Your wait time is 6 minutes (no matter how many times you repeat that 25 minutes isn’t six minutes)…

22 11 2014
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There has to be a paradigm – somehow a magical equation that tells you in the end you need to cut the time people wait on the phone before they talk to a human being. Yesterday I attempted to close my eBay account.

Waiting on the phone for more than 25 minutes (your projected hold time 6 minutes).

Find out that I can’t close the account yet. So I guess after more than 10 years on eBay I am just punting. I will keep trying to close the account but I will no longer consider, do business with or use eBay.

In the end I was probably meaner to the customer service representative that is just doing their job so for that I do feel bad. It is a hard job to be on the phone and deal with the problems and issues people have with a product or company.

The quality of interactions both with eBay and eBay customers has gone downhill in the past five years. Each year getting more than incrementally worse. There are so many fraudulent buyers on the service now it is far too risky to sell on eBay.

So I am no longer using, considering or well even caring about eBay.

The issue comes about with the new model they have. I posted a listing (I have a 100% customer satisfaction rating on more than 900 transactions). The person won the auction and once they got the item they started negotiating. Rather than reading the original post which was the contract they agreed to, they declared the item was incomplete. The auction specifically said there are none of the original adds on included with the auction. eBay of course in their infinite wisdom found in favor of the buyer.

  1. Problem 1: Buyer didn’t read the original eBay listing.
  2. Problem 2: I suspect in the end eBay can’t read. How can you find for a buyer when the auction say’s no slide trays included. The buyer opens a case saying the slide trays were missing.
  3. Problem 3: This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact it happens with every auction now. People win and then say I didn’t get x. But the auction listing specifically says “x is not included.”

In the end I suspect there is a lesson here. I am going to keep digging until it is revealed.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Answering the bell–an e-mailer asks about bias in RFI’s and RFP’s

21 11 2014
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I got a great question in my email this morning from someone who reads my post on the IASA Global Blog site (you can find my post here). I was talking about the responsibility/ethics of architects involved in the creation of either an RFI/RFP outbound or the organizational response inbound to the same.

The question I posted was around the ethics – what should you do. The e-mailer asked an interesting question that made me think for awhile. RFI’s and RFP’s are supposed to be neutral and represent only the the requirements of the solution.

What, the e-mailer asked, if you read requirements that you know were written for a specific solution?

First you have to be careful. There are many types of documents in the world. But RFI’s and RFP’s by their nature are not always created by one person. So reading for meaning is dangerous. The meaning you may find in fact may only be the meaning from one author and usually when organizations review multiple proposals they have multiple people reviewing them. Be careful what you read.

As I thought about it more I started thinking about the orientation of the observation. The bias of the reader and what that would create. It reminds me of an old science experiment I used to do with kids when I was teaching. You can create an image that changes based on the color of the lens or lack of a lens used to view the image. It’s a variation of the old elephant game (blindfold a group of people and have them touch various parts of an elephant and tell you what they are touching as a whole, rather than just the piece they are connected to).

That impacts as well. The bias of the reader and the perspective of the writer both impact the end game. So my simple e-mail answer back was it depends. In many cases organizations release requests for proposals with a specific partner delivering the solution already in mind. That brings into the reality the bias of the people writing the original (out-bound). That also impacts what you answer with.

After all that my e-mailer said how can anyone be successful then in responding to requests for proposals? That is the real question and its all about hearts and minds. In order to change bias you have to have not an accusation but a path forward. Not a “declaration” its bad to be biased but a demonstration of how what you envision is so much better than anything that organization has.

You have to shift the organizational perspective. That in the end is the hardest and easiest job of all. It’s why a great Business Development team working with a great solutions team produces responses that win. They cover both sides of the customer with concepts and ideas that change the perspective and bias even if they didn’t influence the creation of the RFI/RFP.

It is not the mountain you climb, but what you do when you get there that matters.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The interesting problem of social snooping…

20 11 2014
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I have an interesting fear/security question in my inbox. A dear friend (pre-IT days so also a long time friend) sent me an email. I’ve been his IT guy for more than 25 years. He noticed a number of former co-workers were looking at his Linkedin profile.

It is an interesting problem and one that bears some thought. My initial response to him was the typical new age social response. Don’t put anything on your social pages that you wouldn’t say in person or wouldn’t say ever. He asked me what I meant by that. I thought about it for awhile the other night and this morning I sent him a reply with the following what shouldn’t be on social media guidelines.

Never post that you are going on vacation, until after you are home. Save the moment by moment pictures until you get back. There are people that watch social media sites just to see when other people are on vacation. That way there isn’t anybody in their house, and breaking in is a lot easier.

  • Set-up rules and stick to them for when you include names. I include names when I am reviewing a product, receive lousy customer service or receive exceptional customer service. Sadly there are few of the last blogs but that is a different issue.
  • Never say anything about a specific person that is in any way derogatory. Seriously. You can delete it, but people remember nasty posts.
  • Check your public profile. It may not be what you want to share with people that aren’t connected to you.

The reality is that there are a growing number of people in the not social at all category and they simply do not even have on-line profiles. There are a growing number in the minimalist movement. They post only the least possible information to connect with people that know them but no more.

Social Snooping is something that in the end can damage the second party. The snoopy as it were. The snooper on most sites can even appear anonymous so you don’t even know who is snooping and who is simply trying to figure out if they know you.

The largest social site doesn’t even tell you who has viewed your profile. The largest business site will tell you but as stated above not everyone is required to reveal their identity. It is hard at times to evaluate if someone is in fact snooping.

So you go back to the three rules and stick to them. If you blog, post your rules every quarter or so (I do – it helps keep them fresh in the readers minds). The most thing about social media is the reality of the tipping point.

We are near that tipping point. Either Social Media becomes part of the day to day communications structure of the world we are in. Or it fades away and the next big thing comes along.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Pen and paper–the Equil Smartpen (ok connected pen)…

19 11 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

Over the years I have chased my personal issue of pen and paper. I am a huge fan of writing notes on paper with a pen. For years I have been a devotee of the Livescribe pens for that very reason. They allow me to combine notes and recordings of events into a single unified page. I have a Livescribe pen in my bag.

I do still like to take notes on paper whoever and sometimes I find myself missing the old yellow legal pad. Plus at times the Livescribe paper gets to be expensive. At work we have a stack of yellow legal pads and frankly I have thought about taking those to meetings rather than the Livescribe. The problem> Then I have to transcribe my notes to digital.

Enter a new pen to the market. The Equil Smartpen2. It allows you to use any paper. You simply download the application (PC, Macintosh, iOS and Android, I honestly don’t know about Windows Phone support) and away you go.

The pen is smaller than the Livescribe so it is a little easier. In larger meetings where things fly faster than you can write, the Livescribe has that nice record feature. The newer pens actually use the connected device’s audio recording rather than recording on the pen.

But the Equil has a great feature. It has an application that is designed to capture sketches. Sure it will convert your handwritten text into digital typed text but it also has this cool support for those who are more artistic and like to draw things. I like to draw out diagrams when I am talking to people so being able to copy them and paste them into an email is very nice.

Overall the technology in this space has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. You can very easily find good video pens, good scanning pens and digital capture pens that work for what you are trying to do. It is a market that I follow because I like to take notes in meetings. Sometimes taking notes helps a lot.

At some point though we have to talk about using the word Smart in front of an object when you actually mean connected. A smart pen would leap out of my hand and start writing for me. A connected pen allows me to write and puts that onto my digital device. So let’s think about that name going forward.

By the way the connected thing also goes for watches. A connected watch is able to display the information on your phone. A smart watch is able to well do things your phone can’t do and then push that information to your phone. There are more watch connections than there are true smart watches.

I would share some of my artistic renderings from the Equil pen but either they are not shareable or well not good. If you are in the market – another pen to consider.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Thank you for being a friend…

18 11 2014
My Amazon author page!!!!

I had the pleasure of having dinner with a group of former co-workers that are now a group of friends. There is something to be said about sitting around the table with a bunch of people you used to work with and talking, catching up and sharing.

There are groups of people I miss from my various other jobs. Over time you drift apart and away and you forget the little traditions that made it more fun to be around the people in question. I have a dear friend that we used to always go to the same restaurant when we were both in Seattle. We planned an evening at “Wild Ginger” each trip. Over time more and more people would join us but it was always the two of us starting the event. I kind of miss not being in Seattle as much (or at all for that matter).

I have another friend who makes his own beer. I miss hanging out in his back yard drinking beer and smoking cigars passing the night away. There was a whole crew of us there in his backyard under the Seattle stars. I was there in October 2013 and we had an event but I miss not having them more than once every three years.

Another friend lives out in the country near Seattle and he would host a party at his house another great event and another great friend. I spent 15 years flying in and out of Seattle and frankly don’t really miss Seattle but I miss the friends.

It is an interesting concept. When you are younger you are drawn to other people with similar interests or who have holes you can fill. Later as you mature you begin to pick friends that help you understand and grow intellectually (well hopefully you do). You begin to find people and add them to your life because they help you become a better person. Sometimes they give you guidance about what and where you should be. Other times they are simply there to help you through rough patches.

Perhaps the interesting as well to me in the end that friends can be people you’ve never met in person. I have dear friends on Linkedin and Facebook that I have never met. Truly a friend in every sense of the word but I couldn’t identify them in person. Yet a new kind of friend and new kind of communication. Another treasured person in my life.

In the end friends are the people we lock arms with and walking into a dark and scary forest we simply utter “Lions, Tigers and bears OH MY!”

There is nothing finer than a meal with a friend. Perhaps they were meals of the past and hopefully of the future as well. Meals that you share with friends. Smiles and gestures and in the end shared stories of common and mundane but shared with friends. That is the thing in the end. Sharing with the friends you have walked part of your journey with.

Thank you to everyone over the years that I have called friend. In the end it is more than a line from a rock song – it is an anthem and I really mean it “Thank you for being my friend.”


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Running a good meeting, it isn’t that hard…

17 11 2014
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Setting the tone of a conversation. I remember years ago my grandfather telling me always walk in, smile, extend your hand and greet the people you are meeting with warmly. I used to think that was simply him being a business person. But in the end not only was he right he was on to something.

The nicer you start a meeting the better the meeting will be. We are not talking about being overly excited to start the meeting. This is a cheering section for a high school football team. Rather you start the meeting with an air of positive.

How can you do that? First off no matter how many people are there you can never start a meeting early. If however the room is full early don’t prepare your slides and be heads down in the room – talk to the early arrivers. Normally they are there either because this meeting fit perfectly into their day and they had space between meetings or better they are actually interested in what may come of this meeting.

  • So start on time. Exactly on time.
  • Never catch people up. People who arrive late and stop the meeting are in charge. No matter what or how they act later they assume they are the most important person in the room.
  • Send around notes after the meeting.
  • If giant rat holes open up during the meeting, acknowledge them and move them to the we need a meeting to discuss this taxi queue. Not a parking lot where ideas go to die but a queue for a taxi – quickly note who in the current meeting wants to be in the queue for the sidebar meeting. Don’t invite everyone as not everyone is interested.
  • Consider the meeting beginning to end to be a balloon animal. If you are careful and pay attention to details in the end the balloon animal will look like what you intended it to. If you apply to much pressure or twist the meeting from side to side it will pop. Be gentle, be firm and keep heading towards the goal.
  • Have an agenda for every meeting, and have a goal.
  • Unless it’s a brainstorming meeting, then don’t have a goal or an agenda but announce it in the beginning as a brainstorming meeting.

I wrote about running good meetings now more than 5 years ago in my book Transitional Services. I talked about the concepts above in the book. They haven’t really changed since my grandfather introduced them to me more than 40 years ago. I’ve added a few minor tweaks and changes but for the most part running good meetings doesn’t change.

In the end good meetings empower people and don’t create side meetings where people run around trying to fix what was broken in the meeting or worse gossip about how bad someone is.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Why Blogs?

16 11 2014

My Amazon author page!!!!

I heard part of a conversation the other day about change. The person talking was in the group I was in I was just pulled aside by someone else so I didn’t get to hear all the conversation. I wish I had.

The person basically said the worst change in the past 20 years was blogging. That bloggers were able to post anything onto the Internet and it was bad. In fact he said “I haven’t read anything good from or in a blog, ever.”

I figured the ever was thrown on for affect. It makes for a nicer sentence then.

Reality is that blogging, twitter and Facebook/Linkedin are changing the world. It is creating a world where you can’t hide the horrible things you do anymore. It is a rapidly evolving world where people can build and share ideas with everyone regardless of where they are.

Edison, Ford and Tesla were great minds as was a similar time period genius Einstein. They created things and carefully wrote them up and sent them off to a peer reviewed journal. It would take 2-3 months or longer for the idea to spread.

Blogs can be bad. I know this one is bad often. They can be good as well. It is as I have maintained for years a conversation. The best blogs I do are the ones where people send me an email and we converse. The result from that is a blog that has two sides. II I write the conversation it by default only has one side and one point of view.

That all blogs are bad isn’t true. That blogs can often be misleading and well not truthful is part of the process of conversation. So in effect you can find bad blogs. You can stay right on this page and you will run into bad blogs. I have them more often than I would like.

My father used to always say those who can, do those who can’t teach. I would like to add one adage to the adage – those who can’t teach Criticize. There are bad blogs right here and out in the blogosphere. But there are also amazing blogs. One, the story of a young lady cooking Julia Child’s recipes every day and posting the results was made into a movie.

In the end blogs are a conversation that results over time in an information source. They are what you make of them. In some cases the value of a blog is huge. It can start a conversation that leads to innovation. It becomes the concept of a crowd sourced idea. Expanding not only the impact of the original idea but also the minds considering a solution. It can create a community that in the end could change the world.

It is in the end a door. What you door when you cross the portal determines what you will get out of what is on the other side of the door.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow)


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