Posts Tagged ‘customers’

“Honey, do I look fat in this dress?” That is a question any wise man approaches carefully – very carefully. It is prescient when it comes to change management. Why? Well, we all say we prize honesty but upon closer examination there is a desire to get by which comes in direct conflict with the need to be honest.

Everyone loves to clean house and get rid of the bad guy(s) and girl(s). After the euphoria the sweeping out creates dies down something surprising happens. It is the fear created by the need for those remaining to be honest in a piercing manner. Why is that?

As mentioned in previous blogs, having the bad guy around supports the creation of bad habits. For example, there is the opportunity to fudge billable time and expenses. A while back there was the infamous $500 coffee pot charged to the U.S. Air Force. (I got to talk with one of the lead accountants on that issue and it turns out dishonesty wasn’t present but let’s assume for this blog it was a blatant rip off.) In the every day world of projects how can that occur? All that is needed is a leader out to get as much money as possible and will gouge the client to the extent the client is blind, naive or both. When an engineer has worked under such a person for a long enough period of time it becomes easy to get sloppy and gradually expand what “honesty means right along with “cheating.”

Sociologically, it is well established that we all like to leave ourselves some space, some wiggle room. Let’s say 15 minutes a day of billable time. So, if we only charge for 15 non-productive minutes we can claim we are honest. After a while under a disreputable boss that 15 minutes becomes an hour. The process continues until all hell breaks loose and then all sorts of time is charged simply because we can do it. So what happens when you clean house?

For the housecleaning to be complete there is a need to return to honesty. This is the point at which panic sets in. If your situation is typical a flood of requests start coming in to explain exactly what you mean when you say, “In order to bill for one hour you have to do one hour’s worth of work.” All sorts of lawyering begins. It is accompanied by confusion and more than a slight degree of hysteria. Remember, people have been let go for not being honest. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Am I next?” (For what it is worth, I am championed for bringing the light of day and a breath of fresh air to the organization when getting rid of the bad guy. That quickly turns to pitchforks, tar, and feathers once the issue of accountability is brought to the masses.) What to do? Answer: State the obvious.

“The only way out of the mess you are in is through frank discussions as to what it means to bill an hour of time. This isn’t free-floating. It needs to reference a sound business case.

In other words, know what will work in your industry. Find standards that are reliable. Then add that to a solid business case. Determine what “serving the customer” means in terms of billable hours, expenses, and productivity. By all means, stay away from witch-hunts. Tell the troops you will be out of business if the sloppiness continues. The best way to keep one’s job is to work to acceptable standards. Have them participate in the defining of standards as it applies to their discipline, keeping in mind that who ever is responsible for the business case will have the final say.

What this all amounts to is a focus on emotional honesty rather than a Salem witch trial. When done in a respectful tone those who want to work and feel significant appreciate it. As to the others…well…the human resource changes must continue. The challenges will continue and people will wonder if the housekeeping was worth it. In the long run, though, there will be an appreciation of getting back on track and billing one hour for an hour’s worth of work.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
Share

I met with a team of engineers yesterday. Up until now I’ve been meeting with them individually as each was facing dilemma’s that affected their personal and professional life. Over the past couple of months all of them have gained greater degrees of emotional intelligence and greater degrees of clarity of intention and accountability for what’s showing up in their work lives. They all realize that how they are being impacts on them personally and professionally – they can no longer assume they can act on behalf of their own personal desires without negatively influencing the team, the organization as a whole and on their professional aspirations.

An exercise I do with teams is a context exercise, where we explore a specific context, such as team, to reveal  beliefs, assumptions, expectations and judgments – essential what is true – in this case about teams, which has members act the way they do in relation to each other, to the team and a whole and to the organization. In this particular group, we included sport teams and teams in business, seeing the parallels and differences, and then we put together a list of what’s impossible given what’s true about teams. The process unfolded a couple more levels by exploring what needed to shift in order for the impossible to become possible and what needed to be practiced to consistently bring that into the workplace on a day to day basis.

We had consensus regarding trust, collaboration and effectiveness, being three aspects of team work that needs developing. This was all very positive. There was a high degree of exposure as each one spoke, as I hoped would happen. No one deferred, held back or was withdrawn from the conversation. This tells me that there was a degree of trust in the room that brought us to this level of disclosure and sharing.

Pride go-ith before the fall.

Their desire to elevate their own personal standing within the company is still a primary intention. Though, we talked about healthy teamwork they haven’t yet truly bought into the actualization of committing to being a good team player. Most wait until the other proves themselves trustworthy.

Meeting together as a team, with me as their coach meant they stepped into a greater degree of visibility, accountability and hopefully credibility; saying what they mean and meaning what they say. It all sounded good and I was heartened by what I heard from them, as they described the values and practices essential to being the team they see themselves being. It was a good start!

My last comment to the group before ending the session was that they will each witness the others not walking their talk. “You can get mad, disappointed; you can yell at them and blame and shame them for not showing up as they said they would; however, the practice is not how to get the other guy to do what he said he’d do; It’s focusing on you being accountable for walking your talk; looking at your response or reaction to the other’s behavior and communication in the highest good of everyone. That’s the only practice that matters – live into your own highest truth in service to your own highest good and the good of the team.”

I met with each member separately after the team meeting. It was interesting to hear feedback from each member reflecting how so-and-so said this, but doesn’t walk his or her talk – they don’t act in alignment with what they are saying. I had no doubt this was going to be part of the process. Though trust was at the top of the list of priorities for this team to be most effective, little trust has truly been earned by any one member.

Communicating from an objective point of view

Each of us face the dilemma of wanting to look good and say the right thing, yet, at the same time we are invested in having things go the way we want them to. We hope to look like we are in integrity but the fact is, people who know us and know when we are not walking our talk have no business trusting us. They are fools to believe us when they’ve most likely experienced degrees of inconsistencies consistently. How do we break the stalemate for ourselves, and how do we do that for others too.

We can’t change what we can’t acknowledge. Having a thinking partner or coach to empower you to cultivate awareness is almost essential to seeing how you operate and getting clear that the way you operate is either working in your favor to advance your career or it’s not. Pretending to be who you say you are never worked and will never work, so you might has well give it up as a way of growing yourself or your business. You’ve got to be that person you want to work with. It’s no longer possible to hope people will trust you with greater degrees of responsibility and power if you aren’t reliable with the power you have. You will inevitably find that saying yes when you mean no is a pretty unsatisfying way of doing business. You don’t like it in others – why keep believing that they don’t mind it in you?

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
Share

A Good Business A Great Life #9: Preferable to all Others

by Jack Hayhow on September 26, 2011

Peter Drucker famously said the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.  In order to do that, of course, your business must provide a product, service or experience the customer judges to be preferable to all of the other products, services or experiences currently available.  In other words, you must create a compelling offer for the customer to buy what it is you sell.

A compelling offer has four primary characteristics.  It is:

  1. Meaningful to the customer
  2. Divergent from the competition
  3. Intensely focused
  4. Concisely communicated

Let’s consider each of these characteristics…

Meaningful to the Customer

Since Edward Chamberlin first coined the term “product differentiation” in his 1933 book, The Theory of Monopolistic Competition, marketing gurus have beat the drum of differentiation.  And differentiation is critically important.  But not all differentiation is created equal.  Some differentiating qualities matter to the customer, others don’t.  For example, you might be the only bank in town that has horse in your logo.  That probably doesn’t matter to very many people.  On the other hand, if your bank is open 24 hours a day, that might be meaningful – especially in a community with a large number of night shift workers.

Divergent from the Competition

The second characteristic of a compelling offer is that it is divergent from the competition.  It’s unlikely that what you sell can be completely divergent from your competitors.  But if your product, service or experience isn’t divergent is some significant way, it simply doesn’t provide the customer with a compelling reason to buy from you.

Intensely Focused

The third characteristic of a compelling offer is that it must be intensely focused.  In their wonderful book, Made to Stick, the Heath brothers lobby for focus with this quote from a defense lawyer,

“If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.”

Customers and prospects simply don’t have room in their heads for all of the wonderfulness of your product.  So focus.  Tell them what matters most – emphasize the one thing that is most likely to compel them to buy from you.

Concisely Communicated

Finally, the fourth characteristic – your offer must be concisely communicated.  In the screenwriting trade, this is called the logline, or more commonly, the one-line.  The one-line tells potential viewers what the movie is about.  In his book, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder uses these examples of a one-line:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists (Die Hard)

A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend (Pretty Woman)

Your one-line must explain to the customer what he or she gets, and it must do so in a heck of a hurry.  If your customers and prospects can’t easily remember and repeat your one-line, you probably need to keep editing.

If your offer contains these four components, it is likely to be compelling and your company is exceedingly likely to grow… leading to… A Good Business, A Great Life!

Jack-Hayhow Jack Hayhow is Chief Executive Servant of Opus Communications in Kansas City. Opus provides tools and techniques to help business owners build their business. Jack is also the author of two highly acclaimed business books, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig: Guidance and Inspiration for Managers and Leaders and, Breaking Through the Barrier: What Companies That Grow Do Differently
Share

Leader driven Harmony #38: ACE Your Life

by Mack McKinney on August 19, 2011

ACE stands for Always Control Expectations and we teach it in all our classes.  It means no surprises for your colleagues, friends and family:  If you say you’ll do something, then be certain that you make it happen.  Senior people sometimes use the old saying “Mean what you say and say what you mean”.  Lots of wisdom there.

In buying or selling services or products, treat people like you would like to be treated (the old Golden Rule).  And be sure you understand your organization’s internal processes so you can over deliver (and under-promise).  If you promise a signature or a delivery in one week, do it in 3 days.

In negotiations, don’t strive to win at all costs.  Build the relationship first and subsequent business will go much smoother.  Securing a tough, one-sided deal that costs the other party most of its profit is guaranteed to cause ill feelings and will get the relationship off to a rocky start. It might get you that deal, but won’t get you another from the same customer.

Worldwide, I have found that people do business with people they like, all else being equal.  Or maybe not  even equal . . . heck, I’ll pay a little more for insurance if Eddie Fields at State Farm sells it, because I trust him.  I’ll pay a little more for construction work if Ronnie Cooper does it, because he is fair and detail- oriented.  I’ll pay more for sushi at Sakura’s in Moyock, NC because it is fresh, the staff is super friendly and Wing and Wing Ha are great chefs.

In the end it isn’t about the money.  It’s about the friendships, the trust, and the people whose paths you can make just a little smoother as we all take this trip through life together.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
Share

Resilience Engineering #1: Robust Vs. Resilient

by Gary Monti on June 7, 2011

Sustaining success in complex situations presents challenges where classic approaches to projects, programs, and processes may fall short. This series of blogs will present a tool for dealing with those challenges, resilience engineering (RE). I’d like to start with two terms from RE: robust and resilient. Why? In a word, Relevance. These terms will give a taste of RE and set the stage for the rest of the series.

Robust Systems

Robust: A system is robust when it can continue functioning in the presence of internal and external challenges without fundamental changes to the original system.

An example of robustness may help. Company XYZ is an early entrant into a new market with Product Line A. In supporting Product Line A, a series of integrated databases are built in the back office and end-user operations are superb. As time goes by the industry morphs and there is opportunity for introducing Product Line B. The database requirements for Product Line B are a mix: 60% can be handled with the current systems and the remaining 40% present new requirements.

Time-to-market can be reduced if a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS), stand-alone product is purchased to cover the new requirements. The problem is it does not integrate with the existing system and double entry in both systems is required. Specifically, products and services for Product Line B clients will be tracked in the COTS system while accounting will be done separately in the original system.

While an integrated solution is desirable it will take 6-9 months and is decided against. Another reason for deciding against the integrated solution is Company XYZ is in a recession in their market and keeping costs down is a “must.” Those in functional operations, the end-users, are told they will have to figure out a way to handle the double entry and insure problems don’t arise. The database end-users absorb the changes, create new policies and procedures, and the entry into the new market achieves sales and margin projections.

This is an example of robustness, i.e., the organizational system responded to a challenge and met its functional requirements while the original database systems are not modified. People absorbed the changes. This absorption comes at a cost, though. The stress level of the end-users rises and they are a little less masters of the database system and a little more victims of double entry.

Resilient Systems

Resilient: A system is resilient when it can adapt to internal and external challenges by changing its method of operations while continuing to function. While elements of the original system are present there is a fundamental shift in core activities that reflects adapting to the new environment.

With a resilient approach the integrative change would be adaptive in nature. Database operations would morph to reflect and environment comprising a composite of Product Line A and Product Line B. This is in stark contrast to the robust solution, which is still Product A-centric.

In its simplest form with the resilient solution, the end-users would focus on serving the customers and be free of the clunkiness and increased potential for failure associated with the double entry system.

Robust or Resilient: What’s the Difference?

Is the robust decision a bad one? Not necessarily. It just comes at a cost; a cost incurred while deciding on trade-offs, a cost that may be invisible to the culture. This issue of trade-offs is at the core of RE.

In the next blog we will look more at the accrued costs associated with trade-offs and a rather scary element that can be associated with robust solutions – drift. As the series progresses more innovative ways to approach trade-offs will be presented.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
Share

7 Key Strategies for designing an Analysis based Company

by Linda Williams on February 16, 2011

In today’s fast changing environment being an analysis based company is critical to survival and profitability. Different industries will have different needs for analysis but there are some key components of an analytical strategy that are foundational to the majority of businesses. Here are the top 7 strategies for designing an Analytical Strategy:

  1. Taking an existing business model and innovating against it: Some of the most successful companies over the last decade have been innovators in their space: Netflix, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Priceline. Each took an existing model and made compelling technological and structural changes. This model can be used by other sectors to take advantage of emerging trends and technologies.
  2. Keeping aware of changes in the technical environment and quickly growing your offerings to take advantage of newly emerging trends: The pace of technological change has been steadily increasing and businesses that miss these trends miss opportunities to thrive. For example, Netflix moved from postal delivery of movies to downloads on laptops and WII based systems and now is moving into offering content on iPhones and iPads. Its competitors are scrambling to catch up as evidenced by Blockbuster’s recent filing for bankruptcy.
  3. Developing an easy interface for customers, customizable to their interests: Customers have come to expect near instant response to changing orders, tracking, and complaints. Using technology is part of this equation but it should also include value- added services such as presenting relevant suggestions on what else they may find valuable either in products or shipping options. This is seen in the use by Amazon and Netflix of making recommendations or suggestions for new orders given past orders.
  4. Focusing on listening to the customer to develop and improve your service; capitalize on complaints customers have with your competitors: One of the key differentiators for companies is their real (or perceived) focus on the customer. People have come to expect superior service and are quick to go to a competitor when they don’t get it. It is critical to develop robust customer service capabilities for handling questions, complaints, and surveying customers on speed of delivery. Social media blogs are now an expected forum for customers to use to exchange ideas and suggestions.
  5. Offering a variety of service plans/products at several price points: This feature was a key to Netflix’s initial strategy which was to get customers to try their new delivery service – who can’t afford $4.99 per month. Then there is a simple upgrade plan with many levels that is flexible to meet anyone’s needs. Again, the pricing plans are very customer focused. This same approach could be used for pricing services for a support service giving various price points each with a higher level of services.
  6. Designing logistics so as to ensure cost effective, fast delivery: Logistics are pivotal to any business providing a product especially as the business expands internationally. Any product business must be able to deliver their goods/services in a timeframe that not only meets their customer’s needs but exceeds them.
  7. Having a data-driven culture that supports your strategy, direction, and profitability: Successful companies rely on using data-driven information to strengthen their product offerings and emerge ahead of the competition. This includes being able to identify top purchasers based on profitability, sales by market segment, or potential. Having a robust marketing analytics program has now become indispensible to providing valuable insight to drive the company’s strategy, direction, and profitability.

In summary, the increasingly competitive environment makes it critical to gain the advantages that an analytically focused strategy can give to your company’s success

Written by Linda Williams who is partnered with Datacenter Trust and also has a Business Intelligence consulting practice where she provides businesses with assistance in performance measurement, process improvement, and cost reduction.
Share

Should you satisfy your customers?

by Vijay Peduru on November 24, 2010

Almost every business book talks about satisfying the customer.  Every business guru touts this.  But no one seems to be asking the question – If we satisfy the customer, how will he keep coming back? He may be satisfied at that moment and you are happy that he is ecstatic about your service and it ends there.

Satisfied Customer – A Problem?

Everyone knows that it is easier to have recurring revenue (an existing customer) than generate a new revenue stream (from a new customer). The question though is – How do we handle this if the customer is already satisfied? One might wonder why this is a problem. Think about it – A customer who is satisfied over a long period of time slowly loses the value of what s/he is getting as it starts appearing like anyone can do it – in other words, the bar that you set becomes the standard and hence, the value erodes.

Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction Cycle

Great marketers have known this for a long time. Just like in a good movie, the director cycles through a satisfaction/dissatisfaction cycle working with our emotions – one needs to take the customer through cycles of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the product and/or service. And yes, the honesty of this post makes it edgy!

Humans naturally crave for new and scarce things.  If we look at Apple, they release a new product with some features which  are not so great… like the  camera in iPhone 3G. People are a little dissatisfied with these features and start to talk about these and eagerly await for improved features.  When apple release a newer product, they surpass the expectations like the camera in iPhone 4G.  Lot of iPhone 3G users will naturally buy the new iPhone 4G.

The cycle continues…

Listen to the Customer

Sometimes, when we release new models or new software, the customer is already satisfied with the product and does not want the new product. Lots of sales people work on convincing the customer by telling them the new features. They somehow want to convince the customer to buy the product. Instead, they should sit and listen to the customer and should discover  pain points for the customer. Most of the times the customer does not see it as a pain, but if you can see it and show him how bad it is (make him dissatisfied) and then show him how the new product will alleviate this pain – he is most likely to buy it.  The key is to know… that the customer is sometimes blind to the pain and we have to bring it forth for him. In the case of IPhone 3G, a lot of people are satisfied with the camera, but when they see other people telling how bad it is compared to the iPhone 4G, they realize that what they have is not good enough and want to get the new iPhone 4G!

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
Share

Project Leadership #1: 7 Ways to have a kickass kickoff!

by Himanshu Jhamb on October 4, 2010

“I promise that I will produce a kickass kickoff for the client”.

Repeat this to yourself at least a hundred times before you go for the next project kickoff meeting.

I have been through many projects – some of them as a team member and some as a project manager (please picture me as ashamed and trying to hide behind my chair at this very moment) – where the kickoffs were either for namesake or worse, were non-existent. The projects just started automatically – no memo, that’s it. I just found myself in the midst of a project already underway. PS> These projects did not do well.

For a long time I tried to demystify why my projects got delayed, got derailed (had enough of the de’s?). I would lock myself in my office (it was a cubicle, really) and try to figure out what was going on – why I could not control my schedules and how come I found myself struggling with just organizing the project in manageable chunks of work.

This post is my humble attempt at sharing what I found I was doing wrong (or not doing) to find myself in this position time and again.

The problem, it turned out, was that I was trying very hard to be a good project manager. In doing so, I was missing out on the fact that what the project really needed was a leader to guide everyone through the project with CLARITY. This last word is perhaps the most important… It is the project leaders’ job to continuously be in the quest for CLARITY on the project. Clarity comes when everyone involved in doing a particular task as well as everyone impacted by the task are in agreement over a number of attributes. The project kickoff meeting is a golden opportunity to get this CLARITY and champion the project. A well organized, planned and delivered kickoff meeting gives huge returns whereas a poor one (or none) haunts the project right till the end of the project (and beyond).

Here are a few tips on how to have kickass kickoffs!

  1. Say No to Remote kickoffs: There is yet to be a technology that replaces the handshake. Put yourself in front of the client – it is a future declaration that you are approachable and reachable and goes a long way in building a relationship with the client, and it will come handy when things are not going as planned on the project (and they won’t!).
  2. Prepare relentlessly for the kickoff: Know your audience. Know the material and make sure it speaks to their concerns, not only to what you are offering. You might be ready to promise them the stars and the moon whilst they might just be looking for a way to look at the stars and the moon.
  3. Declare (through a presentation or whatever suits your purpose) what you stand for in the project & how you will run the project: This is not for the weak of heart. You need to state what you stand for, what you expect from them as much as what you commit to. The presentation is not fluff for killing time & checking off a task in the kickoff meeting with pretty bulleted slides; it should set you up for delivering very important messages, in your meetings after the presentation.
  4. Meet with the stakeholders: The fun part begins here! Make sure all stakeholders are there. This includes people who will lead the team from the client side as well as the people who are impacted by the project.
  5. Ask lots of questions & listen for agreements: Firstly, you don’t have to know the answers. This is really important (It took me about 2-3 years to learn this one). You just have to ask the right questions & listen the people in the room arrive at agreements on stuff like goals, roles, responsibilities, success criteria, processes (and many other things that I cannot put here lest I will be writing a book instead of an article!).
  6. Jot down agreements and follow-up with confirmations by exchanging notes.
  7. Clearly communicate next steps to keep things moving forward and in the direction of the project goals.

How do you know if you have had a kickass kickoff meeting? Don’t worry about that part… your project will tell you that!

Have fun!

PS> Both Guy & I were recently interviewed for our book, #PROJECT MANAGEMENT Tweet on Blog Business World by Wayne Hurlbert. Wayne asked a number of thought provoking questions on Project Management that both Guy & I did our best to answer… for those interested, you can find the interview here. Disclaimer - it is a 1 hour interview… you have been forewarned.

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
Share

This was probably the eighth or ninth time we’d flown back to Texas over the past 5 years to see these guys. This time, it was to meet with the New VP of Channel Sales who had some “exciting announcements” for all of the companies who were in their current partner program.

My business partner and I eyed one another over the rental car.

“What do you think the big announcements going to be?

“Well let’s see…I bet its going to be a new commission program, more resources…and maybe a year end contest for all of us!

“I’ll add a new portal to that list. They haven’t had one of those…to make us more efficient of course.”

“How could I have forgotten the portal?  Perhaps a new area manager as well for us, to meet with us more regularly and make us more efficient.”

We laughed over the repeated list, turned on the air conditioner in our rented Chevy and pointed our car down the I-35.

We actually like this company quite a bit because we had so many of the same great values. For example,

Procreation! They had a great product offering, and we had many clients. Together we had made many happy clients. Great Communication! Sure, we’ve fought over commissions, but we always manage to email or call about them, resolve them and then make up.

Finances! They didn’t have to pay a sales representative a salary or spend one marketing dollar for us to bring them a good, qualified highly closeable opportunity. We got a great commission percentage in exchange.

Open, honest dialog: We flew back to take product trainings on our dime and were able to bring real client feedback that they adjusted to.

Support – We had the same account manager for over three years. He was making his numbers and we were doing well together, we were efficient in bringing  and installing clients together. Everyone was doing well.  We were in a good period of time together, way past dating, and maybe four years into the partnership.

As we checked in to the hotel, we walked in with Frank from Solutionet. Frank beat us out last year for the number one partner, and we really wanted that title back. Aaron, the number three partner from DriveDebt was also there in the lobby. A good friendly competition between the three companies was in play and we all smiled and laughed at one another in greeting. “Wonder who’s gonna get numero uno this year??!! Frank was all about the joint marketing opportunities that he was able to create with these guys and Aaron was all about being able to access and utilize the partner ecosystem. It was a healthy business enablement program for everyone.

We milled into the banquet room with our drinks and watched the AV screen roll down from the ceiling. New guy in slacks and a button down strolled up to the dias. “Welcome everyone, I’m Richard Duller and I’m going to walk you through the new program. By now, you’ve already been made aware that we’re changing the program with the email that you received inviting you to the conference. Essentially, the past program was unsustainable.”

Collective “Uh-oh!

“We’re going to walk you through what the new program is going to look like going forward.”

Something told us all to buckle in, changes were ahead…

Stay tuned for part-2 of this post…

tina-burke-photo.jpg Tina is currently the co-founder of Ayuda Networks in Silicon Valley, a solutions provider where the focus is on selecting datacenter providers and solutions for their clients. Tina can be followed on twitter at ayudatb
Share

Ever have a resistant client? They want you to provide desired services but question and double-guess the recommendations and actions you make. Why would they behave that way? It has to do with the second function of myth, the Physical , also called the Cosmological. What it refers to is the beliefs (myths) one has as to how the world turns. In this case how the business world turns.

Cosmology, Clients, and Solar Eclipses

Having a cosmology is an important part of sense-making.  It provides a cause and effect framework for decisions. As long as it functions well there are eccentricities that will be accepted as “fact” when there really are just some coincidences in the system.

There’s a story about a cultural anthropologist who comes across a village right before a solar eclipse. The chief and village elders could not be distracted. They were preparing to save life itself. The anthropologist asked what was going on. The chief simply said, “Come and watch.”

As the moon began to creep in front of the sun the shaman began to direct the men of the village to beat the drums exactly as they had been taught – the way their fathers before them for many generations had done. As the eclipse progressed the drumming intensified and all the villagers were frozen in place wondering if the drumming would work this time. Eventually, the eclipse passed and the sun returned much to everyone’s relief.

The anthropologist felt it his duty to teach the villagers the rudiments of the Newtonian cosmology and explain how gravity worked along with drawing the orbits of the sun, the moon, and the earth. To his delight everyone listened intently and he left the village feeling proud.

He returned with the next eclipse and, much to his surprise, the drumming ritual was repeated. Exasperated he looked at the chief and said, “The theory I told you works!” The chief calmly looked at him and replied, “And if it doesn’t?”

Helping Clients Change

Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize winning 20th Century mathematician-philosopher, felt that cosmologies aren’t refuted they simply are abandoned. In other words, don’t argue with clients to put down their drums. Look for their hot buttons and pressure points. If there is enough pent up emotion over how their current methods aren’t working then they might consider the solution(s) you are offering. If not, then listen to their drumming and be patient.

I’ve learned it is important to let go of judging the client. Out at the edges everyone’s worldview starts to unravel. Maintaining a degree of humility is important in keeping a levelheaded approach.

If you need help in working through solar eclipses either in-house or with clients contact me at gwmonti@mac.com or visit www.ctrchg.com.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
Share