Author: Michelle Jones (Page 1 of 29)

Srini’s Tech Tip: Excel’s AutoFill Feature

AutoFilling Large Numbering Series (without manually dragging the AutoFill handle)

You may well be aware of an excellent feature and technique in Excel called AutoFill (covered in the Excel Level 1 course).  The traditional method is that you type the first number in the series, then use the AutoFill handle to drag down to whatever ending number you desire.  While this method is okay for a small series, what happens if you need to number several rows?  The manual dragging method is a cumbersome and quite tedious.

Fortunately, Excel provides an easier method for such a task.  You can use the Fill Series dialog box to enter the sequential number series (aka Linear series), and let Excel fill the row numbers.  The example below illustrates only 20 numbers, but it can easily perform a larger series like in the hundreds or thousands of rows.

 

NOTE: Steps 1-5 in the illustration are to be performed. Step 6 is the final result.

Steps to Perform:
  1. Enter a header for the column, like Row Number (cell A1 in the illustration)
  2. Enter the first number and press Enter, but Select the cell again (cell A2 in the illustration)
  3. In the Editing group on the Ribbon, click on the Fill drop down
  4. Select the Series option from the Fill drop down menu
  5. In the Series dialog box, select Columns radio button for series in, and leave the selection as Linear
  6. Enter the Ending number in the sequence for the AutoFill (the illustration shows 20 as the ending number, but you can enter a higher ending number)
  7. Click OK (Excel now has entered all the row numbers from 1 to the Ending Number).

 

NOTE: The illustration shows AutoFilling for 2500 rows.

Strategic Thinking Involves Everyone

If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives, think again. It can, and must, happen at every level of the organization; it’s one of those unwritten parts of all job descriptions. Ignore this fact and you risk getting passed over for a promotion, or having your budget cut because your department’s strategic contribution is unclear.

Strategic thinking is the process of developing and evaluating every decision and action in light of current and future circumstances, the direction you want to go in and the results you want to achieve. It involves being able to apply possibility thinking to every situation. It is not about doing “business as usual” but rather pushing the envelope to see what can be done smarter and what else can be done “instead of”, or as an “add on”, that would maximize opportunities.

Strategic thinking is used to address issues, make decisions and drive innovation. Successful strategic thinking can help maximize resources, add value to businesses and evoke positive change.

Strategic thinkers ground themselves in the values, principles, mission, and vision of the organization.  They have the ability to:

  • see the big picture
  • initiate innovative ideas
  • conceptualize complexity
  • know the right questions to ask
  • think horizontally and simultaneously
  • know when to ask searching questions
  • integrate concepts, however disparate
  • apply lateral thinking to different situations
  • challenge current processes, practices and strategy
  • unearth alternative approaches, solutions or methods

Strategic thinkers also know how to speak the language. They prioritize and sequence their thoughts. They structure their verbal and written communication in a way that helps their audience focus on their core message. They challenge the status quo and get people talking about underlying assumptions. Those that are really skilled walk people through the process of identifying issues, shaping common understanding, and framing strategic choices.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to “Harnessing a Strategic Mindset.”

Cultivating Innovation

Are you doing the same thing over and over again because that’s the way you’ve always done it?  Even though it doesn’t work like it used to, maybe it never worked.

Some say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  But is it bent or cracked?  It’s not broken, but will it leave you stranded?  Do you need a complete overhaul?  Or just a good tune up?

How can you encourage innovation in your organization?

  • Move beyond traditional ways of doing things; push past the status quo
  • Continually assess the market potential of an innovative idea or solution
  • Find and champion the best creative ideas and actively move them into implementation
  • Try multiple, varied approaches to innovative ideas
  • Build excitement in others to explore creative options

Creativity and innovation happen when talented people are given the space and freedom to be inventive.  Invite everyone into the process; managers, end-users, stakeholders, everyone that would/could be affected.  Ask them to come with their ideas, thoughts, frustrations, etc.  Work to find a solution that the whole group will buy into.  Seek consensus.

Remember, change is challenging for some. Be prepared to work with everyone in order to ensure success.

 

References:

Pearce, L. (2013). How to Cultivate Innovation in Real Time. Business News Daily.

Tai-Wai, D.C. (2016). 4 Magical Ways for Cultivating Innovation in Your Workplace. LinkedIn.

Qualities of a Great Mentor

A mentor is a respected person that has successfully completed the trajectory you’d like to follow. What does your mentor bring to the table?

  1. They serve as a role model. Why are they successful? What do they do that others don’t? Model those behaviors and you’ll be well on your way.
  2. They provide guidance. Perhaps you need more education. Or there is a networking group you should join. They can point you in the right direction.
  3. They advocate for you. Maybe you need introductions to a networking group. Or you need to complete some needed education. They can help make those things happen and be a supportive voice.
  4. They are a sounding board. There will be challenges. A mentor can listen to you and provide feedback and advice. Remember they’ve completed the trajectory you’d like to follow. Their advice will be invaluable.

A mentor should help you on your way to your goals by being a teacher, a counselor and a cheerleader.

 

“Your Mentors in life are important, so choose them wisely.”

— Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad

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