Monthly Archive: April 2014

You’re Not Excused!

Last week Nicole and I had lunch with a C-level exec who really gets what it means to break down silos and share responsibility, and why it’s so critical for organizations to do so these days.

He also gets how hard it is to do (which is what we are helping with), and so our conversation turned to accountability, responsibility, and shifting spheres of influence.  What really stuck with me was his statement that for all managers, and particularly senior level leaders, the fact that another person or team has not finished their work does not excuse you from finishing yours. Click to Tweet


In other words, what have you done to help that person be successful?

But It’s Not My Job

Fair enough. Everyone has their list of tasks, accountabilities, and priorities. And if you need an input from another person or department in order to do your job, and that input is late or worse, incorrect, then yes… you have a problem.

Old-school thinking says it’s ok to throw your hands up in the air and say, “sorry – I’m waiting for X.”

Progressive business thinking says, “you are not excused from this accountability. How have you made that person or organization’s processes better so they can do their jobs? What is your sphere of influence and how have you “used it for good?”

Coaching to Influence

Great business coaches are able to help people self-realize areas of opportunity. By asking the right questions and being kind and curious, the coach is able to direct the individual to the right solutions, and these solutions are much more likely to remain ingrained in that person’s thoughts and habits – because they came up with them on their own! (Or so they think.)

In the same way, a great leader can influence individuals and peers so that they improve their own deliverables.

Consider a leader who is waiting for a set of business requirements before she can begin to implement a set of operational practices. If she is practicing effective project management, then she will be aware that those business requirements are likely to be late and she can approach her peer in that area to see how she and her team can help.

At the senior leadership level this is particularly effective, as Directors and VPs are more likely to be able to rearrange resources as required to solve such a problem. Yet any leader can benefit from this approach.

“How can I help?” is the question that will get this influencing coaching conversation underway.

It’s time for more leaders to adopt this approach and understand that it behooves them to make their peers successful. By doing so, they themselves will be successful and so will the organization.

Everybody wins, really.

Until next time,



PS – want to be a better coach? Sign up for our course. Click here for info.

Processes Can Set You Free!

Oh I know what you’re probably thinking – “Ruth, who are you kidding? Processes are simply more bureaucracy. I get that they can make things more consistent and reduce errors, but they’re also a real pain.”

Fair enough. Let me rephrase then.

Good Processes Can Set You Free!

Better? Of course better! But why is that better?

One of my pet peeves is the notion that processes simply need to be documented (written down, mapped, whatever the format) in order for an organization to say, “we’ve done process improvement.” This is the very notion of poor process culture, and gives good process culture a bad rep. You can very easily map a bad, inefficient, bureaucratic process, and doing so does not make you a process improvement compliant organization or individual. (Click to Tweet)

Did that sound like a rant? Sorry. What I mean is, please don’t judge your processes at work by the mere fact that they’ve been documented.

Good Bad

How Can You Make Sure You Have Good Processes?

Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Are our business processes documented and available for people to look at and refer to?
  2. Have our business processes been reviewed in the last 12 months?
  3. Do our business processes show roles & responsibilities (via swimlanes, for instance)?
  4. Do our business processes reflect reality? Or, if asked, would employees who are doing the work say “we haven’t done it that way for years”?
  5. Do our employees roll their eyes when they have to follow our business processes? Do they feel the processes are a waste of time and bureaucratic?
  6. Are there people in our organization who are negatively impacted by our business processes?

If you said “no” to any of these, then you have some work to do. Contact us. We’ll help set you free.

Until next time,



A business model that works for you!

After enjoying a sunny and fabulous yoga retreat at Anamaya Resort in Costa Rica I am now back to the daily grind. I spent 7 days enjoying the most fabulous organic food (grown on Anamaya’s own farm), getting my chakra on with the most amazing Yoga/Dance/Everything Instructor, Melissa-Jane Shaw, meeting a fabulous smart group of women (and one lovely man), Salsa dancing and busting a move to Beyonce, and above all, estro-bonding with my bestie, Yaryna.

While sometimes blog ideas elude me, this one was as clear as the Costa Rican sunrise over the Pacific Ocean: Things don’t have to be done the way they’ve always been done. Do them so that your customer is surprised and delighted. (Click to Tweet).


So I’ve been to a ton of resorts, spas, retreats, hotels, motels, all-inclusives, B&B’s, Inns, timeshares – you name it and I’ve probably been there.  What’s the first part of the process when arriving at your destination? Checking-In.  Whom do you likely deal with most during this transaction? The reception desk.  Some do it really well, others have trouble communicating, others are bombarded with clients. Now, Anamaya has this down pat:

You arrive, a delicious smoothie is placed in your hand, and you are directed to enjoy the most stunning view you have ever seen. There’s a little house where you do the check in – you are then introduced to your receptionist for the day.  She’s in the kitchen, helping prepare for communal meals in the main house, helping you at the boutique to buy fabulous yoga wear, arranging taxis, booking spa treatments, grabbing you a glass (or 3) of white wine.  You name it, she’s on it.  It worked so well, and created such an amazing family atmosphere, that tears are shed on the last day of every retreat without a doubt! The best part is she’s quietly and un-assumingly documenting your purchases, so that checkout (back in that little house) is a clear, transparent breeze! It was literally genius. Literally. I can’t even.  Those folks deserve the Whiteboard Process of the Year Award (wait – Ruth – we should do that!).

Nicole & Gretel

Me & Gretel one of the receptionists that I absolutely LOVED! Sorry for my yoga hair and crossed eyes (selfies –ugh).

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to try something new with your business model.  Here are a few tips on trying out a new business model for interacting with clients:

5 Tips to a business model that surprises and delights

  1. Seek unique business models from your industry competitors for interacting with clients. Try them. Use them. Figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Take a leap of faith.  It’s not easy, but it doesn’t always have to be the way it’s always been.  Change is hard guys!
  3. Test and trial them out.   See what will work best for your environment. Clearly the model I described above won’t work at the Four Seasons in downtown Toronto.  Find out what works for you and your customer.
  4. Survey your customer.  Get their feedback, input, and suggestions for improvement. You’ll know you have it right when you have raving reviews.
  5. Process. Process. Process.  Think I forgot? I think not.  Document and standardize your processes so that you can continuously improve and monitor your progress.

Do you have any examples of a unique business model that worked?  Tell us about it @whiteboardcons!

Do you believe you should win the Whiteboard Process of the Year Award?  Let us know  – we’ll throw you a fancy party and celebrate your awesome process (whether we helped you with it or not!).

Until next time,


The Genius of a Checkbox

CheckBoxIf you’ve been following along our blog for a while, you know that we are fond of the mantra that everything is a process. Whether it’s understanding the voice of the customer, hiring a consultant, coaching, or managing alternative work arrangements, pretty much everything has its roots in process. Heck, Nicole even related having the flu to a process!

So, I have a challenge for you today – just to see if you’ve been paying attention.

I’d like you to look at your place of work and identify one process improvement that would make all the difference in the world to your job.

Samantha’s Checkbox

Last night I went for a walk with one of my bff’s, and conversation turned, as it often does, to work. My friend (I’ll call her Samantha) works as a physiotherapist in a major hospital, and no one is better suited to the job. I think it’s a calling, really. She loves it, she loves the patients, and most days everything is rainbows, puppies, and sunshine.

The conversation went something like this:

Samantha: So again today, I had to deal with referrals that weren’t legit.

Me: What does that mean?

Samantha: Well, in a hospital, physios only see patients if there is a mobility-related need that has been properly assessed by someone else like a nurse or a doctor.

Me: Why?

Samantha: Because not everything is a mobility issue. If you have a headache you aren’t referred to a neurologist right away, are you? No. You’re assessed and things are ruled out. The same goes for patients who don’t want to get out of bed – it may be related to their illness or some other cause. Physios only help with the mobility causes, and when we are referred incorrectly it’s a HUGE waste of time and is annoying to the patient.

Me: So what’s the process for a referral?

(That’s right. It took me, the process geek, 2 minutes to get to a process issue. Kind of scary. Fortunately Samantha doesn’t mind at all.)

Samantha: There’s a referral form that people fill out, or they might just verbally request it during rounds and then fill it out later.

Me: Is there something on the form that requires the mobility assessment is done?

Samantha: No. They just have to put it in the comments when they do charts.

Me: So there’s no checkbox on the form to ensure the assessment is done before the referral is passed?

Samantha: Genius!

What’s Your “Checkbox”?

Now to be fair, finding the improvement and getting it implemented are two different things. I’m sure that Samantha can’t just march up to administration and demand the form include a checkbox.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking at potential improvements. Over time, Samantha will have the opportunity to influence and educate those around her, and this will likely lead to an improvement in the referral process. These things just take time and patience. (Click to Tweet)

So there’s my challenge to you. Look around your workspace. What are those annoying things that could be tweaked and improved with relatively little effort? What is your “checkbox” and how can you influence change?

Tell us about it in the comments below.

Until next time,