Archive for April, 2012

Nine Branding Principles

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Nine Branding Principles

I have identified nine fundamental qualities of a good branding program. I’m sure there are more, but these are my favorites:

1. Keep It Simple: one big idea is best.

2. Mass-produced word of mouth (PR) builds brands.

3. Focused brands are more powerful than diffused brands.

4. Somehow, some way, you have to be different.

5. The first brand in a category has a huge advantage.

6. Avoid sub-brands at all cost.

7. Quality is important, but not as important as the perception of quality.

8. Be consistent and patient. Building a strong brand takes time.

9. Put your brand definition in writing, otherwise you’ll get off course.


Pareto Charts – How to do pareto analysis using Excel?

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

A Pareto chart or pareto graph displays the importance of various factors in decreasing order in columns along with cumulative importance in a line. Pareto charts are often used in quality control to display most common reasons for failure, customer complaints or product defects.

The principle behind pareto charts is called as pareto principle or more commonly the 80-20 rule. According to wikipedia,

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule,[1] the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

The pareto chart is a great way to do the pareto analysis. Today, we will learn how to use excel to make a pareto chart.

See an example pareto chart of visits to this website:

pareto chart example

(Please note that in this example, the 80/20 rule does not hold as I have chosen very small sample of data. In reality, the 80/20 principle applies to my website as well)

Making a Pareto Chart in Excel

In order to make the pareto chart in excel, first you must have the data ready. Once we have the values for each cause, we can easily calculate cumulative percentages using excel formulas. We will also require a dummy series to display the “cutoff %” in the Pareto chart.

I have arranged the data in this format. You can choose any format that works for you.

Pareto analysis - data

Once you have the data ready, making the pareto chart is a simple 5 step process.

1. Make a column chart using cause importance data

Make a column chart using cause importance data
In our case, we select the first 2 columns in the above table and then make a new column chart.

2. Add the cumulative %s to the Pareto Chart as a line

Add the cumulative %s to the Pareto Chart as a line
Select the third column, press ctrl+c (copy). Now select the chart and press ctrl+v (paste). Excel will add another column series to the chart. Just select it and change the series chart type to “line chart”. Learn more about combining 2 different chart types in excel combo charts.

3. Move the cumulative %s line to secondary axis

Move the cumulative %s line to secondary axischange to secondary axis

Select the line chart, go to “format data series” (you can also press ctrl+1) and change the axis for this chart series from “primary” to “secondary”.

4. Add the cut-off % to the pareto chart

Add the cut-off % to the pareto chart
Select the fourth column in our data table, copy and paste it in the chart. This should ideally be pasted as a new line chart. If not, follow step 2 for this as well.

5. Finally, adjust formatting to make the final pareto chart

Finally, adjust formatting to make the final pareto chart
Now, our basic pareto chart is ready. We should adjust the chart formatting to make it more presentable. Once you are done, the final output will be something like above chart

When to use Pareto Chart?

Pareto charts can be used,

  • During quality control to analyze the causes of defects and failures
  • When you want to focus your resources on few important items from a large list of possibles
  • To tell the story that attacking problem A might be better than solving problem C, D and F

Pareto charts and pareto analysis has great practical uses for almost anyone in a managerial role.

Pareto’s Principle – The 80-20 Rule

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

How the 80/20 rule can help you be more effective:


In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, Dr. Joseph M. Juran inaccurately attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto’s Principle. While it may be misnamed, Pareto’s Principle or Pareto’s Law as it is sometimes called, can be a very effective tool to help you manage effectively.

Where It Came From

After Pareto made his observation and created his formula, many others observed similar phenomena in their own areas of expertise. Quality Management pioneer, Dr. Joseph Juran, working in the US in the 1930s and 40s recognized a universal principle he called the “vital few and trivial many” and reduced it to writing. In an early work, a lack of precision on Juran’s part made it appear that he was applying Pareto’s observations about economics to a broader body of work. The name Pareto’s Principle stuck, probably because it sounded better than Juran’s Principle.

As a result, Dr. Juran’s observation of the “vital few and trivial many”, the principle that 20 percent of something always are responsible for 80 percent of the results, became known as Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 Rule.

What It Means

The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many(80 percent) are trivial. In Pareto’s case it meant 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth. In Juran’s initial work he identified 20 percent of the defects causing 80 percent of the problems. Project Managers know that 20 percent of the work (the first 10 percent and the last 10 percent) consume 80 percent of your time and resources. You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world.

You know 20 percent of your stock takes up 80 percent of your warehouse space and that 80 percent of your stock comes from 20 percent of your suppliers. Also 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your sales staff. 20 percent of your staff will cause 80 percent of your problems, but another 20 percent of your staff will provide 80 percent of your production. It works both ways.

How It Can Help You

The value of the Pareto Principle for a manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. Of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the 20 percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn’t going to get done, make sure it’s not part of that 20 percent.

There is a management theory floating around at the moment that proposes to interpret Pareto’s Principle in such a way as to produce what is called Superstar Management. The theory’s supporters claim that since 20 percent of your people produce 80 percent of your results you should focus your limited time on managing only that 20 percent, the superstars. The theory is flawed, as we are discussing here because it overlooks the fact that 80 percent of your time should be spent doing what is really important. Helping the good become better is a better use of your time than helping the great become terrific. Apply the Pareto Principle to all you do, but use it wisely.

Manage This Issue

Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 Rule, should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of you work that is really important. Don’t just “work smart”, work smart on the right things.

By Ismail.

Categories: Knowledge

How To Get A Promotion?

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Remember the song Kolaveri, di? Of course you do.It’s a mediocre, but catchy number, which is now a global phenomenon. And what made it into such a huge success? It’s music? Quirky singing style? A mixture of Tamil and English lyrics? Well, yes, to a certain extent, but mostly due to a brilliantly well thought out viral marketing strategy. It made someone listening to the song look COOL. Just like the ridiculously popular American sitcom, ‘Friends’ did. If you watched Friends in the 90s, you were considered uber cool. Mostly, we associate with certain fads because our friends are doing it.

 To get a promotion, one of the most important favors you can do yourself is to create an aura of awesomeness around you. Not blatant self-promotion, but sending out subtle feelers on a continuous basis. What it does is, it slowly starts influencing people. Word of mouth does the rest. Assuming you’re working for a firm that has enough opportunities for promotions, you can follow these steps below to ensure you are one of candidates in the race to the top:

Be the only Jack of your trade:

If you are the assistant editor, you be the best darn assistant editor there is, like the main chef at a fancy restaurant. He goes, the restaurant loses business. Perform superlatively. Good reviews go a long way at the time of final assessment. Give it your all. Carve a niche for yourself. People should say and believe that there is no one else who can do your job as well as you. Once you have that reputation, half the battle is won. Additional traits like asking for more responsibilities, dressing impeccably (not in torn jeans and loose t-shirts), being well-groomed, and being punctual and regular at work also help immensely. Seem keen and enthusiastic. Put in those extra hours at work. Show them you’re ready for more.

A little tooting never harms:

 It’s fine to be humble and polite about your achievements, but not always. Make sure your colleagues, your superiors, or anyone else in important positions knows about the projects you’ve been working on or are associated with. If a client has sent a testimony, make sure it reaches the right places through an email, most preferably: “Hey, just wanted to share with all of you what so and so sent across yesterday. So nice of so and so.” Simple. No need to go overboard. Whenever you get an opportunity, make sure you let your seniors know your future plans, career goals  and such. And that if there’s an opening for a senior position you would like to apply.

Be Mr. Likeable:

It’s hard to be sugary sweet all the time and with everyone. You don’t need to. You can fake it. The world’s a stage and we’re all actors, right? You will always be friends with a select group of people, and there will be another set of people who you cannot tolerate. But that’s the real world for you. Be helpful, cordial and nice to people in general. Smile a lot. Hone your people skills. Relationships matter. Attend office parties, get-togethers. Network, do some PR. Know the people in the higher echelons. If the seniors are into smoking Cuban cigars and drinking Scotch, learn about these things so you can casually slip that knowledge into your conversations with them. “That lad right there, smart, enterprising chap, I tell you.” Once you get this line out of them, you, Sir, will be on your way to the moon. These relationships will also help when you have to go back to them for recommendation or reference letters.

Build them skills:

You can never know everything there is to know about your field. So continue to learn. If this means going back to school, do it. It’s good if your firm offers you opportunities for professional development. But if they don’t, don’t shy away from augmenting your skills by joining a program or a workshop that will help you move forward in your career. If you are an editor, a program in editing and publishing will be great, if you are in marketing, a program in selling skills will do you good, say, even an executive MBA. You can enroll in the evening classes or weekend sessions. It will be hard. You will miss out on your social life, but this is equally important, too. Even cross-functional skills will be terrific. If you’re a marketer, you can try learning about finance and if you’re in HR, you could maybe try and get a handle on operations. Multi-skills will always come in handy when promotions are up for grabs

You do all of this, and before long you would be on the hot seat giving your promotion interview. And presuming you will sail through it like a hot knife through butter, remember one thing: never forget your colleagues, or develop an attitude, all of a sudden. They have been with you throughout, and will have your back if you share the same equation with them like earlier, before you got your fancy pay and a cabin with a view. Also make sure you send across a thank you note to your colleagues for their support, your supervisors who recommended you for the promotion, and also to the people who were in the interviewing panel.

And most important of all, do not jump the gun. Do not go around screaming about your promotion from rooftops. Wait for the company to officially announce it. There’s nothing more embarrassing than learning later that someone else got it.

Categories: Work

Questions that keep a new venture focused on its customers …

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Questions that keep a new venture focused on its customers …

–        Who is your customer?

–        How will you reach key customer market segments?

–        What determines customer choices to buy or not buy your product/service?

–        Why is your product/service a compelling choice for the customer?

–        How will you price your product/service for the customer?

–        How much does it cost to make and deliver your product/service?

–        How much does it cost to attract a customer?

–        How much does it cost to support and retain a customer?

Categories: Uncategorized