Communicate via the Elevator Pitch
Do you use elevator pitches? You should.
The elevator pitch is a very brief explanation of an otherwise complex concept in the simplest terms possible with the sole goal of getting the other person interested in hearing more. The reason it is called an elevator pitch is that it should be conveyed in the span of time of a typical elevator ride.
Now, I already know many of you are thinking, “That’s sounds like a sales pitch and I’m not a salesperson, I’m a CAD manager!”
To this I reply, “Well, when you ask for new workstations, plotters, software tools, training budgets, or procedural authority, aren’t you really making a sales pitch to your boss?” When you think of it this way, you’ll realize that clearly and briefly conveying your concepts to your boss — so they’ll be interested in learning more — is the best way to communicate.
Below I’ll examine some classic CAD management topics by giving you example elevator pitch and follow-up scripts in hopes that you’ll see how powerful this technique really is.
As I’ve stated often though the years, I don’t care what software you manage or what type of projects you work on, you must have CAD standards to maintain consistency and sanity. Yet, we all experience users and project managers who deviate from — or simply ignore — standards. So, how should we handle this issue before it blows up into a bigger problem?
The answer is to have proactive conversations with senior management.
Suggested elevator pitch. “You know, CAD standards really aren't about me trying control or dominate user behavior. They are simply an attempt to create consistency so our projects will move forward faster and cost us less in rework time later.”
Follow-up script. “While it may seem like the CAD manager is trying to dominate the conversation, the reality is we just want consistency so we can make projects run predictably and lower our rate of error. What the standard is isn’t as important as the fact that everybody observes a consistent standard. I'm more than willing to work with anybody who has better ideas about how to standardize our workflows. Please understand my only motivation is to make our projects flow better and more profitable. Please help me by making it clear that you support standard work procedures.”
Conclusion. By framing the standards problem in terms of efficiency and savings, you’ve turned a technical issue into something financial — making it more interesting and important for your boss. Your challenge now is to keep the conversation going and provide examples where lack of standards has cost time so your boss will support standardization.
The Training Problem
Unless you manage users who immediately understand all new software functions and features, you must have some sort of training program, right? But, when management sees training as something that costs money and contributes to non-billable time, how can you get approval? This is the age-old problem that CAD managers have in implementing training.
A strategy I’ve used with great success is to tie the standards problem (see above) with the argument for training. In fact, you may want to have this conversation at the same time.
Suggested elevator pitch. “We've invested a lot of time and effort into CAD tools and standards to make our projects profitable, but if we don't train people on how to use the tools properly, how can we expect users to do what we want?”
Follow-up script. “If one hour of training per person on project standards and start up logistics saves us an hour of rework later, then the training pays for itself. In reality, I have observed that the time to fix these errors far exceeds the amount of time we would spend training, which means training gives us a great return on our investment. Please understand that I’m not training people just to say we have training — I’m training people to achieve better project execution. Not training users isn’t saving us anything; it is simply inviting error and inconsistency.”
Conclusion. By framing the training discussion in terms of time savings, you appeal to senior management, project managers, and users alike. After all, everyone wants to save time, right? Your challenge now is to implement a bare bones training strategy that delivers time savings and reduced project rework.
What do you need to discuss next? Hardware! Find out how to ask for what your users need, so upper management says, "Yes!" Read More >>