Proud to be Mediocre!

by Karen on August 12, 2011


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?


What’s Your next Chapter?

by Karen on 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 almost everybody when you see it coming but it can be a brick wall when it comes without warning.  It seems to me that 2010 was a year of significant change for so many people.

What I’ve come to realize is that you can do everything you believe to be right and still get blown away and forced to shift gears.  The whole idea of looking at life after change as a new chapter actually came from a chick-lit book given to me by a friend when she thought I needed a mindless distraction.

I used the next chapter approach when the pace of change was too much for colleagues and I had to coach them through it.

I used it to navigate the massive changes that came my way when the company I was working for was put up for sale and purchased by an organization with a completely different definition of success.

I used it after my daughter was born.

As I think about using the next chapter approach to manage change, wondering why it works for me, I realize it is because it encourages me to be visionary, creative and forward thinking.  It gives me the opportunity to close the past and label it a success (or a tough lesson), it gives me the freedom to paint the future picture I want, and gives me permission to decide who will live out that next chapter with me, and where it will take place.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions I use the next chapter approach.  I pause to vision what the next chapter in my life will be.  In my next chapter I see a confident and respected business woman, a healthy fun-loving mom, a kind and patient wife, and a home where friends and family love to congregate.  With a terrific excursion thrown in to somewhere unexpected!  I can hardly wait.

What’s your next chapter?


… It’s mostly guessing. DILBERT by Scott Adams

From the time I graduated with a business degree (marketing specialty), friends, family and colleagues have taken great pleasure in forwarding the Dilbert comic strip when marketing was the butt of the joke.  The operating people, in particular, found it sooooo funny!

Well, I recently found Dilbert funny too but what I really liked was the opportunity it provided for me to get on my soapbox about effective marketing.

I am a firm believer that marketing’s number one responsibility is to listen and interpret the customer/client for the organization.

A strategic marketing approach should bring organization-wide alignment and provide insight that provokes innovative, problem solving, solution oriented thought, discussion and action.  It should drive:

  • The development of relevant, meaningful and financially rewarding product and service offerings
  • The design of a customer service platform,
  • Operating process review and redesign,
  • Meaningful performance measures,
  • Sales strategy,
  • Recruitment guidelines and training content,
  • Effective internal and external communications.

If marketing is not driving all of these things you are not getting good value for your marketing investment.  And, if employees think marketing is “guessing”, the marketing team has not earned the respect and trust of the organization.

Am I saying that marketing is the centre of the universe?  Indeed, as long as marketing has a strong voice at the executive table and is held accountable for translating and transforming insight into organization success.  It is a big responsibility!

What role does marketing play in your organization?


Customers Won’t Spell Out your Opportunity…

August 13, 2010

But they will give you hints! There is a discussion on the Harvard Business Faculty of Research blog, posted by Professor Heskett, around the topic of market research, customer opinion, when to listen, when it’s valuable and when it is not. As with any topic, there is so much room for interpretation and misinterpretation. PROVOKE’s […]

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Let the Customer’s Real Voice Lead

July 30, 2010

After a long history of financial success and market leadership, several forces were changing.  The competition was getting stronger, customer choice was expanding, customer demand for excellence was growing and customer-purchasing expertise had elevated.   Net – – – a less loyal and lower paying customer.  Now what? After an in depth discovery of how and […]

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