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How bootstrapping will expand your area of influence.

To be a credible telecomm manager you need friends and allies in your company. Bootstrapping will help you develop those ever-so-important contacts with other departments in your company.

Instead of being perceived as a pie-in-the-sky techie, by bootstrapping you can position yourself as someone who knows how to develop ideas that will be embraced by management. Your success will be noted by other departments and soon they'll be coming to you asking to be let in on your projects.

In the early 1980s, General Electric began a pioneer installation of voice mail. The first hardware was installed in the headquarters of corporate telecommunications where a 70-person staff experimented with the system for more than six months.

After this successful small-scale experiment, Bill Pomeroy, then GE's manager of telecommunications operations, began offering voice mail to other departments.

He encountered some opposition. Managers couldn't imagine how they would use voice mail. They'd heard that it was cumbersome and difficult to use. However, thanks to their hands-on experience, Pomeroy's staff could counter those concerns with hard facts. They demonstrated how voice mail effectively eliminated costly and frustrating phone tag.

Plus, the staff had developed a wallet-sized carrying card with easy instructions and cues for using the voice mail system.

GE's Light Business Group, based in Cleveland, Ohio, asked to be connected to the voice mail system. This group furnishes everything from tiny night-light bulbs to huge stadium lighting systems. Its salespeople operate nationwide and often do business out of their cars.

Voice mail worked for them, too. The system enhanced their production and helped them keep in better touch with the main office.

Soon other GE departments began asking for voice mail, and Pomeroy's people were there to give it to them.

GE kept rolling the system out, department by department. Along the way, the telecomm people added value by incorporating user-suggested features like message access from remote locations.

The introduction of voice mail at GE is classic bootstrapping.

The system was introduced in incremental, affordable, verifiable steps. Only when the telecomm people were satisfied with one stage did they move on to another.

Repeatedly refined and tested along the way, the system kept getting better.

Whenever I bootstrap (and bootstrapping is a big part of how I do business) I like to find a champion--someone who really likes the idea and is willing to go the extra mile for it--someone who will help me sell the idea to others.

That someone becomes, in effect, my partner in the project. He or she may be an employee who has used the technology in a previous job with another company. Your champion could be a senior manager or techie--even a vendor.

Vendors are natural bootstrapping partners. They have resources you can leverage and they'll usually be receptive to working with you. Be frank with them. Explain that you're a bootstrapper. Let them know you like their idea or product, but that to develop the best case for management, you need to demonstrate their product on site to get worker reaction.

A smart vendor will help you devise ways to try out the system, often with little investment, just to get his foot in the door.

When bootstrapping and partnering are combined, your options are limited only by your own creativity. Partners will help you uncover value you hadn't thought of before. And once you've identified the critical areas of interest to senior management, your bootstrapping efforts will contribute to your company's overall objectives and enhance its competitive appeal.

Management will recognize your department's contributions to the bottom line.

They'll recognize you as part of the team. With each success, your role in your company's future will grow.

Next month: Partnering your way to win-win successes.

Any comments? I'd like to hear from you. Write me at PO Box 120545, Nashville, TN 37212 or call 615-385-4413.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Entrepreneurial Telecommunications
Author:Jewett, Jim
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:641
Previous Article:Is there life after telecomm management?
Next Article:Why three users replaced modems with CO LANs.
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