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Build a Power Grid of Influence 0

Judy Robinett takes the word “Networking” not only to a new level but re-defining it into a dynamic “power grid” of influence and connections. How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits is an excellent book and one of my best summer Judy Robinettreads, so far.

Judy is a business thought leader who is known as “the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex.” She has been profiled in Fast Company, Forbes, Venture Beat, Huffington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek as a sterling example of the new breed of “super connectors” who use their experience and networks to accelerate growth and enhance profitability.

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Marketing as a Service 0

UBM TechWeb CEO Tony Uphoff is interviewed by Scott Vaughan on a trend that may be critical for technology marketers, Marketing as a Service (MaaS).

Marketing as a Service has some interesting connotations. First thoughts might be directed towards outsourcing. Which may be the more traditional way of thinking about Marketing as a Service.

I view Marketing as a Service from the point that there is actually less “Marketing” and more doing for the customer. Whether it is in the form of a trial or another process that creates value for the customer. Along this path the customer gets to experience our offering or portion of it.  Through this experience, the customer will decide to get further embedded in our experience or choose to disengage or stay on in a minimal way.

Maybe, finally we can have marketing pay for itself? Ahh, that would be Lean Marketing in its purest form?

Designing A Great Strategic Conversation 0

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. They lift participants above the fray of daily concerns and narrow self-interest, reconnecting them to their greater, collective purpose. And they create deep, lasting impacts that propel organizations forward. Drawing on decades of experience as innovation strategists, Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change unveils a simple, creative process that leaders and their teams can use to unlock solutions to their most vexing issues.

– From the Book’s Website

Next Week podcast guest Chris Ertel talks about his new book Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change. Below is an introduction to the 5 steps on Designing a Great Strategic Conversation.


Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe Dager: Well, yeah, in the book, you basically put out a nice pattern to follow and I think you have 5 different items to design one. Could you just briefly describe what those five are?

Chris Ertel: We have the five core principles that shape our process. The first is to define your purpose. Defining a purpose in a nutshell means having a very clear vision of what is the state of mind and the state of progress people are walking in the room with on the particular issue that you have. We’re having a clear vision of where you want them to land, where you want them to come out. And again, that’s not in terms of the specific outcome but the nature of the outcome, like we want them to be aligned about x, y, z and having a really clear vision on that.

Second is what we call ‘engage multiple perspectives.’ That’s the piece about, usually when we have differences, differences of opinion wherein either people are tamping it down, they’re ignoring their differences in order to get along or they’re in conflict over them, and we need to create an environment where people openly discuss their differences of opinions and empMoments of Impactloy them out in a productive way.

Third is to frame the issues and that’s bringing one or two, not too many, but just a couple core frameworks in any conversation that enables system thinking, that enable people to connect the dots between different parts of the problem more readily.

Fourth is to set the scene and that’s thinking about all the elements of the environment. So, whether it’s the handouts that you used, the room that you used, everything needs to be congruent and create the kind of environment, the kind of emotional feeling effect that you want for this group to collaborate in a relaxed way.

Finally make it an experience means that to tap into not only people’s logical selves, but their emotional/psychological selves as well. Like the example I gave with the strategic alignment, with the executive group. They needed to have an experience of what it would feel like to deliver on this plan in the face of specific situations and that gets them to another level. So, those five things together, are what we do to design a strategic conversation.


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Putting the Hook on Customer Centric 0

The Five Habits You Need

Bob Thompson is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. Bob is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation which includes being editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies.

Bob’s new book, Hooked On Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies takes a fresh look at customer-centric business management, exploring what Bob Thompson has identified as the five key organizational habits that enable any company to execute its business strategy more effectively and, ultimately, to outperform its competitors.

Related Podcasts and Transcription: Customer Think Bob Thompson on Customer Centricity


Excerpt from the Podcast

Joe: Well you center on five habits, could you just name them and just briefly explain what they are?

Bob: Yes sure. The habits are, number one is Listen. This has two dimensions to it. If I’m not making this too complicated, there’s kind of a strategic way of listening through market research and understanding what your customers really care about, what drives their loyalty. There’s more of the tactical feedback sort of listening, making sure that you know how good an experience you’re actually delivering to them. So there’s a lot of ways to do both of those things. I put it under the umbrella of listen.

Habit two is Think, which is about making good fact-based decisions. You know there’s a lot of hype about using analytics and Big Data. Basically what I found is that the best businesses have this kind of collaboration of man and machine. They have very good decision making skills as business leaders but they use technology effectively to help them. They don’t turn over their decisions to some tool. So making these decisions sounds so straightforward but actually very few companies do it really well. There’s a lot of sort of ingrained habits of making decisions because we’ve always done things that way as opposed to looking at it objectively with a fresh eye.

Habit three is empowerment. It’s to empower employees to use the information, the resources, and deliver the value to customers that you want them to deliver and not forcing them to check back with the boss for every little thing. So to me that’s kind of a litmus test for empower. If you say your employees are empowered but then you give them a rule book that’s six inches thick and say “You’re empowered to do only what’s in this rule book,” then I’d say they’re not empowered; they might as well be a robot, or you should automate that task if they have no latitude whatsoever. And there’s plenty of examples in the book about companies that are able to create value in interesting ways because their employees are more engaged and empowered to do what they need to do.

Habit four is Create. It’s frankly just another word, a word I prefer to innovate. The reason I prefer it is because innovate, just like customer centricity is one of those terms that everybody claims they do and very few companies actually do a very good job of it. So what I’m trying to get at is creating new value. Not just delivering what you said you were going to do but just pushing for finding new products, new services, going beyond what you’re delivering today and looking for something new. Again this is more of a distinguishing characteristic of top performing companies is they’re constantly looking to do something new. So I put that under the Create umbrella.

Number five is Delight. This is probably the most controversial of the five habits. There’s a fair segment of the consulting and the academic community that would argue well Delight is a bad idea. You can’t sustain it and so on and so forth. I disagree with that. If you intend to be an industry leader, you really have to be thinking how to deliver more than what your customers are expecting, but do it in a way that’s rational. And that’s the part. People get hung up on well Delight means every time somebody calls the call center you got to wow them. That’s not a sustainable way of doing it. Most customers in fact would say “I’m delighted if I don’t have to call the call center because you didn’t give me a reason. Nothing failed that I needed to call. If I do call I just want to get my problem solved quickly and easily.” But there are many opportunities through experiences to create little moments of delight. And these sort of memorable moments to me, this is the currency of the day for top companies. How do you create reasons for customers to remember what the heck you provided to them? If all you do is go into work every day saying I’m going to do only exactly what I promised to do and nothing more and if somebody complains I’ll fix it, you’re going to get run over eventually by somebody else in your industry or a related industry that’s coming in that’s willing to be more aggressive. I think Delight to me is kind of a litmus test for companies that really want to be leaders as opposed to just survive.


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Are Sales Conversations about Discovery? 0

I see that often, people don’t really know how to walk through discovery process. A sales guy is out there and that old A-B-C, always be closing, is in the back of his mind. He’s judged that way. It’s like, “What am I bringing to the table? Or afterwards you will be asked, did you tell him about this?” The whole sales conversation is constructed about features and benefits rather than discovery.

Régis Lemmens is a partner at Sales Cubes, a sales management consulting firm located in Belgium, specializing in sales and key accounts management. He is a firm advocate of design thinking in business and helps organizations to apply this approach to innovate and redesign their sales processes finding new ways to add value to their customers. His new book is, From Selling to Co-Creating.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Design Thinking in Sales


Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe Dager: I see that often, people don’t really know how to walk through discovery process. A sales guy is out there and that old A-B-C, always be closing, is in the back of his mind. He’s judged that way. It’s like, “What am I bringing to the table? Or afterwards you will be asked, did you tell him about this?” The whole sales conversation is constructed about features and benefits rather than discovery.

Régis Lemmens: What we do see is that, those companies here in Europe are really struggling today. I see more and more companies calling upon us to engage with us because they realize that customers don’t accept meetings anymore.

I was doing a presentation yesterday to a big European industrial company and they were really struggling to have appointments because that’s the sort of talk that customers are not interested in. they want to have a discussion much more about innovation, about partnership, and about working together.

To give you an anecdote, I happened to have developed a very nice case. I’m not going to name them because I’m going to tell you something which is not written in the book. It’s a very nice case about a systematic logic and how they co-create real value with their clients. What was really funny to see was when I was writing up the case, in that whole process, the traditional sales people are no longer involved. Worse, they’re no longer allowed anymore in the process. The reason is they have this mentality of “always be closing”. One of the executives told me, “What happens is, whenever we involve a salesperson in this process, the clients feel that this is not about co-creating. This is about selling and they immediately stop sharing and the process stops.”

It shows how this is a change of culture.

Joe Dager: I think it very much is. Is there something about the book that you would like to mention that maybe I didn’t ask about and your services?

Régis Lemmens: There is something that I really like about the book about the research that we did. Whenever we found a beautiful example of a company that was co-creating value with the clients, it was always about one or two particular individuals who were doing that. When we ask, “What about all the other sales people?” They say, “Well, no. No, no. They don’t do that.”

What we found out when we looked through all the cases is that, to co-create with the client requires a lot of effort. It requires a specific motivation and we have a whole part in the book because we went to look into what motivates people to really do this. It’s about how you look at your job. We describe it in the book as “You can look at your work as a job; I do it because I need to earn a living; as a career because I want to move up or as a calling because I really like what I’m doing.”

What we noticed is that those sales people are going to co-create and are successful. They look at their job as a calling. This is actually a sort of wakeup call for us. We can win back our clients and say, “Well, we need to look at how we motivate sales people. What motivates them?”

We’re not working on several projects. While we’re looking several things like job crafting – which is a fantastic methodology which is developed in the U.S. in the University of Michigan – to actually help people find their calling in their work. We’re applying that more and more now within sales organizations and helping sales people to really find the calling in their work. Sometimes, they don’t find the calling and that’s also when I find myself saying, “Perhaps you should do something else.”

That’s something that we think for the future. We should think about entrepreneurs. Why do they do that? Why do they start a company? It’s not for the money. Most of them do it because that’s their calling. They really want to do that. I think that’s also what we need to look into sales people in the future.


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What do We do to Empower People 0

Kathy Cuff is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies and co-author of LEGENDARY SERVICE: The Key is to Care. Kathy seems to have done just about every job at the joined the Blanchard Companies and help create many of the custom products for their clients.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Legendary Service is about ICARE


Excerpt from Podcast:

Joe: That ties into that word empowerment. But to empower people we can’t just empower them, can we? What do we do to empower people?

Kathy: You’re absolutely right. I’m glad that you’re asking that because we have some training that goes along with our new book Legendary Service. We as an organization offer and work with clients on training. And we’ve broken it into two different workshops. So we have one workshop that we say everybody in the organization should go through. Whether you’re a manager or individual contributor, it doesn’t matter because everybody has customers. However, we also setup a half day workshop just for managers because to your point, years ago when that whole buzz came up about empowering employees, I think that the downside of that was nobody knew how to do it. It sounded like a great term and everybody jumped on the bandwagon because who wants to say no. “We don’t believe in empowering people,” right?

They didn’t understand how to do it. There wasn’t training so we have a half day workshop where the focus in that is for managers – it’s a manager workshop. Their customers, their focus in that half day workshop are their direct reports, their team members. It’s not even focusing on the external customer. But we want mangers to think about what is your role and responsibility in this whole service initiative? What do you need to be doing to empower your employees? So we have one activity they do and they’re called playing field. If you think of any sport, especially with the World Cup going on right now, if you’re watching that or the Stanley Cup, the hockey that just finished, and NBA; heck we have lots of things. When you think about any sport out there, you know it’s inbounds and out of bounds. Well people need to know that at work as well.

Once we define the parameters, they also need to know “when is it okay sometimes to go out of bounds?” If something doesn’t make sense, a policy, a practice, use your head. Hopefully that’s why we hired you. So if something doesn’t make sense, bring that back to our attention, whether your manager within the organization. Question things. But also we teach leaders how can you empower people more and get the consistent behavior and performance that you’re expecting from folks so that you’re not frustrating your customers with that inconsistency.

That’s where some employees sometimes – I won’t even use the word empowered, they feel entitled. So they think they can make whatever decision they want, take whatever action. That’s not always the best thing either. You want to make sure that you’ve trained, you’ve educated your employees what they can and can’t do and then allow them to do it. And that’s where they’re going to feel valued by the organization. They’re going to be more engaged in what they do because they have ownership to what they’re doing. We’re known for leadership and all sorts of things at the Ken Blanchard Companies. We’ve worked for years with organizations knowing that as well that you’re going to get more of what we call that discretionary effort from employees when you let them own things, when they feel like they are in charge and have that responsibility. That’s where that comes with the empowerment.


Sounds a lot like standard work to me?

Holacracy, Zappos and Standard Work

Interaction Design with Dave Malouf 0

Dave Malouf, @daveixd, is currently the Manager of Product Design at Rackspace, the open hosting company (RAX). They are responsible for all the administrative control panels for our Infrastructure as a Service, Management as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Networks as a Service system. Dave has been working primarily in Internet front-end design for the past 20 years.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Malouf On Interaction Design


An Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe:        How did storytelling relate to that, because that’s how I ran across you is in the storytelling book? How do you use user stories and maybe expand into how storytelling relates to the two?

Dave:      User stories are very functionally focused. They are very Hemingway-like in a way. They don’t add a lot to the perspective, to the emotion around the impact of the things that we do. And so when I think of narratives and storytelling, it’s really about communicating impact or expected impact. And that’s not just on the RLI level, it’s also on the level of the true emotional connections and emotional pieces that come together because of what we design.

Joe:        When you are looking at storytelling you’re looking to put, as you said, more of a narrative than just kind of this explanation of data?

Dave:      If we look at what we’re trying to achieve through building systems – I’m trying to use as generic terms as possible – we’re trying to create a story. We are assuming that people or types of people, personas if you will, are passing through a chapter by chapter story. As they go through that they’re experiencing something at a visceral, cognitive, perceptive level, but also at an emotional level, an aesthetic level of understanding and they have purpose and goals that are driving them through the system.

Sometimes those purpose and goals are in reaction or in dialogue with that system and thus they come through it and sometimes never leave it, because they’re embedded in it. Like do you ever really leave Facebook if you’re truly engaged in it? It’s something that as a touch point you go to and then leave. But it’s always kind of omnipresent for those people who are engaged in it. There are similar tools like that whether that’s social tools or email, but also the tools like my timesheet. It’s like I make decisions about what I do based on how I’m going to need to log it. It’s easier for me for example, to make sure that my activities are in longer chunks of time as opposed to shorter chunks of time which then impact how I decide “what am I going to do?” because of my timesheet software.

It’s like this system that’s created just by a single touch point that I don’t even use most of the time. But there’s a story around how that touch point impacts my total life around that system. And a user story won’t think about that. A user story will come in and say “User will add project. User will then declare time for project.” That’s not really what the user thinks about. That is how the system needs to be written from a functional perspective. But that’s not what the user is thinking. That’s not their context. That’s not their world. It’s very much from the developer or from the architect’s perspective.


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