Is It True Collaboration… or Is It a Team?

At Auxano, we practice what we preach.

Our primary tool for working with organizations is the Vision Frame, consisting of Mission, Values, Strategy, Measures, and Vision Proper. Before we led the first client through the process over 11 years ago, the original team of Will Mancini, Jim Randall, and Cheryl Marting worked out Auxano’s Vision Frame – which we still follow today.

One of our Values is Collaborative Genius, which is accomplished partly by the fact that we are a virtual company of over 20 team members living in 15 cities across 4 time zones.

I only thought I knew what collaboration meant!

In my adult work career, I have served as the accountant in an office setting for a food services company, an audiovisual technician as part of a team of 7 for a seminary, various roles on 3 church staff teams, a church consultant for a design-build company, and as the Vision Room Curator for Auxano.

That’s 34+ years in an environment of multiple team members, ostensibly working together for the good of the organization.

Was I collaborating with others, or merely part of a team?

Collaboration is not the same thing as teamwork. Teamwork is simply doing your part. Collaboration involves leveraging the power of every individual to bring out each other’s strengths and differences.  – Greg Cox, COO, Dale Carnegie, Chicago

At Auxano, we don’t just do our part, we collaborate to deliver excellence in all we do. Here’s a great example: our book summaries for leaders, now called SUMS Remix.

The original concept of SUMS was dreamed up by our founder, Will Mancini. When I joined Auxano as Vision Room Curator, it was natural that the SUMS project fall under my guidance. Working from a curated list of books with a focus on the Vision Frame, I read the designated book and wrote the draft summary with recommended resources. I then oversaw the following process:

  • Proofing by Mike Gammill, a scholar and grammatical genius
  • Navigator Applications written by 4 of our full-time Navigators, applying the concepts to the local church leadership context thru their unique lenspowered by auxano
  • Editing by Cheryl Marting, who has eagle eyes
  • Review editing by Angela Reed, a production editor at our parent company, LifeWay
  • Design by James Bethany and our Creative Team, who produce a visual masterpiece every time
  • Final review and approval by Will

Beginning in the fall of 2012, every two weeks, a SUMS was distributed to the SUMS subscriber list. Practically every day of that two weeks, some of the actions above were taking place within our team as we work on multiple books at the same time.

That’s collaboration.

As we neared the end of our second year of SUMS, Will and I refined a concept that came to be called SUMS Remix. Instead of a single summary of one book, SUMS Remix consists of brief excerpts of three books, focused on providing simple solutions to a common problem statement that ministry leaders are facing every week in their churches.

SUMS Remix launched in November of 2014, and we are still releasing an issue every two weeks. And a similar collaboration process described above is still taking place.

Want to see the end product of that collaboration? You can learn more about SUMS Remix here.

Midnight LunchI’m indebted to Sara Miller Caldicott, great grandniece of Thomas Edison and author of the book Midnight Lunch, for translating Edison’s world-changing innovation methods for use in the 21st century. Here are some of her thoughts on collaboration:

True collaboration embraces:

  • A discovery learning mindset versus a pure task orientation
  • A belief in anticipating and creating rather than merely reacting and responding
  • Presence of inspiration across multiple facets of both individual and team endeavors
  • Coherence of purpose
  • A dedication to elevating the performance of every team member
  • Connections to human and social networks of influence

Do these qualities sound different from the ones valued by your team? Do they draw upon ideas that feel new or seem broader than your current concept of what teamwork embraces?

Based on my experience, the answer would be yes.

So what are you going to do about it?

 

 

9 Secret Sauces That Will Make Your Guest Experience Unique

Stock…

…the foundation for all classical French cooking.

At the CIA (that’s Culinary Institute of America), you start off a three-year education by learning how to peel vegetables and prepare a basic stock. You don’t do it once – you do it every day during the three-week rotation of the first class. Students move on after the first three weeks, but will continue to use the stock prepared by the next class of new students. Every three weeks, a new rotation of prospective chefs learn how to prepare stock.

A great stock is judged by:

  • Flavor
  • Clarity
  • Color
  • Body
  • Aroma

The perfect stock has what is referred to as a “neutral” flavor. This is a kind way of saying it doesn’t taste like anything you’re used to eating or would want to eat. But you can do a million different things with a great stock because it has the remarkable quality of taking on other flavors without imposing a flavor of its own. It offers its own richness and body anonymously. When you reduce it, it becomes its own sauce starter. You can add roux to stock and create a demi-glace, and with a demi-glace, you can make over a hundred distinct sauces that define classic French cooking.

What’s your stock?

Personally. Organizationally. However you want to define it.

 What’s that basic “thing” you are, have, or do that makes everything else come together to make things happen?

 >> Learn to make a basic stock, and the possibilities become endless.

Chip Bell knows how to make stock too – or as he calls it, the secret sauce of awesome experiences.

Bell, a well-known consultant and trainer to some of the largest countries in the world, has just released his newest book, “Sprinkles.” SprinklesSubtitled Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, it delivers a delicious journey to innovative service.

According to Bell, there are nine “secret sauces” that form the basis for a customer experience that is served gourmet style:

  • Amazement
  • Animation
  • Abundance
  • Ambiance
  • Adoration
  • Allegiance
  • Alliance
  • Accessible
  • Adventure

Just like a chef takes a basic sauce and makes it into the foundation of an exquisite meal, your organization can take the “secret sauces” Bell writes about in Sprinkles and deliver a “value-unique” service that creates an unexpected, enchanting experience for those you serve.

Bon Appetite!

The Magic of Performance in Your Church’s Guest Experience

The empowered team member who confidently goes above and beyond for a customer is a practitioner of Performance Magic.

Service magicians use genuine rapport and personal connection with customers to create performances that are magical. Customers receive the product or service they want or need, but they also get that something extra that makes the experience unexpected, unpredictable, and memorable.

Alert to customer’s needs, service magicians read the often-subtle signals being sent. They know how to establish rapport with customers, sometimes mirroring their emotions and listening intently to ascertain the feelings behind the words – and respond in way that acknowledge those feelings.

> Tricks of the Trade

What do service magicians watch for when they aggressively, proactively observe customers?

  • Clothing – What do people’s clothes telegraph about their view of themselves and the world, and their mood and personality?
  • Eye contact – Does the customer meet your eyes? For how long and how frequently?
  • Body language – What is the customer’s body language telling that he’s not saying?
  • Voice characteristics – What can you glean – beyond the words – from this person’s manner of speaking?

The core skill for effective, active listening is getting focused and staying focused. When listening is your goal, make it the priority – do not let anything distract.

Read customers carefully – then test your assumptions before you act on them.

Service magicians take charge of customer encounters, setting the stage and the mood for the magical connection to come. They unobtrusively direct service encounters, setting the mood and making customers comfortable.

Though service magicians make connecting with customers look effortless, it doesn’t come without working at it.

> Tips for Creating Magical Dialogue

  • Establish – and publicize – a clear service philosophy
  • Build proficiency though practice
  • Develop great conversation openers that fit personality and mood
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • End with a satisfied customer wanting more

Performance magic should leave customers pleased with their experience and just a little puzzled at how you managed it. The trick is, there’s no trick at all:

Performance magic is accomplished through careful observation, fanatical listening, and genuine conversation. A disciplined practice of these actions will enable you to identify our customers’ needs before they even have a chance to voice them.

Performance Magic happens when a surprisingly positive interaction occurs between the customer and organizational personnel during the acquisition and delivery of a service or product. Magical performance is the manner that enables a service magician to take customers on an emotional journey so enchanting they cannot wait to tell their story to others.

>> Remember that as a church leader you have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to utilize magical performances in your organization!

 

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld

Your Church Volunteer Problem and “The Minus Twelve Men”

Bob Adams:

A good word from my friend and colleague Bryan Rose, after being onsite at a multi-site church in the Detroit, MI area this past weekend.

Originally posted on Launch Clarity:

DashTempAs I pulled into the parking lot, the temperature on my dashboard read negative twelve degrees

And there he was… standing there waving.

I couldn’t see his face, it was obscured by a heavy duty ski mask. But I could tell he was smiling. CrazyVolunteerAnd waving. And pointing me to another volunteer equally protecting every bit of bare skin from the unforgivably cold temperatures and minus thirty-something wind chills.

They were all out there. I found out later that every man on the team, had made it a point to serve this morning. The coldest morning any had seen in a long time.

Later, in the church lobby, they were resupplying hand and shoe warmers, to again face deathly cold. Just to park cars. 

So I asked them how, and why, and what.

How, today of all days, could they stand outside and wave?

Why would they literally risk

View original 54 more words

The Magic of Process in Your Church’s Guest Experiences

Process Magic is at work when an organization – large or small – creates a standard operating procedure that seems just the right thing to do.

Practices, policies, and procedures from initial contact to problem solving that amaze the customer with seeming ease are magical. The service magician who implements those practices with style and grace enhances the experience yet again.

Researchers repeatedly confirm that customers use “consistently good” as their gold standard for service. The customer’s sense of reliability, security, and comfort hang on service promises – real or implied – being kept with a high degree of precision and consistency. That “steadfastness” is so important that most organizations take care that their processes come with rigid standards and stern rules.

Those processes fall into one of two categories: algorithmic or heuristic.

Algorithms are step-by-step processes. Think of them as “rules of law” that focus on precision, replication, exactness, and dependability. There are “Red Rule” algorithms, designed to maximize effectiveness, safety, and predictable outcome. There are also “Blue Rule” algorithms, designed to maximize efficiency and sameness.

Heuristics are “rules of thumb” for doing work. They function more as guidelines for behavior rather than step-by-step specifics. Implicit in the guidance of heuristics is an in-context judgment call.

Using a Little Magic on Blue Rule Algorithms

Algorithmic processes are precise, lockstep means of getting the service the customer expects from the service provider to the customer. Helpful rules for adding magic to “Blue Rule” algorithms include:

  • Select a process the customer must endure and enrich it with a little magic. While some processes are crafted exclusively for the convenience of the service provider, make sure they are as customer friendly as possible by zeroing in on the feature most important to the customer.
  • Don’t alter a part of the process without examining the whole experience. If only a part of the process is enhanced, a bland or negative part left unimproved can erase or negate the enchanting memory for the customer.
  • Include props to reinforce consistency. These could include reminders, checklists, job aids, guides, cueing devices – whatever helps the service magician remain disciplined and focused.

Turning Red Rule Algorithms into Magical Memories

The more challenging arena of service processes is the unalterable algorithmic process. The service magician, unable to alter Red Rule processes, must find ways that will yield a magical experience for customers. Helpful rules for altering Red Rule processes include:

  • Alterations must be delivered in matched tones. By definition, the process can’t be changed, so alterations must be made with the experiences that surround the process. Any surrounding experience must be kept in the same tone, style, and manner of the process itself.
  • Alterations must be subtle. The key is to not tamper with anything that causes the customer to question the core values embedded in the process.
  • The magic can operate alongside the process without upsetting requirements. The “add-on” will be surprising and memorable, but it doesn’t have to interfere with the step-by-step nature of the process.
  • Value adds should be of the same nature as the core offering. Adding value works best when understated and cut from the same cloth as the core offering.

Adding Magic to Heuristic Rules of Thumb

“Rule of thumb” – or heuristic – processes are not lockstep, exact, or precise. They may be guidelines born of the folklore of an industry or conventional wisdom learned only through experience. Several universal principles are important to keep in mind before tinkering with heuristic processes. They include:

  • Never tinker with the customer’s core expectation.  The customer has very real expectations as well as a mental picture. If the magic attempted is too extreme, the customer will remember it as disruptive and artificial
  • Make sure the alteration in the process fits. Service magic enchants because it is unexpected and positive, yet it needs to be appropriate to the context and the relationship.
  • Ensure the alteration is a team effort, not an isolated gesture. The customer knows single-relationship magic when he sees it and knows it is vulnerable to turnover. It does not ensure long-term loyalty

Service processes are not naturally magic. Magic occurs when the process is transformed or contains an unanticipated dimension – the more “sparkly” the transformation, the more magical it is. Magic depends on identifying a process alteration that will be permissible by the customer, and then crafting its expression into a form unexpected by the customer.

Select the right process, alter or enhance it in the right way, and you can turn dull into delightful and mundane into magic.

You are practicing Process Magic by filling the space between “customer need” and “customer need met” with experiences of awe and memories of amazement. Magical processes are the policies, procedures, and routines that make transacting business with an organization easy, positive, and memorable.

Remember, that as a church leader you have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to utilize magical processes in your organization!

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld

The Magic of Place in Your Church’s Guest Experience

The magic of Place has three faces: natural, constructed, and virtual.

> Natural Place Magic is intrinsic to those wonders of the physical world that thrill and awe us by simply existing. It’s the stuff of National Geographic specials that create magic through their natural grandeur. Our primary memories of these places will always be the magic of the natural wonders themselves.  Even so, skillful service magicians can subtly but measurably enhance our experience of Place Magic. A subtle balancing and blending act is the key to creating consistent Place Magic by showing off the main attraction at its best.

> Constructed Place Magic comes in a greater variety than does nature’s Place Magic. While few manmade places are palaces, castles, or world icons, even the most mundane can also be magical. There are hotels and grocery stores and retailers and automobile dealerships and hospitals and dental offices that stand above others and sparkle. People should feel attended to and comfortable in your constructed place.

> Virtual Place Magic demonstrates that place is not always a physical location. Successful organizations must have a presence, a story, and a sense of experience in their virtual world as well as the physical world. The look and feel of your online presence – your digital front door – must reflect the look, feel, and ambiance of your brick and mortar place.  Distinctive and eye-catching design is only beginning of creating a virtual place; you must also build trust and create a unique experience. From the first click, Guests should be drawn in, made curious, and delighted by the virtual place you have created.

Utilizing a Natural Setting

Few organizations will have the benefit of a serene waterfront setting or a majestic mountain view. But everyone has a place that can be enhanced by the following rules:

  • Find your “natural” story – all locations have a story; what’s yours?
  • Educate yourself – steep yourself and your team in the details of your place
  • Create an “elevator” story – what 30 second story can your team tell about your locale and its uniqueness?
  • Dabble in décor – consider enhancing your interior with visual representations of the natural setting
  • Sensory congruence – the smells and sounds need to be in sync with the sights and feel

Creating Illusion, Amazement, and Delight

There is no better contemporary example of building magic into man-made places than the world of the theme park. And there’s no better example of this than Walt Disney, who created an entirely new approach to the concept of entertainment, a business obsessed with the customer point of view, and the precise management of the customer’s experience. With the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Disney developed an obsession for anticipating and controlling every detail that will support – or detract from – his vision. He called it “Imagineering,” and defined it as the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how. It has been best codified by Marty Sklar, the first chairman of Disney Imagineering, in a set of principles dubbed “Mickey’s Ten Commandments.”

  1. Know your audience – before creating a setting, understand who will be visiting your place
  2. Wear your guest’s shoes – evaluate your setting from the customer’s perspective by experiencing it as a customer.
  3. Organize the flow of people and ideas – think of setting as a story and tell the story in a sequenced, organized way.
  4. Create a “wienie” – borrowed from silent film lingo, a wienie is a visual magnet used to orient and attract customers.
  5. Communicate with visual literacy – language is not always composed of words; use the common languages of color, shape, and form to communicate through setting.
  6. Avoid overload by creating turn-ons – do not bombard customers with data; let them choose the information they want when they want it.
  7. Tell one story at a time – create one setting for each idea to avoid confusing customers by mixing multiple stories in a single setting.
  8. Avoid contradictions, maintain identity – every detail and nuance of a setting should support and further the organizational identity and mission.
  9. For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat – give your customers the highest value by building an interactive setting that gives them the opportunity to exercise all their senses.
  10. Keep it up – never get complacent and always maintain your setting.

You are practicing Place Magic by creating or enhancing environments that delight, support, and enliven your guests. Magical places are venues with physical attributes that attract and please, subtly enhanced by human endeavor.

Remember that as a church leader, you do have “customers” – they are the Guests who come to your place every weekend.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to create a magical place in your organization!

Adapted from Service Magic by Ron Zemke and Chip Bell

Service Magic

Part of an ongoing, periodic series exploring the translation of customer service in the corporate world to Guest Experiences in ChurchWorld

The Three Ps of Service Magic

Service Magic

An unexpected experience with a touch of style, grace, and imagination the customer remembers with fondness and a smile.

Creating an unexpected, unpredictable, and valuable experience that is both memorable and reproducible.

Today’s customers are often surrounded by lackluster, mediocre service in every industry. How can you win their attention, admiration, and loyalty?

By using the magic of amazement, delight, and enchantment to create a customer experience that soars far beyond their highest Service Magicexpectations. Service wizards Ron Zemke and Chip Bell share their powerful bag of tricks in their book Service Magic. Subtitled “The Art of Amazing Your Customers,” it delivers a powerful bag of tricks to help you add zest, memorability, and value to your customers’ experience in ways they would never expect.

For leaders in ChurchWorld, the translation from customer experience to Guest Experience is an important one – starting with your mindset. You may not think you have “customers” in the traditional mindset – and you don’t. But you do have Guests coming to your church (hopefully!) and they, like you, live in consumer-driven world.

Why not study and learn from some of the best minds and practitioners from the customer experience world, and translate them into Guest Experience practices for your church?

Take Service Magic, for instance.

There is a feeling of awe, wonder, pleasure and delight in Service Magic. When it is present, the customer perceives that something special and unique has been done to, for, or with him or her. It can come from a word spoken, an experience observed, a process experienced, or the context in which the service occurred.

There is magic in Place, Process, and Performance – and all three are available to the skilled service magician and the organization determined to create consistent Service Magic for its Guests.

  • Place Magic: a venue – natural or manmade – with physical attributes that attracts and pleases, and that are subtly enhanced by human endeavor. We vacation at national parks to enjoy the great out-of-doors and visit theme parks for fun and thrills. We remember most of the great views and the rides, but without a little Service Magic, those pleasures would be greatly diminished.

ChurchWorld Application

You meet in a facility – owned or rented – that conveys a powerful impression to your Guests. What does your facility “say”? What are you doing on a regular basis to evaluate your place? What plan do you follow to make sure your place is the best it can be? Does your place invite people to come in – or does it turn people off, or even away? Do you have a plan of constant evaluation and upkeep? How “fresh” are your interiors and exteriors? Does your place fit into your community or does it stand out?

  • Process Magic: the often thankless, almost always invisible effort that makes the difference between policies, procedures, and routines that are difficult, confusing, maddening, and frustrating – and those we experience as surprisingly easy, positive, and memorable. No waiting where once lines were long; sign-ins, sign-ups, and renewals that are hassle-free and even interesting – if not fun – are the result of a little well placed Process Magic.

ChurchWorld Application

Your Guests should experience an invisible, seamless flow of actions from their first contact with you all the way through a worship experience and back again. The processes behind that invisible, seamless flow are probably complicated and maybe even confusing. What are you doing to regularly evaluate and change the process behind the curtains? Do you know what Guests experience when they come to your church? Are you using and speaking with a “churchy” language or do you make things simple to understand and follow?

  • Performance Magic: the surprisingly positive interaction with someone from an organization during the acquisition of a service or a product – or even when a problem with a product or service is being resolved. The wait staff who makes the dining experience “work” for you by correctly reading your mood and engaging you in light-hearted banter or by leaving you alone to your solitude are card-carrying, practicing, professional service magicians.

ChurchWorld Application

When it comes down to it, your front-line teams: parking, greeters, ushers, etc. – make the first and most powerful impact on your Guests. Their actions often dictate whether or not a Guest will return – even before, and often no matter what, the worship experience. When was the last time you ventured out to the front lines to observe? How often do your teams receive training – and encouragement? How high are the expectations for your front-line teams?

Each of these three “magics” is powered by a set of principles – which I hope you will join me in discovering in the next few posts!