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Anna Karenina and Client Encounters

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...

Best practices Exchange for Engineering Team Leaders

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...

Best Practice Exchange outcomes

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...

Engineering Support Beyond Do, Doc, Done

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)...

Engineers Add More Value with a Balanced Problem Solving Approach

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...

Helping Engineers Maximise the Positive Impact of their Expertise

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...

The Customer-Facing Few

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...

Team Building and Training as One Activity

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...

Teledyne Dalsa Warding Off the Hurry Monster

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...

Energy Control & Pre-Match Planning – the Axcelis example

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...

Preparing for Customer Intimacy with Communication Training

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...

Metacommunication: the importance of talking about talking

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...

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

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...

Leadership and Resisting Other People’s Problems II

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...

Leadership and Resisting Other People’s Problems

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...

Leading Your Technical Sales Support Leaders

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...

Technical Sales Support Outside the Comfort Zone

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,...

Will Things Get Done? How to work it out.

Will Things Get Done? How to work it out.

To the best of my knowledge, there are very few personal organization systems that can estimate when outstanding tasks will get done. I’ll explain why this is a troubling omission and how it can be removed using Google Calendar and Sheets (or similar technology). Over...