Technology and Dimensional Thinking

December 4th, 2012   •   no comments   

evolution of technologyMany of us have fond memories of past eras, either those that we experienced first hand or those we fantasize about through books and movies. In our minds eye those past eras are often best envisioned through the technology of the times. Each era represents a forward movement in technology- be it in agriculture, transportation, war or production. We have become incrementally better at mastering the land, the sea and the skies. And who knows what will be next- the universe, the center of the earth, nano-worlds or other dimensions yet to be discovered? The point is that as we evolve, we explore different dimensions and define our worlds through different lenses.

In the nineteenth century communication was via telegraph and performances could only be heard and seen live. By the early twentieth century we had telephones and radio, silent movies and phonographs. By the mid-twentieth century we had black and white television, soon to morph into color television. Now we have 3D television and movies, the internet and streaming. Soon it will be virtual reality and if Kurzweil’s vision is true, The Singularity.

Leading and managing organizations is an art older than any of those discussed above.  And in some ways the tools used to help do that have evolved through technology- typewriters to word processors to computers; telex to fax to e-mail; telegraph to telephone carpenterto VOIP.  But these are only tools.  There is an old saying that “it is not the saw, but the carpenter.”  With all of the tools available to leaders, it still comes down to the leaders.

Leaders can use old thinking, the tried and true methodologies of the past, and hope for success.  The world is changing faster than it ever has. The most important jobs of ten years from now have not even been discovered yet. So, how can we rely on leadership styles taught in school years ago?

Leaders have to be current, they have to be agile and they have to be innovative to keep up with all that is happening around them. They have to be wise enough to view their operations through a number of lenses, look at the business in very thin slices, to really understand what is going on. The technology is there to help do that. The mindset has to be there to apply the technology. In 720thinking we constantly make reference to the telescope, the microscope, the periscope and the kaleidoscope, all tools to be employed to view a business in a different dimension.

Think how the world changed for people just when television went from black and white to color. Everything became more vivid, more real, more clear.  Look at what HD did to further enhance that.  Think about viewing your business differently- going from a black and white, rather flat, superficial view to an HD picture, seeing things you never saw before. Have the courage to see what is there to be seen.

This is not to be done for entertainment purposes, although what you will see will be exciting because it will be new. It needs to be done to be on the cutting edge, to have real understanding of what is going on and what needs to be done to be more responsive to customers and to the market; to be more supportive of and accountable to employees and stakeholders.

technologyEvery business has texture and dimensionality. It is not a flat drawing on a piece of paper. It needs to be viewed in many different ways in order to fully comprehend it. No one tool has the answer.  It takes a holistic approach, using a variety of lenses to truly grasp what is there, what is missing and what needs to be done to create excellence. Don’t waste time on old methods when we exist in a new world. Get with the future and embrace a multi-dimensional approach to business leadership. 720thinking is such an approach, with a methodology proven to give leaders the valuable insights they need to successfully take their organization to sustainability.

No Hiding Behind the Curtain

November 29th, 2012   •   no comments   

Remember the Wizard of Oz?  Nobody ever saw the actual wizard- at least until Dorothy came along. Hidden behind the curtain, he was able to command from a safe and secure position, without exposing himself to scrutiny and doubt.  He used his perceived power and presence to compel fear and awe.  It is one way to “rule” your followers, but how well does it really work?  Doesn’t it put you in the position of always fearing the arrival of a Dorothy-someone who will pull back the curtain and reveal who you really are? And what will happen then?

Strong leaders do not need to foster a “larger than life persona” that inhibits employees and customers from approaching them. To the contrary they stay in touch with those stakeholders and help them achieve success.

A recent transaction reinforced the above lesson. I placed an order online with a new company, knowing that it was the beginning of the holiday season craziness, and opted for 48 hour delivery. One week later, no product had arrived.  Now the real adventure begins, trying to track the product.  A call to the customer service desk resulted in being on hold for more than one hour. Instant messaging and emails were added to the mix and didn’t generate any better response. Welcome to cyber Monday.

As things continue into the second day of tracking, the need for the product has become more acute. So its pursuit has  captured my full attention. A further call to  the customer service line results in another long spell on hold.  This time, I am not willing to hold for an hour. I continue to  scan the website, and to my surprise, there is a corporate telephone number, which I proceeded to call. Lo and behold a live person answers. But after listening to my situation, she quickly transfers me to the customer service line. Guess what? I’m on hold again.

Now, I know to call back immediately and the receptionist answers again.  This time, I quickly explain that that method doesn’t work.  I continue that I really need the product. If they are not able to fulfill the order, I will need to be refunded my money and I will order the product elsewhere.  Now, I have her full attention.  She is really listening and she also shares that they have been experiencing a large volume of business and are having some problems.

Usually, that response is not acceptable. The vendor should be set up to handle the volume and it shouldn’t become the customer’s issue. But, then additional information changes my mindset. I learn that the company is located in an area that was greatly impacted by Hurricane Sandy and their normal systems have been damaged..

The receptionist asks for my information and says I will get a call back within the hour. “I will walk your request back to the department and we will get this problem resolved,” she assures me. Within 30 minutes, a call comes from the department. This person is equally service oriented. She apologizes and goes on to explain that Hurricane Sandy has greatly impacted their phone and internet capabilities. She is going to do what it takes and overnight the order.

The very next day, I received the order.  I became what I wasn’t before- very satisfied customer!!!

This whole situation, with its ups and downs, caused me to do some 720thinking. Using a different lens by setting aside my initial frustration and anger, I actually found that this company did care about their customers. They provided easy access  to the corporate office by placing the telephone number on the website. This company didn’t use the wizard behind the curtain approach – untouchable and unapproachable. Granted, I didn’t talk to the CEO or President that day. But I did get access to the executives that I needed-  CCOs – the Chief Customer  Officers.

Consider 720thinking:

  • Be sure that your company is accessible. Employees need to access decision makers and customers need to access those that provide service to them. This shows organizational integrity.
  • Part of being accessible is sharing enough information with customers so they can accept and empathize with difficult situations- or, at the very least, have enough information to make a reasonable decision about doing business with you.. This will keep customers engaged and loyal.
  • Employ people that are fully engaged, care about the brand and the customers and are willing to be accountable in promoting service and the company name.

And finally,

  • Create a connection with customers and clients that demonstrates transparency. There is no wizard hiding behind the curtain because every employee is fully engaged and serves each client as if they have ownership in the company.

The company – Motherhood.com.  Isn’t it better to have a testimonial rather than a complaint on the internet?

720thinking Leadership

November 26th, 2012   •   no comments   

If 720thinking is a holistic methodology that addresses both organizational and individual challenges, then it follows that there should be a 720thinking or what we will call a 720t type of leader. Such an individual would be expert in the application of the methodology and would incorporate it in leading a business organization.

There are hundreds of books and thousands of articles written on leadership and leaders. None of them have the ONE way of looking at leadership. There are dozens of leadership competencies and they are prioritized differently by different organizations.  There are authors and organizations that have identified leadership with US Presidents, military leaders from around the world, explorers, poets and servants. We have looked at sports figures and team managers and coaches, corporate titans, saints and probably sinners.  The bottom line is that we define leadership according to our own standards.

That being said, we are defining 720t leadership via 720thinking.  A 720t leader:

  • Knows that accountability begins and ends with her.
  • Understands the connection between values and behaviors and always acts accordingly.
  • Believes in maintaining the integrity of the culture and the brand at all costs.
  • Has a passion for the vision of the organization and shares that passion with all by living it, breathing it and communicating it.
  • Knows that results do matter, as does how they are achieved
  • Inherently gets the strong relationship between engaged employees and loyal customers and focuses energy on building both.
  • Works on finding different ways to motivate and inspire those around him.
  • Builds efficient and effective process while leaving sufficient space for creativity and innovation.
  • Communicates across the organization and includes within communication seeking, hearing and listening to feedback.
  • Is adept at viewing her organization through all of the 720thinking lenses.
  • Seeks ways for each employee to gain business acumen, to lead and to be successful.

Remember- 720thinking is multi-dimensional. It is the MRI of methodologies, looking at thin slices of the organization and the individuals within it, locating strengths and opportunities for improvement in places where others do not look. 720thinking requires a leader to use all of the lenses available:

The microscope, the telescope, the periscope and the kaleidoscope are all tools that a smart leader needs to employ to discover, to renew, to refresh and to build a strong, aligned, culturally strong organization. Hanging around on the surface of the organization, seeing what shows up there is a form of neglect. Results are achieved at all levels and they all add up, they all count.

Leaders have to be aware of the obstacles that can get in their way, some of them self imposed. 720t leaders need to make smart decisions, employing critical thinking. They have to look at what attitudes impact their decisions and where they may be damaging. They have to understand who and what sucks up their energy unnecessarily and do something about it.

Leaders need to use their time wisely. They have much important work to do- in the organization and on the organization. There are people and events they have to influence to keep the organization moving forward. And remember- leadership is not a job or even part of a job description for many. It is a calling and it is reflective of a desire to grow as a person and help an organization achieve its vision, its potential.

Being a 720t leader means taking leadership seriously.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 21st, 2012   •   no comments   

“None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”

Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Thanksgiving is a family holiday- time out from business and work for most of us. Even if business challenges feel insurmountable, dollars tight, regulations and restrictions overwhelming,Thanksgiving can still afford the chance to shift our thoughts and actions in a different direction, toward something more positive and powerful. No matter how tough things may get, we all have reasons to be thankful and taking the time to appreciate them, is important. Consider treating Thanksgiving as an annual opportunity to show appreciation to loyal customers, valued partners, colleagues, employees, employers and trusted vendors.

 Melody Beattie, author of Co-dependency No More, writes of gratitude:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”

What better way to close out 2012 and set the stage for a great 2013 – expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be done with extravagant gifts, over the top gestures. Instead, quietly expressing a heartfelt “Thank You,” often goes so much further, The more specific the thank you the better.

Here are some examples

Thank you for:

  • understanding when I was stressed and  did not act particularly considerate.
  • speaking up even when others disagree or get angry, showing how much you care. I know that you are supportive of our business.
  • sharing ideas to help solve problems, rather than sitting quietly and allowing problems to escalate.
  • pitching in and helping out, even when it’s not your job.
  • admitting that you need help.
  • asking questions, rather than assuming that you know all the answers.
  • not asking, when listening and observing seems to be the best response.
  • giving more than is expected.
  • doing your best and supporting me when I am not.

Want to meet business objectives more consistently? There is much to be thankful for, not just once a year, but all year round. Want customers to appreciate you? Share your appreciation of them.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

From 720thinkers

Be Your Brand

November 15th, 2012   •   no comments   

There is a distinct difference between doing your brand and being your brand. Businesses and leaders are famous for doing brand. By doing brand, the marketing material has the “right” words, the employees have the “right” message and the office/business space has the “right” look. Unfortunately, doing brand is not necessarily being the brand.

Being the brand is a cycle.  This relationship indicates a very intimate and personal connection with the business.

“A brand that captures your mind gains attention . A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.”

Scott Talgo

Someone once shared with me that the greatest distance a person travels is from their head to their heart. The shortest distance is from their heart to their head. The more I consider these wise words, the more I have come to appreciate that it is easy to think realistically and concretely about the brand.  As a result the goals we set, the  actions we take help us to build and offer tangible products or services.  This is all very one dimensional, very sequential, very orderly. Exact planning, realistic expectations and consistent progress can and often is made.
We plod along. Our employees march to a well prescribed process. Our customers consider what we can do for them and subsequently hire us or purchase our products for very specific reasons.  A good approach, slow and steady. That’s doing the brand.
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Now, to BE the brand takes so much more. The approach we are recommending can infuse experience and energy that can help you grow your brand and your business exponentially.

1. Be your vision.

“Vision looks inward and becomes duty. Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upward and becomes faith.”

Stephen S. Wise

Dream, discover and dare all the odds, not just describe, but to dramatize a vision that captures the heart and passions of your employees and offers products and/or services that your clients just can’t live without. With every breath, BE your vision.

2.  Be your values.

“Well done is better than well said.”

Ben Franklin

All too often, there is a great deal of talk about what we do and offer. The greatest demonstration of being your brand is to be true to your personal and professional values. BE respect, honesty, integrity, courage, accountable and any other values that cause your employees, stakeholders and customers to absolutely know that they must hold up their end of the bargain and BE in business with you.

3.  Be leadership.

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

Rosalynn Carter

Influence, infect, infuse ideas and beliefs that leave a lasting impression, an almost desperate commitment to loyalty and long lasting relationships.  That way, when times are tough and no one  is watching everyone has bought into their leadership responsibility to BE the brand.

4. Be your culture.

“Culture is a framework in which we communicate.”

Stephen Roberts

Building a fundamental foundation, a  culture that encourages every strategy, every objective, every goal and every action to be infused in every conversation, every standard, every desire for collaboration, contribution and connectivity, now that is to BE your brand.

If you want to rocket your way to the top – BE your Brand!