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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 71: Devil’s in the detail

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I’m getting on with everything after having had a couple of weeks off. Nothing big to tell you, except about nuance and how important details are in getting things right.

For example, apparently there’s a 33% higher response rate to a more personalised communicationsthan generalised communications.  It takes a little more time to customise, but it’s detail well worth paying attention to.

Here are a more on those lines I’ve found:

The devil is in the detail with …. social media

Social media experts will tell anyone that investing in social is a great idea.  But there’s a payback scale to watch out for before you spend time or money:

  • Level 1 –how much people know the concept – WHAT you are selling (such as socks, widgets)
  • Level 2 – how much people have seen the brand you are putting to that product or service
  • Level 3 – how many touch points people have had with your brand and product or service, and the quality of those (such as heard a presentation, read an article, experienced the product).

The lower you are on that scale, the less effective social media marketing will be – because the extent to which people can relate to your offer determines their likelihood to react.

MBTI is a very well known, widely implemented psychometric tool. Social media promotions will probably get a return on investment.

Mirror Mirror however, is actually selling something people don’t know they need, the brand is not at all known, and people are very unlikely to have experienced its story, philosophy or process.

Everyone needs a digital footprint, however.  That’s why I’ve decided to go for a marketing plan with 95% relationship building and 5% online PR.

Now I can focus better.

The devil is in the detail with …. data reporting

Now that we’re more than half way through building up our new reporting tool based on Tableau, I can see our draft report formats in a new light.

The way that lines are shaded, that blocks are coloured, that space is made on a page of data is absolutely critical, let alone bringing the numbers together in a way that tells an insightful and compelling story.

The devil is in the detail with …. almost everything, it seems… Gone are the days of flippant, adrenaline-fuelled, gut instinct.  Boring, but better, I guess 😊

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 70: We have lift off

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

What a high – I feel as if we’re lifting off!  A big part of the boost is working as an associate of this consultancy in London with my mate Mr. P.  He’s just GREAT.

Meeting in London last Tuesday.  Insurance company.  Our contact there is a personal friend of Mr. P.  Within an hour, the guy is sold and wants to send our pitch up to his HR Director. Apparently, the timing is perfect, the company motto is ‘People First’, and they’re going through lots of changes that need some kind of support. It fits.  I’m heartened.

We walk down the road to a café.  Mr. P gets a sandwich. I grab some soup.

Next up is a well-established training company.  Again, our guy there is a personal contact of Mr. P.  Within an hour, him and the Director of Learning he brought along to the meeting with him are sold.  Apparently, the timing is perfect because they recently launched a ‘team productivity’ training programme and it flopped. They need something in its place right now.  Mirror Mirror slots straight in.  I never thought of it as a training programme before, but people going through Mirror Mirror learn how to be more effective together.  Wow.  Next steps, I write the training materials, Mr. P organizes the contract.  It fits. Again. I’m ecstatic.

Mr. P goes back to his office.

And to finish the afternoon, is an appointment I’d set up for myself. They’re a huge start-up out of San Francisco who basically run an app that delivers targeted content to employees and gathers employee feedback data.  I’m thinking they could do with something extra that adds 5 levels of sophistication to this transactional feedback loop, right?

The European Manager took an interest.  Could lead somewhere…  somewhere big.

I did get a bit neurotic about that appointment a few days in advance, to be honest.  It is the kind of situation where they could buy a ditty-bitty like Mirror Mirror up, if they liked it.

What scared me is that I could feel in my heart of hearts that I’d have to accept if the offer was half-decent.  Why? Because as much as I love Mirror Mirror, I’ve had three years of scrabbling around trying to sell it with NO funding, NO organized marketing, NO pre-established brand or credibility, and NO big product all figured out, like the guy from the San Francisco app had when he started selling his app in Europe.

But it’s amazing how two good sales meetings can turn one’s confidence.  Now I’m all cool.  I’m just fine as I am. I’d have to think about an offer.

Now, if this training company and their endless contact list gets going, I need to prepare myself:

  • To turn my little one-man-band into an established, incorporated company
  • Completion of our Tableau-based reporting tool
  • Some trained delivery agents
  • A pretty good administration system to make sure all the contracts and invoices are properly processed.

And that’s what I’m going to spend the summer on. People are starting to buy. WOW!!!!!!!!

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 69: Crucial subtletiesDEFINITELY GOING AHEAD!!

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

HEADLINE– We have confirmation that the multi-team contract to support a merger with our oil and gas client – IS DEFINITELY GOING AHEAD!!  Just 4 days after hearing that, I’m already in a new normal 🙂  Of course I’m very happy – and now I’m looking ahead again.

Remember me writing about my target market areas and investigating which would be the best to focus on? I had 6 areas that I was looking at based on the thinking that Mirror Mirror is best for

  1. a) teams in complex situations, where misalignment is rife, and / or
  2. b) in companies where the value of employee alignment is very high.

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 68: Why agile rocks!

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I’m sitting at gate 38 at Bangalore airport, waiting for my flight home and it’s 00.32 local time.  I can feel myself getting a tad irritable. It started with the slow-moving queues at the check-in desk.  But I suspect it’s more because I had 2 glasses of prosecco 4 hours ago, I didn’t sleep well last night, and had to get up at the equivalent of 3.00am this morning.

I’m also noticing a stronger feeling that is overtaking this mild irritation. It’s a quiet but deep kind of excitement.  In just 1.5 days at the Agile India conference in Bangalore, I made some great connections: people who might be interested in adding Mirror Mirror to their training portfolio, people who might be interested in buying Mirror Mirror for their teams, people who might be interested in running an interview about Mirror Mirror, and a whole bunch of really friendly, open, non-judgemental new contacts.

My 90-minute talk went well this morning.  Even though it’s difficult to read the local audience, there was a lot participation in in the interactive sections, there were good questions afterwards and I ended up on the Best Rated Speakers list (at least for now).

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 67: Big Break

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

WHOA!!!! Finally!!  Here are the headlines….   (cue heavy, dramatic drum beat)

  • Oil and gas major
  • 8 teams plus the leadership team
  • Merger and change situation
  • MIRROR MIRROR AGREED AS THE INTERVENTION TO DELIVERY CULTURAL INTEGRATION

Yes! we have verbal agreement on a multi-team cultural integration programme in the UK.  With some proposal tweaks, we expect contract signing in 2 – 3 weeks.  So, it’s not quite full celebrations yet but we are 98% there.  I couldn’t wait to share the news! : )

The story behind that is that there’s a huge change going on alongside a multi-team merger.  Our contact there is responsible for helping it all go smoothly from a people perspective.  He’s aware that there are multiple realities going on that are not aligned: different cultures, different levels of understanding around what is happening and why, different levels of exposure to the change management activities that have taken place so far.

He wants to use Mirror Mirror to:

  1. assess the extent to which behaviours (the operating culture) in the new organization are compatible,
  2. assess current perception on the shared changing context,
  3. use those insights to inform stakeholders driving the change, and evaluate the work done so far,
  4. work the data collected at a team level to improve shared understanding and behaviours, increase engagement and ownership, leading to more successful integration and change.

This is exactly what we’ve been working towards. The implications are a huge new case study that could open doors to more such work.  It’s huge and almost as if everything so far has been leading to this point, which is a bit fatalistic and dramatic, but hey.

Work should begin next month.

I’m ready.

Mirror Mirrorbecause a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 66: Targeting evolution

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

It seems like we’ve been going around and around on this since we started.

Correction. We havebeen going around and around on this since we started.

TARGETING.

Here’s a bit of pre-amble before I get on to this topic about a development from last month.

I’m happily partnered with an oil and gas consultancy based in London who see that great projects need effective people.  They are happy to explore diversification into this area with Mirror Mirror.  It’s so nice to have that collaboration going on. It’s like dating for ages after being single!

Anyway, we’re now talking to a couple of big companies, connecting Mirror Mirror to their business needs (and budgets), namely Quality and HSE.  Both are a priority, and both relate to communication, behaviours and shared cognition.

Specifically, on Quality, ISO 9001is a standard that certifies companies for quality. The latest update includes these components:

 “Improve Engagement of PeopleThe new standard clearly states the need for all people to be competent, empowered, and engaged in delivering value. Organizations are expected to enhance employee communication, provide better clarity on job expectations, find ways to motivate employees to contribute to organizational success, capture regular feedback, and facilitate a dialog with supervisors to help employees achieve their growth plan.”

Enhance Leadership Involvement: Unlike the earlier ISO 9001 standard, the revised version emphasizes leadership involvement in quality management. The leadership team is expected to be highly committed to strengthening the outcome of the quality management program. They need to ensure that every business unit within the organization understands and accepts the changes brought about by the new standard to ensure a unified commitment to quality.”

Mirror Mirror fits completely – what a great angle! If we win some work there, we can start talking to other people in Quality – and they would be our targets. And we are only able to think along these lines now that we have real conversations with potential clients happening around them.

Now back to targeting.

A contact of mine once said that targeting is like folding a sheet of A4 paper. Write out who you think your product / service is aimed at, starting with the whole world.  Fold the paper in half.  Write out the sentence again but be more specific.  Fold again.  Repeat until the paper is tiny.

The theory is that if you have razor sharp targeting, your can direct your marketing activities there and will be more likely to get a response.

This is how my first attempt looked about a year ago:

1.     The whole world
2.     Teams in organizations
3.     Who want to improve performance / implementation
4.     And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
5.     And going through change
6.     Who speak English as a working language
7.     And are based in Western Europe
8.     And want more help with the people side

 

My contact told me that was still WAY too general.  I can see that now.  That’s a very big target group.  But I was stuck.  And I felt bad about that, because if he’s right, my inability to target was blocking the progress of my precious business.

A stubborn question kept me from moving forward: how do you hone a target for your sales efforts when your means to new business only comes from networking, which in itself is quite random?

And then I met Patricia.  A marketing freelancer, who within one hour taught me that HOW you market is the difference between success and failure.  She said if you market on a relationship-led basis, you can’t help but target because there are only so many relationships you can develop at once.

I explained my activities: I was networking, doing social media work, some conferences and articles.  “Yes”, she said. “I’m sure that’s right, but let’s look at HOW you are doing that.”

On a small budget, online networking – from a relationship development perspective – would look like inviting 1-1 connections on LinkedIn.  Perhaps contacting them once a week, with very short notes, links to things they might find interesting.  Not selling, just being kind. And then eventually asking if they’d like to meet.

And the next area – social media work.  Yes great.  But, as Patricia explained, let’s look at HOW I’m using these. Twitter isn’t what it was 5 years ago. It’s not so effective. LinkedIn is my channel.

Write articles, post, recycle, share the links with those NEW relationships that I’m building.  Get profile at conferences that link up. Test different content, see what gets the most clicks.

Towards the end, Patricia commented that it was good to meet with me in person because then she can understand how I think.  She said I’m a structured person.

Very structured. I know this.

So structured in fact, that I have been operating like a robot. Lists, tick, efficiency, straight to the point – WHERE WAS THE ADAPTABILITY, WHERE WAS THE SENSITIVITY AND THE SOCIAL MATURITY???!  I could kick myself.  Honestly. At this age, I should know better.

I’d need to use my judgement to gauge reactions and determine which people and situations are most receptive to Mirror Mirror.  And herein lies the problem. This for me is very difficult. I totally trust my experience and intuition that anyone in a complex situation can benefit from Mirror Mirror – if they’re open to it.  Seeing that that individual people who don’t recognise the need could represent the reaction of whole market areas, doesn’t make sense to me. Whether you see the need for Mirror Mirror or not is an emotional rather than a factual response.  It’s about them, not the whole market, surely.

But not everyone is a completely independent, challenging thinker like me. As Patricia explained, there are trends, people / roles / industries / cultures that will be more receptive to Mirror Mirror than others.  No matter how ambiguous that might seem, you need to spot the trends and hone-in on the most likely buyers.

So again, who is my target?

We already know that the business is coming to the point where we have identified certain business objectives (and budgets) that give us a ‘hook’ and a need. These are HSE, quality, the agile mindset, strategic communications, and performance in general.

Patricia brought up the situation of the new manager. Wouldn’t this be a great way to onboard?  OK so we added onboarding to the list.

“Who do you want to work for?” she asked.

Reluctantly, I became specific by saying “Large organizations, because that’s where the budgets are.”

“OK”, she said. “And if you went into an organization like that to do one team, which of your business objectives fits the best?  You have to go in step by step to build trust.”

Admittedly, going in to approach strategic communication with Mirror Mirror is more of an end-game because it would be so disruptive.  We’d have to build up to that point over years.  So that was out.  And the generic ‘performance’ piece is too broad.  So even though those two business cases were the basis on which Mirror Mirror was designed, we are left with HSE, quality, agile and onboarding. And the managers / leaders of those, who would be the buyers.

Immediately my targeting becomes clearer.  I don’t need to be so precious.

1.     The whole world
2.     Leaders and managers of teams
3.     In large organizations
4.     Based in English speaking Western Europe
5.     Who want to achieve better safety / quality / agility / onboarding
6.     And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
7.     And are under pressure to get better results
8.     And interested in developing relationships with external suppliers.

I will design a structured  – and socially sensitive plan – to test that target group and hopefully get sales in the process. Even if sales is 25% about targeting, 25% about story / pitch, 25% about credibility, and 25% about timing, every detail counts.

Mirror Mirror – … because a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 65: Getting the whole experience right

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

There’s one café in the town I live in that is just packed.  Several other café’s in the same street look embarrassed being so empty in comparison. It’s called Kek and I usually avoid it because I don’t like busy places. But last week, a friend texted me to suggest we meet up there and it was too late to try changing venues by the time I got the message.

She was already there when I arrived, and it looked like the chair opposite her was the last one available in the whole cafe.  It was bustling and I tried not to bristle with hostility for the lack of space.

Over the following half-hour I didn’t realise how much the experience there had seduced me: it was such a subtle transition. The service was impeccable, the delivery was prompt, the coffee was presented with care and tasted great, the ambiance was warm and relaxing, the décor was fascinatingly homely – with that kind of bohemian, natural mix-and-match look, without looking overdone or pretentious. The music was funky and not too loud.

There’s actually a sign they have to use at the front door informing people how to queue without getting in the way of the cyclists outside – it’s that popular.

They’ve got it ALL RIGHT.  All of it. Every aspect. It’s an inspiration.  And that’s where I’m going with Mirror Mirror now.

I delivered a workshop for a small consultancy in London last week.  I know one of the guys there – he’s fantastic – very professional (another inspiration) and he’s helped get me in to this consultancy to help their team as well as to show them how it works so they can offer it to their clients.  We’ve already been working hard to submit 3 proposals to their clients, which is exciting.

My consultancy contact loved the Mirror Mirror report and workshop – he’s such a fan. Afterwards, he said

“Why don’t you print the report on thicker paper, add a field ‘Your Name’ and some spaces for notes, so that people in workshops can make it their own?  You could put it in a proper binder so it looks like something they want to keep.”

So cool.

We are starting to hone every aspect of the user experience.  Our last customer told me they loved how we customised our process to suit them. Right now, I’m on a train to Cologne for a workshop to set up our first database.  With this we’ll be more able to add / change questions and their phraseology. And we are starting to gather enough benchmark data that we’ll be able to include comparison stats in our reports.

The report we issued for the consulting organization earlier this week included ‘error bars’, which shows the average score per item as well as what the highest and lowest scores are.  This is very important detail when you want to know where the team is already aligned. I can’t tell you how long it took to pull that together – and it seemed to be one of those problems that seems to be difficult even though there was always some kind of reason why it didn’t happen – but we kept going with it and will never go back.

My ‘chat’ / pitch is getting much better after so much practice.  I’m constantly updating our customer facing materials as the explanation improves.

One of the clients we are pitching too loved the slides we sent him before a meeting so much that we didn’t need to go through them at all – they had already accelerated our conversation.

Amazingly, I’m getting compliments on how I’m doing as a facilitator and feel ready to facilitate any group, no matter how senior.  It’s moving forward.

I did have a bit of a dip last week as 3 possibilities I had been chasing last year fell through (budget / priorities / other) but that was then.

Yesterday I submitted another proposal to a global foods organization I’ve been courting for a while – and got on well with my contact there when we finally got to meet on my last London trip.

I do get feedback that the global consultancies already have offerings like this. But that’s where I can compete. They wrap it up in months-long consultancy packages.  Mirror Mirror is a lean intervention and clients seem to be very happy.  That’s what I’m working on.

Someone indicated that they thought my progress hadn’t been that fast after 2 years of having the product on the market.  A while back, that thought would have hurt.  These days, I just disagree.  Sod what they think.

This isn’t just a consultancy offering it’s a proprietary process in constant development.  Areas on my list to progress are legal and financial. I’m outsourcing jobs on graphic design, data management, platform development and marketing.  I’m doing business development, working up delivery partners, building up my knowledge in multiple disciplines, talking to universities about research proposals, and the list goes on.  I’m fully busy and not for the sake of it, I don’t think!

Now I’m going to do things at a pace that makes sense.  I have the luxury of the family loan I got at the end of last year to do that.  I spend wisely, work hard, and I’m aiming to be the best.

Mirror Mirror – … because a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com