At The Whiteboard

September – The New, New Year

As I write this post, I’m looking out at a gorgeous blue sky free from oppressive humidity and full of the fresh crisp air that lifts my spirit like nothing else.

It’s September 1st. Fall is coming, Jon Snow. Fall is coming.

Since I was a little girl I have considered September 1st to be the “real” New Year’s Day – in addition to the weather I love the most, it’s the return to routine, which is also something I love. Whether it’s back to school, back to work after vacation season, back to cooking comfort food in the over after BBQ season, or back to a new TV season, it’s our launch into a new year of promise and opportunity.

So what can you do to mark this day?

At Whiteboard we seize any opportunity to make lists, set objectives, and identify and refine goals. So our recommendation is that you take a moment to write a few “New New Year” goals for yourself – this way you will have a productive fall season, and be well in line to enjoy the December holiday rush. Not only that, your January resolutions (if you do that sort of thing), will be a breeze.

But Resolutions and Goals Never Work

Never is a strong word. Granted, they are tough to maintain, even for the most diligent list-makers. And you know what? That’s ok. It’s totally fine to re-visit and re-write your goals from time to time.

By taking some time now, you will at least start your fall season off with intention (which is always a good thing). And if you follow our steps below, we believe you will stick with it longer than you normally might.

STEP ONE. ASK YOURSELF A FEW KEY QUESTIONS.

What is one thing that you did in the last several months that you are proud of? What things or conditions were in place to help you be successful?

What is one thing that you wish you did better? What were the barriers that were in the way, and what can you do to eliminate them as you go forward?

STEP TWO. CONSIDER A VARIETY OF GOALS.

Yes, this is a business blog, but you’re allowed to have goals other than professional goals. In fact, you should. It helps you with balance.

Health & fitness goals should focus on well-being and strength. Personal goals might focus on education, relationships, or achieving balance in your life. Community goals could help you find time to volunteer, get involved in a community group, or maybe become involved in your child’s school.

goals

STEP THREE. CHOOSE A GOAL.

Now pick a goal (or goals) relating to one of the areas you pondered. Before you get all excited and choose all three, go back to the questions you answered in Step One.

It may be (probably is, for most people) tough to choose goals in all three areas, so make sure you prioritize Fitness, Personal, and Community, and decide where you want to start. We recommend starting where you’re most likely to succeed – this helps you build confidence.

Whatever you decide:

  1. Make sure your goal is achievable. Ask a friend if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, or if you’ve set a realistic challenge for yourself.
  2. Make sure you are very clear about what your goal is. This means it is measurable and has a timeline.
  3. Ask someone to help keep you accountable and check in with you on a regular basis.

And don’t forget that it’s ok to change your mind. December 1st is 3 months away, which is an ideal time to re-examine and re-set your goals.

Here’s to a productive, fun, and humidity-free fall season!

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

How I used a process map to make a kid go to bed.

Ah Summer Vacation.  Rest, relaxation, sun, fun……and a screaming 5 year old. We had the pleasure of taking my stepdaughter on vacation just a couple of weeks ago.  Nine hours of driving to arrive in the stunning Virgina mountains at a family fun resort. Yay!

To be fair, let me tell you this kid is an angel.  She is most definitely the sweetest, kindest, most polite child I have ever set eyes on. And there is no bias there whatsoever. Bedtime, however, reveals a second more scream-ey personality.

As the evil stepmother, I try not to interfere with the nitty-gritty parenting details.  That’s for daddy.  I’m there for playing, cuddles, and using snapchat filters to make the kid laugh.  After a few days of nighttime screaminess (and not enough wine in the world to combat the effects), I decided to take matters into my own hands.  The kid needed structure – even if we were on vacation and things were a little less routin-ey. So I did what I know how to do best.  I facilitated a process mapping session (cleverly disguised as a “craft”).

Use Process Tools to Re-engineer your kid. Child’s Bedtime Process.

Step 1: Engage Them

So, first I said, would you like to do a “craft” with me? We can use stickers and markers and stuff?

Then we went to building a current state/ future state map simultaneously (which I wouldn’t do normally, but I had attention span issues to deal with).

I asked questions about her normal bedtime process at home:

  • What comes first?
  • What next?
  • What if…?
  • What it..?
  • How would you feel if we did this first, next, afterwards?

This made her feel like she designed the bedtime process, she knew what would happen next, and she had some consistency – everything should go in the same order every time.

Step 2: Map the ProcessIMG_5054

Since she can’t quite read, we added pictures and stickers.  Ok, and it’s not a true process map.  It’s a list.  But it shows the order of things and what is included, and we even made some notes for concurrent steps or other issues (sometimes I brush my teeth and hair at the same time, or sometimes I don’t want a show, I’d rather have a story). I will definitely be introducing basic process mapping shapes into the next version, don’t you worry.

Note: If you are alarmed by the term face mask – we found a sleeping mask helped her close her eyes and got to bed – so it became part of the process too.

Step 3: Execute with CONSISTENCY

The next step was to get all excited about the list and try it out.  We posted it on her bedroom door and said, “ok – what do we do first?”  Eureka! It worked.

The more we did the list, the less she complained about this step or that step.  She almost always had something to look forward to, and bedtime didn’t feel so imminent.

And now – we just stay with the flow.  We make adjustments as necessary, but try to stick to the process as much as possible.  Maybe in a month or two we’ll map it again- hey continuous improvement is just as important as the first improvement.

So process geeks rejoice!  You can now process map at home without fear of repercussion.  Even kids get into it.

Let us know if you try it out @whiteboardcons #bedtimeprocessmap.

Until next time,

Nicole

Why Context Is Critical to Success

 

A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful week at my cottage north of Toronto with a really good friend and her awesome kids. We had the best time splashing in the lake, exploring the local town, heading to the beach, eating, sleeping, playing Scattergories, colouring, and just chilling out.

I particularly enjoyed it because it was my first real downtime in a while – even when I’ve been at the cottage other times this summer, I’ve been working on it, readying it for rent through a shared rental service (something I started this year in order to cover rising operating expenses), and not simply enjoying it.

One of the things you have to do when you rent through a third party is to take extra care when preparing the space. This means you don’t just clean and tidy – you fluff pillows, you fold a bright and cheerful dishtowel over the edge of the sink “just so,” you wash the floors, you make smart “hotel corners” on the bedsheets, and you ensure the faucets are sparkling. Why? Because you want that coveted 5 star rating, which will get you more renters.

I have an amazing team who usually looks after this for me, so it was with some dismay that I found myself reverting to my picky nature when tidying and cleaning before my friends and I left to return home.

At one point everything was pretty much done, save cleaning out the fridge and taking out the trash. On my way to the kitchen I walked by the living room and nodded with satisfaction when I saw the blankets properly draped, the pillows smooshed just right, and the magazines fanned out nicely. Then, a few minutes later I walked by again and noticed, to my dismay, the kids flopped out on the sofa and rooting through the coffee table for the colouring book and crayons.

My reaction? Frustration/annoyance/panic (I had to be out by a certain time that morning.)

I did NOT say what first popped into my head. I ended up saying “If you kids mess this up, I’m going to end up cleaning it using YOU as a mop!” This sounded dumb, and elicited giggles, thank goodness. Then I took them on a walk up the driveway to water the flowerpots and look for bears.

And this applies to work how?

Here’s the thing. I believe I was annoyed because “those kids don’t have a clue how much work it is to prepare for the guests! If only they knew!”

If only.

Why didn’t I take the time that day to explain what was going on with all the hustle and bustle and why it was important? I bet they would have not only understood, but offered to help.

The same thing can happen to any leader at work.

We keep things from people because

  • we don’t think they care to know,
  • we don’t think they need to know,
  • we don’t realize they want to know.

I believe most of the time we don’t realize they want to know.

A few years ago I was talking to my team about the upcoming budget requisition season. I launched in to the savings we had to find and how we would work those savings into this year’s process. A couple of people were not paying attention, and I started to get annoyed, but I didn’t say anything.

Later, there were a couple of screw ups. Nothing awful, but to me they seemed obvious and avoidable.

When I met with the team and we talked about what happened and what we could do differently next time, one person spoke up and said, “Ruth, I think it would help if you explained how the whole budget process works. Some of us just don’t know.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Of course they need to know! If they don’t know, how can they understand why the little things are important, which things need to be prioritized, where to get details, and why they should be concerned with the outcome.

Tell the story.

In the absence of information we make things up, and without the right context, we can’t expect everstoryyone to do their best work. It’s up to you to provide the back story and to not just drop people into Chapter 13, expecting them to know how you want the story to turn out.

If you’re seeing spotty results, can you look back at your communications to people and determine whether you started at the beginning of the story?

Some people have been reading the book along with you, and some haven’t. The effective leader knows the difference and covers both situations.

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

Why Leaders Should Download PokemonGo.

What the &$^# is a Pikachu?

It started with a few photos on Facebook.  Cartoons and acquaintances of mine were popping up in photos together on my newsfeed.  I figured it was random or a super geeky thing I didn’t need to know about and then the posts started getting more cryptic….friends were “hunting” Pokemon? Pokemon were screen-capped sitting on friends’ laptops and posted to social media and I was very very confused.

Even the University Health Network here in Toronto posted a chart on how to play safely. Wait what?

Then the naysayers started emerging. Nasty tweets and posts popped up about how stupid it was. While sending a text during my morning dog walk the construction worker doing road paving near my house said “Ugh.  Tell me you aren’t looking for Pokemon? That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of”.  News stories broke out about PokemonGo related injuries, accidents, along with the instant rise of Nintendo’s share price.

IMG_3076

My attempt at photographing Ruth holding a Zubat. 🙂

My husband came home that night, and described the concept.  “You walk around and there are things to collect and battle while you walk around.  And it is in real life. It’s weird, but kind of interesting, right?”

I thought, wow, I’m not really interested in phone games, but the concept sure does sound neat.

So I downloaded it.  Much like Snapchat I didn’t get it right away. (My good friend Jamie told me that it was so old people couldn’t figure out how to use it. Hmph.) But I figured a few things out. I caught a few Rattatats and Zubats.  Then Ruth downloaded it and we went for a little break.  We had quite a blast, and I learned a few things too!

So while I hate to admit it, it’s kind of fun.  It’s kind of social. It got me outside for a quick walk instead of glued to my laptop.

So why would a leader in an organization give PokemonGo a try? Shouldn’t we be keeping our minions in their offices doing work instead of looking for nearby Pokestops? I don’t think so. And here’s why:

3 Reasons Leaders Should Download PokemonGo

  1. It Will Help You Be Kind and Curious. Remember our famous coaching phrase? Kindness and curiosity leave no room for anger and resentment.  Instead of harbouring all that anger and resentment for those cute little cartoon characters, try playing it for 15 minutes.  If you hate it, at least you can say why and you can say you tried it, right? Get your kids to teach you, or get your employees to show you how it works.  They’ll get a kick out of it.  Trust me.
  2. You Will Find Something New to Talk about. Often when dealing with different generational types in the workplace, it’s hard to find some common ground in conversations. Instead of your team members jumping back to their desks and pretending to finish their TPS reports when they were actually out poke-hunting, you can ask them if they found that damn Zubat, and encourage them to relax. Start a conversation, ask them to take you for a hunt and show you how it works.  They will love getting to engage with you without having to have that same humdrum conversation about your weekend. (And they’ll respect you when you suggest it’s time to get back to work now.)
  3. It Will Help You Encourage an Active Work Culture. Maybe your office has a lunchtime plank session, or yoga class, or fitness or meditation group.  In large organizations that might be possible, but in smaller organizations it might be cost prohibitive to implement a large scale wellness program.  This is a great way to take 10-15 minutes out of your day, to get outside as a group, go poke-hunting together, and get some fresh air.

This all being said – boundaries are important. What I love about the UHN tweet is that asks people to be safe and considerate of others, but also jumps into the spirit of things and wishes players luck.  If you feel it necessary to set some boundaries in your organization, try to keep it firm and fun, instead of shutting the whole thing down and making people hunt in secret.

Tell us how PokemonGo is playing a part (or not) in your worklife. Tweet us at @whiteboardcons!

Until Next Time,

Nicole (@missNicoleNorth)

 

 

 

 

Even Coaches Need Coaches

coaching a coach

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, or have noticed our recent “Whiteboard Pro-Tip Videos,” you know that we are HUGE fans of effective coaching conversations as a means of increasing employee engagement and building strong teams. (Read our article on “Being a Great Coach in the Office” which was published in the Huffington Post last year.)

Our workshops have helped scores of people improve their coaching skills, and our one-on-one coaching sessions have helped individuals figure out how to become “unstuck” with whatever roadblock is preventing them from getting where they want to go.

But what if you’re already a pretty good, even fantastic, coach? You get it, you’re good at it, you practice it, your team is highly engaged and successful, and in fact you’ve been training others to grow their own coaching skills.

Do you need a coach if you’re already a coach?

Just about any professional needs their own services from time to time, and we know that they can’t (or shouldn’t) treat themselves and expect great results. Think about it:

  • Doctors need to see other doctors for physicals and prescriptions.
  • Personal trainers have personal trainers to spot them when they lift weight, and push them when they get tired.
  • Physiotherapists see other physiotherapists to manipulate and treat musculoskeletal issues.
  • Lawyers hire other lawyers to represent them (except on TV, where they are VERY good at representing themselves).
  • Therapists get advice and counselling from other therapists.
  • Ministers, Priests, Rabbis, and Imams seek spiritual guidance from others.

And so it goes with coaching.

Even expert coaches need someone else to help them self-discover solutions to problems they are facing. Here are three possible scenarios in which it would be critical for a coach to get coaching from someone else:

  1. Edgar has been coaching for 15 years, and is known for his openness, strength, and amazing leadership style. He thought he had seen it all until one of his peers lashed out at him in a leadership meeting, embarrassing him and creating a stressful atmosphere. Edgar knows he has to talk to this person, and is trying to prepare his approach. He’s just not sure how to open the conversation and would like to bounce some ideas off someone.
  2. Natasha has to coach a young member of her team who is fresh out of college, eager, keen, smart, and… obnoxious. She’s pretty sure how she will handle it, and would love to role play the possible outcomes. After all, Natasha is a Baby Boomer, and needs to sound helpful and encouraging, not “old” and “out of date.”
  3. Salome is a senior leader with plenty of coaching experience who feels disengaged and even a little bored at work. She’s not sure what to do and would like some objective guidance.

 

coaching a coach 1

 

No matter how much experience we have, we can always use some coaching to help us out. And remember, coaching isn’t the same has having coffee with a friend (although that’s always helpful too!) Friends are encouraging and supportive listeners, and can often be biased towards a specific solution.

Coaches are also encouraging and supportive, and have NO bias. Therefore, the solution you come up with is 100% yours, and was probably hiding deep down inside your brain somewhere all along.

If you need a coach, check out our coaching services by clicking here, or email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca. We’d be glad to help you, and our 15-minute telephone strategy session is FREE! How can you go wrong? (You can’t.)

Until next time,

Ruth.

Sorry. Be Canadian and apologize at work.

Canada Day.

Tomorrow, July 1st, we celebrate Canada Day.  Sorry to say, it’s not with the same gusto as our neighbours to the South celebrate Independence Day, but we celebrate with a certain “Je ne sais quoi,” that only we Canadians have.  Mostly we celebrate with beer, swimming in the lake, and mildly dangerous home fireworks.

In honour of the birth of our country….wait, let me google that’s what we are actually celebrating to be sure.

Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire

(source: Wikipedia)

canada dayHmm.  Interesting.  Not sure I knew that explicitly. Thank heavens for the interweb.  Either way, the day off in the middle of summer where I always go to a cottage got me thinking about being Canadian and office culture.

Canadian Workplace Traits

What Canadian traits do we have in the office workplace (if any)? While I know you all want me to describe the intricacies of using “Eh,” I will not. Sorry.  Oh ha, there it is! What I am going to discuss is our use of sorry and how it impacts our business culture.

Compared to our English speaking neighbours, apparently we have a penchant for overusing the apologetic term.  Our friends to the South apparently don’t say it at all, and according to the National Post, our accented colleagues in the UK don’t mean it.

#sorrynotsorry

So presumably the theory is, when we say sorry too much we are meek, over-polite, and perhaps even admitting guilt that isn’t there (I won’t begin to tell you the number of times someone bumps into me and I say sorry!).

So in the work environment, we want to create a culture that is polite, respectful, accountable (meaning we are willing to say out loud that we bungled something up), but saying sorry for everything might undermine our career aspirations. Saying sorry might:

a) be perceived as excessive and unnecessary (particularly for the analytical types who may favour data to feelings),

b) create a perception that we’ve done something wrong, when we actually haven’t, and finally,

c) it might render the use of the word somewhat meaningless.

How to Say Sorry Just Enough!

  1. When you have hurt someone’s feelings. So, in yesterday’s TPS report meeting, you tell Cynthia that the new TPS reports are “THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER”.  Cynthia has been a little aloof lately, and you find out later she designed the new TPS reports.  This is a good time to admit that your statement was offensive.  “Cynthia, yesterday I said the new TPS reports were dumb. I realize that might have been offensive. I’m sorry. Can you help me understand them better so I can have a better appreciation of the work you did?”
  2. When you have made an error and are owning up to it. Once very early on in my career in the Ontario Public Service, I made a $150,000 procurement error.  I forgot to type over the system default date of April 1 with Mar 31.  We lost that money from our budget that year.  After creating a small wading pool of sweat in my cubicle and panicking to the point of fainting, lumberghI went into Lumbergh’s (not his real name…but there is a movie reference here) office and said: “I made an error in the system. This money is coming out of this years budget, not last years. This is how I’m going to fix it so this never happens again. I’m SO sorry.”  Lumbergh turned beet red with rage, and then immediately resumed his natural “public service pale,” and said – “thanks for owning up to it, not making excuses about the system, and for your apology.  Let’s move on”.  Now, I wasn’t normally a fan of Lumbergh, but in that moment I could’ve hugged him.
  3. When you have not acted politely. You interrupted Sally’s story during a meeting. You failed to notice Henry two-stepping it to catch the open door because he had two coffees in his hand and let the door crash into his face and his lattes. “Wow.  I’m sorry. I just interrupted you/slammed expensive coffee into your face. Please go on/let me hold the door.”

The Goldilocks of Sorry – Just Right.

My point here is that sorrys don’t have to become ubiquitous.  Use sorry sincerely and genuinely.  Don’t say “Sorry, but…..it was x,y,z’s fault” – that negates your sorry and says you aren’t sorry at all. Don’t say sorry unless you know what you are sorry for.  Don’t say sorry when someone bumps in to you (say excuse me instead – and honestly as Canadians we don’t want to be doormats!). canada sorryDon’t say sorry when you are late for the 100th meeting in a row. You clearly aren’t sorry because you aren’t fixing your complete lack of respect for others’ time.

Say sorry when you screw up, and you know it. Say it in isolation. I’m sorry {period}.  Let it sink in. Say it with passion, and if you must, add an “eh” on the end to seal the deal.  And as a major belieber, it is never too late to say sorry. 

Happy Canada Day!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

 

 

 

Process Mapping? I’d rather be Napping.

So I’ve heard a lot of people say they are so fascinated by what I do in the process improvement world, and how great they think it is , but how “it’s not for them”.  Using my coaching skills, I usually say something like, “Oh yeah?  Tell me about why it isn’t for you”.

Here are some of the responses I get:images

“Snore.  Processes are super boring. My company is really intuitive, and we just know exactly what to do and we fix it.” – my super annoying friend

“Processes, who needs it? I already know my team is garbage and as soon as I can replace them, things will turn around”. – a client who later realized her team was great because process mapping revealed a culture issue

“Ugh.  Sounds bureaucratic. I’m an entrepreneur.  There is nothing corporate about he way I run my business, and to be honest we don’t need it.” – my sister-in-law

PROCESS MAPPING3 Signs You Need Process Mapping STAT!

  1. Something is wrong and you “think” know exactly how to fix it.  How do you know what’s wrong?  What leads you to believe that?  What is the expected outcome if you make the change? You might be right. Intuition is super important.  Why not validate those gut feelings with some evidence in a process map? It’s a great way to get buy in from your stakeholders and employees!
  2. You “think” your employees are the problem. They suck.  While this is the first place many people look for solutions, it’s usually something else.  Why do you think they suck?  What tells you that? What could be inhibiting them? Have you asked them? Research shows that if you take great people and put them in a bad process, the process will win every time. Process mapping sometimes uncovers secrets that are hiding within a bad process.
  3. You “think” process is too rigorous.  Well, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.  The right people, the right style, and the right moment can take you from being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entrepreneur to a being a strategic one.  Why not set the stage so you can pass the tasks that aren’t worth your time (or you aren’t great at) to someone who can actually add value (so you can go and be amazing). Process mapping identifies those tasks and lets you properly divide them up.

If you’re not a “process person,” or even if you are but don’t have a lot of time, we can help you. We are expert at coming in, talking with you and your team, and uncovering the hidden opportunities to improve your business.

Even better – why not build process improvement and process mapping capacity on your team? We offer public workshops that are fun, interactive, and relevant. Check them out by clicking here, and contact us if you want to know more.

#whiteboardworskhops #theyredifferent

Until Next Time,

Nicole

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 4.09.44 PM

Whiteboard Workshop: Introduction to Process Mapping

pmProcess Mapping is awesome and fun and helpful and easy and so amazing, right?

No? If you disagree, you’re not alone. We did a quick Twitter poll and asked people what their thoughts are about Process Mapping. Here are some of the replies:

  • Process mapping? More like process napping! (Click to Tweet!)
  • Process mapping is critical, in that if you don’t do it, you can save the rain forest, your time, and your sanity.
  • Who needs sleeping pills when you could participate in a process mapping session?
  • Process mapping is the paleo of the workplace. (Click to Tweet!)
  • AT FIRST GLANCE THEY ARE SO INTIMIDATING AND COMPLICATED (this one was complete with caps)

So yeah. We get it. There are a LOT of people who don’t like process maps.

At least they think they don’t – they just haven’t met us yet.

But I “Need” to Do Process Mapping

Despite how people may feel about process mapping, they still need to use them. Either they have to design them on their own, or read some that have been designed by someone else. Some people know the “why” behind process mapping but still haven’t quite mastered it, and others have no idea what they are doing or why, only that “they have to do this for audit purposes.”

The truth is that process maps are necessary and critical in so many situations:

  • Training new people,
  • Documenting processes for audits,
  • Understanding the flow of information in an organization,
  • Having a picture of how customers are impacted by business processes,
  • Identifying areas to improve,
  • Identifying areas that are excelling (and should be modelled), and
  • Imagining a future state organizational structure.

So if you, or someone you know needs to do any of these things (or is responsible for others who are), then our latest workshop is for you. Read on.

1Whiteboard Workshop: Introduction to Process Mapping

If you have been reading our blogs for a while, then you know we love to make processes better, and we loathe things that are over-complicated. It follows then, that we don’t do process mapping (or training, for that matter), like most organizations do.

Our latest workshop, Introduction to Process Mapping, was first delivered on May 26th, and was a great success. Some testimonials:

  • I have done process mapping in the past, but it has been a long time since I’ve been able to utilize those skills. I was so happy to attend and receive a great refresher. Thank you!
  • There was a wide variety of different folks with different backgrounds, and you did great to keep all levels engaged and interested.
  • This course came at the perfect time! Something I really liked was the actual process mapping we did as individuals – it helped me demonstrate what I learned from the course.
  • I loved your banter – so funny and yet still professional. (This was our favourite, because we think we are very funny.)

We have two more dates set this fall. Both are Thursdays, and both will be in downtown Toronto (location TBD based on the group).

People who attend this course will be able to

  1. Understand the basics of process mapping theory and activities,
  2. Articulate the value of process consistency and when it can be “too much” (too rigorous),
  3. Demonstrate the ability to facilitate and develop a process map, and use appropriate levels, tools, and concepts (incl basics of Visio), and
  4. Analyze process maps to identify improvement opportunities.

You should come. You really should. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. And if you have any questions, shoot us a note or Tweet us @whiteboardcons #ILOVEPM.

See you soon,

Ruth.

 

 

Should you follow the pack or go rogue?

I’ve been thinking lately about our human tendency to follow the pack and my newfound tendency of “going rogue.” I’m a trusting person and easily influenceable. If you tell me this is the BEST HAND CREAM EVER, I will buy it.  If you tell me you tried a new workout and it was THE HARDEST WORKOUT EVER, I will go and try it tomorrow.  Ask me to smell this milk because it is the MOST EXPIRED MILK EVER, I will get my nose right in there.

So it’s a newfound habit for me to say, “That’s awesome that it is working for you.  Right now I’m doing this, and it is really working for me too. Yay us!”

But Everyone Says So!

People (and probably some science reports too) say that we MUST eat breakfast; doing so helps us consume fewer calories later in the day and maintain a healthy weight and may even improve our concentration and productivity. They also say we shouldn’t weigh ourselves every day because it could case us to become over fixated on what may be natural fluctuations rather than indications of weight gain or loss.

“They” say we shouldn’t look at our phones first thing in the morning – it can distract us from our morning routine and can decrease our productivity by focusing on external priorities rather than our own.

And we mustn’t work out every day, because our bodies won’t have adequate time to recover and we won’t get results.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 4.57.45 PM

Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are studies and science  that may back these statements up with statistical significance.  But here’s the thing: all of the “pack ideas” I talked about above don’t work for me.

When I eat breakfast, I’m starving all day and (after testing this theory out by tracking and monitoring the data) I consume more calories than are necessary for me to maintain my weight. So do I keep doing it because everyone else is telling me that is the right thing?

Similarly, weighing myself every day keeps me on top of fluctuations that could otherwise be more dramatic after a week.

And I LOVE working out.  Provided I balance my workouts, it is my stress relief and my time that makes me happy. So why should I be unhappy, provided I am being safe and taking care of my body, when my way works for me?

And finally, if I don’t check my phone before bed AND first thing – guaranteed I will miss a meeting, or miss a cancellation of a meeting and make an unnecessary trip.

Now statistically speaking these “rules” might be great for the majority of people, and the majority of people will see better results following these rules.  But, as we know, there is a great deal of human variation.  I am a sparkly unicorn and I am different.  These rules do not work for me.

The thing is, it’s easy to follow the pack.  It’s part of our human nature.

…social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake – that of being too different from others

Read more: http://news.softpedia.com/news/039-Follow-the-Crowd-039-Tendency-Finally-Explained-102066.shtml#ixzz4ASKrOwCW

Follow The Pack? Or, Go Rogue!

Maybe your competition uses a certain process improvement methodology (like Lean or Six Sigma), or a particular sales tool, or social media strategy and you want to implement it to keep up with the trends. But what if it just doesn’t work for YOU (and your team, and customers, and stakeholders)?
keep-calm-and-go-rogue

  1.  Does it feel natural to do what the pack is doing?  Sure, good habits take time and consistency, but if the process is so difficult that you can’t get the habit to stick, maybe it isn’t the right strategy for you.
  2.  Have you experienced errors, defects, or problems using the pack’s idea? If you notice missed deadlines, faulty products, decreased employee engagement, or increased customer complaints – maybe you need to re-examine your plan.
  3.  Have you tried and tested any other options? If you haven’t tested and tried out alternatives, how do you know that this is the best for you?  How can you make a decision with out data – numbers or experience? Reflect on the past – was there a time that you were doing really well?  What were you doing?  Should you align with the pack, or “go rogue”.

Let us know how you follow the pack or go rogue @whiteboardcons #gorogue or #followthepack!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

The Risk of Being Too Comfortable

Last weekend I found myself listening to Stuart MacLean‘s “Vinyl Cafe” on CBC Radio. I was driving north for a few hours, and prefer to listen to a talk show or podcast so my brain stays active and I stay awake – always a good thing when driving solo. If you have never heard a Vinyl Cafe podcast or listened to Mr. MacLean tell a story about the fictional Dave and his wife Morley, then you are missing out on a good piece of Canadiana and the opportunity to enjoy a full belly laugh.

The podcast I listened to was called “Summer,” and was the story of how Dave and Morley rented a cottage in the Laurentian Mountains (north of Montreal). Instead of paying for the rental, they agreed to do some work around the cottage, including removing a wall and tearing up the lawn. Sadly, they stayed in the wrong cottage and disaster ensued. It turns out this cottage owner liked things to remain the same in all ways, and his cottage hadn’t changed in over 50 years. Of course Mr. MacLean tells the story much better than I can – suffice it to say, the moral of the story is that change can result in good things, but you should try to avoid being surprised by it.

During the telling of the story, Mr. MacLean used the phrase “The Cathedral of Constancy” in reference to Jean-Francois’ cottage. He said that although nothing had changed in 50 years, we mustn’t assume that it is in disrepair. Oh no – it is well maintained, neat and clean. “It’s been kept up perfectly,” he says, “but not updated.”

That got me to thinking – isn’t this avoidance of change the way we often get into trouble?

Our computer gives us a notice that we have an update to do, and we don’t do it because it’s a pain. We keep clicking “remind me later” and suddenly a quick update becomes a huge deal when we finally get around to it. Or worse, it crashes.

We refuse to get a new phone until the old one breaks, bypassing several new models and operating systems, and then realize the differences are so enormous from our old phone that we have to learn a completely new way of communicating.

We keep things the same in our organization, relying on efficient processes that work just fine, thank you very much. We don’t modernize or innovate – because we don’t see the need – and then someday we realize that the business world has passed us by, and we have a whole lot of catching up to do. Never mind the principle of staying “ahead of the game,” we aren’t even keeping up with “the game!”

“But Ruth,” I can hear you thinking, “aren’t you always saying that consistency and repeatability are good things? That they ensure efficiency and effectiveness?”

Well, yes. Yes I do say those things, and I believe them. And I also believe that there is a danger in becoming complacent in that efficiency; that the desire to avoid change, stay comfortable, and rely on what we know may cause us to miss out on things that are even better.

It is just as important to maintain vigilance on efficient processes as it is to completely shake up the whole system and innovate. (Click here to tweet that statement.) The trick is to do both at the same time, and to ensure that changes to the processes are properly planned, communicated, and implemented.

Is your organization a “Cathedral of Constancy?” Or are you and your team on the lookout for opportunities to modernize and improve? How do you balance consistency with innovation?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – you can find the podcast called “Summer” in iTunes. It first aired on May 6, 2016, and the story of Dave and Morley begins a few minutes into the recording.