Vol. 11, No. 1 – Jan. 10, 2011

January 1, 2011


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Four Phases Of Change Management

As the new year gets underway, you probably have some plans for change in your organization. It’s therefore an ideal time to consider four phases of change management, as outlined by strategy consultant Eamon Hoey in his The Strategist newsletter:

  • Start with an attitude inventory: The first step is to create an inventory of the attitudes towards change in your staff. Identify those individuals you can rely upon during the transition, those who will need help, and those who are likely to attempt to scuttle the plan.
  • Help people let go of the past: As people react initially, you need to identify what is ending, who is experiencing loss, and what they are losing. Your goal is to help them let go. Keep in mind that some people will overreact when they perceive the loss. Communicate truthfully and repeatedly with your staff. See if you can compensate for the loss, asking “What can we give back to balance what we took away?”
  • The uncertain period: For a period, everything will seem up for grabs as the old certainty no longer exists and the new has not arrived. People will feel overworked and in flux. It’s a good time to encourage innovation and risk-taking.
  • A new beginning: Now you want to end the uncertainty by re-clarifying and communicating again the purpose of the change, providing a picture of the desired outcome. Focus on the individual, not the collective, helping them to shift to new patterns of behaviour.

2. Reacting Matters As Much As Planning

As we say goodbye to 2010, we’re reminded that it’s nice to have plans for the new year but it’s even better to be alert to opportunities as they arise in the days ahead.

In Management Issues, strategy consultant Max McKeown tells how, when Ingvar Kamprad started IKEA, his first designer reacted to not being able to fit a table in a car by creating the first flat pack. Then Kamprad reacted to his showroom burning down by building a huge replacement. He later reacted to excessive customer demand by starting self-service.

“So the IKEA strategy came from clever reactions to great unplanned opportunities. Unplanned opportunities may be your best chance of creating a great strategy so you need to be constantly looking for them,” he writes.

Keep asking yourself:

  • Does this problem let us start again and do it better?
  • What could we do today that was impossible yesterday?
  • Is our plan still working? How can we take advantage of events?

He says it’s difficult for some people, particularly managers, to accept that reacting — not just planning — is a good thing. “The good news is that openly discussing the benefits of reacting and the limits of planning is healthy for the business. There is something for everyone in the idea. It can bring together those who believe all plans work and those who believe that the day-to-day is all that matters. Both are right. And wrong,” he advises.

3. Fear Of Apples — And Your Product

At a farmer’s market last fall, three strangers asked Seth Godin what sort of apple to buy. He’s not an apples expert but he is a marketing expert and it led him to reflect that in our industrialized world, people are afraid of buying the wrong kind of apples. And they’re also — he warns on Seth’s Blog — afraid of buying your product or service.

To sell your product and service, people must know about it and get over their fear of it. “As long as people are afraid of what you sell, you’re stuck,” he observes. “People are afraid of tax accountants, iPods, chiropractors, non-profits, insurance brokers and fancy hotels. They’re afraid of anything with too many choices, too many opportunities to look foolish or to waste time or money. Hey, they’re even afraid of apples.”

4. Whose Time Is It Anyway?

John Dodds read a promotional message that assured him time was running out. Specifically, time was running out if he wanted to sign up for a seminar designed to make his business more profitable and his life happier. “The time that was running out was not mine, but the sender’s. They were running out of time in which to sign me up,” he notes on his Make Marketing History blog.

Time is the ultimate scarce resource, and a useful vehicle in marketing. But you have to ensure that the time you refer to in your marketing is solely that of your prospects. “If you don’t, it won’t seem truly personal and, like me, they won’t sign up,” he concludes.

5. Zingers

  • Protect your time. If you waste one hour a day, by the end of the year (subtracting two weeks’ vacation) you’ll have wasted more than 31 eight-hour days, entrepreneur Lisa Kanarek points out. (Source: Small Business CEO blog)
  • Creativity expert Frederik Härén sets out the following formula: Idea = p(k+i) where p is the person, k is knowledge, and i refers to new information. “The ability to combine knowledge and information in a new way is important. Just because you have knowledge and information does not mean you are a creative person. But it is also impossible to be a creative person without knowledge and information,” he says. (Source: Knowledge.smu.edu)
  • Be alert to the three-minute rule, advises venture capitalist Anthony Tjan. Learn what your customer was doing three minutes before and three minutes after he used your product or service. He notes that Thomson, Reuters found that immediately after investment analysts received its data they painstaking imported the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, leading the company to come up with a more seamless plug-in. (Source: Harvard Business Review blog)
  • After hitting their targets again and again, some entrepreneurs and salespeople find it tempting to look at prospecting as something they don’t have to do anymore. Sales consultant Colleen Francis says that’s nonsense. If you don’t include prospecting as a fundamental component of your regular business habits, you could be putting yourself at serious risk. (Source: www.RainToday.com)
  • Entrepreneur Ben Casnocha says studies show that we overvalue advice on difficult decisions and undervalue advice on easy ones. (Source: http://ben.casnocha.com)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Developing Scenarios

Question: How do you go about writing scenarios for planning purposes?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood replies:

Working up a group of scenarios to assist your planning is often worth the time and trouble even if it does take a bit of effort. Scenarios don’t predict the future but they can illuminate the drivers of change and help you prepare for potential risks, tradeoffs and choices. In a way, it helps you rehearse your future decisions. Scenario building helps you better understand the critical uncertainties, the relationships among the driving forces, and what they will mean to you.

We have made good use of an approach suggested by Gill Ringland in Scenarios in Business. To gather information to build scenarios, she asks senior people and old timers eight questions:

  • Critical Issues: What do you see as critical issues in the future? What would you need to know to fully anticipate future outcomes like a genuine clairvoyant?
  • A favourable outcome: If things went well, being optimistic but realistic, what would you see as a desirable future outcome?
  • An unfavourable outcome: Conversely, if things went wrong, what factors would you need to worry about?
  • Where culture needs to change: Looking at internal systems, how might they need to be changed to bring about the desired outcome?
  • Lessons from past successes and failures: Looking back, what would you identify as the significant events that have produced the current situation?
  • Decisions that have to be faced: Looking forward, what would you see as the priority actions that should be carried out soon?
  • The Epitaph Question: Imagine that it’s 2021 and you’re looking back at 2011 what three things would you like to have known? What would you like to have done if all constraints had been removed?
  • Final Question: How do you see [your organization] in the future?

Take this information and write some scenarios (we prefer four), each with a different metaphor for a name (e.g. Coral Reef, Leaping Dolphins, Deep Sea, Tsunami). Structure the narratives in a way that makes it easy for your discussion group to compare and contrast key choices or strategic options. Support the material with a structured visual or graphic (a matrix is often helpful), and you’ll be well on your way to building useful scenarios to support your planning.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Crowd Accelerated Innovation

We’ve long been giant fans of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talks. The curator of the TED conferences, Chris Anderson (not to be confused with Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson), sparked some interesting conversation around 8020Info’s water cooler with his recent article in Wired on what he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation.

Reflecting on the impact of posting TED talks online, Anderson notes that throughout history the best creativity has happened when groups of artists, reformers, writers, or scientists connected regularly with one another. Online videos, like the TED talks, appear to be spawning new creative communities that are developing innovations faster and faster.

Anderson say Crowd Accelerated Innovation requires three ingredients:

1) A Crowd with a Shared Interest — and at least a few members capable of innovation. Innovators are supported by others in the crowd playing necessary roles such as the trend-spotter who finds a promising innovation early, the evangelist who passionately makes the case for an idea or person, the super-spreader who broadcasts innovations to a larger group, the sceptic who keeps the conversation honest, and general participants who show up, comment honestly, and learn.

2) Visibility for Members of the Community: Their work needs to be visible, and each needs to be aware of what others, particularly the most talented members, are up to.

3) Desire: Active learning is hard work. And in most cases, Anderson says, what drives all that work, whether we will admit it or not, is the prospect of recognition for what we’ve done.

The internet and online videos have dramatically enhanced all three of these drivers. Anderson offers up some good examples that anchor his thesis. For the full story, see: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/12/ff_tedvideos/all/1


8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their 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

“Do not offer a compliment and ask a favour at the same time. A compliment that is charged for is not valuable.”

— Mark Twain