Karen

But I Know it is a Great Idea

by Karen on October 14, 2011

Have you ever had a great idea, and maybe even had the opportunity to implement, but it didn’t take off like you expected or promised?  It has happened to me and I kept trying to explain myself to the audiences.  Why it was a great solution for the customer.  How it was good for profits.  How and why operations, sales and customer service teams should support it.  And, needless to say, always defending it to the executive team.

For years (yes years!) it just didn’t take off.  Was the idea ahead of its time?  Perhaps, but that still means it was not the right idea to implement and should have been pulled sooner.  Was the support team fighting it because it was new?  Perhaps, but that means the benefits weren’t compelling or the processes required to operate and manage it were too complex.  If it was truly a good idea, customers and employees would have pulled it through.

I kept pushing and promoting the service because the idea was grounded in sound customer research and I could see the long-term competitive advantage it would create.  However, the problem (it turns out) was that the service was just too complex for both internal and external stakeholders to grab on to.

In the end, we paired back the offering to its bare bones, stakeholders took to it, and then the users and buyers began pulling for the next level options. (I never said “I told you so.”)

The learning boils down to respecting and understanding the rational and emotional needs of your audiences. Make sure your audience is ready for your “great” idea, you just cannot push it and expect results.  And if it is too big to explain from the start, break it down into smaller bites.  If it truly is a winner, the stakeholders will move it forward.  Finally, move ego out of the way and admit you weren’t listening carefully enough and went too far in the beginning.  Ouch!

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I’ll Do It My Way

by Karen on September 23, 2011

Everywhere I turn, I observe people taking short cuts to problem solving, side-stepping the opportunity and responsibility to get involved and help make improvements.  Instead they throw up their hands and seem to be saying “I’ll do it my way!” Why?

A social/recreation organization I belong to was at one time considered one of the best places to meet new people and build long-lasting friendships.  Events were organized to ensure if you wanted to be involved, improve your skills and meet new people, you just sign up.  If the events weren’t meeting member needs, there was a strong desire to meet with the leaders and fix it.  Most recently, however, small groups of “discontented” folks have chosen to solve their problem by forming their own exclusive group.  Outcome: an organization that is not welcoming to new people, excludes (intentionally or unintentionally) others and ultimately creates a disconnected community.

Less than a year ago a client was excited to be outsourcing a part of the business to a partner hoping to leverage the superior experience of that partner and free up time and resources to concentrate on their core business.  Now, this same organization is taking back the activity because the partner doesn’t value their assets like they had hoped.

A client listened intently to the learnings of a discovery we completed.  It made sense to him, he wanted to know more about how to execute accordingly, took notes and went back to his desk to give it a try.  Three days later he asked to meet and review his work.  It was as if he didn’t really buy-in to our recommendations.  When I asked why, his response was, “Well I agree completely with your findings, it all makes sense, but if I changed my approach it would take too long and it wouldn’t look like my work anyway.”

A young friend just entering college, in a program of her choice and passion, is already “hating” it.  The instructors are well qualified and respected.  It is a program that is small and as such is fully attentive to individual student needs and provides great opportunity to work with fellow students.  However, this learner doesn’t like being told what to do and as such, just isn’t doing it.  She can’t see value in listening and learning from successful leaders in her chosen field.  She wants to make “her own mark.”

What is the common thread in all of these conversations?  Is it the missing desire to collaborate, listen to others, learn from others, and work together for a better solution?  Or, is it something to do with the idea of the “me generation”?  Or is it simply that people are too busy to relate?

Frustrating.

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Proud to be Mediocre!

by Karen on August 12, 2011

NO WAY.

After a tough couple of years trying to make sense of the economy and in doing so scrambling to get by with as little resources and investment as possible, do you now feel like things inside your organization are back on track?  They sure are better than they were.  Customers are happier and there are fewer serious service problems.

During the economic turmoil it became a little more acceptable to deliver less than excellent service.  It became the necessity to change schedules, downgrade service commitments and even answer the phone a little slower simply because the human resources and the assets just were not available.  Co-workers might have even started making excuses for each others’ failings, explaining them away because they “understood” the pressure the other guys were under.

And, if you kept your job when many were laid off, you were grateful even if that meant working more hours for less pay.  Caution – that often translates into keeping quiet about problems so as not to be seen as a troublemaker.

What has all of this done to the performance expectations and the service bar of your team?

If you start probing around and hear from the frontline “service is pretty good, better than we were” or “we’re as good as everybody else” it is time to take a hard look at the performance goals (if they are still there) of the organization.  Undoubtedly, they aren’t high enough.

When did it become okay to be as good as the next guy?

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Does your Team Know what you Expect?

July 15, 2011

I sometimes hear executives voice concerns that their employees are not delivering the results they had expected.  You would think, then, that when we talk to those same employees they would express feelings of pressure to do better or the disappointment that they were struggling to get the best job done. Often, it is the […]

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More communication PLEASE!

June 24, 2011

How often do you hear co-workers asking for more communication from their company?  It seems every time I turnaround it is a topic of conversation among organization leaders.  In fact, with a client we are working with right now, the first words out their mouth at the introductory meeting were “our employees want more communication.”  […]

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