Archive for September, 2014

Lies. Damn lies and Statistics…

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Regular readers may have noticed that I’m quite keen on rugby and these days follow things reasonably closely.  I wasn’t there to witness out first home game; one which was always going to be both tough and telling if we want to challenge for the title this year.  It turned out to be a total rout so I wasn’t so sad to have been elsewhere.  Both pundits and fans agreed this was a total disaster from the Quin’s perspective.  A few days later I got this analysis of the game through.  It is a very accurate and scientific description of what happened based on GPS data and computer analysis.  The thing is, if you read these stats, you will notice that Harlequins had more carries, made more metres, beat more defenders, passed more and made more offloads than Saracens.  Usually the coaches would be thrilled with this but we lost and lost badly!

It kind of makes my point beautifully.  Change programs usually come with a set of measures to keep them on track.  Measure the wrong thing and you get the wrong behaviour and the wrong result…. like us you lose!  Measurement is crucial but you better measure the right things.  These ‘hard’ factual measures ignore the ‘soft’ more subjective measures that the fans made intuitively, we were rubbish.  Be careful what you measure.  Be careful how you report ‘facts’ to your people, because they, like the fans, know instinctively whether they reflect the truth.

Match Stats

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Stats courtesy of Opta, the Official Data Provider to Premiership Rugby.

Getting close to your customers

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

I was running a workshop yesterday and one of the topics up for discussion was the importance of forming strong customer relationships.  One global company has succeeded more than almost any other in turning its customers into raging fans, despite the fact that not all of their offerings are anything like as trouble free as we might be lead to believe.  Apple has people queuing at its stores as I write to pay full price for its latest offering; the new iPhone 6 will fly off the shelves in its millions in the next few days… Why?

Well one reason is its in-store employees are trained with the following acronym A.P.P.L.E. that gives them a step-by-step guide to keep customers smiling:

  • A pproach with a personal, warm welcome
  • P robe politely to understand the customer’s needs
  • P resent a solution the customer can take home today
  • L isten for and resolve issues or concerns
  • E nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

If you think about this it is just common sense, but not by any means always practiced.  I’d argue that you should Listen before you Present your solution, but I’m sure they do that. 

So maybe an APPLE a day will keep your customers here rather than away..

Change is inevitable.. YOU can choose what you do about it!

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I have reached the age that makes it hard not to realise that Life is changing.  When I look in the mirror and I can’t help noticing that I no longer have a head of dark, thick hair.  I also noticed that I am no longer as svelte as once I was.  It was one holiday photo that showed me that I had developed  a stomach which might not be unusual but as someone who has always been slim and never had a weight issue was a bit of a shock.  These things creep up on you and  you don’t realise that all these small changes add up.

People, like businesses, mature and and need to adjust to their new situation, state and environment.  As someone who has always (up-until-now!) been able to eat whatever he likes without any issue, it has been a shock to have to think about calories and exercise.  However, that was my choice;  I have put myself on a new calorie aware regimen, and introduced much more regular, rigorous exercise.  My day has a different rhythm now and I have to recognise that I like it way too.  The thing is, that Change is happening to me whether I like it or not, and my only choice is, do I let it happen all over me and accept that each day I will be a little less fit and healthy, and more rotund or do something about that.  Is this the best I will ever feel and every day from here on in I will slowly deteriorate, or do I want to continue to enjoy my life and my health, and ensure that I stay (almost) forever young?

Your business maybe in a similar position.  The routines and procedures you have used for years may no longer be the best for you, or what your customers really want.  Your staff may need to move around to bring fresh eyes to old challenges.  You need to listen to new starters to see what they see.  Businesses, unlike people, can refresh themselves and make themselves over, just look at Apple.  Microsoft are currently in the midst of this process. 

Is it time for you to look in the mirror too?