Critical Thinking: Prioritize Customer’s Requests Efficiently – Part 1: Clarity

Any customer facing organization deals with questions, asks and demands coming from customers. Some of them are easy to answer and some of them require investments of time and resources.

How can you prioritize them properly?

In this article I will show you how to use Critical Thinking framework to make your decision making process more efficient. I’ll share with you common mistakes in prioritization and how to avoid them.

Moreover, in many mid and large size enterprises there are two different organizations who are responsible for process of receiving customer requests and prioritizing them.

But how the process of prioritization works? Obviously, some thinking is involved here. But what impacts the thinking? What kind of techniques can we apply to do it more efficiently?

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Book Review: New Sales. Simplified by Mike Weinberg

I have started my career as account manager for Small and Medium Businesses at mobile service provider in Novosibirsk, Russia.

While I was reading the book New Sales memories of that period of my life started to appear in my head.

It was a time full of cold-calls, sales pitches and a lot of leg work. One time per week I visited random business center where 20-30 small businesses were operating. I was going door to door, knock and start a sales call with phrase below:

“Hello, my name is Roman Gorge from XYZ Company. With whom I can talk about you Internet and mobile connectivity needs?”

Sometimes I was asked to leave immediately, sometimes I was lucky to pitch my sales story and find a new customer. There were no PowerPoint slide decks, I even didn’t have a laptop in my bag – only printed materials, my business cards, pen and notepad.

I met all kinds of people during that time – entrepreneurs, IT guys, accounting and business owners. I will never forget this difficult but great experience.

The book New Sales. Simplified provides well structured guidance how to attract new customers. It covers all aspects of prospecting:

  • How to build a sales story
  • How to create finite list of prospects
  • How to execute sales calls and meetings

Here is what I take with me from this book:

  • What is sales-oriented culture and why it is important?
  • Too many times I attended meetings where time was wasted for “Introduction” and “Company Overview” slides, but now I know how first-call deck should look like
  • How to create sales power statement and use it as a tool for meetings, cold calls and emails
  • Best practices for a sales call structure

I’m not in Sales today, but if I will one day, this book will be the first one I read again.

Total score – 5 out of 5.

Check out Reading List 2021. It has some great titles.

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Certification: 2020 results

In 2020 I have cleared 4 technical certifications – AWS Certified Solution Architect (January 2020), AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (November 2020), AWS Certified Developer (December 2020) and AWS Cloud Practitioner (December 2020).

My strategy for preparation was fairly simple – I have used combination of self-paced video course from A Cloud Guru, practice exams from Jon Bonso and AWS public whitepapers.

Total preparation time was 9-10 weeks, in average 1 hour per day. In total, around 70-80 hours.

I’m using Pomodorro technique to track productive time. Picture below is from Pomodorro app that I’m using and shows time investment categories over last 3 months .

60% of total time I have spent on “Technical Training” category which mostly consist of preparations for technical certifications, reading whitepapers and etc. So, it is quite time consuming.

If I will range exams from easiest to hardest, it will look like:

  1. AWS Cloud Practitioner
  2. AWS Certified Solution Architect – Associate
  3. AWS Certified Developer
  4. AWS Certified Sysops Administrator

For the next year my targets are AWS Certified Solution Architect – Professional and, potentially, AWS Certified DevOps – Professional exams.

Certification: AWS Certified Developer – Associate

I have obtained my 3rd AWS certification – AWS Certified Developer.

Score: 927 out of 1000

Total preparation time – 4 weeks. From 30 minutes to 1 hour every day.

Materials used:

Next and last step for 2020 is AWS Cloud Practitioner exam.

Book Review: Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills by Michael Kallet

“If I am paid for my thinking and problem solving skills, how I can become better in this?” – this is a question that I ask myself from time to time.

A book “Think Smarter” provides clear definition of key stages of critical thinking process (clarity, conclusions and decisions) and gives step by step instructions what to do on each of the stages.

Some ideas and instruments can look pretty obvious and well-known but a value of the book in systematic process that author created.

Among multiple things taht I liked in the book are:

  • Visual representation of decision making process – how expiriences, observations, facts and assumptions form our conclusions and how to distinguish fact from observation
  • Definition of “outside the box” thinking. “What is “the box” in thinking?” is a first question to ask to understand
  • Explanation what is premise and why it can be weak or strong. This is important knowledge to measure confidence of the conclusion
  • Abductive thinking – how my conclusions will change if some of my assumptions are wrong? Or how would I think about it if I had not some of my expiriences?

My next step for the topic “Critical Thinking” is to write an article that will apply critical thinking to customer’s requests prioritization.

So, a lot of interesting ideas written in easy to read language. Totally recommend to read.

Check out series of my articles how critical thinking framework applies to prioritization.

Overall rating – 5 out of 5.


KVM Virtualization 101

This is a translation of my article in Russian which was written in September 2019.


Virtualization is so deep and broad subject, that it is not possible to cover all details of hypervisor (and not needed, actually). I will concentrate on “minimal valuable pack” of knowledge that is required to understand any KVM virtualized solution, not necessarily Telco.

Content


Overview and brief history of virtualization technology

The story of virtualization began in 1999 when young company VMWare has released product VMWare Workstation. This was a first commercial product that provided virtualization for desktop/client applications. Virtualization of the server part started a little bit later in the form of ESX Server product that evolved in ESXi (i stands for integrated). This product is being used widely in IT and Telco private clouds as hypervisor for server-side applications.

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Book review: Speed Reading: Learn to Read a 200+ Page Book in 1 Hour by Kim Knight

Excellent book with a lot of practice drills to improve spead of reading. Most of the advices are easy and straightforward to understand, but it will require commiment and time investment to master speed reading skill.

I’m gonna practice following skills:

  • Setting a purpose before starting to read
  • Preview reading materials
  • Space reading
  • Remove subvocalization
  • Reduce fixation and regression
  • Practice peripheral vision
  • Look for key sentences and meanings in text
  • Do recall and review after every 30 minutes of reading
  • Eye exercises at the end of the day

Overall rating – 5 out of 5.

Certification: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate

I got my second AWS certification – AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate!

Score: 874 out of 1000

Total preparation time: 5 weeks, from 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.

Materials used:

Overall, exam questions are quite difficult and I don’t think it is possible to pass it without solid preparation.

Next target is AWS Certified Developer Associate.