Monthly Archives: September 2011

Follow the Leader (The ‘Sir Alex’ Method)

The football season is well underway and it won’t be long before some teams are failing to match the dreams of their fans and owners. As is the tradition at these times when your  team is doing badly, they have had some poor results and your expectations of Premier League success are fading fast, it’s the manager’s head that is called for. Is changing the leader the answer or is it a need to do something differently.  How many of these teams actually recover from a manager merry go round? 

Academic evidence (Bridgewater 2010) shows that a short term honeymoon improvement over the first 12 games of a new manager’s tenure is replaced by a level of performance below that of before the change.  The highest performing organisations are those that develop a winning culture, where everyone understands their long term vision, beliefs and values.

More interestingly, how many leaders are able to change their approach, mindset and behaviours to bring about a better performance?

I was particularly struck by the reaction of Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United were so comprehensively beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final 2011.  Just looking at his demeanour suggested that he recognised that even at their very best his team wouldn’t have won.  The standard of competition had been raised and a new approach was required in order to become world-beaters again.  There was no call for the leader to be changed, after all this was an outstanding team.  It was the leader that recognised the need to change in order to compete with the best in the business. 

It’s a brave person who changes a successful team; there is so much to lose, so little to gain.  We often see successful businesses stagnate, afraid to do anything different.  We find good managers reluctant to adopt different practices because they might give poorer results.  What brilliant leaders like Sir Alex have is a clear vision of what they want to achieve and they are not afraid to challenge their own ways of doing things. 

Their vision does not change, everyone understands the goals, they share the values of the organisation, and they are not afraid to challenge their approach in order to get a better result.  If our market, the economic environment, our competitors, or even our team changes then sticking remorselessly to the way we know may well leave us heading for relegation or for the crowd baying for our heads. Great leaders are always prepared to change their rules.

Are you able to follow Sir Alex’s example?
To find out more about our Management and Leadership development programmes, or for a no obligation conversation about how we help businesses achieve measurable improvements, please drop us an e-mail at: andy@paradigmantics.com

‘Very good course which I shall recommend to others.’ – Building Emotional Engagement with Legal & General.

6th September 2011, Paradigmantics descend upon Brighton & Hove, met with torrential rain, gale force winds and news of ‘Operation Stack’ flashing on the Motorway gantries! As we arrive at Legal & General’s Hove HQ we are greeted by a plethora of their trademark multicoloured umbrellas as staff battle against the elements!

Fortunately, once inside, a warm room and fresh coffee lifted our spirits as we prepared to deliver another of our ‘Engaged Customer’ Masterclasses for 17 staff from across a variety of functions within the organisation.

Focusing upon the question: ‘How do we build emotional engagement with our customers?’ (Both internally as well as externally), we guided participants through an engaging and highly interactive session comprised of multimedia, facilitation, discussion and group activity. 

Participants were given the unique opportunity to not only learn from Paradigmantics’ expertise on achieving this ‘holy grail’ of Customer Experience, but also encouraged to share and learn from the innovations and experiences of their colleagues who have been pushing the boundaries of how they deliver for their customers.

Reflecting the subject matter itself, the session is designed to emotionally engage participants which, in turn, creates a safe environment to explore new ideas, transcend organisational barriers and aspire towards something better.

The result:

·         88% of participants felt completely or mostly able to participate in the event
·         94% of participants felt they now completely or mostly understand what is meant by emotional engagement
·         100% of participants felt in some way more confident to contribute to engaging customers
·         On average, participants said they would be 75% likely to recommend this session to a colleague

Participant Comments included:

‘Extremely motivating & linked to subject matter’
‘Engaging’, ‘Clear & Concise’ & ‘Brilliant’
‘Good & very relevant course’
‘Good presentation, enjoyed it’
‘Good speaker with lots of humour. I really enjoyed the films’

Our Client said:

“An engaging and thought provoking session which prompted healthy debate and discussion on the need to connect emotionally with both customers and colleagues”

To find out more, or to arrange a free taster session, please don’t hesitate to contact: andy@paradigmantics.com

‘Fab team, very energetic, excellent content – stimulating’. Our Engaged Customer Master Class raises aspirations

On 24th August 2011, Paradigmantics piloted a new Masterclass session in partnership with renowned Leeds-based manufacturer Ellbee Ltd.

Our ‘Engaged Customer’ programme recognises that quality and value is no longer the holy grail of business, as competitors can quickly replicate an organisation’s success in this field. Customer satisfaction is no longer the pinnacle of customer service as today’s sophisticated customer has higher expectations and plenty of choice.
Even if you deliver your product or service brilliantly and give customers a great experience, there can still be more. Getting customers emotionally engaged with your organisation ensures they keep returning and recommend you to others.
Ellbee are market leaders in the design and production of doors, windows and shower enclosures for the holiday home and trade markets. They have chosen to focus upon Customer Experience as a key frontier for achieving even higher levels of excellence and success. Our 3-hour Building Emotional Engagement Master Class was delivered to 25 individuals from across a range of functions within the business. 
By utilising a highly interactive approach, combining discussion, group activity, multimedia and facilitation, participants were quickly and effectively engaged, raising aspirations toward those of the world beating organisations we used as examples of ‘great’ practice.

The Result:
100% of participants felt they now understand what an engaged customer wants
96% of participants felt able to participate in the session
88% of participants felt more confident to contribute to engaging customers
On a scale of 0-100%, participants said they would be 77% likely to recommend this session to a colleague

Our Client said:

“I have not been disappointed with Paradigmantics level of service and response, and in particular the way that they have quickly understood our business and the internal and external challenges that we face.  Their Masterclass has certainly given our staff some things to think about, and has been the catalyst for the Company to consider their feedback and implement their ideas on how we can continue to engage with our internal and external customers.” Caroline Lee, HR Manager.
Comments included:
‘Excellent content – felt trainer really understood our business’

‘A very well delivered, interesting session’
‘Very informative & enjoyable – relaxed atmosphere’
 For more information, a copy of the ‘Engaged Customer’ programme outline, or to request a free taster session contact: andy@paradigmantics.com

Queuing Theory

My previous blog about queuing ‘Queuing:there has to be a better way.’ received an unexpected response from my son.  As a University researcher studying something to do with physics and mathematical modelling, he suggested that I might have mentioned queuing theory in the blog.  I have to say this was very remiss of me.  I asked him to briefly clarify my understanding.

The theory is used extensively by organisations that deliver queuing to their customers as part of their experience.  Theme Parks, banks and supermarkets employ mathematical models to optimise the most efficient way for their customers to be processed.  After a brief resume of the following we decided to apply this to a supermarket queue:

Expected average queue length  E(m)= (2ρ- ρ2)/ 2  (1- ρ)

Expected average total time  E(v) = 2- ρ / 2 μ  (1- ρ)

Expected average waiting time  E(w) = ρ / 2 μ  (1- ρ)

Expected average waiting time  E(w) = E(v) – 1/μ

λ = Arrival Rate 

μ = Service Rate

ρ = λ / μ

Sam used QT to choose the line he was to follow, whereas I used my own unique queuing criteria.  My criteria was simply ‘Which queue would be most fun to join?’, including sub-criteria such as: queue-ers who looked funny, potential for the cashier to smile, banter, amusing purchases and vegetables that looked like Prince Charles.  Sam used these various indexes and a calculator. 

Admittedly he did get served marginally quicker but only because my fellow queue-ers couldn’t agree which member of the royal family bore most resemblance to the sweet potato I had offered up for the ‘vegetable that looked like Prince Charles’.  I had to disagree entirely with the Security Guard who was brought in to make the final judgement, there was no way it was a Lady Di lookalike.

Well that puts queuing theory into perspective, I think you’ll agree.

Flip Thinking: Part 1

Are you not curious? 

Turn over a stone in a stream to find if there is anything beneath.  Want a back stage pass to see what the performers are really like? Stand on the footplate of a steam engine to get the drivers view. Flip.  Look at something from a different perspective.  From the outside – in and suddenly you open up a new world of possible improvement.  A different way of thinking.  Flip thinking.
The concept has been around for as long as man has hunted for food.  Anthropologists have shown through their study of indigenous hunters that our ancestors realised that they would catch more prey if they thought from the perspective of what they were hunting, where would it feed, how would it react, how did it think. So if this is a primeval instinct why is it that people are so reluctant to think in this way?
Maybe it’s because really empathising with people, situations or behaviours isn’t easy.  We are different from them, we understand how we would react, that’s easy, after all we do that every day.  Russian theatre director Constantin Stanislavsky (An Actor Prepares,1936) the doyen of actors, revolutionised acting  by asking his actors to ‘be’ the character they were playing.  He wanted his performers to really understand their motivation, lifestyle, and background. One of his infamous exercises is to ask the actor to ‘be a tree’ to help them open up their imaginations.  His ‘method’ takes years of practice to master but the performance of the great actors is testament to its effectiveness.
Flip thinking encourages people to take a different perspective, one which can open up new possibilities and opportunities for improvement.  Few leaders and managers find this easy, they focus on their activity from a process point of view.  They understand what their role is, what their team needs to do, what has to happen to enable them to hit their targets, but this often has no empathy with their customer.  Opportunities for improvement are missed. Doing the same old thing results in continued inefficiencies.  They become very good at doing things which don’t matter.
As one sage remarked, ‘Their ladder is up against the wrong wall’.  Maybe it should be around the flip side?