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Tuesday 6 May 2014

Profiles: Challenger, PCM & StarTrek


Challenger is a sales methodology that encroaches on the world of personality profiling by classifying Sales Reps according to 5 types. Taibi Kahler‘s Process Communication Model® (PCM®), on the other hand, is a complete personality profiling method based on Transactional Analysis, a theory of personality established by Eric Berne (refs 1,2).

Star Trek pre-dates both Challenger and PCM, but is much easier to understand.

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Tuesday 24 September 2013

Mixing Cultures

mixing_table_set_up.png With increasing globalisation of design and production, engineers have a huge exposure to cross-cultural issues.

In my experience, understanding the origins of cultural differences, interesting as it may be, is far less important than the ability to detect areas of potential divergence. This capability is key to acceptance and flexibility.

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PowerPoint Reuse

TMM_DBPPT.pngIn his famous article “PowerPoint is evil”, Tufte listed a number of excellent reasons for never using PowerPoint again. In real life, however, we not only use PowerPoint, we use the same PowerPoint again and again and again!

And so it is helpful to have a method for producing high-quality presentations, quickly, exploiting as much existing material as makes sense.

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Anger in the Field

PAC coloredWhen an Applications Engineer's (AE's) response to customer anger is more anger, things can get rapidly out of control. Fortunately, the situation that I am about to describe happened in a training course. It showed up some interesting points:

  1. Role-plays produce realistic behavior and real emotion (although participants sometimes claim that role-plays are not like real life, in my experience people quickly settle into their usual behavior patterns)
  2. When emotions start to boil over, the words used will continue to be rational and adult, but a completely different message is passed at the psychological level. Unfortunately, this is the real (operational) message.
  3. We often suppress emotion to the point where it is not perceptible externally. Nevertheless, our decision-making process is guided by it.

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Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Discover-Y discovery tool

DY whiteboardHere is one of my favorite tools for field encounters - Discover-Y (pronounced “discover why”). It is a kind of preconfigured mind map, for use to quickly prepare any type of customer encounter. It is also a fantastic tool for use during the encounter itself, and afterwards, for debriefing and reporting.

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Monday 24 June 2013

More aliens!

3 aliens landingIn a recent blog I wrote about meeting effectiveness and I would like to return to this subject to discuss three more points that aliens (non engineers) often deal with better than we do:

  • Inclusion
  • Roles
  • OKness

Three vague terms, impossible to quantify let alone digitise, but bear with me and I will try to bring this down to Earth.

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Monday 10 June 2013

Alien meetings

Spaceship landingWhen I arrived for the first day of a 2-year “coaching skills” training course some time ago, I thought that I had stumbled onto the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B from Douglas Adam’s “Restaurant at the End of the Universe”. For the deprived souls that have not read this beautiful, crazy book, Ark B was a huge space ship full of hairdressers, telephone sanitizers and the like. They had been tricked into leaving their home planet by the more productive part of the population: the engineers, the scientists and other worthy folk (the latter then perished as a result of unforeseen side-effects of their intolerance).

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Saturday 1 June 2013


GPS-DBPPTHands up! When preparing a customer presentation, who uses GPS and who uses a MAP? I thought so. Almost everyone uses GPS these days: Get Powerpoint Slides. Grab a bunch of existing presentations and make a quick selection. It should get us there, though probably not by the best route.

So what is the alternative? A MAP:

  • My objectives
  • Audience
  • Plan

To understand the difference between these approaches, consider the following experience, selected from my fine collection of disasters as an Applications Engineer (AE) in EDA.

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Wednesday 22 May 2013

Encounters in the Field

Meeting processJust as a disciplined flow is crucial in design – you would not think of starting Place and Route before writing the RTL – a well-defined process is key to successful customer meetings. Have you ever come away from a meeting feeling:

  • That your customer was much less enthusiastic than he or she should have been?
  • That things did not really move forward?
  • That you didn’t learn much?
  • That you’d given away a lot for free?

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