Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Rethink Failure

We instinctively know that getting things wrong is just part of everyday life and learning so why is it so different in our business or work life?

Traditionally careers are built on success. The more successes you have the more your earning potential, the faster you rise the ranks and the better your professional reputation becomes.

Herein lies the rub! No one actually wants to admit they fouled up.  Its tantamount to admitting that YOU are a failure and really who wants to do that?

We all have those (often subconscious) internal conversations with ourselves. You know the way it goes? ‘I messed that up, I'm going to miss that goal, I wont get that bonus, promotion, my colleagues will think I'm useless and so it goes on until you take the scenario to the worst possible conclusion and you are homeless and destitute!

It sounds farfetched but on some level or another we all tend to opt for the safe, tried and tested route rather than take that risk, however small.

 To be truly innovative demands us to take an element of risk and an ability to accept, dare I say 'embrace' failure.

Homer is right. The only way to avoid failure is to do nothing. But failure has its benefits, and is probably impossible to avoid. Indeed, doing nothing is a form of failure too.

Its basically down to our attitude towards failure, how we personally embrace it and as an organisation how we choose to handle it.

Thomas Edison famously ‘re framed’ how he viewed failure when he said:

Likewise James Dyson failed on an epic scale when he took five years and 5127 failed prototype to develop on that worked


Many organisations  preach about failing forward, failing early and failing often, and use a host of other terms (fail fast, sharing practice etc) to talk about the good things that happen when things go badly.  While many organisation preach about 'honouring' failure many still don't actively practice what they preach.
Its impossible to run an organization without making a lot of mistakes. Innovation always entails failure and if you want creativity without failure, you are living in a fool’s paradise.  It is also impossible to learn something new without making mistakes.

Failure will never be eliminated, and so the best we can hope for from human beings and organizations is that they learn from their mistakes, that rather than making the same mistakes over and over again, they make new and different mistakes.

The best diagnostic to see if an organization is innovating, learning, and capable of turning knowledge into action is “What happens when they make a mistake?”

So here are some of the usual attitudes organisations take towards failure:

“Forgive and forget,” which may be temporarily comforting, but condemns people and systems to make the same mistakes over and over again. The behaviour this encourages is one where the mistakes get buried and we simply don’t talk about it again. 

 ‘The unforgiving’ This is where an organisation remembers who made mistakes, chases them down, humiliates them. The culture this promotes is one where a climate of fear prevails. In such situations, the game becomes avoiding the finger of blame rather than surfacing, understanding, and fixing mistakes

‘Forgive & remember’ is the philosophy that the best teams and organizations use. You forgive because you know its impossible to run an organization without making mistakes, and pointing fingers and holding grudges creates a climate of fear. You remember – and talk about the mistakes openly –so people and the system can learn. And you remember so that, even though you have tried to retrain people and teach them, if some people keep making the same mistakes over and over again, then, well, they need to be moved to another kind of job.


The museum of failed products

 And finally………..Something to make you laugh!

What would you do?

Does this sound familiar?  Funny clip about running a Teleconference.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Customer Centric - Marketing spin or good business practice?

Putting the Customer at our heart or Customer Centricity
We hear these terms a lot these days but what do they actually mean and why exactly is it so important?
I’ve sought here to explain and provide some definitions that may help along with a couple of examples.

Deeply understanding your customer and truly putting them as a focus of what you do starts with fully immersing yourself into their world and experience as it relates to your product or service.

There are a couple of key terms that relate to this:

1.       Customer immersion is a process whereby people in organisations can experience their business from a customer point of view.

2.       Customer experiences: The activity you undertake to immerse yourself. These can take many forms and varies depending on the company and this is referred to as ‘Customer experience’.

A customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind.


·         A customer experience is not just about a rational experience (e.g. how quickly a phone is answered, what hours you’re open, delivery time scales, etc.).

·         Did you know more than 50 per cent of a customer experience is subconscious, or how a customer feels.

·         A customer experience is not just about the ‘what,’ but also about the ‘how.’

·         A customer experience is about how a customer consciously and subconsciously sees his or her entire experience.

To do this effectively you need to ‘walk a mile in the customers shoes’, experience your product or service from their perspective rather than your own perceived perspective. Making it as real as possible is key.

Why immerse yourself?

The better your organization understands the complexity of the relationship you have with your customers the better equipped you are with the knowledge to help drive for growth. When this knowledge is addressed effectively - You ‘do something’ as a result of the knowledge, customer experience improves, and customer loyalty increases.

The more you act on the knowledge you learn from these customer immersion activities the more you are actively demonstrating a customer centric approach. Many companies talk about being customer centric and maybe have really good intentions but few in my experience actually act as a result of those good intentions. It leaves the customer feeling like it’s all spin.

Cisco IBSG Consulting Tip: Walk in Your Customer's Shoes

Customer immersion stories

Some company’s senior managers are encouraged to spend time on a regular basis to live the customer experience see this video of how it was done in Adobe who have created the customer listening post.

 In one supermarket here in Ireland store managers are not provided with an office but are expected to spend the majority of their time circulating the store, talking to customers and experiencing what the customer experiences. This particular supermarket is simply excellent as store design, customer service and create a great experience for both staff and shoppers alike. You can really feel they get what the customer needs and wants both rationally and emotionally.

In some stores Managers actually hold meetings with staff whilst walking around the store, and at Credit Suisse, executives have in the past been asked to spend a day in a wheelchair so as to better understand the experience of disabled customers.  Both of these approaches attempt to remove the stigma - often attached to senior managers - that they are ‘out of touch with consumers’.
So finally if it’s your responsibility to ‘Drive customer centricity@ start by watching this video and read the book that’s mentioned!



Monday, 10 June 2013

Design and the Patient experience.

Day 1

What a brilliant last week I had at work! So many flowers, cards, hugs, balloons and good wishes. I was truly blessed to feel such warmth from colleagues who I also consider as friends. It was bitter sweet, knowing I must follow my heart but all the while sad at what I had to ‘let go of’ to allow me ‘move on with’.
Monday morning on day 1. The sun is shining and unusually there are clear blue skies over Dublin. I woke this morning with the realisation I am, for the first time in my life ‘Self-employed’.

I could have, as I was tempted to, take a day off, reflect and lay in the sun but that phrase ‘self-employed’ requires a new mind-set and focus of energy so I was up and at it at a respectable time.
Today I’ve largely employed myself with preparing for a session I’m running later in the week, getting to grips with a new laptop and continuing to set up as a Ltd company. There really is so much red tape to setting it up and it seems that much relies on a few key documents navigating safely between Accountants, Solicitors, Banks and various other bodies. There’s a whole new lexicon very specific to each and it feels like I’m trying to learn an alien language.
Read on for some Innovation Pond Stimulus

Designing to enhance the Patient experience.

IV Decals by Little Love Medical Help Brighten Up Treatment Rooms

I stumbled across this lovely company who came up with a simple and creative way to brighten up IV bags – Why would you do that?

Well here’s why – In a study carried out in a Department of internal Medicine in the US the measurable impact of using these ‘Stress-reducing IV bags’ significantly reduced:
aversion by 83%, fear by 53%, & anxiety by 73% [in patients]"
Department of Internal, Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque

They understood that spending time in the hospital is difficult for patients, family and friends. Little Love Medical is there to make the stay as pleasant as possible by adding bursts of colour and design to everyday hospital products. It’s as simple as that and like all good ideas leaves you thinking ‘Why didn’t we think of that before’.

Following the same theme let me introduce you to Dude. http://www.behance.net/gallery/CHRU-Support-for-Hospitalized-Children/6114385

Co designed with children, the medical team and designers, Dude was developed to support hospitalised children suffering from Chronic Renal Disease. They based this off of a few key insights

Hospitals are scary places for people of all ages, especially children. The development of the CHRU DOUD was was intended as a solution to alleviate the anxiety of young patients as they undergo testing and search for distractions and entertainment during long days cooped up in clinical wards. Dude is basically a ‘smart companion’

The DOUD can be connected to medical equipment like hemodialysis machines and can serve as a timer so that its child companion can get an idea about when his treatment will be complete. The illuminating blue belly of the CHRU DOUD is its simple digital display that can flash as an alert for taking drugs. Lastly, but not least significantly, the durable silicone plaything is an anti-stress companion that features in delightfully diverting computer games


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

New beginnings - Pondering life after big Corporate

So here I am in my last few days working in big Corporate. I’m about to embark on an exciting new adventure and have taken the BIG leap to quit my job and follow my dream. 

For anyone else thinking of doing the same I will urge extreme caution. Its definitely not something that you would want to do on a whim, in the heat of the moment or in response to a ‘difficult situation’. My own journey began many years ago and Ive been on a slow burn towards this for longer than I probably should have. It’s scary, exciting, liberating and difficult but you know what, I feel suddenly alive. Im taking time this week to reflect on my past 25 years (is it really that long) in big organisations and know that if I dont do this now, I may one day regret not giving it a go.

So, what exactly is my dream and why am I blogging about it?
I wish I could say Im following some worthy moral cause, taking a year out to travel or simply chucking it all in to be the Mum that my kids deserve but no, Im simply setting up a consultancy business to focus on what has become a passion – Innovation.

This blog will not only chart my personal journey through, what I know will be some of the up’s and downs but aims to share stimulus and inspiration that I uncover along the way.

They say that innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration but rest assured that this blog will focus more on the inspiration and not my sweat!

3 days and counting to a new begining.