A Lesson from Life in Leadership

Here is the perfect lesson in leadership. Not to be political, but to share a point. Clearly, if the results were different, I’m wondering if the actions would have been any different. However, this was a poignant lesson in leadership just the same.

Election night thousands of Clinton supporters waited for hours throughout the day. They stood and watched, all exuberant when the initial polling reports came in. They stood and watched as the numbers started coming in. They stood and watched as the expected New England states started flipping for Clinton. They stood and watched as critical swing states like Ohio and Florida were lost. They stood and waited for their leader.

They stood and waited for something that never came!

Behind the scenes, Clinton was calling Trump to concede, while on stage she had sent her Campaign Manager, John Podesta, address her supporters. “Go home,” he said, “we’re not done yet.”

Yes…yes, you are. 

The moment the leader fails to be a leader and abdicates their responsibility to another is the moment the leader stops becoming a leader. 

By sending Podesta to address (and lie) to her thousands of supporters, she has shown that this is all about her and not about them. A servant leader would have empathized with her people and would have known that they needed her to speak.
Instead, she called, conceded, and went home to bed. The next day she called a press conference at 10 am, but didn’t speak until almost noon. This time it was only to staff, aides, and cameras. Worse yet, the loss was blamed, through veiled statements, on a system designed to keep a woman from the Oval Office. 

This was the best display of poor leadership, demonstrated at the highest levels. What to learn from this:

1. If you lose, something fails, it breaks, etc., get out there and address your people. Be transparent and provide them closure.

2. You’re in charge. Accept the blame and move on. Blaming anything and everything else on the failure might make you feel better about yourself, but it robs you of control of the situation. Taking ownership, means taking control and that’s what your people want to see–it provides hope, not defeat.

Please take a lesson from this and not be like this.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2016/11/9/13572218/clinton-concession-speech-not-speaking?client=ms-android-att-us

Experience-based Operational Excellence

customerexperiencepuzzle

The Customer Experience

Experience means many things.  An experience is a direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge.  In other words, the customer experiences something through observation or participation.  Experience also relates to a customer as the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation.  In other words, the customer has experienced things with the company that they base opinion on.  Also, experience is related to an individual based on their practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.  Customers all have different experiences that make up their background.  Individual experience is often related in the terms of degrees, certifications, and/or years of involvement in a particular thing.

In a nutshell, customer experience (CX) is something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through by a customer with a certain company.  It is the product of an interaction between a company and a customer over the duration of their relationship.  This interaction includes their attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, and purchase and use of a service.

CX is simply the result of everything that makes up the company’s product or service delivery, visible or not.

Problems with Customer Experience Today

Many companies today only focus on the ‘touchpoints’–the critical moments when customers interact with the company and its offerings to establish the customer experience.  This is often depicted in marketing as an experience map.  Often, this is a narrow focus on what is important to the customer’s satisfaction at specific moments and often creates a distorted picture of the overall experience.  This can lead a company to believe customers are happier with the company’s products and services than they actually are.  This approach also diverts attention from the bigger and more important picture–the customer’s end-to-end journey.[i]

An emphasis on Operational Excellence within an company as the driver of the CX is important to carefully consider.

Experience-based Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence (OpX), as an official business concept, has not been around very long and is often misconstrued.  The best way to look at OpX is to think of it as an end-to-end enterprise-wide management practice that aligns everything in the organization toward driving excellence.[ii]  From a perspective of the CX, OpX essentially represents an organization’s focus on all things that affect the customer’s experience (see Figure 1).

 X-Based OpX

Figure 1: Experience-based Operational Excellence

     Normally, companies view CX as a result of the product itself.  Some broaden the view into the processes that impact the product delivery and many companies see OpX as nothing more than the application of process management and Lean Six Sigma improvement processes.[iii]  In reality, true OpX represents the end-to-end enterprise-wise business management.  The ‘experience’ is at the very center of where the product, process, and employee intersect–this is what the customer sees and feels.  The entire experience is influenced by high-level company strategies, internal and external communication, and employee development.  Everything within the company is supported by an innovative layer that includes technology and information.

Thus, everything in the organization is important in the CX equation and focusing simply on touchpoints will represent a lack of true focus on the CX.  From a company’s perspective, there are several representative performance metrics that are important to the overall CX.  A company cannot simply look at metrics like sales and net promoter score, but must consider all company performance as critical to the CX.  There are many things that measure the experience, but can generally be referred to as satisfaction, sentiment, and relationship.

Summary

In summary, the traditional view of CX as a stand-alone activity represents a shortsighted view of what is important to the customer.  Although much of what makes up OpX is out of the customer’s view, it all leads to the CX and must be considered and aligned.

[i] Rawson, A., Duncan, E., & Jones, C. (2013). The Truth About Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review.

[ii] Boothe, W., & Lindborg, S. (2014). Handbook to achieve operational excellence: A realistic guide including all tools needed. Ft Myers FL: Reliabilityweb.com.

[iii] Crabtree, R. (2010). Driving operational excellence: Successful lean six sigma secrets to improve the bottom line. Livonia MI: MetaOps Publishing.

Four Types of Companies

When dealing with any organization, it is important to understand the things that are important to it and the employees. For instance, they may be focused on improving compliance or increasing revenue, but each company focuses on things that are important to it.

Knowing this when dealing with the company or their employees helps understand how they behave.

One way to examine any organization is through the lens of purpose versus process. When looking at organizations from this lens, there are four possibilities. The organization can be purposed-based, process-based, blended, or neither. How they are says a lot about how they operate.

Let me define what I mean by each of these types of organizations:

1. Purpose-based. A Purpose-based organization relies on a strong organizational purpose and reason for being. At the heart of what they do everyday is a greater reason everyone works there. Sometimes the organization defines this in their mission and vision statements and sometimes it is just known. Making money is NOT a greater purpose. A good example of a Purpose-based organization would be a philanthropic nonprofit or military organization. Their reasons for existence, even if not written down, are usually quite clear.

2. Process-based. Organizations that focus on perfecting processes to run an effective and efficient organization, are process-based. Strictly process-based organizations are focused on exceptional product or service delivery and not their reason for being. Money is normally very important to them.  Many commercial companies fall into this categor, more so in manufacturing.

3. Blended. A blended organization has a strong purpose or reason for being and operates with strong processes. Organizations with both are difficult to find, but can come from anywhere.

4. Neither. Many companies and organizations have neither a strong defined purpose nor effective and efficient processes. These organizations are quite easy to find because they are everywhere.

Copying Off Yourself

I am in a PhD program and obviously copying and pasting someone else’s work is bad.  However, it’s ok to essentially copy someone else’s work as long as you totally rewrite it in another way, but then cite it so people know where it came from.

So this makes sense right…essentially no one has an original thought and basically we should simply cite every sentence we write, but they don’t want that. They actually want you to not cite every sentence and provide original thought. However, when you do, you get graded down for not citing sentences. And only use two or three actual quotes … anything more is too much.

On top of this craziness, you can’t even copy and paste something you’ve already written … how’s that for a zinger. You literally have to rewrite what you already said and then cite yourself.

Oh, and here’s a real zinger for you, you are only supposed to cite the written word that has been reviewed by professors and referencing actual experiences and the real world is frowned upon.

As most who have taken a Master’s or PhD lately know, Wikipedia is not considered peer reviewed, even though it is 100% peer reviewed (just not by PhDs), so it is not allowed as a reference ever. However, I was reading in the Handbook of Psychology, Volume 12, and low and behold if there wasn’t a reference from–you guessed it–Wikipedia.

I’m sure all of this makes complete sense in an acedemic world where using an “&” sign instead of “and” in a in-text citation is more critical than actually learning something.

I’ll be honest with you, I am really worried about the quality of actual knowledge that is coming out of doctoral programs. Call me crazy!

Have we become too connected?

I was at a presentation by GVTC last week where they were discussing the possibility of running fiber to the homes in Fair Oaks Ranch. See, many of the homes in the city are very spread out and it just hasn’t been cost effective for companies to provide better connectivity to the homes. The thing is, many influencial and well-to-do families live in Fair Oaks and many are grumbling.

At the presentation, GVTC had a picture of a home and they were discussing how much bandwidth a typical house might consume. They were estimating an average of six devices that are wirelessly connected. I started to count: 2 cell phones, 2 tablets, 5 computers, 2 printers, 4 repeaters, 2 game stations, 6 tvs, 2 watches, 5 door locks, 2 thermostats, 6 smoke detectors, 1 CO2 detector, 1 scale, 1 weather station, 1 pulse monitor, 2 keyboards, 2 mice, and a router. That’s almost 50 items connected either by WiFi or Bluetooth technology and I’m probably missing something.

The thing is that there isn’t any intelligence behind these connections.  All of these connections and, in reality, we are as unconnected as possible. Have we become too connected and is it getting quickly out of control. I have also considered things like a connected refrigerator, washer, and dryer, and getting the security system and pool controls connected as well. Where does it end and when do we start thinking about how connected we really are?

Consider social media. Today there are many avenues to leverage social media–channels if you will. People trying to leverage social media find it a bit overwhelming. Wala, Hootsuite is an example of trying to control all your social media via one hub. But the ways we communicate via social media really are limited.  The channels are finite, so it is easy to create a hub for it…well, easier.

How do we establish control of our connectivity in our house and at work. How do we make our lives more effective by leveraging a connection hub of sorts with all of our Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity? How do we build systems that effectively handle all the bandwidth associated with this connectivity? How do we protect ourselves in this uber-connected world? And how do we simply make sense of it all so when it breaks, it is easy to fix?

Questions I pose the connected universe…

Mentor or Coach

Over lunch a couple of days ago, we were discussing the subject of mentors and coaches and started to highlight the difference in the roles. Sometimes people can seemlessly operate in both roles at once, so the roles do not seem distinctly different, but they are.

We discussed a few items that seem to differentiate the two roles:

One of the items was Blind Spots. Coaching is designed to identify blind spots, where mentorship is more designed to overcome blind spots once identified. Sometimes the coach can guide the coachee in ways to overcome the blind spot, while in other situations they might recommend they obtain training or a mentor.

Another item was Proximity. Coaches are generally involved with what they are coaching you on, whereas a mentor is someone you mostly meet with to discuss things with. Coaches tend to actively participate in the thing they are coaching you on so they can witness your actions and provide advice and direction if improvement is needed.

Another item was Selection and Appointment. Although some organizations have more formal mentorship programs, generally coaching relationships are formal and assigned for a specific reason. Mentors are normally sought out to discuss and close a gap.

When we were discussing the subject, we discussed two different types of coaches–Lean Six Sigma and Executive. Both of these are very specific roles where an individual is involved with what is going on in a coachee’s life. In Lean Six Sigma, for example, the coach is engaged with every step of a coachee’s project,  guiding them in the application of the skills they should have learned already. If the coach recognizes that the coachee has difficulty in running meetings or presentations, they might suggest that the coachee obtain additional training in those areas. If the coach notices that the coachee has trouble with time management, they might suggest establishing a mentorship relationship with someone that they know is particularly good at time management. If the coach is good at time management, they might quickly switch into that mentor role, but this is outside of the original coaching arrangement.

This is why people often see coaches and mentors as the same thing–they can cover more areas than what they are specifically coaching for. In the case of an executive coach, the coach might be able to provide all kinds of advice and assistance on leadership and employee motivation. However, they probably would suggest the executive have a mentor if the coachee is trying to learn how to navigate the company’s culture toward promotion.

When you think about the roles, this should help you better delineate what each does and which you need.

Are You Easy To Do Business With?

Bubble CloudThis Voice of the Customer (VOC) question comes up often…

What does “Easy to do business with” really mean to your customer?

It’s all about the interaction from the customer’s point of view.  Answer these questions and you will better understand how easy you are to do business with and this should lead you to creating the right measures to monitor your ease in the future:

  • Do I (Customer) interact with you (Company) in my channel of choice or in your channel of choice?
  • How long does my interaction with you actually take–how much of my time are you taking up?
  • Do you get our interaction right the first time and if you do not, how do you handle it?
  • Do you know me and what I want when we interact, or do I have to keep repeating myself?
  • Do I initiate the interaction when I need to or do you initiate the interaction when you know I should?
  • Do you interact with me in the right amount, too little, or too much?
  • Is my interaction with you always consistent?
  • Do you force me to interact with you in ways that I do not want to?

Understanding the answers to these questions can provide significant insight into this question.

I would enjoy hearing other questions from the customer’s point of view that you feel are key.

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