Three Humps and a Stick – the Third Sector and PMN

A great post from Seth Godin looking at pricing that I believe has relevance in the third sector and for social enterprises – and has really helped me to think through what we are doing with the Progressive Managers’ Network. The three humps and a stick refers to four price points that you can offer your product or service at. Reading his original post should help you follow this one!

We offer lots of stuff for free. This blog for example, the podcasts and the online forums. We do as much as we can at no-cost. This helps us to achieve one of our aims which is to provide great management development experiences to progressive managers.

Our workshops are at the ‘low cost’ hump. By selling open programme workshops and supporting learners through websites and podcasts instead of manuals we can cut costs and improve service – better management development for less. This is important for many in our target audience.

But we are also asked to do work at the mid to high price point humps too. Clients who do not want to do their learning in public, or who can’t yet access web based support – and so commission workshops and training events in house – for which they pay a premium.

Before reading Seths post we were just doing this because it ‘felt’ right. It is great to have a rationale now to hang it on.

How big is your stick?

How effective are you at developing your service at each of the three price humps available to you?

The Power of We

Well the 2012 Olympic logo has come in for plenty of flak – but there are other factrors that could become a cause for concern.


“London 2012 is inspired by you and it’s for all of you. I’m passionate about making 2012 the success it deserves to be. My pledge is that I will make these everyone’s Games. I urge you to take advantage of all of the opportunities.”

Sebastian Coe


“London 2012 is inspired by you and it’s for all of you. We are passionate about making 2012 the success it deserves to be. Our pledge is that we will make these everyone’s Games. We urge you to take advantage of all of the opportunities.”

Sebastian Coe (if I had drafted his speech!)

I think that the simple re-write helps – but it is not enough. The core problem is that he is promising something that cannot be delivered. He cannot make this everyone’s games. He does not have that power. And we know it.

I think that the ‘cult of personality’ could be more of a hindrance to the success of the London 2012 games than a dodgy logo.

Recruit, Develop, Improve, Retain and Release

5 simple processes. Do them well – or even just do them all adequately – and within a year you will have a high performing team that will be on its way to being one of the best.

Recruit – find people with passion, curiosity and a hunger to learn about your business. Find people who will add strengths and personality to the existing team. Do not employ clones. Have a reputation such that there is a queue of talent waiting to join your team – because this is where the action is. This is where people do great work and where people develop reputations and careers.

Develop – Take every opportunity to actively develop your people – knowledge, skill and commitment. Provide weekly one to ones. Provide feedback (both affirming and adjusting) by the bucketful. Delegate to them opportunities that will lead to their growth – and free up your time. Help each team member to improve their skills and their commitment and inspiration in a way that leads to improved performance. Provide coaching to all team members every week that will help them to improve their performance.

Improve – make sure that every team member is clear about their role and how to manage the tensions within it. Make sure that they have a few clear objectives some of them smart – but all of them wow! (A wow objective is one where when you achieve it you will just want to say ‘Wow!’) Review objectives regularly in the 121s and shape them according to the dynamics of the business. Keep score. Use targets.  Make it clear that improvement is an expectation of everyone.  Use feedback, coaching and 121s to help people to improve.  If they fail to improve then consider whether you are playing to their strengths.  Ultimately a team member who consistently fails to perform better has to be let go.

Retain – hold on to your best people long enough – but not too long! If you are doing a great job as a manager then your staff will perform while they are with you – but may over the course of a few years outgrow your team. Celebrate their successes. Celebrate your success. Help them move onwards and upwards – knowing that you have a succession plan in place. Carry out monthly litmus tests on all of your team to gauge how likely they are to leave in the near future and the risk that this carries. Have a clear understanding of who you need to retain and who you would like to see being successful somewhere else. Provide your team with the very best place in which to do their best work – in which to achieve their objectives (and yours).

Release – Release good people who have outgrown your team. If you can no longer provide them development opportunities then encourage them to move on. Help them. Work equally hard with the high performers and the under-achievers. Use the same management processes applied with equal diligence. Agree objectives, provide feedback, coach and use 121s. Document the process! If people fail to improve – after you have given them all the support that you can – talk to an HR specialist. Show them your documentation – 121s, feedback, coaching. Seek their advice about moving the under performing staff into ‘special measures’. Invite the under performing staff member to a meeting to discuss their performance and their failure to improve. Remind them of the investment that you have made in their success. Let them know that if their performance does not improve – you will terminate their employment. Coach them some more. Give them another 3 months (minimum) of your full commitment to help them to make it. If they don’t – then fire them. Acknowledge your failure as a manager. Sleep soundly knowing that you did everything you could to help them to succeed and that the process that resulted in their dismissal was fair, ethical and professional.

Reflect on these 5 processes.

How well are you doing as a manager in each of them. Give yourself a percentage score on how well you think you are doing in each. 100% would mean that you really can’t see any opportunity for improvement. 0% would indicate that you really could not think of any way in which things could be worse.

Sketch out a simple graph like the one shown below. What one thing can you do in the next week that will make things better?

Repeat the exercise often. Discuss your conclusions with your peers, your team and with HR. Start to do the hard work of pursuing excellence.


The Importance of Brand


I was taught that your ‘brand’ is what your customers, employees and other stakeholders think of you. And if you are wise your ‘brand investments’ ensure that their ‘experiences of you’ mean that your brand (as it exists in their collective heads) is a strong one. Whatever a brand is, it is not a logo on a piece of corporate paper.

Over time, the experiences that we have of the 2012 Olympics will get to be associated with this logo. And when we see the logo those experiences will be re-kindled. Will the experiences be positive – excellence, community, potential, sportsmanship and passion; or negative – expensive, corporate, drugs cheats, marketing, spin, consumerism and so on.

When we see a new, expensive and very public brand like this it is easy to mock. But what kind of experiences can the 2012 organisers build around the logo that will really become the brand?

What experiences for stakeholders do you create around your brand?


Pascal Wyse has a column called Wyse Words in The Guardian Weekend Magazine. His word this week-end was ‘Nadaday‘.

“This appears to be a really dynamic working day – full of progress and Post-Its and high fives. But mysteriously, despite the blizzard of productivity, when you add it up, the net result is that you have achieved absolutely nothing. Had you stayed in the toilet all day, you would be in a better position.”

So how do you avoid having too many Nadadays?

If you are having too many – what should you do about it?

What if you simply have a Nadajob?

Nadadays happen when people work for ‘compensation’. When they sell their time and effort for a salary.

When people are working to create value, and make a difference to the world then Nadadays are rare. Unless we manage them poorly – fail to acknowledge and respect their motivation and treat them as just another of our wage slaves.

Unfortunately this happens a lot in even the most purpose led organisations – when we manage the system, the process and the outputs – forgetting that it is ALL ABOUT PEOPLE!

When I work with ‘purpose led’ organisations whether in the first, second or third sectors the biggest opportunity I see for performance improvement is for managers to talk more often with staff about why this work matters – to them. What is the difference that they are trying to make – and how can the organisation help them.

Once this type of conversation becomes routine, frequent and genuine then amazing things happen to culture and performance.

Evolution of E-mail?

The Progressive Manager’s Network is definitely not a techie place.  However sometimes new technology comes along that can really help – and many practicing managers are late adopters.  This is the case with WIKIs.

This video shows in simple terms what a wiki is and why you might want to start working with them in the way you run collaborative projects.

Of course – you don’t have to invest 5 minutes of your time to find out what all the fuss is about….

Watch the Video About WIKIs Here