Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Consumer Demand is Key

I’ve just updated my iPhone iOS to the latest version.  One of the developer’s claims is that it makes the built-in “Reminders” (To Do List) function more user-friendly.  Frankly, I don’t see it.

I’ve been using a third-party app to manage my To Do lists Body ever since I switched from a PC to a Mac.  Microsoft’s Outlook was, in my opinion, one of the best To Do list managers I’d ever encountered, and I miss it!  Microsoft do include it in their Office for Mac Suite, but synchronisation is almost non-existent.  The problem with using third-party To Do list apps on an Apple device is that they rely on synchronising through Apple’s Reminders app.  The reason I use third-party To Do list apps is that they allow me much more flexibility, in particular to:
  • Allocate start AND end dates to tasks;
  • Sort To Do lists by start date, due date, priority, etc;
  •  Build To Do lists either by “category” (e.g. “Business”, “Personal”) or by when they’re scheduled (e.g. Today, next 7 days, etc);
  • Set tasks as “repeating” or “recurring” (i.e. to repeat at regular intervals);
  • Build “Smart Lists” based on what I need (e.g. Today, next 7 days, etc).
Apple’s Reminders are simply a list of tasks that need to be done with the ability to:
  • Prioritise;
  • Set an alarm to say when they’re due;
  • Aggregate lists into groups (useful for project management?);
  • Sort by category (e.g. “Business”, “Personal”) 
  • Synchronise across my desktop, tablet and smartphone;
  • Functionality for sorting start date, due date, priority, etc is limited.
Depending on the user, this may be all that is required.  I would love it if Apple could develop a To Do list that worked for me (and, I’m sure countless others like me).  Many of us don’t manage our lives on a “just-in-time” basis, and with some tasks one needs to be able to set a time period lasting a number of days (particularly for lower-priority tasks that should be done, for example “sometime next week”.

There are a lot of Task Managers or To Do Apps out there, but what is key is user experience.  For me, a “good” Task Manager app will allow me to:
  • Create custom lists by group;
  • Create “Smart Lists” based on my own criteria; 
  • Set start and end dates;
  • Prioritise;
  • Set recurring tasks;
  • Set alarms for particular tasks;
  • Add notes to a task to remind me why it’s being done, or what I need to remember while doing it;
  • Synchronise across my desktop, tablet and smartphone.
We always need to be thinking about our product or service: 
  • Is it doing what users want?
  • Could we do it better?
  • Is it available at the right time, place and price?
  • Can we fix it if it goes wrong?
  • What will they want in the future? 
If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, how do we fix it?


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My website  provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

I recently encountered a classic case of the story of “Everybody, Anybody, Somebody and Nobody”.  For those who don’t know it, it goes something like this:

“There were four people called Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  The boss wanted something done and made a general announcement to them about it. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it.  Frankly, Anybody could have done it, but in the end Nobody did it.  The boss was angry – after all, he had told Everybody. 

Anybody could have done it.  Everybody thought Somebody (just not them) would do it but didn’t appreciate that Nobody would probably do it.  Equally, Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it… In the end, Everybody blamed Somebody when Anybody could have done it.” The moral is that, if the message or its delivery are confusing, nothing gets done.  Simply going out and making a “general announcement” won’t work.  Whom do we blame when things don’t get done? Every(body) has the perfectly legitimate excuse that they thought somebody else would do it and it wasn’t made clear that they themselveswere actually responsible. I have two standard questions when someone says that something “must” or “needs to” or “should” be done:
  1. In the case of it being my manager, I ask whom they want to make responsible which then clears the way forward (even if it’s me);
  1. In the case of someone in a group (or one of my reports) making the announcement whether they will take the lead on it.   If they don’t reply, it’s a case of them thinking that somebody else will do it…
We tend to get caught up the heat of the moment as managers and go into “destructive delegation” mode.  When delegating, we need to explain:
  • What needs to be done
  • Why
  • Who is expected to do it
  • By when
  • With what support
  • Within which limits of authority
It also helps to follow up from time to time over the duration of the project to make sure all is proceeding on course and that no nasty surprises are lurking. Our team will appreciate it, things will be clear and will get done.  Everyone will be happier.


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services. For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Customer Pet Peeves

As customers, we will usually find, at some point, that we need to contact a business’ “Help Desk”.  From many customers who’ve had to do this, one “pet peeve” emerges.

This is that the so-called “Help Desk” doesn’t actually “help”.  Often, it’s an online function (with no phone number”).  When customers send an email request help, the response is either a list of websites which may be able to answer the question (but often don’t), or customers are faced by a phone system automated (it seems) to drive them away.

The organisations that “get it right” are those that have trained people able to ask the questions needed to diagnose problems and then propose solutions, on the phone or online. Their challenge is dealing with customers who are not always able to articulate the problem clearly.  

We’re often faced with this problem: the customer needing help but who can’t say exactly what, whilst on the business’ side, the set-up may not be geared to this situation.  The response system has to flex between catering for those who can do independent research, or for those who need their “hand held”.  Addressing only one part of the audience necessarily in dissatisfaction.

It ends up with “knowing our customers” and their preferred approach.  Some businesses aim their product/service at those who are happy to go online in the new “generational paradigm” that teaches younger people to search online for answers that, in the past, were the preserve of “experts”.  Others understand that certain elements of their customer base may lack the online research capabilities and inclination of others.  

Whichever the case, we still deal with a wide range of abilities and inclinations.  Whether those then become the subject of “peeves” is up to us.


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services. For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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