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Collaboration thru Technology


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In a recent podcast I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Guthridge, the founder of Connect Consulting Group. We discussed Lean, Smart Mobs, Peer to Peer Networks and Crowdsourcing. A lot of ground in thirty minutes. This is a transcription of the podcast, Relationship Building thru Technology

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Collaboration thru Technology

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Relationship Building thru Technology Guest was Liz GuthridgeRelated Podcast: Relationship Building thru Technology Sponsored by Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsLiz Guthridge is a results-oriented, award-winning change leadership coach and consultant with extensive communication experience. I specialize in supporting department leaders of organizations who are introducing complex new initiatives or making other changes that may confuse, disrupt or upset internal stakeholders. Liz provides on-the-job, just-in-time training to staff members, so they can become indispensable go-to change leaders and strategic communication advisors. This meansleaders are able to build capacity and capability to manageconstant change, communicate about it clearly and credibly andensure that new changes stick.Connect Consulting is an independent and specializedmanagement consulting firm focused on clear and crediblechange that sticks. Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in2004 by Liz Guthridge, Connect works with:  Department leaders of organizations who need to introduce complex new initiatives to employees who are confused, angry or in denial about the change.  HR leaders who want to develop greater change skills and experience inside their organizations, so they’ll have internal staff members who can provide strategic counsel and support.  Communication professionals who want to become more strategic in their work, especially so they can provide better counsel and advice to the leaders they support. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Transcription of PodcastJoe Dager: Welcome, everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business901 podcast. With me today is Liz Guthridge. She isthe founder of Connect Consulting Group. She works with leadersof Fortune 1000 and national associations to implement high-riskstrategic initiatives. Her expertise spans into the fields ofemployee communications, research, and change leadership. Liz,I would like to welcome you. The first thing I have to ask you,your byline, "Clear, credible change," how does that apply to yourorganization, Connect Consulting?Liz Guthridge: Great. Well, thank you for having me, Joe, andyes, my byline, I try to role model my byline by being clear andcredible with change. I have to say, though, that these days, Imnot emphasizing the word "change" as much, because everybodyis very change-weary, and we certainly dont like to be managedaround change. Yet, we have to change constantly, and it hasbecome a phrase that I dont like, but its the new normal. Werein an era where everything is under interchange, although thatsnot the best word for it.Joe: Have you just replaced it with something else?Liz: Im talking more about the importance of getting clarity,alignment, and focus in organizations. When you do that, you canbuild unity. We can go faster better, and that will also makeyou... If you start to look for clarity, alignment, and focus, youreshowing more respect to people, which is an important part ofLean, and you’re able to build more credibility and trust, which isso important, because trust is in such a decline in our societythese days.Joe: Well, I connected with you through the Lean world, and Isee that when I look at your website, Lean doesnt jump out atme, how does Lean apply to your work? Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsLiz: Well, Lean is a little bit for me like change. I tend to do thethings in a Lean way, but I dont talk about Lean, just like I donttalk about the word "change" that much. Basically, with me,Lean, the principles are so critical, this idea that you need tofigure out, what is your value? You need to eliminate, andespecially in the communication and change world; thatseliminating clutter, and you need to be always continuouslyimproving. A few years ago, I was working in several very, verydifferent organizations. I was working in one organization helpingthem introduce process thinking as well as Lean, and then I wasworking in a couple of other organizations that were inbankruptcy. All of a sudden, I realized, "These BK clients areawfully similar to the one who is being very successful with Lean,in which they have to work in a much disciplined manner, andthey tend to be very clever."I started thinking about it, and I said, "I think this means that Ineed to write and work in a Lean communications fashion," sotake Lean principles and apply them to communications.Joe: Lean is really changed management, per se, isnt it?Liz: Yes, because what are so critical, people dont realize, is youneed to start with value. When youre dealing with soft topics likecommunication and change, sometimes theres an inclination thatyou just need to do more, and more, and more, and more. Intodays world, where we have so much information at ourfingertips, were dealing with information overload, informationobesity. Thats why its so critical to figure out what the value is,cut that clutter, and really help people get clarity about whatyoure trying to do, what were trying to do as a group, and reallyhelp people focus.Joe Dager: You talk about doing that with peer-to-peerpractices. Can you start off here with a basic introduction topeer-to-peer practices? Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsLiz: Sure. Peer-to-peer, I think, is an incredibly importantconcept in change these days, because weve got a number ofthings going on in society. Weve got the complexity of work;weve got the speed at which we need to work; weve gottechnology; weve got organizational change, which is very flatcompared to where it was a few years ago, and weve got changein attitudes. As I mentioned a minute ago, people are not astrustful of authority figures anymore, so they tend to trust theirpeers more, and especially peers who are doing the work, closeto the work, close to the customers. Those peers have a lot oftrust with others. If you as a leader or a change agent in anorganization can work with your fellow peers to get them tofigure out how to implement change...You dont just give everything to the people, but if you give yourpeers some direct, "OK, heres where were trying to go. Whatsthe best way to get there?" peers are often a very effective wayto go, the idea that the wisdom is in the crowd.Joe: I think its interesting because in the sales and marketingworld, it was always about reaching the decision maker, andreaching that person whos going to make the decision. Noweverybody is so influenced by these people that you may not beable to reach; they may be in this department over here, or inthis department over here, that to get advice, its really difficult,when I think of a sales and marketing perspective, of marketingto a peer-to-peer network.Liz: Right. It is a lot more challenging than it used to be becauseeverything is so much more diffused.Joe: Is this all new? Has it been around a while and were justrealizing it now? Has it just come to the surface now?Liz: Well, I think its always been around because people alwayswill want to say to friends and colleagues, "What do you thinkabout this? What are you doing?" and all of that. But whats Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemshappened is technology has just made it so much easier toconnect people and to amplify what people are saying. Also, Ithink the complexity of the work world. Leaders start to realize,"Oh, my gosh. I dont have all the answers. Theres no way that Ihave all the answers, but I have all these people who are close tothe topic. Let me ask them what they think."So for example, Ive got a client who sheepishly admits that,even though their new fiscal year has started FY13, they have notfinished their goals for the year. Theyre having some challengesbecause theyve got some extreme...trying to balance someprofitability with growth.What theyve decided to do, and we talked it over, is to go out tothe extended leadership team and say, "OK, here is what wewant our goals to be. What do you see as the top three obstaclesto achieve that? Also, how do you think we can fix it?" Weredoing just a simple survey. Its this idea of crowdsourcing.Were getting the technical wisdom of the crowd to gather theinformation. Were going to supplement it with some individualinterviews and then bring it back to the leadership team. Theyregoing to sort through, and they may do another pass with theextended leadership team. Its something probably unheard of forthem to do, lets say, five or so years ago.Joe: Youre saying bringing that voice in, or as we term it a lotof times the voice of customer, voice of market, bring it in, butyou have to do it in different ways. Youve got to respect some ofthese peer-to-peer practices?Liz: Youve got the peer-to-peer. Youve got the voice of thecustomer. Youve got the voice of the employee, the voice of theextended leader. If you can listen to those voices, you can getmuch more targeted information thats going to help you. Youcant just get information for informations sake. Its got to bevery clear questions. Then the other real advantage is that people Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsreally do like being listened to. They like having their opinionasked, and they also may have some really good ideas. You dontnecessarily just have to stop with the ideas.Thanks to technology were now able to do more with what I callsmart mob organizing, which is this idea of getting groupstogether through collaborative technology to share ideas and thenstart filtering and working with those ideas to decide what wouldbe the best thing to do.Because there can be some anonymous aspect around this,people are looking at it as its much more data-driven than justgetting people in a room and saying, "What do you think aboutthis, and what do you think about that?"Joe: Is it because you can capture this data easier when youredoing it, lets say, on the web?Liz: Oh, definitely you can capture it better. For example, I do alot of work with Powernoodle, which is a relatively new tool. Youare able to have people participate anonymously. Its an onlinecloud app, and you can pose a question, get a bunch of ideas,and then ask people. You combine the ideas, condense them sothat it makes it more manageable to work with, more refined.Then you ask people to vote on the ideas. Give them a number ofvotes and say, "OK, of these votes, which ones, based on ourcriteria, do you think are going to work?" Then you can refinethat even further. Again, because its anonymous, people are justlooking at the idea, not who said what. Then you can givepeoples money to various votes.When you get finished, youre able to spit out an Excelspreadsheet that captures the top ideas. Even better, it includeseverything that was brought up in the session so people can seethat, yes, their idea was there, but it didnt get the votes fromeverybody else. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: It is still very metric-driven, what youre doing. But yourejust targeting it and defining it better by, lets say, whether itssocial networking or using it through the web or the LAN withinthe organization.Liz: People like the fact that it is mentored-based as opposed topure gut.Joe: Could you explain smart mob organizing for me?Liz: Smart mob organizing came from the book about a decadeago called "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution." Back thenthe concept was about giving power to the mobile many. Over thepast 10 years its evolved, especially inside organizations, whichis where I work and play, about bringing together a group ofemployees for a common business purpose. You generally usetechnology and electronic media or classic technology like thePowernoodle I mentioned. One of the advantages of doing it withthe technology as opposed to in person is that you can cast awider net and get more people to participate in moregeographical areas. You dont have to all be in person. You canhear more diverse voices because of that, especially the oneswho are quiet, who are not necessarily going to speak up inyoure in a face-to-face session.Its also really well when you want to do something quicklybecause you could run a session, get people to generate ideas.You can do it in, depending upon the complexity, as little as 90minutes or so from start to finish. Or you could spread it out overa week or several weeks, depending upon how much people needto do, think about it, and do other things.So for example, I recently did for one of the professionalassociations I work with, they were doing their, its kind ofembarrassing for them to admit, first strategic plan. They weregathering in the Bay Area, which is not too far from where I am, Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbut we only had basically that seven hours to work in total. Theyhad to have a regular meeting as well, a business meeting.What we did through Powernoodle was to do a SWOT analysis,and we did a SWOT analysis with a double T, not only looking atthreads but also trends. I had a question for each. They had acommittee set up to be working on their mission statement, andthat committee had gotten totally bogged down. We did a smartmob organizing around the mission statement.By the time they got together in the Bay Area and we hadfinished the smart mob organizing and I had looked at all thedata, put it together for them in a report which we presented, wewere able to come up with a very sound, strategic plan. Basically,a one-pager was objectives, goals, and tactics in five hours.Joe: It sounds like reverse school or reverse learning- whereyou bring the homework into the classroom.Liz: Exactly. Its perfect for flip learning, yes.Joe: Youre having discussions about things they value ratherthan taking the time out to explain this or do this survey or dothis. Youre jumping in with both feet when you walk in the room,arent you?Liz: Exactly. Thats why I think one of the things that fliplearning is so effective as well as the smart mob organizingtype-techniques because what youre able to do is youre able tolevel set in advance because people are working with concretematerial, not just fluffy ideas but concrete stuff, and are gettingmuch more comfortable with the concepts, a better idea of wherethey think the organization should go or the team should go.When they come together, either on a phone call or a videoconference or in person, youre able to have a much morethorough conversation, a richer or more robust conversation, areal dialogue rather than talking at one another. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: I realize that social media and technology has driven morecollaboration, but are people ready for this? Are they embracingthis? Or is there still a lot of hesitancy?Liz: It really depends on the situation. I think when you comeback to having effective change, which again, is one of the areasI work in, I still believe and the research points out that you needto have three things into play. You need to have the will, which isthe motivation. You need to have the skill, the ability, and youneed to have the hill, to get people over the hill, to get over thebarriers. Sometimes getting over the barriers can be the moredifficult of the three. If you dont have anybody whos motivatedand who doesnt want to try the new technology, who doesntwant to play in social media, I think its really hard to get anytraction there.With my professional association, these were society transplantsocial workers. This is not a group that really loves technologiesin the way they work. Theyre social workers. Theyre talking withpeople all the time, yet they felt that their backs were against thewall. They really felt that they needed this plan. They hadfrittered the time away.When I talked with them about some of the ways we could get atthis, they said, "You know, this sounds pretty interesting. This isworth a try." So they were really good sports. We were able to doit. We allocated about three and a half weeks for them toparticipate. It was during summer vacation for a lot of them, butthey still participated and they did it.Joe: I see this technology, but its not as widespread as we havea tendency to think it is. Is it?Liz: Correct, and you also cant make always assumptions. Imean some people that you think might not be the ones whowant to play with the technology might be different than it reallyis. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: When we sit there and talk about changes, has the internalchange agent and how the consultant interacts with people, hasthat facilitator role changing a lot nowadays?Liz: I think the internal change persons role is changingdramatically because we cannot do the expert/idiot modelanymore. People just do not have the patience. They feel liketheyre not being respected. Theyre not being acknowledged forall that they bring to the organization. Even though changeexperts who study change, work with change, and all that havedeeper knowledge about change, we cant just discount what theeveryday person brings to the party because their instincts areoften very, very good.The internal change agent and the consultant need to becomemore of a coach, and they also need to become more of a curatorin an idea of sharing best practices, making sure that crosspollination happens, especially people tend to be sometimes insilos. It doesnt often happen as much in a Lean organization, butit certainly happens a lot in other organizations.What I talk about a lot with people, what I try to do myself, isthis idea that you are more like a Tom Sawyer than you are theMark Twain, who created Tom Sawyer. For those of you who arelistening who are familiar with Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer got agroup of kids together not only to help him paint the fence and dothe work, but to enjoy the experience.They were able to get phenomenal results, as opposed to beingthe expert whos going to come in and tell you what to do.Joe: People are really looking for more of a, not an expertassistant, but more of that person whos going to work with themthrough the process. As I always term it, when we go to aconference anymore, and you ask someone what they enjoyed atthe conference, its the coffee breaks. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsLiz: Exactly, which is why open space was created more than 25years ago by the guy who observed that and said, "Lets justhave some structured conversations to see where we can go."Thats where the peer-to-peer works, of which open space is agreat example. Thats been in existence now for 25 years. Backto the point, where it often helps to get people to volunteer toparticipate, you get people who really want to do these things,who enjoy that, and that can spread to others.Joe: When you think of all the automation, all the data, all thesethings being applied, or you have at your fingertips now, and themetrics you can get, it seems tribal knowledge is more importanttoday, or maybe thats at the forefront of what were talkingabout, we have to make sure it doesnt get lost in all this sea ofdata. Is that one way to put it?Liz: Right, the capturing of the tribal knowledge, and makingsure that people are working with it rather than extraneous stuff.Joe: When we talk about connected company, and a company ofthe future, we get away from that org chart. Is that org chartbroken, or is that still a viable way to run a company?Liz: Well, I think everybody needs some organization, becauseotherwise youre going to have chaos, but I think organizationswill continue to stay flat, or flatten, and you need to make surethat youve got clear roles and responsibilities. Even the conceptwhere everybody leads from where they are, sometimes youregoing to lead with a capital L, and other times youre going tolead with a small L. That just needs to be very explicit.Joe: So there still has to be some hierarchy there within anorganization, and someone with the ultimate responsibility ofleadership.Liz: Right, because otherwise, if everybodys in charge, nobodysin charge. Another thing Ive done over the years, which I really Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsdont talk about that much, but I certainly bring it to my workand my life, is at the tender of 18, when I was going to college, Ibecame a registered professional parliamentarian with theNational Association of Parliamentarians. So I am an expert inRoberts Rules of Order, and over the years, Ive maintained thatI work with organizations whom I like to support, and all of that.Having been an expert in Roberts Rules of Order for two-thirds ofmy life, which is a parliamentary procedure joke, since thatsoften a way to take votes, I see that when organizations donthave any order at all, it is incredibly chaotic, people dont knowwhat theyre supposed to do, what theyre trying to achieve, andall of that.There needs to be a type of structure that is appropriate for bigorganizations and for the situation. Now, thats not to say thatthings cant be moving all the time, because they can, but justthat we have clarity around that. Be very explicit if youre goingto be very flexible and nimble.Joe : Theres got to be, maybe, an informal go-to guy, but therestill needs to be a formal go-to guy when there is an issue toaddress.Liz: Exactly, and that formal go-to guy may be in his or her role,lets say, for 18 months, and is going to transfer out andsomebody else will take on that role, which is how its often donein nonprofits, which can be very, very powerful, because it getsshared leadership and shared tribal knowledge. That may notoften work well in publicly traded organizations, but whos to saysomebody couldnt try it sometime?Joe: We talk about peer-to-peer, smart mob, crowdsourcing.When is a good time not to use these types of things?Liz: Well definitely, I think, right now, in whats happening onthe East Coast with Hurricane Sandy is a great example. You stillwant command and control in those types of crises. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: When push comes to shove, when you have to getsomething done very quickly and in a very orderly fashion,sometimes command and control are the right way to proceed.Liz: Right, because in a situation like that, when people areunder extreme duress, and oftentimes theyre not only underextreme duress, but horrible things have happened to them andtheir families, and they often not might have the training, so weget back to they dont necessarily have the skills or the ability toknow what to do when power lines are down and everything likethat. You want to look to the experts whove trained in that very,very specific body of knowledge.Joe: I thought I read somewhere where you were contributing toa book.Liz: The book is "The Change Champion Field Guide." Its thesecond edition. Jossey-Bass is going to be publishing it, probably,in May of 2013, so about six months from now. My chapter is,surprise, surprise, "Change through smart mob organizing, usingpeer-by-peer practices to transform organizations."Joe: What makes it a field book?Liz: What makes it a field book is a number of us arecontributing, including some folks on appreciative inquiry, whichis a form of peer-by-peer, and a bunch of other different topics,so the fact that its not one definitive way but a whole variety ofways to implement change.Joe: Is there something that is peculiar to the peer-to-peernetworking, or to the crowdsourcing, that youd like to mention?Liz: We covered a lot of things. I just would emphasize the pointthat you were talking. Its not for everybody. It needs to be in asituation where you have people who are willing to participate,who find its exciting to share their opinion and work with others; Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsits a good problem and something that youre going to dosomething with; its not just window dressing, something thatyou can then preferably build on and do other things with it.Joe: You have a great blog. The only thing that I probably willmention about it is you dont right enough; I enjoy reading it.Liz: Thank you.Joe: Could you tell me how could someone contact you and yourwebsite?Liz: Sure. My website, and its a long one,, so all three words smushedtogether. The blog is one of the tabs there, and I do blog justonce a week. You can sign up for a report on mistakes peopleoften make when leading change, and get my newsletter.Joe: How often does your newsletter go out?Liz: I do two newsletters a month. One is "Connect Collections,"which is my curated items which I think would be of interest topeople, and then the other one is "Connects Creations," which isone of my blog posts, with generally additional commentary.Joe: Well, I would like to thank you very much, Liz. This podcastwill be available on the Business901 iTunes store and theBusiness901 blog site, so thanks again.Liz: Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Business901 Phone: 260-918-0438 Skype: Biz901 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Website: Twitter: @business901Joe Dager is president of Business901, a firm specializing inbringing the continuous improvement process to the sales andmarketing arena. He takes his process thinking of over thirtyyears in marketing within a wide variety of industries and appliesit through Lean Marketing and Lean Service Design.Visit the Lean Marketing Lab: Being part of this community willallow you to interact with like-minded individuals andorganizations, purchase related tools, use some free ones andreceive feedback from your peers. Marketing with Lean Book Series included in membership Lean Sales and Marketing Workshop Lean Service Design Workshop Relationship Building thru Technology Copyright Business901