Why Excel is Threatening Your Business

By | Lithyem Insights

Why Excel is Threatening Your Business

Forrester estimates that about 81% of all business use Excel. Excel is used for estimation, projection, day to day operations and pretty much anything you can imagine. Entire companies are run on Excel… it’s used in industries from finance to construction to education to medicine, relatively important stuff.

So… ?

Here’s a fun statistic: Researchers have found that up to 90% of all spreadsheets have errors that affect their results.

Let that sink in for a sec.

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Your software project is going to fail

By | Systems Thinking

Your software project is going to fail and I can tell you why.

I’ve been developing software solutions and involved in the technology space for nearly 20 years now. I’ve been responsible for designing and implementing some incredibly complex business platforms and I’ve seen over and over what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen everything from huge successes to spectacular failures and just recently watched a huge belly flop of a platform rollout (I had nothing to do with it!) that got me thinking about how this keeps happening to so many companies trying to solve their technology challenges.

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A System is NOT a Process

By | Systems Thinking
systems-process

I presented a workshop a few weeks ago for CONNECT called Bulletproof Information Systems and I noticed that what people struggled with most was understanding the distinction between a System and a Process. When asked to list a process they would like to map out, many people listed things like marketing and lead generation, both systems not processes.

A light bulb went on – they don’t know the difference, and neither do most people.

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Optimize BEFORE You Automate

By | Systems Thinking
optimize before you automate
Happy new year! 2017 is off to the races and companies are coming back online and ready to tackle their goals for the new year. Like a lot of companies, a technology upgrade may be on the table for you. Maybe it’s a project management system, a CRM, an accounting platform, a workflow system – maybe it’s an off the shelf solution or a custom build… either way, STOP. Consider this quote before anything else.


The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. – Bill Gates


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Email is not your friend, Visualized.

By | Systems Thinking
Visual Analysis of Typical Email Exchange
Let’s assume for a moment that you have a finite amount of mental bandwidth and that every piece of visual information that you have to process uses up some of that bandwidth. Here’s just one way that email robs you blind without you even realizing it.

To illustrate, I took a 7 email exchange with a colleague and dissected the information. The exchange went like this:

  1. I emailed a colleague with a simple request.
  2. He responded with a question.
  3. I replied with an answer.
  4. He emailed a 3rd person for clarification.
  5. He forwarded the 3rd person’s response to me with a question.
  6. I replied with an answer.
  7. He confirmed, and closed the thread.

I looked at this email exchange and highlighted all the new information, the redundant information, the sub-thread information and the completely worthless information. For all the text in the exchange, there were about 9 or 10 short sentences (6.81%) worth anything at all, out of the pages and pages of content. Read More

Smarter, Faster: Gmail Nirvana

By | Smarter, Faster

Smarter, Faster by Lithyem: Gmail Nirvana

I’m always amazed at how overwhelmed nearly everyone I know and respect are by their inboxes. People who are absolute rockstars in life and business are brought to their knees by the oldest digital tool around. In the last few weeks I’ve had half a dozen people ask me how I manage to get to Inbox Zero every week – here you go.

Note, Inbox Zero is not a goal I set, it’s just a result of the systems and tools that I use to be incredibly responsive in communication and keep tasks & conversations organized.

The main tool in my arsenal is FollowUp.cc. It’s built for Gmail, works in Outlook but really shines in Gmail. There are a lot of similar tools (Boomerang, Gmelius, etc.) but for me this one checks all the boxes. Read More

Your Systems Suck and You Need to Know Why

By | Systems Thinking
Business systems and process imrovement

Do your systems look like this?

Two words; Deliberate and Variance. If your business systems and processes have NOT been carefully designed, tested, documented and measured then they are not deliberate and I guarantee you that they have variance. If your processes use words like usually, typically and sometimes – we’ve got red flags.

Why do I care?

Without intention behind the design of operations and when each process varies from instance to instance you end up with massive inefficiency. Employees buried in excel and email, with desks covered in paper and post-it notes are all the rage in these companies. The fun really gets going with manual double data entry, having to correct errors constantly, and slow, inconsistent service. Forget real-time data and reports – that’s science fiction. Read More