Politics, religion and business

The Globe & Mail had some letter to the editor speaking to the issue of the division of state and religion. We have all heard it before, not much new. But this got me to thinking. If citizens of a democracy demand the separation of church and state then it would come naturally that citizens demand the separation of business and state. Neither the church or business are given ballots to elect representatives so why should they have any influence greater than a single citizen?

Surveys, are they satisfying?

There is an excellent post at the blog modern marketing today. I agree that the word ‘satisfied’ is not a very good description when you are talking about “experience” being your differentiator.

I thought about some surveys so here is a list of 5 choices on a survey and what a person really means when asked:

How has the service been when dealing with the credit union?

  1. Great – which usually means – I don’t want to tell you the truth or offend you.
  2. Normal – which usually means – Why are you asking me this? Do I get to win something if I say it’s better?
  3. OK – which usually means – I put up with you guys but boy if I found a better place I am out of here.
  4. Not very good – which usually means – This place sucks! I don’t know why I am still here, probably because my mom opened an account here when I was 3.
  5. Bad – which usually means – I am a disgruntled ex-employee and want to make you guys pay or I am getting paid for some competitive intelligence from the guy down the street.

The Filene Report Denise mentions is excellent and is a great starting point in measuring the Net Promoter Score which is the benchmark we all should be paying attention to. At the end of the report it talks about the next steps for improving member experience. You can spend a lot of time measuring, you can view and chart the results but what are you going to do to improve? One suggestion is that any effective strategic plan will require “Leadership practices that instill customer focus, passion, and values.” Voila! A key ingredient. Leadership.

So in large part bad service can easily mean bad leadership. Not paying attention to something that is hard to measure in any realm. But instilling customer focus and passion and values? That doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership needs to create the ability of the people working in the organization to what I call “make meaning” in their workplace. The environment must be right. Values statements are a long and arduous process. Values are discussed, debated, argued. Values must in some way be part of the individuals own personal make up. (You’ve arrived when you can say to everyone that when they make any decision that is true to these values they have always made the right decision). And when you do arrive at a common, published values statement made up from all individuals, there is a commonality that as a consequence begins the passion. When someone can make some meaning in their job they are quick to become passionate. Now, how do you measure passion?


I have been using a Mac program for the last while (sorry PC users) that is proving itself more and more interesing and useful. It’s called NoteBook by Circus Ponies.

At first glance it looks like a typical ‘student taking notes in a classroom’ program. Pages turn, the format looks very much like a notebook and it looked ok. But there are some features here that I have not seen gathered in one program anywhere else. And they are simple to implement and easy to follow.

There is a clipping service that you can setup with by using a choice in the menu. From there it resides on your services menu. Pretty normal. But one of the options allows you to clip with an annotation added and a drop down on the choice of where you want the clipping to go. For example, I use NoteBook as my digital inbasket. When an e-mail arrives that adds additional information to a project I can clip the text into this in basket with a notation heading. When I switch to NoteBook I can easily move the clipping to the specific project page but have the added feature of the annotation heading to pinpoint any details quickly. There is also a number of attributes that show me the heading and sender of the email automatically. This keeps that email inbox as empty as it should be.

Another feature that I use is to tag various entries i.e. @Waiting for, @Errand, etc. (Using the GTD context here). Notebook has a feature that automatically creates an index from these Keywords so that I can now work and review the way I want, again using the GTD process. Quick and easy and everything is in one file.

The more I use this program the more I like it and the more there is to learn. Another interesting point, the originator of the program e-mails periodically to see how you are doing. Not bad.

What it comes down to

These past few days I have been thinking about how social networking has been discussed and my experience of being with two groups of people.

On Saturday the church I belong to (Lutheran) holds a neighbourhood BBQ. Everyone comes together to put the food out, BBQ the burgers and hotdogs and serve whoever shows up. There were between 150 to 200 people served. (we are really too busy to actually count so we take the number of items BBQed and figure out how many had more than one hamburger). The location is kitty corner from Vancouver City Hall. It’s like a block party for a few hours. The variety of people that show up is unbelievable. The gamut ranges from people driving up in their Mercedes or BMWs to guys living at a shelter looking for work. The food is free but I can’t see that as being the big drawing card. Everyone had time to sit at one of the tables and converse with the people around them. They talked about everything from Elvis Presley to why the Canucks lost. It was people socializing around having something to eat. It was great to be a part of.

The next day another BBQ at home with friends and family. The conversation moved into who was on FaceBook and what they thought of it. Most began to wonder why they were being invited by people they had vague memories or associations with. One person said they hardly new this girl who was at her school but 3 years younger and couldn’t recall even talking to her. They all felt it was sort of neat but were a bit overwhelmed by the number of contacts they all maintained. We also talked about how men and women communicate and the number of words each gender tends to use. I will not comment on that discussion.

The point here is that human interaction is so unique and seems to be such a random type encounter at times. When you think you can understand how and why people react you suddenly realize you are farther from the answer than you thought. Maybe its the variety of individuals, maybe its the environment of the meeting, who knows — maybe it’s the weather. Social networking and the communcations around it are so varied. It seems that the face-to-face communcation brings people together that no other way can. It isn’t a process, it is being able ‘touch’ or connect with that person in some human way. Someone said the eyes are the windows to the soul. You can’t put those things into a box.

An ordinary day

Originally uploaded by Photo Love.

This picture sort of typifies a day we sometimes have. The lines of authority and what we must do. The clothes pegs (don’t see them that often) our contact points with whatever we do. And us, the dirty sock, stuck right in the middle. Where’s the bleach? I’m going to use this as my desktop wallpaper.

An attempt to answer William

William asked me to expand in this blog on an entry he made May 2 with Robbie Wright and I commenting.
We should not view the competition as other FI’s but as ourselves lacking the development of a website as a relationship deepening tool.

  • Maybe it isn’t only the website but the products that could be an integral part of the website. This is important in the DIY process.
  • This is constant (because nothing will stand still on the web) as we leap frog to better technologies. That is the development domain we now live in.
  • This pushes us to a re-invention of product and service needs in attempt to marry relationship and technologies. It needs to be a virtual human touch or virtual human experience (VHE).
  • Can we create these products and services? YES, but only if we are constantly vigilant to keep tech development along with a VHE. Without this we become a common process, a commodity.
  • New products by the nature of being new will create a uniqueness which can be identified as personal (who else is using this?)

Advantage us, the credit unions!
Just by our nature and history we have a sound base on which to build. Our brick and mortar can only serve to enhance, in the member’s mind, our personal and ongoing relationship as it comes to product and service. These are the elements to clone in the VHE. As William pointed out and Robbie commented, e-tail experiences are to be as entertaining and amusing as personal experiences.

Products need to be built from the person out.

Start with the person, define their wants and needs. You should be able to create products fulfilling their needs invisibly by delivering it the way they want.

  • 24/7
  • DIY (customization). If a product has 12 variables to choose from, then the number of possible ways the product could be ‘developed’ or seen would be a factor of 12 = 78. With enough variables the end results could be close to unique for every member.

Incorporating the Products/Services into personal networks.
This is really new ground and will take some ingenuity on our part. Services that would be appreciated when viewed by others i.e. text messaging and would happen outside the realm of the branch could be one objective. Something that would touch that member in their own world which could be shared through common experience or through a shared virtual site would link to others to create dialogue and discussion. When we arrive here (The Wisdom of Crowds) the innovation and creation will take shape.
All this time the individual person keeps their products and services shaped their way (DIY).

Is this possible? Yes.
Where has it happened? If you have read this far you have some idea.
Where could this begin in earnest? Like minded CUs sharing these sentiments and discussion in a non-political atmosphere.

Well William I hope I have expanded enough. I think the time is coming when like minds need to discuss this around a personal event, like lunch.

Context for change in CU system

When asked for a quote here is what I said for a recent CUCBC publication.

“We can mould a new financial reality for credit union members. We need to be as vigilant with technology implementation as with lending risk. It is imperative that we are aware of the ever unfolding technologies to see how they can be used to better serve our membership. We can continue to exist as small and nimble entitites. Service should be based on trust from knowing our members. You can then manage risks instead of risks managing you. This new financial reality is ever moving and paying attention to the owners who we serve will continue to bode well for all of us.”

There are a tremendous discussions going on now about Web 2.0 and the families of services it has created. Cole Camplese says it best: “I guess that is part of the answer though — people are listening (not thousands) and they are trying to engage. Without us making the time to provide the first conversation starter it wouldn’t be going on. I am becoming more and more amazed at how open and transparent the community I live in is becoming — blogging, sharing photos on Flickr, sharing tags on del.icio.us, and Twittering — all of it is changing the way we interact.

This engagement, this interaction, is creating and changing the way we do things. But will we take the next step? Will we risk changing some core pillars in our institutions? Those that don’t will be left behind.

What makes people generous?

There are so many times you expect people to be one way and they are the other. Generosity is always a surprise. And because one is generous one day does that mean you’ll continue in that domain? It seems a lot depends on how you feel. Sure you can quickly weigh the obvious, that you can afford to be generous with your time, donation, or effort. But just because you can do something does that mean you will do something? There has to be more to it than just that. Maybe one is generous because it is a pretty big thing to help people. Maybe it is that sentiment, without guilt, that you are going to make a difference, no matter how small. There is no ideal for generosity. It comes from a purely human aspect of life. That is why I have difficulty when businesses or an entity other than human portrays themselves as caring or generous. An entity just doesn’t have those sentiments and in my wildest imagination never will. Next time you are generous think about it. It is something that only you can do at that moment.

Saturday, typical

I was at the library and even Luke the Librarian is reading my blog. Wow! He is the one that should be writing blogs. Three very interesting books were brought home.

  • The Shia Revival by Vali Masr. How conflicts with Islam will shape the future.
  • A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink. Why right-brainers will rule the world. Six essential aptitudes – Design, story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.
  • Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. Understanding how to end your small business marketing struggle (or how not to listen to the marketing flavour of the week).

Last week the ‘renters’ moved out suddenly. They were there for such a short time we had only met them a few times and talked to them. The owner was over today. I sort of felt sorry for him as he said the place was a mess. Maybe that is why they left suddenly.

I have been listening to ‘Cranely’s Gonna Make It’ by Broken Social Science on their ‘Feel Good Lost’ CD. This is a very interesting sound. Though it doesn’t sound exactly like the Feelies you get the same ‘moving along’ feeling when you hear this melody. A trombone and banjo for some highlights which is different. Someone named them experimental indie pop. A genre near and dear to my heart.