Posts Tagged lateral thinking

A Sense of Belonging

Which would you rather have, a team that turns up because they have to or because they want to? The latter right… Why? Because they don’t have to be there, their mindset is different, they might shy away from a challenge if they think their mortgage is on the line, but they will put in for the greater good of the team simply for one reason, a strong sense of belonging. 

Image courtesy of Stuart miles from

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Not just any sense of belonging, no no, as I eluded to in the opening paragraph, there are more reasons to want to do something, than if you have to do something.

Sounds easy, if I was talking about a club or group people belong to, people would soon get that stronger connection. However I am talking about a business, an organisation that people mainly get paid to work for, an organisation where the numbers often seem to be king, no profit no go…

So how do you as the business owner/manager cause this sense of belonging to go beyond the basics of need and get to a top class “one in, all in” situation where you know the people want to be there?

Connect, find ways to cause people to be part of a greater cause, ways to be aligned with the heart and soul of the business. Ways to communicate that they will benefit, just as deeply as you do by doing more, being more they will in return get more.

Perhaps the more they ‘get’ will be satisfaction, a warm sense of “I am part of something worthwhile”, the concept that the money is there but there is more to the equation.

Sounds far fetched perhaps, but in reality there are organisations where people willingly put in, willingly go the extra mile and hang in there to do it all again. Why? A sense of belonging, belonging in such a way they realise that the sum of the parts is greater than the value of the individual parts. As a team they can do more, as a connected and active team with a shared sense of belonging they can evolve to do MUCH more.

How then do we connect these ‘disparate parts’ to become cohesive, to join as one and be a truly mighty force?  Language… It’s what sets humans apart from other animals, it’s what ensures we can, discuss, plan, explore, find answers and ensure a higher sense of belonging can take place.

If you have ever noticed that people who use casual language, slang and the like to get through their daily routines, you will have probably noted their position in life is not one which often inspires. These people often seem to lead lives of deep desperation, working on minimum wages and struggling at every turn. While others with more developed language find ways to forge forward, to explore better options in life, to find depth and more profitable outcomes, and I don’t just mean financially.


  • It helps us express the values we want our teams to align to
  • It gives us the chance to influence people to do great things
  • It assists us to lead
  • It provides opportunities to learn more, explore and pursue our dreams

How are you using language to better your teams, lead, influence and explore better ways to live and be a positive part of this world? Hopefully you will start with the positive values your organisation stands for and ensure your people are with you every step of your value motivated life. Without language we have little to commend us.


Steve Gray

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The ideal business

Sounds like a great title huh, you probably thought, oh is it one that makes great $$ (yeah) and does it have incredible profits (well YEAH!) and does it mean I have to hardly run it… and don’t have to have many skills???? umm probably not.

What I’m thinking of here is the structural side of the business idea, rather than the sort of business it might be. So no it’s not the far out super freaky pizza business that serves east west Tex-Mex surprises with a Thai influence.

Imagine a business, where you have made things tick over nicely the staff are stable (and happy), your customers like what you provide and the way forward looks good. Income and profitability tick over nicely and you wonder about the bigger picture now you have more time to, you replaced yourself multiple times with great people and can sit back and “enjoy the view”. Now it’s time to look that bit further, or perhaps differently to cause your business to do more of what you want it to.

You know when to put on new staff, knowing when the rest of the team are pushing the limits, and you can handle the ‘lag time’ until they are ‘up to speed’ in the role. You have great measurement tools in place to know what’s working and what’s not. You know what the profit margin is and where it goes to.

What next? Is this it, is this the holy grail of your business goal/s? Are  your challenges at an end? Do you simply sell it off and retire (early?) or do you go for the thrill of the chase… the adrenaline injecting process of doing more, and creating anew to push yourself that bit further.

Let’s go for the latter… Lets explore how you can replicate the process to explore success in business and do more, be more have more. After all we live in a world of abundance and by the sound of things if you have read this far you have probably said to yourself yes I do all these things and I am in that lovely lofty position to be able to do more.

You have created an ‘organism’ which grows, it’s more than just sustainable and you can stand back and enjoy the benefits of it’s growth. Now take out a pen and pad and jot down the mechanics of the business, what makes it tick, what makes it profitable? What sets it apart from your competition to the point where you don’t have to even be there anymore to enjoy it.

Take that list and ask, Can I develop a formula from our current successes to be able to reproduce that in other businesses… short answer will probably be yes.

I suggest at this stage  you take a look at the list in a way which deals with the essence of the success and not just trying to think about other businesses you might like to try out or test. Look at the structure, how information flows, the team and culture, the values and beliefs, all the things which can cause the internal structures to remain steadfast and provide the right sort of support for growth.

Now you know what makes your current business tick and the building blocks for ANY new business, it’s up to you to act on the information.

If you create a new business or five, hold this thought in your mind… “in war success has never come to those who fought on more than three fronts” (go on prove me wrong…) it’s said this was Hitlers downfall in the end. So how will you as a business owner develop more businesses without this happening.

Firstly you will be mindful of it, secondly you will probably recognise that each business will not be run by you, you simply provide the ‘right structure and resources’ then step back and advise on ways to tweak the enterprise to generate greater success.

Go on, give it a go, if things go well through great planning you will end up with a site of businesses making good profits you will be able to share around with others, therefore creating more positive abundance in the world.



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Innovation how does it work?

Some recent findings on innovation by Dr Ralph Kerle raised a few questions about the state of innovation in business. Let’s take a look at what he found after running a workshop with world leading organisations His workshop was titled Understanding the Discipline of Innovation in Organizations

Four interesting findings about innovation emerged from his workshop.

  1. Most large organizations have or have had innovation processes in the form of idea programmes in place. They work to varying degrees, none appear highly successful.
  2. Most organizational innovation produces isolated successes, yet does not sustain organizationally over long periods. I used a case study with a 6 year life cycle and that represented a lengthy period according to the participants.
  3. None of the innovation programmes discussed had benchmarking or on-going measurement associated with them enabling decision makers to value organizational innovation. Once the innovation had been implemented, it was regarded simply as a part of the business regardless of its impact. As a result, it appears decision makers in organizations are not able to meaningfully assess over time the value of innovation programmes or processes.
  4. Whilst innovation programmes might be considered part of an organization’s core values. if they don’t have senior leadership driving them in a coherent and disciplined manner, they have little chance of being considered truly strategic and are likely to die if there is a change in leadership.

Dr.Ralph Kerle


Let’s start with what innovation is, it’s either a quantum leap or incremental process, either way it’s about finding ways forward to produce an organisation which can function more effectively.

The big thing, it’s often about using creative thinking processes to spark the change, however most business processes follow logic and are not often linked to creativity even though they look to innovation for a “way forward”.

There’s the challenge, to take a logical organism (business) and marry it with creative thinking (ideas and processes which may have only a few logical processes as part of them). Especially if there are few examples of creativity making big inroads into business development. (Some would argue market leaders like apple computers fly against this).


Some thoughts

  • Use innovation
  • Value innovation
  • Push to innovate
  • Explore it!
  • The board should be creative junkies
  • The board should be implementing it at every level
  • The team don’t get it because they are following the lead (fail on creativity guys)
  • Forget JUST innovation go for creativity and see what happens (does it lead to innovation, usually yes).
  • Measurement, take a look at the bottom line, are there more dollars, is there greater retention of staff (therefore some reduced costs), are staff happier? You get the idea make a big list and see if the creative invasion has made a difference
  • Ask your team to brainstorm the difference innovation and creative approaches might make, then measure that
  • Does your organisation have a culture which can handle creative approaches, if not why not and how might you alter that?
  • How does the main team get to value creativity and innovation?
  • Do your team say “Oh no another silly thingy we have to deal with from ‘upstairs’” or do they look on with interest.
  • Plan do check act – try – do check act plan…
  • Improvise adapt overcome – try – adapt overcome improvise…
  • Replace “They won’t go for that” with “Go for that it might just make a BIG difference”
  • Replace “do it now” thinking with “do it yesterday?”
  • Think save the world with our actions because we can, via innovation
  • Think… explore… create… and or ANY combination of those
  • Ask, is the ball rolling effectively or are there any obstacles in it’s way? Now innovate that for results. BIG results
  • Pose creative questions at all levels, all the time
  • Ask for creative responses to challenges (you shouldn’t have to after a while)
  • Ask, what creative process do I not know about that we can use now…
  • Hire for creativity first skills, passion and abilities second…
  • Hire based strongly on “What creative or innovative thing propelled you in your last role?” (even if they are applying for a menial role)

Enough, either see the road blocks or create the road ahead, make it a golden one with all the trimmings thanks.

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Business culture – Some more points

Your team fits to the culture of the organisation, some because they have to (mortgages and other commitments), some because they want to (they love the job no matter what their commitments are).

Your aim as a business person should be to make the workplace culture brilliant so the team WANT to be there and readily go the extra mile because it’s the right thing to do, not because things are a have to…

It’s a lot about creating an environment where people get things to feel right, where they get a ‘sense’ that things are good. Let’s start with that.

Your team has a sense of…

  • Belonging – In the work you do and the team you are part of, if you belong you will feel a greater sense of esteem, people like to be with people they like and if they readily fit because they were chosen not just for their skills and abilities but also for their team fit then all the better.
  • Connectedness – To the people they work with, to the culture of the organisation, to the customers and the overall service and product the organisation provides. It can also take in the broader community with support for groups who do broader works in the community to assist others (Good corporate citizenship).
  • Achievement – A sense of achievement can be a great boost to all. In your organisation what gets measured and how do the staff know ‘where they are at’ in the scheme of things, are they meeting quotas? Are they being valued for input? Do they feel like they are part of a team who wants to achieve more… All of these are vital and it’s up to you to see that the team can have a sense of achievement. Stuck for ways to measure this? Just ask the team you will soon get a bunch of ideas for things to measure.
  • Contribution and value adding – Do you or your organisation value the contributions of your team? Do the team readily put ideas forward for your consideration? What do you have in place to get the ideas going in your workplace… a suggestion box might seem like a great start but really you might have to ‘kick start’ a few idea development sessions to brainstorm options… but don’t let it stop there!
  • Purpose – What is the purpose of your organisation? Those mission and vision statements along with value statements and the like can be a great bonus to people fitting to the purpose of your organisation – It’s probably a great interview question to ask “What do you know about our organisational purpose?”
  • Being valued by others – Do others value the people in the team, their contribution, their personality fit, their communication style?  If not why not and what can be done to alter that?
  • Organisational integrity – The structural integrity of the organisation is a big factor to people feeling secure and stable in the business. If the business is stable then the team will feel it too and before you know it they will ‘go deeper’ and look at other internal organisational issues (often subconsciously) from the processes to cause things to flow in the organisation to the robustness of systems and hierarchies and connections. It’s a big area to explore… Just like you should not build a business on a poor physical foundation so to the psychological and philosophical foundations they have to work with.
  • Leadership – No lead, no direction, from the people to the plans and strategies they have in place to achieve more and create even greater security for all in the team.
  • Safety – Last but certainly not least. If the above points add to a sense of safety that’s great, but the physical side of safety is VITAL and will assist the above points to come together, esp these days with a greater focus on softer issues, such as workplace bullying and its prevention.
  • Security – The organisation provides a profitable income for itself and the team are aware they are part of a sustainable and solid organisation which is able to ‘improvise, adapt and overcome’ various challenges it may face along the way. Physical security is clearly an issue as well so the team can feel comfortable in the knowledge harm is either eliminated or minimised.

Did you think that business culture was not important? Hope fully now you realise how it’s EVERYTHING in your organisation, without it you may as well throw money out the window, it’s quicker than watching a business fail a long slow death simply because your team had a sense of things not going quite how they should…

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Don’t do it! – How not to be part of a trade show

A recent trade show, lots of activity and displays for all sorts of interesting suppliers, generally a good time was had, however one thing which struck me was the appalling use of mobile phones by those who’s stalls were not doing a brisk trade.

There were staff sitting and standing about texting or chatting on their phones, some CLEARLY bored out of their brains.

Dear Boss… Tell them not to do it please!

I was embarrassed for them and I was a spectator.

If you take a stall at a trade show, you are on show, the business is on show… Therefore make sure you do the right thing and present professionally and do it well.

Firstly, these people may have had no idea what to do when they got to the show, they may have been told to “Turn up and chat to people.”

Secondly, if you feel you must text or email people use a lap top or an i pad so you look like you are doing business, or don’t do it at all.

I fully appreciate it can be a hard task to be at a trade show and be attentive all day long, it really is a draining experience.

May I suggest.

These people need to have something to do,

  • Set the situation up so they have appointments with people before the event, book some prospects to drop in and see what’s going on.
  • Make it clear about the things they can and can not do while on the stand texting for more than 30 secs is a no no!
  • Ensure you use a friendly branding expert to have creative ways to work with the people walking by the stand. It may be a giveaway you actively hand to the people, get the chance to chat to them and find out more, qualify them to see if they are a fit to what you have on offer, if they are then get their details and reward them with a better handout, this time with solid “remember us” branding on it.
  • Perhaps involve the people in a survey.
  • Consider other novel approaches to create interest. A juggler, a celebrity… make it so the people walking by want to stop, engage them, qualify and go form there.
  • Just because a person is not a prospect now, does not mean they can’t change if they move companies or start a different business later on.

Simply put, having people just sitting or standing about mindlessly not engaged in “working the crowd” are a liability, not an asset. perceptions and image are often paramount to ensuring your business puts it’s best foot forward.

Oh and to finish, “To the man who was so rude as to ignore myself and my friend by looking straight past us once he had figured out we were of no use to him, think again. The scan tag telling you my line of business is only one of my business activities so you gave me a BAD impression of your business, so the very important question I wanted to ask you will wait for the next celebrity speaking bureau chief I meet.”

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Creative marketing for 2011, will your business win this year?

Its a tough time to be in business, GFC might be over to a degree, but buyers are holding back on spending, the following ideas are sure to get your friendly branding expert chatting and I am sure you will find ways to connect better with existing customers and excite new ones in the process.

Content creation on your website etc is one thing, but getting your target to see it is another. here are a few ways to explore a few pieces of the puzzle and develop a few answers. If nothing else this should be a spring board for your people to come up with some new options, share those in the comments!

  • Build digital communities people want to go to and stay at…. Give them reasons to stay, a gift, a prize and offer, an alliance, a chance to get tokens to build towards a bigger gift. along the way, they get your message.
  • Word Of Mouth as a way to get people to check out your social media information, blogs etc… so make a  you tube video of some people telling each other about your service. Imagine an office where two people are filmed by an apparently “sneaky camera” they talk about some of the benefits of using your biz, they say the biz name poorly at first (so you can’t quite hear it) then it gets clearer over time. have an anonymous you tube acct so it’s not your biz acct, then as they walk off the camera sneaks up and your biz card features on a desk..
  • Hand out your branded gear in an area where you are more likely to get to the sorts of companies which might use your services. Chat to your friendly branding expert for ideas and options.
  • Link a series of approaches together, your linked in group, with your face book page, with your blog, with your website, with your email’s and links on faxes out and adverts with QR codes to a starting point on your website.
  • Have fun doing suitable “stunts” and get media attention which features your website, a “mob event” for example try a creative dance group for some ideas.
  • Provide a suitable enticement via a promotion to get people to head over to your blog and sign up… If they are your target market then great! if not just give them the thing and move on… its a number game.
  • Create a PDF of value to your target market, they can only get after signing up to your blog. advertise it on  your facebook page and linked in group, while twittering about it a few times.
  • Create self qualifying adverts, “When you want what we have go here…” then lead them to your website and give them a reward for doing so.
  • Fortune cookies with a pr code in it to link to a specific page on your website.
  • Create a you tube video with your website featured in it, make it interesting, like have a home movie, or show  a calm and beautiful scene of rolling waves make it short and to the point, heck make a bunch of them, then send links to them via your email list, of course the videos have your website details across the bottom.
  • Load your autoresponder email outs with great tips, hints, ideas and links to your various resources. keep adding to it with brilliant information so they want to stay subscribed.
  • Develop strategic digital partnerships with others who can link to your target market, this way you can get more leverage and be seen as a go to person for resources and ideas.
  • Repetition, repetition,REPETITION!, some things just don’t change! Your adverts need to be seen by people multiple times to be effective… So will it be a branded product, a link to your site, PR codes (more linking…) emails to your targets or all of them! yep do the lot, one of them will be the one which connects!

More ideas you want to share? Use the comments section in the  header for this post to let us know..

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What’s next, the fourth instalment

In this final part of the new recruit guidelines I wanted to focus on the probation period guidelines. it’s a very important part of the whole process but one which is often dismally left out of the process. Here is what I said in the initial article in this series.

Probation period guidelines – Start and in three months we will assess how  you have gone. Assess what and how? Is anyone in your organisation clearly responsible for figuring out what and how to assess, are they qualified to do so to some regulatory standard?

Many organisations have a three month probation period while others have six months and others none at all. If you want to build in cooling off period where either party can part ways, it is wise to ensure you and they fully understand the process and the criteria they will be assessed on.

These days there are plenty of people with workplace assessment qualifications who should be able to map out the criteria for measurement and the ways to assess the recruit against those criteria.

Depending on the role will depend on the specifics of operational effectiveness they will have to attain, the skills they will have to demonstrate and the level of cultural fit they will attain.

At a minimum level the OHS standards will be addressed and I would like to think a solid appreciation of the values and beliefs of the organisation as well as practical job skills and abilities would be very wise.

The aim being to ensure the person being assessed has clear criteria to work to, as well as a full appreciation of how they will be assessed and the evidence or types of evidence which will be sued to do all this.

May I suggest a clearly set out set of criteria in a bunch of areas, OHS, job skills, Cultural fit, Communication skills, Technical skills (IT etc). and then build the assessable parts within each section. Perhaps they will have to show an understanding of the terminology or intention of the parts of each section as well as demonstrate with clear evidence they have achieved that level of skill.

Whatever the end product make sure it is clear to all parties and people assessing the person have the ability to do it based on great evidence and clear guidelines for all.

Now you have a new recruit with correct training, who has met the criteria for assessment, feels welcome in the organisation and is settling in to the role with ease and a degree of comfort. You on the other hand have the peace of mind in knowing you did all you could to make the process as easy as possible to ensure the new recruit is a brilliant fit and are assured of their ongoing success… Let’s hope so!

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