The Business of Observation

Are you lying? Lying about the fact that despite the conditions of the market, your business will make it using old methods, technologies, or traditions? Maybe your boss is ignoring the need for change and you know it, but you can’t stomach telling her. Maybe your clients or customers are telling you over and over that they aren’t happy, but the cost to retool is too high. When we ignore the signs of change all around us, we are lying to ourselves that we aren’t in desperate need of innovation.

One of my favorite shows on network TV is Fox’s Lie to Me with Tim Roth. The premise of the show is based on the science of observations of micro facial expressions that are made when someone is lying. I find it absolutely fascinating that tiny muscles in one’s face can give away that someone might be hiding something. It’s as plain as the nose on your face, yet you can’t see it because you look at your face every day. Maybe you are choosing to ignore the obvious; maybe it’s time to look in the mirror to gain a different perspective. The reality is that when we look in the mirror, we only see what we want to see.

Where can you find a good mirror? Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes: Mounted on the wall; compact; stand alone; two-way; square; oval. Mirrors are tools of observation. Here’s a few mirrors utilized by proactive businesses:

  • Internal Reports – Internal reports generated from your daily transactions can be helpful in pinpointing areas in need of attention or where new opportunities are forming. (Google Analytics is a fantastic web reporting tool for your website if you don’t have one already.) Most of us have tons of reports, we just don’t know how to pull out the useful data within them.
  • Internal Survey Groups – Take a non-management member from each section, team, or department in your organization and assign the group a topic/question to observe over a given period (Nine weeks is a good benchmark). Allow your team members to meet once a week to discuss how their department process affects the selected topic/question. Assign a facilitator to each group to keep the group on target. At the end of the allotted time, have the group present their findings to a panel comprised of all levels of management/ownership. The results will surprise you!
  • Client Feedback Forms – These can take many forms such as printed comment cards or electronic emails generated after specific transactions or interactions. The faster the feedback is received, the opportunity to make adjustments or corrections can be made. Delegate someone to follow through with each comment or feedback. A well constructed feedback process is essential!
  • Secret Shoppers – Many restaurants and retail shops hire people to evaluate their staff and facilities, but this format can be modeled for any professional field as well. Craigslist is a good resource to find secret shoppers. Another way to secret shop is to secret shop the competition. Through emails, or phone calls, or walk-through visits, have one of your staff visit the competition and evaluate the same area or department they work in. How they are treated by someone in their own field can be very enlightening. Have them report back to their section about their experience.
  • Business Consultants – If your business doesn’t have the staff resources to complete the ideas listed above, a Business Consultant is an excellent option. Assign them the task of gathering together all of the pieces of your puzzle. As an outsider looking in, business consultants have a unique perspective and are trained to observe, analyze, and to give honest feedback on your products, processes, and people. Empower them to be the facilitator or catalyst for change that you want to make.

Try This: Print this blog entry out and take it to one of your staff and have them read it aloud. Watch their face as they read it. See anything that jumps out at you? Are you in the business of observation?

About tallydigitalbiz

As a Digital Media Consultant for small businesses and non-profits in Tallahassee, I have the opportunity to collaborate with the most creative and innovative people. Everyday is filled with new opportunities to partner with people who are passionate about what they do. The status quo isn't going to get you there. Website: Mobile: 850-980-9222
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