INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS

 

Volume X, Number 3 August, 2003

 

A quarterly newsletter for clients and friends of Chenault Systems

 


Chenault Systems Builds Award Winning Software for Hanley-Wood

We are proud to announce that a project we started in 2001 and finished in 2002, with our client, Hanley-Wood, has resulted in an innovation of the year award for the trade show industry.  This counts for all trade show innovations for the past year, not just software.  This was the direct effect of a good team effort between Hanley-Wood and Chenault Systems.  As with all projects, open-minded understanding and communication is paramount.

The following is a re-print from the Trade Show Executive magazine on the 2003 Spotlight on Innovation Awards.

ADAPT!, a new database management tool developed by publisher/trade show organizer Hanley-Wood, is an important break-through that can stand on its own two feet for an innovation award.  But here’s where the story gets interesting.  In a bold move, Hanley-Wood decided to market this program to other show management firms —thus giving even their competitors a tool for competitive advantage.

ADAPT!—A Database Analyzer and Prospect Tool, enables show organizers to easily mine data on show registrants and prospects from numerous perspectives.  They can: review registration at any time and develop snapshot reports; develop demographic profiles; compare show stats on a year-to-year or same show basis; track repeat registrants and their show patterns, and create and maintain targeted mailing lists.

ADAPT! imports data from spreadsheet or database files, or by syncing with the registration vendor.  It can mine data to answer almost any question that can be asked, and generate the answer in 5 or 10 seconds, says Shawn Pierce, H-W’s Director of Infrastructure.  For example, you could access a list of registrants from the past three years who are the presidents of companies with annual revenues over $10 million, headquartered within a three-state radius who have attended a seminar at any of the past three shows.  (Can you even read that in five seconds?)

Why did Hanley-Wood decide to make the program available to its competitors?  “We thought about that quite a bit but decided it was an advanced tool that everyone could profit from,” says Pierce.  “It’s the data that makes us who we are, and that’s not available to our competitors.”

Since its debut five months ago, eight companies representing 163 shows have signed on to use ADAPT!, says Pierce.

For ingenuity in product development and marketing, ADAPT and its principals are being heralded for innovation.

Contact: Shawn Pierce, Director of Infrastructure, Hanley-Wood Exhibitions, Irving, TX (972) 536-6331; E-mail: spierce@hanley-wood.com).

 

Reprinted with permission of Trade Show Executive magazine copyright 2003 by Trade Show Executive magazine, Torrance, CA

 

Time Management and Message Response

By Tom Chenault

In one of our past newsletters from 1997, we had an article about how “Messages Inundate Offices”, but no solution was given on how to solve this problem.  How can we possibly respond to all of our e-mail, faxes, and telephone calls?  Many of us do not, which in some cases is reasonable, as not all communications deserve a reply.

The key to the communications dilemma is time management, but none of us is perfect when it comes to this discipline.  Everyone needs “down time”.  No one can stay “on task” every day, all the time.  If he did, one would have to wonder about the quality of his work.  Also, there will always be a conflict between how we want to spend our time compared to how someone else thinks it should be spent.

Addressing tasks in order, without sacrificing courtesy and future business, is probably the best approach, but this is easier said than done.  Most time management books recommend “things to do” lists.  At the beginning of each day, all action items should be listed, no matter how big or small.  Next, these items are ranked in order of importance, and then the ones that absolutely must be accomplished are highlighted.  Finally, each item is worked one at a time.

Everyone needs “down time”.  No one can stay “on task” every day, all the time.  If he did, one would have to wonder about the quality of his work.

If an interruption occurs, such as a telephone call or someone coming by in-person, that event is simply ranked with the existing list of items.  This is also easier said than done, but ranking action items does alleviate stress and time.  Unless the interrupter is a customer or client, you can let him know you will get back to him later if his needs don’t outweigh your current task’s priority -- courtesy is of utmost importance.

The book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, discusses an interesting “time management matrix” which classifies things to do as follows:

Quadrant IImportant and Urgent i.e. crises, pressing problems, deadline driven projects

Quadrant IIImportant and not Urgent i.e. crises prevention, planning, recognizing new opportunities, recreation, relationship building

Quadrant IIINot Important and Urgent i.e. interruptions, some phone calls, some mail, some meetings, popular activities

Quadrant IVNot Important and Not Urgent i.e. trivia, busy work, some mail, some phone calls, time wasters, pleasant activities

The book explains how people who focus on quadrant II will have fewer quadrant I problems, and less quadrant III and IV activities.  In other words, being pro-active not only means fewer meaningless messages requiring a response, but less stress, burnout, and crises management (putting out fires).  Quadrant I people generally let other people run their lives.  Quadrant I activities cannot be ignored, but they should be supplemented by a healthy dose of quadrant II.

One problem with this neatly defined matrix is the subjectivity regarding how to classify items into the four areas.  What Bill Gates thought important in 1982 may have seemed trivial to Stephen Covey.

From our view, one of the most important attributes of Quadrant II is relationship building, and that is where returning important messages comes into play.   We define important business messages as those from customers and vendors.  These people generally do not call unless they have a good reason, such as being pro-active (quadrant II) about future projects.  In our opinion, vendors, and reputable potential vendors, should be handled the same as customers.  Remember, today’s vendor could be tomorrow’s customer (or employer).

Considering the various ways one can leave a message, the telephone call, one of the more personal forms of communication, is probably the message most likely not to be returned.  Not returning telephone calls has become epidemic in today’s business world; and, this was not the case 25 years ago when there were just as many telephone calls as today.

Not returning a phone call robs one of the opportunity to establish a better rapport; it often results in wasted time, as the caller will likely try again, assuming you did not get the message the first time -- then you get to listen to at least part of the spiel again.  A better approach to ignoring a call is to reply back in a timely manner and, particularly if you do not wish to get involved in a conversation, make use of voice mail or e-mail, providing they are available.

Some are reluctant to return a call to respond no, particularly to a vendor.  If you are not interested, it is better to return the call and say no at that time.  Briefly, tell the candid truth why you have said no.  Our experience is most people appreciate this approach.  It allows them to focus on other potential business.  The second best answer is always “no”.

People who make the effort to return calls will see it pay off in future dividends.  It is an excellent opportunity to build or strengthen relationships, and it saves time in the end for both parties.

E-mail is a great tool if used properly.  This tool is more effective and less time consuming than the telephone for status reporting and forwarding information.  Long distance bills have decreased for people and businesses that take advantage of e-mail.  E-mail and faxes from existing vendors and clients should get a response only if they really need it (and a requested response equals need).  We have found that most e-mail messages are only informative and do not require a reply.  In addition, with all the spam we have now, most e-mail need not even be read, but this can be covered in another article explaining the different methods and art of using the delete key.

 

Quotes Worth Noting

“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced.  A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.” -- Tom Robbins

“Assemble the right team, set the big-picture direction, communicate that, and then get out of the way.  If employees have a problem or if something is bothering them, you help them with that.  That is what bosses are for.  A boss’s job - a leader's job - is to facilitate, not to control.  You have to trust people do to their jobs.  That is the strongest leadership there is.” -- Gordon Bethune, CEO, Continental Airlines

“Four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still.” -- Calvin Coolidge