just as metadata means data about data, metacommunication is communication about communication[1]. When I complain about the media’s tendency to awfulize and terribilize, I am metacommunicating. Instead of explaining what I mean with long sentences and examples, I use a couple of simple, expressive words[2]. Metacommunication is important because communication is important. And just as you can’t get better at football if you don’t understand the abstract concepts of attack and defense, it’s...

Leadership and Resisting Other People’s Problems (3 of 3)

In a couple of recent posts, I suggested a magic spell to help you avoid taking on other people's problems: "And what would you like to have happen?". Assume that you've mastered this formula and have used it on a colleague who is now standing (spellbound) in front of you; how do you move them from their frozen state into one of action? In other words, now that they realise that you're not going to solve their problem for them, how do you help them decide what to do next? It's simple: you...

Leadership and Resisting Other People’s Problems II

As explained in a previous post, “And what would you like to have happen?” is a magic spell, taken from Clean Language and the Five-Minute Coach, that helps you inspire others to find their own solutions. When you cast the spell on someone, their desired outcome magically appears and they rush off to work out an action plan. Sometimes. Alas, as any Hogwarts student will tell you, magic spells only work if you know how to use them. When this particular one goes wrong, it’s a monkey that...

Leadership and Resisting Other People’s Problems

« Harry, do you know how this spreadsheet’s meant to work? ». It seems like a harmless question, but it’s really the beginning of a dangerous spell. Innocent in the ways of the Dark World, Harry responds, « Sure, what’s up? », then proceeds to spend the rest of the afternoon fixing someone else’s problem. But Harry’s no fool and quickly learns from his mistake. The next day, when he hears, « Hey, Harry, I reckon there’s a bug in your Excel script », he replies, « Really? And what would you...

Leading Your Technical Sales Support Leaders

If you are running some kind of technical sales support team – a field applications organisation, a sales engineering group or maybe an R&D team that does direct customer support – then one of your major concerns is probably to ensure that your engineers are able to respond to customers’ technical needs. My guess is that if you, your reports or even your customers were asked to describe their image of this team, the word ‘expert’ would quickly surface. However, through my work with...

Technical Sales Support Outside the Comfort Zone

I recently had a conversation with a Customer–Facing Engineer about what to do when a customer expects answers about topics outside of one's area of expertise (I use the generic term, "Customer-Facing Engineer" – CFE – because this case is relevant to any engineer, whether their main role is customer support or not. In fact, this CFE was a Field Applications Engineer). To find useful ways of coping with the dilemma of being in a position of technical authority but not having all the answers –...

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