building trust

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!


More communication PLEASE!

by Karen on 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.”  From there, the conversation went to:

  • How can we reach everyone when they are spread all over the country?
  • How can we reach everyone when not everyone sits at a computer
  • Should we consider starting up a blog?
  • How about getting on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?
  • How often do we communicate?
  • Should we have a monthly newsletter, perhaps quarterly?

So, as we went into our interviews with employees, I was on the lookout for insight into communication needs and preferred channels.

As expected, almost every single employee brought forward the desire for more communication.  And in the PROVOKE way, I challenged with “tell me more about that.”  What I discovered is that they were asking to be included in problem solving, given an opportunity to voice their ideas on issues or changes that impact THEIR work and ultimately be respected for the knowledge and expertise they bring to the organization.

Again, it all boils down to understanding your audience and building healthy respectful relationships.



You are so pleased that you’ve revised the management performance plan, intending to remove the unintended incentive to cover up mistakes. BUT, the team saw it as another step away from the customer.

You recognized that the team had been through too much change and announce, “It is time to get back to the basics.”  BUT, because of everything they see happening around them, the team interpret that the progress made over the past several years wasn’t right and now they are being asked to go backwards.

With an explanation of why each of these decisions was made, the team would have cheered.  Instead, frustration is building and now you’ve got some explaining to do.

My advice: remember that everyone has forces and voices that shape the lens through which they see the world.  To avoid misunderstanding, take time to frame your decisions so the intent and desired outcome is crystal clear.


Bring your Team in Early

April 1, 2011

I attended a MRIA (Marketing Research and Intelligence Association) luncheon last week on how insight, research and judgment work together to support branding initiatives.   The presenter shared her experience and perspective and challenged the audience on numerous approaches.  The presenter is a big fan of getting everyone involved in research and in particular, group insight […]

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Living it Every Step of the Way

March 11, 2011

I love hearing stories about organizations that WOW their stakeholders and this is an impressive one. A close friend of mine joined a direct sales company and I’ve never seen her so impressed and overwhelmed by an organization.  The organization, started 14 years ago by two women, promises a culture of friendship, family, fun and […]

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