Opportunity knocks

I usually have lunch about 14:00 hrs, some times at the office but most days I go out. Today I went to this new little restaurant near the office, two blocks at most. This place is owned by a kind lady who likes to tell stories to the customers, about her family, about the weather, or any anecdote about herself. Today she told me something that I’ve been listening since I was a child, but for some reason, this time this quote sounded different in my mind: “A customer is always right”.

I’ve been in the business world enough time to confront situations with difficult customers, and I’ve learned something: they are not always right… and I really think that as professionals we do have the responsability to let them know when they are wrong… the critical solution here is: how can we face this situations without break our relationship with a customer? and even more, how can we turn this circumstance in an opportunity to improve our relationship with a customer?

Some customers make mistakes in a positive way and others in a negative way, for example, a positive way is when those mistakes come from something they ignore, in most cases providing them with the right information would be enough to solve it. However also the opposite situation happens, for example when a customer is absolutely sure that he is right and that we are wrong; this is the most valuable opportunity to get an ally in that customer if we have the capabilities needed for achieving that.

For me, there is not any secret, we live in a world made of causes and consequences, if we want to achieve a positive consequence out of this hard customers, then we must plant the right causes, and this can be done if we are able to “wear the customer’s shoes”, we must be as assertive as we can be. It is not hard to understand that every person see the situations from its own point of view, exactly as we do, so, if we are capable for some instant to ignore our own point of view and consider the one of the customer, we’ll be able to find a right solution to this event, we’ll find something to “put on the table” that seems a right solution for our customer’s eyes. I’m not talking about cheating, tricking, or manipulating a customer, I’m talking about finding convenient solutions for both parts wihtout the big impediment of our own interests. That means to be assertive.

So, even when a customer is not right, and we have to open his eyes, it is possible to find a good solution that turns this situation in one on our advantage, however never let a customer unhappy, that is a wrong strategy for any business.


Smart Practices Vs Best Practices

In the IT world, there is a known fact that we have hundreds of good practices available, they are there, just waiting for us to choose them in order to be applied in our companies, but here is the tricky part: which one of them should we choose and how many are enough? should we take all the good practices that we can find? how do we make this decisition?

Whenever I have been involved in a complex project, I use to interview key people that participates on it, and they always ask me the same type of questions: which best practices are we going to adopt? are they enough? just in case, should we adopt two or three more? The answer of course is: It depends!

When I was studying computer engineering some years ago (enough to skip the date), I had this teacher who used to tell us that the excess of information is more dangerous than the lack of it. Back then I didn’t understand completely what he ment by that, but now I do, and it’s very clear since we live in the era of information, where the hard work is filtering trustworthy information. Same thing apply for good practices. We must be capable to filter those practices that match better with the set of goals that we are trying to achieve in our organizations, in other words, before choosing the set of practices we must define the metrics and goals that we want to reach, and only then we are in the right path for choosing the right set of good practices that lead us to those goals. This leads to a smart choosing process.

“Smart Practices” is the term that we adopted in Lymon to define the proccess of choosing the best practices for our organization, using the most intelligent way as possible. On this process, first of all, we have to define our goals, then, we must carry out an assessment in order to detect the key improvement areas and weaknesses that are more priority, and only then we can choose a small set of best practices that atack directly to those weaknesses. I suggest not choosing more than 2 or 3 practices the first time, we must be careful with the associated change that this adoption implies, or we could face a drastic organization change that not always is easy to face.

As in every complex project, in Lymon we suggest adopting a change of practices in an iterative and incremental process, measuring very carefuly the impact in every step of the adoption, in order to detect any possible counterproductive scenario, and if this adoption works as it should, only then you can add one more good practice at once.

I you have any concern about how to apply a Smart Practices adoption process, please feel free to ask, you can find more information in our Web Site http://www.lymon.com.mx, we will be happy to help you.





The risk zone in a meeting

When I have a meeting with a customer, I use to go with one or two people from my team, and every single time (they must be tired of this for sure), previous to the meeting I recall them: “guys, please remember not to ask any personal question to the customer”. Why is that? Well, let me tell you a story:

A few years ago, I had this important sales meeting, everything was going well, I remember that feeling about being a successful sales man, I was closing a millonaire deal. At the end of the meeting I shook hands with my customer and we stand up, my level of relaxation at that point made me look around his office decoration and I saw this a photograph behind the desk in which there was a couple of kids from my client’s hand, then I asked: “Oh, are those your kids?”. Suddenly I saw how his expression changed, he looked at that picture and after a long and awkward silence he finally told me: “they were, they just passed away one month ago, a drunk man driving his car…”, he couldn’t finish that sentence.

I have not words to describe how bad I felt after that, all my previous feelings about success were gone, and any sort of apologize wouldn’t be enough, worst of all, I carried that feeling for days.

Fortunately the deal didn’t change becaus of that, at the end the sale went well, but I never forgot that event.

So, dear reder, let me share with you some of my reflections that I learned from that event.

There are different levels of tension in a meeting, and for me the most dangerous moments are when you arrive and when you leave. Sometimes when we just arrive the level of tension can be very high, and we use to talk about trivial things to decrese that level of tension. At the end of the meeting, when we think everything just ended and we allow ourselves relaxing, this is a very dangerous point as well because again we use to talk about trivial things. Now what is the problem with trivial things? well, for informal meetings they are ok, but in a business meeting if we use this trivial chating to relax ourselves we are putting us in a position where we don’t have anything to win but too much to loose.

Conclusion, my suggestion is that if you have a business meeting, keep this format: Say hello, talk about the topics of the meeting, say goodbye and leave. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous position where you have nothing to win but too much to loose.


A better world with agile frameworks

Scrum is my favorite agile framework by far.

I discovered Scrum a few years ago, in the Spring of 2009 when I traveled to Buenos Aires Argentina, in order to took the Certified Scrum Master course. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about this methodology, I had more misconceptions in my head than facts about it.

The first session took place in a big conference room at the Colon Hotel, located near the famous obelisk over the Pellegrini avenue.

It was a crowded room, full of cardboards on the walls and post-its everywhere, almos a surreal view. There were about 20 expectant people avid to start in the agile world.

My trainer was Alan Cyment, a very passionate and enthusiastic agile coach with a huge domain of Scrum, who achieved his knowledg from the most respected “Agilists” in the industry. During these couple of days that the certification course lasted, Alan showed us what Scrum really is, and most important, what Scrum is not, that point of view broke every one of my misconceptions about Scrum and for the first time in my life I was able to see the advantage and benefits of the agile world.

Since then, I became a promotor of agile frameworks, I have studied many agile methodologies, and I have had the opportunity to prove them in the real world, what I have learned is that there is a methodology for every case, and most of the time you have to use a mix of agile practices that are not neccesarily part of a single framework.

I love companies that venture to implementing agile methods and best practices, this is a very courageous decision which leads to increase their value, and most of the time they put themselves in a very competitive scenario, which forces other companies to look inside and question their own practices.

I founded Lymon with a vision, to help IT industry to develop a competitive platform using agile methodologies and the best practices available. In my opinion, there is not reason to deliver late, or to overload development teams, or to lie respect the real progress of a project. Everybody should know how to implement best practices, our goal is to contribute to create an effective development industry where efficiency and professional ethics help to create a better world.