Let’s get rid of track changes!

Some of you might still remember Clippy, also known as the most annoying office assistant ( Clippy died with a new version of MS Office. Time for a new ‘less is more’ in office software: Let’s get rid of ‘Track changes’.

Let’s be honest, track changes is about the past. Literary: it shows the past, it is about control, it’s about showing off (“yes, I’ve added something to this”) or getting away from your responsibility (“this document is created by everybody”).

Track Changes comes from a linear world where people work on a document in a linear way: I write something, you add things, a boss reviews and changes things back to the original state (without even realising it is a step back), and you and up with a ‘compromis-à-la-Belge’. This can be good in political situations, but is often the worst option in texts (whether it is copywriting for a customer or an internal document stating requirements for your next product). It lacks cohesion, passion and vision.

And yes, it always looks like a complete mess!

Things aren’t linear: you work on something in parallel. You get input from various people, but you should take responsibility for delivering a good text, not a bunch of rubbish where everybody recognises a little bit, but nobody is really happy (let alone feels enthusiast).

Today’s world is about creating ideas together (in real time), but taking responsibility (yeah, you!) in delivering the end result to the customer, the world,…

Happy writing!

Customer Experience in healthcare.

General practitioners (at least the ‘huisartsen’ in Belgium) do business like they did 60 years ago. In fact, they don’t do business at all. The just do ‘diagnostics’. The thing is, when you feel ill, you don’t need to be diagnosed. You want to get better. And even more: the journey to become better should not make you even more sick…

How things go today (real life example):

I have injured my feet (the bed is stronger than my feet apparently ;-)). Nothing to bad, but I want to make sure it’s not broken or will heal badly. So I call my doctor for an appointment (my doctor only works on appointment). I am lucky and get an appointment today at 11:15. Upon arrival, I find out there are road works, so I need to find a parking spot some streets further. No big deal; but I hate being late and need to hurry (with a injured foot remember ;-)). When I arrive in the waiting room, there are 4 people still there… I already get the creeps…

Because I was under the impression I had a fixed slot (for me, that’s what an appointment is), I have planned other appointments after my doctor visit. Almost one hour later, when somebody is going in, I ask the doctor I am in his agenda… He apologises for the delay but confirms I’m in his agenda -after the one heading in now.

More than one hour later, when I come out … of course the pharmacy is closed because of the delay, so no healing for me today.

I know, things can happen: doctors can have urgencies (and we all hope they drop everything than and go to the rescue), but this happens all the time. And it’s because doctors don’t look at the customer journey of their patients. Information sharing, planning for delight, segmenting customers (I don’t want a social talk, I want it fast and good, whilst others really value a social talk),… All these things that can create a far better patient experience, a better doctor experience and better health overall.


Which general practitioners want to re-design their process? I would love to help!

Storytelling is the only telling.

There is no more telling:

… how things were 10 years ago. Because nobody cares, for the simple reason things don’t work that way any more.

… telling how to do a job. Because there is an infinite number of ways to get something done these days.

… how the threat your customers. Because the only way in this transparent world is with respect.

… what the future will bring. Because the only thing that’s for sure is that it will be different than today (and that’s a good thing).

… how to convince another human being. Because with information overload, the only thing that still matters is a story that inspires people.

Let’s create a story together!

Got inspired for this post after looking at Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk 


Creating your organisation around the customers you have or the ones you want?

Why is it that most processes in companies are build to what I would call: ’mitigate the negative behaviour of bad customers’??

Let me explain this one. You all know these scenario’s: Before somebody can become a customer, she has to pass a complicated credit scoring system. This system is build not to help identify the ‘good’ customers, but to weed out the ‘bad’ ones; We set up control mechanisms, so customers can not combine 2 types of promo; You let them sign a 10 page contract; We make huge costs to divert customers to an online portal not because they have 24/7 access, but because it is cheaper than connecting them to a call agent. We have huge disclaimers to avoid complaints, refined dunning processes to get the money back from non-paying customers, triple identification,…

The problem with this is, that the majority of your customers are not trying to screw you. So you end up with a customer experience that is designed to rule out surprises for your company coming from 5% of your customers, but causes huge delays, frustration, waiting periods,… for the 95% of your good customers.

Result: huge loss of money, your good customers don’t feel threaded as they should and your organisation ultimately becomes build around fear and ways to avoid issues instead of creating added value.

What customers do you want to work for every day?

Making a complex world complicated?

Reading ‘Reinventing organizations’, I stumbled upon a remark by Jean-François Zobrist (FAVI) between the difference between Complicated systems and Complex systems.

Although the difference is quite straightforward when you think about it, we often tend to mix them up with a huge impact on business.

Let me use the metaphor used by Zobrist to explain the difference:
An airplane is a complicated system. There are millions of parts that need to work together seamlessly. But everything can be mapped out: if you change one part, you should be able to predict all the consequences.
A bowl of spaghetti is a complex system. Even though it has just a few dozen “parts”, it is virtually impossible to predict what will happen when you pull at the end of a strand of spaghetti that sticks out of the bowl.

Now what is the impact on business you say?

A lot of businesses are organized to cope with complicated systems. When we talk about complicated systems, we talk about ‘predict & control’. Organizations that are build to predict the future, to create an upfront strategy, to allocate budgets based on this strategy & to follow up KPI’s and the budget by committees and controllers on the road to the predefined goal.
Nothing wrong with that if you are indeed working in a complicated system.
Everything changes when you are operating in a complex system, with lot’s of uncertainty in the ecosphere and within your company. Predict & control proves to be a really bad way of acting in these systems. Evidence points towards a more ‘sense & respond’ way of working in these systems.

Which system do you think your business is really in? And how is your business adapted to it??

An economical system to kickstart purposeful innovation.

There are many kinds of innovation: You have large companies that successfully innovate by creating new products that actually bring value to customers and you have success stories of entrepreneurs building the ‘next big thing’ starting only from a good idea and a lot of stamina.

But the number of innovation stories could be much higher. What is holding us back?

For large companies?

These kind of innovations work because they are supported by a solid company with a belief in a new service and the financial power to back the investment up with large amounts of cash. Of course, for large companies, this belief is linked to the prospect of making profit out of these new products or services. Here we tackle a first limitation: Innovation in large companies will always be less destructive, as shareholders, executives, unions, employees,… will always need to make sure there is some short (or at best medium-) term payback. But the biggest problem probably comes from the fact that these companies always need to take good care that they can capture (a part) of the value they generate with these innovations. And this is where reality kicks in, because companies have an existing value extracting system: a distribution model, competences, physical presence, processes,… that needs also needs to be able to capture the newly created value. If the existing system also needs to be rebuild, not one innovation will have a valid business case.

For startups?

We probably all love this kind of innovation stories, but the thing is that 99% of them has only a limited impact on society as a whole (they are very regional, only focus only a very specific niche, are limited in terms of channels (most of them are online only, so the chance they are reaching a lot of persons over the age of 70 is rather small)). As startups don’t have the size of a large company, they are focussing on the product, without having the market power to leverage the value towards a large base of society.

Now what what would happen if we could combine both? Suppose there would exist a system that would create an economic incentive for large companies and thus for the people working in those large companies to stimulate innovation even if it could not be captured directly by the company. Suppose I am working for an energy supplier* and we would have found a way to make invoicing 50% more easy, less cumbersome,… It works for us and we are confident it could bring value to a lot of companies & citizens in the country. But we know it’s not our core business, and we probably will not be the company that can make money out of it. As a consequence, nothing will happen. But what if there would be some kind of remuneration for this system if it’s developed more broadly and actually can be used by other companies? The solution will then be developed further and society as a whole will be better, won’t it?

Which kind of system do you think will work? A government that generates funding for this, the creation of a platform at country level to sort of crowd fund these ideas,…? Or am I just a dreamer?

Happy dreaming!

*Full disclose: I am working for an energy supplier 😉

Data is overrated in strategy & underused in value creation.

Odds are that you invest a lot of time & people (or money on strategy consultants) to dig into historical datasets, in order to craft a great strategy. Nothing wrong with defining where to put your money & effort in the coming years based on objective figures you say? No it’s not. But what happens a lot in reality is that these figures are more used to ‘prove’ that the strategy that already has been chosen is the right one. And then there is the main question: do you really believe that the past is a good reference for the future (your +3 year plan) ? Forget about innovation when you go for this approach!

On the other hand, when companies shift to the delivery part, they seem to forget that here customer behaviour is a good proxy for new customer behaviour. This is due to the fact that all other variable are much more stable because they occur at the same time: You offer the same products, your customer base operates under the same economical conditions, your competition base is constant,…

So stop over-proving your strategy with analysis and put your bright data-analysts & managers on customer data analysis for ‘run’ purposes.
Nice extra : these effort will start having an impact on your bottom line today, instead of in 3 year.

2015 Work resolutions

Yes, that time of year, so let’s look forward!

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Share more

Yes, that is primarily with you out there! Colleagues, blog readers, friends. Not because sharing is caring, but because sharing is a gift (of which the value is being defined by the receiver and not the one that gives it btw), so I’ll refrain myself from asking myself to much the question: is this relevant?! It’s up to you to decide on that one.

Doodle/sketchnote: practice practice

Inspired by my friend Nele from london linger & the great book from Mike Rodhe. Yes! Visual is the way to focus your brain on the main message & learnings.

As a little extra: don’t worry about making mistakes, drawing in non-erasable inkt,… : Practice makes perfect and you can always say Sorry afterwards, start over or just ignore your mistakes altogether.

Put your name on it!

Putting your name on it makes it personal. It’s not about taking credit (sometimes it should be!), but about putting your heart into it and taking responsibility for the results. Of your work, of your dreams, of your ideas,… Fully agree with Seth Godin.

Don’t RUN, move with a quick pace!

At work that is. If you are late: deal with it.

Keep up the willingness to LEARN.

I believe the willingness and ability to learn new skills quickly might be my most valuable competence. So let’s focus on the things I’m good in to make the difference (instead of putting to much time and effort in those ‘development points’).

Look people more in the eye.

Apparently, it helps to show confidence 😉

Here we go, up to a great 2015!


Extra:  The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To New Year’s Resolutions

7 habits of highly effective people: 7 learnings in 1 visual.

I am a firm believer of getting inspiration from books. They have a lot of advantages compared to other forms of learning:

  • They are cheap – For the price of one class-room or in-house training, you can buy books for the rest of your professional career.
  • You can easily pass them on (And share your thoughts on them).
  • You can skip parts (You know the feeling when you are in a classroom training and the first 3 hours are on topics you already know a lot about).
  • You can access them everywhere (hey, I’m living in a country with Blackout potential ;-)).
  • They typically go more in-dept than blog-posts.
  • But off course, you need to remember what is in there, so sometimes you need a quick recap of knowledge. That’s why doodling the main learnings of a book can come in handy.

My latest one is an old one: The 7 habits of highly effective people (by Stephen R. Covey). Down in one image!

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