If you work for a small organisation and if you want to find ways to become more fulfilled, then this guide is for you.
It gives you a real insight into ways of making a difference in a small organisation. It describes how you will not be alone in wanting to make a difference, as well as what can go wrong in some organisations that might need remedial action.
Then it looks at how you identify the values and purpose of the organisation you work for, and how you go about aligning them with your own. In each of the examples there is a step-by-step guide to dealing with the situation, and making a difference.
Finally, you are given the opportunity to follow the examples, and do the exercise for yourself…
FULFILMENT IN SMALL ORGANISATIONS
Great. You like where you work. But you’d like to make more of a contribution.
Something is preventing you making more of a difference there.
Chances are, the small organisation you work for is well intentioned, and still led by the person who founded it. He or she is full of energy, but believes making things happen and getting results is more important than what are called the soft issues.
Soft issues include treating people, especially staff, with consideration and understanding. It means listening to them. It means recognising they (you) have the potential to make a broader contribution at work. And it means understanding that you have a life beyond work. Small companies or organisations can sometimes become obsessed with surviving, or growing to the next stage.
A crucial role of a leader is to develop other leaders. By definition, because you want to make a difference, you are one of those leaders, whatever level you are in the organisation. The Make a Difference Mindset, is essentially a leadership mindset. It seeks to see, and communicate, the bigger picture, and enthuse others in turn to understand it and live it.
The leader of the small organisation you work for may not appreciate the need for leaders throughout the organisation. If this is the case, then they are wrong. The fact they may not appreciate the need for leadership qualities in others is likely to severely inhibit their chances of long-term significant growth and success.
It should not curb your enthusiasm to make a difference. The difference you want to make is probably even more important and necessary if your leader does not understand the need for other leaders at all levels of the organisation.
The leader you work for is probably an enthusiast (that’s why he or she started it in the first place). It is possible that they may tend to believe that their enthusiasm to engage with today or tomorrow’s task is sufficient to make the rest of their team both enthusiastic and fulfilled, just as they are.
This is not always the case. Such leaders can be insensitive to the feelings of those around them. Their own agenda is all that counts. This means they can miss out on the unfulfilled potential of their colleagues.
Your goal, then, will be either of the following:
- If possible, to make more of a difference yourself, and take your leader and your colleagues with you
- Or if necessary, to make a difference – in spite of your leader and your colleagues
- Maybe something that’s happening in the organisation jars with your conscience or conflicts with your principles. This can be very uncomfortable and upsetting. It may not be easy to address, but at least the challenge is clear. The ‘make a difference’ approach can also help here: we include an example (number four) later in this guide.
If you work in an environment that already is capable of nourishing your soul – that’s a great starting point. You can still do more, and the Make a Difference Mindset will help you do so.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Most of us spend more of our lives at work than we do with our families, so it’s important to get the most enjoyment and satisfaction we can while you’re there.
If you work in an environment that already nourishes your soul – that’s a great start point. Maybe, it’s your calling – or the job itself that you love. Or maybe it’s the leader, or the people, that are right, and you have a strong bond with them. Or it’s the situation which is right. Maybe it’s all three.
Whatever it is, something is good about where you work, and you find it rewarding and worthwhile. Already you will be highly productive and effective in what you do – just because you love it (or at least parts of it). You don’t need to be asked for extra effort – you walk the extra mile naturally, because you’re plugged into the purpose, the leader, the people, or the situation, which is or are right for you.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Many research studies show that people enjoy doing their best at work. A recent Daniel Yankelovich poll in the Unites States asked people which of the following three statements they most agreed with:
1.I have an inner need to do the very best job I can regardless of pay
2.Work is a mere business transaction, I work only as much as I get paid
3. Working for a living is one of life’s necessities. I would not do it if I didn’t have to
The result was surprising, but heartening. 78% agreed with the first view, 7% with the second, and 15% with the third.
In polls conducted, again in the US, by the Gallup Organisation and the National Opinion Research Center, 90% agreed, or agreed strongly, with the statement “I am willing to work harder than I have to in order to help this organisation succeed.”
So you are not alone in wanting to do more to help the organisation you work for succeed. You obviously recognise that work can sometimes be more drudgery than fun – it can even be alienating – but it can also be inspiring, and fulfilling.
You may be full of ideas on how to make things better, and will be supportive of making good ideas happen, wherever they come from. You are creatively engaged, but you want to be more engaged.
The “but” probably comes from one or more of the following:
– the pioneering days of the company or organisation are over, and dull things like processes, systems, administrative accuracy are taking over from the exciting, creative and more carefree tasks of the early days
– this is compounded by the founder/leader’s frustration at this change, because his or her interests are in creating, rather than developing
– early success has led to complacency, and as a result the energy is ebbing away from the organisation
– a new focus or strategy is needed, because of changes in the market, or new competition, and the leader is poor at acknowledging this, or sharing the task of responding to it
– a new person has been brought in who is disruptive because, although effective, he or she doesn’t share the values of the organisation What’s more, small organisations often aren’t good at writing down their purpose or values.
This is totally understandable, because in the early days they tend to be self evident, and apparent in the DNA of the founder and the staff. But it can lead to frustration.
THE GROWING ORGANISATION
As the organisation grows, so does the need for clarity. Lack of clarity in the very early days can be very creative and productive. People create, and grow into, their own roles. They create, or develop, new interpretations or applications, for the core purpose of the organisation.
And once a certain size is reached, this lack of clarity can potentially harbour danger. Staff and customers can get confused, and frustration can result. At this point, some crystallisation of purpose and areas of responsibility is needed, in order for the organisation to progress and fulfil its potential.
So what helps? A recent study, by McKinsey, (Managing your Corporation by the Evidence), which looked at 231 global businesses, identified three distinct but complementary management practices essential to performance, Admittedly, this was for large organisations, but the same holds true for small to medium sized ones.
The study points up the importance of vision – or purpose – and clarity in the area of who is responsible for what.
The three practices were:
1. Clear roles
2. An inspiring vision
3. An open and trusting culture
The third practice – an open and trusting culture – is likely to be in place if you work for a small organisation, and you like working there. If it’s not, this may become the difference you want to make.
If the vision or purpose has become unfocussed, or if it’s not actually inspiring anyone, then try sitting down with your leader to refine it. You might get some resistance; he or she may claim to have no time for such matters. If this is the case, going through the same exercise with your colleagues may be helpful. In either case, it will get some of the issues that have been lurking unspoken out in the open.
Clarifying values and purpose is always illuminating. If you have been already been through the process of defining your personal values and purpose, you will know that it is not only challenging, but it is dynamic. Things change, situations alter. You need to adapt and evolve. Once you know your purpose and values intimately, you feel them in your heart.
The same will be true for your organisation. The only vision and values statements that count are those that manifest themselves in the behaviour of you, your leader, and your colleagues, all the time.
And if the organisation is off-track? If you find a dissonance between the vision and values agreed with your leader and colleagues, and that which the organisation is living every day, go no further. Put all your heart and efforts into getting the organisation back on track. This will make an enormous positive difference both to the effectiveness of the organisation, and the satisfaction and fulfilment of all working there.
If the vision and values are on track, then the difference you want to make will lie elsewhere.
WHAT TO DO
Before you start on how you make a difference within your organization, you must so the preliminary personal work you’ll find in the book, and elsewhere on the website.
Without this, moving on to making a difference at work will be a waste of time, because you won’t know what you are trying to achieve, or why you are trying to achieve it.
Once you have done this, and you’ve found out who you are, you will have decided whether you want to be a Beneficial Presence, a Difference Deliverer, or Difference Driver. You will also be making sure you are, day by day, growing into your true self, and becoming passionately identified with your purpose.
Once you know who you are, what you stand for, and what your purpose is, you can then move onto making a difference at work. And that means taking others with you. But let’s take it a step at a time.
Step one is to understand your personal high-octane values and purpose. Once you understand these in your heart, and can feel the passion they engender, it is time to see how they fit into your job within the organisation you work for, and the values and purpose of that organisation.
Step two is to apply the same process to your place of work. You will need to examine your Domain, Activities and Values in the context of your organisation, in the same way you did for yourself as an individual.
In the case of the first two areas – domains and activities, it will be more straightforward than for your personal analysis.
The Domain will probably be self-selecting, as your area of work will be determined by your qualifications, skills and current job specification (although you may decide you want to change this in the light of what you discover from your values mapping).
The Activities (the things about your job you love doing) are highly relevant. Here you will identify clearly the things you do in your work that you love, and get most satisfaction from. This will include not just the specific activities you are responsible for, but also other aspects of your involvement in your work – teamwork, people development, mentoring, work-related community work etc.
Activities, importantly, will also include things you feel sorry, or frustrated, that you haven’t got round to, or you aren’t spending enough time on. This may give important clues as to what you need to be concentrating on to fulfil your purpose better, and feel you are creating more relevant value. This in turn will lead to you feeling that your contribution is more valuable, and more valued (i.e. you are making a difference).
Next, you will then complete the Values Map for your organisation. The important thing about this is to identify what you believe to be the values that are lived day by day, not what it says in the mission or vision statement, or what the leader thinks they are. You are analysing the culture of the organisation, not how it likes to think of itself, or portray itself in its publicity, or annual report.
Step three. Now comes the interesting bit. You superimpose the corporate map onto your personal map and see where the overlaps and alignments are. If there are none, you must think why this might be. Are your interests and values out of line with your employer’s to such an extent that long-term fulfilment working there looks unlikely?
More likely (because you still enjoy working for the organisation, and like it) there will be convergences of interests and values. There will inevitably, however, be shortfalls and anomalies, which need thinking about.
If, for example, one of your High Octane Hot Buttons is helping others, and your organisation is becoming more concerned with helping itself, then there is a problem. If they are not sufficiently concerned either about their customers, or their staff, this will be a potential area that you can choose for making a difference.
In your Activities you will have identified what you like about your organisation or company. If it’s the people you like, and the teamwork you have developed, rather than the behaviour of the organisation to its suppliers or customers, then here is an opportunity to make a difference.
GETTING PURPOSES ALIGNED
If the purpose of your organisation – as it is defined by its mission statement, or in its daily behaviour – sits happily with your own, that is excellent. You can move onto the next stage, which is identifying your Stimulus.
If, on the other hand, there are some gaps that need filling in, you may need to restate your company or organisation’s purpose. This may sound subversive, but it is not intended to be. You are merely restating its purpose so that it fits better with your personal purpose, so you can operate more effectively for the organisation. This restatement must of course be ethical and in keeping with the desire to improve things, and make the world a better place. You should in no way subvert its purpose for you own gains.
Say, for example, you work for an estate agent, which has no stated vision, but a trading policy which could be summed up as:
We aim to be best at selling or finding property for our clients as quickly and efficiently as possible.
You may find such a policy lacking in motivation for you personally. Trading in property can be somewhat soulless, and sometimes the practices involved can border on the amoral. Restating the purpose of the company to something like the following may help:
We aim to lead in helping people find or sell homes – not flats or houses – understanding that it’s a huge financial and emotional investment.
Such a vision of the organisation’s purpose may be more stimulating and engaging for you. Helping human beings find or sell homes, which can be central to their happiness and aspirations, is more worthwhile, and has more meaning, than just dealing in property transactions.
So restate your organisation’s purpose in a way that gives it personal meaning, and which you find stimulating and worthwhile.
If your energy levels are low, or if office politics seem to be getting in the way of the organisation operating effectively, then you’ll find a stimulus very helpful. It will get the juices going by reinforcing your role in the organisation’s purpose.
The acid test of a stimulus is whether you get a strong emotional buzz from it.
Your stimulus may be close at hand, or you may have to conjure up your own mental picture.
The stimulus is what moves your purpose – the meaning you find in your work – from your brain to your heart. Up to 80% of the work you do on Values Mapping, Purpose definition etc will be brainwork. The Stimulus helps you get it from your head to your heart, so you deliver the difference effectively.
The stimulus creates passion, and it’s passion that enables you to make a difference.
For some jobs the stimulus is obvious. If you work for a small charity helping people deal with social exclusion, then the stimulus might be the visible growth in happiness and confidence of individuals brought into meaningful involvement in with the community and the people around them. Or the joy of seeing someone gradually master the language of their adopted country.
And in some situations, the stimulus may be clear for negative reasons – because of things in the organisation that you find unacceptable: petty theft, bribes or bullying, for example.
The important thing about the stimulus is that you imagine it in full colour, with sound effects, to make it as emotionally engaging and exciting as possible.
If you work for an organisation where the purpose is worthwhile, but does not excite and engage you at a high level personally, you might want to find a stimulus at a level closer to your own responsibility, and purpose. If, say, it is teamwork, or development of key workers, that engages and fulfils you, then create your stimulus here.
Recall moments of high satisfaction when your team was successful, or when colleagues you had helped to develop were recognised for their achievements. Have a mental picture – with as much sound and colour and intensity you can muster – that lifts you every time you think of it.
It’s your personal hot button that will remind you why you are striving to make the difference you have decided on at work. Tailor the stimulus to fit your purpose and values in your own organisation, and your own situation within that organisation.
Say you work for the estate agency described above. Your Purpose and Stimulus might look as follows:
- Your Purpose: To go beyond merely property dealing, and be outstanding in helping people find or sell homes.
- Your Stimulus: You imagine the joy on someone’s face when you’ve helped them find the home they have been searching for. Or, if you’re not one of the front line staff, imagine a picture you create for yourself of your work helping a young couple move into their first home, where they will live happily and start a family.
You work for a small, very successful, company in internet marketing. It has developed a niche in the market, which makes it very much in demand. You worry that markets change very fast, and a new market entrant may eclipse the current competitive advantage. What worries you even more is that a certain arrogance has crept into your colleagues’ behaviour when they are dealing with current, or potential, customers.
You’ve done the work on mapping your values and defining your purpose, and you’ve decided that you want to make a difference in the work domain, focusing in the area of helping people fulfil their potential. Having analysed your company’s values, you’ve decided that the stated leading value of great customer service is not being lived out in actions or behaviour.
You therefore decide that the difference you are going to make is to change the culture in your company from one of arrogance back to one of genuine customer care and helpfulness. You will help them re-discover their original freshness, openness, and eagerness to please their customers.
You therefore map out your purpose and stimulus as follows:
- Your Purpose: To help your colleagues once more to fulfil their potential to delight customers.
- Your Stimulus: You imagine the applause as your founder and the whole team receive an award at an industry awards ceremony for constant innovation in great customer service.
Say you work for an organisation where the purpose is worthwhile, but does not excite and engage you personally. You might therefore want to find a high octane Purpose and Stimulus closer to your own level of responsibility that is worthwhile in its own right. If, say, it is teamwork, or development of key workers, that engages and fulfils you, then create your Stimulus there.
Recall moments of high satisfaction when your team was successful, or colleagues you had helped to develop were recognised for their achievements.
Have a mental picture – with as much sound and colour and intensity you can muster – that lifts you every time you think of it. It’s your personal hot button that will remind you why you are striving to make the difference you have decided on at work.
Then your Purpose and Stimulus might look like this:
- Your Purpose: To develop palpable excitement, enthusiasm and commitment in your fellow team members.
- Your Stimulus: The personal buzz you will get from seeing a light in your colleagues’ eyes that shows they are passionate about achieving the team’s goals.
The team’s goals will in all likelihood be project goals. Assuming the projects themselves are worthwhile, your purpose and stimulus will ensure you make a difference by upping the level of enthusiasm and effectiveness in achieving those goals.
In selecting the specific difference you want to make, it may be worth concentrating on a project with a goal you feel most relevant and motivating. You’re not just building team spirit per se, but also moving the team more effectively towards a goal which has meaning for you.
In this example, the small business you work for has become infected by gossip and backbiting. Not everyone is involved, but there is too much energy being expended on back-biting and back-stabbing, and too little on building the business.
- Your Purpose: To rebuild positive teamwork and end the negative atmosphere caused by backbiting.
- Your Stimulus: The memory of witnessing two fellow employees complaining about the company in front of a customer.
The concept for exactly how you will make a difference will depend on your individual circumstances. It may be obvious, or it may need considerable thought.
Back to the estate agency. Working through the concept for such a business might look something like this. Your Purpose is to go beyond merely property dealing, and be outstanding in helping people find or sell homes. Your Stimulus to imagine the joy on someone’s face whom you have helped find the home they have been searching for. Or, if you’re not one of the front line staff, you will be imagining a picture of a young couple moving into their first home, where they will live happily and start a family.
You develop the following concept:
Helping frontline staff who deal with clients looking for houses or flats to elicit some colour as to the tonal values of the home they are looking for
After asking the usual questions about location, price, finance etc, refine the brief to establish the Dream Home definition: the style (modern, minimalist, traditional), and the potential (fully modernized, lots to do)
You recognise that this may cause some derision in the relatively sceptical – at times cynical – culture of the business in which you operate. This is where the courage and resilience – part of the Make a Difference Mindset – come in. You must stick with it until your colleagues understand what you are trying to do, and agree to give the concept a fair chance.
The goal of the concept is to gain competitive advantage over the other estate agents in your market. By genuinely trying to understand what the clients are looking for two benefits will accrue. Firstly, you will get a much better idea of what they are looking for in their hearts, as well as their minds – thus probably saving both you and them considerable wasted time in viewings. Secondly, unlike your competitors, you will show them you are trying to understand and help them, not just flog them a property to get the commission.
Recall the small, very successful, company you work for in internet marketing.
Your purpose is to help your colleagues once more to fulfil their potential to delight customers, and your Stimulus is you imagining your founder – to universal applause – receiving an award at in industry awards ceremony for constant innovation in great customer service.
You develop the following concept:
Getting all key staff (including the founder) to devote regular time to understanding what customers are feeling.
Each week they will spend half an hour anonymously trying to use their service from the outside; and another half-hour contacting customers (especially lost customers) to ask them what they felt about the experience dealing with the company.
Remember the team you are leading within your organisation, focusing on a project with goals that excite you. The project’s goal is clearly crucial, as this will be the cutting edge of the concept. The difference you are seeking to make will be a combination of achieving a worthwhile goal, and delivering it, through great teamwork, more effectively than anyone could have thought possible.
Here’s the challenge. You and your team members are already extremely busy, but you have been given the additional task of making the organisation more environmentally responsible, with a far lighter carbon footprint. Most of the team are sympathetic to the project, and agree with its aims, but the additional challenge is that no resources are available to make it happen. You cannot engage consultants, or hire anyone with the relevant expertise, to help sort it out.
As leader (whether you officially have the title or not) you think hard about the challenge, and engage your team members in defining a vision for the project. The vision you come up with is to set the challenge within the wider context of the organisation. As the organisation has evolved, the processes have been put in place ad hoc, without any reference to overall organisational efficiency.
You therefore set the environmental challenge within framework of simplifying processes at the same time. If this can be achieved, time and effort can be eliminated, improving job satisfaction all round, at the same time as making operations more environmentally friendly. So you state your concept:
Taking out waste and duplication from business processes throughout the organisation, while radically reducing the carbon footprint.
Reducing office backbiting once it has gained a foothold is never easy. Usually, the people whose behaviour you are trying to change are very adept at protecting themselves and undermining you. This is their skill, and they tend to deploy it to the utmost, especially when they feel threatened by someone like yourself, who is trying to take away the very thing that brings spice to their lives.
Fortunately, you believe you have allies who would dearly love to get back to the relatively politics-free atmosphere of the early days of the organization.
So you put together a Mastermind group of people who are naturally positive and open, and who you sense will react favourably to your initiative. Their reaction is remarkable. It is as if a boil has been burst, and at last they can get behind something that gets back to the original positive ideals of the organization they joined.
As a group, you develop the following concept:
Growing not groaning
BRANDING THE CONCEPT
You will have seen elsewhere in this workbook how important each step is in the mastering of the Make a Difference Mindset. You will also have seen the importance to your mission of branding your concept, and the powerful benefits this brings with it.
At first sight branding your concept within a relatively small group of people may seem inappropriate. This is not the case. The benefits of branding are still highly relevant.
Branding a concept makes it much more likely the concept will have been well conceived and thought through. Attempting to brand a woolly or weak concept will reveal its wooliness and weakness, better than any other probing and testing.
Getting the brand right, and building its trustworthiness over time, has three benefits. At first sight, you wouldn’t think it appropriate to brand something as uncommercial as a charity. But take Amnesty International, Red Cross, Greenpeace, Medecins Sans Frontiers, or any major established internationally branded charity, and you will find the brand name helps in three ways:
1. It is an effective calling card that opens doors. Imagine trying to get past some governments to provide help, or lobby for action on human rights, environmental protection without a major brand name behind you.
2.It creates a sense of identity for workers within the organisation, and for fundraisers. It provides a shorthand, saving long explanations about what its purpose is.
3.It provides reassurance and trust for donors who can be confident that funds will not be misappropriated, or find their way into the pockets of corrupt middlemen.
Clarity, trust and recognition. All benefits which will help your concept, and your ability to make a difference in your organisation,
And there are other benefits too. Assuming that your basic concept is strong, branding will give it distinctiveness, colour and texture, and will make it more motivating, and more memorable.
You may want to add dynamism by branding the concept as a project. For example, ‘Project Customer Love’ may be a more acceptable way to communicate a brand whose concept is a new and focused approach to energising productivity.
The estate agency you work for needs a brand to provide a quickly understood focus, and emotional engagement, for the initiative (the Concept) you are undertaking to make a difference. The difference you make will improve your job satisfaction, and their effectiveness.
To recap, your purpose is to go beyond merely property dealing, and be outstanding in helping people find or sell homes. Your Stimulus is to imagine the joy on someone’s face when you have helped find the home they have been searching for. Or, if you’re not one of the front line staff, you will be imagining a picture of a young couple moving into their first home, where they will live happily and start a family.
Your concept is to help clients looking for houses or flats to define some colour as to the tonal values of the home they are looking for. After asking the usual questions about location, price, finance etc, you will refine the brief to establish the Dream Home definition: the style (modern, minimalist, traditional), and the potential (fully modernized, lots to do}
After much thinking and rethinking, you decide your brand will be:
“Colour in your dream home”
The brand aims to capture the essence of your clients’ brief to you, so you can show them a place within their budget that they can say “Yes. I’d love to live here”
Remember that we said you may need courage and resilience. You may also need to balance those with open-mindedness. If you find your colleagues are starting to warm to the idea, and agree to adopt it, do allow them input to refine both the concept and brand, if appropriate. If they can improve on your concept and design, welcome the input.
Recall our internet marketing business. Your purpose is to help your colleagues once more to fulfil their potential to delight customers, and your Stimulus is that you imagine the applause as your founder and the whole team receive an award at an industry awards ceremony for constant innovation in great customer service.
The concept you developed was to get all key staff (including the founder) to spend one hour a week understanding what customers are feeling. One half an hour will be anonymously trying to use their service from the outside; one half hour contacting customers (especially lost customers) to ask them what they felt about the experience dealing with the company.
After much consideration, the brand you develop is:
“Customers’ Shoes Hour”
This works for you: it encapsulates what you and your colleagues are setting out to do. You are going to walk in you customers’ shoes to find out exactly what they think and feel about you.
From this branded concept, actions will flow. As time goes on, it will help you to identify more and more specific ideas to deliver great customer service. They may be changes to attitudes, behaviours, or processes. You, the Chief Executive and the whole organisation can gather around the concept, debating experiences, challenges and solutions as you go. There is no more persuasive argument than that straight from the customer’s mouth.
Let’s return to the project team example. The organisation you work for has a purpose that doesn’t set your pulses racing, but you get huge satisfaction from using your natural enthusiasm to build and lead teams, especially where the goals of those teams excite you.
So you’ve created your Purpose and Stimulus. Your Purpose is to develop palpable excitement, enthusiasm and commitment in your fellow team members, and your Stimulus is the personal buzz you will get from seeing a light in your colleagues’ eyes that shows they are passionate about achieving the team’s goals.
You and your team have linked the environmental challenge to simplifying all sorts of business processes at the same time. If you can do this, you can eliminate time and effort, and improve job satisfaction all round, at the same time as making operations more environmentally friendly. So you the concept you develop is to take out waste and duplication from business processes throughout the organisation, while radically reducing the carbon footprint.
The brand you develop is:
“Lean is green”
The brand picks up on the theory of lean thinking, which predicates that up to 70% of most organization processes are duplicative, or unnecessary. By eliminating this waste of effort, you will be making the organization more effective in what it does, at the same time as making it more environmentally friendly.
This is the example of the small organisation that has developed a poisonous atmosphere of gossip and backbiting. You wish to rebuild positive teamwork, while reducing significantly the destructive office politics. The concept you develop with your mastermind group is Growing Not Groaning.
You work further on ideas with your group, and decide to launch the following brand at the monthly staff meeting, having first made considerable efforts to ensure a good turnout both of staff and management:
Team TWS – Together We Stand
PUT A DATE ON IT
Putting a date on making it happen will make it happen. It may not happen by the date you put on it, but it will happen. No date – very unlikely to happen.
Agree the date with everyone in your team, however large or small that team might be.
And when the date arrives, hold a review. Have you successfully achieved your goal? Is your project producing the results you wanted?
Integrity – the heart of character – is as important in the organisational field as it is in the personal one. Integrity means being answerable – for your attitudes, for your behaviours, and for fulfilling your objectives.
Let’s take a final look at the examples of the Difference Imperative in action – with a date on.
EXAMPLE 1 – THE ESTATE AGENCY
Your Purpose: To go beyond merely property dealing, and be outstanding in helping people find or sell homes.
Your Stimulus: To imagine the joy on a client’s face when you have helped them find the home they have been searching for.
Your Concept: To help clients looking for houses or flats to define some colour as to the tonal values of the home they are looking for (after asking the usual questions about location, price, finance etc, you will refine the brief to establish the Dream Home definition: the style (modern, minimalist, traditional), and the potential
Your Brand: Colour in your dream home
Your Date: Agreement at the next Staff Meeting to proceed in principle. The next step is to get Board agreement at the following monthly Board Meeting, and then implement it immediately.
EXAMPLE 2 – THE INTERNET MARKETING COMPANY
Your Purpose: To help your colleagues once more fulfil their potential to delight customers
Your Stimulus: You imagine the applause as your founder and the whole team receive an award at an industry awards ceremony for constant innovation in great customer service.
Your Concept: Getting all key staff (including the founder) to spend one hour a week understanding what customers are feeling.
One half an hour will be anonymously trying to use their service from the outside; one half hour contacting customers (especially lost customers) to ask them what they felt about the experience dealing with the company.
Your Brand: Customers’ Shoes Hour
Your Date: To get commitment to the project within four weeks. And then to review progress regularly on a weekly basis (i.e. create a regular review internally of the lessons from Customers’ Shoes Hour, and what actions needed to be taken as a result.
EXAMPLE 3 – THE PROJECT TEAM
You want to make a difference by building an effective and enthusiastic team.
Your Purpose: To develop palpable excitement, enthusiasm and commitment in your fellow team members
Your Stimulus: The personal buzz you will get from seeing a light in your colleagues’ eyes that shows they are passionate about achieving the team’s goals
Your Concept: Taking out waste and duplication from business processes throughout the organisation, while radically reducing the carbon footprint.
Your Brand: Lean is green
Your Date: To do sufficient groundwork to be in a position to take the new vision for the project to senior management within six weeks. Thereafter to roll it out to achieve early goals within six months.
EXAMPLE 4 – THE BACK-BITING ORGANISATION
You want to make a difference by putting an end to the negativity and gossip.
Your Purpose: To rebuild positive teamwork and end the negative atmosphere caused by backbiting.
Your Stimulus: The memory of witnessing two fellow employees complaining about the company in front of a customer.
Your Concept: Growing not groaning
Your Brand: Team TWS – Together We Stand
Your Date: Open up the subject to the light of day at the next staff meeting.
Recount anecdotes about good teamwork, and about specific problems caused by bad teamwork.
Launch a series of actions aimed at reducing politics and increasing buy in to the concept. For example:
- having a moaning-box (like a swear box) – if you moan you have to put in some coins. Proceeds go to a competitor.
- having ‘negativity flags’ dotted around the workplace to be picked up and waved as soon as other members of staff start saying divisive, negative things to them.
- the 24 Hour Challenge to all members of staff. No one is allowed to say anything negative or derogatory about anyone else for 24 hours. If they do, the 24 hours starts again. Then extended to 1 week etc.
- Regular updates on progress at subsequent staff meetings, until the job is done.
Your Purpose: Restate your organisation’s purpose in a way that gives it personal meaning, and which you find stimulating and worthwhile.
Your Stimulus: Recall moments of high satisfaction when your team was successful, or when colleagues you had helped to develop were recognised for their achievements.
Have a mental picture – with as much sound and colour and intensity you can muster – that lifts you every time you think of it. It’s your personal hot button that will remind you why you are striving to make the difference you have decided on at work.
Your Concept: This is your idea or your solution to a challenge that your organisation faces. It may be obvious to you, or it may take a lot of thinking about. You may find it helpful to think about the challenge first, and research possible solutions. Or you may want know what you want to do, and concentrate on making the case for it. Be aware that it may take courage and determination to voice the idea and persist with it.
Your Brand: If you can find the right brand for your concept, you’ll find that people accept that concept more quickly, happily and confidently. And they’ll remember it too. Yes, it’s a slogan. But it can affect all the associations that people have with your concept. It’s worth getting it right.
Your Date: Very simple. What will you do by when? When are you willing to be held to account?
Our examples, of course, are imaginary situations, and real life is often more complex, and more difficult. But the examples do give an insight into the process of the Make a Difference Mindset, and the various stages of thinking you’ll need to do to make it happen.
If you don’t succeed first time at making the difference you want to make – don’t give up. The way to success in most fields of human activity is paved with failures. Re-group, and work out how you’ll be successful next time. And put another date on it. Keep going, learning from each setback. Eventually you’ll succeed.
Once you are successful in achieving your objectives – well done. Take a bow – pat yourself on the back, and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment. You deserve it.
And move on to the next difference you are going to make ….