Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why some people don’t respond to our emails

I had a very interesting and valuable conversation with a colleague yesterday about emails and my occassional frustration about the fact that a lot of people these days do not respond to my emails, or if they do, in the main people seem to take a long time to reply.


For the record I receive about 100 emails per day of which about 20% are spam.  Of the 80 that aren’t spam I reply to them within 24 hours, regardless of where I happen to be in the world.  I consider this a courtesy.  If people have taken the time and energy to write to me I consider it an obligation to respond, whether they have asked me to or not. I do tell people I generally only answer emails twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. I appreciate this is my choice and I understand I have no right to expect reciprocity.

My colleague (one who rarely replies to my emails!) suggested she only replies as a general rule if there is a call to action and that if in her view she feels that the email was directed to her personally rather than a general email that feels like a cut and paste.  My friend would never reply to a group email not specifically addressed to her.

We live in an age where social media is overwhelming to many people.  It is a choice I say, however I do admit that the volume of it all causes a noise so loud, it is tempting to ignore it all, or only choose to engage sparingly.

Here are the ways in summary that I manage social media:

  • I only answer emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night unless it suits me to do otherwise. Nobody minds if you let them know up front. My clients tell me my service is right up there with the best and that they get replies from me faster than anybody else
  • I am in 42 groups on LinkedIn however most are for research purposes and keeping up to date with what people are saying in my fields of expertise. I actively contribute to 5 groups, one being Leaders Cafe Foundation which is a strong alliance partner with differencemakers community
  • I tweet at least once daily which also automatically updates my linkedin status meaning I don’t have to.
  • I use tweet deck to do most retweets because it is easier than on the twitter site
  • I blog twice a week and cut and paste the same blog onto usually 6 different sites where I have a following
  • I update Facebook once a week that includes invitations from new friends etc. I delete Facebook emails in my inbox
  • I update the other 15 sites I am a member of once a fortnight and whereever possible do this automatically via Twitter updates. I only respond to emails from these other sites once a week and tell people this is what I do
  • I write a monthly ezine in addition to the weekly update I write for differencemakers community. My ezine also gets published on several other sites which requires some work on my part
I am spending 24 hours a week doing the above and working on the differencemakers community which takes me about half that time.

Important


My key business growth strategy is that buyers of my services and products come to me. Beginning 18 months ago I have phased out all traditional marketing, selling, networking etc., etc., and I am very glad I did. I spend my time and energy as described above adding value and giving my insights away. I operate a free to fee business model. I give lots of valuable stuff away. Relationships develop and grow. A percentage of people then pay for additional insights particularly when such insights are delivered in person which obviously suits what I do.

My strong suggestion would be that unless you have a business growth strategy like mine you shouldn’t be spending any more than a couple of hours per day on social media and social networking (including email), otherwise your productivity will be negatively effected and your return on investment poor.

PS I predict email will soon be if it isn’t already the poor cousin to twitter or another tool not yet invented. Much of my regular contact with folk is now via direct message on twitter which is easily managed using tweet deck and because of the 140 character limit you quickly learn to say more through less words which also helps productivity.

PSS My monthly mobile phone plan recently expired so I got an iphone. I am paying less than I was before including insurance! Yes the iphone is a really great device. It means I carry my laptop less for one thing however the key is it is turned off most off the time as my previous phone was because I make and receive calls etc., when it suits me in order to maximise my productivity.  My clients and friends know this is my modis operandi.

Call to action

How about you?  How do you manage social media?
I would be very intersted in your thoughts either via the comment box or via direct email to me ian@ianberry.au.com

For the record I have resolved as a result of the conversation with my colleague to:
  • Not send emails as a general rule to a group of people
  • Be more personal in what I write
  • Always ask for a response or provide a call to action
Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on my 8 critical factors of building and growing a successsful business in the modern world. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a program for your organisation please visit here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Cure For Which There's No Known Disease

In one of my group mentoring sessions, we were looking at evaluating new products and services in order to make them more successful.

Broadly, the success of any new product or service depends on three things:

  1. Who will buy it - i.e. the market.
  2. What you are selling - i.e. the product (or service) itself.
  3. How you will sell it - i.e. the marketing.

Most of the people in the group scored well on product and marketing, but their weakest area was their understanding of the market.

This is common!

Many business owners fall in love with their products and services, and forget their market. They create a beautiful, sophisticated, high-quality product; but forget about whether there's a market for it. They create a cure for which there's no known disease!

This is doubly true of many differencemakers - and it's not surprising to see why. After all, if you're passionate about a cause, it's easy to get so caught up in it that you forget other people who don't (yet!) share that passion.

I'm not saying this is true of everybody, nor even for the clients in my group mentoring. But it is a common trap.

You don't have to obsess about your market and be totally market-driven. After all, by definition, a differencemaker offers something new.

But it's also easy to over-estimate your knowledge of your market. If you think you know what they want, you could spend a lot of time, money and energy on the wrong strategy.

Here's a quick quiz to help you ...

Here's a quick quiz to help you evaluate your understanding of your market. It's easy - just answer (a), (b) or (c) for each of these five questions.

(Note, by the way, that I'm using the word "product" to refer to any new offering - whether it's an actual product, a service, an awareness campaign, or whatever)

  1. Niche:
    a. I am aiming this product at a small, clearly defined niche market.
    b. I am aiming this product at a mass market.
    c. I'm not sure of the target market for this product.

  1. Problems:
    a. I have surveyed a broad cross-section of my market to find out their specific problems.
    b. I have done a few informal surveys of my market to find out their specific problems.
    c. I haven't asked my target market for their specific problems.

  1. Demand:
    a. I have done significant research to measure the demand for this product.
    b. I have done a bit of research to measure the demand for this product.
    c. I don't yet know whether there's a demand for this product.

  1. Price:
    a. I have tested various price points to learn what my target market will pay for this product.
    b. I have some indicator of a good price point, based on competitive products and services.
    c. I don't know what people will be willing to pay for this product.

  1. Trust:
    a. The majority of my customers will be people who have bought related products from me already.
    b. The majority of my customers will be people who know about me, though they haven't bought from me yet.
    c. The majority of my customers will be people who have never heard of me before.

Now score 2 points for each (a), 1 point for each (b) and 0 for each (c).

How did you go?

If you have a high score, that's a good sign. It means you've probably got a fairly good understanding of your market, which means you're more likely to succeed.

On the other hand, if you have a low score, it might mean that you may have to rethink this before you start investing time, money, and energy into launching this new product. At least, think more carefully about your market!

Try the full questionnaire ...

If you found this useful, you can try the full 16-question questionnaire - at no charge. It covers all three areas: market, product and marketing.

Do the questionnaire here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

From hero to zero - lessons in leadership from observations of Australia's ex Prime Minister

Yesterday Julia Gillard became Australia's first female Prime Minister replacing Kevin Rudd who stood down.  Mr. Rudd was, up until very recently, one of Australia's most popular politicians.  We can learn much about leadership from his fall.

Mr Rudd and his then Deputy, Ms. Gillard, were elected in 2007 in a landslide.  They promised much and in my view delivered some.  Mr. Rudd's apology to the indigenous people and the 'stolen generation' were landmark days.  His world leadership on climate change was breathtaking albeit that the result was zero. We have seen massive changes to our health system and of recent months Mr. Rudd has championed a change to the taxation system which it seems most people agree has merit however to which the Mining industry revolted against because of how the proposed changes were put to them, and Mr. Rudd's so-called leadership began to unravel.  Mr' Rudd's government has also been attempting a revolution in the education sector and many other major changes.

Here are my lessons about leadership from observing Kevin Rudd:

Making big promises is easy to do however if anything goes wrong people begin to doubt our leadership.  Lesson: Better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Lecturing people never engages them.  Mr. Rudd has been lecturing Mining industry leaders and they resented it particularly as they thought he was talking about things he had very little expertise in.
Lessons: Don't speak in public about things you know little about; Don't lecture people.

If we stop listening to what the people at the grass roots level are saying we forfeit the right to lead.
Lessons:  All politics is local.  The person on the street is the best barometer.  Listen to what people are saying and act accordingly.  It appears everyone knew Mr. Rudd had lost the plot except him!

Telling people what we are going to do without genuine consultation with them before hand is a recipe for failure.  Lesson: Genuinely consult with stakeholders before making decisions.  Negotiation and collaboration always has more of a chance of success than telling.


Confidence can easily comes across as arroganceMy observations are that Mr. Rudd's early successes went to his head and ego got in the way.  In the end I believe Mr. Rudd to be a decent man who tried to bring about massive and needed changes however in the end he got in his own way.  Lessons: Don't believe your own publicity; maintain a common touch even when success reaches dizzy heights.


Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian

Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

PS I found Julia Gillard's first interviews as Prime Minister of Australia breathtaking for her honesty and plain speak.  If this continues she may be the first politician I know of to not be stained by spin and with her colleagues achieve something special for her country and maybe the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chasing followers on social media is fantasy - the key is the second degree

It is not who you know.
It is not who knows you.
It is who knows you who is prepared to recommend you to who knows them. 
In other words the key is the second degree away from you, rather than the people directly connected to you.
I laugh every time I see a tweet that suggests 1000 ways to get more followers.  Who cares?  

The number of followers we have is irrelevant.  What matters is how many friends and fans we have.  Friends may buy our products and services or more than likely tell other people about our products and services.  Fans do both.
I recently analyzed my LinkedIn connections.  At the time I had 583 connections.  Who do they know?  At the time 197,500 people! So when I do the right thing by my 583 first degree connections I have the possibility of them referring me to more people than I would ever need in my business in my lifetime. The key is the second degree.
Something else interesting I noted while doing my LinkedIn review. Just over a quarter of my 583 connections are my market.  The rest are my mates.
This is both good and better news.  The good news is that I have 152 possible clients that I already have a relationship with.  The better news.  I have 431 friends (some are fans too!) who could possibly refer me to other people.
Some questions for you:
Are you focused on attracting followers or friends and fans?
Are you careful when using social media to provide value to your market that is different to the value you provide your mates?
I would be very interested in your thoughts.
You can become my friend by connecting with me on LinkedIn, joining me at differencemakers community, or signing up for my monthly gift list.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian

Monday, June 21, 2010

A ‘Grandchildren Standard’ an article on CSR and Sustainability by Warren Levy

I recently read one of the best articles I have ever read on sustainability by Warren Levy the President of Compelling Meetings.

My favourite paragraphs from Warren’s article

Instead, we could optimize for sustainability.  A “Grandchildren” standard asks, “What would we do if grandchildren were our principal stakeholder?”  This obviously would not satisfy the Icarcists need to soar.  However, most investors want sustained returns; labor seeks sustained employment; and customers prefer continuous competition in price, convenience and performance.

The “No Tomorrow” and “Grandchildren” standards reflect different business values, with time as the principal variable. Each seeks to optimize the performance of a company, but using decidedly different timeframes.


Please read the full article here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors for success in modern business here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strategic audit for 8 critical factors for success in modern business

My past 8 posts have been about my eight critical factors for success in modern business.

To take action on these 8 I suggest you first undertake the following strategic audit:
 



















Then take massive action. You will improve the performance of your business immeasurably and in the process build a more sustainable business that is good for people, our planet, and increase your profits if that is one of the goals of your business.

For your convenience I have put my 8 blogs about my 8 critical factors for success in modern business here in one special report.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors.  Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Your culture must be a community within communities

Primarily there are three kinds of organisations:

Those for people and/or planet.
Those for profit.
Those for people, planet, and profit.

This third kind of organisation is pursuing the so-called triple bottom line (environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic prosperity);

Organisations purely for profit are in my view headed for dinosaur status. Why?

Profit is not a reason for being in business rather it is a result of being good at business.

Whatever you do in your business, you are affecting the communities in which you operate, positively or negatively, or more than likely, both. Build a culture of community in your organisation and you can embrace sustainability which is the zeitgeist of our time.

Here are some actions you can take:

Be aware of the communities or tribes to use the vernacular, your stakeholders are a part of. We all belong somewhere. And why we belong where we do provides key insights into who we are and what we do.

Learn about tribes. Seth Godin is one of the gurus I admire and his book Tribes is well worth reading.

Support your employees community work. One of my clients, Andrew Spink, the General Manager of the Devere Hotel in Swindon, United Kingdom, can show clear correlation between high employee engagement and supporting their community work. In Andrew’s case he pays his employees for 5 days work of their choice that they do in the local community per year.

How are you helping the communities in which your business operates to thrive?

Befriending and supporting the social entrepreneurs within your local community and beyond is a another key way to work alongside today’s movers and shakers.

How about online communities? How are you embracing them. Many of your employees are whether you are aware of it or not. Get ahead of the game and ensure that embracing social media in positive ways is integral to your business.
As my friend and colleague Kwai Yi says, Are you running a socially responsible and ethical business? because social media will find you out if you are not.

One of my clients allows employees to contribute to social media before 8 am, between 12 and 2 pm and after 4 pm. What are you allowing?

The best organisations I have observed in the past 20 years are those that operate and treat people like family. Is your business operating like a family?

Creating a community culture within the communities in which your business operates is one of my 8 critical factors for success in modern business. The other 7 I have written about in my posts of June 14th, 13th, 11th, 9th, 7th, 4th, and 2nd.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Decisions must be made where and when it matters

Everyday decisions:

I believe in an old adage - the devolution of responsibility to those who do the work.

How many times does it happen that you are dealing with someone and need a decision and they have to refer the decision to somebody else? For me this happens far too often and simply illustrates a lack of training, a lack of trust in people, and people being over-managed and under-led.

For all key transaction and interaction points (what Jan Carlzon once famously called moments of truth) of your product/service delivery path, the people at the coalface should be willing, able, and allowed to make decisions, period.

Some decisions do need to take awhile:

The following is a decision-making model I teach people to get them started on effective decision-making.

I am staggered at the number of organisations who don’t have a decision-making process and so I designed the following as a starting place. Usually wise people evolve it into something that works well for them.














NB NEDs stands for Needs, Expectations, and Desires. In some quarters must haves, should haves, and nice-to-haves and in others demands, desires, and what is felt is deserved.

Having a decision-making process for the decisions that can’t or shouldn’t be made on the spot means:

Transparency of decision-making which means greater acceptance and high support of the decision
A greater likelihood of buy-in by all people affected by the decision
High probability of making the right decision
Less poor decisions
Less rework
Less problems we need to make decisions about in the first place

Effective decision-making and making decisions where and when they matter, combined with giving memorable service, structures and systems that fully support people in bringing their best to their work on a consistent basis, being able to describe your strategy in six words, pursuing enlightened self-interest, turning values into virtues, and compelling stories without spin (see previous posts of June 13th, 11th, 9th, 7th, 4th, and 2nd) are 7 of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Social media marketing is about social first, marketing second

Somebody recently asked this question on LinkedIn (this is an edited version):
"What is all the hype around social media? Can you possibly make money or is it just a waste of time? How to spend less money on marketing yet have more clients coming more often? What are the fastest way to set up a referral program that delivers a constant stream of new (and qualified) leads? What are the 2 NEW Hybrid (online/offline) marketing strategies that is already driving a constant flow of traffic to people using them? What are the two proven techniques that will put your conversions through the roof?"
Although this is a question about marketing in business, it's relevant for differencemakers as well.

Here's why ...

When you think about social media marketing, think "social" first, "marketing" second.

When I first started using the Internet 22 years ago, it was all about "social media" (though that term didn't exist at the time). It was about sharing documents, helping each other in forums and connecting with other people in your area of expertise. In other words, it was about making genuine connections with other people.

It was largely an academic and technical community, not a business community. Then, in the mid-1990s, the commercial world discovered - and soon dominated - the Internet, and it became all about making money, "delivering a constant stream of qualified leads", "driving a constant flow of traffic", and "putting your conversions through the roof".

We've come full circle now. The business world no longer rules the Internet. Instead, it's back to its roots, dominated by ordinary people making connections with other ordinary people. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr are not primarily business tools. They are personal tools first, business tools second.

Guess what? This is the perfect environment for us as differencemakers!

Don't get me wrong - I'm not against using social media for business, and as an Internet consultant I help my clients achieve these outcomes. But if that's your frame of mind when it comes to social media, you're doomed to fail.

Asking "Can I make money from social media, or is it just a waste of time?" is like asking "Can I make money from my friends, or is it just a waste of time hanging out with them?" Of course you can make money from friends, with friends, and through friends, but that's not the main reason you spend time with them (I hope!)

If you want to succeed with social media, be willing to make an investment in it. As with any other social situation, you've got to earn the right to be heard.

When was the last time you gave memorable service?

Last week I needed to find out something quickly and I made several phone calls and received very ordinary service from the strangers I was calling. It wasn’t until the 11th call that I received what I would call memorable service.

On this call the person on the other end of the line, again someone who didn’t know me, treated me with respect, really listened to what my challenge was, and went out of her way to help me solve my challenge. I found it refreshing and thanked her for her kindness and willingness to go the extra mile and for no reward herself. Her response was as memorable as her service. She said: Treating people with dignity, respect, and going the extra mile are part of what makes life worth living.

After the call I reflected and I asked myself - when was the last time you gave memorable service? I was a tad embarrassed because it hit me I had allowed busyness in the past week to stop me from being remarkable in my service to others.

When was the last time you gave memorable service?

Memorable service begins with an intent to be memorable. Not for what we get, rather the joy of giving. Feelings follow intention, thoughts follow feelings, and actions follow thoughts.

I have vowed to keep my intentions, feelings, and thoughts in greater alignment so that next time a stranger or a friend calls me I can be memorable because being so is a part of what makes life worth living. How about you?

Giving memorable services combined with structures and systems that fully support people in bringing their best to their work on a consistent basis, being able to describe your strategy in six words, pursuing enlightened self-interest, turning values into virtues, and compelling stories without spin (see previous posts of June 11th, 9th, 7th, 4th, and 2nd) are six of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Structures and systems that fully support people in bringing their best to their work on a consistent basis

There are three primary reasons why great strategies fail to get executed:

1) people are not in the right roles
2) people charged with execution don’t really now what the strategy is
3) strategy has not been personalised by people charged with execution

To change these sad scenarios:

Match people to roles


Often before I undertake a performance improvement project with clients, I review service and product delivery roles from board to leaders, leaders to employees, and employees to customers and other stakeholders. More often than not many roles have not been clearly defined, and if they have been, there is almost always a mismatch between many people and the roles.

Your service and product delivery structure must be designed without people in mind and then you match people to roles. If you currently have people not matched to roles then you have massive productivity issues, low engagement of people, and you are missing out of a myriad of opportunities for growth.

Explain strategy to people charged with executing it and get them engaged

Firstly, define your strategy in no more than six words. See previous post for details. People can remember six words. They can’t remember your strategic plan that is gathering dust in your cupboard.

Secondly personalise strategy by ensuring every employee has a written performance possibility plan that details their personal and business goals for the next 90 days that when achieved mean your strategy is being executed. Personal as well as business goals are crucial. Your employees do not care about your business goals. They care about their goals, and when they see that you are helping them to achieve their goals they will gladly help you achieve yours.

Adam Werbach’s PSP (Personal Sustainability Practices) White Paper has some great insights into the concept of personal and business goals. You can download it here.

For 45 tools, tips, and techniques for making the above happen you can purchase my ebook here for just $5. An extraordinary offer considering the massive return you could achieve through implementing my concepts.

Structures and systems that fully support people in bringing their best to their work on a consistent basis combined with being able to describe your strategy in six words, pursuing enlightened self-interest, turning values into virtues, and compelling stories without spin (see previous posts of June 9th, 7th, 4th, and 2nd) are five of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Can you describe the strategy for your business growth in six words?

The great writer Ernest Hemingway apparently believed the following to be six of his most powerful words: For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

My friend and colleague Kwai Yu, Founder of Leaders Cafe 2020 used these words to start a discussion in the Leaders Cafe group on LinkedIn he called Who are you? Could you tell the 'story of you' in six words?

I was fascinated by the replies and then had an ahha moment - could strategy be described in six words? And could doing so increase people's awareness of what the strategy is, and therefore increase the likelihood of execution?

I have since helped several clients to really sharpen their strategy and increase the likelihood of execution by narrowing strategy down to six words including my own as follows:

Challenges, Causes, Channels, Conversations, Core, Community.

My strategy for business growth is to always ensure that I am up to date with the challenges and the underlying causes of such challenges of my clients and prospective clients which focuses my research and the designing, writing, recording, fiming, and capturing solutions which I upload to various digital channels such as this blog, other blogs, my website, my monthly ezine etc etc.

I then follow-up people on my lists and have conversations about the effectiveness of my solutions. A percentage of these conversations turn into core business which for me is presentations, programs, projects, and personal mentoring that inspire individuals and organsiations to step-up your achievements for the good of yourself, other people, our planet, and where appropriate for profit.

Many of the conversations I have and the core business I undertake lead to various forms of community and the creation of communities that make an authentic difference, which is the primary reason I do what I do.

Can you describe the strategy for your business growth in six words?

Being able to describe your strategy in six words, pursuing enlightened self-interest, turning values into virtues, and compelling stories without spin (see previous posts of June 7th, 4th, and 2nd) are four of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors. Kwai Yu will be giving a 1 hour presentation on the day about how he has built Leaders Cafe into a successful local and global enterprise in just one year.
Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Enlightened self-interest is one of the key drivers of a new world that is desperately waiting to be born

Enlightened self-interest for me is simply acting to further the interests of others without attachment, knowing that my own interests will be taken care of as a consequence.

This is very different to unenlightened self-interest which seems to drive many of our politicians and so-called business leaders who act according to their own selfishness.

All over the world I see unenlightened self-interest destroying businesses, families, lives in general, and of course, being in the grip of unenlightened self-interest means we are not yet able to avoid the catastrophes caused by our inability and unwillingness to live in harmony with our planet.

The good news is that I have also seen productivity and positivity go through the roof, and the changing of what’s normal for the good of people and our planet, when the awesome power of enlightened self-interest is at work.

Is enlightened self-interest driving you? Could you do more for your world and therefore for yourself?

How many of your actions yesterday feathered your own nest and cost somebody else something they didn’t want to give away?

I was moved by an article recently in CSR Wire by John Elkington, one of my heroes, and the father of the triple-bottom line, where he said:

Properly understood, sustainability is not the same as corporate social responsibility (CSR)—nor can it be reduced to achieving an acceptable balance across economic, social and environmental bottom lines.  Instead, it is about the fundamental, intergenerational task of winding down the dysfunctional economic and business models of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the evolution of new ones fit for a human population headed towards nine billion people, living on a small planet already in “ecological overshoot”.

Please read John Elkington’s full article here.

For me enlightened self-interest is one of the key drivers of a new world that is desperately waiting to be born.

I would be very interested in your thoughts.

Enlightened self-interest along with compelling stories without spin and turning values into virtues (see previous posts of June 2nd and 4th) are three of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors.
Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisation please visit here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Turning values into virtues

One of my favourite writers and authors is Thomas L. Friedman. His 14th May 2010 blog A Question From Lydia raised my awareness for two reasons. Firstly Thomas is in Greece and the question from Lydia he saw on a burnt down facade of Marfin Bank In what kind of a world will I grow up? Lydia, age 10.

And secondly this paragraph:

So more and more of us are behaving by, what Seidman calls, “situational values”: I do whatever the situation allows. Think Goldman Sachs or BP. The opposite of situational values, argues Seidman, are “sustainable values”: values that inspire in us behaviors that literally sustain our relationships with one another, with our communities, with our institutions, and with our forests, oceans and climate. Of course, to counter this epidemic of situational thinking, we need more and better regulations, but we also need more people behaving better. Regulations only tell you what you can or can’t do in certain situations. Sustainable values inspire you to do what you should do in every situation.

The Seidman Thomas Friedman refers to is Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN who help companies build ethical cultures. Please read the full Friedman blog here.

Sustainable values are for me virtues i.e. lived values, and turning values on the wall into virtues that are lived in the hall is one of the ways that I help individuals and organisations. See my story on video here.



Compelling stories without spin (see previous post) and turning values into virtues are two of what I believe are the 8 critical factors for success in modern business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Please download my ebook about the 8 critical factors here.

Please join me in Manchester on July 7th for a one day summit on the 8 critical factors.
Details here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisations please visit here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spin and Story, two different things entirely

Yesterday I drove past the BP service station where I normally do business and went to a competitor. In the process I wondered how many people are doing the same, even if unconsciously?

BP’s story of beyond petroleum signaled an intent at least that the giant company was different to the rest and prepared to create a future without oil. Of course because of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, BP’s story now looks like spin and their reputation is in tatters!

Remarkability

Role model companies are such because their story is not spin.
Role model companies differentiate themselves from the rest because they do business in remarkable ways, think Virgin or Cirque du soleil, or any of the companies I have referred to in previous posts.

How we are remarkable is a key to our story however unless there is relevance, remedies, backed up by reputation our story can soon become remarkable for all the wrong reasons or worse spin that we all take to mean as a story without substance.

Relevance

What is your cause? Are you impacting the communities in which your business operates in positive and productive ways? Are your products and services relevant to the needs, expectations, and desires of people? Is all that you do good for our planet? A no answer to any of these questions means you are not 21st century relevant and soon it won’t matter what you do because you will have declining customers and less than the required high levels of engagement from your employees. It is a long way back from here.

Remedies

Do your products and service/s provide solutions to your customers and societies challenges and problems?

Design in its simplest form is the activity of creating solutions
says former Vice President and Chief Designer at Nokia Frank Nuovo.

Are you designing your products and services so that they provide genuine solutions for your customers? And do your products and services provide solutions to societies challenges as well?
As Bjorn Stigson, the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development says: Business cannot survive in societies that fail.

Reputation

Conducting business in remarkable ways, being relevant, and providing remedies to customers and societies challenges are all reputation builders however what you do in moments of crisis, or when you are under pressure can either enhance or kill your reputation.

BP has so far failed to rise to the occasion. How about you? When the pressure is really on, when trouble is all around you, do you rise to the occasion with your story enhanced or do you need spin to seemingly get you out of your mess?

Remarkability, relevance, remedies, and reputation are all keys to creating and sustaining a compelling story and for me a compelling story is the first thing we need to ensure our businesses stand out from the crowd.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community

PS
Helping organisations to create and sustain compelling stories without spin is in part what I do for a living.
If you live in or can get to Manchester United Kingdom on 7th July I am conducting a low investment high return summit on creating and sustaining compelling stories plus the 7 other components I believe are critical for success in modern business.
Details of Manchester event are here.

To invite me to conduct such a summit for your organisations please visit here.

PSS
Steven Howard asked in a recent blog does BP stand for Biggest Polluter?
Steven also shares some great thoughts on the era of responsibility in his Monday Morning Marketing Memo number 218. You can read it here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If in doubt, do something - anything!

I've recently spoken with three people - two clients and a friend - about their plans for starting something new. The clients have just launched new programs, and the friend is considering a career change.

They have all done some research to some level, and have a number of options. They were asking me for advice about how to now decide which option is best.

My advice to them: Do something - anything!

The best way to find out, especially when it's new, is to try it. Just put it out there and see what happens. You won't know whether you'll like it until you try it. More importantly, for my clients, you won't know whether your market will like it until you try it.

For example, I've recently been promoting my new two-day "Boot Camp" to help business owners build a Web site in two days. The first of these workshops is happening right now, and most of the people attending it are not what I thought were my "ideal clients". Does that matter? No! But if I had spent too much time on market research and analysis, I would never have known!

In fact, one of my two clients discovered exactly the same thing with her new product. Within hours of launching it, a large organisation wants her to offer it to their people. This is great news, of course, but the kicker is that they want something different than what she offered. But it's well within her expertise, so it's a perfect opportunity. If she hadn't made the offer, that organisation wouldn't even have thought of getting in touch.

If you're in a business selling well-known commodity products, this advice probably doesn't apply to you. But if you're doing something new and different (you're a differencemaker!), there's no way you can predict how it will turn out. Just do it!