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What’s Your Failure Strategy?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

Everything runs like clockwork when all staff members show up for the hectic Sunday morning shift at the cafe. Customers are greeted at the door, informed about delays and offered a drink while they wait for a table. The whole system falls apart when one team member calls in sick. Waitstaff double as greeters and coffee runners. People forget to prioritise, service is compromised, and customers get disgruntled.

Every business has a success strategy. We set targets and create plans to achieve them. We imagine how we will perform and serve customers on our best days when staff show up on time and everything is going according to plan. It’s much harder to plan for failure. We don’t devote the same time and resources to imagining our next move for those times when we have to deviate from our original plan. We’re unprepared for failure because we don’t always think about what could go wrong and what we will do when it does.

The server might crash.
The package may get lost.
The email might offend.
The salesperson could have a bad day.
The marketing campaign might not perform as you hoped.

What then?

The difference between an exceptional performer and an average one is that they prepare for their ‘off’ days. It turns out that we do our best work when we plan for failure and success in equal measure.

Image by Garry Knight

Noticed Vs. Remembered

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

For every ten things we do today to get noticed we will do one thing worthy of being remembered. The irony, of course, is what we want deep down is to do work that’s remembered—not just noticed. We only achieve that goal by redressing this imbalance—forsaking the desire for attention today, to double down on doing something that will still matter tomorrow.

Image by Ant

Why We Need To Redefine Greatness

filed in Success

By most conventional measures of success Uber is a great company. From a standing start in 2009 to a valuation of $70 billion early in 2017, the ride-hailing app has become the most valuable private technology company in the world. Uber has achieved the kind of growth many companies dream of and yet the recent string of scandals tell the story of a company culture that’s broken. We frequently witness similar missteps like the Volkswagen emissions scandal and United Airlines passenger abuse in companies that are striving for our current narrow definition of greatness.

In our Western world of abundance and privilege greatness is a game of comparison that drives us to achieve more. Bigger wins, more sales, rising revenue, increased market share, growth, scale, power and influence. Permanently higher highs that inevitably end in compromise. We have created a culture where we’re not winning unless someone else is less than or losing. It’s time for a change.

While it seems like a daunting task, it’s possible for us as individuals to redefine greatness by changing how we measure success—by replacing our winner-takes-all worldview with one that requires us to question if we’re doing work we’re proud of. We each get to choose what it means to be great again. Moment-to-moment and day-by-day we can deliberately decide only to do the things we’ll be proud to have done and to create the future we want to see.

What did you measure today?

Image by Pablo Ricco.

Why Your Business Needs A Set Piece Plan

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

David Beckham scored 114 goals over the course of his 20-year football career. More than half of those goals were a result of what’s known as a ‘set piece’. A ‘set piece’ is a carefully orchestrated and practised move in a team game that returns the ball to play. Beckham became an outstanding player because of his dedication to rehearsing exactly what he would do when a particular situation arose in the game.

Having a ‘set piece’ plan can help us to excel in many areas of both business and life, but we rarely take advantage of it. Every day you experience average customer service that could be transformed with a ‘set piece’ plan. On Saturday when I was out to breakfast with my family we asked for a side of honey with our toast. The waiter said he would bring it right away. There was still no sign of the honey long after the toast was demolished. Of course, in the scheme of things the forgotten honey is a tiny thing, but those little things add up. They become the stuff of your brand story—the things customers remember (and share) about your business and the experience they had. The good news is it’s easy to create and implement a plan that fixes the problem so your service can be as consistent as David Beckham’s free kicks.

How To Create A Simple Set Piece Plan

1. Make a list of the most common customer service requests or interactions you’d like to improve.

2. Pinpoint the source of the disappointment.

3. Create a simple ‘if-then’ plan that details the ideal way to handle the situation.

  • If a customer complains, first we do x, then we follow up with yz.
  • If a customer knocks on the door five minutes before we open, then we…
  • If we make a mistake with an order, then…

4. Assess how effective your ‘set piece’ plan is by measuring how empowered your team feels and also by monitoring customer satisfaction.

The brands that delight us anticipate and plan for what’s about to happen next long before it does.

Image by Ronnie MacDonald.

What Are You In A Hurry To Do?

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

In our world of infinite information and seemingly endless opportunities there’s a temptation to fill every moment—to make every available second a productive one. So we multitask. We eat at our desks instead of taking a break. We always listen to podcasts on our commute, neglecting to pay attention to what’s going on around us. We defer to experts for opinions or advice before stopping to question our values first. We aim to optimize every second because we fear missing out, all the while forgetting what we were actually in such a hurry to do.

Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing. To give yourself a moment to think and remember why you started. Sometimes, probably more often than you realise, you are your own best guide. And occasionally standing still is the best optimization strategy.

Image by Geraint Rowland.

Unlock the magic in your story now.

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