How Companies Are Shifting from an Alpha to a Beta Paradigm

How Companies Are Shifting from an Alpha to a Beta Paradigm
Lynn Serafinn interviews corporate anthropologist Dana Ardi about how leadership in the workplace is changing, and about her new book, The Fall of the Alphas.

When we take a moment to look, we can see that the world around us is changing. The ‘ new paradigm ’ – whether we call it this or not – is emerging in all aspects of our lives, not just in business and marketing. Every week I meet someone new who is a maven of these changes; each one plays an important role in our social evolution.

One of those mavens I’ve met recently is a woman named Dana Ardi, author of a new book called The Fall of the Alphas: the new Beta way to connect, influence and lead. Dana refers to herself as a ‘corporate anthropologist’, i.e. someone who observes the culture of companies and the way people within businesses behave. As a new paradigm approach, I thought Dana’s work (and her book) would be of interest to our 7 Graces readers. So today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I did with Dana, where I ask her about the difference between the ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ paradigms, and how this shift from alpha to beta changes the way we work, communicate and lead.

Click the audio player below to listen to the interview (about 26 minutes long) or you can read the transcript below. I hope you enjoy it and that you’ll share your thoughts about this topic below.

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*** INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT ***

LYNN: Dana, your book is called The Fall of the Alphas: the new Beta way to connect, influence and lead. Could you summarise what the book is it about? What is the premise of the book?

DANA: Yes, so to give you a little context, The Fall of the Alphas is really about how hierarchies are being replaced by networks. So if we see change in what is happening in business today and if we think about the ‘Alpha’ model, as I define it in the book, as a military model. It was based on the returning veterans from World War II where they came back and had organising principles that were very militaristic in chain of command. We have led our businesses that way. But now with the tools and the changes that I document, which I look at both historically and anthropologically, we are coming to an age of what I call the ‘Network Economy’. So it’s more like an orchestra, it is more like a conductor who is the leader rather than a General.

LYNN: I love that. I really do agree with you on the fact that this is where we are coming to in society in general, not just in business. Can you tell me: is this something you think is a natural part of our evolution or is this something we are consciously doing?

DANA: I absolutely think that there are certain things that are mega-trends that have led us to this point, and I think it comes out of the root of what I call the whole Human Rights Movement – the Gay Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the technology revolution, globalisation, cultural change, self-awareness and the beginning of mindfulness and consciousness. So, business is changing because we are changing. And when we look at all the ways in which we have changed socially and culturally, one of the last bastions that has yet to change is how we organise ourselves at work.

I became very curious about this because increasingly in my practice I had people coming to me that were voicing dissatisfaction. And they weren’t unhappy with their professions and they weren’t unhappy with the quality of their work, or the choices they made in terms of their career, but they were unhappy about the organisations that defined them. Because they felt like they didn’t have a voice at the table, they weren’t doing meaningful work, they weren’t connected to other people, and they weren’t collaborating in a way that was satisfactory. In fact, they were competing with people in their organisation rather than being unified as a group, and looking towards ‘how is this community going to do the best work possible?’, and ‘who really are our competitors?’ and ‘how are we as a team going to face that competition?’

LYNN: Everything that you said kind of underscores all the reasons why I left the educational sector. It was very top-down management, we weren’t tapping into the teams, there was competition within the teams and having a voice at the table – even at the management level, which is when I left – was almost impossible. I agree with you entirely. So tell us some signs of how we can tell that this Alpha model isn’t working? You describe the discontent, but how else is it impacting our businesses?

DANA: I’m not a black or white person. So I’m not saying in the book that Alpha is bad and Beta is good, and there is nowhere in between. Think of me as a ‘corporate anthropologist’. So when I look at business or an organisation, I study their culture, their morés, their values, their communication systems, their shared history, the roles and identities of people, how status is treated in the community, their humour, etc. What I am seeing are the changes taking place because people are changing. For example, you have the millennials coming into the marketplace who have grown up with technology in their hands, in their pocket. They are used to collaborating. They come into work and they have already voiced their ‘e-pinions’ online. They’ve yelled, they’ve produced books, they’ve chimed in on everything. But then we tell them at work, ‘You are a junior player. Just do what you are told.’ Or we say, ‘Here’s our mission, don’t challenge anything, don’t think about it, don’t share ideas. Just keep your head down and do your job.’ So one of the changes that is happening is that this new generation is coming in with new tools and new ways of connecting to our customers and to each other at work. They just don’t want to be silent, and many of them are choosing to start their own businesses or be entrepreneurial.

You also have the baby-boomers who don’t know how to handle these complex global workforces with all the technology and communication. It’s a different way of communicating. And also the complexity of business, the pace of which it operates, the conversations that customers are having with you – all these changes are happening. So leadership is still leadership, whether it’s an Alpha model or a Beta model. What I am saying is that this Beta model – that that is flatter, that relies on more decentralised, horizontal shared leadership, collaboration , different distribution of rewards, open communication, self-awareness – this is a model that will take you to the future. And it’s not because I say it’s changing; it’s because it is changing and I am observing this change and highlighting to people that this is happening in your business. Look around. How do you harness it? How do you incorporate it into your style? How do you provide your employees with what they deserve – which is work environments that are more like communities, where people can experience real joy of their work?

LYNN: Yeah, and as you are describing it – I really love this idea of corporate anthropology – I mean I did my postgraduate work in anthropology when I was in my 20’s, I’ve always been an anthropologist at heart. But what I really like about what you talk about this Alpha-Beta is I can really get a picture that there is the old system of top-down management which is expected to be controlled from the top, and the top also expects to control from the top down. Whereas the Beta, as you are describing it, is more organic, more holistic, more democratic, more transparent (which is one of the 7 Graces). You are using so many of the 7 Graces in this model that you are talking about.

There are going to be many challenges for people who tend towards either the Alpha or the Beta way of working. It’s not just about meeting with each other but knowing how to take the best of both to create something new. So what are the challenges that you as the observer, the anthropologist, think they are both facing?

DANA: They are both facing the ability to be adaptable, to make quick decisions and to be more flexible in their decisions. You know, when I first went into the business world, we were drafting 10 year plans and 5 year strategies. I mean that is totally ridiculous. My young companies that I consult with – my New Economy companies, my young technology and software companies that are experiencing extreme hyper-growth – they reinvent their strategy and adapt this strategy every 30 days! And bigger companies have yearly planning, but then things happen and all of a sudden, they realise that if they are not adaptable – if they don’t leverage the intellect in the organisation, if they don’t capitalise on people really keeping the strategy in check and challenging the strategy with regularity – they could derail because things are changing so quickly.

So these are challenges. The omnipotence of leadership says ‘it’s my way or the highway’, or ‘this is where we have to stick to plan’, ‘this is the way we are going’, doesn’t have the Beta sensibility of openness to dialogue, and doesn’t continually want to be challenged and look at what is happening. So how do you do that? You need to have an organisation where people at all levels [have a voice]. Because sometimes, in any organisation, it is the foot soldier or the person in the field, or the young employee who is coming in with fresh eyes who is really looking at something and may be able to say, ‘Wait a minute, there’s danger here’ or ‘There’s another course we could take that may be more effective’ or ‘Let’s try something new that may captivate the imagination of our talent or our customers.’

So no one leader can now take responsibility for channelling all the way up. And that pace of getting information has got to be fired from everywhere in the organisation. It’s got to be aggregated, it’s got to be shared, and knowledge has to be collected and used in very effective ways and this is a challenge for everyone.

LYNN: I imagine that it would be very scary both for the person ‘at the top’ who is used to being in control and, at the other end, for people at the so-called ‘bottom’, who are used to ‘passing the buck’ upwards.

DANA: Exactly! And so, we talk about, ‘You’ve got to trade your ego for your eco.’ And that means it’s really about ecosystems within networks, within your organisation. You really need to use the collective consciousness of the organisation to feed in to your decision-making. That doesn’t mean its lack of leadership. Quite to the contrary. It’s a little messier. It’s not as neat. You really have to have people you rely on. You need to have project initiatives and the highest potential folks in your organisation becoming the gurus of certain paths of action. But it’s got to be an environment where people feel free, and feel that they can participate – that they are there to bring their best ideas and those ideas will be heard. They may not all be acted on, but they will all be considered. It’s an environment where everyone in the community is there with a shared value to make the community the best it can be.

LYNN: Well, that’s a wonderful vision. I’d love to know, if you can take a step back and not be just the ‘corporate anthropologist’, but more of a ‘global vision anthropologist’ and share what you believe: as we allow the corporations and businesses in general, to come into this new model, this new paradigm, how do you think that will impact society?

DANA: Well, I think we are all learning, and that in our personal lives we have to look at Beta in a way that we have to operate. There are different roles in families, there are more collaborative ways we think about our lives. For example, if you are a working mum and you need a babysitter, you open up your network to other working mums and ask, ‘Who is the best caretaker for the kids? How do you manage?’ So we are sharing all the time. One of the things I say in the book is that not only do our business leaders and our political leaders need to think about collaboration and this Beta paradigm, but that each of us as individuals – to be able to play in the world we live in – has to have this understanding of what I call the ’3 C’s’ which are: Communication, Collaboration and Curation.

Communication is open communication, dialogue, the ability to be articulate, having a managed ego, the ability to listen, etc. That’s part of the communication cycle.

Collaboration is the ability to work with other people, the ability to share ideas, the ability to bring your best self into a situation, your talent, your skills, your knowledge, etc.

Curation is when you have the chance to lead. We are all followers AND we are all leaders in this new Beta paradigm. When you have a chance to lead, you have to curate from the best thinkers around you. You have to be able to bring them together as a group and lead them. If you are a mum, it may be curating your family. If you are a dad, you may be curating the extended family. If you are in a book club, you may be curating the voices at the table as to the next selection. We can apply it to everything from the very technical in business to the very mundane of how we live our lives, and how we share with our friends and families.

LYNN: The one ‘C’ that isn’t in that list is ‘Conflict’. When talking about shifting paradigms, or changing leadership or blurring the lines of expectations of managers or teams, I think a lot of people expect conflict and worry about it. How can we understand how to deal with the inevitable conflicts that are going to arise as we shift roles?

DANA: I talk a lot in the book about what I call ‘team ego’ and ‘managed ego’. I think self-awareness is step 1. Conflicts will arise, disagreements will arise, different sensibilities will arise. But how you resolve those conflicts, how you share ideas around it, how you are together as a community, weigh those alternatives – again, the leader will decide. There will be leadership and ultimately decisions will be made that are not always the decisions you want to hear. But [we need to learn] how to have those tough conversations, and how to leave people’s egos intact if they had ideas but the community chose to go a different way. So those are the kinds of things we talk about. There are many times in business, as part of my coaching, when I do have to help a leader have a difficult conversation with an individual, with a group – how they have it, how they keep that person’s integrity intact, how they allow dignity in business to happen. I always tell the CEOs I counsel that any conversation with a member of the talent community is a conversation with the entire talent community. There are no secrets anymore. If you treat people with respect, if you allow people to have a voice at the table, if you try to get to a place of understanding, you may not get there, but at least you have explored and shared. Most people in business want to do the right thing, by their colleagues, by their company, by the communities they choose to engage with.

LYNN: Dana, I feel like we could go on talking for a really long time. I love all the things you are saying, I love the new model, I love the idea of corporate anthropology, I love the word ‘e-pinions’ (I think that’s terrific). Let’s talk about the book The Fall of the Alphas itself. Who is the book for, what are they going to get from it by reading it?

DANA: I think the book has general appeal for anyone that is in business today, or is thinking or anticipating having a career, or is taking leadership in any form in the community or in the family. It is basically a leadership book, whether you are leading a community group or a multinational corporation. It’s really about how things are changing and how you have to engage as part of a community, and as a leader in the community. So I think the book has general appeal – at least I hope so. I have tried, as an anthropologist, to tell some stories of how we got to this point, why do we organise the way we do, what do the Hunters and Gatherers do, how it evolved, what happened when women came into the workplace, what happened with the Human Rights Movement that started to change, and how technology is influencing these changes.

So I think you will see a pattern when I talk about how this is changing leadership in business. What I am hearing from people who are reading the book is ‘Wow, all those changes in all the ways you describe the anthropology of changes, are changes I see in my personal life, and let me tell you why.’ So, it really does knock you on the side of the head and puts it in a historical and anthropological perspective.

LYNN: Fantastic. I just want to say I can’t wait to read the rest of it. It’s right up my street.

DANA: If you want to lead, it certainly is a handbook for what you need to think about to be able to bring diverse people into your organisation and to have a different kind of dialogue.

LYNN: Dana, the frequenters of this blog are people who are interested in New Paradigm business , ethical marketing , ethical business practice, etc. They know that everything is about change. I loved the fact that you said this isn’t about making Alphas wrong and Betas right, this is about finding ways to co-create and move into something new. Knowing that these are the kind of people who will be listening to this, what last thoughts would you like to leave them with, to hold on to, or to explore?

DANA: We have to temper our confidence with this understanding: that we live in a diverse world of diverse ideas and we need to evolve and change how we behave to be able to incorporate some of the things that are happening and changing around us. The human spirit is always there. Embrace the change. Change is only fear of the unknown. If we knew change was good, we’d change all the time. What we are seeing is that people are happier, more joy in their lives and their work. If they open themselves, they are more innovative. It’s very self-motivating and it leverages your intellect and the intellect of others. Be open to it and I think there are wonderful things ahead.

I am very encouraged by the response not only to the book but the way people are treating each other – because they recognise that they work in community. They are not just businesses; they are communities and they have the responsibility to make those places, places where people can thrive and do their best, just like you would do it in their neighbourhood.

LYNN: Thank you so much, Dana. It was a pleasure interviewing you today and I hope you will be engaging in conversation with the 7 Graces community on Facebook when I post this podcast, because I am sure they are going to want to speak with you and connect with you.

DANA: Well I appreciate it very much, Lynn, and thank you for so much to your audience for listening.

*** END INTERVIEW ***

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Dana Ardi. You can find her book The Fall of the Alphas: the new Beta way to connect, influence and lead on Amazon US by clicking the image below:

BOOK: The Fall of the Alphas by Dana Ardi

Find the book also on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada or on Dana’s website.

Find out more about Dana Ardi and her new paradigm work at http://corporateanthropologyadvisors.com/

And don’t forget to leave a comment below before you leave the site, so I know what you thought about what Dana shared with us today.

Lynn Serafinn
18 April 2014

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The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

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Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project .


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller  The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

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Protecting Your Online Written Content from Unauthorised Use

Protecting Your Online Written Content from Unauthorised Use
7 Graces Community member and lawyer, Lubna Gem Arielle, explains copyright, plagiarism, and key issues to consider when someone has copied your original work.

I’m often asked questions about protecting online written content. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a post where someone canvasses views from their online community – perhaps a LinkedIn or Facebook group – of what to do to because someone seems to have snaffled chunks of their original material. Much to the author’s dismay, their website copy, blog posts or other online articles were repurposed as the snaffler’s own work, perhaps evidenced by the retelling of a personal story, or (to twisted amusement) the repetition of an inadvertent typo that fooled the author’s spell-check and annoyingly escaped a gazillion proofreads.

Lifting someone else’s original work from the Internet is rife – and really easy to do. So how can you combat your own materials being copied and used without permission? Although the legal backdrop sets the scene for the steps you can take, inevitably, there’s a lot more going on in the picture. So I thought I’d explain a bit about copyright – what it is, what it isn’t and how it actually works in a wider context.

1. Copyright Is Not the Only Consideration.

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right, relevant to written content, whether this is produced in hard-copy or online. However, there is a whole host of other factors to consider, such as the viability of enforcing these rights, the wider concept of plagiarism, pragmatic positions, applying limited resources, marketing wisdom, personal values, business values, brand values, client contentment and wider public perceptions. Undoubtedly, there are others I haven’t listed here.

2. Is Your Work Protected By Copyright?

UK copyright legislation recognises specific categories of work as copyright works, including “original literary works”. But legal language doesn’t always correspond to everyday meanings.

The word “original” is not intended in any breath-taking sense; it simply means is not copied and that “some degree of skill, labour and judgment has been exercised” in creating it.

Similarly, the term “literary” extends to almost any written work. Website copy, blog posts, course materials, books and even shopping lists fall within this category. So, basically, if you haven’t copied your online content and some degree of skill labour and judgment has gone into writing it, it is an “original literary work” and falls under copyright law.

3. Is There Copyright In a Title?

When it comes to titles, the law denotes some sort of critical mass. In the 1881 case of Dick v Yates, the courts held that the book title Splendid Misery was too short to comprise a literary work, and “there’s no copyright in a title” has been accepted for well over a century.

More recently, the terrain has been shifting. The European Court of Justice recently commented that copyright can exist in an extract of just 11 consecutive words, and in following their reasoning, the UK courts have since ruled that the headline of a news article can be a literary work, looking to the overall originality and creative effort exercised by the author. However, they also said that a single word was still too short.  Putting the two decisions together, it seems possible that a title of two or more words may now be capable of qualifying as a literary work.  For the time being, this leaves us with titles sitting in a grey area.

4. Copyright Is an AUTOMATIC Right.

I quiver every time someone asks, “Have you copyrighted that?  because suggesting some sort of action denies  the very nature of copyright, which springs automatically into existence the moment you manifest your work.

You don’t have to register or go through any formality to obtain copyright. You don’t even have to use the copyright symbol © (although combining it with your name and the date of creation in a copyright notice, is useful and at no cost to you in letting others know that you are the copyright owner).

5. What Rights Does Copyright Give You in Your Online Written Content?

Copyright gives you the right to prevent others from doing certain acts, set out in UK copyright legislation as the restricted acts. These include copying the work or parts of it, distributing, sharing or adapting it without your permission.

There is a myth that if you make your work available online, it is in the public domain and free for all to do as they please. NOT SO. In legal terms, the public domain only refers to works in which copyright has expired or has been formally relinquished by the copyright owner.

Copyright in written works lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years, so if you’re still alive while you’re reading this, you have some control over your works as others need your permission to carry out the restricted acts.

6. What Permission Do Others Have to Use Your Online Written Content?

In the late 90s, as use of the Internet was opening out to us all, Internet lawyers started to evolve, often from intellectual property and transactional lawyers. A key issue we discussed was whether, when and how the mere act of making material available online gave an “implied licence” for use, and the extent of what that licence might be. The advice generally given to clients was to use express provisions, copyright notices and legends to clarify doubts.

Many of us give permission as we encourage others to share our online content with social media and email share buttons. However, making our material “freely available” and saying it is “free to share” is not the same thing as saying it is “free to use“. Express wording is as useful as ever, and it’s good practice to supplement the use of share buttons with wording at the end of a page or post setting out the permissions you are giving and any conditions; for example, that others reproduce the article in its entirety and/or acknowledge you as the author and/or link back to your site and/or that use is non-commercial only.

You can give basic written permissions as part of a copyright legend. For details on how to do this, see my article “How to Use a Copyright Legend to Manage Your Written Content”.

7. The Boundaries of Permission and the Grace of Directness

One of the 7 Graces of Marketing is the “Grace of Directness”. This is the Grace that encourages straight-forwardness and simplicity in how we communicate in our business and marketing dealings. The Graces of Directness is especially pertinent to legal niceties. We demonstrate the Grace of Directness when we use express written devices such as notices, legends or contractual provisions wherever possible, as well as when we steer clear of “legalese’ and use plain language instead.

8. Copyright Does Not Protect IDEAS.

Copyright protection attaches to the physical manifestation of a work and NOT a bare idea. An idea in a written work can also be pulled out and reused. It is only the work itself that cannot be copied.

Here’s an example. Following the publication of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, co-authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh claimed that Brown had taken elements of their earlier book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Both books were based on a supposition that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had married, had children and that their bloodline is protected by a secret society. Baigent and Leigh brought an unsuccessful legal action against Brown in the High Court, followed by an appeal to the Court of Appeal which was rejected (you can read about that ruling HERE). While their book was protected by copyright, the underlying ideas were not, and the Court described them as “generalised propositions” and “being at too high a level of abstraction.”

Ideas cannot be owned; they are free to fly.

9. Our Ideas Are Not Always as Unique as We May Believe Them to Be.

Have you ever met someone who gripes about other people swiping their ideas? Having strikingly similar ideas, and sometimes even experiences, happens much more frequently than we are perhaps prepared to imagine.

Years ago, when working at a TV production company, I learned why most production companies refuse to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), where the company  agrees not use the brilliant idea that you or I share with them. However, the glaring truth of my experience is that these allegedly “unique ideas” often arrived from different sources separated by a mere slither of time. Almost pairs to the ark and buses in threes. Veritable batches. Perhaps ideas are like trends: sometimes we make a choice, only to find out that so has everyone else, but we imagine we were the first.

10. Enforcing Copyright May Not Be the Best Use of Your Resources.

Copyright infringement takes place when someone carries out a restricted act without the copyright owner’s permission, with some fairly limited exceptions. However, the overall effectiveness of copyright relies to a large extent on others not infringing it, as enforcing it can be an uphill struggle.

Where someone infringes your copyright, unless you can resolve the issue with them directly, enforcing it is through the courts, with the incumbent financial and emotional costs as well as time and energy expended. All resources that could be put to more productive and fulfilling use and moving your business forward.

Going to court does NOT come with a guarantee of success; and winning at court can be a pyrrhic victory. A good (and ethical) lawyer will always be clear with you as to the potential financial costs and risks involved as well as the uncertainty of outcome as you contemplate litigation.

11. Taking a Wider View of Copyright Enforcement

Copyright law does not sit neatly with advances in technology or many social media practices. As we know, digital content proliferates like wildfire, and attempts to curb it can be as effective as spitting. Alan Stevens, an expert on reputation management, states:

“I know from Google Alerts that all of my books are available for free download on dozens of sites. Legal action is pointless for several reasons, so I see it simply as marketing. People still buy the printed and Kindle versions, so if a few can be bothered to seek out free downloads and run the risk of viruses, good luck to them.”

He raises the possibility that disseminating content, even where it hasn’t been authorised by the copyright owner, may actually benefit your business in terms of marketing exposure.

In his seminal paper, “Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution”, publisher Tim O’Reilly analyses the effects of piracy on online publishing and comments that “shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy” and remarks that both are an annoying cost of doing business.

Your stance on how you contain your content, whether you encourage some level of sharing or rigorously police your copyright and the approach you take, reflect on your business values, which may include your personal values. Is your position congruent with these?

13. Plagiarism. Ethically Envisioned and Sometimes Embodied In Codes.

Plagiarism broadly relates to the claiming of another’s ideas as one’s own. However, it’s not a legal concept, but an ethical one. As such, it lacks formal definition and what we label plagiarism is often highly subjective. I’ve observed that there isn’t a general consensus of what amounts to “being plagiarised,” and the standard varies amongst different peer groups. Where the interests, needs and concerns of a particular group are similar, what amounts to plagiarism and the consequences may be mapped out in formal requirements and codes of conduct. For example, many institutions of Higher Education have strict guidelines on what constitutes plagiarism, bolstered by software to detect it. However, these do not have force of law.

Another example is the Professional Speaking Association, a membership organisation for professional speakers. Its ethical guidelines include a requirement that members “avoid using materials, titles and themes originated by others, either orally or in writing, unless approved by the originator.” The code recognises the value of knowledge and currency of ideas, within a profession that values expert knowledge, personal stories and genuine life lessons. However, as with any code, it has to be applied to be effective, and has an inbuilt limitation because it relies on individuals flagging up aberrations. In its own right, this action does not sit neatly with the ethos of a membership organisation; and as ever, it is difficult to know when the line has been crossed.

What constitutes an expert is subject to lively debate. To me, an expert is one who has garnered, applied, questioned and played with knowledge in the field; and often built on it, combined it, customised it. It is not, someone who merely regurgitates or conveys words and ideas. Although, of course, a quick Google search usually shows how widespread any idea actually is.

It’s so difficult. While being plagiarised can feel like a theft from the soul, its occurrence may not be a universal truth; and rendering a misplaced accusation of plagiarism is perhaps an indictment of another’s soul. Legally, calling someone else a plagiarist may also be defamatory. So, there isn’t a singular answer.

13. Giving Credit to Others and the Grace of Connection

Thankfully, we all know (I hope) people who express gratitude to others for ideas, inspirations and influences and openly credit them when they can. Being acknowledged and appreciated goes further than creating warm, fuzzy feelings. It makes sound business sense.

We also know that “people buy from people”. Many formal business networks stress the importance of connecting with others and allowing the relationship to grow; and not jumping straight in to sell. For example, in member trainings, business and social networking expert and past-regional head of Athena Central London, Marilena Narbona, emphasises the wisdom of cultivating and nurturing relationships. Clearly, acknowledging the contribution of others does this, in a way that carelessly or competitively ignoring it doesn’t.

Within the 7 Graces, this practice relates to the “Grace of Connection” and fostering a real community where we value our interactions and relationships with others, and where resources – including knowledge – are treated with respect so that both can be sustained for the good of the whole.

The secret to whether we grow a bountiful garden or tangleweed can lie in whether or not we give due credit to others.

In Conclusion

Safeguarding one’s online written content goes beyond a relentless insistence on enforcing copyright. There is a multitude of other factors that are prone to fall out as we untangle what appears as unauthorised copying and all of these are relevant as we decide whether and how to share or hoard our written content.

I encourage taking an holistic view of your business, including its “dharma”, which 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn describes as the intrinsic purpose of our business, and how it serves both our own needs and those of society. To me, this means considering personal ethics, business and brand values, inner wisdom, relationship with others, as much or more than what the law says or being solely driven by increased profit margins.

I’d love to know your magic formula. Please leave me a comment below.

Until next time,

Lubna Gem Arielle
15 April 2014

Lubna Gem ArielleLUBNA GEM ARIELLE is a consultant lecturer in law at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Birkbeck (University of London), professional speaker and writer/presenter for Legal Network Television. She is also a creative practitioner exploring how we share stories, knowledge and information; and the founder of Six Minute Legal Bites, making law accessible to artists and creative entrepreneurs. Lubna is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundation of Ethical Marketing programme, and guest blogger for the 7 Graces of Marketing.

CLICK HERE to read other articles by Lubna on this website.

Lubna on Twitter @info_bites

Lubna’s Website: http://www.6minutebites.com

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in 7 Graces, Blog, Community Blogger, Connection, Directness, Law and Legal Tips, Lubna Gem Arielle | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How GIVING is Essential to Sustainable Business Success

How GIVING is Essential to Sustainable Business Success
Lynn Serafinn interviews humanitarian Alisoun Mackenzie about how a new concept of ‘giving’ can create sustainable prosperity for business, humanity and planet.

Our 7 Graces community is comprised of some of the most remarkable people, all devoted to creating a new paradigm of business and marketing that is ethical and globally focused. They believe that the purpose of business is to serve humanity and planet by keeping our environmental, social and economic resources in a state of flow and balance. Embracing this outlook is the essence of social entrepreneurship, regardless of whether or not their business is technically a ‘social enterprise’ (which is a specific type of legal entity).

Earlier this month, one of our community members – a woman named Alisoun Mackenzie – ran an online event called the ‘Give To Profit Fundraising Business Summit’ on which I had the pleasure of being one of 16 entrepreneurial speakers (you can hear the replay of these interviews for free at http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1581718).

Alisoun’s background in the humanitarian and charitable sector is impressive and inspiring, and it has obviously filtered into the consciousness with which she created ‘Give 2 Profit’. I thought Alisoun’s vision for what businesses should and could provide society was particularly compelling, so I thought it would be of interest to our readers if I turned the tables and shared a short virtual interview, where I asked Alisoun some core questions about her business and how it fits in the new paradigm. I hope you find it thought-provoking and that it inspires you to see new possibilities for what your own business, social enterprise or other non-profit can do for the world.

And, as you’re reading, think about how Alisoun’s vision EXEMPLIFIES the Grace of Abundance in the 7 Graces model.

LYNN: What was your original inspiration for creating an event Give 2 Profit? What was the impact you had hoped to create through it?

ALISOUN: I’ve been doing humanitarian work with young genocide survivors in Rwanda for the last 4 years with a charity called Create Global Healing. I’ve been teaching trauma healing, heart-centered leadership skills and entrepreneurial skills.

My experience of being involved in this project has been both humbling and inspiring. If these young people – who have witnessed their families being murdered, and have lived in orphanages or even right the streets – can heal their inner wounds to go on to create happy rewarding lives, then there is so much more potential for us all. Most of the young people we’ve been working with are now enjoying lives that they couldn’t have imagined only a few years ago. Many are at university or even running their own businesses. Watching this has taught me so much about our capacity as human beings to heal and to create miracles when we connect to our hearts and to one another at a heart level.

When I came back from my last trip there in September 2013, I had a compelling desire to raise more funds for the project – initially $25,000. I had no idea at that point how I would do it as most of the fundraising I’d done before had been much smaller e.g. auctions, making and selling jewellery, running small one-off events etc. But with the ideas and generous support of many in my network, the idea of the ‘Give To Profit Fundraising Business Summit’ was born.

The concept of ‘Give To Profit;’ came from my desire to help heart-centered business owners (particularly those who feel awkward about marketing or sales) to attract more clients with heart, integrity and social impact. Give To Profit is about creating a healthy balance of giving to ourselves and giving to others, so that more people can gain. Sales and marketing become so much more appealing when you focus on doing what you love and being kind and generous in everything you do.

Quite a few people were also asking me to share how they could support a charity through their business, because they’d seen me do this in a way that has also helped me grow my business. And so it made sense to merge providing training to my community with raising funds for charity. This is the basis for ‘Give To Profit Fundraising Business Summit’.

In terms of impact, my main goal is to raise funds for all the charities we are supporting through the summit. However, I’d also love to build a community of like-minded business owners who value authenticity, love, compassion and social impact. And I’m also open to the wonder and possibilities of expanding my network and attracting speaking opportunities around the world, so that this ripple of kindness has greater reach.

LYNN: You use words like ‘love’, ‘compassion’ and ‘authenticity’ in your marketing. As you see it, what’s the connection between these qualities and business success/growth?

ALISOUN: For me, coming from a place of love, kindness and compassion is central to happiness and success in all aspects of life. Love is the essence of life. Love is who you are in your purest form. To operate a business without love or ignoring the true expression of our authentic self is fighting against nature. When we do this, we make it harder for ourselves to succeed.

As I explain in my forthcoming book Heartatude: The 9 Principles Of Heart-Centered Success, it’s so much easier to attract authentic and meaningful success when we align our head, our heart and our actions to our soul purpose.

In business, this includes developing the mindset and skills that will enable us to monetize what we love doing as well as bringing love, kindness and compassion into the way we approach all aspects of our business, our clients, our contacts, our product range.

LYNN: What’s your perspective on the entrepreneur as ‘servant’? What does ‘serving’ actually mean?

ALISOUN: To me, each and everyone one of us was born into the world with the same rights to be happy, to be loved and to succeed. But we also have a responsibility for the way we choose to interact with others around us. For example, I believe one of the roles of a manager in an organisation is to be of service to their people; in the same away, one of the roles of a business owner or entrepreneur is to consider how to be of greatest service to everyone we encounter in business, while at the same time having healthy boundaries and structures in place to manage our own personal and financial sustainability.

Whether or not we consciously think about it, we are all having an impact on those around us as well as the planet we inhabit. Being of service is also about making conscious choices about how we impact everything we touch, and to treat others and the planet in a way we’d love to be treated ourselves – with love, kindness and respect.

LYNN: Tell us about the importance of GIVING. Why is this essential to ‘success’?

ALISOUN: As human beings we are all genetically wired to be kind, an expression of this is ‘giving’ of ourselves – to others and to ourselves. Research I’ve read indicates that kindness is the most highly sought after quality of those looking for a soul mate; but kindness may actually make us more attractive in other ways too.

Doing something – unconditionally – for someone else is not only a ‘nice’ thing to do, it also helps to strike up conversation, build relationships and may even influence the other person’s propensity to say ‘yes’ if you then go on to invite them to collaborate or work with you. Consider for a moment: have you ever bought something from someone after they have been kind to you?

I remember a few years ago my golf pro lent me a club, to save me from having to buy one until I’d worked out whether or not I actually liked playing the game. I then went on to buy a set of clubs from him – partly because he is genuinely a lovely guy who was offering me a great deal. But it was also because he had been kind enough to lend me the club to practice with. So, buying from him felt like the ‘right’ thing to do for me.

Being kind in business can either help or hinder your success depending on HOW you ‘give’. Imagine a ‘Giving Spectrum’. At one end is ‘unsustainable giving’. At the other end is ‘selfish (self-centered) giving’. And in the middle is what I call ‘strategic giving’:

Giving Spectrum Heart by Alisoun Mackenzie

Here’s how I see them:

  • UNSUSTAINABLE GIVING is where we give away too much and put other people before ourselves too much. When we let other people take advantage of us. We undercharge for our services. We avoid ‘sales’ conversations or focus on creating products/services for people who can’t afford to pay for them – even if we need to earn more money!
  • SELF-CENTERED GIVING is where it’s all about you. You’re more interested in what you can personally get out of any given situation (e.g. only promoting yourself networking events or ‘selling’ at people even if they don’t need what you’ve got to offer). Building mutually beneficial relationships or being generous with your attention, time or knowledge for the benefit of others, for no financial gain, is not that important to you.
  • STRATEGIC GIVING* is where we have a healthy balance of loving and respecting ourselves as well as others. It is where we take the time to connect to our heart and put ourselves in the best place to succeed. We focus on making a difference to ourselves and others. We have a balance of giving and receiving. We like to give unconditionally but also to receive. We offer solutions at reasonable prices and may even have a range of products/services at different price points so we can help people irrespective of their budget.

So, as I said earlier, ‘giving’ can either greatly help or hinder your success, depending on how you’re doing it!

* Sidebar thought from Lynn: I would also call this ‘sustainable giving’ as it is a cyclic process of giving AND receiving. Like Nature, it is self-generating, just like breathing in and breathing out. It is similar to the ‘Principle of Giving’ and ‘Principle of Receiving’ I talk about in my 2009 book The Garden of the Soul.

LYNN: How can we ensure our giving is authentic, rather than a ‘barter’ with the Universe?

ALISOUN: To me it’s about truly connecting to our heart. The first of the ’9 Principles Of Heart-Centered Success’ that I share in my book Heartatude is ‘Engage Your Heart’ – to come from a place of love, kindness, compassion, integrity, gratitude, peace and respect towards ourselves and others.

In the context of giving, this involves embracing unconditional giving in the moment. Sometimes it is good to plan strategically how to have the greatest impact through what you’re doing; but it’s also important to enjoy the act of giving and to be completely unattached to the outcome.

And the great thing is that your body will give you feedback as to whether you’re attached to the outcome of your actions or not – in the form of the emotions you feel:

  • When you’re attached to the outcome you’ll feel negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, disappointment, frustration when things are not going as you’d like, or positive emotions such as excitement or being on a high.
  • By contrast, when you’re unattached to the outcome, you’re more likely to feel love and peace in your heart, to feel calmer and to trust in the possibilities and miracles that manifest even if these are very different to the intentions or goals you’ve set for yourself.

So compassionate and authentic giving is when it’s a true expression of our purest self and when it’s driven by a desire to help others, rather than being driven by fear, greed or what we think we ‘should’ be doing.

LYNN: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve gained as you’ve conducted the interviews for Give 2 Profit?

ALISOUN: That there others have also had experience of their business growing as a consequence of being kind, authentic and supporting charitable causes – what a relief it is that we don’t have to compromise our values to succeed in business!

One of the key learnings I’m taking away from this is that when we have the courage to share our vision and values, even when they are different to the norm, we stand out from the crowd and become more attractive to those who resonate with our message.

LYNN: What final message or thought would you like to share with our readers today?

ALISOUN: We are living in one of the most exciting times in history with the convergence of science, spirituality, technology, climate change and a growing world population.

Each and every one of us has the opportunity to make things better or worse – for ourselves, those around us and the planet.

So I encourage you to take the time to connect to your heart and consider what your unique blend of qualities, skills and passions is, that you’d like to share with the world, and then to develop the skills, mindset and emotional capacity for success.

When you take courageous steps to explore what’s on the other side of your comfort-zone and act from you heart, you will often be surprised by the unexpected opportunities that will present themselves.

End of Interview

I hope you found Alisoun’s words to be as inspiring as I did. I strongly encourage you to check out the audio replays from her wonderful ‘Give To Profit Fundraising Business Summit’ at http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1581718). It’s completely free to listen to all 16 interviews, and when you sign up, you’ll also get access to over 20 free bonus gifts (including some freebies from me.

Give 2 Profit BannerAnd if you’d like to KEEP the audios, you can for a nominal cost. What’s nice about this is that all proceeds from the purchase of the MP3 downloads is going to raise funds for the charity ‘Create Global Healing’ Alisoun was talking about, as well as over 10 other charitable causes.

In fact, if you by the MP3s using this link http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1581718, the 7 Graces Project CIC will receive a donation from you to aid our 7 Graces scholarship fund, which will provide access to our ethical marketing training courses to those who cannot afford to pay.

So, really, it’s all just one big GIVING fest.

I would like to close by saying how grateful I am to Alisoun Mackenzie for allowing me to be part of this beautiful event, and for sharing her insights and VISION with us today.

Lynn Serafinn
12 April 2014

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in 7 Graces, 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Abundance, Blog, Lynn Serafinn, New Paradigm, Relationship with Money, Social Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Sure the ENERGY of Your Business is Right for YOU

Making Sure the ENERGY of Your Business is Right for YOU

Community blogger Sue Ellam shares her top tips for tuning into your energy so you can be authentic, confident and connected to your business and brand.

I believe every business has a unique ‘energy’. When I talk about the ‘energy of a business’, I mean how it makes people feel when they do business with you:

  • Do they get this feeling that you know what you are talking about and they can be confident in your professionalism?
  • Or, on the other hand, do they feel that there is something missing, and they can’t quite put their finger on it?

The energy of our business starts within US. I believe that no matter how well-qualified we might be, it is imperative that we really appreciate our own knowledge and expertise. Any self-doubt we might have will detract from the positive energy of our company, and will put our authenticity into question. We have to be confident in ourselves in order for other people to be confident in us.

So, today, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned along the way as I discovered the different energies of my own businesses over the years.

TIP 1: Use Your ‘EMOTIONAL SENSORS’ as Your Radar System

Back when I was starting my current business I didn’t have a clue about the logo. I let professionals have a go at presenting me with options, but the results just didn’t feel right. They hadn’t captured the essence of my business, but rather tried to fit my business into their own format. They seemed unable to think outside of the box, put themselves in my shoes or relate to my business. Fortunately, I have a brother who is an extremely creative artist, so I asked him if he could come up with something for me. He sent me through his first idea and it had such an impact on me that I burst into tears. My logo was born!

Whenever you ask for advice or input from others, it’s important to run it past your emotional sensors. Does it connect with you? Does it truly reflect your business? If it does, you know you’re on the right track.

TIP 2: Be Sure You IDENTIFY With Your Business

I think it’s very important to completely identify yourself with your business. See it as an extension of yourself – not a separate entity.

When we identify with our business, it means we will operate it in a way that is true to our standards – we will be authentic. By being authentic, people will know who they are dealing with, and can make the choice whether they want to do business with us or not.

It is also really important to remember that not everyone will like us, resonate with us, or want to do business with us. Don’t let rejection take you off course, for every rejection you could have two acceptances if you just keep going. So, do what you do with passion, shine your light brightly and other passionate and shining people will find you.

TIP 3: Be CONFIDENT!

Confidence comes from knowing yourself, your business and how best to serve people. However qualified you are, if you are tentative you can come across as apologetic, and that doesn’t inspire people to buy from you or invest in you.

Some years ago I remember watching a famous actress being interviewed; she was asked how she remained so confident. She admitted that it hadn’t always been that way, but that she had acted confident until it became the truth.

If we have honed our skills and learned our subject, then why shouldn’t we be confident in putting ourselves and our businesses out into the world? It really all boils down to our mind set and self-belief.

TIP 4: Don’t Fear FAILURE

Fear of failure comes in many forms. Fear of losing face and fear of losing money are two of the major ones, but it doesn’t really matter which one is your trigger. Whatever we fear causes stagnation and loss of impetus.

Many years ago I worked for a major construction company, which doesn’t exist anymore. The reason it failed was that the visionaries in the company were squeezed out because of the economic climate, and fear had crept in. Accountants were put into the top positions instead, and they counted every penny in and every penny out. Both the visionaries and the accountants were necessary to run the company – one without the other just didn’t work. The problem was that the accountants weren’t ‘programmed’ to take risks of any sort, so there was no forward movement and the business simply died.

I am a great believer in ‘like attracts like’. As soon as fear enters the equation and creeps into your business, then a downward spiral has to follow. Good business is a mixture of good sense and vision, and it is hampered by fear – especially fear of failure.

TIP 5: Don’t Be DESPERATE

Desperation is an extension of fear and purely a way in how it presents itself. Desperation causes people to run round in circles grabbing at all opportunities, whether they are suitable ones or not. It affects our judgement and ability to think rationally. It manifests the symptoms of a panic attack, even if it’s not visible on the surface.

Desperation ties us up in knots and throws out a chaotic energy which transmits itself to potential clients. If we get to that place, or are on the road there, then we need to ask ourselves some serious questions:

  • Do we still love doing what we are doing, or is it a chore we do with others in mind?
  • When did the tide turn and desperation make an appearance?
  • Is our desperation solely based on stories we hear from the media and other people?
  • What have we started to do differently now that fear has taken hold?
  • Is it time to let go because you have a product or service that is no longer required?
  • What is the worst that can happen?

When we have found the honest answers to those questions, we can take action. It’s imperative that we take responsibility for what has happened and for making the changes, as blaming outside forces for our predicament puts us into a state of powerlessness and apathy. We have no hope of recovery when we are in that state of mind.

TIP 6: LISTEN to Feedback

When people colleagues or customers give us feedback, it’s really important to listen to it with an open mind, even if it isn’t particularly complimentary. If you get even a slight niggle that the person might have a point, don’t let your ego get in the way and decide to ignore it. The warning you get from this person could have the potential of saving you from a lot of future heartache.

For instance, if someone tells you that you don’t seem to have any confidence in the direction of your business, sit with it for a while. If it doesn’t resonate with you and you know exactly where your business is heading, ask yourself what might have given that person this impression. If you were going through a ‘wobbly’ day when you last spoke with them, your uncertain energy could have leaked into the way you expressed yourself, leading them to get an impression of you that might not be completely accurate.

Try not to see ‘negative feedback’ as a ‘negative energy’. While positive feedback is wonderful to receive, it is often the not-so-positive feedback that helps us to make changes and grow in the right direction.

In Conclusion

I believe that we should stay in constant connection with the energy of our business on an emotional level. In many ways, our relationship with our business resembles a marriage: if we don’t stay connected with our partner on an emotional level, we are in danger of becoming distant and aloof. Our partner will no longer feel safe being vulnerable with us, because they no longer feel the close connection, and we end up not knowing them that well anymore. They might even start keeping things from us intentionally because they don’t think we care anymore.

Likewise, if we lose touch with the energy of our business, it is likely to surprise us one day…and it isn’t necessarily going to be a pleasant surprise!

I would love to hear what methods you use to keep connected and in tune with the energy of YOUR business? Do you have any tips to share? Please let me hear from you in the comments at the end of this article, and feel free to connect with me via social media (you’ll find the links in my bio below).

Sue Ellam
8th April 2014

Sue-EllamSUE ELLAM is fascinated by the power of mind over matter and was initially guided towards spiritual healing and medium-ship.  She is a professionally trained graphologist of 21 years standing and has travelled extensively using this skill, as well as that of tarot reading, participating in many festivals worldwide.  Currently she is developing Soulfully Connecting which is a global website dedicated to the healing of mind, body, soul and planet.  Her vision is to connect like-minded individuals around the world through the sharing of knowledge, providing a platform so that the change-makers can be seen, appreciated and supported.

Sue is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing course.

Twitter: @soulfullysue

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Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Community blogger Sue Ellam shares her top tips for tuning into your energy so you can be authentic, confident and connected to your business and brand.

Posted in Blog, Community Blogger, Connection, New Paradigm, Sue Ellam | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can We Shift GRACEFULLY Into Sales During a Consultation?

How Can We Shift GRACEFULLY Into Sales During a Consultation?
Lynn Serafinn explains why many service providers find it difficult to ‘close the deal’, and shares a template for consultations that ‘sell without selling’. 

Here at the 7 Graces Project, we’ve been developing several courses – to be launched to the public in late 2014 – in the foundations and applications of ethical marketing. In our current ‘beta’ groups for these courses, many participants are independent business owners from various professional service industries, such as coaches, counsellors, mentors, trainers, therapists and consultants.

Unlike retail or product-based companies, these service professionals tend to utilise the convention of 1-to-1 consultations to work with clients, as well as to vet and ‘enrol’ new clients. (US folks: ‘enrol’ IS the correct UK spelling!). But I’ve found that this enrolment process can be very challenging, if not down-right painful, for many ethical service providers. What they all have in common is that they started their businesses to help people. Because their motivation is fundamentally altruistic, many find it extremely difficult to talk about money (what to speak of to ASK for payment!) with someone who needs help. As a result, all too many ethical service providers will under-sell themselves, or give too much of their time and energy away. This not only compromises their business and their finances, but it also weakens their spirit. Sometimes it opens them up to criticism from their families, who do not share their vision. All of these things whittle away their resilience over time and many will end up leaving their professions, broken-hearted.

It is painful to watch, and even more painful to experience. Furthermore, it deprives the world of their valuable service. For these reasons, it’s important for service providers to learn how to overcome the mental and emotional blocks to making new clients.

Reflections on the ‘Enrolment’ Process

I remember when I first started training as a coach and they used the word ‘enrolment’. I couldn’t understand what it meant. I had come from a teaching background; to me, ‘enrolment’ was when students signed up for a course. While there was always some advice and guidance involved, it was pretty much a mechanical process. But in coaching, ‘enrolment’ meant something more elusive. ‘Enrolment’ had to do with ‘luring’ the client towards you, like a moth to the flame. We even had to practice this with fellow coaches in workshop exercises.

To be honest with you, going through this enrolment exercise felt really fake and manipulative. It was fake because there was no way to ‘test’ the enrolment process with colleagues, as they were not in the same head-space (or heart-space) as our prospective clients. When I was led to repeat this exercise in greater detail on another so-called ‘heart-centred’ coaching programme I took a year later, I felt like the instructors were consciously using manipulative language that preyed upon the prospective client’s emotions – especially fear and loss. All in all, I learned to abhor the so-called ‘enrolment process’ and to detest the term itself.

But the fact is, unless we have some methodology by which we assist to move from ‘prospective clients’ to ‘active client’, we won’t be able to perform our services or operate a business at all. So, one way or another, we’ve got to figure out how to do it – in such a way that does not compromise either our own values, or those of our prospective clients.

Closing the Book on ‘Closing the Deal’

There comes a point in every consultation that every new service provider dreads – the moment where the conversation shifts to discussing money. I bet many of you reading this can feel your gut starting to clench up, just thinking of it. It’s understandable. Back before my ‘7 Graces’ days, I went to many business seminars where people taught us various old-school methods for ‘closing the deal’. So many of these methods manipulate emotions like fear, guilt or shame to try to ‘persuade’ prospects into making a pre-conscious (and often hasty) decision. And because it can be so manipulative, ‘closing the deal’ can feel like a truly foreign and unnatural act to those of altruistic nature.

But while we might not like the idea of ‘closing the deal’, without actual clients we are serving no one – not the public, not ourselves, not our families. So if we put aside all the manipulative techniques of ‘closing the deal’ and STILL find it difficult to bring up the subject of money in our consultations, it is more than likely that we are battling with some ‘money gremlins’ of our own. This is a topic I discuss in the book The 7 Graces of Marketing, as well as in many other articles on this site. Our Relationship with Money, one of the 7 Key Relationships, directly influences how we work (and play) with money in our business and our life. You can take as many ‘sales’ courses as you like, but until you understand and unravel your money gremlins, you will continue to struggle through the ‘enrolment’ process.

Why Many Service Providers Fail to Make Clients

So how DO we move gracefully, easily and respectfully from casual conversation into a concrete business discussion? Well the first thing to understand is this: if you (the service provider) are either nervous or anxious about ‘making the sale’, you are bound to put off potential clients:

  • Service providers who are nervous during the ‘enrolment’ process tend to be tentative and indirect. If a potential client FEELS you are tentative or indirect, they may start to doubt your competence and ability to help them.
  • Service providers who are anxious about ‘making the sale’ tend to be fast-talking or pushy. If a potential client FEELS you are fast-talking or pushy, they may start to doubt your honesty or integrity.

What is sad about this is that many good, competent, sincere, honest, integrity-driven service providers lose clients because they unintentionally project these kinds of feelings on their potential clients. I seriously doubt that many of your ‘un-enrolled’ clients even consciously KNOW why they didn’t end up working with you. They are simply following their gut and probably would not be able to give you a concrete reason.

Getting Back to Basics in Our Service Offerings

Before you think about ‘how’ to do something, it’s important get back to basics and define the underlying ‘what’ it is and ‘why’ you’re doing it. I’m going to ‘assume’ that you’ve already done some work at defining your intended audience and ideal client and built your brand in such a way the potential clients can be ‘pre-selecting’ before they even reach out to contact you (and if you haven’t done that yet, browse around this site for articles in the category ‘Relationship with Our Audience’). So, assuming you know WHO you are looking for and WHAT you can offer them, let’s define a few things about how you will run your enrolment process. Take a moment to answer these questions:

  • Will you offer a free consultation to prospective clients?
  • If so, how long will it be?
  • Will they be on the phone, in person, or via Skype?
  • How will people book free consultations with you?
  • What will be YOUR criteria for accepting clients? What are the ‘baseline’ pre-requisites to ensure you’ll say ‘yes’ to the right clients for you? Moreover, what are your criteria for saying NO to a client? Being absolutely clear about your criteria is ESSENTIAL, but something so many service providers overlook.
  • How will you present your ‘products’ on the call? How clear are you about what you offer, and its appropriateness for a prospective client? (This topic alone is something worth exploring in more depth in another article).
  • How will you manage the decision making process? How will you approach the subject of money? How will your own ‘Key Relationship with Money’ influence your ease during this process?
  • Once a client says they want to work with you, how will you invoice your client or take payment?

To give you an idea of how I conduct my consultations, here’s what I call my ’85:10:05 Consultation Template’ below, which is comprised of:

85% LISTENING

10% presenting

5% (or less) ‘selling’

Lynn’s 85% Listening, 10% Presenting, 5% Selling Consultation Template

I’ve been doing free consultations for some time. In the beginning, they were way too long, and ended up being almost like a full session. These days, my sessions are 30 minutes long. Sometimes we get talking and they go overtime but usually that’s only when the client has already decided to work with us, and we are making arrangements for getting started.

So here’s my own 7-stage consultation ‘template’ when I meet with a prospective client:

  1. LANDING: We spend 2 or 3 minutes just getting ‘settled’ and acquainted with each other.
  2. PROJECT ENQUIRY: I then kick off the formal part of the session by asking what they were looking for; then I listen for about 10 minutes without saying much except the occasional comment or question if I need clarification.
  3. MARKETING ENQUIRY: Next, I ask lots of details about where they are in their business or project. I ask what they’ve already tried in marketing and how it has worked. Then I ask about blogging, social media, mailing lists, etc. This takes another 10 minutes.
  4. PRODUCT PRESENTATION: By now, about 23-24 minutes have passed. You’ll notice that so far, I’ve been doing all the asking and the client has been doing all the talking. At this point, I finally start doing the talking. I talk about what products our company offers that would be most appropriate for them at this phase. I may have alluded to these products earlier, but I don’t go into detail until we reach this point in the conversation. I also share a little bit of my own vision for what could be done with their project if we follow a particular course of action, or what kinds of products we have that may be appropriate for them somewhere down the line. This takes 2-3 minutes ONLY.
  5. PRICING: It is now about 25-26 minutes into the call. At this point, I finally bring up the topic of money.  I explain the pricing and payment for the packages, but also give them a link to download a PDF to look over the package in their own time (or I send this information to them via email templates I have made for this purpose). I spend ONLY about 1 or 2 minutes on this at most.
  6. WRAPPING UP: We are now roughly 27-28 minutes into the call. I go back into listening mode and start to wrap things up by asking, “Is there anything I haven’t told you or anything else you need to know to help you make decision?” Never, ever do I push them to make their decision on the call (this is diametrically opposed to what I was ‘taught’ on many coaching business courses). However, I find that many clients feel comfortable enough to make their decision then and there. If it’s obvious they need time to think about it, I just ask them, “When should I expect to hear back from you?”
  7. FEEDBACK: Finally, just before we get off the call, I always ask, “Was this helpful to you?” This tells me whether or not it was helpful, but it also affirms in THEIR minds whether or not it was helpful.

If you are the kind of service provider who freezes up at the thought of talking about money, consider this: If you look at the timeframe, I spent about 25-26 minutes out of 30 engaged in asking questions and listening intently (roughly 85%), about 2-3 minutes presenting our products and how they would address what the client was looking for (roughly 10%) and only 1 or 2 minutes talking about money (roughly 5%). Furthermore, there was no pressure to ‘close the deal’ on the call.

A WARNING ABOUT BEING TOO GENEROUS: It’s really important to manage you time on these calls and make sure you’re not giving away actual coaching/consulting/advice, etc. during an information gathering call. This is an easy thing to slip into when you’re a kind-hearted compassionate person who is genuinely committed to helping others. But please trust me when I say that if you do this ALL the time, you’ll find yourself feeling overworked, underpaid and possibly even resentful towards your clients. I’ve seen many a service provider burn out because they got into this habit.

Please know that I didn’t just sit down one day and design this. It evolved organically, over time, after making LOTS and lots of mistakes. The first time I actually sat down to ‘analyse’ my own process was when I decided to share write this article.

If you’ve found it difficult or ‘unnatural’ or uncomfortable to conduct consultations in the past, I encourage you to study this article and try this method for yourself, and then allow it to evolve into something that works for you.

How This Fits Within the 7 Graces Paradigm

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog or you have read the book The 7 Graces of Marketing, you’ll probably be able to see that the key to this entire process lies in:

  • The Grace of Connection – feeling connected to yourself, your mission and the person with whom you are speaking
  • The Grace of Inspiration – helping your client to step into a visionary space of possibilities, rather than trying to ‘persuade’ them through fear or other anxiety-creating tactics.
  • The Grace of Invitation – creating an open, hospitable, respectful and engaging environment for your prospective client, rather than resorting to high-pressure techniques
  • The Grace of Directness – being straight, clear and simple about your offerings (and being prepared to answer any questions they may have about them)
  • The Grace of Transparency – being clear and open about your pricing (and having everything laid out in writing for them to review later)
  • The Grace of Abundance – not worrying about money during the ‘enrolment’ process, because you firmly believe the right clients will say yes without you having to force the issue
  • The Grace of Collaboration – this isn’t a competition between you and the prospective client where you’re trying to ‘win’ their approval (and their business). It’s a dance you’ll be doing together should you agree to work with one another. So pay attention to their pace and rhythm, and get a feeling for whether or not this dance is likely to feel good to both of you before you decide to work together.
  • All of the 7 Key Relationships – with Self, Source, Others, Your Business, Your Audience, Money and Marketing (but ESPECIALLY your relationship with money).

Final Thoughts and Advice

As I said earlier, I hate the term ‘enrolment’. Just the sound of it makes me think of governments pressing unwilling soldiers into military service. As you can see from my own ‘template’, I never ask a client to make their decision on the spot, even though every marketing coach I had when I started my current practice 7 years ago told me this was a huge mistake. But here’s what I’ve noticed: nearly EVERY client who ultimately ends up working with us makes their decision there and then during the consultation, without me having to ‘push’ them to decide. I believe they decide quickly precisely BECAUSE I don’t push them to decide.

My goal in my sessions is not to ‘sell’ but to simply and comfortably give prospective clients the information they need to make an informed, considered decision. Frankly, I don’t want my clients to have second thoughts. It makes for a strained relationship. And, if I’m honest, if in the past there have been times when I had a strained relationship with a client, it was MY FAULT. If I analyse it, it all started back in the consultation, and was usually sparked either by:

1)      My own failure to define and stick to my criteria for what I wanted in a client, OR

2)      My own lack of clarity about what I was offering (and what I WASN’T)

But the other BIG factor that can lay the foundation for flawed, strained relationships with clients is your own relationship with money. If your financial gremlins are whispering in your ear telling you that you ‘need’ to take on another client to pay the bills, but this client is really all wrong for you (or you’re all wrong for them), your consultation session will be tense and constricted instead of open and relaxed.

Be sure to hold your criteria to heart during the conversation, and be keenly aware of how well you ‘fit’. Then, when the time comes to shift into the ‘sales’ phase of the conversation, remember that the more relaxed YOU are about talking about money, the more relaxed your prospective clients/customers will be. When we master the art of being graceful and gracious when talking about money, the ‘enrolment’ process into an experience of ‘selling without selling’ that benefits both you and your customers.

So now, I’ll close this article by asking what I ask my clients at the end of our calls together: Did you find this information helpful today? Please talk back to me, and share your thoughts, reflections and experiences in the comments below.

Lynn Serafinn
4 April 2014

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Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in 7 Graces, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Directness, Lynn Serafinn, New Paradigm, Relationship with Money, Transparency | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Companies LOSE Customers As They Get BIGGER

Why Companies Lose Customers As They Get Bigger
Guest Blogger Cindy Barnes discusses the lifecycle of organisations and how, by neglecting this natural process, they risk damaging their customers’ trust.

Companies are born, they’re established or formed, they grow and develop, they reach maturity, they begin to decline and age and – if nothing is done to refresh them and align them to the market – they eventually die.  This is the nature of people (except we can’t be revived!), of products and of organisations and yet many of the businesses I work with are not aware that a lifecycle misalignment with their customers is one of their biggest reasons for falling sales.

I spend most of my time talking with companies about truly understanding their customers and building their explicit and implicit wants and desires into their customer experiences and value propositions.  While this is critically important, it is equally important to ensure that you are aligning with your customers in how you go to market. Companies’ future successes also lie within their own organisations and their evolving states of development.

Evolution and revolution

In Larry Greiner’s seminal Harvard Business Review 1972 paper ‘Evolution and Revolution as Organisations Grow’ (Reproduced with permission from Harvard Business Review/New York Times), he gives a few great examples of the symptoms of crises, such as:

“Key executives of a retail store chain hold on to an organisational structure long after it has served its purpose, because their power is derived from this structure. The company eventually goes into bankruptcy.”

Does this remind you of any recent organisations?  Kodak and Blockbuster perhaps?

“A large bank disciplines a ‘rebellious’ manager who is blamed for current control problems, when the underlying cause is centralised procedures that are holding back expansion into new markets. Many younger managers subsequently leave the bank, competition moves in, and profits are still declining.”

Does this sound like any financial institutions you’ve recently read about or know?

Each growth phase in Greiner’s model is made up of a period of relatively stable growth where no major upheavals occur (he calls this evolution) followed by a crisis when major organisational change is needed if the company is to carry on growing which he calls revolution.

Below is a diagram that shows this process, paraphrased from the points in Greiner’s article:

Graph of Larry Greiner's model of business growth cyclesAnd below is a paraphrased summary of the ‘6 Phases’ Greiner shares in his article:

Phase 1: Growth through creativity

With the birth of an organisation the focus is on creating a new product or service and creating a market. Characteristics include:

  • The founders are usually technically or entrepreneurially oriented, they often disdain management activities and their energies are absorbed in making and selling a new product or service.
  • Communication is frequent and informal
  • Long work hours are rewarded by modest salaries and the promise of ownership benefits
  • Control of activities comes from immediate marketplace feedback. The management acts as customers react.

This period ends with a crisis of leadership where professional management is needed that can steer the organisation and pull everyone together.

Phase 2: Growth through direction

If companies have survived the first phase they continue to grow under new directive leadership. Characteristics include:

  • Growth continues and more organised structures are introduced for different functions
  • Systems are introduced for accounting and customer management
  • Budgets and work standards are adopted
  • Communication becomes more formal
  • New leadership and management team set the direction

This period ends with a crisis of autonomy where lower level managers demand more say and involvement. Many companies flounder here as, while delegation and autonomy are seen as the solution, companies who have been in this stage for a long time have not developed their people to be able to make decisions for themselves.

Phase 3: Growth through delegation

  • Greater responsibility is given to managers
  • Profit centres and bonuses are used for motivation
  • HQ executives manage the business by exception based on periodic reports from the field
  • Leadership focuses on new acquisitions that can be lined up beside other decentralised units
  • Communication from the top is infrequent

Decentralised managers with greater autonomy have been able to penetrate new markets and respond faster to customers but leadership sense they are losing control over a highly diversified business. This period ends with a crisis of control as local managers wrestle with leadership who try to pull together a total company once again.  Companies that succeed move ahead with co-ordination techniques.

Phase 4: Growth through co-ordination

  • Decentralised units are merged into product/service line groups
  • Formal planning procedures are established
  • HQ staff are hired to initiate company-wide control programmes
  • Capital expenditure is careful weighed up and parcelled out across the organisation
  • Each product group/service line is treated as an investment centre where return on invested capital is an important criteria used in allocating funds
  • Stock options and company-wide profit sharing are used to encourage whole firm identity

Both HQ staff and business unit staff criticise the bureaucracy that has grown. Local managers resent interference from HQ staff and HQ staff complain about the lack of cooperation from managers. Procedures take precedence over problem-solving and, as a result, innovation is dampened. The organisation has become too large and complex to be managed through formal programmes and rigid systems. The next phase is underway.

Phase 5: Growth through collaboration

This builds around a more flexible and behavioural approach to management. Its characteristics are:

  • Focus on problem-solving quickly through team action
  • Teams are combined across functions for task-group activity
  • HQ staff numbers are reduced and reassigned to consult with, not to direct, the business units
  • A matrix-type structure is frequently used to assemble the right teams for the appropriate problems
  • Previous systems are simplified and real-time systems are integrated into daily decision making
  • Conferences of key managers are held frequently to focus on major problem areas
  • Educational programmes are used to train key managers in behavioural skills for achieving better team work and conflict resolution
  • Rewards are geared towards team performance rather than individual achievement
  • Experiments in new practices are encouraged throughout the organisation

This phase ends with a crisis of internal growth where further company growth can only come by developing partnerships with complementary organisations.

Phase 6: Growth through alliances

Greiner recently added this sixth phase where growth may continue through extra-organisational solutions such as mergers, outsourcing or networks involving other companies.

A crisis of growth may occur because an organisation is more focused on alliances than on its own core business and there is a good chance that an identity crisis will present itself.

The organisation may be taken over completely by other businesses and the ‘old’ situation will disappear completely but the cycle in the new organisation will continue.

(end of paraphrase from Greiner’s article)

Recent experience

At our company, Futurecurve, we have been working with a number of global organisations recently (many of them household names) that are excellent at selling new products and services to their customers yet singularly very bad at managing those same customers beyond the initial sale. We can argue that the solution to this is putting in place key account management but that alone would only be a sticking plaster approach (Band-Aid for our American readers) without looking at what organisational  phase of development they are in, and how their phase is misaligned with their business to business customers .

The big issue here is the changing power of the customer; the customer now has much more power than ever before due to the Internet, technology and liberalisation of communication across countries.  One of the mechanisms for responding to your customers’ power shift is to understand specifically where your organisation is in its development phase and how well you are either matching or missing your customers in the process.

One of our customers (we’ll call them ‘Alpha’) was in phase 2 and hitting the crisis of autonomy where their customer-facing staff were demanding that a more formalised account management process and organisation be put in place, and that they manage it. They were frustrated by the lack of Alpha’s support for this. Their customer (we’ll call them ‘Beta’) was equally puzzled by Alpha’s lack of flexibility in account handling and also their slow pace at responding to requests. Beta was currently in phase 5 and were demanding more collaboration, they were much more nimble and innovative and couldn’t understand why Alpha appeared not to want to work with them on new initiatives.

Once the phases and the different stages of development were made plain to both Alpha and Beta’s leadership teams, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. They could actually get on with the task of figuring out how they were going to work together despite their very big organisational and behavioural differences.

How to use the model

It’s probably important to say at this point, that this approach can be done either at an in-depth, rigorous level or it can be done at a more surface level – the kind of level my colleagues would call ‘quick and dirty’.

The key questions for business leadership to determine are:

  1. Which phase are we in?
  2. Do we know the limited range of solutions available to us at our phase?
  3. Do we realise that solutions to one phase will breed a new set of problems during the next growth phase?
  4. How is the customer-facing part of my organisation impacted by the phase we are in AND what customer management solutions are available to us?

This requires considerable self-awareness on the part of top management, as well as great interpersonal skill in persuading managers that change is needed.  Is it worth the investigation?  Absolutely.  You will understand each other’s perspective which always leads to better understanding and better working relationships.  Most importantly, this could be the single most reason why your business thrives or dies. So when we’re talking about large companies with a significant number of people employed, isn’t it worth a bit of discomfort pointing out where and how change is needed, to not only save the company but potentially save many hundreds or thousands of job and people’s livelihoods.

Do you recognise companies who are very much out of step with their customers and can you see if this has anything to do with their mismatched phases of development?

Please do share your opinion about this article. I’d love to hear from you.

Cindy Barnes
3rd April 2014

Reference
Greiner, Larry. 1972. ‘Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow’. Harvard Business Review. Reproduced with permission from Harvard Business Review/New York Times.

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Cindy-Barnes-TwitterCINDY BARNES (MBA) is a business and psychology consultant with a background in engineering, product and service innovation, marketing, business development and leadership. She is qualified as a counsellor in Transactional Analysis and is the co-author of the bestselling book, Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition. As an engineer, Cindy has created, developed and sold many leading edge products and services. She ran large-scale, unionised automotive component factories for Smiths Industries, and led research and development for Panavision, developing a leading-edge product which is still their most profitable to date. Later, she led marketing and business development for Capgemini and co-created a new business unit that had sales of £83m and a pipeline of £309m in 12 months from a zero start. In 2003 she founded the consultancy ‘Futurecurve’, which helps companies navigate from a product ‘push’ focus to a true, sustainable customer ‘pull’ focus, enabling them to out-perform their peers by delivering genuine value to customers. Customers include global corporations, governmental organisations and not-for-profits. She is passionate about nature and sustainability and supports local environmental groups and social enterprises. She is also a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing Course and active member of the 7 Graces Community.

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Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

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