Friday, October 29, 2010

Is your message and the experience you create aligned?

This really isn't rocket science but I am continually amazed at how many organisations get this wrong. Recently my family have been doing high school tours to help us make a decision regarding the right school for our eldest child.

The schools have had many different approaches to this process. However, their messages have been very similar, "We create a caring, belonging and nurturing environment for your child where we seek to create well rounded young adults with strong academic and life skills."

Yet it is our experience of this message that has stood out the most for us. One school that had over 900 students crammed us into a room where three teachers and three students spent 60 minutes 'telling' us about the nurturing and sense of belonging that the school creates. The speeches were fine, the images shown to us on the Powerpoint presentation also looked fine.

The teachers then stayed in that room while the three students led over crowded tours around the school. Classrooms were closed, it had become dark and lights were off and we spent most of the time peering in through windows trying to get a sense of what the school was like.

After a while the litter on the ground became more and more noticeable. After all, there wasn't much else to see or experience.

It seems to me that if you are going to promote a sense of belonging, then that is the 'experience' that you should do your very best to create. This is a classic case of ensuring that your message and the experience you create are aligned. All it takes is a few moments to ask this question, "Is the experience we are going to create aligned with our message?"

The school I have described is no longer on our list. Other parents who have also visited the school for their tours have expressed similar concerns. The school is completely unaware of the misalignment between their message and the experience they are creating.

How do you make sure that your message and the experience you create are aligned?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Service helps us make sense or our strategy at the day to day level

Business strategy focuses upon enabling an organisation to move from its present state to a desired future state. It provides the ‘roadmap’ for this movement. Ultimately this results in thousands upon thousands of actions happening throughout the organisation. The intention of these actions is to move the organisation in the desired direction that the strategy dictates.

Each action is therefore an example of the organisation's ‘strategy in action’. A clear service focus enables these actions to ‘make sense’ in the context of the overall business strategy and can help to connect the people within the organisation to the business strategy on a day to day, action by action level.

Quote from a research participant
When I understood that all I had to do was to focus on understanding the expectations of the people I serve, the whole service thing became a lot clearer. I’m not into big words and I’m not a manager, but I can find out what people expect of me and do my best to fulfil those expectations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TEDx Talks Plan For Personal Success by Gary Ryan

Keynote speech for TEDx Talks at NAB, Docklands Australia on Thursday 21st October 2010.

Gary Ryan, founder of Organisations That Matter explains the underlying concept and five principles and six vital strategies for creating a Plan For Personal Success.

Please visit here to discover more about our options for creating a Plan For Personal Success.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Learn how to ask 'Questions That Matter'

Questioning skills are highly under-rated. Enhancing your ability to ask Questions That Matter will have a profound impact upon your ability to effectively communicate with, and to lead people.

No matter what your organisational role, developing this skill will enhance your effectiveness and performance.

In this interactive webinar recording Gary Ryan provides insights to the basic qualities of creating Questions That Matter.
Duration: 45 minutes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's good business to increase complaints!

The American Express Global Customer Barometer has highlighted the importance of being easy to complain to, especially in places like Australia.

The Australian figures, second to Mexico, highlighted that 86% of Australians will cease doing business with an organisation after a bad service experience. Yet the majority of these Australians will not tell the organisation about their experience. Rather, they will tell their social network, especially if asked. The research reveals that the reason for this behaviour is that Australians find organisations notoriously hard to complain to. So instead they simply switch and tell their friends.

What is interesting is that approximately one in two of these same Australians are willing to give an organisation a second chance, especially if they have previously had good service experiences with that organisation. The issue is that after the second chance, the Australians will simply 'disappear' as customers, especially if there is a viable alternative that is available to them.

The pure economics of the above statistics highlight that it is good business to increase complaints. If an organisation were to become 'easy' to complain to, that same organisation would have more of a chance to 'recover' the customer and maintain a positive relationship with them and stop them from leaving. In simple terms this means that the company ensures that future expenditure from this customer will remain with them.

We are fortunate to live in a world where a customer complaint can be made to a social network and, if you are easy to complain to, that complaints will be heard even though it wasn't said directly to your organisation. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter where the complaint is made, it matters that it is heard and acted upon.

As an example I recently had a poor service experience about an organisation. I 'tweeted' that I was going to write a blog about my experience, which I did the following day. Within eight hours of posting my blog I was contacted by a representative of the company asking for more details and wanting to know how they could resolve my issue for me. Within a couple of days a resolution for my poor experience had been created and I have remained a client of that organisation.

I had no idea that the company had set up (due to a recommendation from a teenage casual contact centre staff member) a 'twitter watch' and a 'blog watch' to look for complaints (and positive comments) so that they could fix them as quickly as possible.

It is in this manner that an increase in customer complaints should be seen as a positive measure rather than a negative one. Unfortunately it is my experience that most companies see increased complaints as a poor result rather than a positive one. Alas, most companies are poor to complain to because they don't want their complaints metrics to rise. Silly, isn't it!

How easy is your organisation to complain to and what are some examples of how this is done?

Gary Ryan has led service excellence award winning teams in multiple categories and is a co-creator of the OTM Service Strategy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Improve your listening by enhancing the quality of your conversations

So you are in yet another meeting. The conversation is flying back and forth yet you feel frustrated by the lack of people really listening to each other. In fact, you find yourself waiting for a 'gap' in the conversation so you can throw your two cents worth into the debate.

The meeting ends. Everyone respectfully nods at each and walks out feeling that the meeting was largely a waste of time, again! You wonder why so many of the meetings that you attend seem to go around and around without people really listening to each other. You try to listen yourself but you find that your listening is just as bad as everyone else's. The real cost as a result of the time wasted in these meetings seems to high to even calculate. Yet the problem persists.

Yes you have been to communication workshop after communication workshop. But it seems that learning to become a better listener is like shouting at grass to grow. Just because someone says that you should listen and paraphrase and watch your body language doesn't actually mean that you'll become a better listener, just like grass won't grow any faster just because someone is shouting at it!

What if there was a technique that enabled you to become a better listener, yet didn't require you to specifically focus on listening?

If you shift your focus away from becoming a better listener to becoming a contributor to higher quality conversations, it is amazing how your listening improves! Higher quality conversations or Conversations That Matter® enable us to see things differently; new horizons, new possibilities, new ways of working together which result in tangible benefits such as new innovative products, new savings, better efficiencies. As Juanita Brown and David Isaacs shared in their wonderful book, The World Cafe, "...accepting the centrality of human conversation as a key organisational means for achieving desired results entails a profound shift of mind - from seeing conversation as a peripheral activity to seeing conversation as one of the organizations most valuable assets."

So how do you even start to create this profound shift of mind?

One way is to start to focus on the quality of the questions that you ask in a conversation. Think about it. What positive difference to the quality of conversations that you participate in would an improved quality of questions (even from just one person), make to that group's conversation? Brown and Isaacs suggest that focusing on the right questions themselves is a powerful way to enable people to open their minds to higher quality conversations. For example, what if in one of the meetings described above you asked, "What questions, if answered, would enable us to achieve the results that we truly desire?"
Part of the reason for the consistently low quality of conversation that many of us experience in organisations is due to the fact that most people are focusing on answers rather than discovering the right questions that are worthy of an answer. For example, how easy would you find it to come up with questions in response to the question above, without trying to answer your own questions first? It is my experience that many people are uncomfortable focusing on generating questions (without answers) largely because it is a skill that has had little attention or focus throughout their development.

At your next meeting, as you follow the conversation, try focusing on this question, "What's the most powerful question that I could ask that will help to improve the quality of this team's conversation?".

A side benefit of focusing on asking powerful questions is that your listening will improve, without you having to focus on it. Try it, you will see that this is true.

I'm interested in hearing about your experiences with regard to enhancing the quality of your workplace conversations through improving your questioning skills.

If you are interested in discovering how to ask 'Questions That Matter®' you may wish to join my free webinar on that topic on Thursday 22nd October, 2010. Please register here if you are interested.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Free Ebook - What Really Matters! Volume 2, Number 3, 2010 released

What Really Matters! Volume 2, Number 3, 2010 has just been released. It is a collection of the main articles on The Organisations That Matter Learning Network (which is hosted by Gary Ryan)  from July 1st 2010 through to September 30th 2010.

The ebook makes it a lot easier for you to reference your favourite articles, as well as providing you with an opportunity to provide a gift to a friend and/or colleague.

You can download the ebook here.

After downloading the ebook, please remember to click the 'Back' button to return to this site.

Please feel free to comment on the value that this ebook provides you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Options For The What Really Matters For Young Professionals! Online Course

The What Really Matters For Young Professionals! Online Course is a 16 lesson program that takes the content of the book to the next level. Each lesson is designed to take between 10 to 30 minutes to complete and is delivered directly to your email inbox.
Links to materials that can be then downloaded and used over and over again, as well as presentations and short videos are included in the lessons.

I recommend that you create a special email folder for the course so that you can refer to the lessons again and again.

While the content for the course is exactly the same, three different course durations are on offer. You simply choose the duration that best fits your situation. You can even purchase the course for a family member or friend - I bet that you have never thought that personal and professional development could be offered as a gift! Who knows, with Xmas around the corner this might be the perfect and unique gift that you could give someone. More information regarding the course is available here.

The three course options are:
  1. 16 lessons in 16 days - click here to order
  2. 16 lessons in 48 days (just under seven days with each course delivered every third day) - click here to order
  3. 16 lessons in 16 weeks - click here to order
In summary you get:
  • An online course delivered directly to your email inbox
  • A free ebook version of What Really Matters For Young professionals!
  • Choice over the timeframes for the course
  • Information in various forms of media to take your understanding of the book's contents to the next level
  • Access to a range of exclusive downloadable forms, presentations and videos that are only available through the course
  • Ability to revisit the course materials as many times as you wish

All of this for just AUS$99.

Please feel free to email me at if you require more information.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In elite sport, as in life, one percenters matter!

For me a defining moment in the Australian Football Leagues (AFL) 2010 Grand Final Replay was the desperate lunge by Collingwood defender Heath Shaw to knock the ball from the hands of St Kilda Captain Nick Riewoldt as he was about to kick the Saints first goal.

Coming from ten metres behind Riewoldt as he marked the ball, Shaw said, "I think little things like that maybe spur the team on. I was just happy to contribute to it."

While very few of us get to reach to glory of becoming an elite sport champion crowned with being a member of the best team in the nation (or world, depending on the sport), we all have the capacity to done 'one percenters' whether at work, at home or in our relationships.

So, what do such 'one percenters' look like?

At work they can be as simple and saying a genuine, "Thank you" or "Please", or remembering a colleagues birthday or partner's and/or children's names. They can be as simple as suggesting a team member leave early one day because of the extra effort they have been putting in over time. They could even involve cleaning up a meeting room and returning it to its pre-meeting state once your meeting is over.

At home they can be as simple as acknowledging and thanking whoever did the cooking, and then taking the time yourself to clean up. With friends it can be a quick phone call, text message or Facebook 'Like' or comment.

'One percenters' by nature aren't hard. They simply take a level of awareness to recognise that they 'can' be done and all they take is a little effort.

On their own 'one percenters' don't make much difference. But added up over time, just like all the 'one percenters' in an AFL Grand Final, they can make all the difference to your performance and the quality of your relationships.

How present are 'one percenters' in your life and what examples do you have of putting them into action?

PS For those who need to know, I am a member of the Western Bulldogs in the AFL

Friday, October 1, 2010

Leadership Insights Series - Cecilia Chan The LiTMUS Group

In the second of our Leadership Insights Series webinar recordings, Gary Ryan interviews Cecilia Chan, a young professional experienced in providing consulting services related to business process management, process design and analysis, process simulation and enterprise architecture.

In this 30 minute webinar you will learn about Cecilia's strategies to progress her career throughout her first five years of employment. You will also learn about the benefits that volunteering provided Cecilia in enabling her to initially break into the workforce, as well as the benefits that can be gained from being a pro-active networker.