Are You Charging What You Are Worth?

I recently had a discussion with a client about their pricing structure we are building. In the conversation we spoke a lot about the different aspects of setting a price. As per common knowledge you look at many pieces such as market requirements, expenses, profit margin, etc. During the conversation, two aspects certainly stood out: Value and Competition. In fact we looped back about 3 or 4 times to talk about these two.

People by nature begin their pursuits with a high value thinking to themselves, “I am worth X amount and people will pay for it”. As time continues and the business is being setup, realizations of what they are worth and what the market is asking to pay are completely different. Ideas spring up that in all normality you would think should be for the better but in actuality are not.

The question to answer is:

“who am I asking to get feedback from?”

The client paid my firm to consult on their pricing and marketing model, to develop the business model and to implement a marketing campaign. In the process we had collected real market data creating a business model that would see the client’s business grow. Even though the hard factual data showed the pricing model was solid, during the process, our client had these negative thoughts of it being priced to high.

We pondered this phenomena over and over trying to figure out why this was occurring. Here we had a client paying us for solid real time advice, yet they were getting worried that it would not work.

After brainstorming for quite some time with the team, the question we kept bring up was “why did the client love the pricing but then changed their mind?”.

Was it fear? Was it too big of a change? Were they comparing themselves to others?

Why am I writing this post?

The reason I write this post today is because we asked the right questions to lead to the answers we were looking for. The client had spent quite some time talking with friends, family, and colleagues who discouraged the pricing structure. They were actively discrediting the ability for this person to sell at the pricing we had set.

The fact is that when you start a business you need to maintain your self-worth. Your image of who you are and what your value is must be maintained. The risk in starting your own business is high. With that comes high stress and with high stress come thoughts. They can be positive or negative.

Positive thoughts can make your experience of starting a business a beautiful one. One that brings you to the next level of who you were meant to be!

Thoughts can also be negative. These thoughts can cause high anxiety and a failure complex mentality. Draining your mental resources will only lead you to a level that will put you on the path to failure.

How do these thoughts come to be?

They come to be from conversations with people who are either negative or positive. People who are family members, friends, colleagues, and the people closest to you. People can drain you quite quickly with their negative thoughts. They can bring you to a level of self-worth that will make you feel like there is no possible way you can succeed.

Solution for this?

Establish rules with the people you talk to about your business. If you family has no knowledge of business, if your friends have no knowledge of business, if the people you associate with have no knowledge of business, do not talk to them about business. They will tell you their opinion that is based on what they see and not what is. They have no real research to back their claims. Only the bubble they live in.

Focus solely to talk with people that are in business. People who see your thoughts, your values, and self-worth. These people will help guide you in the right direction, a support that is much needed during the start of a business.

I am planning a project. Do I need professional assistance?

Most firms push for a consultation that is tedious and focuses only on the project itself. A process that requires more than the given availability both in dollars and time. What can one do to be more efficient on the decision of a project?

Seek advice from someone who has done it before!

Very simple and logical, no?

Last fall we had a client call who asked is it good to go with the cloud or not? The simple problem they faced involved the change that would result in the firm operation by implementing the cloud. They never thought about it before. The client just thought about the dollars spent and the resulting savings that would occur.

Advice on what is required is based on the project specifications and the firm’s successful implantation on a financial scale. Some projects can be done in house and some require a dedicated team. Being able to make a decision on the route your company takes should be a profound educated choice.

So, let’s look at a situation.

You have a project that you are thinking about. The project will cost at least 60 thousand dollars on an assumption based on what others have done before. This be the real end scenario we are happy. But let’s face it, we have a project to run and a business that is running.
The professional assistance is based on competence of the team trying to start the new project. If a company does not have the resources to make a project work it will inevitably fail. The CFO, controller or stakeholder should be in line with their business fully knowing their capabilities.

A quick snapshot of the financials it is often a great indicator of what can be done and thus a great indicator of how much professional assistance is needed.

Any PM with experience will ask, is this a project that is required? Does it have a budget? What is the time line?

How Does Personality Play a Role in Hiring a PM?

Hiring a PM is somewhat of a challenge for most companies. The end result that must be achieved is the project completeness. This involves many aspects of the project, however maintaining the scope and achieving the time and budget is priority. Companies like to hire experienced PMs as it increase the probability of a project being successful.

But why do experienced PM’s sometime fail?

Human understanding is complicated and when a team is formed the PM has to play the quarterback position to achieve the goals of the project. The PM needs to make sure all team members are working toward the end goal within that scope of the project set out by the stakeholders.

Picking a PM therefore must be thought out and not a swing decision made over night. Many times we hear of PMs who have joined an organization and were replaced rather quickly as they were not a good fit. Other times, due to contracts, they can’t be removed.

How does personality play a role in the success of a PM?

Personality plays a big role in the PM career. Many have made it through with a rigid personality and others with adaptable characteristics. In my experience personality will make or break a project, keep team members loyal, and elevate or hinder career growth.

Personality should encompass a “go getter” attitude. This being an inclusive characteristic that empowers their team to reach their goals in the time set out. The PM doesn’t need to have full understanding of the technical details per say, but rather understand what the technical details require in order for the team member to complete the task.

A supportive personality that is able to hone in on the skill sets that each team member has and encourage the growth and development through the process will generally yield a better environment to see success which will translate in better final results.

My experience with Project Managers has lacked success. What can I do?

One of biggest problems any stakeholder will be faced with revolves in dealing with a PM who fails to succeed. The question I was asked the other day:

I have always had a bad experience, what can I do?”

FACT: you will always be presented with a problem where acquiring a resource is troublesome. This could be a project manager, but also, a marketing professional, HR, Payroll, accountant, etc.

The trick is simple, pick and choose all you want, but find someone who can specialize in your situation. Every situation is different and every problem has a certain required result. So why would you use the same PM over and over?

It is not always 1 + 1 equals 2.   Sometimes in the heat of the moment it turns into 3 and know one knows why. What then?

Simple is as simple does. Pick a PM that has been there or one that can handle pressure and risk. We often find ourselves in times where we are dealing with such situations where a norm by the “book” person cannot handle the risk and needs of the project in real time.

Characteristics of a PM that can handle risk includes charisma, strength, character, and most of all fearless in change. The end game requires a PM that can say the magic word “NO”.

One of the best examples comes from a recent client who had a repeated failed project. The key requirements were never met. The project scope was out of line and never became visible to availability of resources. A simple approach would be to say no but everyone hired needed the pay check.

Saying NO to people is hard but saying NO to stakeholders is even harder. The best guideline to hiring a PM on unsuccessful projects includes a characteristic of someone who is able to say and do different than the status quo. This is to say that this person will speak up to what is wrong and not fear losing their paycheck. This person has the keys to success. A highly effective PM when in operation!

Do Theories Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Play a Role in Project Management?

This question came up the other day on a LinkedIn post and many answers were given. Personal bias plays a big role in answering this question. Usually this bias comes from experiences where companies have tried to integrate different theories such as Maslow’s into their team environment. The results are either good or bad based on how fast and how drastic the changes took to be implemented.

Many companies try to establish this induction of a theory or process in a subtle manner but are often found with too much change being implemented. This change can cause many emotional imbalances to come out by the team and is usually not shown or evident to the implementers.

A good process is to understand, based on a theory such as Maslow’s, what characteristics already exist in the team environment. Although the theory is created in a structured manner, many PM’s and corporations already deliver some, if not most, of the theory’s key concepts without fully being aware.

Let’s face it, the theory isn’t rocket science and we know that different things motivate different people. By looking at all the different concepts and slowly introducing them without impacting a “change chaos” situation, the team will gradually adjust.

A PM that enters into a failing project can have the ability to implement a drastic change, however this is based on how much need there is for it and what backlash will be received. Thus, gradual change over a period of time with limited emphasis to the change is a good method to achieve this goal.

How can I start the Design Think way?

Design Think is simple. It is the art of being creative in finding new solutions to problems that generally are solved in a normal way. We can take it one step further and apply it to a problem that has not been dealt with yet and needs a creative solution.  Big corporations spend time and money in creating solutions on a big scale.  So the question you should be asking yourself is why can’t I? Simply put, all you need is to think how have people approached this problem before and how can I do it better? Tweaking your thought process is the hard part but it gets easier as you practice.

If your mind set is in the norm, it is time to think big, bold and borderline irrational. Thinking big can help creativity skyrocket.  Introducing realism into the group of thoughts will help you bring them back to real world scenarios and streamline yourself to a workable solution! Take the workable solution and find technology and partnerships that can help streamline your business to provide your customers what they need and in turn solidifying your business is operating at an optimum.

When looking at clients that have requested Design Think, the first step is to analyze what is the current problem and the procedure associated with it.  The next step is to talk to everyone directly involved.  Again this means EVERYONE and not just management. Your company is a team that includes the front line and most importantly your customers are part of it. With social media growing at an astonishing rate, talking to your customers has never been easier.  Being that they are not face to face, ugly truths are easier to be divulged.  They will tell you what needs to be changed. The problem then becomes the how… that may just be the easy part!

Smart or Smarter?

FACT: everyone thinks they are smarter than the other! Why waste that time worrying about little things in life? When working with someone do you find it frustrating that a person is acting like they know everything but you seem to do all the work? While working with a client and a few of his partners on a consult, I realized that they had a big problem: “No one valued each other’s intellectual ability”

Fact is they didn’t trust each other. Big problem don’t you think?

I was standing in a typical example of a person not respecting the other thinking they were always right and always smarter. This applied for each of the partners on to each other… further this, it trickled down to the whole team of employees! Thought I was in Ramsy’s Kitchen Nightmares…

What did we do? We had a session on what everyone is good at looking at their strengths and weaknesses. Surprisingly, they all had both segments. What a relief.

We started talking all together and analyzed the opportunity cost for each person’s time spent on what the other was doing, trying to make it better or redoing work. The ROI on everything was causing them to be so inefficient that they were latterly bleeding their wallets dry. Further that, they had given up on the business and wanted to end it.

The process was simple:

State what you are good at and what you like to do, then focus on it
State what you are NOT good at and what you DO NOT like to do, then simply don’t do it
Mind your business over a period of 3 to 4 weeks while everything is being monitored

Analyze the performance in a meeting
Figure out a solution and implement it if required

Point is that we spend too much time in other people’s business. We spend too much time trying to fix the other instead of trusting them and helping them develop that skill… Trust is crucial especially in a growing company. If there isn’t any then it must be developed or an exit of one person must occur.

Communication Change in Corp World

We have all been involved in large organizations. We have all witnessed what it is like to work with others in a massive team. We have worked the jobs at the bottom of the chain and also the ones at the top. Various understanding of how to deal with people exists and it is usually based on previous experience, culture, society norm, and so on.

What I noticed while working with some big corporations, is that people tend to stick to what they know. They don’t like change and certainly not anything that will compromise their job/career. It is intuitive that they follow procedure.

Does this make or break a corporation? Well startups are in a different position. They are able to create a different culture and develop new approaches to their work flow. Usually this can give them leverage over bigger companies and giving them an opportunity to grow faster and capture market share.

So how does communication come into play? The basis of any working model should require a proper communication flow; a way for a team to develop and grow constructively. What happens next? The interesting process of corporate politics enters the arena and when you have new technology… fireworks are always expected.

While at the bottom of the chain working the entry jobs, I would suggest great tools, great flows and really, anything that would limit the amount of time it would take to get responses back. Moving up the chain and learning the tricks of the trade I would start suggestions with proper presentations and proof of efficiency. This proved to be beneficial. The interesting portion however, came from different management.

Focusing on the successful ones, they integrated culture change. Culture change is always difficult, with all the politics, procedures and what not else that exists in a large corporation. The effectiveness of being able to make the change always brought success in the implementation. If this was not accomplished, the opposite occurred, where by efficiency dropped and the projects felt the ramifications of limited culture change.

Communication: Does Style Matter?

Over the years I have realized that the most important part of any job is communication. Without it, possibilities of success vanquish. In Project Management however, communication is imperative to successful completion.

From large corporations to small startups I have found one constant to success:
“The ability to grow the team organically through proper communication”.  What is proper though? Let’s put it in to perspective. Proper communication is, and only is, “proper” in the eyes of the team that is involved in the project. Where one person may say great things, another will say horrid things. Bottom line is that one should analyze and come to a proper working model.

In corporations, I have found that it is easiest to follow status quo. Rules and regulations are there for a reason and must be followed. Of course, there is opportunity to change things and yes being flexible is a necessity. However, when being pulled into a project that is not your own or starting a project where you don’t have maximum authority, well then there is no use fighting.

Startups however? That’s another story!  Why? In the previous paragraph I was referring to culture change. In order to change the flow of things, you need the culture of an organization to adapt and transform into a new methodology and way of life organically. Acceptance is not always simple.

In a start up, we can transform the culture such that it not hinder but promotes growth. Simply put, everyone wants to succeed and thus you are able as a project manager to steer the communication in the direction that will find ultimate success.

Working with startups across the globe and in my own backyard, I have found that it is always easier to address the issues at hand and assist in the process of the business as a whole.  Creating a culture around communication is the process that must have focus in the immediate months following growth of employees.

In my next several blogs, I will talk about culture change for communication in both corporate companies and start ups, addressing the differences I have seen!