• Five ways to deal with the first No

    Posted on December 8 2011 by gjones in Featured with 0 comments

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    A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a friend who’s a senior leader in a well known organization. He’s in charge of the communications function and recently led a team that put together a very successful first time event that got a ton of positive national media attention. We were talking about what he learned from leading that process. While some of the details of our conversation were off the record, he gave his permission to share his biggest lesson on the Next Level Blog.

    It all comes down to what do you do with the first no?

    Leaders who are trying to do something unprecedented are invariably going to hear the word, no, a lot. It may not be as direct as that. It might be softened as, “We don’t do things that way,” or “Sorry, that’s impossible.” My friend heard a lot of responses like that as he and his team worked to turn their big event idea into a reality. Looking back on a successful outcome, he realizes that the critical element in making it happen was how they dealt with the first no.

    I asked him what his options were for dealing with the first no. Here’s what he had to say:

    Take It: Your first option is to just take the no at face value. This might be appropriate in some cases, but if it’s the only response in your repertoire, you’re not going to get much done.

    Ask Why: This was my friend’s go to move when he heard no. He would politely ask why it couldn’t be done. It was often the case that the person saying no would realize there wasn’t any other reason for saying no beyond it hadn’t been done before.

    Ask What If: That was the point at which my friend and his team would start asking, “What if…?” What if questions engage the other party in a problem solving dialogue instead of a just say no monologue.

    Do Your Homework: My friend and his team made sure they did their homework before they even asked the question. As he told me, “You want to make sure it’s the right person saying no.” Don’t allow things to get hung up at levels where the authority to say no doesn’t really exist.

    Pick Your Spots: As my friend said, “You have to work to live another day.” In other words, you have to develop a sense of what’s a deal killer and what doesn’t really matter that much. Let the no’s go on things that don’t matter so much.

    So, the chances are excellent that you’ve heard no when trying to lead change or do something new. What’s your best advice for dealing with the first no?

    Read this article written by Government Executive here: http://blogs.govexec.com/executivecoach/2011/12/five_ways_to_deal_with_the_fir.php?dcn=gvet

  • E-Myth

    Posted on December 3 2011 by gjones in Testimonials with 0 comments

    “If you can’t satisfy a potential customer, recommend someone who can. You win some and you lose some, but your business gains a solid reputation that serves you well in the long run.”

    — Tricia Huebner, VP, Business Development, E-Myth

  • Winston Churchill

    Posted on November 30 2011 by admin in Testimonials with 0 comments

    “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.’ “

  • Contract Officers take risks

    Posted on November 30 2011 by admin in Featured with 0 comments

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    Smart contracting in a time of tight budgets requires a trained agency acquisition workforce that is willing to take reasonable risks to achieve innovation, federal procurement specialists said in Washington on Thursday.

    In a discussion headlined “Innovation in a Budget-Constrained Environment,” the Congressional Smart Contracting Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., heard Obama administration acquisition officials and a private sector spokesman say that fears of conflicts of interest or protests from unsuccessful contract bidders should not make agencies so “risk-averse” that they can’t find creative ways to invest in future innovation that benefits taxpayers.

    “As we approach the federal debt problem and seek efficiencies, we need to separate what’s nice to have from investments that we can’t afford to walk away from,” said Connolly, a former federal contractor whose district is heavily dependent on such public-private partnerships.

    The examples of essentials he gave were cybersecurity and cloud computing. “Sometimes the experience doesn’t exist in the federal government, so you have to rely on technical contractors, especially in larger systems integration contracts,” he said. But because growth in the number of federal contractors has outstripped growth of the federal acquisition workforce, Connolly said, “investing in skills in contract management pays off for taxpayers.”

    Stan Soloway, president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council who served at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, said he was “afraid we didn’t learn the lessons from 1990s,” when the Defense Department budget after the Cold War was “cut by a third across-the-board.” Categories such as contract officers needed to go up, he said, adding that good acquisition also requires pricing specialists and program officers who understand the need for a “robust, mutually strong business relationship.”

    David McClure, associate administrator at the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, said the current budget crisis presents a difficult “new environment that raises the bar with agency contract officers,” as well as an “opportunity to use technology to get more bang for the buck.”

    He says it is not simply that contract officers are in short supply, but also that too many lack the requisite knowledge and skills and are “junior or entry-level managers managing a huge complex program.” He called for more mentoring and on-the-job training.

    Moderator Jill Aitoro, senior staff reporter for Washington Business Journal, asked whether federal agencies are comfortable talking to business in the pre-contract phase when there is risk of conflicts of interest.

    Lesley Field, deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said there is sufficient detail in both the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Obama administration policies to make contract requirements clear and to “give agencies a bit of cover” in pre-contract discussions. Industry, she said, has a lot of information, and the fear of doing something wrong and of prompting a bid protest is what keeps procurement officers from communicating with industry, “but there is no need to chill the dialogue.”

    She said it is fine to have a “have a riskier contract vehicle if you have a good contractor management team in place,” stressing the need for solid training.

    McClure added that GSA encourages pre-contract dialogue that creates a platform rather than specific solutions. He mentioned using industry forums that promote “ideation,” discuss best practices, produce white papers by outside experts, and even contests for ideas that offer cash awards or a handshake from the president.

    Connolly was skeptical, saying many contractors and agencies worry that such exchanges could mean they face being penalized later. He acknowledged that agency representatives who take risks that turn out badly can be called on the carpet by a politically polarized Congress. This occurred in November when Office of Personnel Management officials were taken to task following widely noted troubles with OPM’s takeover from a contractor of the federal website USAJobs.gov.

    “I wish more of my colleagues would take the higher road,” Connolly said, but in Congress, the “system of reward and punishment is to seek headlines and stories by skewing the story.” Sometimes, risk is worth the money, he added, citing recently deceased Apple leader Steve Jobs, whose “failures were dispositive for his career.”

    Whitman agreed that too often in Congress, “the response is not in the public policy realm, but the political realm. That shouldn’t mean we take zero risks and become risk-averse. But it must be a reasonable risk that’s worth taking.”

    Find the article on GovExec.com: http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=49460&oref=todaysnews