Sunday 30 June 2013

Are your actions speaking louder than your theories?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

Wherever you are stuck examine your theory around it.  If you know you should be doing something and aren't, most likely there is something misplaced in your theory.  Don't spend too much time deliberating though, we learn by doing.

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations. 

Saturday 29 June 2013

Private conversations should be just that, private

I overheard a conversation while disembarking from a plane on Thursday along with about 6 other people. The person was speaking so loud on their mobile phone it is a wonder you didn't hear it. Ironically their conversation was about privacy invasion!

Here’s the thing, if I don’t know you, and even if I did, your telephone conversations are none of my business.

This is another example of many of smart phones being used in dumb ways.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Friday 28 June 2013

Great consistency is a key part of the customer experience

This time of the year I carry an umbrella in the bottom of my briefcase.  I have never been stopped at airport screening until this week in Melbourne.  And the security person went way over the top when my bag went through the security device with the umbrella in it.  

On the return flight to Melbourne from Sydney I thought I would avoid unnecessary delay and rudeness by taking my umbrella out of my briefcase.  The security guy said “No need mate thank you, our equipment picks them up easily.”  Same equipment, different response. Guy in Melbourne rude. Guy in Sydney pleasant.

Great consistency is a key part of the customer experience. And the future of your business may well depend on how great. 

How consistent are your policies, procedures, and actual practices?  

And do you have people being rude on your frontline (like airport and airline owners) and you aren't aware of it because no-one has checked lately?

Have you been to the frontline of your business yourself lately and experienced first-hand what your customers are experiencing?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Let people decide

In my country Australia the Labour Minority Government is desperately trying to hold onto to power. The polls in the media suggest they have no hope at the September 14th election, the date the Prime Minister named at the start of the year, so far in advance she said at the time to give people certainty.  The trouble is most people are feeling uncertain and historically (and currently) this means many people put off decisions until they know who the new government will be!

I say let the people decide.  Let's have an election now and get it over with.

In your business forget about governments and ask two simple yet profound questions and let people decide.

1) Do your policies, procedures, practices and systems mean it is simple for people to bring their very best to their work every day?  Let people (your employees) decide the answer.  Wherever the answer is no, change what's normal.

2) Do your policies, procedures, practices and systems mean the customer is having the experience with you that they want?  Let people (your customers) decide the answer. Wherever the answer is no, change what's normal.

Business like government is simple.  We are either serving the majority of people to the best of our ability, or we are not. People decide this, not us. In the case of business employees and customers matters first,  other stakeholders win when they do.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 24 June 2013

What’s your best platform for sharing your story?

“Use the platform that lets you tell your story the way you best want to tell it.”
Chris Brogan

A lot of very valuable insights come from Chris. I found the above in his latest blog post

In terms of online this blog is my preferred platform for sharing my story.

The FAQs page for the Enhancing Their Gifts System would be next.
My free resources page next. 
The Talent Enhancers Tribe page is next.

I use Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter to share and spread the above and to share and spread what my friends and colleagues are sharing that I believe would be valuable for the people I do business with.

The reason I do all of the above and more, is to give a specific group of people value in advance of doing business with me.

My most preferred platform for sharing my story though is in-person with people who value what I have have to offer, know people who would value what I have to offer, and are prepared to introduce me to them.  Deep emotional connection relationships of high value and mutual reward is what I am focused on which for me only happens in-person.

My friend and colleague Gihan Perera says “niche guys finish first.”  I think he is right.  I am very clear on who my niche is.  You are

Ethical, salt of the earth leaders who live humanist values, and are willing to disrupt the status quo when same no longer serves humanity.

You have a keen sense of humour.
You are willing to be accountable.
You see people as they can be, rather than as they are, as overviewed my You’re Special signature story.

You are willing to seriously invest in people.

Typically you have a performance management system that isn’t leading to desired performance improvement or you are looking for a system that will.

You would answer no to parts or all of the following:

Are the majority of your employees bringing their best to their work on a consistent basis?
Do most of your people excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement?
Are most of your employees wise investors in time?
Do all of your employees know their unique gifts/talents and are they enhancing them in their work?
Is your performance management system leading to definitive and easily measurable performance improvement?
Do the majority of your employees know your strategy for growth and particularly do they own their unique piece of your execution map?

What’s your story, how are you sharing it, and who are you sharing it for?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Moving beyond being good

This Sundays sparkenation.

In many aspects of life what was once good enough isn’t anymore.

My friend and Enhancing Their Gifts System accredited mentor Gary Ryan is a leading expert in helping businesses, universities, leaders and talented individuals move Beyond Being Good.

I highly recommend Gary’s Yes for Success program as great way to step up and move beyond being good.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“The enemy of great is good”
Kevin Roberts CEO Worldwide Saatchi & Saatchi

More sparkenations.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Regrets, I've had a few, But then again ...

I listened to my prospective client for more than a hour as he told me of his regrets.  I then said “I’m clear I think on your regrets in life please tell me about your dreams.”  He was quite shocked by my statement.  I explored with him further for fifteen minutes. He didn’t really have any dreams.  I left saddened, with him wondering why I was sad. 

Life’s too short to dwell on regrets.  Life’s too short to have no dreams.
And life is too short to spend time with people stuck in regrets and who are dreamless.

If you’re spending time and energy with people who don’t get it or get you.  Life is too short for that as well.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"Regrets, I've had a few, But then again, too few to mention"
from the song My Way.

“You only get old when regrets replace dreams.”
Kevin Roberts CEO Worldwide Saatchi & Saatchi

Friday 21 June 2013

Happy Birthday to Buy1Give1 - Business Giving Re-defined

The great organisation Buy1Give1 is celebrating its 6th birthday this week.  In a very short time it has made more than 27 million micro-giving impacts.

Check out B1G1's great story.  At the bottom of the link check out the TEDx talk by B1G1 Chairman Paul Dunn.  You will love it!

At Changing What's Normal and in the Talent Enhancers Tribe giving is at our core and we are proud to be a part of B1G1's great story.  We made our latest contribution yesterday as a part of the birthday celebrations.  6 balloons are being pumped every time a member gives this week.  How cool that in B1G1's office they are drowning in a see of balloons.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 20 June 2013

The simplest and most rewarding way to turn your brand into a lovemark

Lovemarks - the future beyond brands by worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Kevin Roberts is one of my favourite books. It makes the list of my top 21 must read business books. 

Lovemarks are described on the website as
“Lovemarks are the future beyond brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.”

One of the keys to turning your brand into a lovemark is being remarkable at talent leadership and management which I overview below

In each of the 5 areas mentioned above how remarkable are you?

The folks at Spark and Hatch produced the following diagram about lovemarks

I believe that deep emotional connections with your target clients/customers begins with deep emotional connections with your employees.

Deep emotional connections with your people will lead to your people doing what your competitors people aren’t or doing what others do, just better, differently or more uniquely.

“Conspicuously extraordinary” (remarkable) talent leadership and management is where deep emotional connection with your employees starts.

Not yet remarkable? I can help.  I have devoted just over half of my life to understanding how leaders make deep emotional connections with employees and employees with each other.  It’s usually complex.  I know how to make it simple.

The number one role of leadership is to help other people discover and enhance their unique talents/gifts and to bring them to their work every day.

One challenge we face is that leading is often lonely.

In an excellent book What's The Future of Business - changing the way businesses create experiences Brian Solis says "Community is much more than being a part of something, it's about doing something together that makes being part of something matter."

I am about such community, doing stuff with like-hearted and minded people that enhances human life.

Be the difference you want to see in the world. 

Wednesday 19 June 2013

We don't need another super-hero

The best writers and film-makers tap into the psyche of humanity.  And they often accurately predict the future such as Arthur C. Clarke and Buckminster Fuller did, amongst thousands of others.

Today there are a lot of super-hero movies with yet another Superman movie coming out.  I suspect these reflect our historical desire for someone to come and save us.

We don't need another super-hero. What we need is ordinary people collaborating together to accomplish extraordinary things.  A thankfully there is evidence of this.

Our politicians and religious leaders can't save us as all the completely unnecessary conflicts in the world continue to demonstrate.  Our political systems are broken, beyond repair I suspect, because they are driven by self-interest.  Any system that says my way is the only way is flawed.

My understanding of all the great teachings is that a messiah isn't coming, we need to save ourselves from ourselves.

The super-hero you need in your life is the one-of-a-kind human being you looked at in the mirror this morning.  Time to step-up and stand-out.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"To be who we are, and to become all that we are capable of becoming,
is the only purpose in life."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday 18 June 2013

9 keys reasons why traditional performance appraisals/performance reviews fail miserably and what to do about

#1. There is a lack of genuine communication about performance. What’s normal is one-way information sharing, box ticking, and completing forms.

#2. There is a lack of alignment and currency between formal reviews and informal conversations about performance.

#3. Appreciating people when they do well and helping them to be accountable when performance doesn’t meet agreed expectations is absent.

#4. There is a lack of candor and authenticity in conversations about performance.

#5. Clarity or shared-view is absent particularly concerning performance standards.

#6. Employees don’t feel valued, fulfilled and loved and therefore discussion about performance is seen as a means to a business result rather than a key part of a meaningful business relationship.

#7. Agreed behaviours that demonstrate living values are not in place and therefore values aren’t lived, they are just words on walls and in annual reports.

#8. People don’t possess a current, relevant document that details their personal and business performance goals and tactics to achieve them.  Therefore conversations about performance can’t be focused and meaningful.

#9. Peformance is formally reviewed annually or six-monthly which is way too long in the modern world when what was relevant yesterday isn’t today.

I have made it simple for you to change what’s normal in all of the above through the Enhancing Their Gifts System.  Please take a look at the system or get in touch with me.  In very quick time one of my accredited mentors or myself can help you to change all of the above 9 reasons why traditional performance appraisals/performance reviews fail so miserably.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Monday 17 June 2013

If you know it, speak it

A blog I value reading every week is from the folk at Enablers Network. My thanks to them for their most recent blog which alerted me to a brilliant TED talk 'Dare to disagree'by Margaret Heffernan.

I am a big fan of Margaret for her excellent book 'Wilful Blindness' which sadly I see a lot of in my work. Wilful blindness is one of the great barriers to progress in the world today.

One of the 6 BIG challenges facing leaders in the workplace is that most people don't yet excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement.

This is a skill issue yet more it is an issue of the will.

A key factor in this is elephants in the room.

Most of what could be better about an organisation is known yet unsaid (it is said underground and away from the organisation). For 22 years I have been walking into organisations as an adviser and I am told, usually within an hour, of what could be better and yet no one has raised issues with insiders for fear of reprisal or fear for their jobs and other nasty reasons. A common reason is a cultural issue of not talking about what can be perceived as unpleasant.

Sometimes I name the elephants myself. Once or twice I have been thrown out for doing so! Usually I mentor people to name the elephants themselves. The outcome usually is relief and very quickly elephants are humanely removed. Soon creativity and innovation happen. Often the reaction is why was this not spoken about before?

The known not being said and a failure to excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement is costing organisations billions, probably trillions. The biggest cost though is to human life.

Most of the great disasters of my life-time could have been avoided, and most of the trouble in organisations too. It takes someone on the inside to speak up and to do so long before a consultant or an auditor arrives.

If you know it, speak it, otherwise you are guilty of wilful blindness and a tragedy could be about to happen.

If you are afraid, for whatever reason, please find an ally inside and/or seek outside help today.
A great place to begin is watch Margaret Heffernan's TED talk.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Content without context is of very little value

This Sundays sparkenation.

Almost everyday I receive or see something online about content marketing. Most of it is just stuff without a context for me.  It's typical of most marketing and most media; it misses the point. Content without context is of very little value.

I love this 1 hour presentation by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary wonderfully captures for me the key to success in business - how we see and treat human beings.  And he beautifully puts marketing into context.

And I love his last line (accepting that I am taking it out of context!)

"Take all the money your spending on dumb shit and put it into humans."
Gary Vaynerchuk

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Friday 14 June 2013

Bereft of ideas yet soon to win government, a lesson for business leaders

Up front let me state that I am not a member of any political party, never have been, unlikely I ever will be.  I have a distrust of the political system and see governments as primarily in the way of progress.  We need governments yet in my view they have too much power and interfere too much in our lives.  

In the Australian political system aside from a goods and services tax, which from memory was borrowed from the Labour party, I am not aware in my lifetime that the conversative party, the Liberals, have come up with anything truly visionary.  The Labour party has come up with all the ideas and brought about the greatest legislative change.  The thing is that Labour have rarely been seen by voters as good managers of the economy whereas the Liberals have been and so in the upcoming election in less than 100 days time all the polls sugggest the Liberals will win in a landslide.

How can a party bereft of ideas win government? Answer the economy rules.

If the economy rules in your business, if profit is your reason for being in business, likely you will win for a time.  In the long run though you too will be bereft of ideas and achieving possibility will be beyond your grasp.

Profit is not a reason for being in business, profit is a result of being good at business.

What drives all the great organisations is a cause beyond profit and a culture where creativity thrives and innovation, the successful implementation of ideas, actually happens.

Both the Prime Minister and the person who would be Prime Minister in Australia are poor communicators and poor storytellers.  I won’t be voting for either of them.  Their predessors as leaders of their respective parties were the ideas people.  Both were dumped because winning is about the economy not innovation and doing things that really matter.

If you are not yet articulate as a leader, time to learn and fast.  You will need to ensure however that the vision you are articulating is in harmony with common sense actions and sound business practices to turn the vision into reality.  Otherwise your vision will fail and for you too it will become all about the money.

Business is tricky.  We must be innovative and continually striving to either do what others don’t, or do what others do, just better, differently or more uniquely.

At the same time we must manage our money and be able to fund our vision.  Otherwise we go the way of governments, short term idealists who achieve little value for the long term and that benefits the greater good.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Thursday 13 June 2013

"Purple You" another great rap from the Book Rapper

I love Geoff McDonald's Book Raps.

I highly recommend signing up for Geoff's free six week course.

You get 7 of Geoff's raps.  The second one you receive "Purple You" includes 8 great suggestions on how to uncover your special talent, your genius, your gift, your artistry.

I spend a part of every day thinking about how to help people uncover their talents/gifts.  Geoff's 8 great suggestions have added a lot of value to my work.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

When the seemingly insignificant really matters

Talent is often is the eyes of the receiver.

What do people feel when they receive your work?

I had a sense of deja vu last night while ordering fish and chips!  The shop owner added up a whole lot of people's orders in his head.  This was in stark contrast to the shop assistant I was dealing with earlier who it seemed couldn't operate without a calculator.  My deja vu was of years back when a fish and chip shop owner never wrote down a single order regardless of how many people where in the shop.  And I never saw him get an order wrong.  I often returned to his shop just to thrill at his talent.

Which of your talents are people coming back for?

I believe every human being has gifts that are significant to someone.  And what is seemingly insignificant to one person is highly significant to another.

Thank people today for their talents.  If what someone does for you matters to you, let people know.

Be grateful for all your gifts.  They matter to someone.

Seek out more people who are grateful for what you gift them.  Niche matters more than mass.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Connection and high performance - a candid conversation with Amanda Gore

I was thrilled today to chat with Amanda Gore about connection and high performance.

Amanda shares great insights into joy, gratitude and overcoming fear, all keys to performing at optimum levels.

For more insights please visit Amanda's website and The Joy Project.

My next changing what's normal candid conversation is on July 17th at 12.10 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. My very special guest is B1G1 Chairman Paul Dunn. We will be discussing collaboration and contribution. Find out more.

Be the difference you want to see in the world

Sunday 9 June 2013

Three frogs

This Sunday's sparkenation with thanks to my colleague Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter for reminding me of the following

Three frogs are sitting on a log.
One decides to jump.
How many are left on the log?
Answer: Three.

Deciding to do something is not the same as doing it.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Saturday 8 June 2013

Self-leadership is everyone’s business

I participated in a community forum during the week where members of the public were invited to share their ideas about what to do about a number of people soon to lose their jobs as a major employer closes down and about creating a jobs vision for our city in general.

I left with three feelings
a lot of people are into blaming other people for their plight.
a lot of people think the solutions to the challenges will come from other people.
there is an expectation that the government will fund people out of their woes.

The greatest entreprenuerial revolution in history is happening right now.
Are you onboard?  Are you leading?

We can control our own destiny.  In fact we must or someone else will.

Forget about blame and shame, forget about other people coming up with solutions, forget about the government.  Get on with it yourself.  And you know what, when you take responsibility other people will, mysteriously it seems to some, put their shoulders at the wheel with you.

All change is personal first.  And all leadership starts with self.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Thursday 6 June 2013

What’s the economy for anyway?

My reading this week is What’s the economy for anyway? a book by John De Graaf and David K. Batker.  Their book has the sub-title Why It’s Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness.

A premise of the authors is that we need new goals for our economy in line with what is for the “greatest good, for the greatest number, over the longest run.”

The big shift in my life-time is society becoming part of the economy.  I work every day in part to see the return of the economy to being part of society.  

I am for the “greatest good, for the greatest number, over the longest run.”  Where do you stand?

I stand against anything that’s good for a few and disadvantages many.  I am against short-termism and unsustainable practices that are jeopardising the future for my grandchildren.

As for happiness.

I am with Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel who in an excellent book The Real Enjoyment of Living said:

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”

Happiness is wanting what you have.

I meet a lot of people who are always focused on getting and having more.

I meet a few people grateful for what they have. These folk realise

Wanting what you have = gratitude
Having what you want = gratification

Less gratification, more gratitude is a key to the sustainable future of our world.

Be the difference you want to see in the world


Tuesday 4 June 2013

Why do businesses advertise? Beats me!

Last night I went to the movies with my wife and sister-in-law.  The first 25 minutes were ads.
There was a great rumbling in the audience after about 10 minutes with the group feeling and some individuals stating: When is the movie going to start?

Why do businesses advertise?  Beats me!

I don't remember a single product or service advertised on the big screen last night.  All I remember is the wasting of 25 minutes of my time.

When did you last buy a product or service based on an ad you saw?

My answer is a very, very long time ago!

Advertising for me is an unwelcome interruption.  When I watch television I do something else while the ads are on.  At least at the movie theatre the ads are on all at once and not interrupting viewing like they do on television.

When I want to buy a product or service I google it first.  I take notice of what people I trust say about the purchase I am considering.  What do you do?

If you are relying on placed ads to grow your business you have a commodity and it is only a matter of time before someone offers a cheaper price.

On the other hand if people are sharing and spreading your good news story as a part of their every day lives, it is likely you have a thriving business where people deal with you because of the value they perceive you are providing and where price is only a small consideration for your customers.

It seems to me that the big companies, think car makers, fast food retailers, cosmetic and drug companies, advertise to maintain visibility in a sea of choices.

I'd rather be about serving a few people than trying to appeal to the masses.

I much prefer to share with people who I have permission to do so and not risk interrupting a stranger looking for a good night out.

How about you?

Be the diference you want to see in the world.

Monday 3 June 2013

Catch conflict before it kills your performance

Not being able to excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement is one of the 6 great challenges (see below) that must be overcome to ensure a highly successful 21st century enterprise.

As we all know, prevention is better than cure.  Here are 3 actions to prevent conflict, difficulty or disagreement from happening in the first place.

1) Establish a shared-view about what really matters

Shared-view is sparkenation 5 and key theme of my Changing What's Normal book.

We live in three worlds: the world in here, the world out there, and the world we share. In here, our views are just that, out there are other people’s views. In the world we share are the views we agree on.

In any successful relationship the world we share is the critical one.

Human conflict is fundamentally the result of failure to agree on the goal or failure to agree on the actions to achieve the goal.

I guarantee that today all of our troubles, personal, local, organisational, national, and international, are fundamentally based in our perceived need to hang onto the world in here, our issues with the world out there, and, our failure to focus more on the world we share.

Catch conflict before it kills your performance by spending a lot of time and energy getting a shared-view around

where you are (reality)
where you’re going (possibility)
why you’re going there (purpose)
how you will get there (strategy)
who will do what and when (execution)
how you will know you are on track (milestones or lead measures)
how you will behave along the way (values)

Shared-view makes it simple for people to own their unique piece of the strategy execution plan of your business. Shared-view must be revisited continually.

In the Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS) every employee has a 90 day personal and business performance possibility plan (PPP) that is their piece of your execution puzzle. Crucially within the PPP there are agreed milestones so that people can always know that they are on track.  The critical piece of ETGS is that daily conversations take place about performance and centre around shared-view and the actions detailed in PPPs.  This means that everyone knows where they are at and where they stand every single day.

2) Ask more questions - give less answers

When every employee has their piece of your strategy execution puzzle as oultined above, it is simple to ask questions about how they are going in fulfilling their piece.

When people first begin to implement and embed the Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS) we teach them the Double A technique below to help people to begin the journey of asking more questions and giving less answers.  Taking this action means that very soon people become accountable.  One outcome is considerably less conflict.

The Double A Technique

Ask: “How are things going?”

When you get a positive response:

Ask: “How does that make you feel?” (be quiet and pay attention)

Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate.

Then ask: “Any other areas I can help you with?” (be quiet and pay attention)

When you get a negative response

Ask: “What happened?” (be quiet and pay attention)

Then Ask: “What do you need to do to get back on track?” (be quiet and pay attention)

Then Ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you?” (be quiet and pay attention)

Finally, Ask: “Anything else?” (be quiet and pay attention)

3) Continually share the story of your shared-view

As a leader your number one role is to maximise talent, your own and those of others.  Your second major role is that of storyteller.

Continually share the story of your organisations shared-view i.e.

where you’re going (possibility)
why you’re going there (purpose)
how you will get there (strategy)
who is doing what and when (execution)
how you know that you are on track (milestones or lead measures)
how you behave along the way (values)

The more you share the story of your shared-view, and the more other people do too, the greater your organisational culture and the more attractive you will be to new and current employees.

A key outcome of the above three actions is less conflict, difficulty and disagreement. 

There will always be conflict, difficulty and disagreement, such is human nature.  Take the above three actions and you will be better equipped to excel at conversations about performance.

When we change the conversation, we can change performance.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Life is different when viewed from the edge

This Sunday's sparkenation.

Life is different when viewed from the edge.

In what areas of your business could you move closer to the edge, and be in a place where no-one else is?

It is difficult to do what no-one else is doing.  Not so difficult to do what others are doing, just better, differently, or more uniquely.  We just have to move to the edge.

Your move.

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.