3 Critical Things You Need your Team’s Input on

Mar 10, 2016

When doing strategic planning, it is essential to gain some insights from your team members on their perceptions of the business, where it's going, and why things are the way they are. Remember when it comes to your employees, every action they make is a direct result of their perception of the business and their understanding of why it is being done. The important part is to marry their expectations with yours, so that the team can function as a cohesive unit for the purpose of growing your business. With that said, there are three key questions you needs to ask of your employees before the strategic planning process begins (and is something to keep a gauge on at least once a year):

1. What should we START doing?

2. What should we STOP doing?

3. What should we KEEP doing?

With the answers to those key questions, you will be able to spot trends and patterns of thinking in your employees which will guide your planning discussions.

Good luck, and have fun.

Cloud Technology – What You Need To Consider Before Diving In

Feb 17, 2016

Cloud computing is all the rage ... in case you didn't know. It has the capacity to significantly increase your competitive advantage ... if you know how. And therein lies the challenge.

Enter Clayton Oates.

Clayton has been consulting to SME's about software for over 25yrs. So if you ask how long he's been involved with cloud technologies, it's fair to say he's been there from the start. In this interview we dive into the reality of cloud technology today, what it can do for your business and what you should be wary of.

There are definitely some precautions to be taken. But not so many as to stay on the sidelines. Be bold and have a listen to the gems Clayton shares with us in this 30min chat.


Note: You can find Clayton at the following links: WebsiteTwitterLinkedIn

If you'd like to download the interview mp3, right click here and choose 'Save Link As...'

The Top 5 Technologies That Could Disrupt Your Business and Industry

Jun 17, 2015

There are massive technological changes coming and they are happening faster than you think. The good news is there is just as much opportunity in these changes as there is risk for your business. I recently spent two days in Melbourne studying with Roger Hamilton, where he shared these technology trends. For more detailed reading on each of these check out Peter Diamantis's latest book 'Bold'. In this book Peter gives a great road map on how entrepreneurs can go bold with these opportunities.

Here are the top 5 to keep an eye on:

#1 - Crowdfunding and sourcing - The ability for ANYONE to now raise capital on an idea means that even if you are in an industry that is capital intensive, the barriers to entry have been leveled. Further, the connectedness of people (the crowd) via the internet means access to skills and labour is abundant like never before. When you start seeing lawyers and accounts outsourcing overseas, you know it has become mainstream.

#2 - 3D Printing - This one is going to be an absolute game changer. Anyone in construction? Check out this video. The pace of change within this technology is blinding. Already since 3D printing became somewhat 'mainstream' (if you can call it that yet) the technology has increased in speed by 100x. And knowing Moore's law, this is only going to speed up. To give you an idea, doctors are already using the technology to print replacement joints and bones.

#3 - Cognitive Computing - Meaning websites and software that preempt what you are looking for. Where this becomes a disruptor is from a competition point of view. How are you serving your customers better by using technology to learn their preferences? The market is starting to expect things tailored to their needs and wants. The days of general information and services is going by the wayside. If you are not keeping up, you'll be perceived as not caring about your customer.

#4 - Sensors and Camera - In everything. From the garbage truck knowing how full the bins are on its route and rerouting to be more efficient, to the wearable sensor technology that tells you you're low on magnesium. The world of 'knowing before you do' is upon us.  Think about your products and services - how can you incorporate this technology with #3 to innovate your business?

#5 - Robotics and Automation - Sick of chasing your dog down the street? Get the cheetah to do it for you. This robot can run and jump over obstacles faster than Usain Bolt. When you mix this with #3 and #4, you start to understand why futurists are saying within the next decade or two, 47% of jobs will be replaced by robots. Now okay, that is not a short term threat - or is it? Foxcomm (Chinese manufacturer of iPhones) says within 3yrs it plans to make 70% of assembly line work done by robots?

So I hear you saying ... well that's all great Jamie but those changes don't really apply to my industry. My only comment to that is, "be careful". Young minds are thriving on these changes and industries are being turned upside down. Be the disrupter not the disrupted.

Book Review – The Checklist Manifesto

Feb 12, 2015

I'd heard this book referenced many times so it was time to check it out. Here are the highlights. It is a pretty quick read and has some interesting stories. I'd recommend the read.

I found of particular interest, the points that give instruction on how to create effective checklists (points 10 - 15). Enjoy.

  1. There are 2 reason why we fail. The first is because we lack knowledge in a certain area. The second is because we have the knowledge but fail to act (or forget to act)
  2. Human progress has bought a higher level of complexity to what we do. For instance when planes were first invented there were few controls to manage. Now a Boeing 787 has hundreds of controls. The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our ability to delivery it correctly, safely or reliably.
  3. Successful organisations have realized that when they don't delegate authority, things fail. And to delegate without procedure and structure is a recipe for disaster.
  4. Under conditions of complexity, not only are checklist a help, they are required for success. There must always be room for judgement, but judgement unaided - and even enhanced - by procedure.
  5. Following the recipe is essential to making food of consistent quality over time.
  6. Several studies by the author (a surgeon) revealed the inconsistency of procedures which were believed to be consistent. An example was appendectomy patients of one particular hospital failed to receive the necessary antibiotics over one third of the time. This is a very standard procedure. After the implementation of a simple checklist the results were as follows. After 3 months 89% of patients received the correct dosage at the correct time. And after 10 months 100% was achieved. The author noted the need for the checklist to become habit over time. Don't expect 100% success the first day you put it in place. It requires work
  7. Sometimes it requires a mix of task and communication checklists. Task checklists on their own can be limiting for more complex scenarios. A communication checklist is more like a prompt to discuss certain issues with a team. I.e. "what are the key issues we see with this project?"
  8. There is a common illusion that a level of training and expertise brings consistency in execution. This overconfidence in ability is a common reason for mistakes. Even the best miss the most basic of steps. This is the exact reason no matter how many times a pilot has flown a plane, before take off, they ALWAYS review the take off checklist.
  9. Much of the following points on 'how to' create a checklist came from Daniel Boorman, a veteran pilot working for Boeing and the technical lead for the development of the 787's pilot controls, displays and system of checklists.
  10. You must define a clear pause point at which the checklist is supposed to be used (unless the moment is obvious like a warning light coming on). You must decide whether you want a DO-CONFIRM checklist or a READ-DO checklist. With a DO-CONFIRM checklist team members perform their jobs from memory and experience. But then they pause and run over the checklist to make sure they captured everything. With a READ-DO checklist, on the other hand, people carry out the tasks as they check them off - it's more like a recipe.
  11. The checklist cannot be lengthy. A rule of thumb some use is between five and nine items which is the limit of working memory.
  12. If a checklist takes more than 60-90 seconds at a certain pause point, it often becomes a distraction and people start taking shortcuts.
  13. The wording should be simple and exact and use the familiar language of the profession.
  14. Even the look of the checklist matters. Ideally it should fit on one page. It should be free of clutter and unnecessary colour. It should use both upper and lowercase text for ease of reading. A sans serif font like Helvetica is best.
  15. Your checklist must be tested in the real world which is inevitably more complicated than expected. First drafts always fall apart and one needs to study how, make changes and keep testing until the checklist works consistently.

Do Your People “Want To” or Feel They “Have To”?

Oct 20, 2014

There are not many businesses out there where the results are not massively affected by the people who work there. In fact there are none.
Knowing this is true, how much effort and emphasis should be place on your philosophy and practices concerning your people? Tons.

I commonly hear Business Owners complaining about how hard it is to find good people and the stress and inconvenience caused by employees etc.
Yes people are complex, that is what makes us human—but the truth is—you don’t have a business without them.

People are your staff and they are your customers. They are your suppliers and your financiers. And how they feel about you and your business is going to greatly influence how easily and well you grow your business.

As recently as February of this year, only a scant 30% of workers in the US were considered to be “engaged” in their jobs. That means that almost 3/4 of an entire workforce are DIS-engaged and are working well below what makes them happy and fulfilled. Now those words ‘happy and fulfilled’ make some business owners cringe …

“I mean shouldn’t they just be happy they have a job? They should be thanking me!”

That attitude is fine if you are happy with below average people. And when I say below average people, what I mean is people who are not inspired or engaged.

89% of employers think that employees leave them for more money—when the shocking truth is that only 12% actually do. So why did the other 88% up and leave? The answer may be more basic than you think:

The fact is every human being wants to be and feel loved and cared about. We are selfish creatures who are primarily concerned with how we feel. For some this is a lesson we’d rather not hear. It’s too soft and emotional.

In contrast, today’s business environment is sprouting a new breed of business that is employee-centric. These businesses (think Zappo’s, Google, Netflix to name some) know that when their team feels cared for, engaged and challenged, they pass that on to the customer who in turn feels great about the business.
More importantly, engaged employees are so, not only because they are cared for, but because they truly understand the trajectory of the organization—and exactly what their role is in its success.

Have you ever been served a coffee by someone frowning? It might physically be the best coffee in the world but you don’t necessarily get that feeling from it. You may not even consciously notice – it’s just that the experience is ‘just ok’. Compare that to being served a coffee by someone with a genuine smile who when they look you in the eye communicate, “I really hope you enjoy this. I made if for you” and there is a hand drawn smiley face on the lid. There is a tangible difference.

And the same goes for all people who interact and connect with your business. Do your team ‘want to’ be there or feel they ‘have to’ be there. How people feel after they interact with your business is a telling sign for the sustainability and potential for greatness of your business.
Take it seriously. It should be one of your top priorities—not only for your people—but for the throngs of customers who will jump ship to a competitor that truly “gets it”.

Just look below, and ask yourself. Do I “get it?”

10 Shocking Stats About Employee EngagementInfographic crafted with love by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform.