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This why we need special rooms to be innovative

10 Jun

innovation cave

One of the myths around innovation is that you need some kind of ‘special conditions’ to bring out the creative in you. See the Google workplace and just about every ad agency in the known universe.

I love these rooms with their funny pics and pinball machines and pool tables.

And I like how I get to wear my jeans – wow I feel so free!

Hang on there … I’ve got an idea coming. Here it is.

No wait. It’s stopped somewhere up the line to get some new passengers on board.

The names of those passengers are Mr Tired, Ms Bored, Mr Lazy and the Count of no account.

We’re all creative and we don’t need any special conditions to think of new ways. Just some energy and imagination.

The newer consumer decision journey

27 May

The consumer decision journey traditional

According to McKinsey, the way consumers purchase and the journey they travel to get to that purchase has changed. The traditional model (above) suggests that the process is fairly uncomplicated from awareness of a need > to familiarity with a range of solutions > to the consideration stage > next to purchase and finally loyalty (we hope.)

The consumer decision journey

The newer consumer decision journey model describes a more circuitous approach which fits with the digital age where research and comparison shopping is far easier and online reviews can make or break a product/brand. It also looks at buyer perception of brands which in itself is no new thing.

This old coke ad is all about building brand perceptions which they do nicely with their image – modern for it’s time.

old coke ad

To quote the authors ‘Our research showed that the proliferation of media and products requires marketers to find new ways to get their brands included in the initial-consideration set that consumers develop as they begin their decision journey. We also found that because of the shift away from one-way communication—from marketers to consumers — toward a two-way conversation, marketers need a more systematic way to satisfy customer demands and manage word-of-mouth.’ (+ online reviews.)

The research, according to the article, identified two different types of customer loyalty, challenging companies to reinvigorate their loyalty programs and the way they manage the customer experience. It also reinforced the importance of aligning all elements of marketing—strategy, spending, channel management, and message—with the journey that consumers undertake when they make purchasing decisions but also of integrating those elements across the organisation.

No more silos!

Source: McKinsey Quarterly

Image

Making america great again

17 Oct

wake up

Hands on works

1 Oct

Bee a hands on leader

Real leaders often get in there and get their hands dirty. They come up with coal dust directly from the coal face. They do the do and lead by example. They show the ‘how’ to their people. They take the strategy and implement it. They man (can you still say that?) the phones and provide excellent customer service and in the process delight their customers. They fill in when staff aren’t able to. They work shoulder to shoulder and win respect from their people while at the same time gaining an understanding of who their people are (Emotional Intelligence.)

In small business owner/directors have to be hands on.

I was always taught that in order to be a ‘boss’ I would need to know what was entailed in even the most menial task. Only then could I delegate correctly.

Bees are workers and they build amazing structures that hold up human existence. They are pollinators who manually transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilising the plant so it can grow and produce food. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.

Be like a BEE.

 

Donald Trump and the Shoulds

11 Sep

“The upheaval of our world and the upheaval in consciousness is one and the same. Everything becomes relative and therefore doubtful. And while man, hesitant and questioning, contemplates… his spirit yearns for an answer that will allay the turmoil of doubt and uncertainty.”

So wrote Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Jung was also interested in and influenced by philosophy, sociology, religion and spirituality.

carl-jungI

Trump, Kanye and Kimye and the blur between reality and reality TV 

We are all living in a period of great uncertainty where our politicians and the major parties are no longer trusted (see the political rise of showmen like Donald Trump in the US and our own One Nation’s resurge.) The problems of globalisation, immigration, warfare and refugees, economic cycles, ageing populations, industry and technology and of course climate change have rendered us all into a state of unknowingness and sometimes fear. Trump and his often unstructured and simplistic rants wouldn’t have made it to second base in past US Presidential campaigns let alone get endorsed by the conservative Republican party if he wasn’t striking a chord with alienated, scared voters who no longer trust their politicians.

Trump is also a reality TV star so maybe Kanye and Kimye could be future Commander in Chief and his first lady. This says a lot about the pre-occupation with celebrity and branding. It’s more fun hanging out in billionaires mansions than listening to men in suits talking about fiscal policy + we get to live their lives vicariously (and escape our own) for an hour a week.

As human beings, we crave certainty around our lives as this gives us control. 

In reality there is no certainty much less control. We can be comfortably off and get sick. We can be employed and lose a job through no fault of our own. Our bread winning industry can go off-shore. In a lot of ways, life is random and full of paradoxes.

It’s hard to live this way but there is no choice and often pain and hardship open doors that were not visible through the haze of contentment.

The shoulds

Many years ago I was introduced to ‘The shoulds.’ It goes like this:

We should have a job and do well. We should be happy in our personal lives and have rich and fulfilling relationships. We should always do the right thing and not make mistakes.

Shoulds also relate to others in our lives:

Friends should be true and stick by you.

Family should be there for you.

Managers and employers should recognise you for your work and enthusiasm.

Shoulds let us down and make us naive.

Let go of the shoulds both for yourself and others in your life.

Be open to change because it’s rapid nowadays.

Instead enrich yourself with learning, creating and thinking outside of yourself.

VET FEE HELP … is THE PARTY OVER?

9 Jan

vet feeI’ve been involved in vocational education and training now for over 20 years initially entering the sector by pure chance. I started with TAFE and found that my real experience in business and in a number of industries was key. In other words I wasn’t just a teacher.

Over time I worked in the not for profit sector managing the NEIS program for small business entrepreneurs, worked as a trainer/assessor for international colleges, became an instructional designer because of the lack of or poor quality of training materials, became experienced in the online environment and then worked for VET FEE providers.

With VET FEE – I started with face to face and suddenly found myself in classrooms with diverse people (many of whom didn’t want to be there.)

I’m a skilled and entertaining trainer so I was able to gain the respect of the students and turn the focus around. In one particular group I had a mix of an 18 year old right up to a 60 + . We had fun and they learned.

In the online sphere I worked as a course coordinator/program advisor/training manager while also developing learning materials designed to tell realistic stories around workplaces making the experience valid and interesting.

Online can be a lonely place so I worked with a team of mentors who managed students/learners to assist with progression and motivation. I quickly found out that just because your online, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be treated personally. I worked directly with learners and found that they were tremendously happy to have some help that transcended a downloadable pdf with too much information (or not enough) and a few distended assessment tasks.

Working with and managing mentors and trainers/assessors has also been interesting. I found that for the most part they are hard working, dedicated and creative if they are given the opportunity and the leadership.

So it’s still people to people: online or off.

Yes. There have been changes and it seems that the money tree has lost its leaves. There are more hurdles to jump for providers and brokers and this will see a downsizing of the industry as it’s no longer viable to employ vast numbers of employees to service the learners.

It will also be harder for RTO’s to sign up students and there are so many other hurdles (LLN etc) it’s looking like a steeplechase.

But one thing hasn’t changed. People still need to be trained. They still need qualifications on their CV’s.

CUT YOUR OVERHEADS NOT THE QUALITY. 

My advice to RTO’s who are scratching their heads … have a small but dedicated team who know what they are doing. Make the content interesting and current by discontinuing/limiting off the shelf content and providing other content.

One good trainer and a small team of mentors who understand the content can train and progress your learners … and they’ll be happy.

Australia in a state of change…so what’s new.

Industries grow and shrink but my family had a business that started in 1933 (midst of the great depression), and operated for 70 years.

How did we do that?

By keeping our eye on the ball, changing when trends changed, offering personalised service and our own unique products + promoting our brand personality.

Skilled operators will keep operating and make money.

Contact me and redefine your business model.

 

 

 

Always merry and bright

24 Jan

Henry Miller

Henry Miller is a hero of mine ever since I read a biography of him ‘Always Merry and Bright.’

An original voice and a trail blazer, he was known for breaking with existing literary forms. An author of over 60 books including The Tropic of Cancer, his writing remains powerful and brave. He left New York to go to Paris in 1930 to follow his dream of becoming a writer and to mix with other artists. What he found was struggle and poverty. To overcome this he asked all his friends to send him $1 a day. An early crowd funder.

What I love about Henry was that he was delighted with life including all the troubles and travails. He kept on at his art even when he was criticised and his books were banned.

Being always merry and bright is a mindset. It’s a way of looking at things from a distance.

Seeing as work takes up a large percentage of our lives, this is more than important – it’s a necessity.

Managers should never stop people being happy at work. Happy is a key to productivity and makes way for open thinking and creativity … something business always seems to strive for.

A tough micro managed environment leads to a loss of motivation.

There’s no happiness.

You can sense a creative environment and you don’t need special spaces with pool tables and signs on the wall.

You just need the right leaders. They create the environment.

Working hard and not getting noticed

20 Dec

Untitled-1

When I was a kid you could buy a brand of bubble gum that had these silly signs on a cardboard plaques called ‘wacky placks.’ One of them I found quite amusing. It said Work fascinates me … I can sit and watch it for hours.

As I’ve weaved my way through so many workplaces I have worked alongside many amazing people who don’t get recognised for a whole lot of reasons. These people may not be the greatest communicators and they may not have ever had the skill to position themselves to get recognised but they still keep producing.

In their hearts they bow to anonymity.

They practice humility on a daily basis.

They fix things and get teams working.

But they’re hardly ever up at the rostrum or at the board room table.

Leaders … real leaders understand humility and no ego. They know what’s going on in their business. And more importantly they see who’s doing what.

Not everyone is a big talker who knows how to be noticed.

Take care of these people and surprise them with some thank you’s and pats on the back.

They are the engines that run your business.

Working with Gen wotever

30 Aug

dobell

Quite recently I have had the privilege of working with a team of Gen Y’s. I think that’s their gen name (as opposed to genome) anyway. Their a bit older than Charles Lloyd Jones in this William Dobell portrait. They’re younger than me anyway. 

We have been working on a huge and creative project – something I couldn’t do on my own. These gens have been working with me and I have been managing them and their output. 

And yes … it’s true, they do work differently. They are definitely not your old time bank clerk types. They have different clocks and they can drift off but never too far.

What I have enjoyed is telling them stuff. It’s creative and we do a lot of writing. I tell them about The Confederacy of Dunces and the Catcher in the Rye. About original writers who also wrote and thought about freedom and how it dwells in the mind a lot of the time.

I give them tasks and I check up on them with a ‘how’s it going?’ lame style of management. I don’t get too concerned when they wander off and they do from time to time but I do keep track on deadlines.

We get along fine and they are producing – and more often than not, they surprise me with their work.

So I say Gen wotever. Show people respect and listen to them. When you delegate tell stories and have a laugh. 

Oh yeah … and say thanks.

Often

it’s a mad mad mad world of metrics

12 Jul

harold lloyd

We all know about metrics. The back end of the internet. The analytics. The tracking mechanisms of sites. 

They come in all shapes too. Line graphs. Dials. Segments. Bar charts. 

And they are great and necessary. How else do we know ‘how we’re doing!’

This is about productivity and we all have to be productive don’t we? Work, work, work …

There’s no time in an asynchronous world to stop and think. 

Why would you do that? There’s stuff to do. People are restless and they want it NOW.

I’ve spent time in organisations where metrics are key drivers, and that is fine. But when dials and graphs are key drivers, then strategy can go out the window if there is weak and lazy leadership.

Strategy is of the utmost importance. It’s the beginning of innovations. It’s the way to do things differently and better.

The fast knee-jerk get this done now attitude is a band aid solution.

Metrics can freak poor managers/leaders out because these measures make them or their area look bad, so they rush to fix something and it sets an unrealistic pace where mistakes are made and people break down or worse – feel like galley slaves, rowing to the beat of a drum.

I’m all for measurements and monitoring because I like change. 

But don’t let it freak you out. Sit down and think about things. Come up with new ways of doing things.

Calm down