Bringing your culture to life; A best practice example

Bringing your culture to life; A best practice example

Bringing business content to life, such as the company vision, or a strategy or explaining a change in process perhaps, requires a great deal of skill and a level of creative thinking.  

 

However, in all these instances, you are working with something which can be written down, described in words or pictures and is tangible.

But what about if it isn’t tangible? What if it’s your organisational culture you are trying to bring to life? How do you know you have achieved success?

How can you get something so intangible clearly understood by every single person in your organisation? No, scrap that, every single person that encounters your organisation?

Here’s how…

Moneypenny is a phone and live chat answering service based in North Wales who recently hosted an event, sharing ‘Employee Voice’ best practice for the Employee Engagement Alliance.

On arrival at the building, the traditional battle with security – ‘Have you booked a space?’ ‘Can I see some ID?’ was noticeable by its absence. Instead there was a well sign-posted car park, featuring quirky icons for the various zones (a love heart for visitors – cute!)

 

On entering the office, after walking past a giant gorilla, visitors are greeted at a floating reception desk by a casually dressed receptionist who oozed warmth. Not the ‘I’ve been trained to smile like this’ type of warmth but genuine ‘I am really pleased you’re here today’ warmth. 

The décor of the office is funky with a cheeky edge. Sheep on the stairs, giraffes on the landing and a floating shed meeting room. Employee perks were obvious. A pub (called the Dog and Bone – genius) a gym and individually designed wings of the office with themed artwork on the walls. Each employee has a dedicated desk which they can decorate themselves and they all get money to buy a desk lamp of their choice.

Now any company with the cash could design a funky office to rival this, but the the beauty of Moneypenny is that the culture lives in the people; the physical environment, whilst pleasing on the eye, isn’t the point.

The office design is in support of the company culture, not the other way around.

Need help bringing a message to life?

Have you got a message or change you want to ‘bring to life’? Tap into our vast array of creative skills, tools and techniques to help your message land effectively. 

Now any company with the cash could design a funky office to rival this, but the the beauty of Moneypenny is that the culture lives in the people; the physical environment, whilst pleasing on the eye, isn’t the point.

The office design is in support of the company culture, not the other way around.

This isn’t about putting in a ping-pong table and hoping one day someone will use it. Their culture has been around a lot longer than the new building and is based on simple family values. The staff were consulted on the design and it’s fun and friendly, because they are. 

Here’s why

  • People are recruited by attitude rather than skill set. The recruitment process is extensive and focuses on cultural fit above everything else.
  • Teams work closely together and become tight knit so meeting for a drink in the ‘pub’ after work is a pleasure.  
  • Office requirements such as natural light, natural ventilation and lots of social spaces all came directly from employees. Even the footprint of the building was designed specifically to ensure employee desires were realised.
  • Anything less than perfect performance is taken as a reflection of the quality of the leadership, team management or training and not on the individual. If an individual isn’t hitting the targets it’s because they haven’t been supported effectively, not that they are ‘poor performer’.

What these offices have above all else, is warmth. You literally feel it as you walk in.  There is a genuine welcoming, homely feeling to the whole experience.  It’s no accident.

This isn’t about putting a novelty pub in the office hoping people who don’t talk to each other normally will suddenly have the urge to share a pizza on a Friday night.

This isn’t about scrapping annual appraisals in the hope that inadequately trained managers will hold more regular, high quality coaching conversations.

This isn’t about gathering employee views and then ignoring them because there isn’t the budget or because implementing them is just too hard.

This is about fundamentally understanding the culture you want to create, and EVERY SINGLE THING being in line with that culture.  

When a visitor to your office who knows nothing about your company can walk away absolutely clear about what your company does, what it stands for and why it is so successful. Then you know you have brought your company culture to life… and that warm glow stays with you for days.

If you want to bring some creative thinking to challenge your normal approach and help bring your messages to life then get in touch with Danielle on danielle@purplemonster.co.uk. 



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Creating an experience which inspires trust.

Creating an experience which inspires trust.

Our Award Winning (!!) Visual Creator, Alana is getting married this year, and on a recent dress shopping trip was reminded of the importance of building a connection with people in order to build a good relationship.

This week I bought a wedding dress. I am actually getting married, this isn’t one of the random purchases for a Purple Monster event of any kind. And don’t worry, I will not turn the lovely weekly newsletter into a wedding blog…I am not that kind of bride. But what I was interested in was the experience.

 At Purple Monster we are convinced that good experiences come from making good connections. So how was the once in a lifetime wedding dress buying experience for me?

The answer:  very different in two very similar boutiques, (apparently, you have to call them boutiques; turns out wedding etiquette can be complicated). My budget, venue and timescales were all set but my super objective was to find THE dress. I also had some sub objectives like; try on ridiculous dresses, have a go at things out of my comfort zone, feel fancy, feel good, feel relaxed, feel comfortable and have fun!

Boutique one delivered on all of these fronts.

Welcoming – I was immediately offered a seat and given a coffee. Good start. I like coffee.

Friendly– The assistant, Sheeny and I chatted about ourselves, our families and friends and most importantly, what our favourite cheese was. After half an hour I was already showing her pictures of my dog.

Honest– when a dress made me look like a rectangle, she agreed with me that it made me look like a rectangle and offered alternatives.

Respectful – giving my mum and I some time to chat through each dress I tried on and being aware when I needed a bit of space and then chipping in with conversation, opinions and advice.

Attentive – I felt like I had her full attention. Each dress was analysed thoroughly and either in the maybe pile or the no pile. I felt like the only bride in the world!  
Unfortunately, Boutique two didn’t match up. There was no upfront chat, no getting to know me. I was talked over and did not feel listened to. They weren’t disrespectful but I left feeling a little, well, disappointed. – she didn’t even know I had a dog.

Using visual storytelling to build a connection

Alana, along with our team of creative practioners, are able to use a vast toolkit of visual skills and techniques to build a connection with an audience and convey a message with authenticity and a human focus.

Now, I am not for one moment suggesting that buying a wedding dress is the same as being in business but the principles of making good connections is pretty universal right?

We all like to feel like we belong. A warm welcome, be it to a conference, event, meeting or just to your desk in the morning can go a long way to improving someone’s day. (we’ll always make you a coffee when we see you)

Friendly

Humans need humans- we are tribal creatures, full of complex emotions. Taking the time to get to know your fellow people builds familiarity, trust and respect. Any major or minor workplace challenge is a lot easier to approach with a friend to confide in.

Honest

Sometimes it is hard to be honest, especially when it comes to big gnarly issues. But in the workplace, people are a lot better equipped to make decisions and take the best course of action if they know all the facts. Fudging issues just breeds distrust and destroys confidence. (Just don’t tell them that their outfit makes them look like a rectangle…)

Respectful

Give people the time and attention relevant to the situation. Be present and listen to what your colleagues have to say. Respect one another. It is one of the oldest sayings in the book.

Attentive

If you are head down and hard at work, remember once in a while to look up and see what the rest of your team are doing and if you can, support where necessary.


There are many other aspects to creating a good relationship and connection with people but these just stood out for me. Boutique 1 made the whole experience that bit more amazing. The connection built between the assistant and me made the whole experience enjoyable, put me at ease and it gave me confidence that I made the right decision at the end of it all. Sub objectives: achieved. Super objective: Achieved. I’ve got the dress!

Whoever said wedding planning was stressful?

Alana

If you want to help inspire trust in your organisation by creating positive experiences then get in touch with Alana on alana@purplemonster.co.uk. 



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Techniques to bring business content to life

Techniques to bring business content to life

One of the stated aims of Purple Monster and something that we’ve specialized in since the very start of our company, is to ‘bring content to life’. 

 

It’s something we’ve never really had to explain and yet clients and partners alike, absolutely get what it means.  It is a common request when we are preparing conference material, project communications and content for large change or learning programmes. 

“We need to Bring it to life”; to “lift it off the page”. We need this to be “exciting and engaging” and a recent favourite – “The content needs to blow people away.” 

Creativity is our friend when it comes to satisfying this request. Films, theatre, novels and comic books all use similar methods and techniques in order to engage and captivate their audience.

Consider a West End play or a Harry Potter novel. There are commonalities that ensure that the consumer of such experiences are captivated, that the content is remembered for years to come and in the very best instances, perceptions are challenged and a whole new world is visualised as if it were real.

 This all very helpful if you happen to be a Broadway theatre director or a best-selling novelist. What about if you are a leader or manager? What if you want to help employees fully understand your message and be compelled and motivated to take action?

 

If you have messages you want to bring to life consider how to are employing these tried and tested techniques: 

1. Visuals

By using visuals instead of text, messages can be conveyed quicker, people are more likely to remember them and they can help to express a much higher degree of information in a much shorter time/less space. 

This article helps to explain why this is the case. In the business world, an easy application is providing clever, metaphor rich visuals rather than slides and slides of bullet points.  

2. Script editing

The single biggest mistake of business presentations is trying to tell everyone everything.  Theatre and film directors, choose which scenes to show.  They focus on key moments in the story and let the viewer fill in the rest.  

For the sake of your audience, pick up this habit and don’t force your colleagues to grind through 500 pages😊

 

3. Storytelling.

A consistent story that begins, develops and concludes and is simple to follow is a must. You can deviate from the plot of any story, but if you abandon it and meander off somewhere else, you will leave your audience bemused and frustrated.  Know that the red thread of your story is always present.

See this article for the story types that are the most compelling and how they can help to frame a business narrative. 

4. Themes

A strong theme can really enhance how content unfolds.  It is seen by some as a gimmick, but a strong metaphor or analogy, or even a simple mnemonic can help learning to stick.  It might seem trite, but if you are involved in the creation of learning materials, try using ‘curiosity’ or ‘intrigue’ as a theme next time and see how it can enhance both the content and the application.

This wouldn’t be a monster article if it didn’t have a monster story – so here it is.

Quite a number of years ago we were invited to pitch to a well-known airline to enhance their Customer Service.  They asked us to bring the content to life and do something really different when answering their brief. 

We did. 

They were ‘blown away’ (their words) and said that no other company had come near to hitting the brief so perfectly. 

They then awarded the contract to someone else. 

This is the risk with creativity and being different from the norm. It takes a leap of faith and many leaders and organisations are often discouraged from stepping outside of the accepted norm. The saying ‘no-one got fired for hiring IBM’ is fitting in this scenario.

Luckily with the Monsters, you are in creative but safe hands.

Find examples here, of complex content made engaging, funny and memorable!

If you have business messages you want our help on makin engaging, interesting and full of life then the best person to contact is our award winning (!!) Visual Creator – Alana (alana@purplemonster.co.uk



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Making online learning engaging: Lessons from the best online MBA in the world

Making online learning engaging: Lessons from the best online MBA in the world

Warwick Business School (WBS) was ranked as the best online MBA programme in the world in 2018. This week Danielle looks back at the experience of completing her distance learning MBA at WBS and considers how the best practice developed there can be applied to corporate learning programmes.

It was clear to me after spending 3 years on their award-winning MBA, why Warwick Business School has recently achieved their No 1 business school ranking.

Any education institution can achieve the ‘content’ requirements but this focused on the holistic learning experience. The school created an engaging ‘learning ecosystem’ delivered predominantly, but not exclusively online. Below are my key insights for anyone looking to improve an on-line learning offer.

 1. Retain face to face elements.

Although this MBA was online, with global participants, face to face components were still compulsory. The elements that had to be completed on campus simply did not translate to online. They relied on personal interaction, observation, nuances and subtleties which are impossible to replicate in the virtual world.

Impact for corporate training: Don’t assume everything can be delivered online. If the content relies on skill development, requires practise or is abstract, then face to face is most likely your best answer.

 

2. Have engaging presenters/teachers

University lecturers are not selected for their screen presence or ability to entertain an audience, however the modules I actively engaged with, were the ones where the lecturers were engaging personalities. They didn’t just talk through the slides; they shared stories and anecdotes, and provoked interesting discussions. They didn’t shy away from interaction online and created an experience which felt more akin to listening to a radio show or a podcast than a lecture.

Impact for corporate training: Presenting anywhere is a skill, but the skill of presenting effectively online is massively underestimated. It’s incredibly easy to switch off during online learning so make sure the person fronting up the material is engaging.

 

3. Make the content relevant

One module I thoroughly enjoyed was ‘Economics of the Business Environment’. This would not normally be a subject I would be excited about, but I happened to be studying this module at the time of the EU referendum in the UK. Suddenly, the theoretical concepts were being brought to life and reported on daily in the news media.Very helpful!

Impact for corporate training: Don’t keep material in the theoretical. Make it timely and realistic. Encourage interaction with news articles, link content to current affairs and contemporary examples.

 

4. Create a peer-to-peer network

During my first year I spent a lot of time working with my ‘group’ online. We were all keen, but occasionally overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of the material.
After the first year, our group gradually stopped our weekly calls. My results in the second year reflected the fact that I had lost this critical element of my learning.That group brought the material to life. It helped me talk through ideas and linkages. It solved problems I couldn’t figure out on my own and it highlighted gaps in my knowledge that I had to revisit. That network was the difference between me mechanically working through the material versus truly understanding and applying my learning.

Impact for corporate training: Creating a learning network is critical and often completely omitted. Combine learning material and networking to both strengthen the learning process and build working relationships that go well beyond the duration of the training course? 

Interested in building a learning network in your organisation?

5. Don’t stick to the obvious.

One thing I loved about the MBA programme was the range of subjects I could choose. Leadership and the Art of Judgement was one of my favourites; using Shakespeare to examine modern leadership and the concept of ‘Practical Wisdom’. I was also obsessed by the module ‘Economics of Wellbeing’ – the business case behind being happy. Subjects like that gave me a rounded view of the business world and reignited my love of learning for the sake of it, not just because I had to pass a course.

Impact for corporate training: Reward your people with subjects and content that will ignite their passion and draw them into the learning process.

I am pleased and proud of my MBA status, but more than anything, I have a desire to keep learning and to apply that learning in our business. Wouldn’t it be great if learning within corporate settings achieved a similar result?

    Want to improve your online learning engagement ? Drop us a line on danielle@purplemonster.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 1926 311347.



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    Using the element of surprise in leadership conferences.

    Using the element of surprise in leadership conferences.

    After a much appreciated surprise party, Alan considers how surprises in business are often considered to be a bad thing but if used well, they can be an effective weapon against dullness and predictability.

    To celebrate a significant birthday, I was the unsuspecting and somewhat bewildered subject of a surprise party.  A carefully selected group of family and friends were secretly drawn together to spring the ‘surprise!’  

    Due to the secret-agent like skills of my wife, I had absolutely no idea it was about to happen. Not a clue.  The whole evening for me, was a most wonderful, heart-warming and life-affirming experience.  However, I recognize that some people would rather walk over hot coals than be the recipient of such a surprise.

    So what about in business – are surprises always unwelcome?

    The golden rule does seem to be ‘no surprises!’ 

    The most obvious example is costs.  We have been both the guilty party and the victim of serious discrepancies between the quoted estimate and the reality.  Costs can and will change during the life-cycle of a project, but whatever else you do, especially where budget is definitive and tight, always communicate with the interested parties regularly and never put off a difficult conversation because you think it might be easier later.  It won’t.  It never is.  It is always harder.

    Here’s some more examples of unwelcome surprises in business we can think of:

    • People. Changing personnel, at short notice, away from a known and trusted individual.  Unforeseen circumstances can occur, but if you know there is a potential clash looming, be upfront about it and NEVER make something up – you’ll get found out.
    • Capability.  It really isn’t worth saying “Of course we can do that”, when you really can’t.  When you subsequently fail to deliver, you lose all credibility and destroy trust. 
    • Deadlines.  If you’re going to be three weeks late delivering the project, don’t wait until the day before delivery.
    • Mistakes/ Serious issues.  Share them when they happen.  Avoid hearing the phrase “Why wasn’t I told earlier?”

    So, what about welcome surprises, can there be such a thing?  Bearing in mind I like them, here’s what I would advocate.  

    1. The regular meeting.  

    We all know what to expect from the weekly check-in, the finance call, the team brief, the steering group etc.  The next time you attend one, which has become a little stale and uninspiring, be the one to spring a surprise.  Book a harp-player, have someone under 10 make the presentation, hold the meeting at the ice-rink. 

    Now, bear in mind that these are the ideas that popped into my head, but please use ones that pop into yours and always be conscious of the context.  If the meeting is business critical and a decision has to be reached that secures the future of the company, then …it’s not the time to be dressed as Marie-Antoinette. But if it’s a regular meeting that needs pepping up, well, go on then….pep it up.

    2. The annual conference. 

    Shift the thinking and include a surprise.  Again, this might be as simple as replacing a coffee break with vodka jellies (sorry, it’s what popped into my head), but if you are involved in the planning and it looks like conference 101, do everyone a favour and put something unexpected in there.  It is possible to ring the changes, have fun and delight people without offending anyone. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the many airplane safety announcements on You-Tube.  

    The information is still presented, but the audience is engaged, enthused and more than anything, delighted with their surprise. 

    Looking to make an impact at your employee or leadership conference?

    How to use the element of surprise effectively 

    You will always be faced with detractors when you suggest something different, mostly through a fear of possible embarrassment.  But remember this:

    1. Why should predictable and serious have a monopoly on content creation?  Dull is dull and should be avoided.
    2. You will never change anything if you always play it safe and toe the line.  Whilst never being crass or insensitive, just take a risk and plan something surprising.
    I’m delighted to say that for an upcoming conference, we are about to discuss the possibility of delivering some surprises. I do hope that we’ll be able to reproduce the fantastic feeling that I experienced for all the delegates.
    I’ll let you know.

      Want to signal a shift or make an impact at your next event? Drop us a line on danielle@purplemonster.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 1926 311347 and we can bring your ideas to life! 



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