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I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Feb 23 2015 05:44AM

Isn't it amazing how differently we behave when we are doing something that we enjoy? Our energy levels are much higher, our enthusiasm is greater and we are often prepared to go over and above what is required. Whenever people demonstrate that sort of behaviour (without direction, instruction or offer of reward) it is commonly known as goodwill. A simple one word definition of goodwill is 'willingness' or 'free-will'. Willingness and free-will are what we do of our own choosing, not because we need to but because we want to.


People who extend goodwill are not looking for a reward, rather their motivation is one of selflessness, a sense of duty or a desire to help others. A good example of this sort of activity is volunteering, where people give of their time to help others. Another example is the professionalism shown by the person who chooses to stay behind after work, without compensation, to complete a task or meet a deadline. Although goodwill does not anticipate a reward, that does not mean that it goes unnoticed. Acts of goodwill are often recognised and celebrated because they are a testament to the good character and endearing traits that we so admire in others. So how do you create a goodwill economy in your organisation? Well set out below are seven key actions that will help you to build it.


1. Understand and define your organisation's social values

As surprising as it may seem, every organisation exhibits some variation of 'social values' - even organisations that have a profit-making and commercial motive. Those values are likely to be implicit in policy or more likely, the cumulative effects of employee behaviours. For example, an organisation that uses deadlines and targets as a pre-requisite for determining which employees are selected for promotion, will find that competitiveness, between employees, is one of its key 'social values'. Employees in such an organisation are less likely to want to share their skills and knowledge and will see no inherent value in empowering other employees (their likely would-be competitors). By contrast, an organisation where employees choose to collaborate is likely to value the sharing of skills and knowledge as well as the empowerment of others. In such an organisation,


2. Define the social motivators and triggers for social action

In view of the fact that goodwill is a social commodity, it is important to be mindful that people have different triggers and thresholds for engaging in social behaviours. Therefore to define the triggers and thresholds, you need to take steps to understand the behavioural motivators at all levels of the organisational hierarchy. These insights then need to be aligned to the benefits of goodwill in a way that will make sense to those whose behaviour you are seeking to influence. This is particularly important if the intention is to ensure that acts of goodwill are sustainable in the longer-terms, rather than spasmodic.


3. Model the goodwill behaviours

A willingness to do what needs to be done, rather than to wait to be told what to do, can say a lot about an individual. For one thing it is an important measure of 'attitude', because someone who can be relied upon to act on their own initiative demonstrates conscientiousness, awareness and a capacity for self motivation. These characteristics help to establish a person's credibility; but it doesn't end there because with credibility comes confidence, with confidence comes trust and with trust comes influence. Once established, influence is evidence of a strong brand and a strong brand gives you greater spending power in the market-place of opportunity. Goodwill is therefore a dynamic economy all of its own, with the capacity to create meaningful opportunities for those who practice it.


4. Affirm and acknowledge what you value

Any economy needs stimulation. Affirmation and acknowledgement are the means to stimulate the goodwill economy. Let's be clear, affirmation and acknowledgement are not the same thing as 'recognition', which is passive. To affirm or acknowledge is to be 'active'. When a person's behaviour is affirmed or acknowledged, then they feel enthused, encouraged and inspired. They want to do more of the same and are likely to want to inspire others to do the same. Too often, the energy for change dissipates because active steps are not taken to capture and cultivate it. As a consequence, those who would choose to do the right thing begin to question whether the effort is worth their while.


5. Communicate why it is important and why anyone should care

If you want to create a goodwill economy then communication is an absolutely critical part of that. The point about effective communication is two-fold; in the first instance to be impactful, the message needs to be managed and targeted in a way that is personalised. The reason why this is important is that people have different motivators and as such, each individual needs to be able to 'recognise themselves' in the values and benefits that goodwill is able to deliver. In the crudest possible terms, you need to clearly explain how goodwill is going to benefit them if you want them to care about it. The second point to note about communication is that it needs to be consistent. Nothing disrupts and impedes the effectiveness of messaging more than a lack of consistency and fluency.


6. Create irresistible momentum

Irresistible momentum is the intangible urge that moves individuals and groups of people to draw a particular conclusion or to decide upon a particular course of action over another. Irresistible momentum creates the 'tipping point' for change. In other words, if enough people choose to do something, it becomes the acceptable and desirable course of action and over time, the social norm. Of course momentum can be resisted, particularly when alternatives or options are presented that are of equal or greater worth or value. Creating irresistible momentum is therefore predicated on the necessity to frame 'desirability' around the act of goodwill and the benefits that can be derived from it.


7. Wire goodwill into you organisational business system

An organisation's business system is the process, procedures and frameworks through which it achieves its goals and objectives. Any organisation that is genuinely committed to creating a goodwill economy should therefore reflect its aspirations and ambitions in the policies, strategies and plans which structure its operations. In simple terms, that which is codified sets the expectation and that which sets the expectation becomes everybody's business.


In conclusion, creating a goodwill economy is a much more purposeful act than anchoring social principles into an organisation's habits, behaviours and ways of working. Goodwill actually produces tangible benefits in terms of increased productivity and profitability as well. It can also be used as a framework to develop leadership competency and management capability.


By pa360, Jan 26 2015 05:34AM

By definition when something is imperfect, it has fallen short of expectation, not met the required standard or is in some way deficient. However, what is reassuring is that we all start from the same place when it comes to imperfections. For each and everyone of us, there is some obstacle that we cannot hurdle, a challenge we cannot overcome or a blemish that we are desperately to trying conceal. Perhaps even more reassuring is the knowledge that the rubble of imperfections are the building blocks of every brand.


Yes, embracing rather than running away from imperfection is not only what helps to build brands, but can also turn a weak brand into a good brand and a good brand into a great one. But how is that possible? Well here are seven imperfections that are building blocks for the best brands.


1. Re-occurring insecurity

Insecurity has negative connotations as it is often associated with defensiveness, over-anxiety and risk aversion. At a fundamental level however, insecurity simply reflects the need or desire for assurance and anyone who claims not to feel insecure at times, is simply not being honest. In the context of a brand, insecurity can be a very effective counter-weight to the risk of complacency. To the extent that insecurity leads to diligence, responsibility and accountability, then it can play a critical role in building, strengthening and sustaining a brand. Particularly so because, where you start with insecurity, through process of elimination, you should eventually conclude with a greater degree of confidence and a higher level of assurance. The key learning point here is that perpetual or never-ending insecurity is clearly unhealthy as this will eventually lead to paralysis. However, in the right measure and managed in the right way insecurity can help you to achieve better results and a stronger.


2. Repetitive failure

The tragedy of failure is not that it occurs, rather it is that we often run away from the experience of it and leave behind valuable and sometimes critical learning points. In fact, failure is both enriching, energising and empowering. Failure should spur you on to greater curiosity. Failure builds character, in particular the courage to keep going when you would rather give up, the humility to recognise that you do not know it all and the empathy to relate to others who face similar challenges. Failure is a brand builder because it is predicated on the principle of improvement, which is exactly the assumption upon which a strong brand is built. The key learning point here is that whilst it is absolutely true that success shapes the perception of any brand, sustainable success is often the result of repeated failures.


3. Over caution

Many years ago, a senior executive in a public organisation commented to me that: "it is better to get it right, than to get it written". I have never forgotten that statement nor the importance embedded within those words. A simple translation of that comment is that a sub-standard product that is delivered to an agreed deadline is still a sub-standard product. If the point of producing a product or a service is to ensure that the it is 'finished', then it cannot be 'finished' if it is not ready and it will not be ready if it is not right. If you had to choose, would you rather have excellent food that is delivered slightly late or poor quality food delivered on time? Whilst there are times when delay is clearly symptomatic of incompetence and poor planning, very often it is a product of due diligence, accountability and a commitment to customer care (all characteristics of a strong brand). The key learning point here is that there are times when delay is not just understandable, but is actually desirable.


4. Fault-finding

No-one seems to like fault-finders. At best they are considered perfectionists, setting unimaginably and unachievably high standards. At worst they are thought of as nit-pickers, who are prepared to 'cross the road' in order to undermine and second guess for no discernibly good purpose. Whilst there are undoubtedly fault-finders who operate at either end of the spectrum, the truth is that most probably operate somewhere in-between. But here's the rub, in business do you know who your biggest fault-finders are? They are your customers! Yes, the very group of people whose endorsement your brand relies upon. So let's be clear, if you find your own faults then your customers will not have to find them for you.


5. Wilful neglect

Under normal circumstances, an act of wilful neglect is tantamount to gross misconduct and would be enough to get a person fired from their job. For a business, it would likely do irreparable damage to consumer confidence and probably destroy your brand. Under normal circumstances, wilful neglect does not just speak to a lack of due diligence, more so it speaks to a complete dereliction of duty. However, there are circumstances when wilful neglect is actually a prerequisite for a role and a defining characteristic of a brand. Take those serving in the military where the willingness to forfeit ones own life, whilst performing acts of extreme courage in the service of country, comrade and in combat, is an expectation of those who serve. On their own, acts of courage, valour and bravery are the very definition of wilful neglect. Yet, in the context of the right brand, they represent the most desirable characteristics.


6. Stubbornness

Stubbornness is often associated with poor listening skills, arrogance and the inability to build successful relationships. There is nothing redeeming or brandworthy about stubbornness right? Well think of the stance taken by historical figures such as Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst and Martin Luther King. Each of the above, easily meet the definition of stubbornness. Each were committed to their principles and were even subject to ridicule and resentment for their stance. Yes, in the context of branding-building, there are some things that you should not, cannot and must not compromise on. As such, there are times when you will absolutely need to be stubborn, hard-headed and refuse to give ground, if doing so will deliver the outcomes that are critical to your brand.


7. Obsession

Chances are, when you read of the word 'obsession' you immediately think: excess, extremes and even destructiveness. However, context is everything. Are you a fan of the Marvel Universe? One of the things I find fascinating about Marvel fans is how deeply they are invested not just in the product, but in the genre surrounding the product. So much so that they can tell what is and is not canon, whether or not a storyline is continuous or whether a character arc makes sense. By any common definition, the level of commitment and degree of loyalty shown by Marvel fans could be described as 'obsessive'. The point being made here is that in many cases, brand loyalty (the very thing that makes product successful) is a derivative of the 'obsession' that shows that your customers care. As such, if you are not 'obsessed' about your own product or service (ie: fastidious about attention to detail and committed to authentic experience) then do not expect your customers to be either.


In conclusion, a few weeks ago I was reading a fascinating article about the late Apple Chief Executive Officer, Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011. As well as eulogising Mr Jobs' many and varied achievements, the article also drew attention to his perceived weaknesses. To my great surprise, some of the adjectives used to describe him included: bully, rude, manipulative and spiteful. Why does that matter? It matters for two reasons; firstly, whilst none of those behaviours can ever be condoned or accepted, people still achieve great success in-spite of their weaknesses. The second reason why this matters is because one should not assume that imperfection automatically means rejection. If properly contextualised and purposed, some of the most disagreeable characteristics can be the building blocks for the best brands.


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