12 Oct Herding Cats: How Sales Beacon Manages the Unmanageable
Sales Beacon devised a proprietary methodology to enable our clients to do the impossible: herd cats. We call our system Days of the Week (DOTW).
Ever heard the expression “herding cats”? If you have then you know that it means trouble. “Herding cats” is a futile attempt to control or organize a group which is inherently uncontrollable. It isn’t a new idea, but with the increase of managing virtual teams, its gaining momentum of a challenge to overcome.
An old Irish expression refers to “minding mice at the crossroads.” Herding Cats is now a boardgame. A Seattle-based rock group calls themselves Herding Cats. December 15th has even been designated Cat Herder’s Day!
Can you imagine a more difficult proposition than managing a bunch of solitary creatures focused only on their needs, not anyone else’s?
Please understand, it’s not the cat’s fault. They may be domesticated but not as much as most people think. Research has shown cats are more tolerant than loving toward their human companions. It’s deep in their DNA to look out for number one by refusing to share food and prizes. They just do what they want to do. Is it any wonder that keeping control of a group of cats would be an issue?
Sales Beacon has devoted a lot of time and energy into solving the cat herding problem. We’ve been able to devise a proprietary methodology to enable our clients to do the seemingly impossible: herd cats. We call our system Days of the Week (DOTW) and it’s has been instrumental in allowing us to achieve a 99% success rate in our remote, cross-functional projects.
Some of you may recall a television ad from a while back produced for Electronic Data Systems (EDS). It showed a group of real old-time crusty cowboys driving a large herd of felines across dusty plains, rushing rivers and arid deserts. It won advertising awards with its depiction of tough men of the West suffering scratches, allergies and frustration. Pretty hilarious.
What’s not so funny is the reality of managing cross-functional teams working on intricate virtual projects. Just like the cowboys in the EDS commercial, project managers must be coaches, planners and task jugglers: a seemingly impossible job. Just like cats, people can also be prone to being independent, stubborn and easily distracted.
Effective cat herders who bring business enemies together and turn them into colleagues, perform an invaluable service.
Forbes Magazine says that “finding a manager good enough to herd cats is of crucial importance when you have many team members who have disparate skill sets and personalities”. When you consider the fact that different departments have separate goals and often conflicting work practices, it’s clear how important keeping good control of the reins is. Forbes goes on to say: “Effective cat herders who can bring business enemies together and turn them, at least temporarily, into colleagues, perform an invaluable service”.
There are many reasons why a remote project may go off-track:
- Company turf battles
- Unclear deadlines and expectations
- Personal animosity and conflicting egos
- Lack of management control
- Budget restrictions
- Grudges and vendettas
- Uncooperative behavior
- Poor communication
- Diminished motivation
- Team members poor self-esteem and confidence
- Power struggles
So much can go wrong and it doesn’t take long for one problem to affect other aspects of a project. Sales Beacon’s DOTW methodology has been refined to effectively cope with all aspects of remote project management, making herding cats if not a pleasure, then certainly a calm, easy to follow process.
Days of the Week is a subset of our ABC remote project framework. DOTW is based on a set of operating assumptions that keep everyone accountable. These assumptions come from understanding the fast-changing and competitive nature of most cross functional teams.
DOTW is a set of regular communications and actions that ensures all parties accomplish their tasks to complete any project on time and on budget. The key aspects of DOTW are simple, easily understandable and full of the common sense so often absent from project management:
- Expect the Unexpected: The first thing DOTW assumes is frequent change. Whether it is budget, scope, time or people moving into new jobs, you can bet that in a constantly-changing organization things aren’t going to stay static.
Each project needs a high impact communications plan to address potential changes to project scope. All stakeholders need to be informed.
- People aren’t going to do what they agree to do: Unlike other project methodologies, DOTW recognizes the need to firmly track and follow up action items and team members’ deliverables. What could be more important than making sure who is doing what and when are they doing it?
- “No Surprises” Communication: Each project needs a high impact communications plan to address potential changes to project scope. All stakeholders need to be informed with as few words as possible, so that everyone is on the same page at all times. Through DOTW methodology, risks are communicated to the appropriate personnel to assess and, if necessary, redeploy resources, revise budget or change deadlines.
By bringing together information, ideas, modern technologies and DOTW, Sales Beacon has successfully completed over 800 assignments for companies like Dell, Cisco and Wachter, to name but a few. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how our expertise and experience can allow you to be an expert cat-herder too!