Trusted Advisor; Who’s Yours?

Trusted Advisor; Who’s Yours?

Trusted Advisor; Who’s yours?

There is a good chance, that whilst you are reading this, you are simultaneously grappling with a problem or challenge at work; in extreme cases, more full-on wrestling match than a playground scuffle.

Maybe you’ve got a team that are not executing activities in the way you wish they would.

Or perhaps you have a strategy that you need people to get behind but it’s not packing the punch you would like it to.

It may be something completely different, but whatever it is, wouldn’t it be great to have someone in your corner whilst you’re doing the wrestling. Someone to act as a sounding board. Another set of ears. Someone who you can bounce ideas around with.

What about identifying a trusted advisor?

 

This might be a work colleague you get on particularly well with or someone you’ve worked with in the past that you have built up a trusting relationship with, who you know you can speak openly to.

It might be an external partner, with the emphasis on the external, ensuring they do not know or are affected by the cultural morés of the organization.

Someone you have worked with a lot and you know will always go out of their way to help you come up with ideas or solutions.

We have written about trust before; specifically the trust equation. It’s a fabulous model, and in our experience describes trust accurately. The reason for writing about it again now is a conversation we had last week with a client.

The Trust Equation

Being a Trusted Advisor

 

We are involved in a long running programme, helping this particular organisation land a corporate strategy; ensuring its various component parts come to life for people, in a way that means they feel compelled to change how they work.

There are many different pieces of this puzzle, but the ultimate objective is a significant shift in ways of working.

Moving from a traditional decision-making process to something much more agile and fluid. Whilst working on this programme we have very much become ‘the trusted advisor’. We are the people that are on every call, the people providing research and ideas for analogies to use, ways to craft the narrative and activities to help people ‘feel’ what agile is.

We have identified and filled gaps. We have co-ordinated with a range of other providers to ensure the whole thing comes together seamlessly. We have pushed back when we think there is a risk of falling back into ‘corporate’ rather than sticking to the preferred human-first design principles. It might not be tangible. It might be a ‘feeling’

Trying to make all of this work tangible for everyone is very difficult. We have no set methodology at the beginning; no templates or off the shelf set-pieces and no flashy report at the end either. We don’t ‘know’ how to do this, but we are willing to commit everything we do know to finding the right path. What there is however, is a feeling.

  • A feeling from the client that they are delivering a program significantly different and more challenging than they would have done without us.
  • A feeling that their thinking has been moved forward because of our involvement and ideas.
  • A feeling of confidence in what they are delivering as they know it has been robustly tested with a group of people that they trust.

It’s hard to quantify and put a price on that feeling. However this quote from the client goes some way to expressing the difference having a trusted advisor has…

“Before we start the call, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I don’t think everyone realises how hard you work at creativity, because you make it seem so easy. I just wanted you to know how much I trust your judgement and it makes such a difference”

Of course, trust goes both ways and although we won’t name our lovely client here, I’m sure she will recognize herself in the story. It was a wonderful feeling to be thanked in that way and a good reminder to us to do the same with our trusted partners. We have faith that she will listen to our ideas, take them seriously and implement those that really land the messages.

She isn’t afraid either to give us feedback, like a trusted advisor needs sometimes, and let us know when we’ve gone down a creative rabbit hole, pushed an idea too hard or simply come up with one that doesn’t fly!

Asking for help

 

Ultimately, finding a trusted advisor can be a real boon to your personal and professional life, but it will only work, if you are prepared to give time to build that relationship. The first step is always asking for help. If you are in the wrestling ring today, make sure someone is in the corner with you and if there isn’t, then ask for help now.

If you don’t know who your trusted advisor might be, well drop us a line – it might be us and if it isn’t, we might know someone else who could be 😊



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Getting people to care about cyber security.

Getting people to care about cyber security.

Cyber security is a very real threat. What can you do to raise awareness in your workplace?

They do say that science fiction is a guide to the future. The imagination of Jules Verne, HG Wells and Arthur C. Clarke created a whole host of technological inventions we now take for granted. But, for many of those who hid behind the sofa when the Dr Who theme music played, there is a more ominous invention, that poses a real threat today, ‘Cybermen’!

Since 1966, the famed BBC Time Lord has been trying to warn us about the need for cyber security. Now in fairness, we don’t seem as yet to be facing the menacing creatures as envisaged by the programme makers, but cyber-criminals are real and very likely, mostly men. They may not look like their tv counterparts, but there is a real urgency to raise awareness of cyber-crime.

Organisations both large and small are being forced to consider their approach to Cyber Security. The risks, both financially and reputationally of being the victim of a cyber attack are simply too high to ignore. 

Even with the risks and impacts fully understood, employees are often not seeing their role in protecting the organisation against such risks. Much like safety, cyber awareness needs to be adopted as a cultural shift. Aiming to create the same attitude about walking down the stairs without holding the handrail to using a personal USB drive. 

If there is a need in your organisation to educate large numbers of people as to their role in protecting the business, then a recent experience of ours might provide you with some insight into how that can be achieved. 

We have been working with a client to help them bring Cyber Awareness to life. Although only at the beginning of this journey, this initial group were critical as they are leaders in the manufacturing part of the organisation so the first line of defence when it comes to keeping operations moving.

Move away from the technical

It is likely that only a handful of people care, or even understand the joys of anti-virus protection, firewalls and cloud-based monitoring. Focus on what they will care about – that the right people are looking after the right things and their role is to not add any other risks into the system.

Focus on the behavioural

Even with the best technology in the world, humans are still the biggest threat and the best protection. Use everyday examples to illustrate their role. Clicking links in suspicious emails, not checking payment details in person or leaving laptops in cars. Most people will have done all of these things without thinking about it so examples like this will make it all the more real.

Make it engaging

You would expect us to say this but there is so much scope to make this topic more fun and capture attention – Super Hero’s, Villain’s, Characters to explain the key risks, all lend themselves to being part of a cyber awareness campaign.

Reflect back on the successes of building a safety culture

Many organisations now have safety so well embedded in their culture that it is easy to forget how that happened. What worked in that case and how can the same principles be applied to cyber?

Make it personal

Like safety, there are impacts for people on their personal lives when it comes to being cybersafe. How can your organisation provide tools, information and advice which will help people both at work and at home? Kits to support conversation with children? Advice on anti-virus protection for home computers? All of this helps to provide valuable advice for people whilst achieving the goals of the organisation.

So, while for some of us, the anticipation of the new Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, taking on the Cybermen is fraught with childhood nightmares, we would all be better off focusing on the real cyber criminals, who are far from fiction and waging war on our planet right now.

If you’d like to know more about how Purple Monster can help bring your cyber-security messages to life then get in touch with Danielle on danielle@purplemonster.co.uk.

In the meantime, those of you with too much time on your hands can answer this quiz question:

Which Monster team member appeared in Doctor Who? Answers on a cyber-postcard to info@purplemonster.co.uk.



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How powerful is purpose?

How powerful is purpose?

What do we mean by purpose? And how can we benefit from it?

In recent years there have been many examples of people with strong purpose effecting change. Ones that come to mind immediately include the Scottish Referendum, Brexit, the MeToo movement and the Florida Parkland School students, lobbying for changes to gun laws in the US. Whether you agree with their purpose or not, it is impossible not to notice the results.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most powerful current example is the single-minded campaigning of Greta Thunberg for climate change, who surely epitomises what a clear purpose can achieve. Her recent tweets show the focus on her cause.

Her purpose is clear, and it overrides every other consideration in her mind. It’s been effective enough to convince two governments to date, to declare a state of climate emergency. Not bad for a 16 year-old student.

Purpose is referenced in business all the time. It’s clear that many institutional investors are no longer satisfied with organizations having the sole purpose of a financial return to shareholders, especially at the expense of the environment. Your purpose also must be a force for good in society in some way, however small. Social media has created a powerful lobby and company’s intentions and actions are constantly being scrutinized, so apart from anything else, it makes economic sense to closely question the purpose of your organization.

At a recent conference we had the opportunity to listen to Haley Rushing from the The Purpose Institute – the acknowledged leaders in the field of corporate purpose. She shared the United Airlines case study, amongst many others, and why the purpose of giving people ‘the freedom to fly’ is so much more powerful than being a low-cost airline.

Real purpose has social impact at heart.

 

 

 

It also helps that the language is thoughtful and powerful – the phrase the late, lamented charismatic leader Herb Kelleher used was “democratize the skies”. Poetic purpose!

Whilst hoping that you may already have found some of this article interesting, we can hear you shouting “GREAT. WHAT’S IT GOT TO DO WITH ME??!!” Fair enough. We hear you.

Whilst it’s possible for anyone to influence the company’s greater purpose, it’s unlikely to be at the top of your to do list today. But whatever project, programme or activity you are undertaking, it really is worth starting with the purpose. Ask yourself two simple questions.

1. Is there a clear purpose to the work we are undertaking?

2. Is there a social benefit beyond the economic or organizational goal?

This doesn’t have to be a planet-saving Thunberg level benefit, but is it going to help people in some way? Does it go beyond economic benefit, and will it bear scrutiny if at a later point someone asks why money and time was being spent on it?

More often than not, the origin of projects and programmes are lost somewhere in the establishing of steering groups, streams of work and levels of governance. We have been charged with engaging hundreds of people in change programmes in the past and when we asked the simple question, ‘Why are you doing this? What’s the purpose?’, there really wasn’t a simple answer.

In one particularly bad example, we declined to continue working on a project, because the real answer to the question was ‘To paper over the cracks and make it look like we’re listening’. We’re not purpose experts, but like most humans, we can smell a rat.

After working with Haley, we were very taken with the idea of re-examining our purpose, as we have done consistently over the years . When undertaking your next project, or perhaps now you’re in the middle of it, consider these four things.

· Keep it simple. Don’t try to make the purpose cover everything
· Be specific and avoid woolly platitudes. E.g. “make your lives easier”
· Don’t say something it isn’t. You’ll get found out.
· Fully commit to the purpose and don’t compromise.

Purpose is not a one and done thing, but we are very clear about ours. It is to ‘bring content to life’.

We have a sub-set of having fun doing it, but we remain true to this in everything we do.

When purpose is right it’s powerful.

World leaders meeting with a 14 yr old is a pretty good proof point. You should be able to convince people at every level around you that you have a solid purpose and if you can’t, well then take another look.

Alternatively, call us, and we’ll take a look. 



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Avoiding ‘average’ communications

Avoiding ‘average’ communications

Are your communication efforts ‘average’?

Getting communications right is tricky.

Some people want visuals, some want detail, others just a quick note to let them know they’re included, but whatever the communications message to be imparted, it is terribly tempting to ‘just get some comms out’.

We know everyone is busy and they really are, but just taking a little bit of care and time over important messages will bear fruit in the end. So, what do we mean by ‘average’ communications?

Presenting long PowerPoint decks, reverting to the ‘norm’ for leadership conferences, standard talking heads videos or cramming town-halls with loads of content which simply ‘must’ be rolled out. Come on…. That’s just taking the easiest path to getting messages out there with little regard as to how they’ll be received. So why does it happen?

Unintentional lack of awareness

The author/presenter genuinely believes that telling people stuff will mean that it has been fully understood and internalized.

Unwillingness to put the effort in

You’re busy, so the quickest way to ‘get stuff out there’ is to take the path of least effort – normally slide decks of bullet points.

The perception of ‘silliness’

Anything that moves away from the hard content is perceived to be silly, wasteful or indulgent. The serious business-like way is seen to be serious business content.

Risk aversion

Standard communications are seen as the least risky approach. No-one ever got fired for presenting a content heavy slide deck so it’s probably best to take the comfortable and safe option.

The problem with average communication though is the wasted effort, budget and opportunity that organisations are paying for every day. How many times are messages communicated in conferences, town-halls, emails, even training programmes which you could classify as ‘average’? Not enough care being taken to how that message can be brought to life and therefore it’s unlikely to be remembered or acted upon.

How much is this costing the organisation? Not only in budgetary terms (spending money on communication and engagement efforts that are likely to be ineffective) but also the opportunity costs; opportunities to increase productivity, drive a cultural shift or change ways of working.
Here are some ways you can avoid the average communications trap:

1. Get to the essence of the message – what is the one really important point?

2. Use visuals – they are easily understood and can convey multiple messages in seconds.

3. Be surprising – Average communicators breed average communicatees. (Is that a word? No? Well just go with it – we’re being surprising! Ed.) If people expect to be talked at for 45 minutes then they’ll mentally prepare themselves to not listen for 42. Add an element of surprise to get people hooked in quickly.

4. Get people involved – let people interact with your content – run exercises, activities and games to create interest and involvement. It just helps people to connect to the point you are trying to make.

5. Avoid being ‘corporate’ – Business is serious, but it needn’t be dull. By making communication more relaxed and friendly, then people will feel able to engage on a more human level.

 

 

  

If you want more advice as to how to bring messages to life you might find this article helpful. 

An example of what not being average looks like…

Purple Monster are currently working with a client to help roll out a global programme about Cyber-Security in a manufacturing setting. It’s technical, complicated and full of IT information that is critically important but also difficult for engineering staff to understand as it isn’t their area of expertise.

This organisation wanted us to help them translate their cyber-security content into a series of workshops focused on the key benefit for the engineering teams. So we created a picture of a manufacturing plant including making invisible cyber threats visible.

Activities have been designed to interact with the picture. Where technical content is required then it has been drafted into an overall ‘flow’ which makes all the sessions hang together and the key messages reinforced throughout.  

For the relatively small outlay of our involvement, this global engineering function are now much more likely to not only understand the importance of being cyber vigilant but what they need to do in order to protect their plant. This enhanced knowledge could ultimately prevent shut-downs costing millions of pounds. All by this organisation choosing to not fall into the average comms trap.

Don't go for average!

We are experts in bringing creative and ‘different’ approaches to corporate communications and engagement.  



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Making your engagement efforts scalable

Making your engagement efforts scalable

Creating an engaging and interactive ‘workshop-in-a-box’ communications approach

An observation in Monster Towers at the moment, is how many times per week Danielle writes the following phrases in project scope documents – ‘we will develop a compelling corporate narrative’ and ‘we will design and create a visually engaging and content rich workshop in a box’

We shared with you previously, here, some steps and ideas around the first so now we will explore the second.

Why workshop-in-a-box?

The need to connect and engage people face to face is still strong. Even in a digital world there is still a desire for live interaction, as an opportunity to discuss as a group and to build relationships.

But with tighter budgets and globally dispersed employees, conducting centrally held face to face sessions is not always possible. A viable alternative is needed – combining the power of face to face interaction with the consistency and impact of centrally run events.

A workshop-in-a-box is this alternative.

What is a workshop-in-a-box?

It really is what it says on the box. A pack containing everything needed to run an engaging, interactive workshop. This usually includes:

  • A visual focus point 

Normally an illustrated version of the vision or strategy or a different visual representation of a new process or way of working. Whatever it is, this central visual provides a comprehensive focus point for the discussion. The more engaging, visually compelling and interesting it is, the more likely it is that people will spend time exploring and discussing the key messages.

  • Facilitator guide

This helps anyone facilitating the session to do so in an engaging and consistent way. Containing information not only on the subject matter but also tips on how to set up the room, how to ask open questions and what to do with the outputs. This helps to drive both consistency in messaging but also provides support to people who might be nervous or inexperienced in hosting such discussions.

  • Output templates

Most workshops lead to the development of outputs, be they commitments, action plans or ideas. By providing templates, the messages are more likely to be captured consistently. The added advantage is that these can be transformed into a permanent visual output which can be used on an ongoing basis to remind people of the part they played in the discussion.

  • Question cards

These help the facilitator drive interesting and engaging conversations.

  • Exercise instructions and materials

By designing activities or exercises for people to carry out during the session this will encourage interaction and increase understanding. The pack can contain everything you need to set up and deliver these activities including instructions and any materials.

  • Memory stick loaded with an Introduction video or animation

A good way to ensure that each workshop starts with the same context. Again, the more interesting and engaging this is, the more likely it will capture people’s attention from the start.

Does this approach work?

We are huge fans of big, impactful events in order to bring people together, forge strong relationships and encourage cross functional working but recognise this isn’t always possible. A workshop in a box approach is a very strong substitute. This is what previous workshop in a box attendees said about events they attended.

93% agree it was a good use of time
89% said “the conversation brought to life our objectives and helped me understand them”
92% said “I was encouraged to express my views during the conversation
95% of Managers said the pack has been an effective tool for communicating our Customer Delivery objectives to my team

Why are visuals so important?

Simply put, engaging visuals make content much more interesting. They allow people to discuss, debate and ask questions so much more than a set of PowerPoint slides. An engaging visual helps to physically draw people together, as quite often this is a large printed sheet that allows attendees to gather around and really collaborate. It can also be used following the workshop as a proof point of the involvement of many.

What topics could use this approach?

It could be used for the roll out of a future vision, the cascade of strategic plans and even training material related to technical technology changes. In order to make it a cost-effective solution however, work out how many people need to be communicated to, as the more people that can be involved, the more the cost per person reduces. This usually means communicating strategic or critical messages, collaborative visioning sessions and involving people in new ways of working. Now you could carry out a DIY version for minimum cost as long as it still remains engaging. Just providing a box of printed PowerPoint slides and instructions to read is not going to help your messages land!

So while nobody wants to be put in a box, a workshop in a box doesn’t mind at all. And Danielle won’t mind writing out her favourite sentence all over again!

Got a complex topic you want employees to engage with?

Our visual and creative design team can help you make an impactful, interactive and business relevant workshop. 



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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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