Would You Let Your Gut Speak – In the Corporate World?

By Jackie Yun

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy www.pixelperfectdigital.com via Darren Hester

“I’ve been mandated to shut down the office by next June, after we deliver on our key project this upcoming April”.

All eyes quickly turned my way.  It was as quick as a door slamming shut and I hoped that wasn’t what it would portend.  I knew conventional wisdom would not have approved of what I had just said.  Our HR Generalist’s shocked reaction re-confirmed that.  Instead, I had taken my direction from my gut.  Would my team walk out and make an already terrible project situation disastrous?

Was the Gut Wrong?

I had just inherited the Austin Technology Center (ATC) and this was my first all-hands-all-staff meeting with the ATC.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost overruns and repeated schedule delays had plagued the ATC’s project.  Our customers were terribly unhappy.  High dollar penalties (possibly in the millions!) would be incurred if quality and schedule were not met.  Even our support groups grumbled about the ATC and said that we were “rogue”.

My gut had a felt-sense that the staff at the ATC wanted and would appreciate the truth.  They were extremely savvy and smart, very knowledgeable about the latest technologies, and quite entrepreneurial.  This project could be turned around and perhaps (although I had no guarantees), our CIO and our President’s minds could be changed about the shutdown ~ but only if the ATC wanted that.

Incredibly, the Gut was right. They did!!

So due to a gut feeling, we were now together on an entirely different journey.  And the first step called for some self-assessment.

Gutting It Out by Stopping, Keeping, and Starting

Until we asked, I don’t think the ATC knew to what extent their outright battle against using the Corporate Problem Tracking System had on the ATC being able to work with Corporate.  Once the ATC stopped the battle (tabling it with plans to suggest improvements at a later date),  conversations moved forward, opportunities opened up.

Stopping this one action helped the ATC to chip away at their reputation for being “rogue”.  Stopping the ATC’s opinionated technical banter and eliminating their un-corporate dress code of shorts and flip-flops would help, too.  But, this was part of their dot.com DNA and spoke to who they are.  Could we keep our DNA intact yet start getting people to see the “good” in our “rogue”?

With the ATC’s unique knowledge set, we focused on becoming a Center of Excellence.  We also touted the ATC’s satellite office culture as a place within our company to re-charge, re-energize.  We gave authenticity to our “we do whatever it takes” attitude and took on projects that no other division wanted.  We looked for opportunities to help.  When our sister division, which supports our company’s core systems, needed people resources; we volunteered to provide “in-sourcing”, even subjecting ourselves to being interviewed.  We started to reach out and not be so insular.  Many other actions were taken, including those to specifically address the project situation.

Unknowingly, what we had been doing was a variation of the Stop-Keep-Start Feedback Method (Read more here:  http://blogs.hbr.org/hbsfaculty/2011/08/three-questions-for-effective-feedback.html).  Asking ourselves, our peers, our customers and our executives: “What should we STOP doing? What should we KEEP doing? What should we START doing?”, gave us practical insights that we used.  It got us to a better place.

That April, the project was finally completed; not the prettiest of implementations but it got done.  The June shutdown was averted and we were on our way to becoming an integral part of the company and would be so for another six years.

A Few Final Gut-felt Words:

S. Chris Edmonds (@scedmonds on Twitter) tweeted a keen observation about leaders that resonates with me:

Too often a leader’s HEAD doesn’t always act upon what is in that leader’s HEART”.  To this, I would add — “and Gut”.

I encourage you to let your gut and heart speak; even in, or maybe especially in a corporate environment.  Magic can and will happen!

To Will and all of you who read and engage on Will’s blog, a heartfelt and gut-felt thank you for giving me of your time.  I’d love to hear how you feel about the gut and heart in the corporate world.  Do tell me if there’s been a time when you let them lead instead of your head.  If you’re curious about how to encourage your gut and heart to speak and for you to hear them, spend a few moments at the end of day and ask yourself: “Would the decisions I made today be any different if the gut and heart were involved?”.  Put your response down on paper and review at the end of two weeks.  You may be surprised at what you hear.

 

For more information about Jackie Yun, follow her at https://twitter.com/JackieYunTweets or connect with her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackieyun  @JackieYunTweets

 

Customer Service – Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Will Lukang, MBA, PMP, MASCL, CSM

In this economic situation companies have a tendency to focus on cutting back and reducing expenses to make their business profitable.   But there is a saying “penny wise, pound foolish”.  While it looks like you’re making progress by seeing incremental expense reduction, you could be missing the big picture, which is what your company’s value proposition is – what  your company is all about.

 

This week I witnessed this first hand while a friend of mine dropped off his car for service.  The customer representative at the counter for loaner cars asked him which insurance company he has.  Upon hearing the name of the insurance company, the customer representative says, “I’m afraid that I cannot provide you with our loaner car, but we can provide you a Budget rental car and you have to pay for the insurance.” I was surprised by what just transpired because the purpose of the loaner car is to let your customer experience driving the newer cars, thereby eliciting interest to possibly make a future purchase.   The representative explained that they had an issue with the insurance company that led to their decision. The insurance is $36 per day.  From my perspective, for such an amount, they decided to sacrifice the client experience and took away the opportunity for the client to drive one of their vehicles.

 

As I returned to work, I pondered on what just transpired that led to that outcome. My friend was not happy with what happened; he felt that loaner service is one of the conveniences that people expect.   For $36, how many customers had a bad customer experience?  Once a customer has a bad experience, there is chance that they will not make any future purchases.    Therefore, is the $36 cost worth losing your customer?   In my opinion the company was being penny wise but pound foolish.   In fact, they’re missing the big picture as to why they are in business. They describe themselves as a luxury line of product, but they don’t provide the level of service commensurate to the image they’re presenting.

 

From a customer-service standpoint, it is important that we make the most of every opportunity we have when dealing with our customers.  We need to ensure that the customer comes away feeling good about how they are treated.   If they are treated well, it increases the chance of repeat business.  

 

That experience taught me one thing.   We need to deliver what we promised.  Each touch-point with our customer is an opportunity to impress upon them that we are here for them.   It is essential to do our best to make sure their needs are addressed and they come away satisfied.