October 16, 2009
I received a personal note from a friend who attended graduate school with me. She commented on the topic of my blog post Incongruence, noting that in her professional life in a foreign country, she finds little congruent or predictable yet she finds success. In fact, she specifically said that she has had to “adapt from my sort of square, orderly, American way of thinking and doing things (so I have been told) to the go-with-the-flow / be-ready-to-switch-gears-next-week way of doing things in the foreign environment. To my surprise, both methods can lead to successful ventures.”
I am glad she wrote because it offers me an opportunity to clarify my mixed message observation. I described the incongruence of mixed messages through the generalization of the broad communication problem of not everyone having the same priorities. However, in the specific example I cited, although the small biotech’s message was mixed (incongruent), it was really their failure to communicate that I found disagreeable.
I agree with my friend that being nimble and adaptable are important business success factors because all businesses are subject to shifting priorities due to changing environments and new information. What I challenge is the extension to the person. Once a personal relationship has been forged in the name of business, a commitment to get back to someone is never relieved by a changing business landscape. The message might change and/or an assistant might deliver it, but a commitment to communicate persists once a relationship exists because it is the relationship that carries trust, credibility, and honor.
It might seem easier to dismiss and excuse, “its just business,” rather than take responsibility to communicate when inconvenient, when the message will be difficult, or when anonymous (no one is looking). Yet the long view position requires that we dignify human interactions with the minimalist “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Done consistently, cumulative nurturing of personal respect cultivates and amplifies trust, loyalty, credibility, and honor (long view attributes). This is part of congruence.
Do you communicate consistently in your business relationships?
July 23, 2009
I love cheering on my friends who are participating in sports because it is a great way to stay connected, to provide meaningful positive reinforcement for the participant, and have fun by participating vicariously. Until now, vicarious participation has been limited by time and proximity or by TV coverage (Olympics, ballgames, etc.). So, unless I have been near enough (and had enough time) to go watch at the friend’s venue or my friend has been an elite athlete that makes TV coverage, I have been relegated to listening to tales and seeing photos later. All that is being changed by customized tracking…
This weekend, a college buddy of mine was crewing on a sailboat that was racing from Chicago to Mackinac (Michigan). During the race, all the boats carried a GPS chip that constantly transmitted data to the iBoat website which then showed the positions and identifying information of all the boats in the race. It was so much fun watching all of the boats race toward Mackinac over the three-day race. As I went about my own weekend, I kept pulling out my iPhone to check-in on the position of my buddy’s boat (the little green dot on the map). What a riot! I would show anyone who would look how my friend was doing in his race – real-time.
Also this weekend, my sister-in-law (SIL) and I ran in a local ½-marathon. Timing was done using RFID technology – a disposable RFID tag was attached to the shoe of every runner. As we crossed the start line, our start time was captured and as we crossed the finish line, our completion time was captured. Because it was a long race, my husband (also SIL’s brother) planned to be back at the finish line to cheer us on (and take our picture). Although we gave him a pretty good estimate (less than 2 hours) of our expected completion time, he tracked our progress via iPhone GPS technology since SIL and I carried phones with remote tracking enabled (my teenagers!). Even though the iPhone tracking worked, it was klugy and not universally available. Imagine what the experience could have been for many others if real-time text-messages (tweets or emails) were being sent via RFID timing portals at milestones along the trail?! I know that I would have paid extra to sign up a for race day texts (or emails or Tweets) as my “bib” number reached various milestones. What an opportunity to create connection and positive reinforcement!
Over the long view, enriching the experiences of others by creating connection and positive reinforcement always pays positive dividends. If you can think of a way to create connection, meaningful positive reinforcement, or camaraderie, as part of your service and/or product, do it because it will build loyalty, returns, and possibly additional revenue! Real-time tracking has added value to many businesses – package delivery, sailboat racing, … I’m hoping that the technology will trickle down to running, cycling, swimming, etc.
I can’t wait to participate vicariously with MORE of my friends through tracking – it will help me stay connected.
Can you create an opportunity to enrich, create connection, and reinforce positively in what you do?