Don’t let conference inertia creep into your business

September 30, 2009

Group PhotoYou’ve just had the conference or team meeting, the staff got wildly enthusiastic and everyone’s excited about the future, but when next week arrives it’s back to normal.  ‘What next’?

‘What next’ is perhaps, the most crucial aspect of conference planning, as it is really the starting point?  So, it is essential that all the participants go away with a clear message of what needs doing next, and how it will be achieved. 

And the only way to do this is through continuity.

And by this I mean constructing a route through the whole process. 

It will go something like this; keynote speeches feed in to relevant workshops, which result in identified strategies and objectives, which are translated into workplace action, measured through the achievement of KPI’s, rewarded through performance remuneration and followed-up through 1 two 1’s, resulting in feedback to complete the loop.

This is much more difficult to construct in practice, as it is so easy to overcomplicate matters.

Maintaining clear goals with clarity is absolutely essential.  The temptation is always to add a bit more. 

And in this case more is less, so resist it.

So, there you are.  When you plan your next event, think backwards!


Do you know why customers purchase from you?

September 25, 2009

MessageinabottleSometimes even serial entrepreneurs leave finding out to chance and get it wrong. But what can you do to minimise this as, in today’s market, drawing the wrong conclusions could prove disastrous?

One way is to adapt the 360 degree survey process – turn it on its head and use it for customer, rather than staff input.

You can involve everyone in the customer chain and use it to get valuable feedback which will also help identify cross selling opportunity too.

Or perhaps introduce a series of planning workshops or seminars to help customers get the very best from your products or service. This process can also help you gain valuable information about where your customers want to go. Then you can follow up by starting a dialogue with them to identify ways that you can support them along this journey.

All these types of activity will help you get closer to customers, giving them ‘added value’, which will identify additional opportunity for you, taking the guesswork out of the equation and locking out the competition.

If you would like a few suggestions how this can be practically applied to your business, give me a call on 07971 006 446 and we can talk it through.


September 25, 2009

For the first time, the Ministry Of Defence has allowed television cameras to follow the recovery and rehabilitation of severely injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

Earlier in the week I watched this documentary which follows the journey of two seriously injured soldiers; Andy Allen, a 19-year-old Ranger and Tom Neathway, a 24-year-old Lance Corporal.

It moved me to tears.

We experience first-hand, the true effect of war. The ‘Collateral’ damage and sanitised pictures we usually get on TV, as some form of super PC Game, were stripped bare. Unlike the movies, what we saw here were real people, really, really hurt – blood guts and all.

And their families and loved one’s were there too, helplessly sharing their pain, anguish and journey to recovery. And here was I, a fly on the wall viewer feeling like a voyeur, watching this very intimate and personal journey unfold.

The programme humbled me and changed the way I think about things that personally trouble me and left me with three distinct and clear thoughts.

What impressed me most about both Andy and Tom was their formidable mental strength. They just got on with the job of getting better and back to living their lives. They were incredibly stoic, without an ounce of self pity. I truly hope that they can maintain this because it will make them unstoppable, achieving whatever they want to do in their lives.

They both had a magnificent sense of loyalty and belonging. The Army and their mates were incredibly important to them and they went the extra mile and will I’m sure, continue to do so for either. This was an unswerving loyalty and a quality they should be proud of, as self interest was definitely at the back of the pack.

That any politician even considering taking their country to war should watch this film at least twice and face up to the magnitude of human suffering and misery that their decision to pull the trigger will inevitably unleash upon thousands.

Here's Part One

Here's Part One

It just isn’t Cricket

September 16, 2009

Amazing the business lessons that can be learnt from Sport

ProgrammeI went to Trent Bridge yesterday, to watch the Aussies just pip the Brits in the latest One Day International. 

Not a game I’m used to – Pyjamas, Power play, floodlights, 50 over’s a side and a 10.30pm finish, very different from a five day Test match.

It wasn’t the batting or bowling that lost the game for England, but poor fielding by the whole team. 

There were a series of schoolboy errors through a lack of focus.  Time after time the ball was missed and instead of a single, the Aussies got four runs, from a boundary. 

And this all came home to roost when Australia has just two over’s to go and about 12 runs needed to win.  And win they did.  And it could have so easily been the other way round if only the whole English team had been motivated and focused on saving runs every second of the game.

The business equivalent is when the sales and after sales team is working well whilst other areas of the business don’t have their fingers on the pulse and then spoil all their good work.  For example the bill was wrong and late, the goods damaged, incorrect or delivered late, the instructions missing or in a foreign language, so on and so forth. 

And then firefighting is needed to try and put things right.

Don’t let it happen – well at least not to your business – get it 100% right in the first place, make sure it’s the competition that do it, because they are the ones that will lose out, not you!

Have you got the scorecard KPI’s in place to prevent this happening?  If not and you’d like a few ideas, do call me on 07971 006 446.

Sharing knowledge makes you stronger – Part five

September 11, 2009

The sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

That’s the result you will get when this all successfully comes together for you.

The final part of the picture is to communicate the benefits to your customers.  You weave this process into the way your organisation does business.  Using jargon; it becomes a USP in your Mission statement.

What you will be effectively creating is a unified organisation. 

Here everybody can contribute towards providing a total customer service, as against a departmentalised one of Sales, Service, Parts, and Accounts.  The latter can easily create a ‘them’ and ‘us’ scenario too.  This might be great for divvying up overheads and assessing contribution, but it also creates individual power bases and is far less effective when it comes to providing customer service and continuity across the business.

What you will create is a motivated, enthusiastic, knowledgeable team willing to go the extra mile for customers and that’s a great way to beat the competition.  And most importantly you will create job satisfaction and lower staff turnover, as you will have a group of people who enjoy working together to support each other.

Let me know how you get on and if you need further ideas, do call me on 07971 006 446.

Sharing knowledge makes you stronger – Part four

September 8, 2009

Here’s the fourth of my five steps……add sharing as a KPI

Once everyone has become familiar with sharing and sees the benefits, you can make it a more formal activity. If you recognise Outcomes, such as top sales team or Performance, such as sales volume, then you can see how the act of sharing can be measured through a Process goal.

As Process goals inevitably contribute towards the achievement of Outcomes and Performance (or at least they should), you will strengthen the whole reward and motivation system you have in place.

The last part of this series will look at bringing everything together into a unified programme that will neatly dovetail with other activity.

Sharing knowledge makes you stronger – Part three

September 2, 2009

Here’s the third of my five steps……reward sharing

Recognising and rewarding sharing is an essential part of the process.

You should publicly recognise and praise your best sharers.  

Praise them often and through as many communication channels as you can.  Verbally in meetings, intranet newssheets, intranet group email, company newsletters, notice boards and every other method open to you.

By doing this they will be rewarded through peer appreciation and the intrinsic satisfaction of helping others.  This recognition and public praise, sends the message through your organisation that sharing knowledge is important.

I hope it works for you – please let me know how you get on.