clarity

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 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 opposite. The employees actually feel pretty good about their own performance.

Here is what I think is the disconnect –

The problem typically doesn’t lie at the employee level.  It lies in the lack of clarity around performance expectations and organizational goals.  If the expectations are not crystal clear and instead are left open to interpretation at the front-line level, employees are most likely going to feel like they are doing a good job because they will have their own set of performance measures on which to evaluate themselves.

So, if it appears that the front-line in your organization isn’t delivering the results you expect, I’d suggest looking at what the employees understand the performance expectations to be and if that is aligned with your objective.

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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.

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Can you Handle the Truth?

January 28, 2011

Effective and efficient businesses and organizations know who their ideal customer or client is, what problems they are trying to solve and why.  The ideal client values what you do, they are willing to pay you appropriately for your service and/or product and view their relationship with you (your organization) as a wise  investment that […]

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What’s Your next Chapter?

January 7, 2011

That is the headline on the front page of the current edition of The Oprah Magazine.  I had to pick it up because “what’s my next chapter?” is how I’ve framed significant unplanned changes in my life and it has helped me move ahead with curiosity, an open mind and optimism.  Change is difficult for […]

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