December 8, 2019


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we focus on planning around actions rather than options, developing slogans based on sound, plus leadership decency, facing fears, and mapping your customers’ experiences. Enjoy!


1.  Three Key Components Of Reductive Planning 

As you prepare to plan activities in the New Year, will you use expansive or reductive planning?

Expansive planning is the tendency to try to predict and pre-empt every possible eventuality, however unlikely.

“The result is that plans get bloated by ifs, buts, and improbable maybes. Time is wasted, and project plans become more complex than they need to be.”

That’s a critique the author of Done Right and CEO of Workfront project management software, Alex Shootman, shares on his blog.

In contrast, reductive planning focuses on actions, not options, Here are three key components:

  • Key initiatives: These are the few, most important items that will allow you to achieve the results you’re seeking. He believes your staff know what they are and will be able to identify them if you systematically ask how they see your organization today and how you hope they will see you tomorrow.
  • Milestones: Delineate the trail markers of progress that show how far and fast you’re moving towards completion of each key initiative. He says key initiatives break into no more than four to six milestones
  • Best Next Actions: Keep asking your team “what are we going to do next?” and “what’s the one thing we are going to do within the next two weeks that will take us closer to a milestone?” These questions push a bias for action rather than lots of options, which can lead to indecision.

He advises you to accompany that three-pronged approach with a framework of rules team members can follow to make decisions and take action while staying in synch with the team, acting in a coordinated and predictable way.


2. Sounds Before Words

When constructing a slogan, noted marketing consultant Al Ries advises you to move away from words — which dominate your memos and marketing plans – and instead immerse yourself (and your audience) in sounds.

“There are no words in your mind,” he explains on his corporate blog. “There are only sounds.”

A printed word is actually a visual, which enters your mind in your right brain where it is decoded and then sent to your left brain to be transformed into sound in approximately 40 milliseconds.

He outlines five techniques to increase the memorability of advertising slogans with sound:

  • Rhyme:  Folgers applies this with its slogan: “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”
  • Alliteration:  M&M promises that “M&Ms melt in your mouth … not in your hands.” Then there’s the alliterative brand name, Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  • Repetition:  FedEx tells us to call on them “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
  • Reversal: Frank Perdue, the spokesperson for Purdue Farms, made fun of his bald head and big nose, which led some people to think he looked like a chicken: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” Another reversal in TV commercials came when he said, “My chickens eat better than you do.”
  • Double-entendre:  Advertising Age’s pick for top slogan of the 20th century was “A diamond is forever,” picking up on how hard the substance is and the desire for a long-lasting symbol of love.

Sound good?


3. Leaders Must Be Decent, Not Just Intelligent

We know leaders need intellect — IQ. And thanks to Daniel Goleman’s work, we also know the importance of emotional intelligence — EQ.

But Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says leaders also need a high DQ — decency quotient.

“DQ implies a person has not only empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them,” he notes in Harvard Business Review.

“DQ means wanting something positive for everyone in the workplace and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued. DQ is evident in daily interactions with others. DQ implies a focus on doing right by others.”

He says we are entering an era where the possibility for distrust may be heightened, as technology and automation change the nature of work.

Innovation may be viewed as glorious, but he points out leaders with an acute sense of decency will consider not just what’s being created but also what’s being destroyed.

So remember DQ, as well as IQ and EQ.


4. The Face-Everything Technique

When things get difficult, it’s easy to run away —or at least avoid— problems. Instead, blogger Leo Babauta says on Zen Habits, you should apply the “face-everything technique.”

Ask yourself what you’re avoiding — some fear, difficult task, powerful emotion, discomfort, or just staying present in the current moment?

Be honest:  Name it.

Now face it, staying with the fear and discomfort — consider the actuality, not the story you may have created in your mind. You’ll find it’s not as bad as it seems. Then challenge yourself to take appropriate action.


5. Zingers

  • Are You A Good Operator?:  Consultant Art Petty says good operators run lean operations, manage cash like it’s precious, partner with customers to understand their challenges, shed irrelevant operations, engage in a constant dialogue with employees, put people in the right roles to do the right things, invest in the right people, and focus on improving in every aspect of the operation every single day. (Source: ArtPetty.com)
  • Get Better Feedback:  Good feedback is not a monologue or a sermon, says consultant Suzi McAlpine. People don’t want to be lectured at, so pause regularly and check for their perspective. Also, give the receiver a recommendation on what to do rather than what not to do. (Source: SuziMcAlpine.com).
  • Is Anyone Following?  In evaluating leaders, venture capitalist Fred Wilson looks for followership: Will people line up behind that individual? If not, that leader will have trouble being effective. (Source: AVC.com).
  • Ask A Free-Day Question:  If you had an entire day with no meetings, obligations or interruptions, what would you do? That’s an interesting question not only for yourself but also for a job candidate. The member of the KnowYourTeam community who suggested it advises looking at how they answer — for example, do they talk about schedules or give a conceptual answer? Are they data-oriented or people-oriented?  (Source: Know Your Team)
  • Avoiding Upward Delegation: Here are some more helpful questions — for when a subordinate meets a problem after you’ve delegated a task and then wants you to solve it for them:  What would you do if I wasn’t here? What have you done to solve the problem so far? What ideas do you have to solve the problem? What exactly do you need from me now? (Source: Berndgeropp.com)


6. The Model: Key Elements of a Customer Journey Map  

There are many ways to visually map your customers’ experiences and represent the various interactions they have with you on their journey to satisfy some goal.

To understand their needs, wants, desires and behaviours, mapping works from the outside-in — from the client or user or customer’s perspective.

On MarketingProfs.com, Koren Stucki sets out four critical elements of the process:

Identify Existing Customer Insights:

  • Keep it simple:  Identify what you already know about your customer’s journey and insights from their feedback collected at various touchpoints.
  • Beyond survey responses, uncover the voice of your customers from calls, social media, online reviews or “wherever else feedback lives”.

Map Up to Ten Stages of the Journey:

  • Identify what the various stages of the customer’s journey are (from their perspective) and when they occur. Try to keep the higher-level stages to less than ten.
  • To discover those stages, consider customer interviews and observation, surveys, employee input, website and social media analytics, third-party review sites and call centre notes (and recordings if you have them).

Focus on Customer Needs and Expectations:

  • Identify the key interactions or activities your customers have at each touchpoint with your organization (and/or partners representing you). What do they need? What do they do to satisfy that need? What do they expect of your organization to help them on that journey.
  • Look at how your touchpoints and “listening posts” are aligned to manage key decision points or frustrations along the customer’s journey.

Don’t Forget Customer Sentiment:

  • It isn’t enough to know what customers are talking about — you have to know how they feel. Your map should include their emotional state at each stage of the journey.
  • Consider using sentiment analysis tools (software used to analyze text conversations and evaluate the tone, intent, and emotion behind each message). Also consider using actual customer quotes in your map.

Our own experience reinforces Stucki’s advice to actively involve staff who engage with customers on a regular basis — perhaps front-line service representatives and/or operations managers.

Once your visual map is done, keep it visible for your team as you focus on implementation. Then refresh your map every 18-24 months as needs evolve.


7. Around Our Water Cooler: 

   Our 2019 Year-End Shout-Out

At 8020Info, it’s been another year jam-packed with meaningful projects and wonderful relationships. We’d like to say thanks to all those special people we collaborate with and serve — our clients.

Again this year we facilitated strategy development and planning sessions, stakeholder consultations and research, and designed communications approaches to help them move forward.

Best wishes of the season from our team to:

  • The Agnes (the research-intensive art museum at Queen’s University)
  • Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing (Brockville)
  • Assante Wealth Management (Dianne Lackonick & Laura Southall)
  • Brockville & District Hospital Foundation
  • Career Services of Brockville
  • Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
  • Chalmers United Church
  • City of Kingston (Communications and Public Engagement)
  • Community Living Kingston & District
  • Community Living Association (Lanark County)
  • County of Frontenac
  • Cushman & Wakefield Kingston
  • Downtown Kingston! BIA
  • ESQ Educational Services — Doug Ronson (international education)
  • Kingston Arts Council
  • Kingston Economic Development Office
  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre — Critical Care Program
  • Kingston WritersFest
  • Lanark Developmental Services Table
  • Maltby Centre (Mental Health & Autism Services for Children & Youth)
  • MCCSS and Developmental Services Lanark|Leeds-Grenville
  • Ontario Tech University
  • Queen’s Department of Family Medicine
  • Queen’s Human Resources Department
  • Queen’s University Library & Archives
  • RTO9 Regional Tourism | Ontario Tourism Education Council (OTEC)
  • Secker Ross & Perry LLP
  • South Frontenac Museum
  • South Frontenac Recreation Department
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society
  • Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners / RTO9 Regional Tourism
  • Township of South Frontenac
  • United Way Regional and KFLA United Way

We also salute the good works of those worthy community organizations in our hometown where we contributed this year as supporters and volunteers:

  • Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
  • Compassionate Communities Kingston
  • Downtown Kingston! BIA Marketing Committee
  • Hospice Kingston
  • Queen’s Career Apprenticeship Program
  • Queen’s Family Health Team
  • SPEAKingston (advocates for Smart Growth)

Happy holidays and best wishes for 2020!

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


8. Closing Thought 

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.”

— Henri Poincaré