Performance Matters: Telling Your Story

“What’s your story?”

It’s a question that’s pregnant with possibilities.  It can be posed as a accusation or as a sincere expression of interests.  But when it comes to telling their “story,” many leaders find it hard to express stories about their organizational culture, mission, challenges or victories.  Such leaders often fail to see the value of a well-told tale when it comes to engaging an audience, resorting to email as a means of so-called “communication” with their stakeholders.  They miss the primary value of story-telling when it comes to communication.  So what’s that?

It’s the opportunity to, as one writer puts it, to “make me care”  as a part of your audience.  When we coach leaders about communication we often have to remind them that they are on a quest to win both the  hearts and minds of their stakeholders.  As leaders, we have to find what is important to our stakeholders and connect with the passions, concerns, fears, or hopes,  and dreams in meaningful ways if we want to engage an audience, a customer, or an employee.  In short, great communicators make people feel a connection with the message they’re hearing.  

Over the years, we’ve asked leaders to share a story about something about their organizational values and mission.  We normally hear vague references to integrity, or hard work, agility, or even how much their organization values people.  But when asked to share an example of how that value has been born out in their organization in the last 30 days, we’re surprised at how few can do so.

So the next time you’re about to write that email, address that audience, or meet with that client, ask yourself one question.  What do they care about?  Whatever message you’re trying to craft will be far more likely to connect if you begin there, rather than if you lead and discuss only what you care about.  We will talk more about this in our next few blog posts as we address how it can help create change in your organization, building your strategic plans, or even how it will improve your sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction.  

Until then, if you’d like to know more about our executive coaching, strategic planning, or leadership and sales process consulting work, email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at






Performance Matters: Aligning Customer Experience & the Happiest Place on Earth

They say it’s the happiest place on earth.  

And if you’ve ever been to a Disney resort or taken one of their cruises, you’ll probably agree–even if a hot dog and Coke will cost ya twenty bucks.

When many people visit Disney, they have saved all year (or several) to make the trip.  And their expectations are high.  They want the memories, the excitement of the rides, a clean park, to see their children and grandchildren smile, and to feel safe, free from the cares of their daily lives.  But despite those high expectations, Disney overwhelmingly gets it right.  Why?

Because Disney knows their guests are–deep down–seeking an experience, they aren’t just on vacation.  Disney takes nothing for granted, even teaching their staff how to direct people to locations in the park without awkwardly pointing and grunting “Magic Mountain is that way.”

So what can banks, hospitals, schools, government contractors and non-profit organizations learn from Disney?  First, they understand what their customers want.  Second, they take nothing for granted in how they equip their employees to meet customer expectations.  Third, the right customers are willing to pay for exceptional experiences.

All the evidence points to customer experience becoming the differentiator for the exceptional organization of the future.  So if you aren’t investing in understanding what your customers want, and aligning everything your organization–especially if you’re in a service business–does around that expectation, you’re putting their loyalty at risk.

If you’ve found this piece insightful, please share it with our friends and peers.  And if you’d like to know how Performance Strategies Group helps clients with strategic planning, alignment, and stakeholder relations–including customers–email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at


Performance Matters: Aligning People, Processes, & Policies

Alignment.  It’s not just about getting into your favorite yoga pose properly.

If you work in any large organization, you’ve probably heard the term.  But alignment isn’t just for large organizations.  And while alignment is about getting your vision and and tactics in synch with one another to maximize productivity, it’s not as mysterious a concept as many seem to think.  But there’s a big question to be answered when trying to create more aligned organizations.  So where should we start?

Effective alignment begins with the customer!

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to align a single department or an entire organization, everything we do in any organization is about serving a customer or client.  So when we build policies, assign roles to people, or build organizational charts and processes we have to begin with the needs of the customer.  Sure, we have to make sure everything we do is compliant with laws and regulations, but when we focus on customers in that context, great things can happen.

At the moment, Performance Strategies Group is in middle of a stakeholder relations research on behalf of a client as part of a strategic planning engagement.  That means we are helping our client to identify customer’s opinions about products, their needs, frustrations, and even the reputation of the organization itself,  Yes, we’re also getting feedback from staff, board members, and other appropriate constituencies, but this, or any other organization doesn’t understand the customer’s experience and how easy or difficult it makes them to do business with us, alignment efforts are little more than a lab experiment.  

Whether you’re a CEO, a sales advisor, or a quality control engineer, you have to talk to your clients.  Okay, we will get off our soap box.  Enough said.

If you’ve found this piece insightful, please share it with our friends and peers.  And if you’d like to know how Performance Strategies Group helps clients with strategic planning, alignment, and stakeholder relations–including customers–email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at


Performance Matters: Strategic Planning and Engaging Stakeholders

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered a variety of issues related to creating a straightforward, meaningful strategic planning process for your organization.  We’ve stressed the importance of continuous planning, answering critical questions, and implementing only needle-moving strategies and tactics.  This week, we address the importance of engaging stakeholders in the process.

If you want buy-into your strategic planning process and its goals, you must let   people weigh-inthroughout the process.  If you’re leading a 7-member organization allowing everyone to weigh-in is simple, and relatively easy.  But if you leading a 700-member team, getting them to weigh in will be a challenge.  So develop a representative list of team members and, if nothing else, give them the opportunity to point out what they see for your organization in the way of threats and opportunities.  A brief survey throughout the year can be a remarkably effective means of generating needle-moving strategies.

In larger organizations, leaders can become far-removed from their customers.  They might not see inefficiencies in the production process.  Or they might be unaware of some emerging threat or opportunity simply because they don’t have as good a communication channel as they believe they might, or they don’t have the time to wander around the organization and talk to enough people.  Be sure to let your stakeholders know what you’ve reviewed their ideas and, if possible, make sure they know why you haven’t acted upon them. Doing this will help minimize disengagement by letting your team know you take their input seriously.

As you’ve begun to identify strategies and tactics for implementation, let your team have the chance weigh-inon those too!  Most organizations struggle to keep everyone engaged and that costs them productivity.  By keeping them engaged throughout a continuous process, you will improve organizational trust, commitmentand, ultimately, results!

Finally, make sure to engage your customers!  At the end of all our planning and tactics there sits a customer.  If possible, talk to them.  Ask them why they chose to business with your organization, what would make them decide to choose another provider, and how you can insure they will be your customers for life?  Brief surveys, dinner with a group of significant customers, and focus groups throughout the year can be an extraordinary and high-return investment on the time and money you will invest in this process.

If you’d like more information about how Performance Strategies Group helps our clients build meaningful, actionable and differentiating strategic and tactical plans, email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at