I think an improved performance evaluation process will help this situation in general, but that does not happen overnight. It’s an employee cultural thing and takes day-to-day management, leadership, and training to instill.
I’ve heard you say before that you’ve never really fired anybody, and that’s another leadership task that must happen from time to time, otherwise employees know there’s no real accountability for whatever they do. This may or may not be one of those moments.
The big issue I see is you just don’t seem to have anybody on site that is your equivalent who has the technical and leadership ability and also is incentivized by base salary, bonus, and possibly equity participation to really put the time and energy into keeping that office running tightly and successfully. Even though I know you work your butt off every day, almost all day, trying to do that yourself remotely and also traveling there quite a bit, it’s not the same as having that leader who shows up first every morning and leaves the office every night last. If I were a potential buyer of your business, this would be one of the most important things I would be looking at. Of course, buyers typically plan to put one of their own people into that slot, or they will conduct a search and hire that person.
Let me know how I can help.
- sp -
I have been experimenting with using Prezi as a way to create simple Gantt charts. If you’re like me, you’re a big fan of the Gantt chart and how effective it is in communicating the timeline and priorities of a project. But most of our projects are fairly simple and last less than a year, so the software tools that are out there which can help you plan a moonshot are simply overkill for the simple projects; i.e., dependencies, resource leveling, unit costs, etc. I’ve used spreadsheets, but it takes a lot of manipulation to create the taskbars and update them. I’ve also used Smartsheet, but once again it really gives me more functionality than I need (and want to pay for!).
I’ve had it in the back of my mind for awhile to give Prezi a try because I love inventing ways to use Prezi and I’ve discovered that it is perfect for creating simple Gantt charts and then being able to easily update them without a lot of manual tinkering. I’ve coined the term “Prezi-Gantt“.
Here’s a link to a public Prezi-Gantt chart you can check out to see what it looks like. I’ll give you a few benefits and tips but if you’re a Prezi user, just jump in and try it on your own and you’ll find out it’s pretty easy to use.
- Prezi is FREE!
- Prezi gives you have an infinite online canvas and depth-of-field to either zoom in or zoom out at will.
- You can share online your Prezi-Gantt utilizing Prezi’s three-level privacy functionality:
- Private: Only you can view and edit.
- Hidden: You can view and edit. Collaborators can view if they have the link.
- Public: Can be viewed by the world if they have the link.
- You can put a frame around that part of your Prezi-Gantt that you want people to focus on, and then you can remove the frame and redefine another area of focus.
- The text box in Prezi turns out to be perfect for creating a taskbar which you can stretch forward or backward with ease.
- Within the text box (taskbar) you can either describe the task and task owner within the taskbar, or you can put this information in front and/or behind the taskbar, your choice.
- I use vertical lines within the taskbar (|||||||||||||||||) to show progress (percent complete).
- I place a bold vertical red line to show the current date, and then all you have to do is click on the line and then use the arrow key to move the line forward when you need to update the Prezi-Gantt.
- It’s easy to adjust the horizontal position of your task bars by simply clicking on the taskbar and then using the arrow key to either move it left or move it right.
- If you want to insert a new task within a group of tasks, you simply create a frame around the block of tasks, then you click on the frame to move the entire block of tasks down and then it gives you room to insert a new taskbar. Then you can click on the frame and move the block of tasks back up using the arrow key.
- Framing a block of tasks so you can move them up or down, left or right, is the “guru move” for the Prezi-Gantt. It may sound a little complicated but after you do it a couple of times, you’ll find it’s really easy and powerful.
Please give the Prezi-Gantt a try and let me know how it goes!
- sp -
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A client of mine who has built a successful enterprise software systems development firm over the last 15 years, is now wanting to hire a consultant(s) to help him define some strategic objectives going forward. He finally has the disposable cash to do this kind of thing. He had me review the consultant’s proposal, and here was my guidance to him:
I think getting a fresh perspective from the “outside” can be a healthy exercise, but there is also some measure of risk that it can lead you astray. So go into it with eyes wide open.
Here are some due diligence questions to ask yourself before proceeding:
- Do you like these guys? Are you comfortable with them? Do you respect them? What does your gut tell you?
- Have you asked for three references that you can call? This is VERY IMPORTANT!
- What do they know about software and your market? Or, if they have no direct experience, do you think their general experience and skills can yield some valuable insights for your unique situation?
- Last question is, all things considered, for the price they charge, do you think there is not much to lose, and maybe something valuable to gain?
If you can ask those questions and they pass the test, then I would give it a shot.