Tuesday, December 17, 2013

You get what gets measured

Last week I did attend an innovation conference in Amersfoort (yes, no mistake J). Very interesting was a presentation from the bol.com founder, Daniel Ropers Bol.com is the Benelux “Amazon’ and to stay ahead of them, innovation is a must.

Especially in these uncertain times, employees are playing it safe. Risk-aversion is the norm. Well, that is counterproductive to innovation, so, they had a serious look at performance metrics. What they did find was that management by objectives, measuring results only is preventing employees from trying out new things. Instead they are measuring behavior. Their employees are all expected to act like explorers and discover new areas for innovation.
This approach is working very well for them.

Are you metrics supporting or preventing innovation?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is marketing itself in need of some innovation?!

In this part of the world it is fall and winter is starting to show its appearance. So, now we are bombarded with marketing messages from car manufacturers.  Many brands are offering to do a winter check-up.  These check-ups are for free, but that is not the intent. They are sure that they will find quite a lot of work, which needs to be done and paid for.

They are all offering almost exactly the same, with exactly the same message. They are not even trying to be differentiating! This means that in one block of commercials, I am getting the same winter check message from three different manufacturers.
It looks to me that their marketing departments could use some innovation too!

This was even further emphasized by a huge advertisement on a billboard at one of the busiest crossroads in the country.  The message there is that by buying a new Mercedes truck, you can get 5% better performance in the hills.  This is beyond words, as everyone should (!) know that The Netherlands is as flat as a snooker table!

I would suggest that innovation is not applied only to define new products or services. All departments should be innovative, from finance to IT to marketing!

How innovative is your marketing?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To ‘self-service’ or not to

Recently I was on Schiphol airport, where I did engage with some new self-service facilities.
In general I do like technology innovations. However, they should be easy to use and these self-service facilities should work faster and with less faults/mistakes than human beings.
That was not the case, so I think that these facilities were not professionally enough to be used.

Let me share some examples.

For the passport control there was a row of machines installed, which were supposed to read my passport and literally open the gate if I was cleared to proceed. However, I would say that it didn’t work for one in four of the cases, so there were still two officers there to do the manual check. I did ask one of them what their experience was and he said that they (police) were not ready to accept these machines from the airport yet, as they were not working properly. So, clearly the testing of the machines was not done properly and the travellers were used as guinea pigs.

Then I did proceed to some machines from my bank to exchange some currency. I did follow the procedure and the machine said that my card was not accepted. That is quite strange as I am a customer from that bank and earlier that day, my card did work fine. Okay, what to do next, as the machine didn’t work and I still needed my Australian dollars! After checking the area for a while, I did find a bank office with real human beings, yeah! They did confirm that these automatic machines didn’t work in some cases. Then they did offer me to fill in a complaint form and they confirmed my remark that nobody would read it anyway. They did suggest using Twitter for that.  Also they did mention that many of them were being laid off, because they were too expensive. Clearly here, the bank has to make sure that their machines are fail-safe, before they are rolled out.  Imagine that they would not accept my card and I would have no alternative.

I am only in favor of self-service facilities when they work better and faster than human beings. And only when they are properly tested before implementation. In many cases, human beings do a better job than machines!

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Building a relationship with your customer

Even on a global scale, shops do look similar, the products are similar, prices are similar.
So it becomes harder and harder to differentiate yourself, especially in the area of consumer goods.

The only differentiator becomes then your customer service. How does your personnel treat your customers?

  •         Are they willing to help or are they avoiding customers?
  •        Are they establishing eye contact and smiling or are they only looking at their phones?
  •          Are they interested in getting to know you and your needs or are they seeing you as a nuisance?
  •         Do they want to know your name and build a relationship or are they seeing you as just a number?
  •         Do they recognize their customers the next time they visit or do they don’t see you at all?

It is quite easy to establish these practices. And they don’t demand high investments.
What they do require is treating your employees as humans as well; otherwise they will not treat your customers as humans either.
Your example as a leader or manager is crucial.

Are you treating your employees and hence your customers as humans, as valuable relationships?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is the birthplace of creativity and innovation?

What would you answer to this question?
-       Your mind (new ideas)
-       Even some people say, that creativity is what you are born with (well, it is a learned capability)
-       Problems with existing products/services/business models
-       Trends
-       Brainstorming with friends
-       ??

Well, it is not what you might have expected. In this fascinating talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html) Brene Brown stipulates that vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.

That is a very interesting perspective. Therefor, I need to really connect with my feelings and emotions.
-       What touches me?
-       What hurts me?
-       What makes me happy?
-       What bothers me?
-       What fascinates me?
-       What is it that I don’t know and yet would like to know (or do)?
-       What has attracted me over my lifetime?

In order to really feel that, you have to go deep and there you will find the area, which you want to address or tackle. It is this area, which you want to improve and/or disrupt.
And that will create the compelling story of who you are and why your innovation will be a success.

Are you ready to be vulnerable, towards yourself and others?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!