House-Training Your Org’s Experience – LFMR
Rottweilers can be stubborn and the homes that house them drastically impacted by their presence. I’m not just talking destroyed furniture, bags of dog food strewn all over the house or pee-stains. I’m talking the fundamental changes that occur in one’s perspective of what ‘home’ means. With a new Rottweiler puppy — little from yesterday survives into tomorrow — which is also true of organizations adapting to digital transformation.
In both cases, the new home of a Rottweiler or a company wrestling with the digital landscape, evolution is required in order to ensure the greatest returns are realized and experiences enjoyed. And in both cases, all it takes is a focus on the fundamentals. Well, that and one hell of a sense of humor and the ability to laugh wholesale destruction in the face. (OK, a little over-the-top but anyone who has ever owned a hyper puppy with the most powerful jaw in the canine world knows what I’m talking about.)
When Thunder, my German Rottweiler, was a 4-month-old puppy, there were days I did not recognize what my life had become. If I had hair, I would have pulled it out — possibly ingested it and stared into the corner mumbling about the insanity of it all.
I knew there would be changes — I had after all done my homework but ‘knowing’ and ‘experiencing’ are two different things. The challenge I faced, the same challenge companies face when dealing with digital, was that what my life had been before could not be what it was moving forward. I had to evolve all aspects of my existence to get to the daily experience I wanted and that was best for my dog. Companies must do the same and this starts with (but doesn’t end with) the three P’s — Perspectives, Processes and most importantly People. (I know, a tad cliche to use 3 of anything, but it works.)
Sure, everyone seems to think ‘they get it’ or ‘they know’ or they’ve done the research and know the story well enough to get by the final exam using the Cliff Notes. But every day I come across another company where that hubris has taken the chaos and inertia to the point when therapists and lawyers are consulted.
When I decided to get a dog I was single and I viewed the world through that lens. My ability to engage with the world around me was based on my hobbies, where I lived and the people I called friends. We talked of concerts, motorcycles, bars, popular culture and politics.
When Thunder came home the lens changed. (Or more accurately was shattered or chewed on or maybe even peed on at first.) I had to focus on places being dog-friendly (Home Depot and Pet Smart for example). I had to look for dog parks and trainers; not twisty mountain roads and bikers. I had to create, monitor and be consistent with his diet; not grab an additive-laden Pimento cheese sandwich or a handful of bar popcorn when the opportunity presented itself. I had to arrange my schedule around potty breaks, training and feeding; not concert calendars, reality shows and motorcycle maintenance.
The change was…a hell of a lot more difficult than expected — even after completing a year of research into the breed. The change was also critical to ensure both my experience and Thunder’s were one’s we wanted and not something we were looking for the quickest way to exit.
Organizations face the same challenge because digital impacts everything in an organization. Who they were before won’t work and getting to a point where they can be what they need to requires a vision, a plan and the strength to go from comfortable to uncomfortable all in the service of providing an experience that keeps the business optimized for employees and customers alike.
Before Thunder, the alarm would go off in the morning and I could simply turn it off and roll over if I wanted. The day started on my terms. I could, in the middle of the day, call an audible to go see an unexpected show. I could leave the house and not come back for days. The process of engaging with my life was fluid.
Thunder required, and more importantly deserved, consistency and predictability. The alarm often never sounded because he was up earlier, hangover be damned, with his cold nose pressed against the side of my face to wake me up. He didn’t care that I had been out late or met the lead singer to a favorite band or found a new bar. Honestly, he wouldn’t have cared if I had cured cancer (no chance of that happening, I’m just saying, he wouldn’t have cared.)
“Structure produces behavior, and changing underlying structures can produce different patterns of behavior.”
– Peter Senge, MIT Professor, Author of ‘The Fifth Discipline
Until he was trained, when his eyes opened it was time to move and he had control over when the day started. Eventually we found a rhythm but it was not easy. We would walk and train from 5AM — 6AM; we would go to the dog park from 6AM-645AM; he would be fed at 7AM and so on. The process of engaging with life went from fluid to regimented.
Organizations need to be willing to candidly evaluate their processes because the arrival of digital has and will impact them all. The boundaries and borders that used to support organizations now constrain them and without changes from the start to finish, there may not be a company for long.
I’ve always had a diverse set of friends and before Thunder that diversity was part of the spice of life. Bikers and golfers and business people oh my! But much like people who have kids have a tendency to grow distant from the friends that don’t; I found the same is true of dog-owners.
Thunder knows, much like me, who he likes and who he doesn’t. Unfortunately we are not always aligned and I found myself making new friends who not only had dogs but possessed the same view of their place in the pack, the need for training and boundaries. Old friends were around less frequently or faded out because I couldn’t just take off for a weekend anymore; I was unable to spend over 5 hours out attempting to channel my inner Tiger Woods. New friends rolled in because we saw each other every morning at the dog park and they had a cool, indestructible dog toy I had to check out or a new leash I needed to see.
“Organizations are nothing but a combination of individual people and experiences constantly trying to aim at a common motive and goal. To understand an organization, you must be willing to understand the people within it.” — Dan Bentz, VP Experience Strategy, Universal Mind
Organizations face the same challenge. The people who made the company successful in the past may not be the ones to make it successful in a digital world. Accepting and evaluating this is the responsibility of the leadership, but far too often I run into a lack of willingness to be unbiased in evaluation and action. Organizations, like Rottweilers, fight change and correction. But there is a difference — when my dog does it, my patience is tested and my frustration increased; when an organization does it, the result is less market share, revenue and effectiveness. But hey, I’m sure the shareholders embrace the ‘less is more’ mantra in this case.
The result of this stubbornness to make the changes necessary is different anchors in the organization impacting speed of response and engagement with customers and other employees; anchors that keep the organization from evolving to capitalize in a world where speed is measured in the swipes of fingers. And without the assistance of the right people at the right time in the right way, chances are the swipe won’t be in your organizations favor.
Perspectives, Processes and People are just the beginning. Organizational experience is a complex subject, a challenge with numerous facets to address (more of which I will tackle in next week’s post). Those organizations must understand their role in the experience of customers and employees; must understand that what happens inside with employees in addition to what happens outside with customers and prospects combine to create the entirety of their organizational experience. This becomes the definition of who they need to be now and in the future to be a serious, ongoing concern in a world where yesterday is ancient history and tomorrow is no longer science fiction.
The person I became as a result of bringing Thunder into my life is much better than who I was before. This process, this evolution started before he came home and continues today. It has proven to be rarely easy, often humorous, always expensive emotionally and financially but in retrospect, more than worth it.
If organizations could embrace this effectively and put in place the necessary perspectives, processes and people — imagine how much more effective they could be. It won’t be easy, it will hopefully be humorous, it will not be cheap — but it will be worth it. The first step is just understanding the equation. The second step is making sure you have the right support to guide you and your organization through the process — to get the quick wins to build the necessary momentum and the fortitude to stay the course.
Stop by the Universal Mind website and learn more about how you can avoid the mistakes we have seen hamper so many and capitalize on the real return of digital solutions.