changes Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Roof Technique

The Cat’s on the Roof Technique

I was talking to someone recently that had to announce something new to his team that he felt would be “perceived” as bad.  However, he also felt confident that it would lead to some great things afterward.  He was concerned about the initial perception and anticipated pushback.  He believed that this would keep the team from moving forward to implement the changes.  I listened to his ideas and I agreed. There would be pushback AND it was the smart move.  So, I told him to use the Cat’s on the Roof technique.  He asked me what that was, so I shared this story with him:

The Cat’s on the Roof Technique

There were two brothers and one was going to take a vacation.  So, the brother says to the other brother “can you look after my cat while I’m on vacation?” And the other brother says, “sure no problem.” A week later the brother comes back from vacation and says “how’s the cat?” And the other brother says “oh, sorry man, the cat’s dead.” The brother says “what?!” The other brother says, “yeah sorry, the cat died.”  Then the brother says, “are you kidding me, man, you don’t just spring that on somebody!” The other brother says “how should I have done it?”  The brother said, “I don’t know, prepare me a little, tell me ‘the cat was on the roof, and you walked out and saw it, it started sliding, you ran over to get it but you didn’t make it in time.  You then took the cat to the vet to try to save it and then after that – you can say “I’m really sorry but your cat passed away.  That’s the way you prepare somebody.” The other brother says, “got it, I understand now.”

Then the first brother changes the subject and asks, “How’s mom?” The other brother says “well, mom was on the roof.”

Change for innovation

People hate surprises they perceive to be negative.  Change has elements of surprise to it.  Even when people say they want to change they often don’t react well.  When the change happens, they will often say something like, “yea I wanted to change but I didn’t think it would look like that!”   Change scares people, even when it’s change that can lead to something better.

I have found the “Cat’s on the Roof Technique” is an excellent method you can use to transition people over time to something new.  Don’t just spring change on people if you can avoid it.  Do it with a lot of communication, gradually, over time.

 

What Is Your Company’s Competitive Position?

To find out how you stack up against your competition, take a little time to analyze your competitive status. This exercise will help you understand and emphasize your unique selling position.  How do you differ, and how can you position yourself for the best competitive advantage?

There’s no single formula for conducting a competitive analysis; it’s mostly just good business sense.  Try to stay aware of what your competition is doing and how your business stacks up against it.  For example:

  • Are your prices and costs competitive? — Do customers who compare costs come back to you?
  • Do you compete effectively in terms of product or service quality?
  • Are you seen as the vendor of choice? — Why do people seek you out?
  • Are you growing, losing ground or just holding onto your market share? — Are you waiting to see what will happen and hoping to react in time?

Staying competitive also implies being aware of trends and reacting to changes faster than your competitors. How will changes in technology and society affect the competition? Are your products or services more advanced than those of your competition? Do your competitors have the jump on you with online marketing/social media?

Understanding the driving forces in your industry — growth rates, shifts in buyer demographics, product and marketing innovations, the entry or exit of other competitors, changes in cost or efficiency and so forth — will make you a top competitor.

I highly encourage you to take some time this week to sit down and ask yourself the questions listed above. Once you’ve done this, come back and leave a comment explaining what you learned about your company’s competitive position.

Bob Burg’s 10 Networking Questions That Work Every Time

My good friend, networking expert Bob Burg, has 10 questions he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should memorize.

Bob explains that these questions are not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way; they are all friendly, fun to answer, and will tell you something about the way the person answering them thinks.  You’ll never need or have the time to ask all 10 questions during any one conversation but, still, you should internalize them.  Know them well enough that you are able to ask the ones you deem appropriate for the particular conversation and time frame.

Here are the 10 questions:

1.  How did you get started in the (______) business?

2.  What do you enjoy most about your profession?

3.  What separates you and your company from the competition?

4.  What advice would you give someone just starting out in the (______) business?

5.  What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

6.  What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

7.  What do you see as the coming trends in the (______) business?

8.  Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?

9.  What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?

10.  What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?

Like Bob says, you’re not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation,  so don’t worry about sounding like you’re conducting an interrogation. These are feel-good questions people enjoy answering, and they are meant to establish an initial rapport.  So next time you’re at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and then come back and leave a comment about how using them worked out for you; I’m more than willing to bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

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