The Listening Organization

October 24th, 2012

Listening organizations are the most engaging organizations on the planet. Non-profit organizations, corporations, and universities that listen attract people because they get the people they’re trying to serve.

Listening organizations study us with Cousteau-like fascination. They engage us because we sense that they get us, know us, and understand what makes us tick.

Ace Hotel, Apple, and Starbucks study their clientele and create experiences for them that resonate at a personal, meaningful level. But they have to listen to do this well. So do you.

The DMV doesn’t get us or care to get us. They’re not listening.

What tools can you use to listen to the people you serve?

Surveys and focus groups alone won’t suffice as listening activities—not if you don’t dig deeper. Understanding the truth about people is an art. This is why one of the least effective ways to find out what people really want is to ask them. View content and data as windows through which we can better understand people. Look through the glass, not at it.

Listening organizations don’t merely collect feedback. They invest resources to decipher meaning—a commitment that reveals the depth and authenticity of their interest in us.

You strive to engage people each day. How do you listen to them, and, more importantly, how do you intuit meaning?

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    Seven ways to keep it real

    August 1st, 2012

    “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit, ”It’s a thing that happens to you.”

    The so-called “real world” makes being real difficult. Extraordinary pressures and rewards make conformity, sameness, and predictability appealing.

    I spoke last week with a group of students at the University of Oregon. I decided to share seven suggestions for how they might become more real in the world they’re about to enter:

    1) Be uncommonly curious about common things.

    2) Interact with art, conversations, and experiences you don’t understand.

    3) Favor timeless truths over fading fads.

    4) Do honest work, even if most people don’t get it.

    5) Expect and embrace discomfort.

    6) Create meaningful objects, conversations, and experiences.

    7) Engage—Lean in. Diverge. Risk.

    Thank you to Dr. Shoshana Kerewsky and her brilliant students for the opportunity to speak with you. Best wishes in your efforts to be more real.

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      Rethink Your Job Description: A Practical Guide

      June 7th, 2012

      Data Disseminator or Engage Agent?

      We know too well how to be Data Disseminators, but we want to be Engage Agents.

      Rethink your job description. Be an Engage Agent instead of a Data Disseminator. This less mechanistic, more engaging job description draws people to you, your message, and what you have to offer.

      I’ve created a short video and printable PDF as resources for you and your team as you strive to be Engage Agents.

      Here’s how you can put these resources to use with your team:

      First, watch the video and print the, Rethink Your Job Description, PDF.

      Second, forward this email to others on your team. Ask them to watch the video and print theRethink Your Job Description handout.

      Ask the following questions at your next team meeting:

      1. “Which job description best describes our work as a team, and as individuals?”

      2. “If we could do three things to migrate toward being Engage Agents instead of Data Disseminators, what would they be?”

      3. “What single aspect of the Data Disseminator job description hampers us most? Which single aspect of the Engage Agent job description do we most need to develop?”

      A prediction and a promise…

      Prediction—these questions will precipitate resistance within yourself and others. That’s okay. In fact, it’s a good indication.

      Resistance of this ilk tells us we are entering a new, fresh territory full of promise. We resist it because it’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

      Keep in mind always that the safest, most comfortable paths fail to change lives, especially our own.

      Promise—you will engage people in a more personal, meaningful way.

      In time, operating as a Data Disseminator will seem unthinkable.

      Here you go! The Guide for Rethinking Your Job Description:

      Video tutorial

      Printable PDF (right-click to download)

      I hope you find these resources helpful.

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