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The future of showrooming and personality shopping

Zoot’s attempt at reducing the returns rate for clothing bought online by providing customers the opportunity to try on before they buy made me imagine a future of retail where shops have more changing rooms than product on the shop floor. A customer would order a number of items in different sizes, colours, styles etc., book a session in a ‘changing suite’ and have a personalised shopping experience to try on their choices in clothing. The suite would be much more than a changing room with a mirror and offer an ‘experience’ to buying online.

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Performance Management training

Performance Management training

In Performance Management training to improve my coaching, objective-setting, and team management skills.

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Hector the helicopter

Hector the helicopter
When I was a kid I built a lego model of one of these. It was my favourite toy for a long time.
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Ridgeway Walk Part 3

Ridgeway Walk Part 3

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Royal Mail buys digital businesses to spur growth

The FT reports on Royal Mail’s digital and ecommerce related acquisition spree. Well about time.

Royal Mail should have been at the forefront of digital/internet development back in the nineties. They were perfectly placed to have expanded the definition of a ‘distribution’ company into the internet age to include not just physical distribution but the virtual distribution and delivery of information. They could have owned email (what better than a company with ‘mail’ in it’s name). They could have built the first digital document signing service. They could have provided customers with online document storage. There are so many areas of digital business that are essential now that, looking back, Royal Mail could have developed if they’d had the vision. These purchases show some acceptance of the need to be a digitally-enabled business but they are still very much focused around the physical distribution of goods.

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Nodding the head does not row the boat.

Nodding the head does not row the boat.
– Irish Proverb

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Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove

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Success is up to the individual

I started reading some article on Medium by someone about something vaguely interesting when a single sentence stopped me in my tracks.

It is for each employee to invest what they think they need in order to be successful in their role.

I read this in the context of company culture and work/life balance, and to it said to me that it is for each person to choose how much time and effort they should put into their job, as long as they are working towards the success of the role and the company. This unorthodox and (to me) liberating approach to challenging the Industrial Revolution idea of ‘work’ being about bums-on-seats from 9 am to 5 pm is simply brilliant. It makes the individual take responsibility for the success of themselves and their role.

If one person wants to be creating complex spreadsheets that accurately measure the performance of a business at 1am (mentioning no names), then the company with this kind of culture would say, “It’s up to you to decide what you should be focusing your efforts on, how you organise your time, and when you do your work, just aim to be successful.”.

I think this idea also connects to my previous idea about achieving Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose at work, which said that Autonomy should come from management, and this idea takes it big step further.

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The ECG of projects

I was given some advice about running projects. Just as an electrocardiogram is used for measuring abnormalities in heart rate and rhythm, this ECG helps to ensure the health of the project.

Expectations
Setting clear expectations for the project, it’s time scales, budget, etc., not only prevents surprises it also gets people to support the project and not be so quick to dismiss it when things go wrong.

Communication
Communicating well and often builds confidence in the project. Providing the right kind of information at the right level via a formal means of communication, and talking about the project in an informal way are both vital for getting the message across.

Governance
Good governance is essential. And if the decision-makers have clear expectations and have been communicated to well, then they’ll be in a good position to provide good governance.

Ask yourself:

  • have I set clear Expectations?
  • have I got clear Communication
  • have I got good Governance?

Answer “Yes”, and prevent the project from flat-lining.

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Setting strategic-level goals for ecommerce

Setting goals is essential for an ecommerce business, and of course they should be SMART goals, but I’m also interested in how the goals can be meaningfully aligned to the strategic priorities of the business and be balanced across all the activities of the business. I think the strategic priorities and strategic goals should be developed together rather than one coming from the other, and should have both quantitative and qualitative measures.

 Internal-looking GoalExternal-facing Goal
Quantitative measure X
Qualitative measure  

Let’s take ‘Increasing revenue’ as a goal, as making more money is probably a pretty good goal for most ecommerce businesses to have. It would be an external-facing goal that is measured quantitatively, so it would go in the top right box above.

If all of the business goals fit in this box then I would suggest that the business doesn’t have a balanced approach to a) setting goals, and b) growing the business as a whole. Having a broader set of strategic goals that are spread across all four boxes would better represent the business as a whole.