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Archive for the tag “culture”

Strange, we are to “Think outside the box” and yet we go to work and school in one

Strange, we are to “Think outside the box” and yet we go to work and school in one Smaller FB

The term “thinking outside the box” stands for doing and thinking in unconventional ways. Step out of bounds and away from the beaten path. Away from routine and what is expected of you. Words like normally, usually, typically, or similar ones like it should not be used – “try something new and radical”.

And yet our routine looks so much different. Our schools and workplaces are placed in rectangular shoe boxes, with little to no natural lighting and even less high quality air. Slapped together to maximize the builder’s and architect’s profitability. Enabled by having harnessed energy to a point where we believe we control nature by being able to climate control our working and schooling habitats.

Rule of thumb here is a simple one: Nice 90 degree corners are good and so is routine and standardization. Where does that leave creativity and quality of life though? Over 70% of working folks would love nothing more than a new job or career because their working conditions and overall career management are below par.

At school this is even worse. Some school settings are outright industrial in where they are located and how the buildings are constructed. They seem to be designed to merely serve the purpose of providing future workers for companies that will then provide a very similar working environment as the newbies were used to from school: the box type building.

What is the antidote? Well, even though it may sound clichéd, but it sounds like our business and school leaderships need to be the first ones who need to think outside the box. Creating a lively and inspiring work and school environment does not take much as long as everyone involved starts from establishing a suitable vision and mission around this goal. Then the tough work starts. Thinking concepts like this through will take time. With great preparation the final product will take a lot less hard work.

One such building (watch the background story here is the one at Aerzen USA. The intense grass roots efforts of a few folks turned into a movement that keeps catching on.

Now think about our children and how they deserve a similar inspiring environment. If we want them to be able to think and act outside the box, let’s help getting them out of the truly boxy type schools of today. Here are two examples (Avon Grove and Kimberton) how some schools have already begun making changes for the better.

Ultimately the choice is always yours and this is neither my time nor place convincing you of anything. But think about if you and your contributions are only a mere SAT score, or some other number. If so, a shoebox building will do. If not, then please help for us all to start acting outside the box – and yes this pun is intended.


Two company growth issues companies struggle with the most

Two company growth issues companies struggle with the most Ralf a

Company growth is key to survival for any enterprise. Without it you risk credibility with your investors and most certainly your bank. That is not to mention the impact on morale and corporate culture. You better had a strategy that gets you there though. Strategy is however one of the most misunderstood or misinterpreted terms we use in business and there are two main reasons why this is such a big issue. There are two key issues that let companies struggle with the most:

Reason number one is the most troublesome: Busyness (not business). Your short term growth and tremendous amount of work that you feel cannot or should not be delegated keeps you from even wondering about what your strategy should be. Needless to say, it may even be worse that you have not pondered your “why”, the reason why you are in business in the first place and hence have not developed a formal vision and mission for yourself. If this is you, please start to sit on that rock sooner than later because you may soon have more time again to ponder it because of a decline in your business.

Reason number two is the misconception that driving down costs and boosting efficiency are viable and sustainable strategies without considering the social and thus soft side growth of the business. Your growth strategy is accentuating and expanding on what makes you different. This may entail you having to also worry about your costing, delivery, marketing and sales channels, but those are never to be mistaken for a wholesome and long term sustainable strategy. They are nothing but a sugar rush that lets your energy drop like a rock once the effect wears off. The antidote is similar to reason number one’s: Positively identify your core value proposition to your target market. For instance, are you absolutely certain that you are after a mass product market or a niche market with a different price/ cost mix? Folks who try being everything to everybody typically learn the hard way and unfortunately really quickly how short lived and expensive this strategy is. You also have to make sure that you focus on including a personal growth strategy for all team members.

Big companies are no stranger to this phenomenon. Think about the ill-fated low budget big airline subsidiaries like Ted from United, Song from Delta that were supposed to compete with Southwest. Chances are you cannot even remember them and any smaller brand or organization would likely not be around anymore either.

The two key issues mentioned here are primarily caused by working in your business. Key to long-term sustainability is making sure that you spend more time to work on your business. So when are going to have your first strategy session that will get you into that mode? Come on and kick it up a notch!


9 sure fire way to providing bad customer service

9 sure fire way to providing bad customer service Smaller FB

You pick up the phone, call the customer service hot line and anything after someone or something picking up the line at the other end goes downhill from there. Sound familiar? It should. Even though we live in one of the most service oriented countries experiencing truly great customer service is the exception more so than the everyday occurrence. If you are the customer support team leader or the entrepreneur who is the ultimately responsible for everything including after sales than the quick cheat sheet is for you.

Sure fire ways of telling that you or your organization is delivering below average customer support:

  1. Your customer support folks have responsibilities, but they have no or unknown authority over making things right for the customer.
  2. The warranty or freebie account/ project review process entails a personal line item by line item review through either management or the CFO.
  3. Your business plan does not allow for or plan on warranty and freebie costs (service or products that you give away even though you could have fought the claim). Does your sales price account for having to be able to offer hassle free service?
  4. The word “policy” is uttered in front of customers.
  5. Your support folks are eagerly telling your customer what they cannot do – instead of what they will do.
  6. You have an automated phone attendant instead of a live person. Worse: you have a system that lets the customer enter his product/service/personal info and by the time you speak with a real person you need to repeat this again.
  7. Really bad: you do have a live attendant, but he/she picks up the phone immediately asking the customer if he can hold just to be put on hold and not waiting for an answer.
  8. There is no complaint or feedback management system. If you do not have the awareness, how are you ever going to improve anything?
  9. Your accounts receivable department is sending out overdue and collection agency threat notice out without first letting your sales or customer support departments review the case(s).

If any one or more points apply to you then you really have some work cut out for you. You want to know the fix? Two action items lie ahead of you. For one listen – really listen – to your own people. They have the best answers already in their heads. Start with the weak points that you uncover and turn them into opportunities. That would be the best way to turn a desert into an oasis.


Focus on the boulders along the stream and you will surely hit them

Focus on the boulders along the stream and you will surely hit them Ralf a

Sounds counterintuitive but it makes sense: Picture yourself in a canoe going down a small stream and around a bend all of a sudden you see a bunch of boulders directly in your current path. You paddle like crazy and you focus all your attention on the boulders in trying avoiding them. Guess what? You just doomed yourself because you will surely hit them straight on anyway, because you trained your brain to lock in on the rocks – and not where you should have gone.

Anyone playing golf, soccer, football etc gets to use this concept. Getting the ball hitting the target works best when you imagine the ball in the place where it needs to go. Now reflect upon your social and work life. What and where are the boulders that you have your eyes set on? Do you want to hit them? Flip this around by pondering and imagining a desired and positive outcome for yourself. Voila! You have reset the clocks and can now tap into the power of intention.


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