June 6, 2021


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at hybrid approaches to remote and on-site work, changing change management, a model for looking at pain points in customer experiences, focusing on SEO, and the dangers of “drift” in decision-making. Enjoy!


1. Four Buckets for Hybrid Return to Work

With vaccinations allowing a return to the office for many people working from home, CEO coach Todd Ordal says you should arrange your workplace in hybrid fashion by dividing jobs into four buckets, based on location and time.

For location, the division is a continuum between work that can be done anywhere and work that must be done in a specific location.

For time, the continuum is between work that is asynchronous and can be done completely independently compared to work that requires tight collaboration in the moment.

The four buckets that result:

  • Team Sport: Work that must be done collaboratively and in the same location. “Some factory workers or product development specialists might live in this bucket,” he explains on his blog.
  • Gas station: The work must be done at a specific location but can be done anytime. That’s similar to how you need to go to a gas station for fill-ups but can do it at any point.
  • Zoom Club: The work happens at a specific time but from anywhere. This includes live announcements and decision-making meetings.  “Might this work be best in the office? Perhaps, but you can also hire without geographic constraint if necessary,” he notes.
  • Island: The work can be done from everywhere. A copywriter or a financial analyst can spend most of their life in this situation.

Look at job functions and identify which return-to-work bucket is the natural context for that job.


2. Why Change Management Has to Change

The persuasion model of change we tend to use dates back to a McKinsey study of companies in the mid-70s. It advises us to create a sense of concern, develop a specific commitment to change, then push for major change, and reinforce and consolidate the new course (it later evolved into Kotter’s 8-step model).

But at the time of that study, notes consultant Greg Satell, 83% of the average corporation’s assets were tangible, such as plant, machinery and buildings, while by 2015 we had a complete turnaround —  84% were intangible.

“When your assets are tangible, change is about making strategic decisions, such as building factories, buying new equipment and so on,” he writes on his blog.

Yet when your assets are intangible, change is connected to peoplewhat they believe, how they think and how they act. That’s a very different matter.”

Flipping the Model from Hierarchies to Networks:

The example he offers is of a chief information officer who devoted his first few months at a new firm to talking to people and taking the measure of the place.

He could have used his clout to declare the urgency of a corporate-wide change to cloud computing, but instead he started working with a small team already enthusiastic about the move, created a centre of excellence and allowed others to join in.

After about a year, the change program had gained significant traction and after three years was complete.

For modern change, Satell says, we can’t transform organizations unless we transform the people in them.


3. The Best Know the Best

The most effective recruiting program is proactively seeking referrals from your own top performers, according to recruiting expert John Sullivan.

He stresses that not all employee referrals are equal. A University of California study found that a referral from a top-performing employee will produce nearly three times more top prospects compared to one from a below-average performer.

“One of the ways top performers build and maintain their on-the-job performance is through learning from others. As a result, top performers are constantly benchmarking and assessing themselves against the very best,” he writes on his blog.

So, seek their help — approach them personally, and repeatedly over time. If you have a lot of openings, ration yourself: ask exceptional employees for referrals only for the most vital positions.

Stress they should only pass on the names of individuals who have done exceptional work, have exceptional skills, and will have no issues of fit. As well, the referring employees should have already sold the candidate on your organization so he or she will be agreeable to an interview.

Great people know great people, so take advantage of that.


4. Search Engines Can Power Your Brand

The buzz these days in marketing is about social media. But search engines —and in particular, Google— drive far more traffic than social media, an infographic  from Elite Content Marketer and Graphic Rhythm shows.

Some findings:

  • 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  • 39% of purchasers are influenced by a relevant search.
  • 46% of searches on Google are for local businesses or services.
  • 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new product or company while conducting a search on their device.

If search optimization has slipped from your focus, give it some thought to improve your digital marketing.


5. Zingers

  • Wrap It Up to Win:  Winning requires an ending. Leadership coach Dan Rockwell says a race without an end has no winner and is pointless. Weariness and lethargy come from rushing from one thing to the next without ending. But short projects allow quick wins. End a conversation by defining the next step. Send gratitude emails and express gratitude at the end of meetings. Consciously create wins. (Source: Leadership Freak).
  • Beware the Quick Yes:  Leaders may prefer a quick yes when they seek participation, but consultant Kate Nasser says that may give us a false sense of comfort. Critical and analytical thinkers are essential to success in most undertakings, but they often require time before committing to a project — they need time to think it through.  (Source: KateNasser.com)
  • Apply the MVP Rule:   For virtual presentations, determine the least amount of data you need to inform the group. Consultant Justin Hale calls it using the Minimum Viable PowerPoint, or MVP. Don’t add a single slide more, he urges. (Source: VitalSmarts)
  • Positioning To Sell:  If you are selling your business, marketing consultant Roy H. Williams says, base the price on a metric that is within your control rather than your buyer’s. Ted Rogers used to do this by basing a sale on the number of cable subscribers he transferred on closing day. Then continue growing your business aggressively, which increases your return and leaves you well-positioned if the buyer should later threaten to walk away from their purchase. (Source: The Monday Morning Memo)
  • Insightful Questions for Your Board:  How is the external world changing in ways not reflected in your board conversations, and what do you see always being discussed but never resolved? (Source: Harvard Business Review)


6. The Model: Three Levels of Customer Experience

Customer experience experts focus on the hurdles that clients or users encounter as they pursue their goals, use services or purchase goods. Usability expert Sarah Gibbons from the Nielsen Norman Group uses this three-level model to identify their pain points:

Interaction Level:  Touchpoints

  • What happens during interactions with your customers? They may be passed from website to support person to support person, requiring them to explain their issue repeatedly. There may be conflicts or discrepancies in the information they receive. These pain points waste time and cause confusion. Assess their frequency and impact.

Journey Level:  Process

  • What is the customer’s journey like from first contact to final delivery and satisfaction? How long does it take? A user might place an order and not receive it for months (especially during a pandemic). Rescheduling or lack of flexibility in delivery can be a pain point, as can lack of up-front information about wait times. Is your process smooth, fast and easy? Perhaps it needs internal changes or even organizational restructuring.

Relationship Level:  Context and Norms

  • Does your process, organizational relationship or brand live up to client expectations or industry norms? For example, a user subscribes to a service streaming TV shows, but has to watch intrusive ads — unlike typical services like Netflix and HBO Max, where you don’t. Are you facing a lot of churn and customer turnover? Do you have a single view of the customer so you can manage the relationship well  in all its dimensions?

These three levels will help you look in the right places to identify customer pain points, their frequency, impact and where best to apply your resources to fix them.


7. Around Our Water Cooler:  


Are You Drifting? 

In these days of high seas, we need to set course and trim our sails intentionally. That said, especially with pandemic fatigue, it’s so easy to just go with the flow — or drift.

Author Gretchen Rubin describes “drift” as the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility — perhaps thinking that you’re leaving it to fate.

To use her examples:  “You go to medical school because both your parents are doctors… You take a job because someone offers you that job. You want the respect of the people around you, or you want to avoid a fight or a bout of insecurity … so you take the path of least resistance.”

But are you really drifting?

Some situations that look like drifting in fact aren’t. You may need a path where there is none to be found. Maybe you can’t decide among multiple options, yet life is rolling by. Or you may need to postpone a decision. These are still intentional stages of decision-making.

The reverse may be true:  Despite the overtones of laziness or ease or inaction, “drifting” can be attended by a huge amount of effort and perseverance — you’re working hard to get by while not making a decision, just as Rubin drifted into law school, working hard every step of the way.

Drift may start small, but it can become a powerful habit that saps your intention. Could this be your situation? You may want to take Gretchen Rubin’s drift quiz .


What We’re Reading:

  • Rob’s Pick: Sandra Rendgen’s Information Graphics, an engaging large-format book, really helps you understand how to design visual communications in this age of overwhelming data. Four essays explore development of best practices for visualization; a collection of 400 exemplary graphs, statistics, diagrams and maps prove the point that graphic representation is uniquely equipped to help us understand complex information. Forget about adding some text to pretty pictures and calling them “infographics” — this book gives us the real thing.
  • Harvey’s Pick:  The Heart of Business by former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly is a passionate argument for businesses run on purpose and how to accomplish that, based on his own experiences as he moved away from a top-down management approach to one that energized his employees by giving them a sense of mission.

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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 

“If you don’t get what you want, it’s a sign either that you did not seriously want it or that you tried to bargain over the price.”

— Rudyard Kipling