Archive for October 2009

In us we trust?

October 14, 2009

From time to time, the world sends us reminders about a value or function that we need to master or at least address better. Lately, I’ve noticed a single word keeps surfacing – trust.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, says that trust is the foundation of teamwork. Without trust and vulnerability, one cannot have a candid conversation. And without a candid conversation there can be no conflict, which would lead to understanding each other’s perspectives and ultimately creating commitment, accountability and results.

Healthy organizations have a culture of trust. There, trust means the ability to also believe that one can count on one another and that we each share a common purpose.

Isn’t the whole healthcare debate in Washington really about a lack of trust in the numbers, positions and beliefs of our leaders?

And a fundamental reason regional peace talks fail between countries is often because neither party trusts the other.

If we wish to rebuild our country, industries, school systems, and families, perhaps it is time to revisit this fundamental underpinning.

Contextualizing Who We Are…

October 9, 2009

Recently, I returned from a trade show. While on the floor of the exhibit hall, I listened intently as people walked up to those staffing the booths and asked about their products. Many of those people did not bother to introduce themselves – rather they asked general questions with the intention to learn about the product being promoted.

Almost to a person, these people did not volunteer any information about themselves. On one level, I can get it. After all, who wants a salesperson calling you and disturbing your day?

Here’s the argument though for rethinking that position…

If you’re stopping by a booth, chances are there is a reason. You want to compare a product to something that you are using. You have a unique need or challenge or opportunity and you wish to see if the product can address it. Or you simply wish to discover if something is possible.

If you contextualize who you are, and by that I mean you paint the details of what your company does, who you are and the role that you play, why you are at the booth and what you hope to address or learn, you allow the salesperson to leverage their expertise and help you determine very quickly if your unique need can be met.

And you can still always decline to move forward with the conversation after you have learned more.

What this all comes down to is trust – and part of this is about trusting yourself to have a real meaningful conversation. If you are willing to share and discuss and engage, you open yourself to the possibility that the other person can help you. And you learn whether the solution fits or what is even possible.

We already know all that we know. It’s usually the other person’s knowledge that is the most useful.

Dealing with Unexpected Consequences and Seth Godin

October 2, 2009

So how does, one deal with unintended consequences?

Honestly and quickly.

As part of my explanation, I will begin by telling you that I am a fan of Seth Godin. He considers himself a marketer and entrepreneur and agent of change. What I love most about him is that he makes me think.

Godin recently launched Brands in Public. His company, Squidoo, was going to set up a place that would aggregate content from around the Web, highlighting the good and informing of the bad, while letting the companies respond to the feedback. Not a bad idea – and his business model for doing this would result in annual payments from each of these companies totaling about $5,000.

The criticism came due to Godin’s decision to actively set up 200 of these ‘Brands In Public’ lenses (consider a “lense” like a location or site) before launch without the consent of the companies involved. The companies would be locked out of the lenses until they decided to sign up and pay up for the almost $5,000 a year service. At which time the lens would be unlocked. Some called it brandjacking, with online branding effectively taken hostage with a price on its head for release.

Needless to say the reaction to the model and its implementation was harsh.

However, Godin’s response was swift.

In his daily blog post, two days after launch, he wrote:

The response from the brands we’ve shared it with has been terrific, but other people didn’t like elements of it. And they were direct in letting me know.

The goal of the program is to invite brands into the conversation that’s already going on around the web, to make it easy for them to do it on their terms. I talked with a brand manager yesterday who explained that this is exactly what he’s been trying to do for his company, but the corporate website systems make that difficult for him. We want to open the door and to permit large brands a way to get started without having to roll their own solution.

One way we tried to encourage that was to build 200 sample pages, pages brands could adopt. Alas, some people felt that this was inappropriate, so we’ve recalibrated and we’ll take those pages down before the end of the day.

When a brand wants a page, we’ll build it, they’ll run it and we’ll both have achieved our goals.

Part of the magic of the web is that you can adjust as you go, particularly if you’re willing to listen.

I apologize if anyone was confused by my original post, and we’re looking forward to having major brands and non-profits using this tool the way we intended–to join in to the conversation that’s already happening all around us. Thanks as always for reading.

Putting aside the questions of whether Godin’s idea and implementation were appropriate, he does get points for addressing the problem honestly and in a hurry and that, I think, earns him the right to try again.

* * * * *

As to my post the other day about my recent experience with Continental Airlines, I received this response from Continental’s Customer Service Manager, Denise Epstein.

Your letter has brought up several very valid points. These are consequences that I have pondered, however, you have put them in words in a thoughtful and straightforward manner.

I will include your letter with the original complaint that was filed on your behalf. This includes your contact information if our management team needs to contact you.

I’ll let you know if it goes any further…


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: