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President Obama's Views Post Presidency

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for inviting me to Oktane18 and giving me the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama - truly a "life experience."

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder of Okta hosted the hour-long question and answer session.

Following are the points made by the President with the parenthetical notes my own:

  • We live in culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and collision of world’s in a way previous generation. haven’t felt.
  • Previous generations knew 100 or 150 people.
  • How many people do you know today? (Thousands thanks to social media and CRM systems).
  • Today, there are rural villages in Africa in which everyone has a phone.
  • We have the ability to absorb information in ways that can be confusing.
  • While there are a lot of questions around technology and social media, the U.S. had a head start in trying to figure it out because we’re a people that came from everywhere else.
  • We've had to figure out how to work together since the country was founded.
  • The challenge today is how to maintain sense of common purpose, how to join together as opposed to splinter and divide.
  • If we don’t figure it out it will be hard for our democracy to survive (just what the Russians are fomenting in social media).
  • There is a misperception that government doesn’t work, and people don’t work hard based on their experience of getting their driver’s license renewed (everyone laughed knowingly).
  • The public sector has extraordinary talent and does a lot of things really well.
  • There is a big gap in technology, especially with responsiveness and nimbleness. A lot of this has to do with government's antiquated procurement requirements.
  • In a host of areas, like taking government data and putting it out there so organizations can use to improve people's lives, we made real progress during my term.
  • We tried to create, re-architecture and replace legacy systems in the FDA.
  • There is a need for big data sets to achieve the promise of personalized medicine.
  • We made inroads in a few of those areas; however, the political system is not being as responsive as it could be (because we are divided rather than united).
  • Creating a framework that’s agreed upon and transparent, most people understand is a challenge we should welcome and approach it in a systematic and transparent way (however, little in Washington is transparent).
  • We need to be proactive identifying the questions we have to grapple, with the tools we have to protect information, and be transparent about what consumers are giving up (Google, Facebook, et al).
  • There is a big lag between how we’re thinking about the social organization and technology.
  • We underinvest in the IRS because no one likes it; however, it can be a great deal more efficient.
  • As a consequence of no one wanting to give up their write-offs, we discovered the basic IT infrastructure of the IRS is held together by string and bubble gum.
  • If you made no changes to the tax structure you could make interaction with the IRS more user-friendly, but it requires front end investment no one is willing to make.
  • Business identifies the essential problem and hires good people to solve business problem.
  • Government procurement requires you to identify the problem and allocate a budget up front. That's not how a successful business works.
  • We need a good conversation between the tech community and people in Washington for ongoing deliberation and exchange.
  • There should be bias towards making voting easier not harder, there’s a legacy that dates back to Jim Crow to disenfranchise voters and it is being perpetuated.
  • If we can secure the voting process, and there’s a paper record generated along side the electronic vote, I believe it will come to pass but it will take awhile.
  • Laws are structured to make it hard for people to vote.

 

How did you instigate change?

  • Change is hard in personal live, it's hard for groups, it's hard for institutions.
  • The U.S. evolved from an agricultural-based economy to manufacturing-based economy over a period of 120 years.
  • Today we're evolving to a technology-based economy in just 20 to 30 years and that's hard for everyone to accept.
  • Principles for effective change:
    • Talk to people whose lives will be disrupted so you appreciate who they are and insure they are heard before you instigate change.
      • Listening is a good starting point for change.
    • Every issue you are dealing has probabilities.
      • Get the best info available.
      • Have, and listen to, diverse voices around the table.
      • Understand the different perspectives.
      • Have people who can argue all of the sides of the issue.
    • I set up processes so that by the time I made the decision I could say, with confidence, I heard all the voices, had all of the information, and made the best decision I could.
    • Initiating change requires enough situations like that, even when there are disruptions. where you can anticipate the disruptions and be prepared to address them.
    • There will be disruptions with technology (There already has been and there will be a lot more).
    • People are going to be resistant if their jobs are threatened.
    • Anticipate this and be prepared to address the change.
    • Ask people “What do you think?”
      • I would catch people by surprise and they would tell me what they really thought, rather than a prepared answer.
      • Deliberately reach outside the bubble of obvious decision makers.
    • I had a good b.s. detector, if a question wasn’t answered with confidence I’d drill in until I learned what the person was really thinking.
    • Insist on people delivering on bad news quickly.
      • Part of the culture we tried to build, these are human enterprises, they’re going to be flawed when you do screw up or you can’t solve something bring it to me and let’s solve it together

 

How did you go about vetting and hiring people?

  • The government has two million employees or so, only 3,000 are political appointments.
    • The entire process during transition, gathering names, going through folks who have the qualifications we were looking for, as well as interest in the position.
    • Tech is where we had a problem because tech pays much better than the US government.
    • So, we set up US digital services – a SWAT team of amazing tech folks who, like the Peace Corps, would come into the US government for six months to two years to work on a particular problem – example of the need for more creativity of how we staff government and non-profits.
  • Think of creative ways for people to take leave and make an incredible contribution.

 

What advice did you receive going into office that was useful and what wasn't?

  • Advice not useful and slowed us down and hurt effectiveness early on was the sense that somehow now that you are president there are certain ways you should do things that had to do with traditions but were not effective.
    • During the campaign, we communicated in a way that was fresh and accessible. That changed when we moved into the White House – it made the team feel more conventional than we should have. We corrected this near the end of the first term. There were a lot of fires to put out immediately when we got to the White House..
  • The best advice a number of people gave us was to maintain your humanity. Michele and I, partly because we didn’t want our girls to get weird from being in a weird environment, were very focused on this. It was important to make sure we did not lose ourselves, that we stayed intact in what we believed in and how we treated people, expectations of ourselves, kindness, honesty, being useful, and taking responsibility
    • People given great responsibility, power, and wealth begin losing a sense of what’s important, who they are, and holding on to what they have rather than responding authentically. We did not lose that, we came out intact.

 

What are your greatest observations post presidency?

  • I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency.
  • I get more sleep now versus five hours a sleep each night for eight years.
    • That's what's required if you are going to stay up to speed on all of the issues and consider different points of view.
  • There is a physical and mental element to being president if you are serious about the job.
  • Everything now seems to move in slow motion.
    • Today it takes two weeks to set up a meeting rather than two hours.
What are you and Michele going to be doing with Netflix?
  • I would not have been president if I had not learned early on the importance of stories.
  • As a community organizer I learned instead of telling people what they should think, I needed to ask people about themselves and their stories.
  • If you listen, people will tell you their story.
  • Discovering those stories creates relationships and committed people.
  • I continue to believe if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in each other that our democracy works, if we don’t then our democracy doesn’t work.
  • We want to identify people doing amazing work and create platforms for them to tell their stories.
  • We have all these amazing story tellers and we want them to continue to tell the stories we think are important, lifting up talent to identify the connections that we have between all of us.
  • We want to train leaders around the world to tell their stories.
  • We’re all human and have basic needs, wants, and desires for our families, for our children.
  • The country can go in one of two ways: 
    • We can go tribal, go ethnic, pull in, push off, think "us versus them," think power-first, view life as a zero-sum game, and have a need to dominate.
    • Or, the other narrative is a more fragile, newer notion that we can think, reason, connect, and set up institutions based of the rule of law, dignity, and the worth of every individual based on science and facts. This narrative is one the human race has pursued, and America has been at the forefront of, since World War II.
  • We’ve made progress in all of these areas in "fits and starts." Now there’s a clash in the two alternative ways of seeing the world.
  • Part of the political polarization is if you watch Fox News and read the New York Times you are viewing two different realities (this is divisive rather than inclusive and not in the best interest of democracy).
  • Obviously, I believe the second of the two ways is we need to proceed if we are going to be united.

Tags: Trustworthiness, Ethics, transparency, trust, integrity, authenticity, listen intensely, empathy, inspiration, community, customer insights, big data

Vulnerability = Courage

Posted by Tom Smith on Sat, May, 19, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

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Great presentation by Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor University of Houston during Nutanix' .NEXT conference in New Orleans on May 10. Dr. Brown has been studying vulnerability and courage and the soon to be published The Four Pillars of Courage.

Dr. Brown's Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability has more than 34 million views on YouTube.

Here's the gist of her presentation I was fortunate to see:

  • You have to be vulnerable to be courageous
  • Vulnerable = at risk, emotionally exposed
  • There is no courage without vulnerability
  • “Daring greatly” came from Teddy Roosevelt
  • Can we lay out the code for being a full-stack individual?
  • Shame is walking out of the room of people you know well and when you leave, and they speak badly about you
  • It’s not the critic who counts, the credit goes to the one in the arena who comes up short again, again and again. If s/he fails, s/he does so daring greatly.
  • If you’re brave with your life you’re going to get your ass kicked
  • Life is volatile you will know failure if you are brave with your work
  • We live in a comfort crisis – we believe we are entitled to comfort
  • There is nothing comfortable about being courageous
  • Vulnerability is the most accurate measurement for courage
  • If you are not in the arena being brave with your life I am not interested in what you have to say
  • When you’re brave there is pushback
  • The mean-spirited words from the cheap seats should hurt but you need to know who’s opinions matter – it’s not the people in the cheap seats
  • Know the people you can trust and listen to them
  • Shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, uncertainty = vulnerability
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy
  • Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions
  • We dress rehearse tragedy because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Don’t squander joy
  • Don’t dress rehearse tragedy
  • Stop in the moment and be grateful
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of: courage, trust, empathy, innovation, creativity, accountability, adaptability, inclusivity, hard conversations, feedback, problem-solving, ethical decision making
  • Set up a culture of no vulnerability you get no innovation, no risk-taking
  • The opposite of accountability is blame
  • If you don’t do discomfort you’re not a good fit for us
  • If you cannot have a conversation about a difficult subject (race, class, gender) you cannot be a successful leader – be willing to excavate conversations that need to happen because they’re getting in the way of good work
  • People are not willing to be vulnerable, brave
  • What are you doing instead of the hard conversations?
  • We’re not having hard conversations because we’re not willing to be vulnerable
  • Relational vulnerability – you cannot be brave or lead without it
  • It takes courage to have ethical decision making
  • When we’re in struggle we need a story for our brain – the story I’m telling myself right now is . . .
  • Myths:
    • Vulnerability is weakness
    • I can opt out
    • Let it all hang out
    • I can go it alone
  • Vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, rising skills = the four pillars of courage
  • What’s worth doing even if you fail?
  • Vulnerability doesn’t always work out but it’s better than ending your life asking what if I had showed up?

Tags: integrity, extreme trust, emotional connection, total radical transparency, empathy, inspiration

7 Keys to Organizational Empathy to Enhance Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, May, 09, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

organizational empathy improves the customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Bruce Temkin during the VoC (voice of the customer) Fusion Conference (#vocfusion).

 

Bruce shared his path for organizations to achieve organizational empathy.

 

Organizational empathy is a commitment by companies that they will work towards developing a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs, and they will use this knowledge to serve those needs better.

 

Bruce has even started an amplify empathy movement (#amplifyempathy) to encourage individuals to help build stronger empathy for their customers within their organizations.

 

People are wired to help other people -- be it their colleagues, prospects or customers.

 

Empathy is the ability to imagine ourselves in another's place and understand their feelings, desires and needs.

 

People behave differently whether they are an employee or a customer.

 

Engaged employees have: high interest, high knowledge, silos of focused messaging, politics and egos.

 

Customers have needs, desires, interest in your product or service and some level of knowledge.

 

Silos are not going away because they're an effective way to organize and manage knowledge.

 

Customer experiences happen between the silos. How can we enhance communication between the silos to enhance the customer experience?

 

Bruce proposes seven keys to unlock organizational empathy:

 

  1. Talk about customer emotions. How do they feel about their experience? Angry, adoring or something in between.

  2. Look at the journey, not just interactions.  Ask what happened right before and what they will do right after to understand the context of the request and to determine where you can personalize the experience and add value. USAA probes when someone calls to change their address. If the soldier is being deployed, it might save them money to put their automobile insurance on hold while they are away.

  3. Talk about customers as people. Customers are not statistics. Know that you can't be all things to all people but you can treat people as individuals and help identify the correct solution for their need.

  4. Interact regularly with target customers. Employees that are highly or moderately engaged are more empathetic. Employees want to be part of something bigger than their day-to-day job. Do your employees know your company's mission? Is it bigger than just generating more revenue?

  5. Provide a strong sense of purpose. This sense of purpose provides four intrinsic rewards: 1) meanfulness; 2) choice - don't script everything, empower people to make decisions on their own; 3) competence - build skills and training; 4) progress - growth and learning.

  6. Empower random acts of kindness.  Ritz empowers employees to spend up to $2,000 on a guest to enhance their experience. Disney encourages each of their employees to spend five minutes creating a special moment for a guest.

  7. Personal happiness enhances empathy. Find reasons to be thankful. Hire happy people and keep them happy. Find ways for you to be happy.

 

More organizational empathy will result in more happy customers.

 

More happy customers will buy more, more frequently and provide greater lifetime value for the firm.

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, employee empowerment, lifetime customer value, empathy