I Think about business problems Fact-based (compensate for lack of gut instinct, bridge the credibility gap) Rigidly structured (MECE; issue list: 2<=#<=5; include ‘Other Issues’) Hypothesis-driven
Work on the RIGHT problem; Use framework; Base on facts, do not let facts fit into your hypothesis; Make sure your solution fit the client; Politics.
80/20 rule; Do not boil the ocean; Find the key drivers; Elevator test (explain the key idea in 30 seconds); Pluck the low-hanging fruit; Hit singles; (just do what you are supposed to do and get it right; don't try to do the work of the whole team. Why? It's impossible to do everything yourself all the time. If you manage it once, you raise unrealistic expectations from those around you. Once you fail to meet expectations, it is very difficult to regain credibility.) Look at the big picture; Just say 'I don't know'; Don't accept 'I have no idea'.
II Work to solve business problems Do not overpromise to your client. (Don't bite off more than you and your team can chew and know what your end product is going to be.)
Team: take your team's temperature; steer a steady course; let your teammates know why they are doing what they are doing; treat your teammates with respect; get to know your teammates as people; when the going gets tough, take the Bill Clinton approach-tell your team truth, 'I feel your pain.' At some point, you have to soldier on; that's life.
Boss: Make your boss look good. First, do your job to the best of your ability, which will make your boss's job easier; second, make sure your boss knows everything you know when she needs to know it.
Research: Do not reinvent the wheel. 1) Start with the annual report; 2) Look for outliers; 3) Look for best practice.
Interview: Write an interview guide. When deciding on which questions to ask, you might want to include some to which you know the answer. On questions of fact, asking a 'ringer' will give you some insights into the interviewee's honesty and/or knowledge. For complex issues, you may think you 'know' the answer, but there may be more than one; you should find out as many as possible. When you have asked all your questions, or you are running out of time, put away your guide and ask the interviewee if there is anything else he'd like to tell you or any question you forgot to ask. Always let the interviewee know you are listening, either through 'yes', 'I see', 'uh-huh' or body language (lean toward the interviewee slightly, nod, take notes). 7 tips: 1) Have the interviewee's boss set up the meeting. 2) Interview in pairs. 3) Listen; don't lead. 4) Paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase. 5) Use the indirect approach. (Be sensitive to the interviewee's feelings) 6) Do not ask for too much. 7) Adopt the Columbo tactic (If there is a particular question you need the answer to, or a piece of data that you want, the Columbo tactic is often a good way to get it. Once the interview is over, everybody becomes more relaxed. The interviewee's sense that you have some power over him will have disappeared. He is far less likely to be defensive, and will often tell you what you need or give you the information you seek on the spot). Try 'Super-Columbo' tactic. (Instead of turning around the door, wait until a day or two has passed, then drop by the interviewee's office. You were just passing by and remembered a question you forgot to ask. Again, this makes you much less threatening and makes it more likely that you will get the information you need) Always write a thank-you note.
Brainstorming: There are no bad ideas; there are no dumb questions; be prepared to kill your babies; know when to say when; get it down on paper. Some exercises: 1) The Post-it exercise (Give everyone in the room a pad of sticky notes. The participants then write out any relevant ideas they have, one idea per note, and hand them over to the leader, who reads them aloud); 2) the flipchart exercise (Put a number of flipcharts around the room, each one labeled with a different category or issue. Each team member then goes around the room writing ideas down on the appropriate flipchart. If you like, you can give each team member a different colored marker, so you know whose ideas are whose); 3) Bellyaches up front (For handling a grumbler or rabble-rouser: have the leader or moderator stand behind him, and even touch him on the shoulder occasionally. This lets the troublemaker know that he is being watched. If he mutters an aside, the moderator can ask him to speak up, rather like the teacher who tells the note-passing student, ‘why don't you share it with the class?’).
III Sell solutions Presentations: be structured; remember diminishing marginal returns to effort (Resist the temptation to tweak your presentation right up to the last minute. Weight the value of a change against a good night's sleep for you and your team. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good); prewire everything.
Display data with charts: keep it simple-one message per chart; use a waterfall chart to show the flow.
Internal communication: Three keys to an effective message: brevity, thoroughness, and structure. Confidentiality.
IV Survive Treat everyone with tremendous respect.
For travel- Clothing: An extra shirt or blouse Spare ties for the men Spare pair of comfortable flat shoes for the women Casual clothes Workout clothes A cashmere sweater for keeping warm and comfy on overnight flights
Tools: A writing pad A pad of graph paper (for hand-drawing charts) A copy of whatever you sent to the client An HP 12C calculator
Personal care items: A toothbrush A shaving kit for the men A mini-makeup kit for the women Antacid tablets A bottle of Tylenol A big bottle of Tylenol
Things to keep you organized and in touch: A personal organizer Credit cards (I keep them in a separate wallet) The OAG (or other airline time table) A cell phone Directions to the client
Diversions: A good book Press clippings to read on the plane Books on tape, especially if your travel includes long stretches of driving Video games on laptop computer
If you want a life, lay down some rules: Make one day a week off-limits; Don't take work home; Plan ahead.