Would You Have the Courage to Sound the Alarm at Pearl Harbor or in Your Organization?

Would You Have the Courage to Sound the Alarm?
Did you feel that? Something just changed. There it is again. You see it that time? OK, so you missed it this time, but will you sense it next time? And, if you do, will you do anything about it?

Sometimes a failure to confront reality has no impact. Time innocently advances and things seem to go on as normal. After all, you don’t see the thing that you’re not looking for. And, if it isn’t noisy or disturbing enough, it doesn’t punish you for not noticing.

Lessons from Pearl Harbor
This wasn’t the case on the morning of December 7, 1941 at Opana Point, Hawaii. Here at 7:02 in the morning, privates Joseph L. Lockard and George Elliot had been monitoring the mobile radar unit and noticed a large blip, more like a curtain, on the radar screen. When George reported what they believed to be approaching aircraft, to the information center at Fort Shafter, the United States Army Pacific headquarters, they were assured “not to worry.” The large blip on the new radar was reasoned by the commanding officer, lieutenant Kermit Tyler, to be Army B-17 Flying Fortress bombers that were scheduled to arrive that morning. But, Tyler’s prediction was deathly wrong as Pearl Harbor was under siege less than one hour later.

Some of the lessons of the Attack on Pearl Harbor are resoundingly clear:

  • Early warning systems can alert you to trouble, but only if you trust what you are are sensing
  • The chain of command can sometimes prevent the truth from surfacing
  • Consequences of inaction can be debilitating and devastating

You don’t have to be in the military for these lessons to apply.

Is your organization making these mistakes?

  • Your organization ignores warning signs and stories shared by employees, customers, and partners. Some people may be labeled as “alarmists”.
  • Your culture restricts or retards the flow of information across functional areas as well as up and down levels of the organization
  • Decisions made are protected and unable to be changed or even informed
  • As the world outside your organization continues to morph, your company further solidifies its inside-out viewpoint; the strategy drifts from a marketplace reality

Signs of decay within the organization
An organization that makes these mistakes can lose market share to more courageous and thoughtful brands that listen and attempt to understand customers. When customers defect it’s rarely about price. People give allegiance to brands that better understand them and deliver customer experiences aimed to win hearts and minds not just profits. But, perhaps as bad, when leadership and the culture within a company commit these offenses the organization becomes crippled and is unable to effectively collaborate across the silos it has created. Information even if it is seen is not absorbed into the knowledge of the organization. There is no rally around the truth. Competitive attacks occur and with greater frequency and intensity and employees further disengage. Problems seem too big to solve and outside of their domain or department. The cycle seems to get worse with each new plan, new launch and new initiative. Customers and employees suffer, but so does the overall health of the organization. When this happens you’ve built a lumpy snowball.

The Curse of the Lumpy Snowball applies to you whether you are an army of 10 or 10,000 or more. No organization is immune, not the government, small or large business, non-profit, budding entrepreneur or neighborhood association in your community.

In my book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations, I introduce the Promise Delivery System, a visible closed loop system that revolves around an intended audience and includes four major components:

  1. Develop Strategy
  2. Produce & Deliver
  3. Insights & Validation
  4. Apply Learning

Among other things, the promise delivery system shows how to adjust your strategy based on changing conditions, so your organization’s promises can meet and exceed your audiences’ expectations. Making the organization’s promise delivery system visible helps people to collectively stay on track, employees to be more engaged and know how ideas fit, and to understand how to improve the organization, its offerings, and how it communicates.

With a fully functioning promise delivery system all of the organizations’s stakeholders become the collective everyday intelligence that prevents the need to sound the alarm or declare a state of emergency.

About the Author

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINT

Gregory Olson is a consultant, speaker, and author of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations.

Connect with Greg on Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Exercises and mental models in the book will build your confidence and competence in envisioning better possibilities and then making them come true, whether you are working alone or alongside a team. Chapters in the book that especially pertain to this post include:

  • Chapter 1: What Makes and Experience?
  • Chapter 6: Aiming for Remarkable, Unbroken, and Generous Design
  • Chapter 8: The Promise Delivery System
  • Chapter 11: Barriers to Innovation and Overcoming the Wall

See a book summary. Read the book reviews on Amazon. Read The Experience Design Blueprint on Kindle or any device using the free Kindle Reader application or read the full color print edition.  Already read it? Please connect and let me know.

When Metrics Fail it is Time to Change the Conversation: a Walk in the Park with an Abandoned Shopping Cart

abandoned shopping cart found on sidewalk in the evening - Delightability researchLurking beneath the metrics you’ll find the truth. This truth may have slowly crept up on you and suddenly poked you in the eye as a new reality. But, you say, “We have these metrics and this is the way we measure, and see, and do things around here.” Exactly right, but exactly wrong too.

Here is an easy target to pick on. Abandoned shopping carts litter the landscape most everywhere. City Councils have metrics and want to hold stores accountable for their wayward carts. Stores have metrics and are stuck between cracking down on their patrons and giving them freedom to take carts as needed. Biases are at play too. What looks like a theft problem to the store’s Loss Prevention Manager is a transportation problem to the “bus stop mom” or “urban retirement dweller.” Once you get past the bias that this is a purely homeless problem, you’ll see that kids, and moms, and grandpas all play a part in this problem. Even police are being called upon by municipalities to “do something about this menace.” One police department recently posted on their Facebook page a reminder to the public, that it is a crime to take a shopping cart off of store premises. Each of the stakeholders, save the shopper themselves, have metrics, but who is right here?

The world has shifted – shopping carts have gotten smaller and more maneuverable, the price of gas has continued to rise, and some have opted out of owning personal transportation in favor of walking or using public transportation. But, amid these changes, stores are probably blind to the transportation realities their customers face.

While stores have found more and more ways to understand our shopping preferences and probably have metrics related to the foods we buy and the prices we’re willing to pay, they really have little understanding of why we choose their store, how we got there, and if a grocery cart will be on our list of items to take home today.

So, there you have it, amid all of those metrics the human behind the customer has been forgotten and that is exactly wrong. Imagine if the metrics for a given store revolved less around how much orange juice we purchased and at what price and instead examined who the shopper is and what transportation they used to get to and from the store. That might just spawn some new services and brand loyalty to the stores with courage enough to change the conversation.

“Don’t get so set on your goal that you lose your humanity.”
Cicero, Roman author,orator, & politician (106 BC – 43 BC)

If you are a grocery store leader, city council member, or other stakeholder to the problem and would like to talk, please contact us. We’d love to share with you the findings of a public workshop we hosted where we brought people together from all walks of life to discuss, dive into, and propose a range of possible solutions to the abandoned shopping cart problem.

Here are a few photos of abandoned shopping carts seen around town.  This could be Anytown, USA or beyond.

View the workshop photo album and visit the Big Idea Toolkit to learn more about the large format visual planning system that we used to guide our workshop discussion.

about the author

Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans.

Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. The models in the Experience Design BLUEPRINT are equally relevant to organizations of all types and sizes including start-up entrepreneurs, nonprofits, for-profits, and government.

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social and impact investor, Oikocredit International.

3 Doors of Change: a Model for Sustainable Change

The lack of success and outright failure of change initiatives has caused us to design a sustainable and effective model for change. Though change doesn’t happen without people, our experience shows us that many leaders jump from decision to implementation, skipping the critical step of gaining alignment of the people who will carry the burden.

image of 3 Doors of Change Model from DelightabilityOur human centric change model embraces people; we call it the 3 Doors of Change. Think of successful change initiatives having to pass through each of the 3 doors in order for the change to take hold and make a lasting impact. Getting through door number 1 is easy and involves making a decision, crafting a vision or a plan. Here is where organizations often invest time and resources into making a better, more informed decision.

Door number 3 is implementation. It is here where plans are put to the test. The mechanical performance of actions are performed to get the desired results. The execution police are relentless in keeping us on task even though we may have lost site of what we were doing, or the original purpose behind it. The belief that employees or volunteers blindly adhere to whatever has been decided may be a hangover from the industrial age and era of specialization where people were thought of as efficient assembly line workers, chunking out whatever the factory boss had configured the line to do.

But, most of us don’t work in factories. And, even fewer workers today have a sense of duty to whoever is barking orders.

So, why is it that we still act like we work in factories? Because institutions and organizations are slow to change save for the rare organization that crafts new rules and norms. HR, Training and Development departments, and leaders are seldom well versed in psychology, campaign design, and shaping human behavior. Think of your current organization and all of the organizations that you’ve worked with and for. How much did you learn about getting other people on board your train? That is exactly what is needed for successful change and the subject of door number 2, alignment.

Door number 2 is the pathway to sustainable change. Here is where activities and campaigns help to on-board,  inform, and empower people to participate. As members of teams and participants to others’ plans, we crave to be heard and to be ready for what is asked of us. Visit any social network or a highly functioning team and you’ll witness this in droves.

image of Big Picture with 3 Doors of change model from Delightability shown
Click to View Full Size

The Big Idea Toolkit has this change model built in. The path on the Big Picture is intentionally a “z” shape. At first, when you make a decision and move through door number 1 you feel like you are moving forward. But, then you feel like you are going backwards when trying to gain alignment. Time seem to slow d o w n while your working through alignment. After gaining alignment, you’re moving forward again. These feelings of moving forward then backward and forward again are reinforced by the blue z shaped path on the Big Picture.

image of Alignment door number 2 from 3 Doors of Change - DelightabilityTeams that skip door number 2, jumping to implementation too quickly, eventually return to gain alignment of the rest of the people that will carry out the change. Think of changes you’ve been apart of or witnessed. It IS very possible that change occurs quickly, effortlessly, and even invisibly  But, for this to happen you’ll have to include attributes that help with door number 2, alignment. In the best of cases, you’ll have a high alignment-word density in your change initiative. Alignment words to consider include: valued, inclusion, expression, respect, participation, secure, authentic, credible, relevant, focused, incremental, clarity, easy, purpose, destination, community, sharing, and payoff.

Change efforts needn’t be top town or driven by legislation. No boss told you to put yourself on Facebook or LinkedIn or begin text messaging yet, you did all of those.

If you want to make a bigger impact for yourself and others you’ll need to pay attention to the 3 Doors of Change. You’ll look less like a politician, lawmaker, or bureaucrat and more like an 21st century change master that aligns people to make great things happen. And, in a lopsided world rife with ailments we could all use more greatness.

Please share your experiences around alignment with teams? What are some of the tactics you have successfully used or others have used on you? Comment here, on Facebook, twitter, or email Greg Olson

Is Your Flight Plan Ready for Your Small Business?

What, why do I need a flight plan you say? Because more than half of the pilots involved in mishaps did not file a flight plan before the accident flight. You might not fly a small aircraft but, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need the equivalent of a flight plan too. Otherwise you may be an accident waiting to happen.

Flight plans for small craft pilots are filed with the FAA so there is a record of where the pilot intends to go. If the pilot doesn’t arrive within a window of time then a search is initiated.  The lack of a flight plan has led pilots and their craft to go missing for days. If you want the benefits of a search and rescue party, you’ll need to file a flight plan.

Free Calendar Daily Flight Plan Productivity Tool from Delightability and The Experience Design BLUEPRINT
click image to open latest Daily Flight Plan Calendar as PDF

So what does this have to do with running a small business? Well, you too, should be prepared and know where you are going each and every day. How long will you fritter about before you get down to business? Will you be distracted by social media, the next phone call, the insurmountable email inbox? If you are an emergency room doctor or a first responder your plan might be to respond and react. But, if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner wanting to grow your business, you’ll need to cut through the noise and be more proactive. You’ll also want to identify the people that can help you – your small business search and rescue; these might be customers, partners, or vendors.

Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, you likely have a long list of things that get shoved off to the back burner waiting for another day when there is more time. But more time never actually does come right?

Today is no different than yesterday and tomorrow will look much the same. You only have 24 hours in a day. When it comes to time, there is no aristocracy of wealth. Genius or laziness is not rewarded or punished with any more time.

So, to make the most of what little time you have you must make a daily plan. At Delightability, I use the daily flight plan. It’s a free download; you can use it too.

The 3 Legged Stool

3-legged-stool of operations - promoting value - delivering value - balanced personal life - Delightability LLC.

There are a few visual indicators at the top of the flight plan that serve as reminders. The first is the 3 legged stool. Any small business owner struggles with balancing between running a smooth operation, delivering on whatever their product or service is, and performing the sales/marketing/business development function. Even if you are good at all three, you’ll struggle with the limited time available in a day. With the 3 legs being all consuming there isn’t much time for personal life – that should be you sitting atop the well balanced 3 legged stool. But, get out of balance and you and your personal life topple to the floor.

The 3 Funnels

Exposure Adoption Loyalty Funnels from Delightability LLC

The 3 funnels visual is a reminder that no matter what business we’re in we have customers to serve. Those customers didn’t start out as customers, they started out as prospects. And hopefully, they’ll move beyond being customers to become loyal advocates. So, the 3 funnels are the exposure funnel where you turn suspects into prospects, the adoption funnel where you turn prospects into customers that are using your product or service, and the retention funnel where you turn customers into loyal advocates. For a bit more read this previous post.

Touchpoints

The other visual reminder are touchpoints reminding us that we can affect the quality of the interactions that our customers have with us. Exceed the customer expectation at a touchpoint and you have the recipe for delight. Check out the previous issue of the What’s Next newsletter to learn more about the Delight-O-Meter model and see a couple of examples.

Week Numbers

Other items on the daily flight plan that can help you get about your business are the weekly calendar that goes 3 months at a time and the Guiding Principles. You don’t want your business to end up like the small craft pilot that landed with his gear up. So, download your flight plan, use it daily, and check it frequently. Use it to note the people you’ll reach out to whether they are customers or consultants.  You might not get any more time in the day but you’ll make the most of the time you have available and make a bigger impact along the way.

My Book out in September is Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. Sign up to be notified of its release. With it, you’ll be better equipped to design more remarkable customer experiences and then make those experiences come to life in your organization and the business landscape. Sign Up to be notified of its release and please share with others.

Book Project Update

image of one page overview - The Experience Design Blueprint by Gregory Olson
click image to open one page PDF book summary

The Experience Design BLUEPRINT is now available. The first section of the book is about making the invisible visible. You’ll learn about the experience honeycomb, experience hoop and halo, and how to model experiences, whether those are for customers, employees, voters, members, investors, patients, clients, etc. You will build a rich experience vocabulary that is relevant to your audience and to your organization’s health. You’ll learn from everyday consumer examples and then learn how to apply filters, lenses, and levers to improve experiences of any type.

In the second section of the book, you’ll learn to visualize your promise delivery system, better navigate change, and improve your skills in overcoming the barriers that plague innovations and customer experience improvement initiatives. Click here or the image to download the one page book summary along with author contact information. Please reach out if you’d like some help.

When Emails Become Overcooked Carrots

Dear Pushy Brand “Communicator,”

pushing plate of carrots awayIf I receive your email newsletters, updates, press release, etc. and I no longer want to receive your stuff, then please let me easily unsubscribe. Asking me to login to an unwanted “account” in order to change my communications preferences is tantamount to asking me to finish the meal, even though I’ve decided I don’t like the taste. Please recognize that I no longer want to eat.  Maybe I don’t like your food or I’m simply too full.  Whichever the case, please don’t fight me when I push away the plate. Better yet, be a good host and recognize when I’ve long stopped eating and simply offer to take away the plate for me.

Sincerely,

The many peeps that are full of your brand, but not as full as you are

Why Think Positive is so Last Year

positive psychology role in the Big Idea ToolkitIt turns out that the world has been swimming in positive psychology for a couple of decades. Amid that, we have many things to cite in the world that aren’t so swimmingly positive. And how many of us have fallen prey to the motivating seminar or sales pitch, only to fail later when we return to our old habits and practices. Being positive, having unabated enthusiasm, and putting blinders up to all things negative, doesn’t create the warm, fuzzy, prosperous future we once thought it would.

In the December issue of Psychology Today, Annie Murphy Paul, explores the uses and abuses of optimism (and pessimism). Like the author of the article suggests, as in many things, context matters. It turns out that there is a time to be optimistic and a time to be pessimistic. Sometimes it is helpful to think of things that might go wrong.

positive psychology in the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.We find this especially interesting given our work with teams using the Big Idea Toolkit. It turns out people adopt two distinct psychological zones or mindsets, when using Continue reading “Why Think Positive is so Last Year”

I Cannot Hear What You Say Because my Bias is Blocking You

Project Starter from Lowes - imageI witnessed a really funny thing.  Well, a sadly funny thing.  I accompanied a friend to Lowe’s home improvement. She had received a direct mail promotion containing a gift card that provided $10 toward any project purchase totaling $50 or more. Great! We were both excited to get cracking on that new painting project she had on her to-do list.

Trouble is Lowe’s didn’t really have what she wanted and the card expired that day. So, in the spirit of paying it forward, she went to the checkout area and targeted folks in line that obviously had more than $50 worth of merchandise.

A few minutes later she left the store, completely disappointed. Not because she didn’t get to use her gift card Continue reading “I Cannot Hear What You Say Because my Bias is Blocking You”

Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged

slice of delight o meter infographic for delighting customers
See Infographic for Full Story

According to the Deloitte Center for the Edge study in 2009, only 1 in 5 employees are passionate about their jobs.

Imagine the untapped potential that exists in the remaining 4/5 of your employee population. What if you could harness their potential and put it to good use, creating value for your customers and for your organization.

I’ll bet you could improve communications, innovative your Continue reading “Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged”

Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight

Delight O Meter reveal from DelightabilitySo how do you know if you are delighting customers? Is there something more effective than the revenue yardstick or monitoring what people say on social networking? Customer satisfaction surveys don’t seem to work; people say they are satisfied and then leave anyway.

It turns out that most organizations don’t know if they are delighting customers. For those that do, they still lack a systematic framework to manage delight. Customer delight is not customer satisfaction plus Continue reading “Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight”