Author Archives: Maz Iqbal
What Do You Make Of The Following?
Recently, Richard and I (along with another colleague) took part in a sales discovery workshop. This is the feedback our colleague (the ‘sales guy’) got from the ‘client’:
Thank you for coming to …….. yesterday. I think we all agree that it was a very positive and useful workshop, which was run extremely well by Maz and Richard (Maz in particular is a very impressive facilitator – we could use him on other projects!)…….
What do you make of it? Did you attribute the success of this workshop to Richard? Did you attribute the success of this workshop to me – the “very impressive facilitator”? Did you attribute success both to Richard and me, yet put me at the front of the stage and Richard more towards the back of the stage? Allow me to share with you how almost all of us would interpret the situation:
Nice job all – particularly Maz Iqbal that is GREAT feedback!
Distinguishing Between A Statement-Description That Is Accurate And One Which Is True
Whilst the client’s statement is accurate it is not true. Why? Think of it this way, the client only got to see-experience the show. The client did not get to see-experience all that occurred. His position to some extent was that of a spectator in the stands watching the play occurring on the pitch. And as such he is not in a position to know-experience the play occurring on the pitch and all that it takes to generate a high performance play.
Why am I pointing this out to you? It occurs to me that there is a profound difference between observations and statements made by those in the stands (‘spectators’) and by those on the pitch (‘players’). Given that almost all that you/i hear-read is spoken-written about is written by spectators. So whilst what they speak may be accurate it is never true. Which means that almost all leadership-management-business advice that you/i are exposed to is misleading at best and damaging-destructive at worst. Why? It gives the illusion of answers whilst hiding that which is hidden in the background and which truly shapes that which occurs.
Who Creates-Shapes Performance?
Take a look at the following video:
I ask you, who-what created the context-space for the performance of the expert? Was it the expert – as an individual? Or was his performance shaped by the context-space created from him by the ‘sales guy’ and the project manager?
Now zoom out and look at the bigger picture: the bigger conversation that is occurring in the room and the performance of the whole group. Didn’t the client also play a crucial role in generating the kind of performance that occurred in that meeting?
Let’s switch back to my very impressive performance as a facilitator. What was my response to this feedback:
@…. It occurs to me that I showed up as an impressive facilitator because the space for me to show up that way was created by @RichardHornby and @……. and the client. The folks from [the client] were great. We were able to co-create a great meeting as there were no egos in the room…..
Am I being modest? No. It occurs to me that I am simply stating what is so: the truth of high (impressive) performance. The truth is this:
The ‘sales guy’ was big enough to let Richard and I shape-lead the workshop. At one point, I told the ‘sales guy’ that I was taking away his right to speak as his speaking, whilst necessary at some point, was inappropriate at that workshop given the challenge we were addressing and the time that we had. The ‘sales guy’ took it as it was meant and did what he was asked.
The ‘project manager’ Richard and I have shared history that goes back to the year 2000. Richard listens to me as a skilled facilitator. In his listening it is simply not possible for me not to show up as a skilled facilitator. He creates the context-space for me to show up that way AND his listening of me also ensures that it is simply not feasible for me to allow myself to let him down. Richard and I are friends! We designed the workshop together – collaboratively and iteratively.
By the time we got to the workshop Richard and I knew exactly who was doing what. And this is important: I got up to facilitate that workshop knowing in my very being that I was totally safe (Richard was holding the safety net) no matter what. And in that space I was prepared to shine.
Ultimately I showed up as a “very impressive facilitator” because all members of the client team sitting around the team allowed me to show up that way. How did they do that? They left their egos outside of the room, the workshop. And as such there was all the space to work collaboratively on the challenge at hand.
The Challenge of Leadership: Creating The Context-Space For Impressive Performance To Show Up
I say that:
- impressive performance shows up when you create the context-space for impressive performance AND only impressive performance to show up; and
leaders are those people who create the context-space for impressive performance and only impressive performance to show up at the individual and ‘team’ levels.
I dedicate this ‘conversation’ to my friend Richard Hornby. Richard shows up for me as a shining example of a servant leader. I owe him more than I can ever repay. And I am clear that this world is a richer-better place for Richard being in it.
Is the default condition of showing-up and operating in the business world that of experience blindness? Is the reason that so little progress has been made by so many on customer experience due to this experience blindness? Is experience blindness the cause behind so many workplaces having the same feel as hospitals?
Let’s make this personal. Did you drink coffee? No, did you drink tea? No, did you drink water or some juice? Yes. Ok. Now go back to the last occasion that you drunk something and ask yourself what your experience was. What was the sensation of drinking? What was the texture of the container that touched your lips? What about the liquid itself? How did the liquid travel from the container and through you? What thoughts were present as you were drinking? What kind of mood were you in: relaxed, sad, anxious…? If you are like most people that I see-encounter, you drink in an experience blind manner. Why? We have not been taught to be mindful and present to the experience that is occurring right now. Given our blindness to our own-lived experience, how present-receptive can we be to the experience of others: customers, employees….?
Allow me to illustrate, bring life to, this conversation with two examples.
Example 1: Conversation With A Customer Experience Consultant
I found myself working with someone whom I like-respect, someone who has operated as a customer experience consultant. On a joint engagement we were planning a workshop session. The challenge was to devise a way to help the people who would be in the room choose between the various alternatives.
As we were talking, this able consultant was going through the various methods that were available for use. He talked about which methods tend to work. And he talked about the method that his latest employer recommends using. What he did not talk about was the ‘customers’ – the people who would actually take part in the workshop.
Then I was asked for my opinion. My response was immediate and it went along the following lines. We are designing this workshop for the benefit of the people who will attend the workshop and make the decision. Why don’t we ask these people which framework-method-process they tend to use, in their organisation, to make this kind of decision? And if they don’t have one method then lets run them through the most promising methods and see which one speaks to them.
What really surprised me was this: what showed up for me as the obvious way to look at and deal with the situation at hand (bring the voice of the customer into the discussion-decision) had clearly not occurred to my colleague. And this is no ordinary business person. He is customer savvy: he has been doing customer for a long time.
The only way that I can explain this to myself is that doing customer experience is not the same as being customer experience. Doing is like going to a party and putting on the proper mask and playing the proper role. Then it is time to leave the party and put on another mask and play a different role. Whereas, being is that which is embodied in the way that you show up – being lives in every fibre of your organism. It is what you are, naturally.
Example 2: Phone Call From The Director of The Building Company
Over a month ago, I arranged with the Steve, the director of a building company for work to be done on the house in which I live. We agreed the start date: Thursday 10th April (today). As I need to be around the house, I took the day off as a holiday.
Yesterday, around 18:30 I got a call from Steve. Why was Steve ringing? Steve was ringing to ask if I had emptied the room out. I told him that I hadn’t as I had just finished work for the day. And I had set aside the evening to do the clearing out. He asked me if I had taken the shelves off. I told him that his firm was responsible for doing that under the agreed schedule of work.
Then Steve got to the point. He told me that the guy that was supposed to come to the house, around 8 am, would not be coming. Why? Because he is still finishing the work he is doing for another customer. The Steve told me that he would have someone else come over to the house, after lunch, to remove the radiator and the shelves. This was just the preparatory work to enable the room to be plastered and then painted. What became clear is that the room would not get plastered even though that is what we had agreed. And what I had expected to occur. I did not need to take a day off for someone to come and do two jobs that collectively took 45 minutes.
Have you noticed what I noticed? I noticed that the conversation was all about Steve and his needs, his concerns, his priorities, his situation. Not once did Steve ask about me, ask about my concerns, or even ask how I felt about Steve not keeping his word.
Is Steve a bad person or a rotten business man? I don’t know the answer to that. All I can share with you is that Steve does not show up for me that way. How does he show up for me? Steve shows up for me as a great example of business as usual. What do I mean about that:
- Showing up and operating from an ‘inside out’ view of the world and not evening being present to any other way of operating e.g. ‘outside-in’; and
- Concerned only with the job/tasks to be done and being blind to the human being he is dealing with and thus blind to the concerns, needs, expectations, and experiences of these human beings.
It occurs to me that this is simply what goes along with living into-from a worldview that sees and thus uses human beings as resources – to be used for one’s purposes, efficiently and effectively, for largest profit/benefit for oneself. So the challenge of Customer Experience is the challenge of a transformation in worldview.
The Traditional Take On Change
So much has been written on change – particularly organisational change. It occurs to me that this material is mostly written by folks sitting in the stands, observing the game of change being played out on the court by others, and interpreting what they see through their preferred lens – the dominant one being the cognitivist-psychological one.
A favourite of change management orthodoxy is the Kubler-Ross model: the five stages of grief. The ‘love’ of this model (the content – 5 stages of grief) is so strong that almost nobody bothers to grapple with the context. What am I pointing at? The fact that this model was derived by speaking with those facing terminal illness. The skeptic in me asks, is the person confronted with organisational change confronted with death? It occurs to me that the answer is no.
A Phenomenological Perspective On Change
What is the challenge of change as experienced by those on the court – those actually being asked to and undergoing change? It occurs to me that the ‘as lived-experienced’ challenge of change is made of two challenges.
Challenge 1: The first challenge is that of moving from the comfortable-familiar-normal way of being-travelling in the world to a way of being-travelling that is experienced as uncomfortable-unfamiliar-abnormal and leaves one feeling exposed-vulnerable; and
Challenge 2: The second challenge is that of sticking with this new (abnormal-awkward) way of being-travelling for long enough for this way of being-travelling to occur as comfortable-familar-normal and thus drop out of conscious awareness.
My lived experience is that most change intentions-effort-initiatives fail because of Challenge 2: the inability to be with that which shows up as unfamiliar-abnormal and experience the discomfort-exposure-vulnerability that goes with this. This is particularly so for those people, in the organisation, who are in positions of power-privilege based on their familiarity-competence in the ‘way we do things around here’. And it is not restricted to them: we, all of us, are members of a herd species and we herd around-on that which is familiar-comfortable-habitual-accepted practice.
What is a way of grappling with Challenge 2? Here I lean on my experience of fasting during the month of Ramadan. I have been most effective at fasting (no eating, no drinking) when I found myself :
- in a community of people who are ALL engaged in fasting;
- each person is struggling and open to sharing his struggle with regards to making the transition for eating-drinking when one wants to not eating-drinking for up to 20+ hours during summer months;
- members of the fasting community help one another deal with the challenges that come along the way by providing encouragement-support and being living examples of the kind of behaviour that is required given the game that is being played; and
- where temptation (especially seeing others, influential others, eating-drinking) is absent.
What shows up for me as being particularly interesting is the power of context to influence behaviour. When I stopped being a muslim (many years ago) I stopped fasting. Then many years later on, in the midst of summer, I found myself fasting voluntarily despite not being a muslim and no pressure to fast. Why? Because, I found myself in the midst of people whom I liked socially, and who turned out to be practising muslims.
Honouring One’s Word v Keeping One’s Word
As a ‘graduate’ of Landmark Education I came across many valuable distinctions. One of the most powerful of these distinctions is this one: honouring one’s word. Notice, that honouring one’s word is not keeping one’s word.
When one operates from a stand of ‘honouring one’s word’ then one cleans up the mess that occurs or is likely to occur when one does not keep one’s word. And one does so gladly as one values the other, values the relationship, and values one’s word as one’s self.
Tesco Mobile Honours Its Word After Having Not Kept It
What has this to do with Tesco Mobile? You may remember that it occurred to me that Tesco Mobile had not treated me fairly given the situation I found myself in. And the way that I had sought to work with Tesco Mobile to come to an amicable resolution – one that was fair and worked for both Tesco Mobile and myself. I wrote up my experience in the following post: Why I Will Never Buy Anything From Tesco Mobile Again!
Several days after writing the last post, a helpful chap (Niky McBride) from Tesco Mobile contacted me. We spoke on the phone. And the phone call ended with Mr McBride promising to look into the situation and find am amicable solution for all.
I had my doubts. One part of me expected that Mr McBride would come back and tell me that he had looked into the corporate policy and he could not help me. The other part of me expected that the best offer would be along the following lines: you can terminate the contract by paying up the remaining amount on the cost of the iPhone and this months airtime-data fee.
Instead I received the following offer:
Dear Mr Iqbal
Thank you for your time over the phone today.
As discussed, we are unable to offer tethering on iPhone at present. As a resolution to the matter, we’re happy to:
1. Allow you to return the handset so we can cancel your contract without Early Termination Charges
2. Allow you to pay for the handset so you can keep this and use it on another network that supports tethering
Please let me know which course of action you would prefer so we can bring this matter to a resolution for you.
Niky McBride (Mr)
Customer Service Executive
After consideration, I chose to return the handset and cancel the contract. In part, this was because I wanted to see what my experience would be like if I did decide to return the handset. Would it be easy or difficult? Would I find that despite Mr McBride’s promise, I would find that the right arm didn’t know what the left arm was doing. And so I would find myself charged for cancelling the contract and returning the phone.
The return process turned out to be remarkably easy. I was sent clear-helpful instructions on how to go about returning the iPhone. And on the appointed day-time, the courier turned up to pick up the iPhone.
Somewhat later, I got an email informing me that I would be charged something like £800+ for the early termination of the contract. So that which I had envisaged had come true: the right arm did not know what the left arm was doing! Just as I was about to consider my options, I found myself disarmed with the following email:
Dear Mr Iqbal
I am writing to prevent any concern, as there has been a charge applied to your Tesco Mobile account for the iPhone handset you returned. Please however, rest assured that we’ve asked for this balance to be cleared so you will not be charged.
This email is confirmation that you will not be charged.
Niky McBride (Mr)
Customer Service Executive
Did Mr McBride live up to his promise? Did he keep his word? Here is an extract from the email that I wrote:
Dear Mr McBride,
I have just received my credit card statement and find that you have been true to your word …. I have not been charged by Tesco Mobile.
….. I thank you for all that you have done on my behalf. I find myself wondering what kind of world you-I would find ourselves living in if enough of us were to show up and operate in this world in the way that you have done – in helping me come to an amicable-just resolution……
It occurs to me that a great way for me to repay you is to thank you through a follow up post. You have done right by me. And now it is my turn to do right by you, and Tesco Mobile. If you are in a position to email me a photo of yourself, your team leader, or your team then please do so, and I will include it in the post……
At your service / with my love and gratitude
Does Tesco Mobile Now Offer Tethering On The iPhone?
Allow me to close out this post by dealing with the issue of tethering on the iPhone. Why? It was the lack of tethering that drove me to look to end my relationship with Tesco Mobile.
Two readers have written to let me know that Tesco Mobile is now offering tethering. I am assuming that this means that Tesco Mobile is now offering tethering on the iPhone; they were already offering tethering on other phones including my daughters £60 Samsung phone which made me see red as I had paid £660 for the iPhone 5s 32GB and could not get tethering when I needed it for work.
I cannot say whether Tesco Mobile is or is not offering tethering with the iPhone. My recommendation is to check this before you enter into a contract. Or to check it out as soon as you receive your iPhone. Why? Because you have 14 days to return your phone and cancel the contract. I believe this is a legal requirement when buying stuff via the internet.
What I can say is this: I find myself willing to buy from and recommend Tesco Mobile. Why? Because Tesco Mobile, through Mr McBride, honoured its word to me as a customer. And that is all that I ask of any person-organisation that I do business with: honour your word.