Poem: My Heart is a Walled Garden

My Heart is as a Walled Garden
I sought a time of reflection within the sanctuary of the old church
The footpath was overgrown
The brambles sharp
The stinging nettles fierce
The way became impassable.

The only way in, in the end, was through the graveyard.
When I finally reached the church
The door was closed
The way was blocked
The entrance was locked.

With access denied
I continued on
Until I saw this sign:
“The Walled Garden”.

What treasures grow within?
Perhaps we shall never discover.
My heart is as a walled garden.

I forsook the occluded narrow path
And laboured back up the hill
Using the broad road.
It was shared with mad drivers
Hastening to what end, I do not know
But there was a sign:
“Men At Work”
And there is work yet to be finished.

Living Organisations® Interview Questions

Eden is a Living Organisation

The Need for Living Organisations

Since the vast majority of us give the best years of our productivity and the most productive hours of the day to our organisations, it is vital, imperative even, that we create organisations that are a joy to work for.  These organisations need to be vibrant, life-affirming, energising, exciting to work for – in other words, they need to be “Living Organisations”.

Our organisations are not separate from the world in which they conduct business.  They are vitally connected in a web of life.  In fact to see themselves as separate is to invite self-destruction.  Instead, they have a part to play in the ecology of commerce and of Civilisation as a whole.  It therefore makes sense to mimic the models that already work in Nature.  The most fundamental of these models embraces the seven characteristics that define every organism that may be said to be alive: Movement, Nutrition, Reproduction, Excretion, Growth, Respiration, and Sensitivity.

The Questions

I am beginning to seek interviews with people who are the “voice” of their particular Living Organisation.  The interviews are straight-forward, and need to use the same questions in each interview.  To help you gather your thoughts, here are the questions.  If you are proud of the vitality of your organisation, and would be happy to be interviewed, I’d love to hear from you.

Movement

•    What are you moving towards as an organisation?
•    What, if anything, are you moving away from?
•    How do you know when you are moving in the right direction?

Nutrition

•    What energises you as an organisation?
•    What does your organisation ‘feed’ on?
•    What does your organisation value most highly?

Reproduction

•    How are you seeking to spread your message?  (or products or services)
•    How do you replicate your best practices?
•    How do you ensure the organisation’s talent is replicated and passed on?

Excretion

•    How do you deal with set-backs as an organisation?
•    How to you learn from your mistakes as an organisation?
•    How do you recycle?
•    How do you reduce waste?

Growth

•    In which ways are the organisation growing, expanding, or going deeper?
•    How do you define ‘growth’ for your organisation?

Respiration

•    How do you enter into an exchange with your community – the environment in which you live and move and have your being?
•    What do you give?
•    What do you receive in return?

Sensitivity

•    How do you sense what is going on in the Market?
•    How do you stay aware of what’s going on inside your organisation?
•    How do you keep track of opportunities or even threats in your environment?
•    How do you use information you gather?

Frames or Fences?

Your mind is magnificent.  It’s a goal-seeking system.  It loves to deliver.  It’s only got one problem: You!  Operator error gets in the way of more dreams unfulfilled, more relationships broken, and more disappointment than I can count.  Good news… this is curable.

You see, your mind needs a target, a focus, something to aim for.  Then, when this is achieved, it looks, naturally, for support from your neural net.   It needs all of your patterns of thought singing from the same songsheet!

Here’s what too often happens.  Goal: I want that job.  Here’s the opportunity to frame the goal or to build fences in front of it – hindering its achievement.  Too often we build fences:

  • There are too many other people going for that job
  • I’m not qualified
  • I lack confidence
  • They probably won’t even call me to interview
  • etc.!!!

What is your poor mind going to do with such incongruence?  The answer is simple: it will be totally confused and you’ll get nowhere.

“Frames” are so much more up-market than “fences”.  The right frame can double the price of a print.  In fact we even talk about our “frame of mind” or being “in the right frame of mind”.

Let’s take each of the fences we’ve built and transform them into a frame.  Personally I find each of the statements an offence to my goal.

“There are too many other people going for that job” – reframed as “so if I get it, it will be a massive boost to my confidence – hey, if I only get to be invited to an interview that’ll be a sure sign that I’m heading in the right direction!”

“I’m not qualified” – reframed as “but I am massively more experienced and therefore more suitable than anybody else I can think of for this job”.

“I lack confidence” – reframed as “and the only way to build more confidence is to get some wins under my belt.  In this situation, being called to interview would be the first ‘win’ for me…”

“They probably won’t even call me to interview” – reframed as “and if they don’t they’ll have good reason.  If I then become the one in one hundred applicants who asks for honest feedback, I’ll find out what I could do to improve my chances next time!”

Give your brain a break, your mind a massage, and make sure your frame of mind is congruent with and draws focus to your goal.  If you thought cause offence to your goal, you can be sure that you’re building fences not making frames.

Remember that every certificate of achievement deserves a good frame… not a fence!

The Ambassador

The Ambassador

And the Embassy that Celebrated Customers

I love to write. I love people. I love ideas… but more on these three strands in a minute.

The Customer Evangelists: St Jan and St Darren

Jan Walsh (BT) and Darren Cornish (E.ON) are two senior executives whom I have found to describe themselves as “Customer Evangelists”.  I think this is a great way to send a message about how important the customer is to an organisation.  Vast sums are invested nowadays on Social Media and PR to promote the ‘goodness’ of the organisation to the customers we want to keep and to the ones we want to ‘convert’.  In fact ‘evangelist’ comes from ‘evangel’ – which means ‘good news’.  St Jan and St Darren have good news for their customers – their organisations care and have good news to share.

From Evangelists to Ambassadors

A more frequent description is of our colleagues as ‘Ambassadors’ for the brand.  This sounds magnificent – even ‘Stately’, and adds great dignity to the rôles of Customer-facing staff.  (N.B. I think we are all ambassadors, regardless of whether or not our rôle is internally or externally facing.  We all represent the brand and we want the internal ‘customer’ to be proud of it too. There must be utter congruence throughout the inside and outside of the company – a congruent continuum!)

The idea of the Ambassador inspired me, early this Sunday morning.  You cannot have an Ambassador without an Embassy!  And what is an ‘Embassy’?  An Embassy is a permanent diplomatic mission, but to whom?  I believe each organisation has an important diplomatic mission to the nations of customers!

Through PR and some Social Media, most of this mission is outgoing, like evangelism, but many organisations are missing an absolute goldmine of opportunity.

The Customers who want to give

When we open our eyes, ears, and hearts, we find that there are a lot of customers who want to give freely back to the organisation.  People are naturally creative.  The output of this natural creativity is ideas.  People also love to share.  It gives a giver great pleasure to share a gift that is well received.  Ideas need to go somewhere!

Thus we come to the flow of ideas that often pour into organisations.  Eventually, most of these ideas are responded to – usually as a secondary part of someone’s role – and usually it takes far too long.  Too often, in my experience, there is no response!  I believe this is a grave mistake.

The Embassy that Celebrated Customers!

This is where the Ambassador’s role comes to the fore.  I would laud and applaud any organisation that set up an Embassy to the United Nations of Customers – an Embassy whose main diplomatic mission was to respond to those customers.  It would be “The Embassy that Celebrated Customers!”

The rôle would be straight-forward and the impact would be enormous.

The Ambassador would have an appropriately senior position, and their mission would be to respond rapidly and personally to each and every customer idea.  (I’m not talking about ‘Customer Services’ dealing with complaints – that’s another valuable opportunity for another blog.  This one is purely about positive ideas and contributions given freely to the organisation.)

Every idea and contribution (e.g. photographs) would be acknowledge and responded to – and understanding of the ideas reflected back accurately – not just with a generic idea or form letter.  If I was the Ambassador, my responses would be sent in a personalised greetings card, and signed.  Why would I take such trouble?  I would make such an effort because the customer has made a pilgrimage.  It takes a lot of energy for a customer to have an idea, articulate that idea, and then send that idea in.  That’s a lot of effort.  It’s a personal effort that deserves, even ‘demands’ a personal response.  Good organisations go the extra mile – so I think anything that shows ‘the personal touch’ is a great way to match and then exceed customers’ expectations.  This builds brand loyalty and personal commitment far more powerfully than Facebook competitions!

I’m sure you can see how this is easily a full-time rôle, even for a small organisation.  How would it pay for itself?  Clearly, not all customers’ ideas are practical or actionable, but their loyalty is worth its weight in gold.  For those ideas that are practical, an opportunity arises for the organisation to improve its performance and its credibility.  By nurturing such customers, an organisation can even create devotion – becoming a ‘Love Brand’.  I promise you that the vast majority of customers do not require any more reward for their contributions than the recognition of acting on their idea or publishing their photograph (and thus publically acknowledging it).  I personally see no loss in also thanking the customer with products or services as a token of appreciation.  This is low cost to the organisation, and high value to the customer.

The alternative is quite sad.  I love to share.  I have shared hundreds of ideas with organisations – free of any strings attached or hidden agendas – over the years.  Many of those organisations haven’t even bothered to respond.  The logical result is that I’ve stopped the flow of ideas to that organisation, and, wherever possible, shopped elsewhere!  These very same organisations continue to send me emails and newsletters and catalogues, saying how wonderful they are, and how focused they are on customer satisfaction.  Yeah, right…  Which customer?  Clearly not me!

The rôle of the ‘Ambassador to the Customers’ is a central rôle for PR.  After all, isn’t PR all about ‘Public Relations’?  The Ambassador’s rôle is to meet and connect.  This is why I said at the start of this blog that I love to write, I love people, I love ideas.  These are the Ambassador’s core skills.  An Ambassador must be articulate in their response to each and every message from customers.  They must love people, otherwise another message will leak through their prose.  Also, the Ambassador must be a Creative – someone who can take an idea and really work it until it is proven valuable or becomes a stepping stone to a better idea.

An Ambassador is a Diplomat – and thus must be diplomatic!

Diplomatic Tennis

An Ambassador must also play diplomatic tennis.  By this I mean that a good game of tennis involves rallies – a back and forth – just as does a great conversation that builds rapport.  I can say, hand on heart, that even the organisations that have responded to me in the past, have cut the rally off with their response.  The door was not left open for partnership in developing the idea.  Again, I can only authoritatively speak for myself, but I would have happily developed most of my ideas for free – just for the satisfaction of being creative and being acknowledged.  (To the cynics who might be thinking, “I bet his ideas are rubbish then!” I would say that some of the organisations I have shared with have used those ideas without acknowledgement – at least proving the worth of the ideas.)

The rôle of the Ambassador would therefore include promoting a rally – a back and forth of exchanges to engage our brilliant customers into partnership with the organisation.  This builds rapport.  Outstanding customers could then be given a visa to join us!

Of course, this is what many organisations are trying to promote with Social Media – and I see Social Media as an important set of diplomatic channels for the Ambassador.  My chief point today, however, is to harness the ideas and contributions that come from customers and are freely volunteered.  The customers that share these ideas, if treated with respect, become ambassadors themselves – absolutely the best (and most economically sustainable) form of PR any organisation could wish for.

The bottom line is that many of your customers know your business better than you do, and they certainly know their own minds better than you do.  We must listen, and respond rapidly, and become the Embassy that Celebrated Customers, if we are to harness this power for good.

Signed

Lex

An Ambassador in search of a new Diplomatic Posting!

Afterthought

If you drive a company vehicle that broadcasts the brand, don’t drive the company van like a devil!

Do Something!

My poem for this weekend…

 

Do Something

 

Do something fresh;

Do something new;

Do something daring;

Do something true.

Do something kind,

An act of love that conquers

Both lethargy and indolence;

Go on, go do something bonkers!

Do something brave

Do something crazy

Do something that scares you

Go and pick more daisies!

Do something silent;

Do something stealthy;

An act of kindness no-one sees

For this will make you wealthy.

Go

Go on..

Go, Go on…

Just do something!