Strategy in the age of urgency

There are some organisation and culture shifts you and your leadership team may want to consider when developing your strategy.

Focus on speed by encouraging decision- making outside safety net you may have in your culture. Do your people make decisions with enough information or are decision stalled by too much research and risk aversion?

Design your strategy and execution plan to accommodate the dynamism that exists in your industry sector(s), competitors and within your organisation. Resist the common temptation to build objectives based on expected outcomes and focus on value creation. Value creation may demand more course correction and fluidity in business processes.

Push decision making to the points in your organisations that are faced with the immediate need to make those decisions. Remove your fear and recruit and develop your people to make decisions rapidly and in response to needs. This is becoming even more critical in the competition for the best customer experience.

Change your training models to focus on individual needs. One size fits all may be ok for compliance training but if you want to attract and retain talent, you must offer tailored development that will benefit your people and your organisation.

As you empower people to make decisions quickly, change your thinking about leadership. Shed the outdated model of leadership bestowed by title and position. Any person can be a leader and you want as many in your organisation as you can recruit and develop.

Using principles to align your people and your organisation is far more effective and adaptable that stacks of policy and procedure manuals. Principles require modelling and incessant communication at all levels of the organisation and particularly by leadership.  Principles need to be part of the performance review process.

Special Event – Development Drives Retention

According to, 21% of employees plan on finding a new job in 2014.  Are you ready to lose 1 out of 5 of your employees?  I don’t think so because you know that turnover is costly.  There are the obvious costs – hiring, interviewing, and training costs.  And there are the less obvious cost of turnover such as running your business under staffed, or losing top talent and even worse losing talent to your competition.  So, it makes sense that every company needs to take action to do what they can to minimize turnover. And one way to do this is through development.

Studies show that employees who are offered career development and general development opportunities are more likely to stay with their organizations and stay for a longer period of time. In fact, according to a study conducted by Kenexa 30% of people leave due to lack of professional development.

But that is only half of the equation.  What about your managers?  The old saying is “employees join organizations and quit their boss”.  This puts the focus on your management development process. In fact, a recent Forbes study showed that the one of the top three drivers of turnover was boss performance.  Have you trained your managers and developed their capabilities to treat employees as the valuable resource they are?

On August 12 [11am AEST], we will be delivering a webinar where we will talk about why retention is important, how employee development and management development can lower turnover.  Additionally, we will be showing some solutions you can use to drive retention through development.  This will be a highly interactive session. So, please come prepared to share your employee and management development stories that led to higher retention rates.  The session is going to be so interactive, instead of calling this a webinar, maybe we should call it a “Discuss-inar”!

Hope to see you on August 12!  Space is limited so please register by email to :  RSVP Email   You will receive a confirmation email.

How to Create the Perfect DQ Swirl

This is a guest post by Cindy Pascale, CEO of Vado Inc.

As a teenager, my first job was working at a Dairy Queen making ice cream cones, sundaes and shakes.  On my first day, my manager showed me how to make the famous DQ swirl that sits on top of all DQ cones. First, he showed me how to make a cone identifying all the minor movements that need to be made to create the perfect ice cream cone. Then he handed the controls to me. The first few were sloppy and lopsided. He told me to keep practicing and practicing until I got it. And I did. Within a short while, I was able to create the signature swirl.

Without giving it a name, my manager had me develop my skills to create the perfect DQ swirl by practicing and developing my skills on the job.

Most learning and development professionals can quickly recite these statistics “70% of development happens on the job; 20% through coaching and mentoring; and the final 10% through formal learning.”   So this leads to the question, what are companies doing to develop their employees on the job?

Job skills are pretty easy to develop on the job. For instance, managers, technical trainers and front line leaders show employees how to run a piece of equipment. They then have their employees practice until they can run the equipment at the required level of productivity and quality requirements. Yet, in a recent study from the Towards Maturity Benchmark Study 2012 – 2013, they found that while 94% of learning and development leaders seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace, only 23% believe they achieve this.”

It is much harder, though, to develop employees’ soft skills through on the job application. That is why training and development leaders turn to Vado. Vado is the only off the shelf e-learning courseware that provides a step by step Implementation Guide to help the learner apply skills on the job to develop their behavior based competencies. The Implementation Guide helps the learner make the transition from the formal learning environment (the e-learning course), to application, by walking the learner through each step of the process to develop on the job and leverage the natural way a person develops.

Companies win because instead of having employees sit in an e-learning course for long periods of time, over 95% of the development time of Vado’s courses is the application on the job. The results are accomplishing two goals at one time: development while doing work that needs to be done.

You can get more information on the large range of modules available here.  Request a full catalog of modules and a 3 month pilot by contacting us here.

Sometimes Speed Trumps Quality

You have developed a new set of marketing and sales collateral for your sales team.  You load it into your CRM to enable the sales team to access it easily for email and face to face presentations.  You are unsure that each member of the team will know how to access and use the new collateral.  It is too risky to simply send an email to each member of the team and hope.  This new collateral is part of a new product launch and the company needs consistency to maintain and develop its brand.  What next?


In my client’s case this is what the Marketing Manager did.  Firstly, she used a screen capture tool to show visually how a sales person accesses the new collateral in the CRM.  In her case she used Camtasia and there are plenty of other tools out there including the much acclaimed Storyline.   Once she captured the navigation to the files, she demonstrated how to attach them to emails and use them for both online and face to face presentations.  Total time to create and edit the screen captures?  About 2 hours.  Next she did a voice over, it was not ‘talent quality’; it was short and to the point.  Time to do the voice overs?  About another 1.5 hours including editing.


Next step was converting the screen captures to SCORM, importing into DOTS LMS and configuring the course settings.  She made herself the trainer so she could track the learning and interact with the sales team.  She enrolled each member of the team in the course and each member of the team was alerted by email of their enrollment with a message to complete asap.  Overall we are up to about 4 hours of time spent creating and deploying the course.  This particular individual is familiar with Camtasia so she was productive from the start.


The course was effective and to the point.  It was not intended to be a showcase of e-learning content mastery or be linked to a compliance competency.  The Marketing Manager had automated what could have been a logistical headache of assembling the sales team together at the office for a presentation.  She would have had to prepare the presentation anyway so she used her time wisely creating content that can be re-used both as a refresher and for new hires as part of their induction.

Don’t blame your CRM…..yet.

Just in case you are not sure, CRM is the acronym for Customer Relationship Management.  There are heaps of CRM systems out there and there are plenty of opinions  about which ones are good and which ones to avoid.  There is also a wide range of pricing options to consider as well.  Back to the story.


It is easy to blame software for all sorts of issues.  This blame may be warranted but very often it is simply a lack of knowledge that frustrates our ability to use the software effectively.  The issue we run into most frequently is the lack of diligence in the use and administration of the CRM.  Our consultants usually hear things like; “we don’t have time to use it” or “it is too hard to use” from frustrated business managers and owners.  These statements are usually spoken when we start asking some questions that require their looking at the data in the CRM.  I usually ask to have a look at their CRM very early in the consulting project so I know what I am facing as we move to automate processes and get more productive.


Most CRM software is now pretty mature. This genre of software has been used in business for many years now and most vendors have evolved their systems to a point where they include many features and tools to make sales and marketing EASIER.  Here are some of the key complaints and a bit of diagnosis.  If you have one or more of these issues in your business then please get in touch.


  • Your sales people are not using the CRM.
    • They may not know how to use it or the reasons why it is important that it is used. I like to include competencies in the position description to ensure this is documented as an essential part of the performance appraisal process.  You must train your people in how to use the CRM and you need to ensure you regularly communicate its essential status in your business.
  • The CRM is too hard to use.
    • I have yet to find a CRM that is really hard to use.  There were a couple I used more than a decade ago that were a bit difficult but not recently.  People need training and this training is best done regularly and not just once.  Your new hires need to be trained and I really like to include peer to peer training and best practice sharing.
  • We can’t get meaningful information out of our CRM.
    • Garbage in – garbage out; remember that?  If your CRM was poorly implemented with a generic configuration or one that is not aligned with your business processes then you will never leverage a high ROI.  The whole purpose of a CRM is to provide your business with data that is essential to grow your sales and market share.
  • We have to pay for this software every year and we don’t get any support or training.
    • Welcome to the club.  Some CRM vendors have terrific online help and training resources.  These are all self-serve and can be re-purposed to create some internal training programs.  Training and support can be very expensive and so we work to create this training to ensure that you have these training resources ready to go.
  • I know we need a CRM but there are too many options and I don’t want to waste money.
    • If you are looking at implementing a CRM and doing research you will already be aware of all the options.  It is a jungle out there.  There are so many features and options that may be named differently and behave differently for the user and this makes comparison even more difficult.  Get some help.



All of these issues can be fixed.  Our company ‘eats its own dog food’ and so we are a bit passionate about the power that a well implemented and managed CRM delivers to growing businesses.