SweetmanCragun Announces Global Expansion; Name Change

SweetmanCragun Announces Global Expansion; Name Change

SweetmanCragun – a Boston-based leadership development firm – announced today that it is changing its name to SweetmanCragun Group. The name change is a result of the firm’s expansion and implementation of new international field offices and affiliates worldwide in Amsterdam, Silicon Valley, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila and Qatar. These changes will allow the growing firm to offer leadership solutions and better meet demand on a global level.

Dancing with Disruption Newsletter: April 2017

The Power of Customer Touchpoints
Are you Inadvertently Creating Disloyal Customers?
Shane Cragun

Whether consciously or not, every time your customer brushes up against your organization they are giving you a rating. Truth be told, customers are rating you on every interaction they have with you. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your monthly customer satisfaction reports are telling you the entire story of how your customers feel about you.

Monitoring customer touchpoints can actually give you a better read on customer satisfaction, customer engagement, and customer loyalty scores. Note that customer touchpoints might not even be human-to-human interactions. They can simply be the feeling they get when they see your ad in a mailing they receive, or when they are operating your product.

The power of compelling customer touchpoints can be enormous. But they are often unmeasured.

Here’s an example of compelling customer touchpoints and how they drove the authors feelings of loyalty to the Apple brand. This happened during a visit to our local Apple store when we needed to purchase a power cord for our laptop.

We walked into the Apple store and the first thing we noticed was that the “yellow-shirted” people (employees) actually outnumbered the customers in the store. Being pressed for time, this was very cool (Touchpoint 1).

We immediately met two Apple employees holding iPhones. One greeted us and asked how they could help. We told him what we needed, and he immediately said, “follow me” (Touchpoint 2).

We followed this enthusiastic associate to the back of the store, where he selected our power cord, gave it to us, and pulled out his iPhone. He then asked, “What is your name?” He inputted our name, found our information, and asked, “Would you like this on the credit card we have on file?” We said yes. He then asked, “Would you like a hard-copy receipt, or would you like one sent to your email that we have on file?” We told him email was best. He then said, “Thanks…have a great day!” (Touchpoint 3).

We stood there speechless wondering what had just happened. The entire experience lasted no more than two minutes. And, by the way, where was the checkout line? And why didn’t the Apple employee ask to see our credit card, the signature on the back, and the three-digit code? How come he didn’t put our product in a bag? What happened to the little white receipt? Apparently, all non-value added touchpoint work was jettisoned.

It was a brilliant experience. Despite paying premium prices, our loyalty for Apple products and the Apple brand skyrocketed.

Do you think those Apple touchpoints were random? Think again. They were designed to happen that way.

Regarding the customer experience, Apple has a passionate point of view - why engage the customer in unnecessary activities when the core goal is to create unparalleled customer experiences that emphasize 1) a hassle free experience; at 2) lightning speeds; and 3) delivered by enthusiastic and helpful employees. Apple simply designs customer touchpoints in a way that delivers on this three-pronged promise.

Customer touchpoints can also be called moments of truth. Why? Whether you like it or not, customer’s leave with a renewed perception of the organization, with two outcomes being the result: increased customer loyalty or decreased customer loyalty. The Age of Disruption hates the status quo and rarely allows it to stick around. Customers simply have too many options today.

Is your current customer experience random and something that has evolved subconsciously over time? Or have you proactively designed the customer experience to influence customer loyalty with clear and compelling customer touchpoints?

When designing your touchpoints, start by simply asking the following question for each touchpoint: “what do we want our customer to know, feel, or do at this touchpoint?”

When it comes to something as important as the customer experience, and customer touchpoints, avoid random, and, like Apple, choose design.

Published in April Edition of BPA Quality

Dancing with Disruption Newsletter: March 2017

Mindsets Matter!
Are you a victim of 5 Thinking Distortions that Lead to Irrelevance and Failure?

Did you know that the behaviors you exhibit on a daily basis are the manifestation of how you see the world?

Everyone has “worldviews.” Worldviews are natural filters ingrained in us that cause us to perceive the world the way we do. Our background - from how we were parented, where we were raised in the world, religion, education level, and significant emotional experiences—have shaped our worldviews and mindsets.

Although it is important to respect all mindsets, it is true that some mindsets tend to create better results in today’s Age of Disruption.

What happens when leaders, teams, and organizations (even societies) operate with distorted and outdated mindsets? Nothing good. Research shows that both tangibles (financials) and intangibles (morale) drop. Competing in the 21st century business ecosystem with faulty mindsets is a sure path to irrelevance and failure.

We’ve identified five thinking distortions that many of us fall victim to. As you read through this list, evaluate whether you, your team, or your peers battle with these:

  • Distorted Mindset 1: What got us here will get us there. “Sticking to our knitting has always worked for us. We’ve been around forever, and there is a certain way we do things. There is no need to do things differently.”
  • Distorted Mindset 2: We know all there is to know. “I’ve gone from the shop floor to my current executive position. I’ve seen everything there is to see, believe me!”
  • Distorted Mindset 3: Employees should feel lucky to have a job. “You mean Joe feels he should have a promotion and pay raise? I know he’s one of our best performers and a high potential, but he should feel lucky to have a job.”
  • Distorted Mindset 4: Our competitor’s success is pure luck. “There’s no way our top competitor can continue their lucky streak. Their success is luck. They were at the right place at the right time.”
  • Distorted Mindset 5: We know what’s best for our customers and stakeholders. “It’s great to receive feedback from customers and stakeholders. And we should listen. But we have a better understanding of product possibilities than they do.”

All five mindsets have a few things in common: they are outdated, distorted, and misaligned to the realities of today’s Age of Disruption. They can be found at the individual, team, organization, and societal level. They can be found in all walks of life. And they are agnostic in terms of global region or culture.

The good news is that we can shift our unhealthy mindsets to those that produce better outcomes. The key is having an awareness of our flawed thinking. You can’t work on something you are unaware of. Some distorted thinking patterns might be blind to us, but, if you ask others that know you, they can give you a helpful reality check.

Stephen R. Covey once stated a powerful and true principle: if you want to help others change their behavior, you must help them see things differently and as they truly are. And the same goes for each of us.

Take time to evaluate current worldviews and mindsets that seem to be producing not only poor results, but positive results.

Become aware, because mindsets matter!

Dancing with Disruption Newsletter: February 2017

Disrupted Elephants and Incoming Global Shockwaves

News went viral on August 12, 2016 about an Asian elephant miraculously rescued from floodwaters in northern Bangladesh. The four-ton female was separated from her herd in Northeast India by massive flooding in late June, and had been carried 620 miles down various rivers and tributaries since.

Asian Elephant being rescued by sympathetic villagers.

Asian Elephant being rescued by sympathetic villagers.

Imagine the power of floodwaters to knock a large pachyderm off its feet and make it impossible to reestablish sure footing over a two-month period.

Daily browsing of global business news tell us of companies being swept off their feet by today’s turbulent, global, and disruptive business environment. The Age of Disruption is carrying some companies away with as much power and fury as the flashfloods in our elephant story.

Top leadership in these failing organizations often operate with outdated mindsets, combined with a dose of arrogance, which causes them to repeat to themselves as their world caves in, “nothing catastrophic could possibly happen to our proud enterprise.” Flash floods? Maybe the other guys, but not us!

When was the last time you and your team took quality time and engaged in a candid conversation about potential disruptions in your market and industry, the strength of your current competitive advantage, and your true ability to pivot on a dime if needed?

Our global experience suggests that it is uncommon for leadership teams to proactively schedule time to do this critical work. The urgency of hitting short-term financials seems to often override the strategic work that leaders should engage in.

As we conducted research for our book Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption, we started by searching for historical disruptions that seemed to contribute to today’s challenging 21st century business ecosystem. We identified 20 global shockwaves that occurred between 1981 and 2015 that seemed to be powerful drivers.

These global shockwaves can be slotted into five categories:

  • Technology: Information and computing technologies.
  • Management Theory: New ways to think about management, leadership, and operations.
  • Economic: Central banking actions, pricing battles, market fluctuations, and global supply and demand forces.
  • Global Competition: Exporting or importing goods on a global scale.
  • Geo-Political: Tensions between nations caused by geographic, economic, religious, or political disputes.

Global Shockwave 20

Year of Biggest Impact Global Shockwave Type of Shockwave
1981 Rise of Global Competition Global Competition
1989 Introduction of User-Friendly Hardware/Software Technology
1991 Fall of Soviet Union Geo-Political
1991 Thought Leaders Challenge Status Quo Management Theory
1993 Creation of European Union Geo-Political
1995 Reengineering of Business Processes Management Theory
1995 Interconnected Global Telecommunications Technology
1995 PC’s Become Ubiquitous Technology
1996 Commercialization of the World Wide Web Technology
1997 Advent of eCommerce Technology
1999 Downsizing and Layoffs Economic
2001 Intensification of Terrorism Geo-Political
2004 Implementation of Outsourcing/Off-Shoring Management Theory
2006 Mainstreaming of Smartphones Technology
2007 Dawn of Social Media Technology
2008 Onset of Global Recession Economic
2010 Standardization of Virtual Workforce Management Theory
2011 Introduction of Arab Spring Geo-Political
2012 Escalation of Cloud Computing Technology
2015 Collapse of Crude Oil Prices Economic

Which of these global shockwaves have impacted you and your business the most?

During a visit to Karachi, Pakistan last fall, we were able to spend a day with 130 of the top business, academic, and government leaders in the greater Karachi region. Before showing our participants The Global Shockwave 20 list, we asked them to break up into table teams and identify shockwaves that have had a particularly strong impact on the Pakistani business environment. Our goal was to see if shockwave impact could vary by global region.

Our Pakistani friends suggested shockwaves such as 9/11, oil prices, Arab Spring, regional conflicts, and terrorism had been the largest impact. These are mostly from the Geo-political and Economic categories, whereas the western world feels the greatest disruption from New Technologies, Management Theory, and Global Competition. This answered our question as to how different global regions might experience each of the 20 Global Shockwaves differently.

It goes without saying that disruption is here to stay. And disruption and turbulence will only strengthen. Think of it as simply a cost of doing business in today’s digital economy.

Great leadership teams will recognize this and schedule strategic work into their schedules to 1) scan the environment; 2) identify potential disruptive flash floods; and 3) plan proactive, strategic, and disruptive responses. This will help ensure that unannounced global shockwaves rarely sweep them down the river to irrelevance and failure.

A powerful Age of Disruption principle is this: if leaders focus on the organization’s strategic work (building unique competitive advantage) instead of daily business essential and compliance work that should be delegated, significant breakthroughs are much more likely to happen.

This is true 21st century leadership.