Dear Marketers, You’re not alone.

Yesterday I attended the WAMA breakfast panel talking about the importance of experience. I loved their play on the introduction of a new acronym XM… being Experience Matters. A nice departure from and play on all the over used UX, CX, EX and BX and any other BS (oops) acronym you can throw around.

It was a familiar feeling being in a room with driven, passionate, hardworking marketers once again. It wasn’t that long ago I filled the Marketing Management seat for a variety of organisations so when the question arose from the audience of “How can we show the key stakeholders how important what we do (marketing) is?” I could instantly see a flash back of myself.

And here’s why. Back then when I was in my myopic marketing world, there are so many things I should have done (and probably wanted to do) but I wasn’t brave enough. So for those of you out there who are in marketing or HR or any other business function and you’re struggling to communicate the value of what you do here are some heart felt tips from me.

But first before you read said tips let me set the scene for inspiring change. Many times we hear that change needs to happen from the top. Whether it’s the board the CEO or even your direct manager. Sure, organisational wide change does need to be driven at that level but never underestimate the power of one. The power of individual methods. The power of asking why? The power of curiosity? The power of positivity?

Have you ever been in a conversation at work and then all of a sudden someone comes in like a breath of fresh air. Everyone’s posture changes. Laughter happens. The tempo of the chat picks up. Maybe it’s the fact they’ve had a win that day and they have a pep in their step, maybe it’s because they’ve seen actual sunlight rather than being trapped in 4 walls or perhaps they’re just that kind of person. The extrovert. The comedian. The one with charisma.

What many of us don’t realise is that we can be that person that lifts others. Wait, before you run off and start figuring out your juggling act to become the next office entertainer what I mean is that we can all share a little more of ourselves at work in our own individual way. We CAN do things a little differently. We CAN test things out and we CAN start a ripple of change even if it’s only amongst the few. If you want to show your value and the importance of what you do then you need to be doing something others aren’t.

OK, ok I won’t hold you hostage any longer. Here are my 3 tips:

Talk their language

So many times I’ve seen marketers talking to a board or to the executive team and without fail it involves 2 things. A spectacular power point deck and bad language. I’m not talking foul language. I’m talking bounce rates, click throughs, analytics, likes, follows. You get where I’m going? If you feel like you are constantly educating other people in your organisation about what you do, then I’m going to be harsh here. It’s you, not them.

Upper management talk acquisition rates and retention but I’m saying go even a step further. Talk about customers as people, as humans. Not as views, or downloads.

What I’m laying down here is a mindset change. It’s a mindset that leaves behind tactics and instead reveres human connection. That is the humans we go to work to serve, commonly known as customers. Embrace customer stories by doing one simple, yet mic droppable thing. Talk to some customers!!! Bring their stories into the boardroom. Bring their stories into a journey map. Ask them for their shoes and wear them around the office. Okay, maybe not that last one that was more a theoretical example of walking in their shoes…. Although in saying that I have on more than one occasion dressed as a customer. It included a blue-collar worker another time I was a farmer all to get my point across in a presentation, but I digress. Let’s just say I’m all for being able to represent the voice of the customer by whatever creative means possible.

The other great thing about telling customer stories…. People relate to what you’re saying faster. Our minds are wired for stories. We interpret and understand them faster and easier, and it also speeds up our ability to make clearer decisions. Stories tie into the emotional centre of our brain’s anatomy. It’s good to keep this in mind if you’re bucking for quick decision on that budget increase. Know what I’m saying? ;o)

Ok time for a quote from someone who might add a little more cred to my point of view. To quote Seth Godin author, businessman, marketer, and public speaker is also considered to be the ultimate entrepreneur. He is the author of 17 books and takes a futuristic view of the marketing function and where it needs to go. He clearly states the importance of story telling to influence consumer behaviour but its so relevant to influencing and persuading your internal clan too.

Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make; but about the stories you tell.

Seth Godin

Find a problem

Alright, you’re pumped. You’re inspired, you’re about to pick up the phone to a customer and then what? What are you going to ask?

Before we start with that thought lets again return to mindset. The first time you interview a customer accept this. You’ll suck. You’ll be so ready to ask your next question you won’t listen the response. You might ask the same question twice. You might even get berated about your organisations service or product that you’ll run the nearest corner to huddle up in a cold shiver. But here’s the key. Embrace it. I guarantee by your 3rd call you’ll be better. By you 7th you’ll find some themes in feedback and by 20 well you’re practically a researcher. Trust me it’s the most valuable marketing research you’ll ever do.

This can be your edge. This can be what sets you apart because this is what no-one else is doing. Uncovering what customers want is the key to shaking things up and showing your worth. The more problems you can fix the more customers you will get and the more you’ll be valued.

Champion Change

After a few customer conversations you’ve got a bread trail of what you think are some potential problems throughout your organisation that need fixing. Often these problems are well outside the marketing teams’ remit, so what to do. Hmmmm, I’ll give you a minute here.

Yep youuuu nailed it rock star! 👊

Talk to other departments!!!! Better yet get a cross-functional team together. No, no wait not a cross-fit team… this isn’t about squats. It’s about doing the heavy lifting of incremental cultural change; together. It’s about engaging other people in the organisation who have different perspectives and points of view to yours. We talked about the importance of human connection well that goes for connections internally as well. It’s about rallying around a common cause, delivering better solutions for your customers.

If you keep focusing on tactics and acquisition than I hate to say it but as a marketing team your ability to make an impact is going to be limited. You’re talking click throughs while their talking innovation and industry threats.

Here’s why the value of solving problems is so powerful. The inability of an organisation to solve customer problems is the biggest threat to that organisation. If you can highlight the problems, you are demonstrating your value to the organisation.

So to conclude my manifesto to talented marketers (and to my younger self) I would say ‘be brave’.

Olivia O’Connor

Seek out customers, talk to them, find out what keeps them up at night. There’s only one perfect customer profile and that’s the one you can talk to who lives and breathes.

The future of marketing lies in our ability to tell human stories, seek out problems but to also rally willing individuals into a room to problem solve. You’ll be working to help customers but in return you’ll connect with new people in your organisation.

You’ll challenge yourself into better dealing with uncertainty. You’ll start impacting those around you and inching towards developing a culture of working together rather than in silos. Marketing teams (I believe) have the ability to drive change but first we must embrace a new mindset.

Cheers, Liv

If you enjoyed this article then reach out and let me know. I’ll write more just for you!!!

This article was written by Olivia O’Connor, founder of Liv By Design. If you’d like to look at ways to improve your organisations focus on the human side of work and connecting with your customers reach out @ olivia.oconnor@livbydesign.com.au

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is oliviawork2-002-824x1030.jpg

Meet Barry. Each morning Barry walks into work. A blurry eyed stare and an expression that warns if you ‘ask me how I am’ this morning you’ll likely get a FML response. Barry hasn’t always been like this. Just to get him into work mode each morning he treats himself to a supersonic dose of taurine and caffeine in a can. All to simply find a morsel of motivation to log on.  

After 4 years of dealing with a reporting that line that won’t listen, a micro manager directly above him and a macro manager who finds a way to make everything their idea, Barry has been crushed into towing the line. Just getting paid to be there and get through the days of turmoil.

It’s a far cry from when he first started. He had a flurry of ideas. The more he spoke to customers the more opportunity he saw to really improve things for them and for everyone around him. To strive for some positive results by helping those they serve. But time and time again Barry was reminded of the real purpose of going to work and that was “shareholder value”. Ba-bum! Since then its been clock in, but mentally check out.  

What I’ve described her is an amalgamation of examples I’ve experienced or watched others experience. There’s a graveyard of unhappy employee experience I’ve seen over my career and I want to share this with you today because this is not a happy place. Your staff don’t want to be at work and as such they loose their connection with each other but more importantly with YOUR customers. Happy staff deliver many benefits but none surpass the direct correlation to delivering happy customers.

Happiness and kindness is contagious and it effects every organisations bottom dollar.  

Olivia O’Connor

Can Barry in his disengaged state deliver the outstanding experience you are hoping for with your customers? Ding, ding, ding…. No is the answer.  

Your EX…. (no not your past lover that still checks your profile on FaceBook,) your Employee Experience directly relates to improving your CX. Your Customer Experience. Unhappy employees will do their job, but they won’t go the extra to go out of their way to improve things and they won’t go out of their way for your customers. They’ll tick a box and get the job done but you need more than that to stand out in today’s marketplace.  

Think of the greater good you’d do if Barry instead was able to be a part of a project that required him to talk to and connect with customers to bring about fresh new ideas and then collaborate across the organisation and include others in a journey that delivers customer fulfilment. We are talking about multiple touchpoints of human connection that would exist. And human connection is what drives purpose and the mastery of our skills.  

Support your team with a positive experience. Value them and support them to develop their strengths and capabilities and let them work to surprise and delight your customers.  

OK so if you’re an analytical type you want some evidence over simply here-say. How do we know EX has a positive effect on CX, beyond just making flat out common sense, that is?  

How about we look at some university studies:  

Here are some essential pointers identified in a study by Northwestern University – Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behaviour 

  • There is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance
  • In the end, customers who are more satisfied with an organization’s products are less expensive to serve, use the product more, and, hence, are more profitable customers. 

The list goes on but let’s just say I’ve summarised the nature of a long whitepaper for you.  

Not enough?  

Here’s some stats presented visually by Hays Group global:

Oh ok I’m sensing you liked that one.  

Here’s another stat graphic to get us to a slam dunk. This one is by Mercer Global Advisory.   

So by now I hope we’re on the same page and you’re asking HOW do we get started to aligning EX and our CX?   

In an article by Forbes it outlines the direct connection between EX and CX having 3 key components. 

  1. It all starts with a brand’s “heartbeat.” 
  1. Employee reviews are (just as important as) customer reviews. 
  1. Employees can (and should!) be a brand’s best spokespeople.   

HEARTBEAT 💖

This can cut to the core for so many reasons. In today’s technology-driven world, consumers want to buy from brands that celebrate the human experience. Whilst consumers are buying online it doesn’t mean that they do away with the need to feel valued as a human being as well as having their purchase benefit other human beings. Consider how you are impacting the community and ensure you are educating your consumers on why their purchase decision positively effects someone or something in this lonely world. How can your products and services drive human connection with your consumers and the community.  

REVIEWS 🔎

Your employees are on the front line of customer experience every day. They will always be ahead of management in the feedback loop or good and bad service so make sure you pave a golden path to your office door. Welcome your team in for continuous and sustainable feedback especially when it has anything to do with your customers.  

+EX = Powerful Influence  🤩

If organisations take the time to open their eyes to the many talents of employees, they can create a genuine, authentic facet of promotion that consumers are more open and trusting to. How many paid promotional messages do you get each day? Wouldn’t you listen if someone you knew was telling you their positive experience instead. We trust people. Let your people gain the trust of your potential buyers. If your employees are however, unsatisfied and disengaged perhaps stick to the pay per click option.  

See what I’m saying here? 

One thing that’s hasn’t been mentioned here is the need for trust, psychological safety and open lines of communication both down up and top down. All of these things are required to form a customer centric and employee centric culture. Perhaps I’ll roll my advice into the next blog. 😉  

In summary:  

Combining customer-centricity and employee-centricity is a smart strategy for a multitude of reasons. Ultimately, every company in every industry benefit from improving their employee experience, because it has a direct correlation to CX, which has a direct correlation to revenue.  

Happy employees mean happy customers, but happy customers also mean happy employees.  

Interacting with satisfied customers not only makes working for your company exponentially more pleasant; it validates the hard work your employees do every day. What’s a great article without an inspiring quote to finish off……

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” 

Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup

Need more information? If you want to drive your Employee Experience and/or Customer Experience for better results contact Liv for a coffee and a chat.

This article was written by Olivia O’Connor founder of Liv By Design consultancy. If you’d like to look at ways to improve your organisations focus on the human side of work and connecting with your customers reach out today.

The rapid transition of new ways of working hasn’t failed put even the global innovation giants into a tailspin. Many are still working through their return to work plans and what the future holds for remote and hybrid working models.

Leading innovative organisations respect that a powerful and healthy workforce can give the business results and competitive advantage they are seeking. In what has been a human problem many organisations are embracing the fact that the solution to the problem lies with reframing our focus from tech and policies to fostering a more human side to work.

In the Forbes article How COVID-19 Transformed the employee experience Meghan Biro describes…

“Working from home can never be considered a trend again, or a privilege. For so many employees it’s become a part of their experience, a crucible moment when everything changed. From now on, it’s going to be a part of our lives. And instead of aiming to shape a better workplace experience for our employees, we’d best let our employees’ experiences do the talking.”

In a time of turmoil wouldn’t it be nice to think that we could regain our ability to reflect on the importance of human connection and collaboration? And then redesign this little thing called work…?

Let’s look at what the plans are for some of the big players when it comes to the future of work.

Hybrid Vs WFH

Dropbox have shunned the idea of Hybrid working model for staff. Instead they’ve adopted the “Virtual First” approach. Once teams are safe to then meet and collaborate face to face, they will offer on demand collaboration spaces called DropBox Studios.

“Hybrid approaches may perpetuate two different employee experiences that could result in barriers to inclusion and inequities with respect to performance or career trajectory. These big-picture problems are non-starters for us,” Dropbox explained in a blog post. 

“We also hope this Virtual First approach will give us the best of remote and in-person work, balancing flexibility with human connection, and creating a more level playing field for everyone. 

Importantly, going Virtual First is an opportunity for us to build an even stronger, more diverse workforce as we hire from increasingly different backgrounds and perspectives. And it’ll set us up to make the right investments in people to grow our business for the future.

While we think Virtual First is the right choice, it’s new for us and we know we may not get it 100% right immediately. So we’re committed to maintaining a learning mindset—to staying open to new information and feedback and iterating over time until we do.”

Earlier in the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg voiced hybrid work to be the future and expected 50% of its staff to work from home over the five to 10 years. The company has 48,000 employees in 70 offices around the world.

More recently, tech giant Microsoft announced a shift to hybrid work for all its global employees.

Almost seven months after testing large-scale remote work experiment Microsoft has issued guidance to allow at least some staff to work from home even after the pandemic abates. The tech behemoth summed up its vision for the future of work in a blog post by Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Microsoft. Here’s an excerpt.

“Moving forward, it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture. For most roles, we view working from home part of the time (less than 50%) as now standard – assuming manager and team alignment,” Hogan says

Speaking at the recently concluded Microsoft Ignite event, CEO Satya Nadella made a case for hybrid work culture and said tech intensity is key to business resilience and digital transformation. Nadella added “there is an urgent need to empower employees and foster a new culture of hybrid work. “

What are some of the other giants planning?

Google and Apple have extended remote work at least until mid-2021, and so have Salesforce and Uber.

Where does workplace culture now exist in a virtual workplace?

Global workplace health and wellbeing consulting firm The Energy Project share their thoughts on workplace culture. “Many people believe culture is intangible and cannot be intentionally altered, but in fact, policies and practices can be deliberately designed, tested, and tweaked. Today some of the most forward-looking companies are engaging employees by designing policies and practices that address four core human needs—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—the same factors used in human-centered product design.”

For many organisations, the transition continues to evolve. In Perth we are lucky enough to be back at the office albeit on rosters or part-time but the fear of close human contact is still very real and many desks and offices remain vacant as a constant reminder that this isn’t yet over.

For leaders to begin designing their modern workplace a human centred focus or employee centric culture is your recipe for success. Here’s some elements to keep in mind.

This article, how the modern workplace is driven by 6 core human needs gives a quick summary of what core human needs exist at work.

  • Security – We desire health, safety, familiarity, and competence.
  • Status – We seek recognition of our contributions.
  • Achievement – We strive for excellence and take pride in our accomplishments.
  • Autonomy – We seek freedom in our actions and decisions.
  • Purpose – We want to make a meaningful difference.
  • Belonging – We want a meaningful connection to others.

Think about how your workplace delivers on these? Where are the opportunities for improvement? What are some simple solutions you can implement quickly?

Global firm Aon who provide risk, retirement and health solutions have taken an employee centric approach to managing the needs of their 50000 employees.

“We have found that our open, employee-centric approach attracts the kind of employees we are looking for — those who are engaged, healthy, and share our values in terms of creating a good work-life balance, and because of this, we have a very good retention rate too. The board is very engaged in how we develop these strategies, and our management team are invested in making them work.”

Starting your journey to designing new ways of working can be daunting. Even the giants are still managing their way through it. One thing they all have in common however is a human centred approach. By focusing and uncovering the needs of your employee’s new ways of working will reveal themselves.

Organisations that listen and design solutions for their employees will reap the benefit of a more stable, engaged, and productive workforce.

Need more information? If you’re thinking about how to create new ways of working for your team with a human centred approach contact Liv for a coffee and a chat.

This article was written by Olivia O’Connor founder of Liv By Design a human centred research and design thinking consultancy. If you’d like to look at ways to improve your organisations focus on the human side of work reach out today.

In this article from B&T Mykel Dixon puts his case forward of why creativity has never been more important in business.

A New Demand For Creativity

Last year, LinkedIn scraped the data from over 20+ million job listings posted on their site. Creativity came in as the number one soft skill employers will look for in the next decade.

From Soft Skill To Hard Returns

In 2016, Adobe found that creative companies enjoy 1.5 times the market share. And the brands that put creativity (otherwise known as DESIGN THINKING) at the heart of their strategy outperformed the S&P Index by 219 per cent over 10 years.

McKinsey developed a ‘Creativity Index’ whereby they measured the creative capability of a company. Companies that score high on their index outperform their competitors in two key metrics:

  1. an appetite and aptitude for innovation (growth)
  2. shareholder return (profit).

It seems we’ve finally found a way to measure the ROI of our imagination and the best part is, it’s not limited to shareholders.

Company Stock To Your Back Pocket

As part of their global benchmark study, called ‘State of Create’, Adobe found that respondents who identify as ‘someone who creates for a living’ enjoyed 17 per cent higher household income than non-creators. This was backed up by the Foundation for Young Australians in their ‘The New Basics’ report. Over three years, they looked at the data of over 4.2 million job listings and found that any job that listed creativity as an attribute had an average annual salary boost of $3129 pa.

Take a minute now to update your LinkedIn profile. Put ‘creative’ in it. Go on, you deserve some of that extra cash. Humour aside, the affect creativity has on the bottom line, of both a company and an individual, and the urgency with which both entities should be making it a priority are obvious. So why aren’t we hearing more about it?

Set Fire To Outdated Stereotypes

Too fluffy and inconsequential for the boardroom. Missing the credibility most leaders look for in a mindset or skillset to make tough, strategic decisions. Better left to artists, kids, or those wacky types in colourful shirts in the marketing team.

But as the world continues to throw more ‘unprecedented events’ our way (and you can be sure it will), our ability to find and form new value, that is both original and useful is paramount to our success. If we want to stay relevant in the eyes of our customers, colleagues or company, we need to make creativity a priority. And it starts with you.

Mykel Dixon, Author of Everyday Creative: A Dangerous Guide To Making Magic At Work.

You can read the full article: https://www.bandt.com.au/why-creativity-is-the-strongest-economic-currency/

This article has been written by critical thinking expert, Bethan Winn.

Bethan helps people to think clearly and decide confidently, using critical thinking techniques. So, here it is…. enjoy!

Bethan Winn Critical Thinking Expert

When Liv O’Connor and I met with no agenda, no objectives, no pitch, we found so many synergies and connections where we knew we wanted to continue the conversation. The blank page allowed us to build ideas together.

We saw that each of our specialisms require a blank space to be most effective – in Liv’s process, it’s called ideation, a change for ideas to percolate and form. It’s also the first step of my critical thinking compass: Reflection. Creating opportunities to ruminate and wonder, contemplate and consider.

To be their most successful, these slates must be clean – not biased by projections of ‘what the decision maker has already decided is best’. You cut off so many potential avenues if you already know which route you’ll take.

Modern life is all about filling space – more information, maximising space and effective, efficient scheduling. But a moment to ponder without turning to your phone, a space that is allowed to sit empty, or a cancelled meeting, let’s allow it to sit for a while before we rush to fill it.

Thinking time is something we all need more of but our schedules and gadgets often disrupt and distract us.

The blank space is also crucial between stimulus and response. I help people understand system 1 (automatic, reactive) vs system 2 (considered, proactive) thinking. This is sometimes characterised as primary vs secondary thoughts, or gut vs logic. Our immediate response is often unconsciously biased and dismisses an idea before we ask ourselves “why?”. Letting it sit in that blank space can help us unpack what we really believe, why we believe it and what is truly possible. Often the best ideas challenge our assumptions and can seem crazy when they first appear!

An agenda-less meeting may sound like a waste of time. But lockdown has shown us that we crave connection and many companies have successfully created time in the week for people to connect one-to-one, with no agenda, as a way to foster relationships, leading to greater employee engagement.

Like unstructured play time for children, this “free time” is where the magic happens. It can be interstitial space in architecture; the rest days between heavy loads in marathon training or space to write your notes in the margin, the concept of blank space can be applied as a ‘mental model’ to all parts of life.

How do we create more blank space?

  • Switch off your phone.
  • Pull out a notebook and pen and just write whatever comes to mind.
  • Allow yourself 10 minutes to daydream or doodle (put a timer on and stick to it).
  • Make an appointment with yourself with no fixed agenda.
  • Allocate random pairings for short meetings between colleagues.
  • Plan a tech free hour, afternoon or day in your week.
  • Identify your best thinking time and protect it from interruption: In the shower, while driving, out walking, washing dishes, on the toilet! Ensure podcasts, music and notifications are off and let your thoughts wander.
  • As a leader, allow and encourage your teams to do the same. Trust your people to manage their thoughts and take short walks or create tech-free whiteboard spaces to capture ideas.

To learn more you can catch Bethan Winn at her upcoming event on ‘Decision Making: Fast and Slow’ on August 4th, 8am at the Alex Hotel. https://events.humanitix.com/decision-making-fast-and-slow

There’s a few questionable things that came about in the 80’s but design thinking certainly isn’t one of them. What is design thinking? In short, design thinking is a problem solving framework.

With design thinking you bring your whole-self to the process without restraint or the negative inner voice. You bring a state of mind that empathises with customers but also with your colleagues you’re working with. Once you can do this the solutions are only limited to the participants imagination and the ability to seek, understand and then act on insights.  

So how does this apply to leadership? Great leadership, not unlike design thinking, is dependent on the ability to identify a problem and make progress on a possible solution. Problems or opportunities may be within the organisation or may lie in waiting with a customer need that has not yet been met.  

Design thinking, helping leaders  

In the article ‘Design thinking should also serve as a leadership philosophy‘ Jesse Himsworth from Forbes highlights two key elements that assist leaders.  

  1. The Power of The Collective Brain 
  2. The Value of Human-Centred Design

The power of the collective brain refers to the fact that ideas stemming from a collective of people with different views and insights is strengthened to that of an individuals. When one person (normally one with the highest rank) is coming up with all the ideas no matter how ‘intelligent’ or ‘naturally skilled’ they may be, the idea still stems from one set of skills, abilities, views, biases and experiences, rather than many. Having many points of view in a room, as opposed to one that dictates, is always going to be a more robust and stronger idea that stands a better chance of success.  

“Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results” states the report from Cloverpop titled “Hacking Diversity with Inclusive Decision-Making”.  

Ideas and innovation are strengthened by collaboration and there’s plenty of stats to prove it.  

The Australian Government report Competition of Collaboration used data from around 7,000 Australian small and medium enterprises and they “found a significant link between collaboration on innovation and productivity growth — the impact of collaboration on innovation increased annual productivity growth by 4.1 per cent.”

 The benefits are irrefutable. The ability to harness ideas and bring together diverse points of view increases the success rate of new ideas (innovation) but is also attributed to improving the overall sustainability of any organisation. I always like to mention the sidenote of empowering individuals and helping them to find moments of joy and purpose in what they do each day. To me this is where the magic lies.   

How diverse is your team?  

Now let’s look at the team you, as a leader, are creating. Yes, I say creating because every hire, every recruit will determine the abilities of your collective brain. Diversity is a key component of collective brain that can break through the limitations of traditional thinking and create more innovative ideas.  

The BGC Report ‘how diverse leadership teams boost innovation’ states that organisations which leverage diversity in developing their solution have an advantage of 19 percent more in their innovation revenue over those that don’t.  

The X Factor  

Now to the value of a human centred approach.  Design thinking firstly relies on empathy. So, in this case leaders who have the ability to put themselves in their teams and their customers shoes. Good to Great, author Jim Collins notes empathy and humility to be the X factor of great leadership.  

If leaders successfully embed empathy into their organisation we then get a more engaged workforce.  

The ‘Empathy Monitor Report’ makes mention of the following benefits of a workplace that embeds empathy:  

1.Retention 

  • 92 percent of employees would be more likely to stay with a company if the organisation empathised with their needs. 

2. Overheads 

  • 60 percent would be willing to take less pay if their employer showed empathy, and 78 percent would leave an employer for equal pay if the other company was empathetic. 

3. Productivity  

  • 77 percent of employees would be willing to work longer hours for an empathetic employer. 

So once leaders have developed a culture of empathy what’s next?  

Constant improvement, regular feedback and individuals who are open minded enough to receive and welcome feedback can be your competitive advantage. Embrace it! An organisation dedicated to innovation realises that it is a continuous pursuit that promotes failure as an opportunity for learning. 

 Let’s talk about what’s in it for them….. and what’s in it for you as a result.  

“They hear me”…. Empowerment  

Empowering teams and instilling confidence to teams can be a momentous move to improving the decision-making abilities of teams. Not to mention improving proactiveness and productivity.  

Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. (Salesforce

“What I do matters, to me!” Sense of Purpose 

If what you do each day is aligned with your own personal cause then there’s no doubt you will be happier at work as well as happier after hours. If you’re fulfilled 9-5 then homelife becomes more enjoyable and let’s face it a happier community could only eventuate. No Sunday blues, no manic Mondays.  

80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organization. (IBM

“Trust me I got this!” Decisiveness 

A decisive team means less time for leaders to have to guide direction. Therefore, it allows leaders to dedicate more time to connecting with the wider industry and dedicate time to thinking about the future direction and strategies of the business rather than putting out fires and reacting to day to day challenges.  

70% of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement. (SHRM

From here decide what is the biggest challenge to your business. Use empathy in your approach to break down the barriers to that challenge. Whether it be within you company or your customers.  

The design thinking approach will help you to not only address any problem that comes your way but you’ll also reap the benefits of knowing that you are contributing to a happier community and happier workforce.  

Sleep easy in knowing that when your people go home each day, they don’t dread the time they need to be back in the office and instead thrive within their home life and spread the word within their network of the positive influence of your organisation.

Make advocacy and an engaged and empowered workforce your strongest competitive advantage.  

Olivia O’Connor, Liv By Design

Video 3min watch

How? was the question I was asked last week after posting a video on ‘bringing your culture online’.

Here’s a quick exercise anyone can implement to refocus on your culture as well as encouraging your team turn up to your online meeting with a mindset of active contribution rather than passive attendance. Heighten your teams engagement and leverage their creativity.

Here’s a quick vlog on one of what I consider to be one of the best tips to holding a creative online meeting.

The numbers and research don’t lie, most of our meetings suck. According to research by Gallup senior executives spend two days or more a week in meetings despite the fact that 67% of meetings are considered to be “failures”. I’d dare say that time would have significantly spiked in the last couple of weeks for most execs.

Anything that requires us to turn up and zone out is not just a waste of time but a waste of our creative potential, a waste of an opportunity to truly connect and collaborate.

You can’t write an article on improving meetings without quoting some scary stats. Steven Rolberg’s research states that…

62% of participants said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.

71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.

Poor meeting structures lead to low engagement and poor culture. If you want a more productive team who creates big ideas and gets stuck into creative problem solving, then you need to dedicate time to connection and heightening collaboration. The way to do that is to ensure you allocate time in your meeting to focus on culture, create an interactive experience and tie the jobs to be done back to the overall higher purpose and vision for the team.

Allocate time

In my experience this works best in the opening of the meeting. Dedicate 15 minutes at the beginning of your next team meeting and use this time to seek input from everyone who attends. This will help you stop your team feeling like passive participants and make them feel more like active contributors and idea makers.

Interactive experience

In a time like this where things are so uncertain, and people are experiencing high levels of change and stress

Some think of focusing on culture and engagement as nice things to do or the icing on the cake. We need to make the cake first sell it then we’ll think about ourselves later. Wrong. Instead, think of engagement and your culture as the cake tin. It’s what enables you to make the cake in the first place. Want a better cake? Then fix the holes in your tin.

So here’s 3 activities to get you started…

Method 1.

BRING YOUR VALUES TO LIFE.

Grab your list of values. Select one each week or each meeting and ask the team to each come prepared with one or two ideas as to how that value can be represented in your next online meeting.

Collate the ideas, discuss and pick some nice easy ways that you all agree as a team you want to uphold over the next few weeks.

Use the next meeting to summarise what was agreed to and at the end of the meetings to a value check in. Take 2 mins to write down how you think it went. Keep experimenting and tweaking as you go.

Benefits: This activity requires everyone to do some pre-work before the meeting so they are already in the mindset that they will be required to contribute.

It helps your team focus on agreed to goals and decision making. There’s not one individual who makes the call but a group who are working together. Essentially you are working out your collaboration and team cohesion muscles.

Method 2.

GET VISUAL.

Get participants to get and A4 piece of paper and a sharpie. Ask them to draw a picture 5 mins before they’re due to dial in that represents how they have been feeling that morning or day. You can have fun with this but just make sure the image is visible to everyone online. (Hence the sharpie instead of a pen). If the kids are at home grab a crayon if you have to. Then ask everyone to show their picture. If there is anyone who wants to share why they drew that picture. You’ll find some people are feeling great and some who might be feeling a little challenged that day could perhaps do with a phone call from someone who has some energy to give that day to support them. We’re all going through a lot so morning you might be on top of the world and afternoon you might need a pick me up.

Benefits: How many emails do you send each day? How many drawings do you do each day? By drawing an image, you are instantly activating new pathways in your brain. By opening new pathways, it allows you to interpret information differently and allow more critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Method 3.

GIVE A SHOUT OUT.

Tell a story that represents someone demonstrating the values either within your organisations or serving a client.

Give recognition to someone who has helped deliver on a project or task. Then go a step further and ask them to explain how they managed to get all the work done or how they prioritised this job with everything else they had going on.

The more you can get other to recognise positive behaviours and not just outcomes the more you help them to realise that they too can deliver on their seemingly endless tasks and major projects.

Benefits: This builds trust within your team and it helps people feel valued for the work they do. Trusting one another is one of the most valuable commodities we possess, and it is vital to cohesive teamwork. By going the one step further and asking the recognised team member to explain ‘how’ they achieved what they did or how they prioritised means that others in the team can then see how they themselves can follow positive behaviours and processes for the same outcomes. This step also fosters transparency and avoids the ‘hold your cards close to your chest’ behaviour which fractures teams. Success breeds success.

Don’t forget that your workplace culture is your own. Develop your own rituals. You can adopt some of the above or go out on your own and create something unique to your organisation that can create a sense of comradery and belonging.

Experiment and improve. Question the outcome, structure, behaviours and necessity of every meeting. Was it necessary to all jump online? Did everyone need to be there. Could the same be achieved by simply heading onto a teams chat or slack. If it’s an important announcement does everyone need to login at that point in time or could you simply send a video Prime Minister style give everyone a chance to digest then come into an online meeting to discuss peoples thoughts and questions.

If you’d like more tips on how to bring your culture online get in touch. No pressure, no pitch.

Stay creative! Cheers, Liv

This morning may have been the first morning most of the community logged into workplace meeting from home. How did it go?

Some are relishing the change. Others having their laptop set up in the bedroom and across the hall from the bathroom with 2+ kids at home is proving to be challenging or more like the multitasking challenge from hell.

Before you reach for that bottle of SSB before 10am lets press reset.

The problem with most online meetings is that it can be a distracting set up. Then its mostly a my turn, her turn, his turn to talk set up. Here’s a few tips to think about before you connect tomorrow.


Start with a culture moment


Take 10-15 mins to share some positive moments of what you’ve noticed happening with your teammates, colleagues and leaders around you.

Congratulate people who are demonstrating the values and behaviours you want your organisation to embrace now more than ever and into the future.

If your facilitating ask a leader or manager to start and then get everyone involved.

Being present


There’s nothing worse than a leader logging in when they feel like or taking calls while the meeting is going on. Yes, it’s time for urgency but support your team by dedicating solid time to them. I’m not talking about a one-off life or death moment I’m talking about a solid pattern of repetitive behaviour.

Look to structures meetings so they’re kept short and work them around the other priorities for the day. If it can’t be done say your piece and bounce. You’ll feel better about addressing the major priority you have, and you won’t diminish the time the rest of the team need to connect.

Give your team the freedom to collaborate and get back to you.

Driving engagement


There’s nothing more detrimental to any meeting than a ‘lets go around the table and share what we’re working on today, this week, for eternity’ structure.

It sure can feel like an eternity. While people speak other participants are checking out their hair or how killer their new virtual background looks.

Think about how you can mix it up.

Who’s going to do what, by when?


Last and you know it’s not least. Ensure as a team everyone keeps each other accountable. Reiterate the importance of the tasks outlined and the implications if things don’t progress.

There’s nothing more refreshing than leaders and teams who can be completely open and honest with each other. Think of it as a half time motivational huddle.

Then get out there smash those tasks and keep the progress updates as frequent as sales alerts at Christmas or the onset of a retail shut down during Covid-19. Ooops too soon?