Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Power of True Purpose

There was a team of one hundred. They were responsible for the customer experience of a company. These were one hundred super smart and talented individuals. You would recognize their credentials and hire them into your own company. They worked hard everyday and were paid in kind for their commitment. This team of one hundred over the years wandered into mediocrity. They never stopped working hard; they didn’t lose their intelligence or commitment. They also never differentiated the customer experience for their company.

Slowly over the years the team dwindled. As time moved on the A players left. This left B players, who recruited C and D players. The company never delivered on its promise and it’s customers left for a competitor. The company eventually began to struggle financially. A few years after the team of one hundred were recruited; the company closed its doors. Why did one hundred of the smartest, most committed, and talented people fail the company?

The team had no true purpose. Many will say yes they did, they were the customer experience team. Let us contemplate how a stated purpose and aa true Purpose are different. Also let us consider a stated purpose is just words on a page. A true purpose becomes the DNA of a team.

A true purpose permeates every level of a team. It becomes the oxygen the team members breathe. It is their state of being. What happens when your oxygen is cut off, you suffocate. What do you do before you suffocate?   You fight to get your oxygen back. If a team’s true purpose is permeated and is the oxygen of each member, then no one team member will ever be successful at pulling down the true purpose.

So you might ask, what can I do to ensure my team has true purpose? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Be the voice of true purpose in your team – Everyone should be the CEO of his or her career and role. Individuals have immense influencing power. Don’t be afraid to be the voice that inspires your team to a true purpose beyond what is stated. We need not be afraid to share our ideas, as it might be your idea is the one idea everyone can rally around.
  • Steer Clear of Informed Mediocrity – There was a popular television show out years ago. One character had to push a button every 48 hours. This character was told the world depended on it. So he never stopped pushing the button. How often do we just do what has always been done? Do we respectfully question the status quo? Or do we just push the button, because we want the paycheck?
  • True purpose starts with You – If an individual is looking for a company or a job to give them their purpose, they do not have it. True purpose starts with each individual thinking about who they are, what they want, what are their core values, and what motivates them. You must have a true purpose yourself to truly realize the great potential of a true purpose at work.

Now imagine that when those one hundred individuals were hired. Imagine that they received a true purpose like Amazon, which is to be “The Earth’s Most Customer Centric Company”. Amazon decided early on that it was not good enough to be the best in their industry or geography. They started with an ambitious true purpose. If you track Amazon since their founding in 1994 until today, you can see how their company has benefitted from growing and delivering on that true purpose.

What if those one hundred or if your team had a true purpose that everyone rallied around? What if that true purpose became a war cry that inspired the team and became their oxygen everyday. I would submit that the customer experience team of one hundred and your own teams would be able to reach a potential true purpose beyond what was thought possible.

So my question is what are you going to do to find true purpose and make it a reality for you and your team?



Anna wants to do amazing things, so why does IT get in the way?

Anna walks in the door. She is starting her dream job. She has always wanted to work for this company, doing this thing, and be in this field. She has already imagined what the next few years will look like. She is ready to get to work, be productive, and make an impact.

The question is, does the company she chose to work for really think about Anna like she thinks about herself? From the moment Anna opens the door, her end user productivity experience begins. This is the experience that is going to enable her to do what she loves—her job, and hopefully do it really well.

A lot of companies build this experience from a technology, cost, or infrastructure view. They believe IT and the company make decisions that help the business, provide tools and solutions, and are cost effective. Then, they think about the end user productivity experience and hope it works out.

For Anna, she wants to work for a company that thinks about her, how she works, and how she and her team can be most productive together. For her, technology that supports an anytime- anywhere workplace mentality is vital. That’s the new world; that’s the productive world.

User Centric IT organizations have the ability to influence, empower, and drive productivity at the same rate as the businesses they support. At the same time, IT must manage and hide complexity from its end users, while managing risk and security for the company.

I believe in creating a simple, user centric experience that enables IT end users to be highly productive. This game changer will create more revenue for a company and create employee loyalty. Aternity, an enterprise software company specializing in end user experience management solutions, breaks this concept down in great detail on their End User Experience website.

In simple terms, employees may make future employment choices based on the experience with the technology within the company and how productive they can be with it.

We all have an Anna join our company every week. Are we going to help Anna reach her full potential? Will we enable her to truly grow and make lasting impacts within the company?

EQ+IQ=Amazing Business

Nicola Roark wrote a great piece about the difficulties of working together as spouses or partners titled – Why My Husband and I Won’t Work Together.  I found the piece to be a super insightful read.  It is always interesting to understand the person behind the professional.  I have seen family members work amazingly well together. However, I have also witnessed family businesses fail and marriages ruined.

As I was reading Nicola’s post, it reminded me of a recent workshop I attended that was led by Steve Gutzler, author, speaker, and executive coach. The workshop was titled Emotional Intelligence for Extraordinary Leadership.  If you have not invested time in emotional intelligence or EQ, I definitely recommend it.

Ok, back to Nicola’s great topic and how EQ plays a role in making it a success between spouses or partners at work…  I have worked together twice with my wife.  The first time it was a new thing.  It was odd and fun to have her a few cubes down from me.  The fun part was having lunch together daily and to see her in her work environment.  I definitely gained a new level of respect for her.

The odd part was that in the past, work was work and family time was family time.  As we worked together, I noticed that they started to intermix. As they intermixed, I started to see that our work personas were showing up at home, and our home personas were showing up at work. This created a new type of conflict and confusion. Our lives became homogenous, and our positions in each place changed. My wife and I definitely had some bumps in the road when we first started working together, but she helped me gain a new perspective. From her observation and feedback, I learned that I was not very self-aware and did not truly understand how people think and act. I was able to make changes in my behavior, which advanced my career. In turn, I was able to help her network and give her advice on business practices and relationships. Overall, it was a win-win situation. We both learned a lot from each other and were successful business partners.

A short time later I attended Steve Gutzler’s workshop (noted above).  It was like a light bulb went off for me.  Better stated, the IQ side of my head finally understood the EQ importance.  Perhaps it was because I am an introvert, perhaps it is because I placed a lot of emphasis on results instead of relationships, or perhaps it just took a hard headed guy a while to get it.  Whatever it was, it helped me truly understand the value of relationships and people.  A friend of mine once said, “people do business with people.”  This phrase stuck with me then and stays with me today.

So now you may be wondering what happened the second time we worked together? Overall, it was great.  We had very little conflict or confusion.  We were able to keep different parts of our lives in their proper area.  We were also able to intermix our different personas much more effectively.  This time I felt like it was a great success.

What was different?  I credit it to better understanding the Emotional Intelligent side of me and allowing my EQ to become more influential in my professional life.

I personally believe that if we all let our true selves out a bit more and understand other people’s true selves, we will always work better together.  We will be kinder to one another, work harder for one another, better support each other, and ensure success for each other as a team.  Whether it is a family member at home or a colleague at work, I believe treating everyone with a good measure of emotional intelligence can make all the difference for the company to succeed!

The 5 Minute Difference

Life is busy. It seems that each year it gets busier. I stop and smell the roses and the seasons have already changed and the roses are gone. There is so much to do. I must go, go, go. It is all important stuff, right? I can’t drop a ball or let anything fall between the chairs. People are depending on me.

How many of us have felt like this? I imagine all of us to some degree or measure. We all react differently to these situations. Some people do it all, perhaps cutting corners. Some people let things fail and then are overly critical of themselves, and then some just give up and don’t try. So how do people really balance the busy?

Perhaps it is just 5 minutes. 5 minutes to:

  • Brainstorm and do blue sky thinking
  • Plan out the day and all of your work
  • Prioritize and decide what not to do or what to delay
  • To finish what you are doing and ensure it is always done in high quality

I remember growing up my mom would ask if I know the difference between a good job and a great job…5 minutes.

I guess that what I learned as a child can be completely relevant to what I do in business. And maybe, just maybe I can enjoy the roses this next go round.

Big Data is a verb and it’s Amazing for Customers

Early in my career I remember a manager coming over to my cube. The manager was frustrated and beside themselves. I inquired as to the issue and they showed me an excel file with about 20,000 rows and an equal number of columns. Then they said they needed to understand X in this data and how it relates to Y, but there is no way to parse or understand it. I think I am going to fail at this task.

Have any of us felt like that before? I imagine with the ever increasing amount of data in the world today, we have all been overwhelmed at some point in our careers. Perhaps you felt like me and just wondered where Commander Data from Star Trek is when you need him. He seemed to have the ability to traverse massive amounts of data and then pinpoint the exact value needed in every situation. Sometimes we all just need that capability.

The simple answer for the manager was a few nested “if” statements and a visual basic query. These seemingly complex actions were quite simple for the right person or technology to handle and deliver. As the world increases in data size and complexity the answers are still simple, but can easily overwhelm any person that traverses work on a daily basis.

The bigger challenge now is that there is a,b,c,d,e and many more variables and data sources to consider to get to that simple answer. This is where Big Data comes into play. A lot of people may confuse Big Data as a noun. I believe it is a verb. Big Data is less about the actual data and more about how one uses the data to deliver value.

If you tie Big Data into the customer experience, you can really see this come to life. If I start the customer experience with the sale, I have a sales database. Then that customer contacts me for support, now they are in a support database. This same customer also purchased training and other added on services. So yet another entry in the sales database. Then yet another database to track usage of the product. And yet another for logging product defects to the engineering team after the support experience. You can start to see a lot of entries adding up for this customer. By the way we have 20,000 customers. A lot of entries in siloed data bases. Which in most companies are managed by different teams.

This is where Big Data becomes a verb. Imagine the ability to consolidate all this information into one view that demonstrates your customer individually and also from a persona view. Regardless of the team you are on, you get a consistent view. All teams are able to help the customer in a collaborative and meaningful way. The customer receives the attention and value they feel they deserve. And it actually takes less resources for the company to do. This is possible and Big Data can make it happen.

What this means is that the manager that approached me so many years ago would feel enabled and empowered, not frustrated. Not only can they succeed at their job, they can be more productive and collaborative than was ever possible before. Which will mean higher value for their customers and better revenue for their company.

Think about it, we may not all have Commander Data around; but if we can turn Big Data into a verb in our companies. Then perhaps we can pinpoint the exact value we need in each and every customer engagement.

Then the amazing possibilities of true customer success can be realized!

Employees make True Customer Success Happen!

Two years ago, I moved to San Francisco. I decided to take my wife out for dinner. We had it all planned, the reservation made.  We were dressed, ready to go, and left for our date. Forty-five minutes later we made it to the restaurant. Of course, the restaurant was only three miles away. So what was the problem? Parking! For me, searching for a parking spot caused unnecessary tension and ultimately put us in a bad mood for the rest of the night. It wasn’t an overly productive experience, and we missed out on a potentially amazing evening.

The very next day, I went shopping to solve our parking problem. I bought a GPS device that included all the parking lots and garages in the city. Now, I just put in the address and the GPS tells me the five closest places to park near my destination. I never spend more than five minutes looking for a place to park. Magic!

How many of us feel that same way every day when we go into work? As an employee, you want to come in, be productive, and not have technology get in the way. All too often, your PC has issues, your conference room technology goes down, you can’t sign-in using VPN, and email synch with your mobile device just won’t work! Don’t you wish your company treated you just as they would treat their revenue paying customers? I do.

I believe that your internal IT department should treat you as if you are paying customer because you actually are. If you consider your revenue and divide it by your employees, the ratio of revenue to employee will always trump revenue per customer by a long shot. So why do companies make the mistake and treat employees like second-class citizens when it comes to technology experiences?

When I could not find a place to park, all I wanted was an easy way to find a spot. When employees want to be productive at work and add value, they are looking for ways to easily get their work done. Most employees want to do amazing things. They want to transform the company, hit revenue goals and targets, and they want customers to love the services and products their company offers. With this passion for success, IT leaders should put themselves in the place of the employees they service.  They should think about an employee’s work-life and goals. They should think about an employee’s IT experience from the employee’s point of view and not IT’s. Employees should be treated like each of them makes a difference for our customers.

3 tips to consider when delivering an amazing end user IT employee experience:

  1. Employees operate differently. One size does not fit all. You need to understand your employees and their behaviors. I recommend categorizing them into personas. This will help you understand the diversity of employees and why they behave in different ways. It will also ensure that you truly understand how to deliver the best experience for them personally and then more broadly.
  2. Employees don’t want to contact you. It is a waste of time for employees to contact IT for help. They not only lose time, but they lose valuable work productivity. Create avenues and ways for your employees to serve themselves. Make it easy to do the most common things. Give your employees more authority to do what’s right for them. Worry less about meeting a global standard pushed down for the masses.
  3. Employees want to communicate and collaborate. All too often, companies throw together conference rooms in a way that looks sexy, cool, or has the latest gadgets. However, this mostly caters to a single persona and not the employees as a whole. Most employees will be frustrated and annoyed, and will have to create their own solutions. I recommend you truly understand the entire experience on a conference call or in a conference room. Then, create an environment where all employee personas can be productive.

Now, think a moment about your latest experience with IT. What feelings or thoughts come to mind? Do you feel like IT truly thought about the experience from your point of view? Are they making it possible for you to be productive?

If not, be an advocate. Don’t be afraid to help, influence, and drive change. You are the most important asset to any company. Vineet Nayar said it best in the title of his book, “Employees first, Customers second.”

If you are productive, aligned to the company direction, and the company has a great product. The company can never fail!


The Death of an Apple Lover

I woke up yesterday morning and heard news that I thought I would never hear in my life. My wife said she was tired of Apple and how she no longer feels connected to them. She said I am going to go ahead and get an Android Phone…and she did, a Samsung Galaxy S5.

So most folks might say, hey its not a big deal. Customers change their minds all the time. I think what surprised me the most is that she has been an Apple Lover since she started using technology. She is a designer and artist by trade and has never had a desire to use another product. She has consistently, over the years, defended Apple like Apple was her mother or a family member. She has often said it is her duty to support the Apple family and upgrade after every launch. I was of the mind never to ask her to choose between me and the Apple product she was currently using 🙂.

This revelation from her really peaked my interest. I asked her what were the 3 reasons why she decided it was time to move on:

  1. Apple used to be niche and now they have become too mainstream – She said Apple used to care about their customers. They used to make me feel special. I really felt Apple was making products for me as a designer. Now I feel they are making products like Microsoft does, for the masses.
  2. Apple stopped giving their customer power over their experience – Many folks think the free U2 song was a great thing. My wife said it was a huge mistake. It was a forewarning that Apple is not giving its customers choice and is taking control of their experience. She made several comments about how other companies give more power to their customers to customize their software and hardware (I.E. Batteries interchangeable). Her view was the customer should always be in control. She used to feel that way with Apple, now she doesn’t.
  3. Apple is not relevant and cool any more – The example she gave is their commercials. She said they used to be awesome and now they are gimmicky. She would wait with baited breath for the keynotes and then watch every minute of it and now she might watch them on demand and then fast forward through most of it.

So, I said what is cool? What is the new experience? What is something that makes you feel special? She said this video is an example of a product and company that gets its now:

As a true advocate for customer success I found the whole conversation super interesting. I don’t think she hates Apple, but now she just groups them with all big corporate companies that produce products. She has fallen out of love. She will probably use an Apple product again if it competes well against others. However I imagine if companies like connect with her, she will probably leave Apple and other large companies in the wake and go for a company that speaks to her and makes her feel special.