The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs


In this Water Cooler we touch on a variety of ideas — from using different lenses in testing strategy to different ways of really connecting with people. Enjoy.


1. Emotional Connection Maximizes Value for Customers

Marketing in business and non-profits has focused in recent years on customer satisfaction. And that’s important. But an emotional connection is even more important, argue consultants Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon.

“Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level — tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs,” the duo write in the Harvard Business Review.

Hundreds of emotional motivators drive consumer behavior. Here are ten that significantly affect customer value across all the categories they studied. Customers often need to:

  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Have confidence in the future
  • Enjoy a sense of well-being
  • Feel a sense of freedom
  • Feel a sense of thrill
  • Feel a sense of belonging
  • Protect the environment
  • Be the person I want to be
  • Feel secure
  • Succeed in life.

They note that emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.

“On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers,” they write.

The customer experience can be critical in driving that emotional connection. But often customers don’t quite know what explains the bond, so you have to dig deep to find out.


2. Get Off The Delegation Seesaw

When we delegate, we’re still responsible. That means, consultant Jesse Lyn Stoner observes on her blog, that we start off watching people too closely. Then we back off, responding to other demands on our time and a desire to be less controlling, until something goes wrong and we feel compelled to step back in.

Essentially, we’re trapped on a delegation see-saw. We overmanage, undermanage, and sometimes do both.

And drive everyone nuts.

They’re frustrated because they never know when we’re going to swoop in and change things. Or they are waiting for us to make a decision and their project gets stalled. They become afraid to make decisions because we might not approve, losing confidence in their own judgment. Or they stop thinking because they have grown dependent on us to think for them.

To break out of this trap, get off the seesaw. She says “stop thinking like a parent, and treat your team like the adults they are. They’ve been passengers in your car. Stop thinking of it as your car, let them drive, and don’t be a backseat driver.”

Find out what they need from you to complete the task they have before them. Ask and listen. Share your own thoughts, and then decide together where you’ll be involved and how.

Yes, they’ll make mistakes. Count on it. But if you discuss those mistakes without judgment, acting as a sounding board, they won’t become defensive and will be able to learn.


3. Tips From A Trifecta CEO

Amol Sarva runs three businesses: Knotable, Halo, and Knotel. He’s a very busy guy, one we can all learn from. Here’s how he does it, according to Fast Company:

  • He separates his alone time from time spent with others. He believes good time management begins with defending your own time, sometimes selfishly. So he blocks out time for solo work, treating it as sacrosanct.
  • He meets only when he needs to. That will occur when people need to solve a problem together, through rich interchange, or when a deadline requires a gathering to get something completed. The third factor for meeting may seem surprising: Socializing. Sometimes, he believes, you just need to hang out with your people. He prefers to do this by walking around and chatting, rather than something formal.
  • He keeps his priorities in full view, and doesn’t hesitate to share them, since that will allow others to take on tasks without him having to be present. He aims for specifics in those priorities, not generalities, with an emphasis on action.


4. Price May Not Be The Problem

When somebody balks at the price of your product or service, that doesn’t mean the cost is actually the problem. Ottawa sales consultant Colleen Francis offers another interpretation on her blog — that it merely reveals they have made an incorrect assumption about the value of your offering.

You need to understand what they are comparing you to, and then find a compelling differentiator that shows your superiority. Highlight the results of a scientific study supporting your offering.  Stress your experience. Leverage testimonials. Offer payment options, if they still won’t budge.

That will often overcome the pricing objections. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to walk away.


5. Zingers

  • Debugging sessions: Hold a meeting every four months or so with the theme “what’s driving you crazy at work?” Use it to raise awareness of what’s ineffective and brainstorm solutions. (Source: Humor At Work ezine)
  • Probe for communication clues: Test communication skills when hiring, perhaps including some simple requests or specific directions to follow in your application process that indicate how skilled candidates are at processing information. Consultant Kevin Eikenberry says it will also give you a sense of their attention to detail, another important trait, and whether they are taking the time to understand your needs and meet your expectations. (Source: Leadership & Learning Blog)
  • We keep going when there’s wiggle room: Setting stretch goals with wiggle room is the best way to ensure actual results. Recent research shows people want such flexibility “to cheat” and are more likely to persist if given options. In an exercise program, people were more effective with a schedule of seven days at the gym with the opportunity to take two skip days compared to those who had to attend five days in a row or were pushed to go seven days. (Source: INSEAD Knowledge).
  • When we all pitch in: Design is not about making something look cool, observes designer Joy Stauber. Design is about making something relevant. (Source: Tom Peters! blog)
  • Cut-and-paste may miss the point: Presentations specialist Dave Paradi sees a common mistake — speakers simply copying data from source documents rather than creating slides that re-order the data in the best way to make their point in a clear, concise fashion. Don’t leave it to the audience to puzzle it out. (ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com)


6.  Q&A With 8020Info:

     Lenses for strategy development 

Question:  Can you suggest some alternate ways we could look at our emerging strategies, so we can “test” them from different perspectives?

8020Info President & CEO Rob Wood responds:

The first “test” we routinely suggest is to ask whether your strategy is focused on making choices. It may be a choice of which path to take, or choosing which few goals should be priorities from a long list of potential options.  We believe strategy development is all about making fundamental choices, defining boundaries and setting priorities for special attention, effort or investment of resources.

Here are some other lenses:

  • Check whether your strategies are just categories of work, no different from a simple roll-up of various business plan tasks.  Strategic plans provide direction and focus your team’s energies on those initiatives or approaches that require special emphasis. They typically complement and should frame (not be) “who does what by when” operational plans.
  • Philosophy, values and culture influence strategy.  They may strongly influence how you will approach strategic choices, your preferred alternatives and how they are implemented.  Will your strategies be a ready fit with your culture, or cause friction and resistance?
  • How does your strategy enhance the value you aim to deliver?  Your purpose involves creating value for specific stakeholders, sometimes expressed formally through a value proposition or “unique selling proposition”.
  • You may want to work back to strategy from key measures of success that are pivotal to your organization. Metrics often are considered towards the end of strategy development, but as iSixSigma has noted, a discussion of metrics can help you think about:
    • Where the organization has been
    • Where it is heading
    • Whether something is going wrong
    • When the organization will reach its target
  • A last suggestion is to look ahead to implementation and anticipate where you may need to tweak your strategies. On this point, there is much to learn from The 4 Disciplines of Executionby FranklinCovey’s Sean Covey, Chris McChesney and Jim Huling.

In addition to their advice on narrowing focus, choosing your battles, having a scoreboard to drive emotional engagement, and accountability, they emphasize the difference between decisions that are “stroke of the pen” strategies vs. those involving organizational habits and behavioural change (much harder!).

Depending on your situation, you may also want to look at David Rock’s SCARF model for collaborating with and influencing people, or test your plans using Michael Hyatt’s checklist for “wow” customer experiences. You have plenty of options for reviewing your draft strategies from alternate perspectives!


7.  From Our Water Cooler:

     Putting Decisions in Context

Recently we’ve been involved in discussions with clients working at teasing out the differences between managing their operations and the operating environment they must cope with — it’s easy for our thinking to become limited or mixed up. Here are a couple of welcome metaphors to help clarify your thought processes:

  • Look at the implications of context: As the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen famously suggested: “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
  • Can a zipper be a useful metaphor? Glen Bostock from Snapcab draws inspiration from the zipper: “In order for a zipper to work, a series of events has to happen systematically. As systems go, it’s one of the best — simple, repeatable. And that’s what we strive to achieve everyday. If something is complex, we simplify it. If it doesn’t work for everyone, every time, we fix it. If it is not streamlined, we remove the speed bumps.”

It’s hard to tell the label on the jar when you’re in it, but making decisions after thoughtful consideration of your environment can make them better.

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8020Info helps strategy teams think better together as they develop and effectively implement research / stakeholder consultations, strategic plans, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8.  Closing Thought

“Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.”

— Francis Bacon


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