Bricks and Mortar Excellence in an Online World

It’s really easy to shop online and we’re seeing the effects on our High Streets with stores closing and being replaced by cafes and false shop fronts.  We’re even seeing a trend for large department stores in shopping malls to be replaced by data centres, using the space for server racks rather than clothes rails.

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It was refreshing on a recent trip to Cardiff to discover the art of great retail alive and well.

Our first experience was at Rules of Play, a board game shop we noticed whilst walking through one of Cardiff’s arcades  filled with independent shops.  Although small, the shop was well stocked, with one of just about everything a board game shopper might want, and a friendly and helpful assistant to guide people on what to buy.  After picking up a new release we spotted a copy of Roads and Boats, a game released about ten years ago that has been out of print for some time.  There was no assistance needed, we were buying the game.  Whilst Grail Quest remains the Holy Grail of board games, Roads and Boats comes pretty close.

Taking it to the counter with a huge smile and a “shut up and take my money” look, the assistant smiled as he rang up the sale. “It’s funny, when this game came in I asked the owner what it was, so I could talk to people about it, and he told me I didn’t need to know because if someone asked they wouldn’t buy it, but if someone came in and knew what it was they’d just buy it, no questions asked.  I thought he was mad, but he’s right”.   He called the owner through from the back.

The owner explained that he’d been offered three copies at a convention and he’d snapped them up.  Here’s where his retail sparkle came through.  He hadn’t put them on the shop’s website.  He knew that if he did they’d be snapped up by someone who would never set foot in his store, and who may well put the game straight onto eBay to make a profit.  He wanted people to be surprised and delighted by seeing the game in his shop.  He wanted to see those faces of retail joy, and he wanted to give those people, and the friends they’d tell of their experience a great reason to always pop into his little store when they were in the neighborhood to check out what was new, safe in the knowledge that they’d stay for a chat and buy something whilst they were there.

A trip to Brogue Trader for some smart work shoes saw old fashioned service, careful measurement and a sensible discussion about style.  Whilst the products available in the shop were also available on line, the in store service was such a delight that it’s now a destination in its own right.

Plenty of chain stores have closed in Cardiff, and those that survive know they need to create a fun shopping experience, of the big brands in town Apple was doing its thing, and the Lego shop was welcoming people in to play, both knew that people might buy elsewhere, but their brand was being built by their in store experience as people would accept no substitutes.

What are you doing to make your sales offer more compelling than an online alternative?

The Role Of Coaching

What Is Coaching?

  • Coaching takes over where ‘Training’ leaves off
  • Training focuses on providing additional skills for individuals and teams to do their jobs better and to contribute more efficiently to achieving corporate objectives.
  • ‘Coaching’ recognises that within each individual and team is a further potential to develop and enhance their contribution that has yet to be released.
  • ‘Coaching’ recognises that a lack of skill, technique and experience is only one reason why employees (performers) do not always demonstrate the best performance of which they are already capable.
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A Coaching Framework Will Limit:

  • Self-image that people stops trying new things.
  • Fear of failure or the acceptance of ‘compromise’ too early.
  • Lack of self-responsibility for creating the results they want.
  • Unclear personal goals that lead to a lack of internal motivation.
  • Unclear corporate goals that individuals cannot connect with the ‘What’s in it for them?’ factor.
  • Lack of structure or framework that demonstrates that the development of the individual or the team is a priority of the organisation.
  • Lack of supportive relationships with Managers which could empower individuals to be creative, take risks, explore new possibilities and take personal responsibility for achieving team and corporate objectives.

The Role Of a Coaching Manager

  • Developing
  • Educating
  • Coaching
  • Supporting
  • Guiding
  • Trusting

Not just because he/she wants to ‘get the job done’ but because he/she uses ‘getting the job done’ as the vehicle for helping individuals to expand their potential and make a bigger contribution to their teams, their organisation, their society and to themselves.

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Coaching Is The Only Way To Win The Game Of Change

  • Everything is moving so fast that enlightened business leaders know that what worked yesterday is unlikely to be the same as ‘what works’ tomorrow and the day after.
  • One of the reasons that today’s managers often feels frustrated and ineffective is because he/she tries to replicate yesterdays answers to today’s new challenges. They do not yet recognise the new challenges and that they don’t know the answers or what to tell their people.
  • The effective coach does not know all the answers either, he/she does know that not knowing the answers is not the problem.

His/her role is to develop his performers to find out the answers and he/she does this by:

  • Helping set goals that really excite and motivate an individual. Traditionally imposed goals rarely do this.
  • Creating an environment where performers can learn and ‘own’ their performance. Accountable for every new result and acknowledged for every step forward.
  • Providing a supportive relationship which becomes more performer-centred than manger-centred (unleashing the untapped power of the individual, traditionally restrained to merely doing the job.)
  • Creating teams of people all committed to not only achieving corporate objectives (the traditional manager’s role) but all committed equally to helping each other become the best performer they possibly can be.

Let’s all go to the Moon! #LunarMissionOne

One of our good pals has been working away on  top secret project, but although it’s been super exciting, she hasn’t been able to tell anyone about what she’s been working on. Today she was able to share – Lunar Mission One launched a project to get a robot to the moon. The plan is to drill down up to 100m into the moon and analyse samples.  If the Rosetta mission set you alight with excitement then this is a project that you can be a part of.

The team needs funding to get the project off the ground (and up to the moon), and with no taxpayer funds headed off Earth, they’re raising the funds from science and adventure fans through KickStarter.  As an extra bonus, once that hole has been drilled they’ll be dropping a time capsule into it.  You can help shape that time capsule.

It will take a while, building a moon rocket isn’t easy, but the scientists and engineers involved will be sharing their progress with backers, making everyone a part of the team.

We’re going to the moon*, take a look at who else is involved and let’s all send our rocket to the moon.

*None of our consultants will be strapped to a rocket and sent to the moon, no matter what level you back the project at.

The Nature of Change

People live with change constantly: in a lifetime, everyone goes through personal transformation from infancy to adolescence, young adulthood, middle age and finally old age. A career path may lead from subordinate to junior management, middle management, senior management and even on to board level or consultancy.

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Organisations also mature and evolve, with major changes on many levels in policy and practice.

However, change is not a comfortable process for most people. The very nature of change means a time of transition between the present state and the desired state.

For organisations, change is the way to stay competitive and to grow.

For individuals, the opportunities created by change enrich careers and personal lives.

The Causes of Change

 To deal effectively with increasing rates of change it is important to understand its underlying causes.  Organisational changes are frequently driven by causes external to the organisation.

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Political/Legal

  • Competition Law
  • Environmental Protection
  • Taxation
  • Import and Export restrictions
  • Health and Safety Legislation
  • Employment Law
  • Government Stability

Socio-cultural

  • Population demographics
  • Income Distribution
  • Social mobility
  • Lifestyle Patterns
  • Attitudes to work and leisure
  • Consumerism
  • Education

Economic/Environmental

  • Business Cycles
  • Cost of Capital
  • Money Supply
  • Inflation
  • Growth rate of the Economy
  • Unemployment
  • Disposable Income
  • Energy availability and cost

Technology

  • Government Research and Spending
  • Focus of Research Effort
  • New Developments
  • Speed of Technology Transfer
  • Rates of Obsolescence

Change also occurs at different speeds, but broadly divides into gradual and radical forms.

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Analysing change

Both gradual and radical change may be either reactive or proactive, according to whether you make the change voluntarily or in response to other pressures.

Gradual change

A gradual change is a change that occurs slowly over a prolonged period, at a steady rate, or with minor fluctuations in intensity.  It can involve many people, or just a few and is frequently linked to continuous improvement programmes.

Radical change

A radical change is a sudden and dramatic change with marked effects.  Often radical change is on a large scale.  Organisations and individuals often stand to gain most from a radical change.  However the risks can appear to rise in direct proportion.

Learning to change may, in many cases, constitute a major change in itself.  One of the best ways to establish a new adaptable way of thinking is to develop a ‘learning organisation’.  This is an organisation in which change-oriented thinking becomes a habit for everyone, and so change is always under way, with all systems and processes constantly under review.