1. Social Networking A Boon For NZ Businesses

    April 18, 2010 by

    Goodbye corporate brick wall. See ya later marketing spin doctors.

    It's hello to social media – the thing many write off as being "only for the young" – but is now being used by businesses to talk directly with customers. Companies are now also reaping the rewards of engaging in the new media space where others have been criticised for spamming users with marketing guff. And the main ingredient to the success? Humanisation.

    "Social media" is a term to describe tools such as Twitter and Facebook that people use to share and discuss information.

    Neil Forster, one of around eight regular staff members who tweets from Telecom's Twitter account @TelecomNZ, said customers were often shocked that a "real" person responded to feedback left about the telco. "One of the first comments was 'I didn't think Telecom could do this'," he said. Telecom opened a Twitter account around two years ago as part of a conscious shift in the company's culture. It now has more than 6000 "followers". "It's not a controlled marketing stream. We're an eclectic bunch of people," he said. "We think we have done a really good job."

    The team of technology enthusiasts has used Twitter to deal with customers' queries during arguably one of the toughest times the company has faced during the various XT outages. "The really good thing that I saw come out of that event was the increase in improvement of communication," said Mr Forster. "It's a lot more dynamic – there's really powerful value in it. "From a business point of view there's brand benefit, better communication with customers. It's really enhancing that whole cultural change." So while some customers were using the portal of Twitter to "rant", a lot of "positive stuff" was also coming in, he said.

    Telecom's success with social media is mirrored at Air New Zealand.

    General Manager of marketing, Steve Bayliss, said the company began to get more serious in the social media space around 18 months ago "both as a channel to gain valuable customer feedback and as a channel to share brand messages". Air NZ have dedicated staff working on a social media strategy and execution of its accounts, including @flyairnz (with more than 12,600 followers) and @airpointsfairy (with more than 3400 followers). Mr Bayliss said the Airpoints Fairy – an account set up with a fictional Tinkerbell-like character who "grants wishes" to do with AirNZ products – was set up after a Wednesday morning idea from the internal team and went live by 3pm the same day.

    "That's the speed of these new social channels," he said. "The reaction has been terrific. We keep being tempted to expand the Fairy as she has such a strong following, but then taking a breath and reflecting that a broad scale commercialisation would spoil the intrigue." Mr Bayliss said the biggest benefit of social media has been the speed with which you get customer feedback. "It's unfiltered, free form, instant, and brutally honest." He said social media will be a "massive area of growth and change" in the marketing industry over the next 24 months "especially in the way we do customer surveys and gather insights".

    Others businesses not only use social media but were actually born out of the communication medium.

    Tom Reidy, co-founder of Wellington-based company @Tweet4yourtee, puts it simply by saying his company wouldn't exist without Twitter. The company, which helps people promote their Twitter profile through personalised t-shirts, began in November. The response, says Reidy, has been "awesome". "The sales were a lot more than we expected. We're selling t-shirts globally – that wouldn't have happened without Twitter," he said. Tees are being worn by customers in Australia, Denmark and United States. "It has been a really fast growth. It's been pretty surprising though, especially the speed it's picked up."

    Kevin McKenna


  2. Learn the five secrets of innovation

    March 11, 2010 by

    Have you ever wished that you or your staff could be as innovative as Steve Jobs of Apple or Larry & Sergey of Google? Well, the good news is innovation is not an inherited characteristic – it is a learned skill that all businessmen can develop.

    Mark Tutton, CNN.com reporter. reported that researchers say anyone can learn to innovate like Steve Jobs. Coming up with brilliant, game-changing ideas is what makes the likes of Apple's Steve Jobs so successful, and now researchers say they have identified the five secrets to being a great innovator Professors from Harvard Business School, Insead and Brigham Young University have just completed a six-year study of more than 3,000 executives and 500 innovative entrepreneurs, that included interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers.

    In an article published in December's Harvard Business Review the researchers identified five skills that separate the blue-sky innovators from the rest — skills they labeled associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and discovering.

    One of the men behind the study, Insead's Hal Gregersen, told CNN, "What the innovators have in common is that they can put together ideas and information in unique combinations that nobody else has quite put together before."

    The researchers describe this ability to connect ideas as "associating," and say it's key to innovators' ability to think outside the box. But they add that the secret to how the great innovators think is the way they act.

    "The way they act is to observe actively, like an anthropologist, and they talk to incredibly diverse people with different world views, who can challenge their assumptions," Gregersen told CNN.

    "For them, everything is to be experimented upon — for example, if they walk into a bookstore and they're used to reading history they might try psychology. All these behaviors are powerfully enhanced by a capacity to ask provocative, challenging questions of the world around them." Because the ability to think differently comes from acting differently, Gregersen says anyone can become a better innovator, just by acting like one.

    "Studies have shown that creativity is close to 80 percent learned and acquired," he told CNN. "We found that it's like exercising your muscles — if you engage in the actions you build the skills."

    To improve your questioning skills, Gregersen recommends identifying a problem and writing nothing but questions about it for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. He says that over that period the questions will change, and so will your understanding and approach to the problem.

    To build your observation skills, identify a business, customer, supplier, or client, and spend a day or two watching how they work so you can better understand the issues they have to deal with.

    Mark Ventresca is a lecturer in strategic management at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, and he agrees that innovation is not an inherent trait, but a set of skills that people can learn.

    He told CNN that one key to being a better innovator is building a diverse network of contacts.

    "Data says that people who have more varied connections hear more diverse information, and see patterns before other people," he told CNN.

    "They are able to put together something they hear from a conference they were at last week with a briefing they're at tomorrow and come up with a new idea."

    He says the goal is not simply knowing lots of people, but knowing people from varied backgrounds, who work for different companies, in different industries, have different skills, and deal with different issues, so that you are exposed to varied ideas.

    When it comes to developing your ability to innovate, Ventresca recommends simply setting aside 30 minutes a week to talk with a contact you wouldn't normally talk to — for example someone you met at conference six months ago.

    Ventresca told CNN, "If you do that every week, that's 52 conversations in a year taking up 26 hours of time. 

    "Say 10 of those yield something interesting, and two of those 10 let you do something new and valuable — by investing just 26 hours a year you've come up with something pretty remarkable."


    Researchers say they have identified five skills that drive innovation: 

    Associating: The ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields. 

    Questioning: Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge the common wisdom. They ask "why?", "why not?" and "what if?" 

    Observing: Discovery-driven executives scrutinize common phenomena, particularly the behavior of potential customers. 

    Experimenting: Innovative entrepreneurs actively try out new ideas by creating prototypes and launching pilots. 

    Networking: innovators go out of their way to meet people with different ideas and perspectives. 


    Best regards
    Dr Robin Mann, Commercial Director and Part-Owner, BPIR.com Limited,


  3. Common Qualities of Success: BPIR.com advice concerning successful safety programmes


    Terry Mathis, founder of U.S.  ProAct Safety, writes [1] that it has been found that successful safety improvement initiatives are:

    1. Proactive: the successful implementation of reactive safety programmes will inevitably generate the need for the development of proactive safety programmes.

    2. Focused: traditional initiatives commonly lead to the development of many rules and procedures, and these tend to overwhelm and to diffuse employee attention. Truly successful safety efforts focus upon the most important dangers and the appropriate ways to avoid these. When employees begin to automatically take precautions themselves then accidents rates tend to drop permanently.

    3. Transformational: precautions that have the potential to produce a significant positive impact upon accidents are termed transformational precautions. Truly excellent safety efforts do not seek for modest gains, but for goals that will transform accident rates using minimal and practical levels of effort.

    4. Employee Centric: safety improvements are often limited through a lack of worker involvement. Effective safety initiatives must approach risk from both a management and an employee perspective.

    5. Clearly Communicated: effective communication is a trademark of successful safety initiatives, and when deeds and words don't match then the message becomes unclear.

    6. Results Oriented: some safety initiatives have emphasised process metrics over results metrics. A profound knowledge of safety is found using both process metrics and result metrics along with an understanding of the relationship between the two.

    7. Multi-dimensional: successful safety efforts benefit from contributions from quality, technology and behavioural science approaches.

    8. Integrated: successful safety initiatives must become integrated into everything that an organisation does. Safety programmes that do not mesh with day-to-day activities are seldom successful, and they are certainly not sustainable. Integrated safety needs to become an organisational value.

    9. Practical: safety success can be advanced by theories, but ultimately it can not be achieved if it does not fit the cultural, procedural and the real conditions that are found in the workplace.

    10.Humanistic: Successful safety programmes need to win the hearts and minds of the people involved. Ultimately the reasons behind working on safety are just as important as the way it is implemented. Goals dominated by financial targets and benchmarks alone will not win the hearts of the people who are able make initiatives truly successful.

    [1] Mathis, T., (2008), What Does Safety Success Look Like?, Occupational Hazards, Vol 70, Iss 8, pp 43-47, Penton Media, Inc., Cleveland

    Members may read the full article which provides further advice about successful safety management.

     Not a member? read about our membership benefits , or click here to join now!


    Neil Crawford

  4. A culture of safety: BPIR.com advice concerning healthcare safely management.

    March 8, 2010 by

    Significant rewards can be returned when attention is given to both patient safety and health care worker safety. Thomas Krause and John Hidley, executives of U.S. Behavioural Science Technology Inc., write [1] that patient safety and employee safety are inseparable since both are the products of an organisation’s culture. Krause & Hidley suggest the following five ways of thinking in regard to patient/employee safety:

    1. Think leadership: when optimising health care safety performance it is essential to begin with leadership i.e. the board of directors, physician leaders, and the health care system leaders, including the CEO and his/her direct reports. When patient and employee safety improves so too does employee satisfaction; organisational citizenship; patient satisfaction; quality of care; malpractice costs decrease, and the overall reputation/financial security of an institution will likewise improve.

    2. Think systems: patient and employee safety should focus upon systems performance to a greater extent than individual performance. In practice adverse events arise mostly from complex processes that are embedded within an organisation. Root-cause analysis of incidents shows clearly that, while individuals are often blamed, the real cause of incidents is almost always a failure of systems. The responsibility for providing adequate systems belongs to the leadership of the organisation.

    3. Think strategy: an overarching strategy must be used to significantly improve patient safety. Too often, safety comes after efficiency, after economy and after profit. In professional group meetings or in board meetings, safety is often very low on the agenda, if it is there at all. Safety must command a central position of strategic value to organisational leadership at all levels.

    4. Think culture: leaders create culture with their every thought, word and deed. Leadership predicts culture, and culture predicts safety outcomes. Krause and Hidley state that “since leadership shapes culture, and culture predictably defines the likelihood of exposure to harm, leaders are obligated to take action consciously and continually to mitigate hazard.” A fundamental ethical error in regard to patient safety is committed when leaders know how to minimize exposure to harm but don't take any action to make this happen.

    5. Think behaviour:
    learn to think about patient safety in terms of behaviour – particularly one’s own behaviour. Effective safety leadership involves finding the specific relationship between ones actions as a leader and the state of patient safety, both organisation wide, and within local functional areas of responsibility. Once this relationship is understood then it becomes possible to change behaviour to everyone's benefit.

    [1] R10854 Krause T. R., Hidley, J. H., (2008), Five Ways to Think About Patient Safety, Trustee, Vol 61, Iss 10, pp 24-27, Health Forum Inc., Chicago

    Members may read the full article which provides further excellent advice concerning Healthcare safety management.

    Not a member? read about our membership benefits , or click here to join now!

    Neil Crawford

  5. Leading the generations in today’s workforce

    February 25, 2010 by
    In an article in the Quality Journal "How to Lead When the Generation Gap Becomes Your Everyday Reality", the author, Issy Gesell, identifies the four generations in today’s workplace as:
    "The Silent Generation: The oldest generational group, born between 1925 and 1945, is the Silent Generation. Also called Traditionalists, Seniors, and Veterans, this group values hard work, conformity, dedication, sacrifice, and patience. Members of this generation are comfortable with delayed recognition and reward.

    The Baby Boomers: The largest group in the work force is the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers are characteristically optimistic and team oriented. They place a high value on their work ethic while also seeking personal gratification and growth.

    Generation X: The smallest group in size is Generation X, which also is known as the Sandwich Generation because of its position between the two largest groups. These folks were born between 1965 and 1980 and were the first "latchkey" kids. They are self-reliant, global thinkers who value balance, fun, and informality.
    The Millennial Generation: Millennial were born between 1981 and 2000, and ultimately will become the largest group. Even though less than half of them are presently in the work force, they already are having a significant impact on organizational leadership. Members of this generation exhibit confidence, optimism, civic duty, sociability, street smarts, inclusivity, collaboration, and open-mindedness. They tend to be goal oriented.
    Most of today's organisational leaders represent the Silent Generation or Baby Boomers. Over the past 40 years, these two generations have learned to work together. You can begin to raise awareness about the differences among the generations and their implications to your organization by facilitating a dialogue between and among the generations. Current leaders would be wise to assess their leadership style, knowledge of the different generations, and personal attitudes toward the different members of their work force."
    Izzy suggests the following questions can serve as a basis for evaluating personal perspectives and approaches:

    – What differentiates each generation?
    – Which generations are you responsible for leading?
    – How do generational differences impact your perceptions and leadership style?
    – How do those differences manifest themselves in the organization?
    – How can you lead intra-generational and intergenerational groups?
    – What can you do as a leader to foster mixedgenerational dialogue and problem solving?
    – Which generation has the strongest impact on your organization?
    – Is your organization more like General Motors or Google?
    – How do the major aspects of your organization's culture ("generation-bias") align more with one generation than the others?
    – How does that generation-bias impact inclusion, recruitment, retention, and development of employees?

    How will you manage?

    We also found this clip on YouTube:

    "How will you manage in an era of transformative changes in workplace demographics, technology, regulations, and expectations? Kronos and XPLANE present fascinating statistics."

    Kevin McKenna