Vol. 11, No. 10 – July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Three Keys To Improved Performance

Leadership doesn’t have to be difficult. On the Great Leadership blog, consultant AmyK Hutchens offers three tips that can help leaders of small organizations immediately improve their performance:

  1. Focus on energy, not time: Most of us are obsessed with time, trying to stretch it to maximize our performance. But she counters that energy, not time, is the essential element of productivity and growth. “Have you ever noticed when you have endless high-energy and excitement you are more alert, focused, positive and productive? In fact, energy is what makes time more valuable. Time is a constant; energy is a manageable, renewable resource,” she says. So figure out what burns — and what refuels — your energy, and that of your organization as a whole.
  2. Focus on each conversation: Leadership happens one conversation at a time. You are responsible for the quality of each of those conversations, and must prepare beforehand when possible. Figure out your ideal outcome, and then develop two or three thought-provoking questions for the conversation that will lead toward that outcome.
  3. Focus on creating internal alignment: Your values and passions must match your actions for you to attain peace and accomplish your goals. Figure out what you are resisting, and where you are stuck — and the tensions those illuminate between your values and actions. Clarify what three rules you live by that you wouldn’t ever change.

2. The Voices You May Not Be Hearing?

Community consultations — by municipalities, social groups, or businesses — can invite passionate pleas against a decision you intend to make, and a large crowd of outsiders cheering on the complainants. In his Deliberations Newsletter, Vancouver-based meetings consultant Eli Mina looks at the voices that are missing in such instances, focusing on municipal consultation but with applicability to other organizations:

  • First, when meeting in public, the Council may be missing the voices of its own silent members, who retreat when confronted by a well-organized and determined group.
  • Second, the Council might miss or trivialize the voices of its staff and advisors. They provide objective professional advice, and can warn you of risk or liability, but the dynamics may hinder them from getting their message through.
  • Third, the Council may be missing the voices of all the citizens and parties affected by the decision. “If forty citizens in the public gallery are pushing in favour or against certain outcomes, consider the 40,000 citizens who don’t have the time to attend a public Council meeting, and who may be adversely affected if their voices are not considered,” he writes.

Beyond that, of course, there are the generations yet unborn and the natural environment, all of which may be affected.

He suggests putting a few empty chairs in the center of the meeting room, to remind everyone of the absent parties. From time to time, a member might say, “I am wondering what ____ would think about this issue.”

3. Dealing With Fence Sitters

Fence Sitters can be amongst the toughest customers to deal with. On the Ace Of Sales blog, consultant Andy Horner says it’s vital to determine which of four types of fence sitters they are:

  • The Internally Conflicted: Their fence sitting masks an organization’s internal disagreement over what to do. If you sense frustration and hear your contact refer to their team as “they” rather than “we,” try to uncover the essence of the debate and provide compromises or solutions to bring the rest on board.
  • The People Pleasers: These fence sitters simply don’t want to tell you they have chosen a competitor so they hem and haw. Move on, keeping minimal contact.
  • The Dissatisfied: They don’t like what you or your competitors are offering, so they keep telling you they are considering their options. Find the essential buying motive and see if you can add more value to satisfy them.
  • The Future Customers Who Just Need More Time: They are authentically excited but want or have to go slow, so patiently build the relationship.

4. Promises, Promises

Every day consultant Sam Geist opens his e-mail he is barraged with promises to make him a better person, be it ten strategies to be the best or seven ways to use technology more effectively. That led him to wonder what promises he could make to himself to be better at what he does.

He says in his Quick Bites newsletter he developed his own Top Five Promises list — with a small twist. Beside each promise is a notation on how to achieve that promise. For example, to become a better listener he would listen intently without formulating a response the entire time another person was speaking.

5. Zingers

  • Fear of Rejection: Entrepreneur Auren Hoffman says dealing with rejection is a core competency: “The number one reason most people don’t do interesting things is that they are afraid of rejection. They don’t ask that special someone on a date, they don’t start a business, they don’t even apply for a job, or they don’t even ask for a discount.” (Source: Summation blog)
  • Leadership: When facilitating leadership training sessions, consultant Andy Klein always calls a mid-morning coffee break that tests how effective the managers really are, based on the belief that management at any level must create an entity that can function and prosper in the absence of the individual leader. If the executives in the room call their office, they have flunked that quiet test. (Source: Fortune Group.com)
  • Hiring: Here’s entrepreneur Seth Godin’s formula for hiring great people: Super Smart + Massively Productive + Nice. You want people who are scary smart, get tons of stuff done, and are nice. “Nice people are undervalued,” he stresses. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • Taking Risks: Google is one of many organizations that have learned to “fail fast.” But blogger Tim Eyre says if you probe deeper, you can move past that now well-known lesson. Google also fails small, putting the product on the market for a small group; fails cheap, not plunking a lot of money into the test product or service; fails productively, tossing something out for beta testing to see what can be learned; and it doesn’t fail for the sake of failure, but instead encourages risk taking while still viewing failure as accidental not inevitable. Eyre sums that all up as: “Risk little, but risk often.” (Source: Thought Leaders blog)
  • Optimism: Sales trainer Colleen Stanley says that just as people worry about catching colds or the flu, salespeople have to worry about catching the virus of pessimism. (Source: RainToday.com).

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Considering Social Media

Question: I’m wondering whether my organization should start using social networking media. Can you give me some pointers?

8020Info Associate Karen Humphreys Blake replies:

It’s fair to say that your clients or customers are using social networking media even if you’re not. Social media use has spread beyond younger demographics, growing at a fast pace among those 35 years of age and older, with a huge surge in women 55 plus. Seniors are also getting on board.

With more than 750 million people worldwide now on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter, more than 100 million business professionals using LinkedIn, and You Tube use by business growing like wildfire, it’s time to take a look at social networking media and see whether it might work for you or not.

Most people today will not make even a minor transaction without first researching it on the web. Word of mouth is more powerful than ever with large numbers of consumers asking their Facebook friends for advice or checking out microblog comments on Twitter. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to connect with your professional group to get their read on things and the new Google +1 (pronounced “Google plus one”) offers new social networking options like circles and hangouts.

But “how do I get started?” you may ask. Here are a few suggestions:

  • First, if you aren’t already networking through social media, get out there yourself. Join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and/or the new Google +1, and have a look at how businesses and other organizations are using these social media.
  • Recognize that social media are not advertising channels used to push your message. Socialnomics author Erik Qualman says it’s about having a dialogue with customers and stakeholders, and letting them have conversations about you and your product or service. In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky explains that social media is a place where concepts and ideas can be explored, shared, posted elsewhere, mashed-up, expanded upon or completely reinvented.
  • As a first practical step to build knowledge, skills and operational discipline, you might start with a more manageable e-mail marketing program. This will help give you a sense of what it’s like to engage people electronically. And, having e-mail addresses for members of your primary target audience will provide a valuable base for future connection on the social web. If you want to learn more, it’s also good to talk to others and search online under “getting started in social media”.

Once you’ve done all this, you’ll be ready to start planning how social media might be incorporated into your overall marketing communications strategy in ways that will work for you.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Creating Guidelines That Work

Here are two great insights to help you create guidelines that work: They need to be 1) memorable “at-a-glance” as well as 2) actionable at the appropriate decision level.

Jason Riis and Rebecca Ratner provide an excellent example on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network when discussing a new way of representing dietary guidelines in the U.S. Plate-oriented visualizations of how a typical meal should be portioned were found to motivate behaviour more effectively — they made the guideline easier to recall and were focused on a meal, the point at which dietary decisions are made.

Checklists are also helpful when a guideline involves detailed procedures (for example, reducing errors in surgery), but a simple graphic setting out three objectives to guide customer service interactions, for example, might be better remembered and applied in action.

8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their marketing communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.”

— David Ogilvy