June 17, 2018


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this issue of the 8020Info Water Cooler we’ve flagged five mindsets you should avoid, ways to become an employer of choice, how best your organization could use data, and a new adaptation of the four P’s of marketing. Enjoy!


1. Five Mindsets to Avoid

Mindsets grow out of our life experiences. They can be very helpful but sometimes prove unproductive. Here are five to avoid, according to organizational consultant John R. Stoker:

  • To be right, not wrong:  Some people have trouble accepting anyone’s viewpoint other than their own. That can lead to putdowns and belittling behaviour. “Are you doing all the talking? Start asking more than telling. Invite others to offer a contrary option, to share their ideas and experience. Listen, and then listen some more,” he writes on the SmartBrief blog.
  • To be respected, not disrespected:  People who sense or feel disrespect lose motivation and do the bare minimum. Here again, attentively listening to their comments and responding to their concerns can help demonstrate respect.
  • To be in control, not out of control:  Being in control is an illusion, he warns. The only person you really can control is yourself, and even that’s questionable. Controlling leaders aren’t able to benefit from the contribution of others, collaboration, or discovery. Set clear expectations for performance but then allow autonomy to attain those results.
  • To be appreciated, not unappreciated:  Everyone wants to know that they are valued for the contribution they make. Look for people doing the right thing and praise them.
  • To be safe, not unsafe:  People want to know there is a degree of predictability that they will have a job tomorrow. “In the absence of safety, people spend time and emotional energy wondering what the lack of information means,” he says. So communicate clearly and often.


2. Forget the 4 P’s; Try The Four M’s

Marketing guru Al Ries says it’s time to junk the four P’s of marketing. Product is still valid. But price is essentially part of product. And place and promotion are fuzzy concepts.

Instead, he recommends four M’s:

  • Merchandise: This is broader than product, including almost anything. “So the first step in any marketing program is to identify your merchandise in great detail. Its name, its price, its competition, its size, its weight, its position in consumers’ minds,” he writes on his blog.
  • Market: Your next step is to identify the market to be conquered. Unfortunately, too many people move on to message before clarifying the market. “Marketing is like warfare. No military general would attack on all fronts. Rather the point of attack is crucial to an army’s long-term success. And so it is in marketing,” he says. Subaru dropped all two-wheel-drive vehicles in order to focus on the four-wheel drive market.
  • Media: The next important choice is media, and if you are launching a new brand he recommends PR, which is how Starbucks was built. He warns against spreading advertising over a range of media. Instead, focus on the one medium that works best for your product or service.
  • Message: This should be a singular idea expressed in one medium with one target market. But too often we get mush, like Ford (“Go Further”), Chevrolet (“Find New Roads”) and Toyota (Let’s Go Places”). Billion-dollar budgets, wasted.


3. The Myth Of Never Give Up

Motivational speakers tell us we should never give up – we should believe in our dreams. But consultant Donald Cooper says that advice can be wrong-headed.

“Wisdom is knowing when to give up and move on. Many future successes are built on past failures. But if we’re not, first, prepared to admit to the failure, we don’t get to move on to the potential success,” he writes in his newsletter.

Giving up doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. It just means you can recognize when the odds are against you and you need to pursue Plan B.

“Every week I see businesses, all around the world, that are just a bad idea. They’ll never make money and will suck you dry if you let them. The secret is knowing when to let go of a bad idea, an outdated business model, a lousy location, a mediocre product, or a toxic employee that you’ve been trying to ‘rescue’ for the past seven frustrating years,” he says.

Make a list of what’s not working – what’s dragging you down. Recognize reality.


4. Without Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness Doesn’t Work

Mindfulness has become very popular at many workplaces. But author Daniel Goleman and researcher Matthew Lippincott say that, instead of focusing on mindfulness, executives would be better to improve their emotional intelligence, which underlies mindfulness success.

“Some of that work may well involve mindfulness training and practice, but it can also include formal EQ assessment and coaching. Other tools and approaches include role-playing, modeling other leaders you admire, and rehearsing in your mind how you might handle emotional situations differently,” they write in Harvard Business Review.


5. Zingers

  • Follow your gut:  Author Courtney Carver tries to live by this rule: “I will not say yes when my heart says no.” (Source: GretchenRubin.com)
  • Don’t crowd slides:  Slides are free in a presentation. You can have as many as you want, says entrepreneur Seth Godin. So instead of three bullet points with two sentences each on a slide, you can make six slides. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • Focus on goals:  There are three things that coaches must do as leaders to drive success. University of Kansas head basketball coach Roy Williams says: Have everyone on the team focus on the same goal. Emphasize those goals every day. Finally, understand that although everyone has a common goal, individuals also have goals, needs and dreams that must be cared for. (Source: Eric Jacobson on Leadership)
  • Get comfortable:  It’s often said people will perform at their best when hungry. Consultant Alan Weiss disagrees: “When I’m hungry (need food) I’m distracted and don’t perform at my best. When you have financial ‘hunger’ you may perform desperately but certainly not at your best.” (Source: Alan’s Blog)
  • Virtual meetings:  Face time with clients has changed. Virtual gatherings can work, saving time. Consultant Colleen Francis says one of her clients in the financial sector closes all business by video conference. That allows them to do 40 per cent more transactions than their competition, simply because they don’t have two days eaten up by travel time on each deal. (Source: Adobe Blog)


6. Q&A With 8020Info:
    How Do I Get Started With Data?

Question:   There are so many articles and organizations focused on using data, but I’m at a smaller organization and feel like we’re falling behind. What is important and how do I get started?

 8020Info Associate Matthew Wood responds:

There is an abundance of data out there now, so to avoid wasting your time and effort, it’s important to determine what data and models you need to make decisions and strategic choices.

An article by Dominic Barton and David Court, who are McKinsey consultants, outlines a basic framework to help organizations use data:

Choose the right data:

  • Start by asking: “What decisions could we make if we had all the information we need?” Don’t take data from just one source — consider the many other ways to collect relevant data (consultations with clients, staff, or stakeholders, social media analysis, Stats Canada and other public sources are some examples.)
  • Then you will need to get the technical tools and expertise to ensure you have the capabilities to use/model the data.

Build models that predict and optimize business outcomes:

Identify what actionable results you want to achieve from the analysis before you start working with the data. This hypothesis-based modeling leads to faster outcomes and more practical results.

Don’t overcomplicate the process and end up with data you can’t take action on. A good question to repeatedly ask is “What’s the least complex model that would improve our performance?”

Enhance your organization’s capabilities:

  • Don’t waste your time developing models that you can’t act on or won’t have an impact — develop business-relevant analytics that can be put to use.
  • Front line workers often aren’t statisticians — present the information to front-line managers and staff with simple interfaces and intuitive tools.

For more on business intelligence for small organizations, read this article by Laiza King.


7. Around Our Water Cooler:
    Employers Of Choice

Many of our clients wrestle with the issue of recruitment and retention of employees. And this isn’t a small, isolated problem — almost one third of new hires leave an organization voluntarily within the first six months.

Many organizations spend a lot of money on advertising to potential applicants, which may not be the best approach.

Becoming an employer of choice is the goal for most companies, but it isn’t an easy task. In her article on Harvard Business Review, Sarah Clayton discusses how to strengthen your reputation as an employer:

Be true to who you are:  A recent study by Weber Shandwick found that only 19% of employees felt their work experience reflected the values the company promotes publicly. Try to ensure your internal culture reflects the core values you promote.

Let your people do the talking: “Your most important audience isn’t the potential job candidates — it’s your current employees”. Internal marketing will help strengthen their commitment to stay as well as prompt them to refer others to the organization.

Follow through on your promises — half of employees who think their company delivers on its promises use their personal social media to talk about their employer.

Give yourself room to grow: You may not be exactly where you want to be, but you should always be working in that direction. Focus on building the different types of attributes that will define you as an employer: table stakes (such as wage and growth opportunities), legacy (your long-standing reputation), and forward-looking attributes (goals to set you apart from competition.)

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8020Info helps senior teams develop, clarify and build consensus behind their strategic priorities. Our services support research / stakeholder consultations, strategic planning processes, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8. Closing Thought 

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”

— Japanese Proverb