Stuck between management and operations

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I remember a conversation that went something on the lines of “You can’t do management and operational tasks at the same time.” Of course, I disagreed.

My argument was armed with the conviction that with hard work and perseverance you can push yourself to do both. All it takes is discipline, a good schedule, knowing how to keep yourself productive.

I was wrong. Well not 100% wrong, but wrong enough that I had to sit down and write this post.

When you are doing operational tasks you need to focus on details. If possible you should avoid multitasking. Things like reviewing copy, writing,  preparing a brief. These require a level of attention that doesn’t go well with multitasking.

Management is different. It requires a bird’s eye view of operational tasks, knowledge on the method each person uses and of course the business strategy.

There are two obstacles here. One is the loss of perspective when your daily, weekly or monthly plan is filled with tasks at an operational level. The other is that we forget to box-in time to focus only in top level tasks.

Most people I know, like me, pulled their weight from the operational level up. We know what needs to be done and how to do it with little or no supervision. This however has the reverse effect, we find it hard to break free from operational tasks.

Getting Involved

The solution is pretty straightforward, we do what we can to save time for top level analysis of what we are doing and how it contributes to business goals.

Next up, make sure everyone gets to participate. You never know what talent you are missing by not having everyone in the loop about what is going on.

There are a number of ways to do it. You can have daily or weekly meetings to give everyone an overview of what is going on. The important thing here is sharing information with everyone.

This however is not my field. Ana Silva blogs at “The art of life and work” and shares a great deal of knowledge and tips to make organisations more human and efficient.

Header Photo by Troy McCullough

How Joe bested Facebook

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Joe Best shared a post with his friends on Facebook saying:

Twitter in Portugal is going limp. Five years ago I would see 1000 per hour. Now I get 300/400 every 12 hours. Logic says I should get much more because five years ago I had 1000 followers and now I have 7000.

The blue bird’s magic flew… to Facebook!

You can try to click here https://www.facebook.com/JoeBest66/posts/10204873624022288 and if you are in his facebook network you will see it gathered over 1000 comments and 123+ likes.

This was published in his profile page. Where he is followed by 415 people and has 4160 facebook friends. If you look at the stream of photos and updates that he shares it is obvious that not a single one goes unnoticed.

Joe also has a Facebook Page called DaCozinha with 3900 likes and where he sparingly posts the occasional update and photo about his business.  Right now he hasn’t posted anything since October 15th.

That is enough background. I guess you got the picture by now.

What this means for Small Businesses

Joe proved that for a small business it does not make sense to invest time and content into a Facebook Page. Instead, tailoring your own profile page and personal brand until you reach the 5000 friends limit gives you more results.

Let’s avoid the technical differences between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. What is important is the newsfeed algorithm and how it impacts them differently.

Content from profiles is clearly being favored, I see less and less content from brands in my newsfeed. This change became so visible that Facebook responded directly to the decline in page reach in the newsfeed.  After all, we rather interact with a real person than a brand, right?

All this said … Joe’s blog is well worth your time if you enjoy good cooking: http://dacozinha.net/

Header photo source

Should you learn to code?

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If you’re in marketing or public relations, do you need to code and program software?

The answer is no. Yet, in this day and age it is best if you do know these things. I am not saying you should know how to design a full featured software or build a website from scratch (but if you can I am very happy to meet you and please leave a comment below so I can say hi!).

Knowing how the web works can help you find new opportunities to integrate content and social media, to think up new and exciting strategies for clients or your own brand. It can even be a way for you to save valuable time and resources in order to get an interesting project off the ground or deploy a decent campaign for your small business.

This is not about knowing how to setup IFTTT or Buffer. It’s about being able to build your own site, fix occasional glitches on a blog’s html (even if just in the article) or figure out ways to get the computer to do the work for you.

For example, when I teach about social media and crisis communication I always mention how being able to start a blog at a moment’s notice can be a great asset. Do you want to depend on your development team for that on a saturday night when the client is on the other end of the line?

I know a bit about programming and it is useful every day. It can be about building a webpage or code a newsletter. It can also be something like building a small script to collect data for me and save it as an excel spreadsheet. Skills that I picked up mostly from reading Lifehacker and specially the articles written by Gina Trapani.

Knowing about new technology and open source software helps me suggest campaigns or alternative routes. There are a few examples of this at The Labs.

Stepping up a level

What I don’t know very well is how to design a piece of software. Sure, I have made things that work. What I want to know now is how to plan features and how those features should work together, how to do something from scratch if I have to. This means taking a few steps back and learning the basics.

I asked Bruno Abrantes and he suggested a few online courses and tools:

Recommended by João Neves:

If you want something fun and easy to try out, I suggest Codecadamy. There is also a nice introduction to Ruby and the Ruby on Rails framework called Rails for Zombies that is worth checking out.

A small update

João Mamede pointed out to me this article at Coding Horror – Please don’t learn to code. Feels too extremist but I empathise and agree with some of his arguments. Especially:

Please don’t advocate learning to code just for the sake of learning how to code. Or worse, because of the fat paychecks. Instead, I humbly suggest that we spend our time learning how to …

  • Research voraciously, and understand how the things around us work at a basic level.
  • Communicate effectively with other human beings.
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