Tag Archive: consequences

Language & Why Quality Is Lost in Translation

June 14th, 2019

I recently returned from a trip to Europe and it highlighted why language and positioning matters. Of course, when visiting Sicily, Sorrento, Prague and Bruges, different languages and dialects were spoken.  However, my comments about language and positioning relate to English. On a day tour in Prague, we had an extremely knowledgeable guide who wanted to tell us everything she knew. We could understand her English.  However, she was opinionated about where we should stand when listening, whether we could stray to take pictures, and whether we could ask questions if she hadn’t told us what she thought we should know. She didn’t position her language in the interests of her customer, so it really wasn’t as enjoyable as other tours where the guides clearly didn’t have the same level of experience and expertise.

I bring this up – because I still was glad I went on the day trip – however, this same topic has arisen multiple times in business in the last several days. In one project update call, the project manager presented important information. Yet, the way he presented it made it seem like the world might be coming to an end, even though it was FAR from reality and not his intention. It could have had drastic unintended consequences if we hadn’t spoken up to re-position.

In another client meeting, the group was talking about relevant details but all the CEO heard was blah, blah, blah because he wanted the bottom line – what those details meant. Of course, he wanted to know that the details were reviewed but the lengthy and wandering explanations made him feel uncomfortable in the conclusion (perhaps we protest too much) instead of confident. The details were intended to provide evidence to support, yet it backfired similarly to the guide’s endless stream of facts instead of focusing on the highlights that were relevant to the customer. Instead, speaking with confidence and conveying that details were considered (without going into detail), highlighting the bottom line result would have done the trick. I can’t tell you how many valuable superstars in clients are overlooked because they don’t know how to use language and convey their ideas successfully!

One tip to implement this week:
As someone who started out horrendously in presenting and positioning, I can tell you with confidence that it is a learned skill. Start wherever you are and make a new effort to improve. Don’t worry about perfection.  It is DEFINITELY overrated. Just strive for improvement on a daily basis. According to my consulting mentor ,Alan Weiss, if you improve by 1% a day, in 70 days you are twice as good. If you think about it, that is really quick!

Start by positioning what you say in the best interest of your audience,not in the light of what you assume is in their best interest. This alone can be revolutionary!

When I was a VP of Operations, I couldn’t understand why a plant manager, who reported to me,  seemed to believe what she said.  It was obviously untrue.  It’s wasn’t until my best friend in an unrelated field explained that people believe their own perceptions and they don’t have to match reality. I was thinking from my point-of-view instead of hers.

How many times have you used arguments to gain approval, funding or resources/support that you would use vs. those that would appeal to your audience? More than we’d like to admit I’d guess!



Turning Mistakes into “Good”

March 23rd, 2016

supply chainI frequently speak to groups about how we must celebrate mistakes. No one will innovate if they are afraid of being hit over the head if they make a mistake. Unfortunately, it occurs more frequently than imaginable! Yet only those leaders who encourage innovation will thrive in today’s environment. Thus, we must consider mistakes as “good”! And we should encourage experimentation, which will drive more mistakes than the status quo.

With that said, I find myself “not celebrating” that I made a mistake. I was working with a client on several projects and feeling excited with the progress and the value we would achieve; however, I failed to communicate that clearly with my client. I wasn’t following my typical process which builds communication in naturally (which we can partly attribute to innovation and partly just my mistake), and I ended up overlooking this critical step. NOT good. Thus, my objective with this note is to turn it into “good”. We all learn from our failures — and hearing about other’s failures.

One tip to implement this week:

Let’s start with what you can do to proactively avoid mistakes that will have worse consequences than you are willing to live with in order to experiment/innovate. Put guidelines around your experiment or innovation. That way, WHEN you fail (as we are all bound to fail at some point), you know you’ll stay within your planned range of error (and consequences).

If your mistake already occurred, take a step back and think about it. How bad is it? Was anyone else negatively impacted? Perhaps not. In this case, chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. Often-times, this is the best approach.

Or did it have consequences to other people or teams that should be corrected? If so, jump to action and correct them. Don’t argue about it — even if you weren’t solely at fault. Just resolve what should be resolved. Apologize, resolve it and move forward in a positive way. In my case, this is the path I followed

I’ve found this approach to be successful 90% of the time — after all, who doesn’t make mistakes?!? With that said, if you happen to be stuck in the 10%, do your best, resolve it and move on. Don’t get worked up; just chalk it up to bad luck in hitting the 10%, do your best and move on. Now, if you are repeatedly in the 10%, take a step back and figure out why. There is something else going on. Ask your colleagues for advice and feedback.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”