Do Your Customers Matter this Much?

Do Your Customers Matter this Much?
Posted by   | September 30th, 2014 | No Comments

Employee engagement is a hot topic these days and for good reason, because employees are epidemically under engaged. Beyond unengaged comes disengaged and finally disgruntled. Perhaps the Chicago FAA air traffic control challenge could have been avoided with higher levels of engagement from managers and leaders – time will tell us what happened there.

Customer engagement is also a hot topic and this past weekend I had the opportunity to experience why. It feels really good when you see it happening.

I am a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, as well as, one of those people that purchased a $200 piece of team ownership that I can’t do anything with but stare at the paper on the wall. It was a beautiful week end in Chicago and I was fortunate enough to find tickets to the Bears and Packers game held at Soldier Field in my home town of Chicago. There is a rivalry between the Bears and Packers that is legendary and tickets are hard to come by. I was looking for 7 seats together and found myself in Soldier Field seats that where so high up that I felt dizzy from the thin oxygen. Take a look:


Our tickets were in the very last row of the upper deck. I work out regularly, but walking those stadium stairs made you plan your trips to the restroom very carefully.

There is a point to me telling you where I was sitting. Early in the 3rd Quarter Mark Murphy, the President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers Organization, walked up to our section to spend a good portion of the quarter talking and hanging with fans. He was in a shirt and tie and walked up to us by himself. I was able to capture a picture of him in action and you will see fans smiling in amazement, snapping pictures, applauding him and taking time from the game to chat with him. This was a special moment and we felt part of something bigger than just a team, we felt part of a family.


Taking time to engage with customers matters and is a testament to leadership. Under Murphy’s guidance, the Packers organization continues to rank as one of the NFL’s premier franchises, with highly successful operations both on and off the field. On the field, the team has compiled a 66-38-1 overall record (.633), made five straight playoff trips, including three consecutive division titles, and earned a victory in Super Bowl XLV. Off the field, the club continues to perform well in its business efforts, which allows the organization to support football operations. The fan experience at Lambeau Field, a top priority for the organization, continues to be ranked among the best in sports.

Kudos to you Mark Murphy for coming out of the luxury box to show your customers that they matter and you care.

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    It’s About Focus

    It's About Focus
    Posted by   | September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments

    What is our strategy now?  How are we doing on our strategy?  Have we arrived yet? There are other questions your people could be asking about your organization’s focus, but these are three questions that you should be asking if you don’t already know.

    Your organization has a strategy and it is being executed as you read this. The strategy sets the overall direction of your organization and establishes the context for everything done in the organization.  If you are not crystal clear on the strategy then decisions you have to make every day become a bit more challenging if success in what you do is important to you.

    The responsibility for staying informed about the strategy is yours. Certainly it is the top leadership’s responsibility to set the strategy, explain it to everyone, provide updates against it and to continually reinforce it, but it is everyone’s responsibility to bring it to life in the organization.

    Here are ideas for breathing life into your organization’s strategy:

    • Understand It – If you’re new to the organization or if you have been there for a long time, get informed about the organizations strategy and why behind it. Talk to your manager, review the website, ask and listen at town halls, because this is so important to an organizations success there will be a wide variety of ways to get clear.
    • Get Refreshed – You should be hearing frequent updates about the organizations progress against the strategy. If you’re not hearing, ask your leaders.  Find out about challenges, successes and adjustments along the way.
    • Explain it – Whether or not your title has VP in front of it you have other people around you that you can help to better understand the strategy.  Take the important time in your 1:1 meetings with your direct reports or team members to get clear on the strategy and their role in executing against it.

    Your organizations success depends on everyone moving in the same direction.  The strategy sets that direction so understand it, stay refreshed on it and do your part in bringing it to life by explaining it to others.

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      Meeting Flavors

      Meeting Flavors
      Posted by   | September 16th, 2014 | No Comments

      This is not about salted caramel, chili chocolate or blackberry cabernet!

      How often are you clear on why you are having a meeting? There are three flavors of meetings that you can savor with participants:

      1. Standard – when participants have radically different points of view, conflict about the current state or differing levels of understanding, a standard meeting is held to inform and create clear, common, shared understanding.
      2. Solutioning – this is a meeting where you know the specifics of an issue and need input on options for solving it. The meeting gathers input through discussion about a very clearly stated problem-solving challenge (we recommend extended question sessions for stretching thinking.) Issues are moved into choices between various solution options.
      3. Strategic – this is a meeting where there is consistent understanding of the issue, prioritized options and it’s time to make a decision. This is a potential minefield if the decision making process isn’t pre-defined. The Vroom–Yetton contingency model is a useful tool. We’ll explain this in further detail in next week’s tip.

      Meetings are mismanaged because there is a lack of clarity about the flavor, the agenda or the outcomes. To improve your meeting mastery we suggest:

      • Set the context by selecting the appropriate flavor. Tell participants what to expect so they know how to contribute.
      • Outline the agenda and set the pace.
      • Define intended outcomes. Be clear about the meeting purpose and non-purpose. These are the boundaries to operate within and clarity about what success looks like.

      Mixing meeting flavors can create confusion. So be clear about the flavor the agenda and the outcomes in order to maximize the limited brain resources of your meeting participants. (According to David Rock, the average number of peak decision making hours people report is 3 – 5 per week!)

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        Cultivating Curiosity

        Cultivating Curiosity
        Posted by   | September 9th, 2014 | No Comments

        When you hear something new, how do you respond? Do you ask WHY or WHY NOT? Brain science reveals that our natural response is usually the negative one.

        According to Wikipedia, curiosity comes from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent, curious,” akin to cura “care.”  It is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning.

        To cultivate your curiosity:

        • Suspend judgment and practice saying, “Hmm, I wonder why that is.” Look for the possibility and wonder WHY rather than NOT.
        • Make the mundane mysterious. Ask questions, lots of them, even when you think you know the answers. You may uncover something you never expected when you stop letting your mind fill in the blanks with assumptions.
        • Stop labeling. Labels make your world smaller, questions expand your world.

        The benefits of increased curiosity:

        • Change the world – Great questions lead to new ideas that change the world. For example, Netflix came from Reed Hastings asking himself why he had to pay $40 in overdue fines after returning Apollo 13 well past its due date.
        • Happiness – in Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, Todd Kashdan explains the connection between curiosity and a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. Curious people learn new things and have unfamiliar experiences which increase their dopamine levels. Dopamine is nature’s drug of wellbeing!
        • Super Power if you only relate to life from a single perspective, you are very limited. Curious people learn many points of view which gives the multiple perspectives to view things. This super power enables curious people to see things other people miss.

        Curiosity is essential to learning, innovation and change. Cultivation of curiosity is a lifelong pursuit that we encourage you to practice.

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          Change Leader Checklist

          Change Leader Checklist
          Posted by   | September 2nd, 2014 | No Comments

          Today’s tip is a checklist for leaders when they are faced with change. Hope the checklist helps :-)

          Understand the Change
          Before you concern yourself with the leadership actions needed during change, start with an understanding of the change by answering the following questions:

          • What is the change? This isn’t the action that you are taking, change is the difference between the way things are today and how you intend for them to be in the future.
          • Why does the change matter? Why is the change happening?
          • Who is being impacted, directly or indirectly by the change?
          • How significant is the change to the people being impacted? This is from their point of view not yours. Sometimes it’s easy to assume the change is insignificant because you see if from a different vantage point.
          • When is the change taking place? While one change may seem rather minor when it’s happening in the midst of multiple other changes the impact is compounded. There are limited resources for adopting changes. Be careful how you use up your people’s change capacity.

          Change Leadership Success: once you have a clearer understanding of the change here are some considerations for successfully leading through the change:

          • Uncertainty drains productivity – when your people are uncertain about the future or the change, it significantly impacts productivity. While you may not have all the answers, it’s important to share progress and create some certainty.
          • Data doesn’t have meaning until you make it – too many change messages contain lots of data that gets lost on the recipient. Without context, content is confusing. So take the time to clearly and effectively share the story behind the data and make meaning.
          • Begin with the reader / listener in mind – when you are sharing the change with others, remember who they are and what matters to them. Speak in their language not yours. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart” (Nelson Mandela.) The language of the heart is the language of change.
          • Beware of the Curse of Knowledge – once you know something, it’s hard to remember not knowing it. It’s very easy to assume that everyone else knows what you know. So beware when you share that being abstract creates more confusion than clarity. Beware of knowledge imbalances and don’t make assumptions about what others do or do not know.

          Leadership is the magic ingredient for successful change. The best processes, methods and tools cannot overcome a lack of great leadership. So take the time to understand the changes you intend and then use this checklist to improve your change leadership effectiveness.

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            Catch a Smile

            Catch a Smile
            Posted by   | August 26th, 2014 | No Comments

            Do you believe that moods are contagious? Have you ever experienced a person who changed the entire mood of a room?

            We were in an elevator that was packed with people. It was one of those days where it seemed that we stopped at every floor to pick someone up. Then came the man with the bike. He saw the elevator was crowded and pushed his way on. Many people would respond with frustration or silently glare at the inconsiderate biker cramming himself and his machine into such a tiny space. Fortunately a fellow passenger made a comment, “how wonderful that we all took a shower this morning.”  This bit of humor diffused the irritation that hung in the air and immediately brightened the mood of the dozen cramped riders.

            What kind of intangible trail does your mood leave behind?

            Do you sour or brighten a room with your presence?

            Another recent event reinforced how contagious someone else’s mood can be. Last week on my way back from Toronto I was in the airport security line. It was early Saturday morning and most people were half awake, slightly grumpy and in desperate need of their morning caffeine.  A cheery woman was standing at the checkpoint. With a loud voice she told everyone that they could put away their passports, they just needed their boarding pass and a smile. She was so joyful, so upbeat and so positive you couldn’t help but smile. She made my day despite being denied TSA Pre Check because I had SSSS on my boarding pass. Her energy, enthusiasm and positive words completely lifted my flagging spirits. It takes a lot to make passengers smile in a pre-dawn airport security line. But one person made all the difference.

            The next time you are in a bad mood, do the world a favor and put yourself into quarantine. Your negative or positive mood can change the trajectory of your life and the lives of everyone around you.

            Have a bright, beautiful and very blessed day..then pass it on!

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              Change Triage

              Change Triage
              Posted by   | August 19th, 2014 | No Comments

              When change is initiated leaders often forget about their most important asset, people. Organizations are full of people and people that are not considered until after the change is started can make change messy and challenging.

              Messy change requires change triage which uses all the best practices of change management in an emergency toolkit to address critical change challenges.

              Change Triage – a rapid determination of the priority of change management actions based on the severity of stakeholder impact when there is insufficient time and resources to do complete change management.

              Performing Change Triage:

              • Assess – what hurts? What is the change impact? What are the immediate impacts, potential impacts and what is creating the greatest amount of pain? Who is being impacted?
              • Prioritize – what is the most critical injury? based upon your assessment, prioritize which stakeholders need the greatest amount of care and which actions will most efficiently and effectively assist with their change transition.
              • Act – take care of the wounded. Change triage is performed when there is limited time and resources. In order to get the greatest benefit it’s critical to take action. Telling people about the change (communication) is usually not the best first action. A careful assessment and prioritization often uncovers an initial step that will steer the change in a more successful direction.

              Although it’s always ideal to include change management as soon as change is considered, the reality is that there are times that doesn’t happen. Rather than filing a missing persons report, perform change triage and assess, prioritize and action on the change issues.

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                Change Management Made Simple

                Change Management Made Simple
                Posted by   | August 12th, 2014 | No Comments

                Change Management Made Simple

                Although change management is often recognized as critical, it’s often reduced to training and communication. While these are both valuable in the context of doing change management, they miss the mark.

                There are four questions you must answer before you can determine the appropriate actions required to achieve the objectives of a specific change.

                1. START – where are you? If you think of change as a journey, this is your starting position. It’s sometimes referred to as the “current state.” A personal change example is weight loss. The starting measure would be your current weight. In a business change it’s usually not so simple. We’ve found many leaders of change who are unclear about their starting position. This makes it difficult to create a strategy to get where they want to go.
                2. FINISH – where are you going? This question explains the definition of success. How far along the adoption curve do you have to be to declare victory? Not all change is created equal. There are some changes that don’t require commitment, compliance is sufficient. So if you don’t make this explicit you could be overinvesting or underinvesting in the change management you really require.
                3. COMMITMENT – is there clarity and commitment to the change? It’s simple to ask and critical to understand in the context of creating a change strategy.
                4. GAP – the change equation to figure out the GAP:
                  Definition of success – (where you are + clarity and commitment) = the GAP


                change_management 3


                Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can tackle the big one, “HOW do you close the GAP?” There are many actions that can be used to close the gap. Structure, process, coaching, leadership alignment, reinforcement, resistance management, training and communications are all part of the toolbox of change management practitioners. The summary of the actions you take to close the GAP creates the change strategy.

                The applied art and science of change management helps leaders create powerful change more rapidly and effectively. Take the time to answer the four critical questions and you will create a change strategy that is scaled to meet the challenge of the change you want to accomplish.

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                  Eradicating Monkeys

                  Eradicating Monkeys
                  Posted by   | August 5th, 2014 | No Comments

                  How often do you allow other people to put their “monkeys on your back?”

                  Monkey on Your Back = a phenomenon described by the late William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass in the 1974 HBR classic, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” They tell the engaging story of an overburdened manager who has unwittingly taken on all of his subordinates’ problems. If, for example, an employee has a problem and the manager says, “Let me think about that and get back to you,” the monkey has just leaped from the subordinate’s back to the manager’s.

                  Whether it’s a problem searching for a solution, an action that needs to be taken or a decision that must be made, someone else’s monkey only becomes your monkey when you agree to accept it.

                  Before you accept someone else’s monkey, ask yourself:

                  • WHY – is this your problem?
                  • WHAT – are you going to do about it and what will you be preventing that person from learning if you solve the problem, make the decision or take action on their behalf?
                  • HOW – does this fit into your priorities and plans?

                  In today’s jam packed busy world, be wary of playing monkey tamer. We suggest deploying a monkey eradication strategy that empowers others to deal with their own monkeys.

                  Learning to shift a monkey back to its proper owner can be challenging but it’s how you prevent other people’s monkeys from jumping on your back!

                  Ask yourself “why, what and how” before you accept someone else’s monkey.

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                    Collaboration Crash Course

                    Collaboration Crash Course
                    Posted by   | July 29th, 2014 | No Comments

                    It seems like every organization we work with is touting their commitment to a more collaborative workplace. The problem is that we can’t find a consistent definition of collaboration among the leaders who say they want more of it. Collaboration sounds great, but what is it and how do you make it happen?

                    Collaboration is about working with others to do, create or accomplish something.

                    Being collaborative has an underlying assumption that the sum of the individuals is greater than the individuals on their own. Creative thinking, innovation and ideas are just a few of the essential elements that are implied in collaboration.

                    First of all, collaboration is not guaranteed by having open work environments. Collaboration is about working together and sharing ideas. Collaboration happens when there is space in your calendar and your mind not just space around you. When you don’t have time to think or your brain is crowded with facts and figures, collaboration won’t happen.

                    Secondly, since collaboration is about sharing, it’s critical that the culture supports and rewards teams’ not just individuals. We recently heard about a sales compensation system where everyone in an office received a percentage of the commissions earned by the entire team. That meant that more senior sales reps benefitted from spending time with new sales reps because they knew that they would get a portion of that person’s commissions. They’ve since moved to an individual reward system. We believe that this will erode the collaboration over time since the reward system no longer values the team contribution.

                    You collaborate every time you work with someone else to get something done. The question you need to answer is, “how well do you collaborate?”

                      • Know Your Technology – are you a master of your tools? Just having Lync or Yammer does not guarantee collaboration. In fact, if it’s used poorly this can become a distraction. How many times have you been on a call that wasted ten minutes trying to make a web sharing tool work and there was no document being shared? Use the right tool for the right task.
                      • Create Collaboration Processes – sharing information is part of collaboration. How you do that matters. Will the information be open and available to everyone or a limited group of people? How do things get circulated? The more intentional you are about how you collaborate, the more effective your collaboration will be.
                      • Get Random – creativity is stimulated by accidental meetings, weird ideas and other inputs that are not in the normal stream. Make time to add something different to your life. It can be a new idea source or even a meeting with someone outside your typical meeting schedule.

                    We passionately believe that collaboration is critical in today’s working environment. You cannot grow to new levels of success without collaboration. So make time for collaboration, use technology wisely, be intentional about how you collaborate and get random.

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