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You had to make mistakes, it was so liberating!

You had to make mistakes, it was so liberating!" That was my experience of working at the computer shop that supplied the education market in London

“You had to make mistakes, it was so liberating!” That was my experience of working at the computer shop that supplied the education market in London with small computer printers, in 1986. The Sikh wife of one of two Sikh directors had invited me to “come to my shop, learn how to run it, and run it for me while I have my baby”.

I was studying in my part-time PhD in cybernetics at the time. I had also been made redundant from my senior lecturing job, because I was ‘too expensive’.

On my first day, this very able business woman said that they had sacked the systems manager, so would I run the shop’s mainframe computer, in the absence of the two directors, when they went to India in two-day’s time. They were too busy to show me how, until the morning they were leaving. I said, “This is very dangerous.”

The computer was ‘down’ most of their time away. The reset button was under a set of toggles that moved whenever one was trying to get the computer going. Once we realised this, we fixed a washer shaped pad around the reset button, but that was only the most obvious issue.

The shop stocked, and had already sold, several brands and many printer versions, so the variety of ribbons, inks and toner cartridges was large. Only the other director’s wife ‘knew’ which were the correct ones, or did she? Even she frequently made mistakes. That was just another, of a huge number, of ‘trip points’ to solve.

Making mistakes may be necessary as many inventors have found. So, let us all help ourselves and each other, especially in our workplaces, to be honest and open when we do fail. Let us encourage our young and would-be pioneers to know that to pioneer is to make mistakes along the way and let our official media learn to help rather than hinder when people of good-will fail along the way.

I felt liberated when the task that they assigned me was clearly impossible to fulfill without trial and error. I could then do the best that I could.

Making mistakes and learning from them applies to any context. Look out for my next blog on mistakes in healthcare coming soon.

Genevieve Hibbs

 

Genevieve M Hibbs former: nurse (general and occupational health), midwife, Christian missionary, lecturer, elected councillor, mayor and a member of the Lucidity Network.

 

 

 

The Lucidity Network is a pick and mix of online and offline learning and connection to a dynamic network of people that can help you. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Join the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open again. In the meantime check out the free Lucidity Community Facebook group for clearer thinking and better results.

Top tips to innovate with confidence

Innovation - the anxiety gap

I first met Roland when I was participating in a workshop that he was running in the early days of 100%Open. Then I was a client when they helped the NSPCC (where I worked) with some new thinking and later I went on to work as a freelance associate for 100%Open.

This is how stuff happens. Work gets done when you know people, understand what they do and trust them. Relationships can shift and change over time, but I’ve found that when you want something done you start with going to your trusted network and if you don’t know how to do something you go to your trusted network and find a person that can. So it’s important to build your networks before you need them.

I wanted to share my top take-outs about innovating with confidence from the webinar with Roland.

Not everyone is an extrovert

Innovation workshops where the most extroverted person gets the most air space and the workshop goes in the direction of their ideas aren’t great. That’s why having a good facilitator is important, to ensure that everyone gets to contribute. Roland introduced us to ‘brain writing’ where people write down their ideas to solve a problem on their own first. Then the ideas are shared and discussed. Often there are similar ideas which indicates a shared direction and it means that everyone gets to input from the start.

The 2 pizza rule

Jeff Bezos is accredited with this simple rule to keep groups working on new ideas and projects small. If your group of innovators can eat more than 2 pizzas (assuming that you are dealing with average appetites) then it’s too big!

Innovation is a ‘U shaped’ process

At the start of an innovation process, everyone is enthusiastic and excited. The same happens at the end of the process where a product gets to market. In the middle it can be a whole different story, organisational treacle and antibodies get in the way and we can run out of momentum, budget and energy. (I sometimes refer to this as the curve of doom). The point is, if you know this when you embark on an innovation project it’s helpful, as when you are at the bottom of the U shaped curve you know that there is hope! And that if you persevere that you will come out the other side.

The anxiety gap

This is when expectations don’t match delivery. Usually, in an innovation project the flurry of tangible activity happens near to the delivery date, so reporting on progress can feel slow until the launch. It’s the same feeling as cramming for an exam at the last minute, or pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline. You deliver but it’s not until the end that delivery can match expectations.

Get people to vote with their feet

In a workshop people are often asked to vote on their favourite idea. Sense check this by asking people what idea they would like to spend time in the workshop developing. If no one wants to work on it there is a disconnect. The idea will struggle to get off the ground if there is no enthusiasm to develop it at the start.
Go as fast as you can. It’s better to get something into the market and test it quickly than keep tinkering around until something is perfect. The best way to make improvements is to get real feedback from real customers.

The ‘How to innovate with confidence webinar with Roland Harwood is part of the exclusive content available to Lucidity Network members.

The Lucidity Network is designed to help you build your networks before you need them and take the lead in getting the results you want. It’s a pick and mix of online and offline practical tools and advice as well as access to a dynamic network of expertise.We’re open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

 

When did you last feel really confident?

when was the last time you felt confident

When did you last feel confident? Now? Earlier today? Yesterday? Last week? Last month?

Over the last 6 years I’ve worked with individuals, teams and organisations to help them to think creatively and develop their ideas to get better results. I’ve learned that regardless of role, seniority or sector, the two biggest things that stop people achieving the results they want, are lack of time to think and lack of confidence.

I do not believe that some people are born confident and others are not. I’ve noticed that people who are more confident deliberately work at maintaining their confidence.

Dips in confidence can affect both individuals and whole organisations. When the pressure is on it can be easy to lose our nerve to push forward with a new way of working, product or idea. I’ve noticed that lack of time and lack of confidence are connected.  When we’re busy, stressed out, juggling many conflicting priorities our attention to detail can slow. We drop balls. The odd dropped ball doesn’t matter, but if several balls drop at once it can knock us back. That often knocks our confidence. And when we’re busy we don’t take time out from our packed schedule to regroup and put our confidence back on track.

In her TED Talk, Angela Duckworth tells us about ‘grit’ – the ability to persevere in the face of setbacks. Her research shows that when it comes to achieving success, grit beats talent every time.

Whilst we know that we need to dust ourselves off and keep going, it can be much easier said then done.

Our setbacks are emotional.  Whilst rationally we know we must pick ourselves up and keep going, we have to wait until our emotions catch up with our rational thought process.  Only then can we move on. We need to allow ourselves time to do this. And if you are in any doubt about these two different thinking systems check out The Chimp Paradox.

Working on confidence can feel intangible but focusing on it is part of looking after ourselves along with eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. When we are taking time to look after ourselves it helps us keep our confidence in check. When we feel good we feel more self-assured and more confident to tackle whatever situation working life throws at us.

If you’re keen to be more deliberate about building and maintaining your confidence here are my top three quick and practical tips. Do them daily.

Log your achievements Get yourself a notebook or create an online file and log your achievements. Log them all, especially the small ones because they add up. Keep the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a client, the well done good job email from a manager or the time your team went the extra mile for you. Write them down. Writing them down helps you to acknowledge them, which makes you feel good. In addition, seeing your achievements written down helps you realise how far you’ve come, the positive impact you have every day and how much you’ve achieved overall. Instead of your ‘to do’ list – it’s your ‘I did it’ list.

Call out Imposter Syndrome The nagging voice that tells you you’re not good enough or are going to get found out is a thing. Its called Imposter Syndrome and 70% of people are affected at one time or another. When that little voice tells you that you’re not good enough and anything good that happens to you is luck – call it out. For example, I acknowledge that it’s happening and disconnect that annoying voice from the real me and tell it to pipe down. Your task is to find your own way to change the negative story that your inner critic is telling you. Look for evidence to deny the things that your inner critic is saying. For example, if you think that you’re a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I’m a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I’m a failure?”

Build your troupe This is your trusted network of friends and colleagues, the people you go to for help, the people you can talk though problems with, the people who help you to dust yourself off and keep going. You need people who listen, challenge and ultimately you trust are on your side, people who have your back. As well as building your troupe of people who build your confidence, disengage from the people who put you down and shred your confidence.

When it comes to achieving success, who you know is so much more important than what you know, yet I notice that many people don’t invest much time and energy in deliberately building their trusted networks.

So I’ve set up the Lucidity Network, to help you fast-track your networking and your route to great results. The Lucidity Network is a  ready made troupe to keep your confidence up when you need a boost as well as offer expertise and connections to others that can help you. Members also get exclusive content on relevant topics as well as webinars with experts, a confidential Facebook Community and regular events.

The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

A version of this blog first appeared on Optimum Living’s website.

 

The story of the stripy socks – making wow moments for your customers

Making wow moments for your customers

Are you inundated with new autumn season catalogues in the post from clothes companies you’ve never even heard of? Or is it just me?

There is nothing eye-catching about them, nothing to tell them apart from each other. They are all trying to get my attention with a 10% off offer before a certain date. They all look the same. It also feels like they arrive faster than I can file them away in the recycling bin.

Then last week I received a catalogue from a company that make clothes from bamboo. They sent me some free socks. I looked for the catch. There wasn’t one. The director and founder just wanted to share the company’s story and send me some socks to show me the quality of his product that he was really proud of.

I thought it was a bit random – a bit of a gimmick. But then I checked out the socks. They’re really nice! Blue and purple stripes. Super soft and warm. I’m wearing them now!

The Bamboo clothing company’s catalogue is on my coffee table for consideration at the weekend when I have some time to look properly.

Why am I telling you about my socks?

How often do you receive something in the post that makes you smile, that is a lovely surprise? It doesn’t happen very often from people I know let alone from a company that I didn’t even know existed.

This company has chosen to be different. It’s taken a risk by investing to stand out in a crowded marketplace and wow its potential customers. Of course I don’t know how much it costs to send potential customers socks, how they selected their best prospects or the thinking behind it. Although according to Cialdini and Martins Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, the free socks fit into their universal persuasion principle of reciprocity – an obligation to giveback when someone has given to you.

Is your industry crowded with competition? Are your customers and potential customers bored and uninspired? Or are you wowing and delighting them at every opportunity?

I’m a customer in a lot of crowded marketplaces, from clothing to utilities and most things in-between. I’m overwhelmed with similar products and marketing because rather than striving to be different, companies copy each other.

I’ve worked with 100’s of individuals and organizations, helping them to think differently to get better results. The biggest barriers are lack time to think properly, then the confidence to give something different a try. Many organizations want to be different but also want to know that their different tactic will work. They’re anxious about failing and individual and organizational confidence dips and they revert to what they’ve always done.  Somehow it feels safer to stick with the crowd than to be different and forge your own path.

Stop to think about what your customers would want. I know I’m just a focus group of one but I’d swap bland monotony filling up my recycling bin for something different, something that makes me think (and keeps my feet warm!), like a great product and an insight into the founders’ mission every time. I’d take a punt that your customers would too.

What wow moments might you achieve for your customers if you had the confidence to really give it a try?

If you’d like to build your confidence,  join the Lucidity Network. Its a pick and mix of learning, inspiration and connections to a dynamic network – the combination of these three elements is a recipe for confidence. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

A version of this blog first appeared on Wow Service Mentor’s website.

Failure – it’s the real thing

Failure is inevitable if you are doing anything remotely new. Failure is also fairly certain if you keep doing what you’ve always done in a fast changing world.

It’s a human tendency to hope for the best and try to avoid failure at all costs. So when we are asked to embrace failure as positive learning it’s no wonder most of us feel like we want to run away and hide.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford

One of my favourite (?!) learning from failure stories is from Coca-Cola.

In 1985 in response to its declining market share and the increasing popularity of its key rival Pepsi, Coca-Cola launched New Coke.

Do you remember the ‘Pepsi Challenge’?

At the time Pepsi’s advertising campaigns were based around asking the public if they could taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke. They could – and they preferred the taste of Pepsi.

In response Coke developed a new sweeter tasting formula.  After conducting over 200.000 taste tests, which according to the taste testers not only tasted better than the old Coke, but also tasted better than Pepsi, New Coke was ready for launch.

However on 23 April 1985 when New Coke was launched and old Coke was taken out of circulation it was a disaster. Customers were horrified that their Coke had been changed. Some people likened the change in Coke to trampling the American flag. A black market for old Coke emerged, at a market value of $30 a case.  On July 11, Coca-Cola withdrew New Coke and reinstated old Coke.

So what happened?

We did not understand the deep emotions of so many of our customers for Coca-Cola said company President Donald R. Keough.

The development of New Coke was all about taste and overlooked the importance of the relationship customers had with the brand. Until the launch of New Coke, Coca-Colas’ brand had been about its ‘original’ status. For example in 1942, magazine adverts in the United States declared: ‘The only thing like Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola itself. It’s the real thing.’

If you tell the world you have the ‘real thing’ you cannot then just come up with a ‘new real thing’. To make matters worse, since 1982, Coke’s strap line had been ‘Coke is it’. Now it was telling customers that actually coke wasn’t it, but New Coke was now ‘it’ instead.

Coca-Cola were fighting a taste battle with Pepsi in response to Pepsi’s marketing campaign. What Coca-Cola overlooked was that the battle was not about taste, and they underestimated the value of brand loyalty and the heritage of Coca-Cola.

Ironically, through the brand failure of New Coke, loyalty to ‘the real thing’ intensified and Coke recovered its market position with old Coke, repositioned as Coke Classic. Some conspiracy theorists say the whole campaign had been planned in order to reaffirm public loyalty for Coca-Cola. But whether it was planned or not, the fail of New Coke affirmed the value of the brand and with that insight Coke went onto retake its leading market position.

New Coke was a public failure. There was no running away or hiding. However Coke learned an important lesson about its brand value and its customers.

How many less public failures are happening in your organisation that no one ever learns from? How many times do they secretly get repeated wasting time and money?

If you’d like some help in creating an organisational culture that encourages and supports learning from failure so that your organisation can grow and your people are happier then drop us a line.

If you like this blog you might like the new Lucidity Network. It’s designed specifically to help you take the lead in getting the results you want. It’s a pick and mix of online and offline practical tools and advice as well as access to a dynamic network of expertise.

We’re open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.