Project Out of Control?

 

Have you ever felt as though a project had a life of its own, running like freight train down the tracks.  Like watching a glass fall off the counter, sometimes we feel powerless in our projects, even the very ones that we initiate.  The feeling can be even worse if you are jumping aboard another person’s project.

Personalities and biases will definitely begin to come out when you are working on a project with other people.  Some people are mindful of execution and stay very disciplined whereas others may abandon the current plan because new information leads to more promising possibilities.  Sometimes projects are completed on time and on budget with their intended outcomes but, other at other times, they are not.  And the ride, isn’t necessarily enjoyable.  Remember that freight train image?  When a  project is really out of control it feels more like a FRIGHT train.

What is needed is a better conversation.  Sometimes you do have to slow down, in order to speed up.

Getting on The Same Page

We use the Big Picture in our practice to communicate our ideas, get on the same page and move forward together.  Using the Big Picture taps the visual thinking parts of your brain and allows you to have more productive conversations.  So when people are checked out, going down the wrong path, or the project feels out of control, slow down.  Grab the Big Picture, outline the plan using sticky notes to represent the big chunky steps and have a better, more inclusive conversation.   Those working with you will thank you for a more enjoyable ride and together you’re much more likely to reach your intended destination.

About The Author

Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true. The Big Picture is discussed further in:

  • Ch 12: The Three Psychological Zones
  • Ch 13: Taking Flight

Gregory Olson’s also authored, 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.

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.

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”

Finding Voila: 10 Ways to Increase Creativity and Put More Spark in What You Do

Insights are everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  LZoltar at the Santa Monica Pier Californiaike the road you travel daily to get to where your going, you pass by people,  buildings, and landscape that seldom take notice.  That is until you do.   Life happens, context changes and then voila, something that was already there and invisible, suddenly appears as if out of nowhere.  It now makes sense; it fits and spurs you to action. Now you call, you buy, you have a different conversation, you do something different. But this doesn’t have to be accidental. You can make this happen.  You can make Voila  become part of your everyday.

You can make Voila  become part of your everyday.

So what spurs this momentary insight and subsequent action?  Few would argue that children appear Continue reading “Finding Voila: 10 Ways to Increase Creativity and Put More Spark in What You Do”

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”

Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains

primitive brainOur primitive brains establish patterns that for the most part keep us safe and out of trouble.  This has kept our ancestors out of the jaws of wild beasts.  This is also what happens when you apply your vehicle brakes when it looks like the speeding car is going to plow through the intersection and smash into you.  You see the pattern and act accordingly. Our brain creates and recognizes Continue reading “Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains”

Using the F Word at Work and How not to get Jujitsued

redbox and blockbuster go head to headThink about the culture of your organization.  Are you allowed to fail, is it encouraged, learned from, or it is something to be avoided at all costs.  Recognize that as organizations mature they become less tolerant of risky, unproven, new ventures that have uncertain potential.

In public companies, beholden to the perceived needs of investors, this is troublesome.  While these skittish companies and the leaders that drive them focus on short term needs of investors, more fearless upstarts are redefining industries and taking away customer mind share.

This explains in part why the traditional car rental companies did not recognize Continue reading “Using the F Word at Work and How not to get Jujitsued”

Are you Going Mental?

Are you Going Mental?
Ok, phew – you’ve landed.  You got past the headline.  Now you may be wondering what this post is all about.  An article on crazies.  No – though I did like the movie by that title.Crazies Movie Poster

Going mental is what you need to do more of.   Nobody gets harmed, unlike in the movie.  When you get stuck, you lack a mental model of how to proceed, similar to a 2nd grader trying Continue reading “Are you Going Mental?”

7 Steps to Make the Customer Come Alive Inside Your Organization

Customers are the lifeblood of your organization. Delighting them is your surest path to sustainable success. When you make the customer come alive inside your organization you leverage employees natural empathy, focus employees on what customers value and provide them with a shared purpose. This renewed understanding and engagement may unlock the answers to some of your most vexing problems and give you insights into profitable growth opportunities.

7 Steps to Make the Customer Come Alive Inside Your Organization

  1. create a dedicated space to demonstrate customer thinking – a wall works.
  2. place photos of typical customers – could be other stakeholders depending on your business and focus, e.g. investors, prospects, employees, partners, patients, members, guests, visitors, volunteers, voters, citizens, students, clients, etc.
  3. ask and answer questions –
    1. how did they become aware of us?
    2. what are their communications habits?
    3. why did they buy from us?
    4. what are their needs and are they changing?
  4. enroll others in an ongoing dialogue around customers – encourage colleagues to place sticky notes or write on the wall
  5. continue to gain new insights and generate new questions
  6. as you have customer interactions share your learning at the wall
  7. prioritize and take action on insights – you can’t do it all so focus on the projects and programs that will have the most impact and look for quick wins.

Other Projects that can help you improve your Customer Thinking and eliminate blind spots include:  net promoter score (NPS) & loyalty strategy; customer evidence (case studies, testimonials, references); customer observation, behavior, and needs analysis; segmentation and ecosystem mapping; customer storybook and voice of the customer; win/loss/stall analysis; empathy lab; and customer profitability & retention analysis.

How Can my Car Possibly Breakdown, I’m on Cruise Control?

Trends to Pay Attention To - from Now and Next - DelightabilityEverything has changed, but you’re still executing on the old strategy? Chances are you’ve been too busy to re-examine your strategy, let alone change course. Like most organizations you’ve completed your annual planning and you’re on cruise control –Set it and Forget. Of course, you’ll revisit the strategy in next year’s annual planning session. But what happens when you’re cruising down the road and a competitor, customer, partner, or legislation throws the proverbial monkey wrench in your spokes. Right – your organization will react to it when you encounter that problem. If that is what you believe, then you’ve fallen into the trap. That’s the thing, you can only react to those things you are aware of. Most things that erode your business are more subtle than the abrupt, spoke shearing monkey wrench. Think of a hidden killer like pancreatic cancer. You don’t have years of leading indicators. When it is too late, it is sadly, too late.

One of my mentors once told me “A lot can happen in a little while.” If you caught the Oscars last night, in particular the memorandum part, recall the talent that expired in the past year. Writers, Producers, Actresses, Actors, all removed from the talent pool that brought us great entertainment. The business world is no different. People, businesses, technology, relationships – it’s all changing faster than your annual planning cycle.

So, take a trip around your organization. Are your people keeping up in real time or are they unquestioningly executing on yesterday’s strategy? How ready is your organization to adapt to a shifting strategy? What are you doing to notice trends and changes in the business landscape and customer and partner ecosystems? These are key areas that present both opportunities and threats. Who is watching your organization’s back? Who is spotting dangerous currents or bountiful waters? Is anybody at the table bringing an outside perspective? Do you have sensors in the ground to take notice? Here is a visual tool and 5 steps that will keep your business apprised to the changing world outside your organization.

Trends and Technology Timeline 2010 and beyond - From Now and Next - Delightability

 

5 steps to business success

  1. Study, really study, the Trends & Technology Timeline 2010+
  2. Shift your perspective
  3. Receive feedback from Sensors in the Ground
  4. Change the dialogue in your organization
  5. Expand your innovation neighborhood to include outsiders

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