Friday, January 28, 2011

Simplicity is ... loving your customer

Let me be clear I love the new technology. I love e mail. I love the internet. I believe it’s wonderful to be living through this time of massive change in communications.

BUT …… if you want evidence that small is beautiful and big is ugly in our brave new technological world …. This is classic.

I discovered Mozilla Firefox a couple of years ago and found it to be better than Internet Explorer as my browser.

I had no problems until about a month ago when suddenly, and for no apparent reason to me, Firefox crashed a couple of times. At first it was occasionally crashing until two weeks ago when it crashed at least 6 times a day. This week I was finding it crashed at least 10 times a day. I kept getting the same message about a crash report being submitted to Firefox and I could add my own comments.

My comments got increasingly angry until I finally lost patience two days ago and said that if someone did not respond to me this time – probably my 20th attempt to get a response - I would switch to Internet Explorer.

Nothing came back and so I switched. Explorer is working perfectly. I didn’t want to change; I was very happy with Firefox; I found it much better than Explorer when I originally changed two years ago.

What irritates me most is that Firefox doesn’t seem to employ human beings capable of answering a message and as a result I left them.

I’m really sorry about sacking Firefox but they have lost me as a customer. I often told people Firefox was a great browser; I now tell people the opposite.

I really wonder about customer service in these large impersonal virtual organisations.

Customers matter whether you are a big or a small organisation. At least with a small organisation there is a good chance you can find a human being who is actually alive.

In large institutions I sometimes wonder how you go about finding someone who gives a toss about customers … or if anyone is vaguely interested in the individual …. Dream on Trevor methinks

Complexity is rife in large organisations and yet overlooking the simplicity of recognising and valuing individual needs, means running the risk of losing your loyal customers.

Oh for the Simplicity of loving your customer – why is that so hard to do?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wheeler Wisdom!

Simplicity is my mantra and my great friend Dave Wheeler from Arkansas, US has come up with what I believe to be the best original quote in leadership that I’ve come across in all my leadership reading and studies.

Dave says the four most important words any leader can say are:

“What do you think?”

Isn’t that just brilliant? And so wonderfully simple!!

Tom Peters, the most famous management guru on the planet considers this one of the most powerful statements he has come across and that’s a massive compliment.

Take a bow Mr Wheeler Sir!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whose tent are you in?

When I was 16, young, innocent and naïve in the early days of my professional career in NHS management, I thought those highly paid managers must be very clever.

I heard them at meetings producing long, complicated words that seemed impressive. They spoke a complex language that I didn’t understand. I was young and felt intimidated about confessing my ignorance of some of the language. As a result I found myself trying to look ‘smart’ too. Maybe I’m the only person in the world of management who has ever done that ….. I think not.

Forty years later I’m older, still (fairly) innocent and not quite so naïve. Most of all I’m a bit more experienced of life and work. I can now confidently say that most of that mysterious language I used to think was clever and smart is in fact a false ‘barrier’ put up by many managers. This barrier is designed to confuse those folks who are not managers.

Let’s be honest, we all do it – whatever our job, trade or profession. We invent our own language and then we ‘talk it’ inside our own tent with our peers. This means we mere ‘average’ folks can’t get inside that tent.

As I got older and more experienced in my NHS career I found it much easier to actually stop people in mid-sentence of their latest diatribe and ask them to speak a language that I understand. I know that’s not necessarily easy for some people to do. It’s pretty natural to want to be part of the crowd - inside the tent with peers. It can feel a bit scary and can make us feel a bit alone and vulnerable if we have what is perceived as the temerity to challenge the credibility of ‘acceptable’ language.

What I’m saying is that if someone is talking bullshit then we might as well tell them it’s bullshit … in a nice way of course. If we allow it to go unchecked we become part of the ‘conspiracy to confuse.’

So ….. I’m up for challenging the pretentiousness of managers who persist in speaking bullshit.. Is anyone else in my tent?

I’d love to hear from you about some of the language you have heard from managers who are programmed to confuse ordinary folks like me.

When it comes to language – keep it simple.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Five Great Questions to Cameron and Clegg

Following on from my previous post I think the words of Tony Benn – see below - are more important than ever right now. We have an unelected government in this country that is implementing policies for which it has no mandate from the public.

It illustrates vividly to me how far removed from democracy and integrity the current bunch of power-crazed image-conscious politicians have become.

My political hero is 85 years young former Labour Cabinet Minister, Tony Benn who tells us that when he was an active elected member of parliament he had 100,000 employers – i.e. ALL his constituents. Tony also produced these 5 questions that he says we should ask anyone who has power.

I love the Simplicity of this!

  • What power have you got?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • In whose interests do you exercise it?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How can we get rid of you?

Memo to Cameron and Clegg: how do you answer Tony’s questions?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Good to be back

I’ve missed my regular discussions with friends, old and new on Simplicity Blog and so after a complete break from Blogging for 6 months I’ve decided to write again.

I now see even more hypocrisy in politics. For instance we now have a bunch of politicians who were not elected running Britain. They are implementing policies that have no mandate from the British people. They are loose cannons with power and that is dangerous. If this happened in a third world country we would be raising our arms in horror and calling it uncivilized. Britain is so arrogant!

Mahatma Gandhi when asked what he thought of democracy in Britain, replied famously:

“I think it would be a very good idea”

We now have Clegg that well know puppet of the Tories - and Cameron, born with a golden spoon in his mouth – who are both millionaires, telling the rest of us we all have to bear the pain in the current recession.

There are over 20 millionaires in the Cabinet so I would love to hear about the ‘pain’ they are suffering when compared to the 2000 front line workers sacked this week by Manchester Council.

It’s good to be back – things don’t really change. We need Simplicity more than ever because Simplicity mean straightforward talk – not the sort of political clap-trap we constantly hear from the crop of dull and boring politicians we now have.

Happy Simplicity New Year!