Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Challenge Everything

I recently attended the Art of the Sale seminar in Vancouver, BC. I feel like I benefited more than anyone in the room, perhaps because I had the most to learn.

The speaker I enjoyed most was Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the Little Red Book of Selling. Very entertaining. Very informative. His session ended way too soon for me.

One of my takeaways from the day was not from Gitomer, but from Brent Adamson. He identified five Sales Rep profiles. To some of you, they will be familiar. They are:
  • Hard Worker - Always goes the extra mile. Doesn't give up easily. Self motivated. Interested in feedback and development.
  • Challenger - Always has a different view of the world. Understands the customers business. Loves to debate. Pushes the customer.
  • Relationship Builder - Builds strong customer advocates. Generous in giving time to help others. Gets along with everyone.
  • Lone Wolf - Follows own instincts. Self-assured. Independent.
  • Problem Solver - Reliably responds. Ensures that all problems are solved. Detail oriented.
Of these, he continues, the Challenger profile consistently outperforms the others. Got me to thinking...shouldn't this apply to things other than sales?? If it's so effective, could a similar approach to development and management be something to consider??

Let's put on our developer hat for a minute. It's customary that we receive specifications from the business analyst. Before writing the first line of code, what if the developer were to take a minute to review the specs looking particularly for embedded there a more efficient way to solve the problem?

Now from point of view of a've got a very talented staff from top to bottom...push them to think outside of convention. I had a manager some twenty years ago. Nothing I'd bring him was ever good enough. If it took 10 seconds to run, he'd ask why I couldn't get it down to 5?? Frustrating? You bet. But it forced me to raise my game. It forced me to not deliver commodity code. It forced me to craft elegant, efficient solutions that I was proud to put my name on. As I admitted it was frustrating at times...especially for the first few years, but I always felt he was on my side and not once did I feel he was being malicious. I look back now and the product benefited greatly from him demanding I consider alternatives. I believe he is responsible for any success I achieved later in my career.

This approach will not, can not, work without copious amounts of respect. Yes, Aretha, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Someone without the respect of his or her peers will be looked on as difficult to work with, not a team player, or worse. Done correctly, others will clamor to have this person on their team, because of the elegant, innovative, out of the box solutions that come as a result.

In the first example the developer must realize at the end of the day the decision resides with the manager and I suppose ultimately the customer.

In the second example the manager must leave no doubt that he believes in his staff to make magic. Do that and they'll walk through fire for you.

I implore you...challenge everything, but do so with the requisite amount of respect.

...our journey continues

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