Monthly Archive: February 2013

Negative Nellies!

Wow, despite our free book offer, and despite a rousing positive conversation last night with my close friends Jamie and Trent trying to elicit a positive story out of them I came up with nothing.

Hmph. Either no one is reading this blog or you are all still stuck in a negative wormhole. Are you used to coming up with why things are wrong?
Have you forgotten about the times when things go right?

I’m giving you a PPFS (Proverbial Positive Face Slap).

Instead of regaling us with the amazingness of your business (and winning a free book and free advertising while you are at it), you will have to listen to me talk about the Glasgow Airport’s Security Screening Area. Don’t yawn yet – it’s actually quite exciting – especially if you love travelling and hate airport screening.

Memorable Client Experiences at Airport Screening

Appreciative Inquiry Questions : Tell me a story about your best Airport Screening Experience? Where was it? What made it so great? What made it memorable for you? (Instead of: Tell me about why Airport Screening is always so unpleasant? What is your major pain point about airport screening?)

Last March I got the opportunity to visit my family in Scotland for a week with my Dad. It was the most amazing experience meeting family I’d never met before. My Uncle David and Aunt Jean, My Cousins Hayley and her daughters Deany and Samara were the sweetest family that, prior to that week, I’d never met. After a week I was over the moon for them. Leaving was TOUGH. With our early flight home to Toronto and my father not trusting the GPS (or SATNAV as its called there), I was not looking forward to the airport process.

I was pleasantly surprised! Here are the things I LOVED about the experience:

  • the line-up had information all along the way to keep us occupied, and so that we were completely prepared when we arrived at the x-ray area.
  • the x ray area had really long counters, so you never had to wait for someone to take off their shoes, belt, jackets (it’s a bit like a striptease isn’t it?), take out their laptop. Everyone was ready to go by the time they needed to put their bins on to the conveyor belt.
  • They cared about what customers thought about them. They had computer screens that allowed you to vote on your experience on the left hand side, and then on the right they had screens showing what the average ratings were. Wow! That’s brave! Not alot of companies collect voice of the customer data, let alone publish it right there at the airport!
  • In my opinion, because of the above, the line moved FAST! I never once thought about how many wickets they had open, I just enjoyed a pleasant customer experience.

Now if we had many customer experience stories from airport screening I bet we’d hear some key themes –

*wait times (perceived or real)
*clarity of expectations
*process efficiency (perceived or real)
*feeling like they care about us

What are the key themes in your “Best [insert Customer, client, interaction etc.]”?

How do you take this lovely tale and turn it into making your business #betterfastercheaper?

Well you’ll have to find out next week, where I force Ruth to read the Appreciative Inquiry Books in 3 days and write a blog about the next steps. Otherwise we’ll probably have to read a story about Hawaii (yawn).

Or I’ll give you ONE more chance to win a free book and free advertising on why your organization is great (and Ruth an extra week to learn about Appreciative Inquiry):

Think of your story – we’d love you to share with us at or @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Share your positive business story to be the focus of our next blog (hey that’s like free advertising) and we’ll send you a business book on a topic of your interest (value of up to $40). Click to Tweet! Sounds like a deal. Best positive story wins! Be descriptive. Tell me the story. Set the stage. Introduce the characters. This is your chance to be business-ey and creative.

Consider yourself challenged…..

Until next week,

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Paradigm Flip

Its been an exciting week while Ruth has been galavanting in Hawaii. We had lots of client work, new client requests, proposals to write, I attended the first half of my Appreciative Inquiry Certification course, and…

Whoops, I flipped my paradigm!

So in process improvement, we so often look at the gap analysis, or pain points, or what’s bugging you. The the outputs and resulting improvements can be enormously beneficial to clients – particularly clients who are receptive or resilient to change, or who are incredibly self aware and thrive on continuous improvement. But what about when you are tired of getting sucked into the deficit vortex?

Have you been to one of these meetings where suddenly the mood goes south? Has your smile turned into a frown after an hour of this kind of talk?:

“We have horrible communication, nothing works well around here!”
“Things would be better, if we didn’t have all these problems with our sales folks.”
“This process never works, we seem to slip all the time.”
“If [insert employee name here] could do their job, things would be fine.”

Sometimes it feels like gap analysis sucks you into a vortex of misery.

Read on for how to have less depressing analysis tools to make your business better, faster, or cheaper.

Have you ever thought about the time that communication was really great at your organization? Have you thought of a really great sales person, that suddenly seemed to make the whole process a breeze? When was a time that your [insert process here] worked the best? Who were the players? How did it feel? What happened.

As a colleague of mine would say….“TELL ME MORE!”

The Power of Positivity

I’m going to keep today’s blog short, because I want you to take a minute and think about it and actually jot down a few notes. Next week we are going to go Back to the Future – or er Forward to the Future.

Tell me about your best client interaction? Think about your proudest moment as a manager/business owner?
Tell me about the year you really excelled at your business? (highest profit, best sales…whatever!)
Tell me about the best client feedback you ever received? What were the circumstances, who was involved?

By thinking in the positive, humans are naturally more creative and innovative – so instead of focusing on “fixing” something, we are going to recall when it went really well – and capitalize on the features of that incident.

Think of your story – we’d love you to share with us at or @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Share your positive business story to be the focus of our next blog (hey that’s like free advertising) and we’ll send you a business book on a topic of your interest (value of up to $40). Click to Tweet! Sounds like a deal. Best positive story wins! Be descriptive. Tell me the story. Set the stage. Introduce the characters. This is your chance to be business-ey and creative.

Consider yourself challenged…..

Until next week,

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Guest Blogger from Kobayashi Online

Ruth and I are THRILLED to have a guest blogger today from Kobayashi Online, courtesy of David Hamilton. With solid reporting and technology experience, David Hamilton is a writer and content strategist who fuses content and purpose to make organizations stand out online. Kobayashi Online is a Toronto web development and digital marketing agency specializing in online friendly solutions for small businesses.

What a fantastic process focused blog it is. We hope you enjoy it!

Use your Processes to Market your Business

Customers will appreciate the “placemat” version of your project roadmap. Don’t overwhelm clients with details or keep them fully in the dark: Focus in on the key processes or landmarks.

Many of us in industries described as creative, entrepreneurial or agile think of our work as complicated and entirely unique, and this approach helps customers choose us over more by-the-book competitors.

Working in digital marketing and web design, experience has shown us that being aware of the processes that are common in the work often separates the successful creative types from the very successful ones.

Breaking a project down into roles and tasks doesn’t devalue the work or make it more rote – it simply clarifies the steps that need to be undertaken. Click to Tweet! An end-to-end examination of your processes can lead to improvements and greater efficiencies. Instead of spending a lot of energy – creative and otherwise – developing a new process for each project, you can concentrate on the aspects of your business that add value.

Once you’ve mapped your procedures and identified the roadblocks and shortcuts…

Flaunt your Processes!

Having a coherent workflow not only helps your business run smoothly, but it can help the public understand your service, know what to expect, and, importantly, what makes you different.

Clients having a baseline understanding of your processes will help them understand what your service entails. And it might even make them better customers.

For instance, when we build a website at Kobayashi Online, we have a set process that gives structure to our work. But it also tells us when to get input from clients to provide a unique and original website, as well as the the flexibility to solve problems as they arise. This is all included in a project roadmap that we give our clients.

We think it’s important – especially with large projects – that our customers know our process upfront so that we can get input from them at the right stages, and that they’re assured that we finish project stages by key dates. This means the website is delivered on-time and represents our best work.

Simplify your Processes: Make them Understandable and Marketable

You might be thinking, “Our internal processes are incredibly complex – how can we even begin to explain them?”

The key to making your process marketable is to simplify:
Try to reduce your processes to just a few steps.
Remove industry jargon that might make sense to you and others in your industry (unless your intended customers are technical and fluent in your jargon).
Think about how your processes would appear to your customers, and what language can make your processes understandable and enticing.
When you have a high-level process overview from the customer’s perspective, you can present this on your website, in brochures, newspaper ads, and however else you find customers. We think this paints a better picture of your service than a simple description that’s nearly identical to competitors. Breaking down your processes into understandable steps shows you have the plan needed to get the work done.

When we build a website, we simplify hundreds of steps into a process blueprint that customers can understand:

When clients sign on for a service – whether it’s web design or anything else – they’ll get exactly what they expected (if you hold your side of the bargain – that is), so they’ll have more realistic expectations and be more knowledgeable about the state of their project.

Understanding your internal processes gives you a detailed roadmap; your customers will appreciate a simplified this roadmap, like the map you’d find on a placemat or a tourist map that removes some details so it can focus on landmarks and things to do.

This simplified version shows enough for customers to feel confident but not enough to be overwhelmed. This way, you and your clients will understand precisely where the project is heading and what’s involved. And since you all know the processes, you’re less likely to get lost when work’s underway.
Like this article? Share it!


Tell us what processes you need in your business! Follow us on Twitter @whiteboardcons and use #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week,
Nicole (& our friends from Kobayashi Online!)

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Embracing the Cliché

I read recently that “process has become a cliché: what value the idea once had has been destroyed by its overuse.”

Really? I disagree.

What is cliché, anyway? I found one definition describing it as a metaphor characterized by its overuse. Another said that it’s a very predictable and unoriginal thing or person.

Fine. So it’s an over-used term. It’s predictable and unoriginal. I’m not arguing – in fact, a good process is entirely predictable, and process by definition is unoriginal because you do the same thing over and over. Seems to be circular reasoning to me, all in support of moving away from something which is proven to have multiple benefits.

Don’t Be an Ageist

Take a look at these clichés for instance:

  • What gets measured gets done.
  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • The customer is always right.
  • You’ll never know until you try.

Are they wrong? No. No, they’re not. They’re old sayings that stand the test of time. I say, exalt them! Use them! Run them up the flagpole and see who salutes! (See what I did there? Now THAT is an overused business buzz phrase if I ever heard one.)

Pardon Me While I Freshen Up

Let’s look at a couple of those “clichés”. “What gets measured gets done” is a classic catchphrase, cliché if you must, for process geeks everywhere. Why? Because it is 100% true that if you do not identify the key metrics that describe the health of your business, then there will be no focus on those metrics, and no one will be accountable for their performance. If you happen succeed anyway, it will be more good luck than good management.

Is the customer always right? Yes. Should you measure what the customer is thinking, even if you have little impact on customer perception in your role/team/department? Absolutely. Because you always have an impact. If not directly on a customer, then on someone else who does. This means that your processes must consider the customer perception everywhere in your business, not just in direct customer-facing areas.

The concept of process isn’t clichéd. The fact is, it’s more important than ever. From design to production to delivery to administration – you can not over stress the importance of efficient processes to the success of your business. It’s time to freshen up your processes and give them a makeover to ensure they are still relevant to your business. Click to Tweet.

Embrace the cliché. Think outside the box. It’s a win-win! At the end of the day, it’s still the right thing to do.

Until next week,

Like this article? Share it!


Tell us what processes you need to “freshen up” in your business! Follow us on Twitter @whiteboardcons and use #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week,

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons