The Web Changes (nearly) Everything…and what to do about it…

The web has changed (nearly) everything.

BloggersTweetersPatient OpinionFill That Hole and so on…the web is full of people’s opinions, experiences, ideas and beliefs about you, your organisation and your products and services.

It is far more likely that we will read about what you do in a piece written on the web by our peers than a piece written by your Press Office or PR agent on your website.

We have learned to recognise and respond to authentic voices that want to converse.  We are increasingly immune to your sales pitches….

In this one day workshop we will explore exactly what has changed because of the web and how.

This will not be a day for technologists and web geeks, but for communications professionals, service managers, business developers, strategists and others who are wondering how to manage perceptions on the web and use them to build a better business.

We will not be looking in any detail at the specifics of particular social media platforms or web sites but we will be examining how the new information that it surfaces can either kill or cure an organisation.

We will then look at practical actions and strategies that will help to re-position you effectively in the web enabled world.

Remember:  your customers and service users know more about your products and services right now than you do.

And whether their experience is good or bad, increasingly they will use the web to tell people about it.  The only question is, once you accept and understand this, how do you respond?

Who Should Attend?

This workshop will be useful to anyone who is coming to terms with how the web is shaping their business and how they need to re-think strategy and communications as a consequence.

Whether you work on the delivery and management of a public service or in the private or ‘third sector’ our promise is that  this workshop will provide yo with practical ideas about how to make the most of the new web2 world.

What we will cover:

  • Why people listen to the web, and how you can too…
  • When a story breaks – how should we respond?
  • Why SHOUTING on the web won’t work – how to engage in polite yet powerful conversation
  • Finding your voice and speaking your truth
  • Moving from online to offline – what to do when you actually meet the online community
  • Dozens of ways in which the web changes everything and how you might respond as a result

Workshop Leaders

The sessions will by led by some of Leeds most influential and experienced bloggers, tweeters and social marketers.  By people who care passionately about the web, good business and civic society.

So far the list includes Mike Chitty and Phil Kirby – but is likely to grow!

If you fancy lending a hand in the design and delivery of the workshop rather than coming along as  participant, or if you have any questions then please do get in touch.

Workshop Costs

£200 per person plus VAT and booking fee.

Just 10 early bird tickets are available at £150 per person plus VAT and booking fee.  Early bird ticket sales end when all 10 have gone or on 31st September.

Grab an early bird ticket while you still can: http://webchangeseverything.eventbrite.com/

If you would love to attend but can’t afford to then drop me a comment and I will see what we can do….

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Twitter and the Progressive Manager

Over the last couple of weeks I have been checking out the latest (?) web 2.0 phenomenon that is twitter.  (As I write these words I am so aware that at some point in the future, like  a week on Thursday this will seem so very dated!).

I mean really checking it out.  Giving it  a thorough workover, experimenting with it.  Seeing if I can use it for anything helpful and productive.

And I love it!  Well, most of the time.

Twitter is a simple blogging site with one very severe restriction.  Each post has to be less than 140 characters.  That is about two short sentences.

Check out my twitter page here www.twitter.com/mikechitty to get a feel for it.

I can choose to follow peoples ‘tweets’ and they can choose to follow mine.  Each time someone I follow tweets – I can see what they are up to.  If they bore me or aren’t relevant then I stop following them.  If they are interesting, relevant, entertaining, resourceful or in some other way they bring colour to my day then they stay on the follow list.

Easy to set up and addictive to use, already twitter has helped to me connect with a whole bunch of people that I would otherwise not have found.  A Llama farmer in North Devon who is passionate about small business; a sheep dog handler in Northamptonshire who loves facilitation; a rugby loving family man from Exeter who earns his living trying to make local strategic partnerships work. I know more about the workings of the #uktrains than the fat controller.

All of these and many more have provided me with information, insight and opportunities.  I am currently following about 200 people and being followed by a similar number.  As I get more efficient in using twitter I will be able to follow more without it taking more time as I get better at filtering and searching for stuff that connects.

Essentially I use twitter as a flow of information and intelligence into me.  It is a great tool for what the strategy bods call ‘environmental scanning’.   I learn a lot of very useful, hard edged stuff that helps with work.  But I also learn some very human stuff that keeps things compassionate and warm.  I know that one of  my fellow twitterers has a son who is hospitalised with asthma at the moment, I know another has just relocated from Seattle to Washington DC.  I learn about the human being as well as the professional which, while it might annoy some, I love.

I am also followed at the moment by a couple of hundred people.  Some of these just follow anyone.  The more you follow and are followed the better is one viewpoint.  I am more discriminating.  I only follow people whose tweets work for me!  Some are following me because they are interested in my work, my ideas and what I am doing.  Some follow me because each tweet acts as a little nudge – perhaps reminding them of something they learned from me.  (I am considering set up a specific PMN account to tweet daily reminders about the power of 121s, giving feedback, coaching etc).

Having a community of followers, albeit small but perfectly formed is very flattering.  And another useful little community for me to test ideas on, ask for help from (yesterday I got a great response for requests for good online whiteboards that allow me to co-create and talk about diagrams with others on the web!) and generally commune with.  A plea for examples of social media being used to good effect in community development has unearthed several leads for me to explore.  Another twitterer has put me in touch with a consultancy looking to showcase great enterprise projects.  As a marketing tool, twitter is working for me.  It  does takes time – I reckon I spend an hour a day twittering – but it doesn’t feel like work – and it ‘fits’ wonderfully into the spaces between bigger pieces of work.

At the moment the twitterverse seems to be overpopulated with techy types. Twittering about twitter the way that bloggers used to (and still do) blog about blogging.  You can always ‘unfollow’ them.  But there are also different themes emerging, such as:

  • How can we use web 2.0 to get better at what we do – whether that is management, education and training, providing services for mental health, starting businesses, researching markets or whatever.
  • How can we use web 2.0 to engage more people
  • What role can the web play in community capacity building, economic and social development.

These themes engage me.  Knowing about them helps to pay my mortgage.  IT is not all about web 2.0 – but if you are not thinking about how web 2.0 impacts on what you are trying to do in life then I think you are missing a trick.

So for the manager twitter can:

  • improve communication with the team, peers, customers and the competition
  • help get early warning of problems and opportunities
  • portray a more human and rounded face of you and your organisation

So at the moment twitter gets a big thumbs up.  I won’t be deleting my twitter account just yet.

Measuring Management

Managers spend much of their time measuring – market share, year on year sales, voids, arrears, return on investment, customer satisfaction, orders fulfilled, calls handled per hour, orders placed, orders fulfilled (again), total invoiced, hours billed, attendance, productivity per employee etc

Why the obsession with measuring stuff?

Because it gives us the data to recognise what has changed, what needs to change, and when we make the change – whether it has had the impact we planned.

But none of these metrics are about US – the manager.  They are all about the performance of the system and the people that we manage.  And this often lets us of the hook for making real change in the way we manage.

What if we measured some more personal aspects of our management efforts?

  • how much time we spend listening in 121 conversation with team members
  • how many times we give REAL feedback – affirmative and adjusting – each day/week
  • how often we make sarcastic or cynical comments
  • how many times we interrupt others mid-sentence
  • how often we check our blackberry in meetings
  • how often we talk about values and vision
  • the amount of time we spend in meetings that are inefficient or worse
  • how many coaching contracts we put in place with our team members
  • what percentage of coaching contracts achieved their goals
  • how many significant tasks we genuinely delegated (rather than then allocated) because they provide great development opportunities
  • percentage of working time allocated to pursuing key objectives
  • how often we acknowledge our own development opportunities and make planned conscious change in our behaviours

I am convinced that if we started to measure our own personal performance in relation to some of these more personal aspects of management, most of us would we would pretty quickly get some powerful data on what we needed to change.  Measurement would also pretty quickly confront us with the fact that our perceptions of our performance are markedly different from reality.

As we make planned changes based on measurements of our own personal behaviours we will soon see a very positive impact in some of the more traditional areas where measurement prevails.  The act of measurement itself would also increase the likelihood of planned changes being implemented and seen through.  That after all is perhaps the main reason why we measure.

To make sure that important things get done.

More Customer Service Craziness?

Mobile phones and insurance policies.

I like NEITHER.  Yet renewal time comes around and we dutifully spend hours on web sites to ‘compare the market’ and get great prices.

So this morning, after a mammoth web-surfing session I rang KWIK FIT Insurance Services to tell that we were not renewing our existing policy because we had found a better price and insurance coverage elsewhere.  I was put on hold while they transferred my call to someone who could ‘cancel down’ their renewal quote.

In fact I was transferred to someone who was trained to stop me placing my business elsewhere.  He asked me why I hadn’t rung them for a quote as they can offer better deals over the phone than they do over the net!

Not what I wanted to hear!

Mobile phone companies are the same.  They only offer you their best deals once you have already decided to place you business elsewhere!

Bad psychology and bad business!

So – in spite of all the recommendations to use web-based comparison sites to get the best deals and safe money – the best bet is to use those sites to find the best deal you can – and then ring up call centres and haggle to see who will beat the deal!

Hardly model customer service though is it?

So much for progress.

If you read my HP rant then you maybe interested to hear how it finally got resolved!   Eventually they told me they would issue me with a letter to authorise the seller to replace the machine. Yippee!  Then two days letter I got a call from an engineer telling me he was outside my house wanting to repair the machine!  I am the other side of the city about to go into a meeting.  No-one has mentioned this change of plan to me – or that the engineer was coming!!

Eventually without any further dealings with call centres I was able to get the engineer access to the machine and he replaced the motherboard.  Should be back in busniess soon!

Autofocus Time Management System

This looks like it might well be worth a try.  Upsides – simplicity, low cost. Potential downsides – not going to work well to develop ‘To Do’ lists for specific environments.

Video is about 9 minutes and needs sound.

Or you can just check out the website – with some really simple getting started instructions here.

Drucker on Time As a Resource

Time Management

“Mike, everything you are teaching us makes so much sense.  We can see how it could work.  BUT WE DO NOT HAVE THE TIME TO PUT IT INTO PRACTICE.  WE ARE JUST TOO BUSY FIGHTING FIRES.”

This is a line that I hear just about every time I train!  There is without doubt an issue of time management going on here – that the Drucker quote below might shed some light on.  However I think that what they really believe, perhaps sub-consciously, is,

“Mike, we are in a routine here.  We like to moan about it – but we don’t want to (or feel that we can’t) change it.  It is convenient to us to blame our performance on others (senior management, funders, customers, governments) because that means that I NEVER have to become fully responsible.”

So on to the Drucker quote….

“Time is also a unique resource. Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful. We long ago should have learned that it is the demand for capital, rather than the supply thereof, which sets the limit to economic growth and activity. People — the third limiting resources — one can hire, though one can rarely hire enough good people. But one cannot rent, hire, buy, or otherwise obtain more time.

The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it and no marginal utility curve for it. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore always in exceedingly short supply.

Time is totally irreplaceable. Within limits we can substitute one resource for another, copper for aluminum, for instance. We can substitute capital for human labor. We can use more knowledge or more brawn. But there is no substitute for time.

Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.”

Peter Drucker – The Effective Executive

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The Time To Manage

Still the biggest barrier I find to helping clients to implement best practice approaches to people management is that ‘we do not have the time’.

‘But Mike I have 4 people in my team – are you really saying that I need to find 2 hours a week to invest in their 121s?  Don’t you understand how busy I am?’

It is a bit like a motorist saying ‘I haven’t got time to check the oil and the water and to fill up the petrol tank – because my car keeps breaking down’.

Except that the latter is statement is clearly ridiculous – while the former often passes for management wisdom!

When we choose not to invest time in managing staff what are we really saying?

‘I can create more value by spending my time elsewhere’ – this may be true but managers are paid to create a return on investment by managing people;

‘If I invest time in my people I may not get a good enough return on that investment’– this may be true but then you are not a competent manager;

‘if I spend time on managing people I will be operating outside the cultural norms of my organisation’ – this may be true but then I question the long term future of your organisation.  Unless we can harness the intelligence, passion, creativity, drive and energy of all our employees then we are, AT BEST, likely to achieve mediocrity.

Often what managers are really saying is that they actually quite like the adrenaline, energy and status that they get as a mole whacker, a problem solver, a crisis crusader.