When everyone is right, how do we move forward?

Im right and so am I

I learned a long time ago that everyone is right. I’m one of those people with strong principles, and I’ve always seen it as my job to teach, show, or even cudgel others into the ‘correct’ (which means ‘my’) way of thinking. When this involves like minded people, and a few beers, everyone has a great time with the debate.

However, when this involves others who are also trying to convince me of their point of view, trouble abounds!

So, with the influence of some of the great teachers I have had the fortune to benefit from, I came to the conclusion that everyone is right. From their point of view that is.

I developed the knack of sitting on other peoples hilltops and looking at their view of the world. Now, this doesn’t mean I agree with them, but it does at least mean I understand their perspective. And generally, from their perspective, they are right.

And so am I.

In fact, I got so good at this, I started to really admire, but then worry about people who have definite views, views that they are 100% sure of, no matter what argument or evidence to the contrary is advanced. You know the types, the ones who tell everyone else how to live, and who are minutely concerned with everyone else and what everyone else is up to, rather than getting on with things and just minding their own business.

And I’m reminded of that at the moment, with this latest in a long line of elections upon us, we are surrounded once again with opinions and arguments.

The trouble is, they all sound so plausible don’t they? I couldn’t make up my mind about Brexit because everyone seemed to talk a lot of sense. Apart from of course, the hysterical among us like the tabloids and that bloke in the pub.

While I eventually came down on one side, it was a long intellectual journey to get there. Because I could hop from one hill top to another, I was constantly changing my mind, agreeing with different parts of the argument at different times.

And its the same now. I agree with points all the parties make. Im more strongly inclined towards one for sure, but then I’ll think of something one of the competition says and think ‘Well, that makes sense’ and I’m back to debating all over again.

But I have noticed one thing. One technique that everyone seems to use, and I genuinely believe it does more to hold us back, politically for sure, but also from a business perspective, than anything else.

And that thing is this. People are more interested in going backwards to establish blame, than they are going forward with a new plan.

So, one party says something about how an idea is no longer a good idea  – and everyone agrees, until someone points out, that a few years ago when that party was in power, they introduced that idea in the first place!

And the ‘lets move forward’ to fix that, is lost in a cacophony of ‘its your fault anyway’ coming from all sides.

Or look at business, and take business transformation in particular. Someone says ‘it would be a good idea to do X’ And everyone agrees!

But then you need to work out who is going to deliver X.

And everyone is just pointing at each other and saying, ‘Well, they usually do that stuff’. Or someone else points somewhere else and says ‘That won’t work, because of A and B and C!’

Then someone else comes along and says ‘If we’d done this other thing in the first place we wouldn’t be in this mess! And so on and so on.

Before you know it, the argument has just revolved around so many times, no one knows what you are talking about anymore!

And other arguments have sprung up. As a manager, you find you have to fix that thing from three steps back in the process, before you can move to the place you suggested being at the beginning of the disussion.

And thats a whole other thing. That part of the process has been broken for years, and no one has done anything about it because the accepted wisdom is that it can’t be done.

Before you know it, you are mired in the past. Bogged down by ghosts of what happened before, regurgitated opinions, no facts mind you, opinions, and endless to-ing and fro-ing.

All the same points are made over and over again. And because none of it has ever made any sense, all anyone can resort is trying to pin the blame for the most fundamental issue (assuming we can at least agree on that!) on some poor, by now, completely dispirited individual.

There is another way.

Forget it.

Forget the past. What went wrong, who did what, why they did it and what that meant at the time. Whats the point in raking over those old, cold coals now? I don’t care who said what and when, and I don’t care about why this happened 5 years ago and what the consequences of that were.

All I want to know is how do we more forward?

How do we get where we want to be?

Guess what? If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. So in moving forward, expect to have to do things differently, OK?

Expect the unexpected, expect to have to learn new things. Expect to have your beliefs challenged and your ideas examined.

But in a positive ‘Can this be done?’ sort of way, not a ‘We tried this before and it didn’t work sort of way’.

And maybe if the politicians spent more time convincing us the plan is going to work, and less time blaming each other for things that happened in the past, we would finally start to get somewhere!

 

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

Ive recently been looking into the difference between the two platforms, as I’m interested in upgrading this website.

I’ve found a great resource called WordPressBeginer.com which has a ton of resource for us bloggers, and maybe even has some value for those of us wanting to branch out a little further into the big bad world of ecommerce!

Long story short, these guys say that you are better to start off with a WordPress.org site as you get to have complete control over your site from the start.

While WordPress.com is free, its limited in what you can do. As as you grow as a blogger, or online entrepreneur you’ll quickly outgrow it.

Then again, if all you want is a powerful, fairly flexible blogging platform, WordPress.com is perfectly fine.

There are a load of great articles on WordPressbeginner.com, but as you know, I love a nice infographic, so here is the question answered, in graphical form. Click the infographic to go through to the original article.

Enjoy!

platformcomparison

Winning on Purpose

Little Johny knew he'd risked all and become 'king of the beach'
Little Johny knew he’d risked all and become ‘king of the beach’

Do you know what you need to do in order to win?

On purpose?

I don’t mean what feeling you need to have, or what attitude you’d like to adopt, what the latest book has told you to do, or what the latest technological marvel is that you need in order to ‘make it’.

Maybe there is some other chicanery that might convince you that you are doing something useful for yourself or your business, when actually, things couldn’t be further from the case.

 

In my experience, the number one reason a businesses fails is lack of focus.

Thats right, not lack of hard work, or lack of funding (though this is a major issue in itself) or lack of sales or lack of many other things that might in themselves be problems. Lack of focus.

Or more precisely, being so busy you don’t do the things you need to do in order to succeed.

Sometimes you know what those things are, but don’t want to do them. Because they are hard to do, complicated or take a long time. Sometimes something much more interesting comes up that you’d rather spend your valuable time on.

You spend time on ‘make work’. Chatting to ‘contacts’, networking because it feels like selling (it’s not) driving around the place to meetings you must be at, even though nothing ever comes of them.

All this while you put off doing the things you know you need to be doing. Like cold calling, or writing that proposal, or following up on that bad debt. You know, all those messy, awkward, difficult things.

Or maybe like a lot of people you are too busy!

Too busy to do the things you need to do in order to make a difference to your business. Whether its yours or the one you are working for.

Too busy to take a moment to plan the next week, month or quarter. Too busy to look up to see what problems you are about to hit square on. Too busy to deliver on the things you’ve already promised you’d deliver.

Or maybe you are too busy to be able to spot the next opportunity when it presents itself.

Worse, sometimes you don’t know what it is you need to do in order to win. Thats when you have a real problem.

In that case, you just work harder and harder and spend more and more time stressing about winning, when you in fact have no clue what success looks like, or indeed how to get it.

You need to have a laser like focus on what it takes to succeed. What you need to do to win. How much you need to sell, or who you need to see, or what problems you need to deal with.

And then deal with them.

Don’t put it off. There isn’t any other work that’s more important than the work you do to ensure you win.

Do things on purpose.

Rather than letting things happen to you, make things happen for you!

Don’t allow the distractions to drag you away from doing the things you know you need to do in order to make things go well for you. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Do the things you want to avoid early in the day, get them done, feel that achievement, and go on to enjoy the rest of your day, making sure you are doing other things that lead to success. Make sure you are not allowing lack of focus to edge in, and steal away valuable time and resource.

And if you really don’t know what it takes to win, you’d better learn, fast.

 

All Sales Problems are Management Problems

Face it, you should be selling more.

You’d like to make more money, you’d like to increase your market share, you’d like to get one over on the competition. You need to increase cash flow!

But your commercial director is telling you times are tough. Rates are under pressure, and the competition is doing crazy stuff to win business.

Your sales manager tells you that the team are working so hard they are wearing themselves out! They are struggling to find new leads, and once engaged in the sales process everything takes longer then ever to progress.

Or maybe you are your own seller? You do everything in your ‘one person band’ including product deliver, finances, accounts and everything else, and there is never enough time to devote to finding the next client or even to properly look after the ones you already rely on.

Selling is hard, times are tough, people harder to get hold of these days, buying is automated, margins are being squeezed, your suppliers are driving increasingly hard bargains, you’re no good at negotiating, you never know how to introduce yourself, the competition do such a good job, recruiting good people is really hard, you don’t pay enough to attract the right talent, marketing don’t supply the right leads, your website is rubbish, your CRM system is antiquated, your sales collateral is out of date, your inbound strategy is flawed, your pricing isn’t competitive, your product set is below par, you don’t have enough awareness in the market place… The list goes on.

All or some or none of these things maybe be true. But thats not the point.

‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else’ (Benjamin Franklin)

Either you manage the sales team or the sales team manage you. Either you mange your sales process, or the sales process manages you.

All sales problems are management problems.

Hire, train, and retain the best people in the market. Have a sales philosophy. Something that will stand up to the most demanding scrutiny. Have a plan – what you need to do in order to win – and make sure your sales people (or you yourself) stick to the plan.

Its that simple. And that difficult.

I can guarantee, that unless you are literally the ONLY player in your market, someone is taking cash off your table, by out promoting you and out selling you.

What are you going to do about it?

(With thanks as ever to my mentor in all things Dave Gifford)

I’m not what I thought I was

I thought I was strong, I’m not.

I have my family to protect me.

I thought I could do it alone, I can’t.

I’ve learned to reach out and ask for help. 

I thought, I was clever, but as that lady in Game of Thrones says, I know nothing.

I want to always be learning, and to never consider I know it all.

I thought I was healthy. My mind and body are in poor shape.

I drive myself too hard. 

I thought I’d be a good Dad, but I spend too much time away from my kids.

I’m trying to give them what I never had. 

I thought I’d be there for them, but I’m always working.

I’m blessed, I love my job. 

I thought I was patient, but I’m short, and snappy.

I need to get more sleep!

I thought I was kind and generous, but I’m afraid for myself.

I must overcome. 

I thought it would be easy, but life is hard.

I have to be kind to myself. 

I thought I’d have won by now, but I can’t see when the battle will be over.

I must remember it’s about ‘the taking part’. 

I thought I was brave, but I’m scared, a lot of the time.

I finally have learned, I can’t do this without the people I love, and who love me back. 

 

 

 

Why can’t we make Swansea great?

I first published this on LinkedIn.

ICWS_ICWS-Swansea1-fullsky

Before I start, this isnt political, at least not in the party political sense. Neither am I aiming this at anyone in the public sector working hard. I have nothing but respect for people who’s work serves their communities, in whatever form that takes.

It is political I guess, in the sense, that 46 plus years into my life, and having had the great benefit of working in different places, including the capital cities of Cardiff and London, I can tell you that I simply cannot believe that Swansea isn’t more of a Wales wide, a UK wide, a European wide, and even more of a global success.

Look at what we’ve got to offer: 

Incredible landscapes: Offering breathtaking vistas and some of the best beaches in the UK. Walks, riding, swimming, surfing, boating, yachting, wildlife, countryside, farming, village life, city life, seaside life, marina life, Swansea literally has it all.

Why can’t we make more of it? 

Fantastic places of learning: As a Swansea University alumni I would likely mention them first, and no can be anything other than stunned by the ambition and scale of the fantastic development on Fabian Way and the wonderful parkland campus which is actually on the beach front at Swansea Bay! I also hear great things about Swansea Metropolitan University and its ambitions, and there are lots of other places of study worthy of mention.

Why aren’t we making more of them? 

Sport: Swansea City Football Club: A PREMIER LEAGUE football club all of our own. In Swansea, and enjoying a longevity and success many initially would not believe. Then there’s The Ospreys, one of it not the leading Region in our rugby structure, swimming, athletics, etc etc. Swansea has long had a proud tradition of sporting success.

Why aren’t we more famous? 

Business: From big business to small, manufacturing to technology, family run to international, serial entrepreneurs to the business organisations like Swansea Bay Futures and Swansea Business Club (not to mention the support to business offered by our educational establishments) Swansea on the face of it, has everything you think it would need to win.

Why aren’t we more successful? 

Location, location, location: I accept we are the ‘wrong’ end of the line as far as those in London are concerned! But we are lead city in our region, and should be doing more to lead it. We should be fighting Cardiff for every inch of recognition in Wales, and at the Assembly, and indeed the press. We should be standing on our own as a educational, cultural, sporting, business and tourism centre, not relegated to second city status.

Why can’t we bring this all together? 

I’m so passionate about this, but I don’t know the answer. Every week I work away in London and every time I come back I marvel at where I live. Everytime I drive over the bridge over Fabian Way I am stunned by the views of the bay and Mumbles and the mouth of the Tawe.

Every walk through a wood or field, every meeting with a new (or established) Swansea business, every visit to a university I am filled with the power of Swansea’s potential.

Every visit to the Liberty Stadium, every step on the golden sands of Gower, every round of golf in the heart of the countryside around us, makes me practically burst with the wonder of it all.

Sure we have issues. The roads, the city centre, parking, investment, etc. etc. But we have so much more to be proud of.

So much more potential.

So why aren’t we taking advantage of where we are? Why do people go from Swansea rather than come to Swansea.

How do we change it, and start to see what we are all capable of?

Anyone have any answers?

Why Your Change Programme Is Failing

I’m making a bit of a habit of working in transformational roles at present. Working with traditional media businesses in my case, and helping to steer them towards a digital mindset.

It’s almost always about culture and neglecting that aspect of whatever change programme you are going to implement is going to lead to tears! People aren’t inclined to change and the worst thing that can happen to you after designing a load of new processes is for everyone to simply go back to the way they’ve always done it.

You and your business need to make clear why the change is needed

Why the change is needed, what change is required, and even more importantly, you need to create an environment in which that change is encouraged to take place.

Or even, an environment in which the change can’t do anything except take place…

There are physical elements, like systems and resource, even the way teams are seated together where maybe previously they’ve been apart. And there are the non physical things like KPI’s and targets. All these things are required.

But you also need a constant ‘selling’ of the message. A clarity of purpose and shared motivation to change. People in the organisation need to want to change, or it won’t happen. But they also need to know what change is required, and be allowed to fail on the way to making that change.

In many ‘traditional’ businesses some people may have worked a certain way for decades. They are likely to have performed at the absolute top of their game and be regarded extremely highly within the organisation.

You don’t want to that! 

And along you come with a cheerful ‘You don’t want to do it like that!’ sort of message. Is there any wonder why there is little traction for the new processes you’re trying to put in place?

As Simon Sinek says in the great video at the top of the page – People buy WHY you do something far more than they buy WHAT you do.

This is why when a brand ‘speaks’ to you because of its commitment to a design ethic, or an almost religious pursuit of customer value, you find yourself drawn in and share the motivation to do what it is you think they are trying to do. Buying products or services from them is the least of your concerns! You LOVE this company…

On the other side of the scale, there is the company you buy from simply because you need the stuff they sell. Your feelings about this company range from the mildly curious to the outright disinterested.

And it’s the same with change.

Your change programme will have far more power if the people in the business you are trying to change buy into the ‘why’ of what you are doing. Think about it, even the questions you hear around implementation of new processes give clues to this.

“Why should I do it this way?”

No matter what the actual objection, or resistance to change might look like, the question being posed is generally, why?

So all change programmes need to start with this. The reason you are telling people they need to do whatever it is you are telling them they need to do!

The positive impact on them, their team, their product or service, and ultimately, the company itself. It’s likely that at first any ‘new ways’ of doing things are going to feel very clunky and unnatural. So constant support of the ‘new ways’ has to be provided.

Constant reassurance that this is the thing to do, constant demands for the best effort, constant training in the new ways of working. Constant reiteration of the mission.

The ‘WHY’ you are doing what you are doing.

The fear of failure. 

And lastly, you have to make sure people are on task, and on message and on with the programme yes, but you must also make sure people are able to fail. There’s nothing more likely to prevent someone jumping into a new way or working like the fear they are going to look foolish, or make a mistake.

You might even want to go so far as to encourage mistakes as of and in themselves. Because that way you know you are making progress! They are doing something new, something they haven’t done before, and they are making a pig’s ear of it!

Exactly the way humans go about learning new stuff.