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Monday, August 27, 2012

Drop The Other Shoe

I was watching an organization internally announce a major new direction...sometime in next three years.

They had a clear definition of where the organization was going and what was creating the need for the decision. They also had a clear vision of the benefits for every associate, and the requirements for each person who wants to successfully make the transition. Serious preparation started the same day as the announcement.

The result was positive buzz. These people were on fire, optimistic, making plans, taking immediate action. That had been missing for the previous two quarters, and was a major driver of the new strategy.

Based on current progress they will be ready to switch to their model in less than a year, and will be able to take advantage of successful market conditions.

What caused this decision? The same things most other organizations are facing, softening demand, threatening punitive, contradictory regulation, confusion about the markets and the coming economy. Nothing new.

What was remarkable was that the owners, by taking long term specific action, instead of moaning and hugging the toilet, have made their organization a better place to be and to join, right now.

If you can’t see an attractive course ahead, make one up. Velocity increases luck.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Difference Between Promised And Produced

I keep getting glimpses that there is a difference between promised and produced. At the most basic level that may be a broken promise. But what if there is something more?

Did you ever hear, “But you promised...” Probably not good.

I’ve also heard, “This is SO much better than what I was expecting!” That’s a way rememberer.

Sometimes you agree to something because you don’t understand what you are agreeing to. Ask the Native Americans about that.

Are customers not allowed to mature, to develop, to learn more while you are producing? That’s a hard rule to enforce. Hard on you, hard on them. Not to mention futile.

I enjoy when customers learn something new on my watch. They tend to enjoy the experience and ask me back again.

Promise what will initiate the transaction. Deliver what will delight the customer. The good guys make that look easy.

Any stories that might support my contention?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Different Angle

Sometimes we need to look at things from a different angle.

Almost two hours with the fundraisers at United Way reinforced Dick’s “Observations from the Front Lines” that we must “listen to the needs and share customer stories of situations where our solution filled their need and benefited the customer.”

Is a non-profit really capable of fulfilling the needs of its corporate donors (the “customer”)? You bet, and non-profits really need to focus on these needs in order to increase donations.

Even in a “down” economy, many corporations see the connection between giving back to their communities and increased revenue. Fundraisers should be telling these stories.

When we started we asked “why is United Way important?” and heard things like “efficiently do the most good” and “make a difference.” At the end we were hearing “more value for the philanthropic dollar” and “maximizing the impact of donations.” Much better angles!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Myth of Nuvo Quo

The older I get, the better I was.

A legend in his own mind.

Five miles to school, uphill both ways.

Memory is selective. From time to time, story to story, we remember the parts that support our chosen message.

Nuvo quo is when we selectively improve what we remember of the old status quo.

Nuvo quo can keep you warm in the glow of past accomplishments, but shouldn’t be used to hold off the future.

I like libraries, places of inventory and quiet. Reference librarians were always faking. They projected a deep knowledge of everything, By second year of high school, I was ahead of them in many areas. I figured I should always ask first, just in case, and then dive into the research. That’s where I learned that with any technology, you have to navigate for your own best results.

For all practical purposes, Google has obliterated the need for reference librarians, except the ones who know something important and don’t choose to write it down. A protective perversion of knowledge. Google has won.

I attended Wikimania 2012, the global convention of Wikipedians this summer. Wikipedia has won as the primary source of knowledge research except among the academicians who have already been largely replaced by Wikipedia. They are fighting a valiant rearguard action and wasting everyone else’s time.

Shrieking (shrinking?) mass media is trumpeting that new medicine will not be like old medicine. Well, no kidding and thank goodness. New technologies might free us from ignorant, overworked physicians, well meaning but perpetually fogged technicians, oversized medical facilities that can never deliver cost effective healthcare and maximize unforeseen problems to threaten patients on a terrifying scale.

Based on previous experience, we can predict the first versions of new technology won’t necessarily outperform existing, and also predict that in an unregulated marketplace, new technologies will cost less, give better results, and be available to many more users in a short period of time.

We need the new technologies, and with any technology, we have to navigate for our own best results.

Oh Lord, if there’s gonna be a change, let it begin with some other guy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where Solutions Are Created

We were practicing stories defining what we had done for others, when a marketeer pointed out that we were talking about previous engagements, not the people we supposedly would be talking to.

The marketeer wanted to fashion a way to talk about the goodness of what was going to happen to the next guy.

That’s not going to work for a couple of reasons.

First, when you are talking about the future, you can’t talk about truth, you have to talk about vision. If you want to be believed, start by telling the truth.

Second, no matter what I say, the listener is going to apply what they hear to satisfying their own need. Get a listener to tell you what they heard you say, and you will learn what they really want.

That means you don’t need to start with a specific solution for everyone. That specific solution develops out of what they value from what you have already done successfully.

What’s your best story?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Social Media Becomes More Influential Than News Media

What was really interesting was that if you look at the table of the top global brands, Social Media has more impact than News Media and Twitter. (I thought Twitter was Social Media)

There are just more bloggers than journalists, and many deeply interested and providing constant focus in specific areas, providing ongoing context and timely publication.The switch bloggers saw coming has occurred.

How many of you use Reader or another blog aggregator? I’m interested in how readers follow bloggers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Neat, But Not Gaudy

Did you ever get the feeling that actions are now requiring more meetings before they can start? Just a feeling I’m getting.

That you keep getting stalled by “interested parties” that aren’t?

Reminds me some career advice I got from a pretty good foreman many years ago.

I said, “Hunh?”

He said, “Hunh, hell. Do something!”


Or, as Uncle Ross said, “If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes.”

“Neat, But Not Gaudy?” That was Bob Harold’s advice on how to solder copper pipe.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Becoming a Better Student

My favorite continuing education is golf lessons. Every summer, I take a rack of lessons down at HainsPoint.

Last Sunday I went to my first makeup class, as I hadn’t been able to make my normal time. We’re in the middle of a good process, but this time I have a new teacher I’ve never met before. Not only that, none of the students in the makeup class knew the instructor.

Charles had some different ideas. The first few times I attempted a new motion usually produced a foozle (a highly technical golf term I learned from a caddy in Scotland. Don’t ask...).

I quickly decided my most productive response was to say “Thank you,” and then repeat what I was about to do. Sometimes I would get it wrong, or he would have a further clarifying comment, but we both knew what I was attempting.

After I shanked one very much, Charles said “Next week, be sure to tell your regular instructor Henry taught you that.” 

After an hour, my ball striking was much better. The teaching was taking hold.

It could have been my imagination, but I noticed that the teacher was paying more attention to me with my “Thank you, and now I’m gonna...” routine than to the guy two stalls down who kept saying he didn’t want anything bad to happen to to his golf game due to makeup instruction.

By the end of the hour, I was hitting farther, and bending them at will, and making trick shots, it was a great lesson. I told Charles/Henry about the improvement and stayed to hit another 30 balls.

The guy who didn’t want his game changed huffed off, said he had wasted an hour, and was quite loud about his stupidity.

I figured out the guy at the front of the room needs love too.