The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs


In this issue of the Water Cooler we touch on tips for planning presentations, the value of learning agility, key areas of focus when reviewing the design of your service processes, plus our popular “zingers”. Enjoy!


1. Borrow From The Movies To Plan Your Presentations

Odds are that the last movie you watched was better than the last presentation you attended. Probably better than the last presentation you gave as well, but that can change if you borrow some film-making ideas that Ted Frank, of Backstreet Studios, shares on the Great Leadership blog:

  • Find the three key points that matter: Screenwriters can write quickly and powerfully because they start out with three key scenes, then build the movie around those moments. “This not only keeps them out of the weeds when writing, but it will make it easier for us to remember and share it with other people,” he writes.
  • Cut what you don’t need: Screenwriters cut a novel to 150 pages, then directors cut that down, and finally the editor makes further cuts. Movie-goers enjoy what they see and usually don’t miss what’s gone.
  • Tell those points through example stories: This is not new advice but is still critical — find stories that grab people’s attention and make your key points come alive.
  • If you can make it visual, even better: “Just like an example helps us grab hold of it, seeing that example makes it even more clear,” he writes.
  • Speak to the emotional side: We know the importance of emotion but often forget it when we turn on PowerPoint. Don’t!
  • Stand up for what you believe: Don’t hide behind the projector. Stand in a prominent place, which emphasizes that the words come from you and also increases your credibility.


2. The Balance of Power In Your Marketing

Entrepreneur Seth Godin says that every organization has to make a decision about how they will treat the issue of power in their marketing. The choices:

  • You (the customer) have power over your choices.
  • We have the power over you (and here’s what we’re offering).
  • Our products and services give everyone power.

“Consider insurance. Companies like Allstate don’t market themselves as the dominant force in the relationship … instead, they say, ‘you’re in good hands.’ Insurance is here to take care of you,” he writes on his blog.

The power dynamic in Harley Davidson motorcycles suggests that buying one makes you James Dean, giving you power over others — a message of some luxury brands as well.

Horror movies’ promise: You sit there; we will scare you.

He says big-name colleges pick students, grade them, and give out a magic diploma. (They have the power.) Lesser schools send a message, “how can we help you?” That’s a friendlier message, offering more choice, although most people prefer the famous universities.

Restaurateur Danny Meyer built his Union Square Hospitality Group around the idea that customers ought to be powerful. He trains his people to serve.

“Some people persist in thinking that marketing is about ads or low prices. It’s not. It’s about human nature and promises and who we see when we look in the mirror,” he stresses.


3. How To Improve Leadership Development

Whether you have a formal or informal leadership development program, here are four ideas for improvement raised by consultant Art Petty on his LinkedIn:

  • The leadership pipeline starts at the front line: Usually the focus is higher in the ranks. But leadership development starts with front-line supervisors and you miss a lot of promising talent if you ignore that.
  • Strive to see beyond the superstars: “The competent performer with high degrees of social and emotional intelligence, good critical thinking skills, and an affinity for strengthening group work may be an outstanding candidate for your emerging leader initiative,” he points out.
  • Look for leadership and followership in the same individuals: Good leaders are good followers. Individuals may serve as the leader for one major project and support another leader for the next project. So don’t focus just on leadership.
  • Move beyond annual or “one-and-done” training: Building leaders must be an ongoing, sustained effort.


4. The One Thing You Can’t Manage

Consultant Jesse Lyn Stoner says there are many things you can (and should) manage, some quite difficult. The list includes focus and attention, priorities, time, expectations, budget, and commitments.

But there’s one thing you can’t manage: People. You can try to influence, motivate, or inspire people. But you can’t manage them like other things.

“People are not things. They have free will. You might get compliance through imposing your authority, but you will not get their commitment or full engagement. And if you push too hard, you will be met with a passive resistance that increases as your own efforts increase,” she writes on her blog.

Don’t try to manage people. Influence, motivate and inspire them instead.


5. Zingers

  • Explore with discipline: Take a look at any organization that is able to innovate consistently and you will find it has a systematic and disciplined process for exploring new problems. Exploration is key to innovation says consultant Greg Satell. (Source: DigitalTonto.com)
  • You’re not a pro when… These two words make you sound unprofessional: “You know.” So stop using them, says communications specialist Carmine Gallo. (Source: Inc.com)
  • Hire for sunny views:  The key trait of every great employee is optimism, says HR consultant Tim Sackett. Ask questions in interviews to understand the candidate’s core belief around optimism. Two examples: Tell me about something in life you are truly optimistic about; tell me about something you were responsible for that went really bad — how did you deal with it? (Source: TimSackett.com)
  • Here’s another take on traits: Blogger Ron Edmondson says the one trait every leader must possess is discipline. If you’re seeking to improve, he advises to start with just one area of your life. Focusing more attention on planning your calendar can also help build discipline. (Source: Ron Edmondson.com)
  • Fend off your afternoon dips:  We’re often told to establish a morning routine, but Lifehacker writer Patrick Allen says you need an afternoon routine to combat energy dips. First, get up from your desk and move your body — a simple walk around 3pm or, as he did, move your workout to the afternoon. Also, work on the easy stuff when fatigue hits. (Source: Lifehacker.com)


6.  Q&A With 8020Info:
     Service Design Behind-The-Scenes


Question:  Can you suggest a framework for reviewing service processes?


8020Info President & CEO Rob Wood responds:

We’ve all experienced service breakdowns that cause frustration and dissatisfaction. Even the best-designed services may fall short when individual staff react slowly, perform poorly, or work on their own, in isolation from the rest of the service team.

But don’t forget to integrate all the behind-the-scenes activities in your overall service design as well. They have become ever more critical for success today, especially if you offer complex user/customer experiences easily compromised by weak internal processes.

There are many components to consider as you review the overall service experience provided. A visit to a restaurant, for example, involves all the varied roles played by farmers, chefs, hosts, servers, table-clearing and kitchen staff, cleaners, health inspectors, marketers, managers and others involved — from booking your reservation or sourcing food ingredients to training staff, designing menus or discussing a food allergy with you.

Consider three main areas when reviewing your service design:

  • Physical materials: Products, objects/tools or digital material used in the course of your service. This might include a storefront, service window or conference room; digital products like webpages or social media; raw materials involved in providing the service, software tools, training equipment or marketing brochures.
  • People: Anyone involved in creating or using the service, or who may be indirectly affected by it. Typical groups include employees, service delivery partners, customers themselves and their fellow customers or influencers.
  • Processes: Workflows, procedures, rituals and rules required to deliver the service effectively. These actions may be performed by employees (including those supporting front-line staff) or by users/customers at various points in the service process.

Also look at “frontstage” and “backstage” service components:  Some are highly visible to your customers or clients — elements like service products, personal interactions and channel touchpoints are “in front of the curtain”.

Many high-impact components, however, are hidden from customer view, including your policies, systems, technology, HR infrastructure and management approaches.

Inside and Outside: When designing a service, we tend to focus on optimizing experiences for customers across their journey of front-line interactions with our organization. That’s important.

But it’s equally important to consider what employees experience and how they get things done. So don’t overlook your internal processes or miss disconnects caused by internal conflicts, shaky relationships, program redundancies or weak procedures.

For an excellent, more detailed overview (which also references Lynn Shostack’s work in the early ‘80s), take a look at Service Design 101 by Sarah Gibbons on the Neilsen Norman Group website.


7.  From Our Water Cooler:
     Learning Agility

Change is inevitable in the workplace, and especially exciting in the early stages of your career. Through our practice we’ve worked with many amazing leaders, and found there’s a key skill that helps with career progression and success: the ability to keep learning and adapting.

On HBR.org, executive coach Monique Valcour refers to this skill as learning agility, which describes a person’s capacity for rapid, continuous learning from experience.

An agile learner is good at making connections across experiences and can unlearn things when novel solutions are required. They experiment, seek feedback and reflect systematically.

Valcour notes four tactics suggested by executive coaches on how to become a more agile learner:

  • Ask for feedback: Think of people you’ve interacted with or who have observed you at work. Ask for their perspective on how you did and what you could do differently to improve next time. To avoid becoming defensive, it can help to adapt a motto such as: “There has to be a better way, I just don’t know it yet” — used by David Peterson, an executive coach at Google.
  • Experiment with new approaches or behaviors: Experimenting with new behaviors and approaches will help you develop unique and innovative solutions. When faced with a problem, think “What’s one thing I could do differently to change the outcome of the situation?”
  • Look for connections across seemingly unrelated areas: Take processes that you use in other areas of your life and apply them to work.
  • Make time for reflections: Systematically reflecting on work experiences has been shown to boost learning significantly. To ensure continuous progress, it is good to get into the habit of asking yourself, “what have I learned from this experience and what turned out differently than I expected?”

As Peterson puts it, “staying within your comfort zone is a good way to prepare for today, but it’s a terrible way to prepare for tomorrow”.

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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

“A leader must have the courage to act against an expert’s advice.”

James Callaghan


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