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Tessellati Blog

Ben Waxman

Ben Waxman

Recent Posts

Spontaneous Learning: The Debate Over In-Office or Remote Work

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Jan 18, 2024 5:30:00 AM

I need this couch moved to our second floor sitting area. Clearly this is going to take both of us working in tandem. 

“You want to go up first?” You ask. 

“Sure,” I say. 

I reach for the bottom and the side. You find your handholds as well. We lift in unison. 

I need to adjust my grip as I navigate the first stair. You feel the couch shift and adjust accordingly. We make eye contact over the bulky thing and nod to each other. We are innovating as we climb and adapt to the shift in weight and the angle of the couch with each step. 

Innovating together in real time. Communicating with words and body language. Collaborating on our way to achieving our goal. 

I have to give credit to my friend and colleague Dr. Michael Mascolo, Professor of Psychology at Merrimack College for this metaphor I’m employing. During a recent conversation with Mike, I was making observations about the debate over remote vs. in-office collaboration. We’ve all seen it: the loss of innovation and spontaneous learning when the whole team is working remotely. 

As much as we want to leave the commute behind, put a quick load of laundry in after the 9:30am Zoom call is done, even bake a banana bread mid-day, because, why not? Look, I’ve been running virtual teams since 1993 (mmm hmmm, that’s when I started consulting, dinosaur that I am). The power and efficiency of remote work is undeniable. 

And yet, and yet…also undeniable is the loss of opportunity for us to learn from each other (even at my dinosauric age, I am learning from the team here). What we all need is much, much more face-to-face interaction – from the fresh graduates entering the workforce to those with decades of experience. We grow and learn together in different ways. We innovate in real time. 

Over the past few years, we’ve been growing significantly here at Tessellati. More universities, healthcare providers, rising edtechs, nonprofits, and more have been tapping our expertise. So, we’ve been hiring more talent. The talent market has shifted and there are a lot of folks looking for greener pastures right now. 

Read on for a bit of perspective that I am surprised far too few current job applicants seem to grasp... 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

So That’s Your Strategy

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 27, 2023 5:30:00 AM

People look smart when they reference strategy. It elevates any discussion to greater importance as soon as the word strategy enters. Often, it gets others in the room thinking, “Right, maybe I’m not thinking about this strategically.” Followed by the thought, “What exactly would a strategic version of this discussion look like?” 

The idea of strategy is often misunderstood. I fully admit, it really can be difficult. I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve been in where people describe their tactical execution plan as the strategy.  

A simple example of why folks get confused, and I’ll use what we know best, the world of marketing: Your marketing strategy requires great marketing content. Content is a tactic you will employ to achieve your strategic goal. Yet, you will need a content strategy to be successful. So, content is not a tactic. It is a strategy, right? No, it is a tactic in this scenario. A tactic that needs its own strategy. 

Oy vey. 

Our team, of course, lives in the world of marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Here we share some insights into how to simplify the discussion and confirm when you are employing a strategy vs. discussing the tactical execution of any given initiative. 

Read on and maybe we can shed some light on how to actually besmart in the discussion, not just look smart. 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

Would You Like Some Feedback?

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 13, 2023 5:30:00 AM

Sometimes feedback is well received. Other times, not. Leaders see feedback as invaluable. 

Leaders come in all forms. Some of us lead organizations, others departments, others a single project. Being a leader has to do with taking ownership of the vision or reason for the work, the people, the process, and the results. 

And being a leader has everything to do with the learning. The analysis before, during, and after. And that has a lot to do with feedback. Receptivity to feedback, even when unsolicited is truly important. These are the learning moments with value for those willing to step into a leadership role; a role that requires humility and listening along with confidence and daring. 

Read on for a few quick and helpful insights that just may help you take a fresh view of the feedback you are likely getting all the time. There are more gems coming your way than you may realize. Plus, our closing link will bring a smile to your day. 

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Topics: Behavior Change

7 Steps to Shift Your Marketing Culture & Achieve Your Strategy

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 6, 2023 5:30:00 AM

We’ve all heard about how company culture eats company strategy for lunch, yeah? People are everything. How we achieve our strategic differentiation and meet our institutional goals really comes down to the team we have to do the work (the team that creates and delivers the product). 

An interesting observation here: within any industry, organizations really are all the same, right?  

Sure, there are categorical differences: think 2-year vs 4-year in higher ed, community vs specialty hospital in healthcare – but these categorizations, when you get down to it, are not that significant, right? They are all ultimately producing the same thing in the same ways in the end. 

Raising an eyebrow? You should be. Yet, you know there are marketers out there – perhaps even among your circles – who see marketing as rinse and repeat, cookie cutter stuff that simply requires you to replace one logo with another and voila, new campaign.  

These cynical marketers will tell you the standard storyline is this: 

  • We really care about you and your family. 
  • We have fabulous faculty/staff/nurses/surgeons/tech. 
  • You will get the results you want. 

Those ideas can be delivered with a whole bunch of hype and glitz. Fancy videos presented with digital ad campaigns. You know the drill. 

And if this is all you have, your institution truly is just like all the others and your marketing plan truly is the type of thing that allows a marketing agency to take one institution’s marketing plan, swap out the logo, and Boom! There’s a fresh marketing plan. Ugh. 

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Topics: Incremental Innovation

Tactical Vs. Strategic Thinking

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Jul 16, 2019 3:00:00 PM

In our prior blog, we hit the road towards our strategic destination fueled by the proper tactics to keep us on the right track. While strategy and tactics are required to make the trip, they are also very different tools.

Tactical thinking vs. strategic thinking is similar to “which comes first, the chicken or the egg”. One cannot exist without

the other. A strategy needs to be in place before you can determine the ideal tactics to achieve your goal. By the same token, your goal may not be achieved unless you employ the proper tactics. They are different and essential tools to employ in every short and long term business plan.

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Topics: Incremental Innovation

At A Crossroads? Big Decisions to Make? Think Strategically.

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on May 14, 2019 2:55:00 PM

You take a deep breath, and slowly push your seat away from the desk. Your inbox is empty, your notifications are cleared, your texts are returned and you have nothing else to do in this moment than reflect on your strategic plan and think about where you want your business to be in five years.

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Topics: Incremental Innovation

The Best Customer Service is When No One is Listening...

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Nov 6, 2018 9:41:00 AM

As the meeting commenced, the director announced to the team that an informal survey had been conducted, the results of which would be shared with everyone. Not only had they called customers to ask what they thought of their reps, but they also reviewed call recordings and email exchanges to better understand the quality of service they had been providing to their clients.

Some smiled and sat up straighter, while others appeared ashen and faint.

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Topics: Behavior Change

The Role of Premortem in Project Management

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Sep 25, 2018 3:37:00 PM

 There’s a new project on the table, and the office is abuzz with excitement.

You know the drill. Team members chime in with enthusiasm about the great potential this project holds, from increased customer satisfaction to new revenue streams. Brainstorming results in a list of positive ideas with each suggestion triggering a new, more improved offering.

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