Donor Experience Scoreboard and Dashboards


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Donor experience scoreboards help you establish if you are winning or not. When you have clear goals (lagging indicators) and strategies (leading indicators), scoreboards and dashboards let the players (not the coaches) easily know where they are. Winning or losing. What down is it? Where on the field are we? How much time is left? The data isn’t complicated. It is easily read and easily interpreted.

Start with your donor experience leading indicators as the KPI’s for scoreboards. It is easy to get distracted with dashboards. They are easy to create and we have plenty of data. We actually have too much data. Much of it is interesting but useless. It may tell us the score but it won’t tell us what yard the ball is on. Great dashboards focus on leading indicators. They are easy to read and predict great outcomes. If they don’t, get some new ones.

Begin measuring what you can today. It is way too easy to develop very complicated dashboards. We may think we don’t have the right data and need to wait until we can measure it at some distant point in the future. By beginning to measure what we can today, we will start down the road to knowing if we are on track or not.

Encourage speed and agility in measuring sooner rather than later. Speed is important. Simplicity rules the day. Complexity in dashboarding kills the spirit. Let’s build it now should be the mantra. The digital executive who is focused on the donor experience will be impatient in this area. We need to move now and we need to move fast. That is all there is to it.

The important thing is that without a true sense of urgency, true change is nigh impossible. Performance measurement shouldn’t be seen as bureaucratic administrivia, nor as a bandwagon fad. It needs to be appreciated in the broader context of continual improvement, capability growth and problem solving. And that’s one of the reasons why a sense of urgency is a critical ingredient.

 Source: KPI Library

Scoreboards and dashboards help you know if you are on track or not. We all know that simply knowing the score is not a predictor of who will win the game. How many times have we seen a game where one team is ahead but loses? Way too often. In addition to great scoreboards, we need dashboards that tell the players are we on tract to win or lose regardless of the current score.

The employees who are accountable for the leading indicator should develop and report with their scoreboard. When I report my own results, I tend to own them. When someone else does it for me (or to me), it is easy to quibble about the data. That leads to a lot of wasted time and effort. If I play baseball and a key indicator is how many times I get on base (compared to home runs hit), I can easily measure and report how I am doing. 4 at bats and no times on base tells me I need to improve. From this point of view, scoreboards and dashboards should be closest to the point of action as possible.

Scoreboards and dashboards should not cost a lot to implement. The data should be easily available and not difficult to analyze. Costly, time consuming systems will spell the death of any initiative. Digital executives know they need to start simple and improve over time through a continuous improvement process.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Scoreboards help you establish if you are winning or not.
  2. Start with your leading indicators as the KPI’s for scoreboards.
  3. Begin measuring what you can today.
  4. Encourage speed and agility in measuring sooner rather than later.
  5. Scoreboards and dashboards help you know if you are on track or not.
  6. The employees who are accountable for the leading indicator should develop and report with their scoreboard.
  7. Scoreboards and dashboards should be closest to the point of action as possible.
  8. Scoreboards and dashboards should not cost a lot to implement. The data should be easily available and not difficult to analyze.

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“You don’t need a peer-reviewed study to know that when people surf the web on their smartphones, they’re not going as deep.” ~Seth Godin


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Seth Godin makes a great case for the fact that many of us are developing “mobile blindness”. As someone who does research and lots of writing (4 different blogs), I see this and have adjusted my approach. Sometimes I do short content and others I do long content. Sometimes I take it all and bundle it into a book.

My sense is that there is a danger to just focusing on “short content” and clickable headlines singularly. But then again, we are also moving from reading to video. It is curious however, that someone who has become extremely popular on YouTube ( has videos that generally exceed 1 hour in length.

You don’t need a peer-reviewed study to know that when people surf the web on their smartphones, they’re not going as deep.

We swipe instead of click.

We scan instead of read. Even our personal email…

We get exposure to far more at the surface, but rarely dig in.

As a result, the fine print gets ignored. We go for headlines, not nuance. It’s a deluge of gossip and thin promises, not the relatively more immersive experience of the desktop web.

And of course, the web was a surface treatment of a day spent with books and in Areuninterrupted flow on a single topic.

It’s not an accident that blog posts and tweets are getting shorter. We rarely stick around for the long version.

Photokeratitis (snow blindness) happens when there’s too much ultraviolet–when the fuel for our eyes comes in too strong and we can’t absorb it all. Something similar is happening to each of us, to our entire culture, as a result of the tsunami of noise vying for our attention.

It’s possible you can find an edge by going even faster and focusing even more on breadth at the surface. But it’s far more satisfying and highly leveraged to go the other way instead. Even if it’s just for a few hours a day.

If you care about something, consider taking a moment to slow down and understand it. And if you don’t care, no need to even bother with the surface.

Source: Seth’s Blog: Mobile blindness

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“Digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization.” ~Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman (Harvard Business Review)



Digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and doesn’t just involve technology. Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business.  It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and, often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails.  It also requires continuous monitoring and intervention, from the top, to ensure that both digital leaders and non-digital leaders are making good decisions about their transformation efforts.”

By Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman Harvard Business Review: Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail

Whatever it takes … by Cyndi Zagieboylo, CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society


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Cynthia ZagieboyloNational Multiple Sclerosis Society President and CEO Cyndi Zagieboylo knows all about MS. It has been her life’s work. But what she and everyone in the MS community don’t know yet is the cause of this unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, and the cure for it. But, they are getting closer, thanks to an attitude of “whatever it takes”.

Whatever it takes

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“Whatever it takes.” That’s a big statement.

“Whatever it takes” means we are all in. It means we are laser focused on common goals and we are moving toward those goals with dogged determination. It means we will do whatever it takes to reach a solution — no matter how hard, how complex, or how long it takes.

National MS Society founder Sylvia Lawry did whatever it took for her brother Bernard who was diagnosed with MS.  From the moment she placed a classified ad in the New York Times back in 1945 — looking for anyone who had recovered from MS, she was all in. This led to the launch of an international movement to end MS, work I consider an honor and privilege to continue.

My first job at the National MS Society back in the mid 1980’s was to connect people with information, resources and each other, to reduce the terrible isolation that can occur the moment a person is told “you have MS”. Back then, more than three decades ago, we tackled challenges the same way we do today—bring together people with as many perspectives as possible and shine a light on what people with MS are experiencing and what they need. This is how solutions are found. We are all about pulling together everyone who wants to find solutions for people with MS.

We aim to engage people in the MS movement in meaningful ways — meaningful for each person.  Personally, I am passionate about the concept of resilience and I’m inspired by people’s abilities to be resilient. We have found through our Everyday Matters Program that when people develop skills in resilience, when they are able to adapt to the challenges and changes MS brings, they are better able to move forward and focus on living their best lives. Everyday Matters helps people find their own resilience and apply it to the challenges and opportunities they face.  Overcoming challenges, achieving what’s important, doing what brings meaning in life, being happy.

Through Everyday Matters and connecting with others, people learn to take steps toward happiness, achieving a life goal—whatever it takes.

We also know the importance of connections. MS is a disease that breaks the connections within the central nervous system, interrupting the flow of information from the brain to the body.  But, sometimes, for people living with MS, the challenge is the connection outside the body.  Being connected to the right person, at the right time, with the right resources is key, even life-changing.

Take the case of Jackie.  When she first contacted the National MS Society, her power had been turned off, the food in her refrigerator had gone bad. She hadn’t showered in more than a week because she had no hot water.

Her Medicaid benefits had been discontinued, cutting off her home care services as well as access to catheters and other incontinence supplies she desperately needed.

Jackie was running low on her medications, including the one that managed pain so she could get into her wheelchair and to the bathroom. She had resorted to rationing her medication — taking some once a day instead of twice, and others every other day.

Jackie was homebound, with no means of transportation. She was struggling to take care of these issues on her own, and her limited support system wasn’t enough.

When Jackie called the Society, she was connected to an MS Navigator who recognized the seriousness of her situation immediately and requested a wellness check from the local police department.

About 10 minutes into the conversation, Jackie recalls the MS Navigator instructing her to put down the phone and unlock the front door because she had someone on the way over. A police officer arrived. He told Jackie he was there to help. He stayed for 3 hours and even had the paramedics come to check her out. Jackie remembers the officer giving her a hug, she said it was the first time she had been hugged in years.

The Society assigned Jackie a case manager to help get her benefits reinstated and to ensure she had appropriate care and medicine. The case manager helped Jackie apply for a home delivery food service for people with medical needs that provides nutritious meals each week.

She was also connected to the Weatherization program and Home Builders Foundation, who are building her a ramp and fixing her patio door so she has full access to her home, can get outside by herself, and has an option in case of an emergency.

Jackie attributes her survival to several “angels” – people doing “whatever it takes” to help her turn her life around.

Sometimes, “whatever it takes” – might take you to places you never thought you’d go – like the U.S. Capitol.

The Society recently wrapped up its annual Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C., where 300 MS activists stood up to MS and boldly communicated what they need to live their best lives.

It can be hard to speak up and tell your personal story – your truth — about what MS has taken from you and your family. And it takes courage to ask for what you need, to tell Congress what they need to do to help you and everyone else living with MS.

These activists had the courage, strength and resiliency to do just that, they did “whatever it takes” to have a voice, make it heard, and make change happen for people living with MS.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people take part in our fundraising events, walking the miles, cycling up and down hills, trudging through mud obstacle courses – whatever it takes – to raise the money to fund programs and services like MS Navigators, and to fund the research to find a cure for MS.

Seeing this commitment always takes me back to the beginning of my journey with the Society and a dear friend. My mentor, my colleague, my volunteer partner, my very good friend, Eli was a tremendous leader in the MS movement.  He started serving at the tender age of 6 when his father was diagnosed with MS. Through the decades that followed, Eli worked to end MS in loving memory of his father and his uncle and his sister—all who had progressive MS.

Eli died last month, before he could realize a world free of multiple sclerosis.  I miss him dearly. Eli so wanted a world free of MS and so do I.

And that is what we will achieve – whatever it takes.

Cyndi Zagieboylo

Cyndi Zagieboylo became president and CEO of the Society in October, 2011. She began her National MS Society career in 1985 and has worked with every CEO of the organization including founder, Sylvia Lawry.  Achieving the National MS Society mission is her life’s work.

Cyndi serves on the Society’s National Board of Directors as CEO and president, on the National Health Council Board of Directors where she currently serves as past Chair, and on the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation CEO Advisory Group and Board of Directors. She is a founding member of the International Progressive MS Alliance which was launched in 2013, and she provides leadership as chair of the executive committee.  The Alliance was formed to expedite the development of therapies for progressive MS through connecting resources and experts around the world.

Cyndi’s priorities include:

Maximize global participation in and contributions to research priorities including the Progressive MS Alliance

Effectively resource strategies that ensure people affected by MS live their best lives today—this includes the implementation of a comprehensive MS Navigator service and Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program to provide case management to people with the most challenging circumstances caused by MS.

Born in Norfolk, Massachusetts, Cyndi received her bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and psychology from Springfield College, followed by a master’s degree in social psychology from the University of Connecticut.  She lives in Honeoye Falls, NY.


“Most digital transformation is in reality a bolt-on to the current business model.” ~Nigel Fenwick | Forrester Research


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Most digital transformation is in reality a bolt-on to the current business model. Very few organisations are seeking to transform/change their revenue/business model around new digital capabilities.” ~Nigel Fenwick | Forrester Research

So what factors do organisations need to address before embarking on the digital transformation process? According to Fenwick, they should:

  • Begin with a clear understanding of the level of transformation required (bolt-on vs disruptive)
  • Ensure the CEO has bought into and helped shape the vision of the company as a digital business
  • Establish cross-functional leadership of the digital transformation agenda under a digital champion empowered by the CEO
  • Identify strategic business partners/vendors to help the company along on its transformation, bring them into the confidence of the executive team and share the business objectives
  • Digitise the business strategy, don’t create a separate digital strategy
  • Establish a digital-first culture that supports rapid experimentation and innovation

These points might appear eminently sensible, but that doesn’t mean companies have absorbed them prior to launching their DT plans.

Source: Hate to add to the wanky jargon – but your digital transformation is actually a bolt-on • The Register

What do leading indicators mean to the donor experience?



SMART goals are very important. They set the direction and tone. How they will be achieved (strategy) is equally, if not more, important. The best way to think of strategy is to focus on the leading indicators that produce the results you want to achieve with the donor experience. Otherwise, any strategy will do.

Leading indicators change quickly and are generally seen as a precursor to the direction something is going. For example, changes in building permits may affect the housing market, an increase in new business orders could lead to increased production, interest rate changes will impact spending and investments, a diminishing of demands for natural resources will often indicate work slowdowns, and aging baby boomers may indicate future stresses on the healthcare system. Because leading indicators come before a trend, they are considered business drivers. Identifying specific, focused leading indicators should be a part of each business’s strategic planning.


Continue reading

Best Practices Are Hurting Your Fundraising … by Tim Kachuriak, CEO of NextAfter


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Best Practices Are Hurting Your Fundraising by Tim Kachuriak

Sometimes we think an idea will work well based on past experiences or certain laws of design we’ve learned along the way. However, over the course of 1000 experiments, we’ve discovered that best practices are not enough. We need to test our ideas using a rigorous scientific methodology in order to know what truly works to improve donor experiences and grow revenue online.

In my time as a marketer, I’ve been obsessed with a concept that is often used as the primary analogy for marketing: the donor funnel. The donor funnel is the crux of my existence. The idea is that we put different forms of traffic into our website, and try to move our potential donors from interest to involvement to investment.

This funnel analogy is useful because all marketing should influence a decision. It should move people to take action.

The problem with this funnel analogy is that it distorts reality. People aren’t falling into the funnel. In fact, most people aren’t traveling through the funnel at all. People are falling out!

We know this because the average donor conversion rate is between 1 and 4%. This means that we fail to get people to donate at least 96% of the time.

The funnel implies that gravity is pulling our leads downward, propelling potential donors through the giving process. But that’s not the reality.

Instead, the donation pathway is more like a mountain.

It’s not a Donor Funnel. It’s a Donor Mountain.

Our goal as fundraisers is to get our donors to the top of the mountain. The top of the mountain represents the macro decision making a donation, which is the ultimate goal of our fundraising experience.

The Donor MountainThe problem we face is that the donor starts at the bottom of the mountain, at base camp. In order to get them to the mountain peak – where they can actually see the impact their gift has – there’s a series of cliffs that they have to traverse.

These small cliffs are the micro decisions the donor encounters on the way to the macro decision of donating.

For example, if I send you an email with the goal of getting someone to make an online donation, what is the first micro decision you need to make?

First, you have to ask, “Should I open?”

After opening, you have to decide, “Should I read?”

Then, “Should I click?”

Every step along this journey has the potential for a donor to say “yes” or “no.” If they say yes, they move one step closer to conversion. If the donor says “no” at any point, you’ve lost them.

So let’s look at how small changes can lead to greater conversion – more people making it to the top of the mountain.

How One Small Change Lifted Click-through and Revenue

Before the George W. Bush Presidential Center officially opened, we ran an acquisition campaign to try to recruit founding members. Part of this effort involved the use of rented email lists with an offer to make a charitable donation. The results were decent, but we wanted to find a way to attract additional traffic and convert additional donors.

We decided to run an experiment to try and increase the exclusivity of the offer in the mind of the reader.


George Bush Email – ControlTreatment

George Bush Experiment- Treatment

Can you tell what changed? All we altered was one sentence at the bottom of the email.

The call-to-actions we tested were:

“Stand with President and Mrs. Bush by making a tax-deductible online contribution now.”


“Become a Charter Member of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.”

This small change presented an appealing and exclusive value proposition to the reader. A donor could give to any nonprofit organization and get a tax-deduction. But this was an exclusive opportunity to become a charter member of something that appealed to them.

The treatment produced a 139% increase in click through rate and a 42% increase in revenue.

You can view all the details of this experiment here.

Why Don’t Best Practices work?

If we followed “best-practice” guidelines, we would have never seen this kind of lift. Most best-practices say that only 18% of people read to the end of an email. If this was a universal truth, this test shouldn’t have had any impact.

So what can we conclude from this?

Testing and optimization is the only way to truly know what works in online fundraising.

We don’t have to be the experts. In fact, we can’t be the experts. The only people who can tell us exactly what works are our donors. In order to listen to them, we have to take our best hypotheses, put them to the test, and look at real data to inform our decision making.

Where do you start?

One of the hardest parts of optimization is simply determining where to start. Do I test the button colors on my donation page? Do I try testing a new headline? Do I blow my whole email up and start from scratch?

There are two significant factors that I’d recommend testing around first: value proposition and friction. Value proposition is one of the most influential factors in helping a donor understand why they should give to your organization or make a purchase. And friction is everything that stands in your donor’s way, slowing them down, and distracting them from the ultimate goal.

We’ve got a quick PDF guide to help you determine where to start optimizing called The Nonprofit Optimization Guide. You’ll see just how big a of a difference small improvements to your value proposition can make. And you’ll see several examples of how to reduce friction on your pages to increase donations and revenue.

And if you’re really serious about learning to test, optimize, innovate, and grow your online fundraising – consider joining the next Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit.

Happy optimizing!

About Tim

Tim Headshot - Square - 400x400.jpgTim Kachuriak is the founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer for NextAfter, a research and consulting firm that works with nonprofits to help them grow their online fundraising.

During his career, Tim has consulted major nonprofits including Wycliffe Bible Translators, Focus on the Family, Moody Radio, Family Life, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and more. He frequently speaks at conferences including Social Media for Nonprofits, Association of Fundraising Professionals, DMA Nonprofit Federation, and more.

Tim is also the co-founder of Human Coalition and sits on the board of Open Doors, the Halcyon Movement, and SMU Digital Accelerator.

 Social Media

 Tim’s Twitter – @DigitalDonor

NextAfter Twitter – @NextAfter_

NextAfter Website –

How can we be accountable for improving the donor experience?


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The most important issue for any planning and execution system for the digital executive focused on improving the donor experience is accountability. Without accountability, not much will get done. Now it helps to have measurable goals and achievable strategies. Holding oneself accountable starts with weekly honoring and reporting of commitments.

The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

Source: Business Dictionary

Start creating a culture of accountability around all donor experience initiatives. Senior management’s responsibility is to set the agenda and provide leadership. A donor experience culture isn’t created overnight but it is important. It can’t be delegated.

Begin a few, heavily weighted priorities. There is a temptation to start with too many priorities around every great idea that senior management has. The list can seem endless some days. Without priorities that are clear, accountability will be difficult to achieve. Donor experience priorities should be clear and goals should be achievable.

Encourage team accountability. In addition to individual accountability, team accountability for shared donor experience initiatives can help move the rock. This can help where many are required to effect the goal. On the other side of the issue, having individuals sign onto initiatives that they can’t have an impact is as dangerous as no accountability.

Set the tone from the top. The CEO and the C-Suite must hold themselves accountable and make sure they don’t make excuses when goals are not achieved. The Board must also be willing to hold the CEO accountable as well. That is one of their primary responsibilities.

Everyone should be involved. There are many tasks to be achieved to be successful. Everyone plays a role and everyone must be willing to step up the plate to be responsible.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. The most important issue for any planning and execution system for the digital executive is accountability.
  2. Start creating a culture of accountability around all initiatives.
  3. Begin a few, heavily weighted priorities.
  4. Encourage team accountability.
  5. Set the tone from the top.
  6. Everyone should be involved.
  7. Priorities should be clear and goals should be achievable.

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Community Building … by Jennifer Sampson, CEO at United Way of Dallas


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As McDermott-Templeton President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Jennifer Sampson knows the value of building communities. The over 90-year-old agency is the largest non-governmental funder of programs to improve education, income and health in Dallas. Sampson describes it as a complex community. “It is one of the nation’s wealthiest and most generous cities, but thirty-eight percent of our children live in poverty; only a third of our high school students gradate college-ready; three-quarters of a million people in our service area do not have health insurance.” Sampson has brought together corporate, foundation, and nonprofit forces to drive change. During her 6-year tenure as CEO, the United Way team has seen a record-breaking 30% revenue growth and the number of volunteer hours has more than tripled.

Community-building is a key component in long-term success for business and for the business of philanthropy. During her time at United Way Dallas, she has built a list of necessary actions, what she calls “Sampson’s Seven” for building healthy modern-day community.

  1. We before me.

“That’s a principle most of us learn in kindergarten when our teachers are trying to get us to think beyond a typical child’s selfishness,” Sampson says. “But it applies at the organizational level. When we work in silos we waste resources, create redundancies, and trip over one another.” It is also true for community partnerships, which amplify resources and solutions when it’s ‘we before me.’

Sampson describes a 2008 plan for major changes to United Way Dallas’s work and organization. “We identified long-term measurable community impact goals. Our volunteers created the need for uncomfortable change within the organization and beyond. ‘We before me’ made those changes not just necessary, but exhilarating. Planning and priorities set by “we” superseded those set by “me.” Of course that also means that when things go wrong, “I” tend to take a little more share of the blame… and a little less share of the credit when things go right.”

  1. Change the way things are.

“A community is a living organism,” Sampson argues. “It’s either declining or improving; there’s no steady-state in a community.” Leaders must understand that in a world of rapid change, those who don’t take action risk failure or irrelevancy. Small changes are great but sometimes it is necessary to rattle the foundations, or awaken sleeping giants.

“Just be prepared to show the giants your plan and path and invite them along on a new journey,” she warns. “United Way had to make big changes to big things because we had trend lines moving the wrong direction. Our goals have now become expectations–and they’re big and bold. We want to prepare at least 60 percent of all students to graduate and have success in college and careers. We are building pathways out of poverty PERMANENTLY for 250,000 individuals. And we’re paving the way to better health through programs that empower people.”

United Way Dallas is changing the way they do this, investing in social enterprise; using digital tools and technology; experimenting with unique and unexpected new events, platforms and campaigns; and thinking like the biggest fundraising organizations.

  1. Fail fast; fail forward.

Social problems can seem unsolvable, as the solutions are often complex and multi-faceted. Sampson argues, “There is no silver bullet for any societal problem facing our world today. So we need to try lots of solutions, and some will fail. Fail in the direction of more information. Fail in the direction of informing the community.  Fail fast enough to re-group, adjust and try something different because you’re measuring and evaluating and sharing results with each other. Fail with all the players in the room to hammer out the next solution. And own the mistake. Own what went wrong so that the conversation about failure and adjusting is normalized.”

  1. Embrace discomfort. The impossible is possible.

Sampson expects her team to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. “Upsetting colleagues and community groups is uncomfortable,” she acknowledges. “We live in a world of winners and losers. A lot of people keep score, and when powerful groups lose (funding, for example), forward progress feels impossible.” But building community means throwing out that kind of scorecard and doing the impossible–that is, convincing unhappy constituents that you have their interests at heart, that there is a better way, and sticking with it.

For example, Sampson points out many United Way chapters don’t work with donor advised funds. “But one of our most faithful supporters and donors, Troy Aikman, asked us to consider working with him to establish a donor advised fund. Making that possible put us in a position to build a relationship with Troy and leverage his incredibly influential voice for our cause. But, it also made some of our peer organizations uncomfortable.”

  1. “To thine own self be true.”

What does Hamlet have to do with community-building? Sampson explains: “We are all complex, multi-layered, and part of something bigger. I am a CEO, but I am also a wife, mother, and celebrator. I try to show up with my authentic self. Because when I don’t let my values and my roles and my responses truly reflect me, my internal team knows it, and the larger community sees the inconsistency. I’m a hugger, not a hand-shaker, so I hug.

At our office, we dress not for our corporate donors but for the communities we serve. We join them in the opening of neighborhood clinics. We bring babies to the office. We leave for school plays. We build community by being in the community.”

  1. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

“You’ve heard this one,” she laughs, “Lucky breaks happen when people come together, identify problems together, posit solutions together–and work like crazy to be ready for the opportunity that may come. It works for individuals. It works for communities.  When Toyota announced the move of the corporate headquarters and a significant part of its manufacturing to the Dallas area, we were ready to support their transition to their new home. We provided comprehensive information about community needs and resources. As a result, we’ve formed a partnership to launch their inaugural One Million Dollar Impact Grant in 2017.”

  1. Embrace a larger purpose.

Sampson has found this last point the most important in personal and professional life. “It’s also the one that is at the heart of defining a 21st century community,” she insists. “You read in the news about some of the world’s superrich buying remote islands and equipping their planes for flight from the apocalypse. I just laugh. That’s a failed community on the largest scale. But it’s also the possible end game of decades of indifference to the child who reached adulthood unable to read, or the elderly woman who hasn’t enough to eat two blocks from a grocery store, or the family who cannot hand off to its next generation a better life than the one they have. I don’t want to live in the world with those warning signs as societal markers. So my larger purpose–and the effective 21st community–looks to a larger purpose–and makes it happen.”

About Jennifer Sampson

Jennifer Sampson is chief executive officer and president of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the largest non-governmental funder of programs to improve education, income and health in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and southern Denton counties. Jennifer received her BBA from Baylor University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Texas. She has completed executive education courses through the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She started her professional career at Arthur Andersen in 1991 and ten years later joined United Way as senior vice president and chief financial officer. In 2004, she was promoted to chief operating officer.

Since being appointed as CEO and president in September 2011, Jennifer has built community confidence in the United Way’s mission and impact priorities, and achieved unprecedented results in resource development.  These results were accomplished through revenue diversification, new and more innovative investment tools and strategies, and broader forms of collective community impact than the United Way has ever considered before.

Jennifer is a founding member of the United Way’s Women of Tocqueville Society and serves on the United Way Worldwide National Professional Council, Fortune 500 Task Force and Select Cities.  She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Dallas, and was a member of the Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee from 2001 to 2008. She has been a member of the Crystal Charity Ball Committee since 2009 and has served on the Baylor University Alumni Association Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum, the Business and Community Advisory Council of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank Board, and the Dallas Assembly. She was named the Women’s Council of Dallas County’s 2012 Woman of the Year, and in 2013 was recognized as one of the youngest recipients of the Baylor Distinguished Alumni Award.

Jennifer and her husband, Edward, have one son, Hilton.



Exclusive: Alexa is coming to the office


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Exclusive: Alexa is coming to the office – Axios  This could be a very big deal. Personally, i am still getting used to the technology.

“Amazon is announcing today it’s bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces.

“Why it matters: While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand tis business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services.

“In an interview, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace will improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. 
“The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes),” he told Axios. Alexa “will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations.”


“Business benefit: Vogels said many businesses are still stuck with the technology consumers used in the 1990s. Adding support for voice to automate tasks could leapfrog several missed generations of consumer technology.

“Alexa for Business consists of several parts, including getting enterprise software to integrate with Alexa and allowing individual businesses to write their own skills.

“Early work on all fronts has begun, with Concur and Salesforce among those bringing elements of their software to Alexa and WeWork, CapitalOne and Wynn hotels among the early businesses using voice in their workplaces.

“What about Cortana? Vogels insists this doesn’t impact Amazon’s previously announced big partnership with Microsoft to integrate with Cortana. However, the partnership has yet to bear fruit and now Amazon is headed into Cortana’s home turf. Vogels had no update on when to expect progress with Microsoft.

“Other hurdles: Proving to be a valued employee is only part of what Alexa will have to achieve to earn a full-time job. Many consumers are already skeptical of inviting a smart microphone into their homes and trust is likely to be an even bigger issue with businesses.”

Source: Exclusive: Alexa is coming to the office – Axios

Six Best Practices from the NGO Technology Report — Well worth the read


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There are many reports that get published every year. You can get overwhelmed with too much information. What should a nonprofit be focused on right now? What will move your digital nonprofit ahead?

I strongly suggest reading this report. It is good!

The 2018 Global NGO Technology Report provides insight on the online and mobile communication tools NGOs around the world use to promote general awareness, communicate with core audiences and raise funds from donors, as well as an analysis of those online tools and comparisons of regional usage.”

Source: Six Best Practices from the NGO Technology Report | npENGAGE

Building your digital business while avoiding the “transformation” hype


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Digital Transformation has become a pretty good business buzz word. That’s not all bad but there is some hype that we may need to avoid.

A focus on the customer experience is to be carefully paid attention to as a key competitive differentiator. A continuous and agile customer experience improvement process makes a difference.

Becoming more of a digital business is certainly not all about the technology although there is a tendency to buy into that myth. There is much hype around tech success stories like Amazon, Airbnb or Uber. While they are very disruptive, it doesn’t mean you will be disrupted by them.

They certainly get a lot of media attention and that can create more hype. They are examples of how to be a pure digital business but you may never be and that is okay.

There are businesses in every industry that are making significant and speedy progress at being more of a digital business. They may be competitors and you may be unaware of their foundational investments that will pay off for them soon. Yes, newcomers can be disruptive but those others that are evolving fast may have the financial resources to win the day.

I guess the word to the wise is to “look in both directions” so as to not get run over.

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Reinventing Impact Measurements: Biology or Blockchain? … by Julia Cannon at roundCorner (Guest Article)


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Julia Cannon Women in TechJulia Cannon is the Senior Product Manager for foundationConnect at roundCorner. Julia guides product requirements and development to help foundations transform the way they manage grants.



Reinventing Impact Measurements: Biology or Blockchain?

Impact Measurement roundCorner

Any nonprofit or philanthropic professional is familiar with the challenges of impact measurement.

Impacts are vital to nonprofits because they prove the theory that their programs work. They provide evidence that they are creating positive impacts in the community, environment, healthcare system, or any other mission area.

Funders use impacts to identify nonprofits that have historically delivered results with their programs and projects. Therefore, their investment will have the best chance of delivering results in a future program or project. Certainly, this is sound logic. Boards and individual funders can feel confident that a nonprofit will put their money to productive use. This also gives foundations a standard for comparing proposals that may be as different as apples and oranges.

Impact Measurement: It’s Complicated!

However, funders know that impact measurements are not the silver bullet they may appear to be. When you get into the details of what to measure, how to measure, and how to weigh one measurement against another, it gets very complicated very quickly.

Part of the challenge comes from the nebulous nature of impacts. It is virtually impossible to isolate the impact of a particular project on a particular individual. In order to accurately compare funding proposals, impact measurement has to be uniform across nonprofits. And for nonprofits, this is only feasible when impact measurement is uniform across funders.

There is a multitude of methods to tackle this challenge, but I will highlight a couple of the most recent and interesting.

Breaking Impacts Down to their DNA

The theory at play is that impact, like DNA, can be broken down into four main elements. You can find these elements in all outcome data.

Take for instance, that the DNA of dogs and cats contains the same building blocks despite the difference in species. In the same vein, Environment programs contain the same impact elements as Arts programs, despite the difference in program manifestation and objectives.

The main example of this approach is embodied by the Impact Genome Project, who first established this concept with the Music Genome Project that powers Pandora’s logic. By breaking down outcomes into categorical elements, funders and researchers can more easily aggregate and compare data across a wide variety of programs and data points.

This approach has the potential to address the issue of non-uniformity across data collection and data requested by funders. In the case of the Impact Genome Project, independent researchers and experts handle the data analysis. As a result, participation does not add any additional effort to nonprofit staff.

Treating Impacts as Currency with Blockchain Technology

This idea builds on the emergence of impact investment, but takes it a step further by making the impacts themselves the measure of value as opposed to traditional currencies.

Using blockchain technology to create and track impact ledgers, this concept is the basis of a project by the Ixo Foundation in collaboration with UNICEF. (By the way, if you want to brush up on what blockchain is and how it works, I like this article.)

In this model, the impacts become a cryptocurrency to exchange for other currencies and use for funding. The market determines the value of any particular impact. This market is influenced by project funders, project implementation organizations, organizational reputation, and impact quality, among other factors.

The promise of this method is similar to the promise of blockchain–data is secure, transparent, and decentralized. No single organization controls or influences impact information. It also has a democratizing effect on the impact economy, allowing organizations to influence the value of the impacts they create.

Potential Limitations to Impacts as Currency

Naturally, this new system of “impacts as currency” has untested potential drawbacks to consider as well.

As an example, we can look at the process laid out by the Ixo Foundation in their step-by-step practical guide. Following their guide (pg. 14), nonprofits and project suppliers will need to first create the impacts before they can receive tokens for exchange into other currencies. However, many nonprofit organizations seek funding because they do not yet have the capital to begin or expand a program that they expect to deliver the promised impacts.

Still, this is not an insurmountable challenge. In physical currency, loans and venture capital help new business endeavors. Perhaps we’ll see similar methods put into practice with impact cryptocurrency.

The Best is Yet to Come

There is currently no perfect solution for defining, tracking, and valuing impacts. But recent innovation has centered around specific requirements: the solution must be data-driven, collaborative, and accommodating to the administrative work of nonprofits.

As foundations continue to evolve and refine the way they invest in their missions, I’m excited to see what new trends and methods emerge.


Digital Transformation Required (Innovate or perish) … by Dwight Moore (Guest Article)


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Dwight D. MooreDwight Moore is an information technology executive with a career spanning more than 25 years. With large consulting and CIO leadership experience, he bridges both technology and business P&L experience. His multi-industry exposure implementing IT strategy, data centers, architecture, operations, application development, and project management provides a unique point of view in solving today’s challenges.  He is life-long learner who enjoys innovation, learning about new technology, and creating strong, cohesive teams to drive change.

Digital Transformation Required (Innovate or perish)

Merriam-Webster defines “innovation” as

1) the introduction of something new

2) a new idea, method, or device

Derived from the Latin “innovat” meaning renewed, altered.

There were more than 80 million millennials born in the U.S. between 1982 and 2001.  By 2020, they will represent 40% of the U.S. consumers. These are the customers of the future, and they are digital natives. Growing up with technology, they are savvy and comfortable online – mobile or web. They expect speed, connectivity, access anywhere, transparency, and data security. Organizations must meet expectations, or they will go elsewhere. Digital transformation required.

Digital transformation isn’t about the technology, it’s about business innovation. It’s about the customer. It’s called “digital transformation” due to technology being an integral component of a growing digital world. Yet the important aspect of transformation is thinking differently.  Digital transformation is about leveraging technology to improve the business as well as the vision to look beyond today. In my view, this is the essence and distinction of “innovation” and “Innovation”.

I like to call “Innovation” (big “I”) as those who redefine. It is creation.  It’s inspiration. It’s about forgetting what you currently do and re-think the business.  It’s looking at a customer or market in a completely new way. It’s not uncommon that it is an invention. This was the essence of Uber disrupting traditional taxi/limo business. AirBnB disrupted traditional vacation rentals/time-shares and arguably hotels. Apple’s iPod/iTues disrupted the music industry. RedBox disrupted Blockbuster (and is now a digital company). Amazon’s Kindle disrupted books/stores/distribution. They redefined the traditional business, and market.  It wasn’t that these services were new, but they rejected the way it has always been done. This is a topic for another time.

What I call “innovation” (small “I”) is the need for businesses to invest and adapt over time. Teams introduce new, incremental changes to improve sales, products, performance, or service.  Much of digital transformation is changing processes by leveraging the fast-moving technology landscape. We witness our digital journey opportunities through:

  • Reaching new markets, e.g. millennials, new geographies, digital products
  • Inserting automation e.g. CRM/ERP, AI, IoT, cloud infrastructure/virtual machines/containers
  • Improving responsiveness e.g. customer service/support processes, cloud infrastructure, “agile” business (all the organization, not just IT)
  • Increase quality e.g. IoT, digital user experience (and closely aligned with automation)
  • Creating disintermediation and transparency, e.g. blockchain, digital products/distribution

Startups are simpler. Their primary focus is finding the product or service and getting to positive cash flow. Second, they focus on scaling the business. Few processes, less overhead, simpler technological needs.  I’m not saying it is easy, just less complex initially.

For established businesses, they have existing customers, processes, infrastructure. The larger the organization, the more challenging. For many business areas, not just technology, the more integral to operations the greater the risk. The scale of customers are orders of magnitude higher. There are more products or services. Processes have been created to create quality, responsiveness, repeatability, and reliability.

Organizational entropy grows over time. Inconsistency or increased complexity in processes. Loss of corporate tribal knowledge. Growing lists of priorities that create potential for different departments to work against each other.  Multiple, overlapping technologies with increasing cost. Increasing ecosystem complexity as the number of external partners or services grows. Technologies reach end-of-life (unsupported) becoming obsolete. The higher the entropy, the greater the effort, larger the cost, and higher the risk to remediate.

When there is more at risk, executives become increasingly risk adverse. The irony is avoidance to change increases overall risk. Transformation can span multiple years, and often runs into complexities because people can see the broader picture, and yet no one sees all the areas of impact in detail.

However, every complex problem starts by identifying the problem, and then breaking it down to solvable parts. Organizational leaders can start with challenging the established belief systems, and processes. Large change requires communicating the vision and gaining employee support.  The basic steps involved are:

  • Create cross-functional teams, led or supported by senior leadership.
  • Define a strategy and create a vision of the future.
  • Identify the areas where there are opportunities for process improvement, automation, or technological negligence, or new product/service opportunities. Often the line level employees can shed light on where there are challenges.
  • Prioritize by need and importance. This is often one of the hardest tasks. People often have varying ways to define this, and all politics are local in the office.
  • Create a team mindset. To be successful, this is one of the most important tasks. The transformation succeeds or fails together as a team. Leave the egos at the door. Create dialog, and constructive conflict.
  • Demonstrate leadership and courage by looking for opportunities to sunset where the value is declining. This is threatening when someone loses scope or responsibility. However, as one door closes, another opens.
  • Create a plan and execute rigorously. Hold people accountable and be an agile organization focusing on simplicity (no more or less than what is needed).

Customer Experience Maturity Model


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There are all kind of maturity models. The Temkin Group has developed a great one for the customer experience. It is free to complete and you get a report back!

Organizations don’t become customer-centric overnight. Temkin Group’s research shows that they evolve through six different stages of customer experience maturity as they gradually master the Four CX Core Competencies. To gauge your organization’s CX competencies and maturity, complete the Temkin Group CX Competency and Maturity Assessment. Continue reading

There is Light at the End of the Tunnel – and it’s a Freight Train … by Jamey Heinze (Guest Article)


Jamey Heinze

As CMO at iGrafx, Jamey is responsible for enriching the brand, amplifying market awareness and creating additional demand for what he believes is the best solution in the market.  Prior to joining iGrafx, Jamey was the Vice President of Marketing for Austin-based Hostway, the CMO In-Residence for Predictive Science, as well as the CMO for Hearst-owned CDS Global. In his career as a marketing leader, Heinze has been instrumental in branding, demand generation, product development, launch and strategy. Continue reading

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos


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 “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

Amazon knows a lot about the brave new digital business world. They’ve invested billions in improving the customer experience.

Amazon is the new corporate model for how to do it right. Just look at Amazon Go and its ability to eliminate the most frustrating customer experience in retail, the check out process. It will be completely gone now. Poof! Completely gone in their world.

Digital businesses are built on amazing customer experiences. That is it. End of story.

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Consumers Want Devices To Talk Back


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US and European online adults with a voice assistant speaker want to start using the device to inform their lifestyle choices and purchase decisions. The use of voice assisted devices is only going to accelerate.

What does this mean for your digital business? Is voice interfaces and artificial intelligence a part of your future? Now is the time to begin thinking it through. Why not organize a quick hit innovation team to advise you on what you and the executive team can do to get ready?

Source: The Data Digest: Consumers Want Devices To Talk Back

More cars than phones were added to U.S. cellular networks in 2017



Connected devices are beginning to dominate our lives. There is money to be made here. Is it a part of your digital business plan?

When we think of wireless networks, we think of smartphones. But in 2017, for the first time, more cars than phones were added to U.S. cellular networks, according to a new report from industry consultant Chetan Sharma.

“AT&T dominates the connected car segment,” Sharma said, noting that the company has added 1 million or more cars to its network for each of the past 11 quarters.

The bottom line: While there were more cars added, the money is still in smartphones, which have higher monthly service fees and generate the bulk of carrier revenue and profits. Still, as smartphone sales level off, other types of devices will become increasingly important.

Other findings:

  • Data consumption in the U.S. reached 6 GB/month in the U.S. (The U.S. is third behind Finland and Korea on that metric and tops countries with a population of more than 60 million.)
  • U.S. smartphone penetration reached 93%.
  • T-Mobile is still outgrowing the competition, accounting for more than three quarters of the net growth in phones.

Source: Login – Axios

Disruption Alert: Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashierless Amazon Go stores this year – Recode


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This is now. This is not the future. This is real. This is example number 1 of how your business can (perhaps will be) disrupted by a digital marauder. If you have no eCommerce capabilities and now you can’t deliver a stunning customer experience in the store with digital technologies, you are probably toast.

Retail isn’t going away completely. It will be disrupted significantly by digital solutions that make the customer experience radically different. No one likes to stand in line to check out. Period. It is digital that is changing this. Still not ready to play in this bold new world? Yikes is all I can say.

With 3,000,000 cashiers in the United States, think of your career choice. It won’t stop with cashiers however. Digital businesses are rapidly changing the future of the career marketplace.

“Amazon’s much-heralded convenience store of the future, Amazon Go, may seem like a crazy experiment. But the company plans to open as many as six more of these storefronts this year, multiple people familiar with the company’s plans have told Recode.

“Some of the new high-tech stores are likely to open in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, where the first location is based, as well as Los Angeles, these people said. It’s not clear if Amazon will open up Go stores in any other cities this year. 

“And in Seattle, Amazon had identified at least three locations for additional Go stores as of last year, according to one source.”

Source: Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashierless Amazon Go stores this year – Recode

So what is Amazon Go?

“Amazon spent four years crafting a system — dubbed Just Walk Out Technology — that allows shoppers to scan their phone upon entrance, grab desired items off a shelf, and automatically get charged the right amount after exiting without the need to stop at a cash register to pay. (Here’s a photo tour of the first Amazon Go store.)

“Amazon is hoping that by making convenience store trips even faster, it will raise the bar for brick-and-mortar shopping in much the same way that Amazon Prime did for online shopping and delivery.”

Source: Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashierless Amazon Go stores this year – Recode

So will Amazon just use this technology to crush your in-store experience? Will they lease it to you and crush your margin?

Now is the the time to think it through.

What causes disruption to your evolving digital business?


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There are a number of disruptions that create havoc and chaos to your evolving digital business. Either individually and in combination, they could inflict a death spiral. Despite the way it sounds, this is not hyperbole. This is not a myth. This is serious.

Here are a few to think about. There are others.

  • Technological innovations (technology-induced), which are more impactful than ever before. However, again, it’s not the technology that drives the disruption. It’s how it is used and adopted by customers, partners, competitors and various stakeholders. Technologies with clear disruption potential include IoT, artificial intelligence, edge computing, virtual and augmented reality and blockchain. However, the most disruptive potential occurs when they get combined and enable new applications as we see in the convergence of AI, IoT and big data analytics. In industrial change the convergence of IT and OT is also a game changer.
  • Customer behavior and demands. Customers can be pesky creatures creating so-called customer-induced disruption that is not necessarily related to technology. Technology often enables or, as just mentioned, causes it, when adopted and turned into business challenges. An example of a force that drives digital change and is not caused by technology but merely strengthened by it in combination with other factors: the demand of customers for ease of use and simplicity in dealing with businesses is far older than today. It goes back to times when even the Internet didn’t exist. In that sense, digital change can be simply catching up too because businesses don’t have another option anymore (it’s not as if they didn’t know the importance of making interactions and support for customers easy and frictionless decades ago).
  • Innovation- and invention-induced. Entirely novel approaches to human and business challenges, as well as innovations and inventions that create a new reality, whether it’s in science, business, technology or even a non-technological context of true innovation can be disruptive. The invention of medicines that change healthcare and society (as has happened several times in the past), the printing press, the train, what can be next? Your best bet is probably in life sciences and the application of technology within the human body and mind.
  • Ecosystem-induced. Economical changes, demands from partners who want you to adapt, evolutions towards collaborations in business ecosystems, regulatory changes (consider the impact of the GDPR, for example), geo-political changes, the list is endless. Regulators are not just looking at the impact of digital technologies from a personal data protection perspective as they do with the GDPR in the EU of course. The world is full of new regulations and they do require approaches on the level of people, processes, strategies AND technologies as anyone who has been serious about GDPR compliance can tell you. There are calls to regulate the IoT in the US and other countries, calls to regulate blockchain, the usage of IoT is already being limited in the upcoming EU ePrivacy Regulation (and GDPR), all across the globe energy efficiency and ecology are driving the agenda in smart buildings and smart cities (e.g. the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the EU that demands the usage of smart technologies and additional support for electrical cars), banking regulations are changing, the list is really endless.

Digital disruption overlapAnd this ecosystem aspect brings us again to this essential aspect of digital business change: the interdependency and interconnectedness of everything.

It all overlaps and is connected; from disruption, business processes and models to business activities and each single activity of the organization and the broader ecosystem in which it operates. The butterfly effect in action. Think about how virtually all business processes de facto are linked, the interconnectedness of business activities from the customer perspective, the way information runs across all digital transformations and much more.

If my company invests in the customer experience, will it work?


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Customer Experience LeadersIt is reasonable to ask, if my company invests in the customer experience, will it work?

This question drove Watermark Consulting to evaluate the macro impact of customer experience excellence. They’ve accomplished this over the years by studying the total returns for two model stock portfolios comprised of the Top 10 (“Leaders”) and Bottom 10 (“Laggards”) publicly traded companies in Forrester Research’s annual Customer Experience Index ranking. The results are stunning.

For the 6-year period from 2007 to 2012, the Customer Experience Leaders in their study outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was three times higher on average than the S&P 500 Index. Furthermore, while the Customer Experience Leaders handily beat the S&P 500, the Laggards trailed it by a wide margin.

Keep in mind, this analysis reflects more than half a decade of performance results.  It spans an entire economic cycle, from the pre-recession market peak in 2007 to the post-recession recovery that continues today. The Customer Experience Leaders in this study are clearly enjoying the many benefits that happy, loyal customers deliver:  better retention, greater wallet share, lower acquisition costs and more cost-efficient service.

And the Laggards?  They are being crushed under the weight of high customer turnover, escalating acquisition costs and an uncompetitive cost structure that is inflated by each customer complaint and avoidable inquiry.

As a digital executive, do you want to be a leader or a laggard? You can be a hero and lead the way to an amazing ROI. Your customers will love you for it.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start by beginning to measure your customer experience by using the Customer Experience Index.
  2. Begin by reporting results, focus on gaps and continuously improve the experience.
  3. Encourage a culture focused on building loyalty at every point of the customer journey.
  4. Agree on how to measure improvement.
  5. Tie loyalty to “bottom line” results.
  6. Involve customer experience ambassadors at every level of the organization.
  7. Identify budget constraints in investment decisions.

SMART transformation goals for the donor experience are time-bound


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The fifth criterion for SMART goals stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a donor experience team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency and give realistic time frames need to produce the results desired.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  1. When can this be accomplished?
  2. What can I do six months from now?
  3. What can I do six weeks from now?
  4. What can I do today and next week?

For the digital executive focused on the donor experience, it is important to know that most business goals are lagging indicators as well. Lagging indicators confirm long-term trends, but they do not predict them. In the economic world, some examples are unemployment, corporate profits and labor cost per unit of output. Interest rates are another good lagging economic indicator; rates change after severe market changes. Goals tend to focus on results after the fact. Well written strategies focus on rhe donor experience that produces the results and are leading indicators.

Lagging indicators are typically “output” oriented, easy to measure but hard to improve or influence while leading indicators are typically input oriented, hard to measure and easy to influence.

Source: KPI Library

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with how long it will realistically take to produce the results in the donor experience you want.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Encourage narrowing the time frame down into shorter not longer increments.
  4. Know what the bigger goal is, if there is one.
  5. Communicate clearly why the goal is important. Never assume that people understand why.
  6. All employees affected by the goal should buy into it and should be willing to be held accountable for producing the results in the timeframe agreed upon.

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What is digital disruption?


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We live in a wonderful world of buzzwords. Everyone is talking about digital transformation. Digital transformation has a brother. His brothers name is digital disruption.

And so … what is digital disruption? In a business, it is when your way of doing business is challenged by someone else in such a way as to “disrupt” your way of business and change your overall future profitability. It is another business that changes the expectations of the customer as to make your approach seem irrelevant. When you are disrupted, you must quickly change your strategy to survive.

For the most part, while technology is playing a huge role here. Disruption for the most part is about changing customer expectations. Uber changed my expectation on how to get around when I am in another city on business. Yellow Cabs, even though cheaper, cannot compete in my mind.

Disruption in the end is a shift in power in relationships. Disruption, as a human phenomenon, is caused by shifts in, among others, the way people use technologies and about changes in their behavior and expectations. These changes can be induced by new technologies and how they are adopted or leveraged by disruptive newcomers. However, the change can also have a broader context that has nothing to do with technologies. Is that still ‘digital disruption’? No. Yet, in some cases digital technologies could be leveraged to address those changes in behavior or expectations/needs and so forth.

Source: Charlene Li

Disruption is about the real connection to the customer and leveraging what others don’t get about their expectations. This can come from the edges, i.e., our digital ecosystem, for example. Who is closest to the customer? How can technology be adopted to the customer’s advantage? That is what becomes disruptive.

Some technology has been more inclined to be disruptive than others. That is one reason traditional IT departments are always leading the way here. Social networks were one of the early influencers. So was mobile technologies. Cloud based eCommerce (think Amazon) is still going strong. Amazon Go will change the game even more. The cloud, in general, leverages technology exclusively for the benefit of the customer.

And now, big data and analytics are definitely required to understand the customer. AI is starting to make a strong push. Voice based customer interfaces are moving fast.

There is a clear next phase to all of this. The Internet of Things and connecting devices into a real customer ecosystem will march along endlessly. Smart won’t just be about our phones. When combining technologies, like the IoT and AI, and voice interfaces, those are the game changers that may cripple your business model. It is going to happen more and more. Digital disruption will be fueled by the amazing world of digitally integrated systems.

When focused on customer needs, technologies will continue to disrupt.


Digital journey and hyper-connectedness: focus on the edges


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There are a number of variables as we take our journey to becoming a digital business. There are some edges that define the journey very well. The customer and the customer experience, purpose, end goals, partners, internal stakeholders, the last mile of standard business process and disruption are often at the edges of the digital business journey. It is tempting to just narrow things down to the customer experience as the sole driver. That leaves out some very important end goals.

It is clear that the end goals of the customer do drive our daily agenda. The inertia involved in breaking down silos and connecting the dots is real. Interconnected challenges are not to be ignored for the benefit of the customer. Internal silo’s often impede the digital business goals we have in mind.

The shift to the edges might have us focus moving faster. They could require we think about integrating data better and seeing our business as an ecosystem. Are we leveraging an ‘as-a-service’ approach? Do we spend enough time on our culture? Do we have the right digital leaders on the bus?

Another edge to look at is the decentralization of work and our inherent business models. Just think about how data analysis is moving to the edge and giving more and more tools to front line managers and employees. Just think about how digital technologies can be implemented (perhaps not effectively) without the traditional IT department.

While there are a number of challenges at the edges, strategic digital business leadership is at the core. The holistic nature of the culture is at risk if we leave at the edges. While many experiments can occur in an isolated, ad hoc and silo oriented approach, there is a real risk to the long term success of the digital business if they remain at the edges.

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What is the planning framework that a digital business should look at?


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The buzz is all around “digital transformation”. Is transformation what your business needs right now. Maybe but probably not. You are already on the path to being digital. What is the framework you should look at from a planning point of view?

Below is a model of the stages a company may go through in being a digital business. It may help to see a “digital business” as a framework or ecosystem that is valuable for strategic planning. Some companies may choose to stop at stage 3. Others may push toward 4 and eventually 5. Stage 5 will clearly require a massive transformation if you at stage 1 right now. If you are at stage 1, it makes sense to move as rapidly as possible to stage 2. That is doable. That will give you traction to keep going.

  1. Digital Resister (Ad Hoc) – Business and IT digital initiatives are disconnected and poorly aligned with an enterprise strategy, and not focused on customer experiences. Business Outcome – Business is a laggard, providing weak customer experiences and using digital technology only to counter threats.
  2. Digital Explorer (Opportunistic) – Business has identified a need to develop a digitally enhanced, customer-driven business strategy, but execution is on a project basis. Progress is not predictable or repeatable. Business Outcome – Digitally enabled customer experiences and products are inconsistent and poorly integrated.
  3. Digital Player (Repeatable) – Business IT goals are aligned at the enterprise level around the creation of digital products and customer experiences, but not yet focused on the disruptive potential of digital initiatives. Business Outcome – Business provides consistent but not truly innovative products, services and customer experiences.
  4. Digital Leader (Managed) – Integrated, synergistic business IT management disciplines deliver digitally enabled product/service experiences on a continuous basis. Business Outcome – Business is a leader in its markets, providing world-class digital products, services, and experiences.
  5. Digital Disrupter (Optimized) – The disrupter is aggressive, at the enterprise level, to be disruptive in the use of new digital technologies and business models to affect markets. Ecosystem awareness and feedback is a constant input to business innovation. Customer expectations are significantly affected by the disrupters in the market place. Business Outcome – The business remakes existing markets and creates new ones to its own advantage and is a fast moving target for the competition.

Business Transformation

“Most CEOs don’t fully understand the impact emerging digital technologies will have on their industry in the next ten years.” ~Nigel Fenwick


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This may be your reality. You see a business (not technical) imperative to be a digital business. Your CEO and the C-Suite may not.

What if this is your reality? The first level of work is to “create a burning platform” and help change the way of thinking.

Your CEO may be the exception that proves the rule. But most CEOs don’t fully understand the impact emerging digital technologies will have on their industry in the next ten years. They think they do, but they typically limit their thinking through no fault of their own. If changing your business to become a digital business is not the number one goal of your CEO, he doesn’t yet understand digital.

What’s worse, the Boards of public companies are filled with executives who also don’t get it. If they did, they would realize their number one responsibility is to ensure shareholders have a viable business in future years by making sure digital transformation the number one priority of the CEO.

I spend a lot of time working with clients on how to think about digital differently. Digital is not a website. Digital is not a mobile app. Digital is not social media. Digital is a way of thinking, a way looking at the business differently; it requires a broad understanding of how technology will change the world, and the ability to meld that understanding with a passion for creating value for customers.

Source: DTQuickBytes: Your CEO Doesn’t Really Understand Digital

Digital Ecosystem

Are we all speaking the same language when it comes to building a digital business?


Are we all speaking the same language when it comes to building a digital business? It helps to look at what a digital business is not.

  • Improving your digital business is not just about digital marketing. That’s an important part of the business activities and it’s the context in which digital business is often used. A digital business will cut across most every business function and department. What is your plan to prioritize investments across the enterprise? Where do you need different leadership than you have in place today?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about digital customer behavior, although it plays a role and customers are increasingly ‘digital and mobile’. It is also heavily about employee behavior. Do you have the right people on the bus?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about technological disruptions because the disruptions are always about customers, workers, markets, competitors and stakeholders. Even if is related to technological evolutions and knowing that ’emerging’ technologies indeed can have a ‘disruptive’ effect, it is not just about the technology. Do you have the kind of culture to move faster, invest quicker and innovate sooner?
  • Improving your digital business is not just about the movement of paper into digital information as originally meant nor the digitization of information (flows) and business processes, which is simply a condition sine quod non.

Finally, the reason why we would prefer to speak about accelerated business improvement or, if needed, digital business improvement, is that it’s just a matter of time before no one makes a distinction between digital and physical or offline and online. Customers, for instance, don’t think in these terms at all, nor in the terms of channels. For example, customers may be in your physical store checking out pricing info in real time.

Here is a perfect example of digital and physical completely disappearing as being relevant. Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. Amazon created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With their Just Walk Out Shopping experience, customers simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products they want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Their checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, Amazon will send them a receipt and charge their Amazon account.

The world of a digital business is moving fast. Consumer expectations will continue to put the pressure on your company to be a part of this world. Are you ready?


Amazon Go – No lines … No checkout

The customer conniption! Identifying and doing something about the ‘final straw’ moment.


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We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced it. It is the conniption fit. It is the final straw. A great customer experience identifies these moments in advance and tries to prevent them. It also identifies the activities/indicators that lead up to it.

As humans, we can sense it. We can also, if allowed to by “corporate HQ”, do much to head it off.

Every day, every week, every month, every year, I learn something new. It is one of the reasons I obsess with calling myself a ‘specialist’, not an ‘expert’. Specialists never stop learning and I am regularly reminded that there nuggets of knowledge waiting around every corner. A few weeks ago, a fellow Customer Experience Specialist – an amazing lady called Jan Richards – passed on one such nugget. On this occasion, Jan did so unintentionally. Despite that, it is a nugget that has refused to leave my memory banks ever since – which has led to me deciding to write about it today.

I cannot remember the exact context of the conversation. Whether we were talking about a customer, colleague, peer or friend is almost irrelevant. What I remember distinctly is Jan saying something along the lines of:

They will have a CONNIPTION if they see that!

Source: The customer conniption! Identifying the ‘final straw’ moment | CustomerThink

Revelation: Many Companies Are Simply Too Busy To Pursue Digital Change


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Are we ready? Even if we aren’t, should we just start out anyway? What is the risk of not starting compared to delays from a competitive point of view? What if we get further behind the competition?

This is not getting any easier the longer we delay. There are technologies we can’t realistically ignore. These technologies—artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials and synthetic biology—that will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the past 200. They will have a radical impact that hard for us to imagine today. The will happen whether our company is ready or not.

The C-Suite needs to get it. The rate of change is too hard to fathom. But they need to be aware that many of today’s Fortune 500 are in danger. A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years. That is staggering.

Digital transformation may be the promised land for many forward-looking enterprises, but few are actually ready for it. There are many organizational and cultural issues to address — getting executive and employee buy-in, determining what processes need to be digitized, and getting people to rethink their roles. If that isn’t enough, technical issues also appear to be getting in the way as well. Scalability issues, resource issues, and application backlogs are quickly getting in the way of making progress on the journey.

That’s the latest revelation of a survey of 463 business and IT leaders released by Appian and conducted by, which show organizations don’t quite appear to be ready to do the heavy lifting that digital transformation requires. The Appian/ survey explored the technical issues, and its authors conclude that organizations are too “overwhelmed by mounting technical debt and the number of software applications needed to support changing IT environments.

Source: Revelation: Many Are Simply Too Busy To Pursue Digital Change

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Digital change: on everybody’s mind, but a difficult commitment.


Why digital change project figures don’t add up



Is there an ROI to digital upgrades? Do we, as leaders, know what we are getting for our investment? If we think we are going to save money, do we? If we think our investment will generate business results, are they quantified in advance and then measured regularly?

Despite businesses investing in digital change to reduce costs, they aren’t achieving the savings they expected according to research by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and hybrid IT provider Ensono.

Over two thirds of the 250 business and IT decision makers questioned said saving money was a key driver for undertaking digital projects, yet only 51% of are using this as a metric of success. Customer satisfaction, on the other hand, was used as a KPI by 52% of the organisations in the study, yet only 40% said it was a key driver for digital change.

“It is promising to see that nearly all organisations are measuring the success of their projects. However, the objectives and KPIs do not align, indicating a bigger problem,” Simon Ratcliffe, principal consultant at Ensono said. “Either the strategy is not tied down and organisations are ‘doing’ digital transformation for the sake of it, or the strategy is not being communicated adequately.”

Source: Why digital transformation project figures don’t add up | IT PRO

The coming conflict between millennials and boomers


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This is a very curious trend with disturbing implications. As a boomer, I’ve had a sense about this issue but had not connected the shrinking jobs part of this. I have warned my children about the financial obligations that are looming as more and more Boomers retire.

The U.S. is headed for a potentially dangerous new social rift, this time between millennials and baby boomers, each wrestling for diminishing jobs and shrinking government assistance, according to a new paper.

Quick take: In the next decade or so, automation and demographics will become a new dimension to the economic and social pressures already roiling the U.S. and societies around the world, according to the study released today by Bain. This new conflict will pit millennial workers displaced by machines against boomers living on Social Security and Medicare. “Who votes, who wins, and who goes to the polls become a highly politicized issue potentially,” says Karen Harris, managing director of Bain’s Macro Trends Group.

Bain paints the following picture of the years up to around 2030: 

  • The U.S. population is aging fast, and many older workers are staying on the job longer.
  • With the labor force shrinking and needed skills hard to find, companies will rapidly automate.
  • 20%-25% of current jobs will be wiped out, adding up to some 40 million workers, many in the least-advanced positions, often millennials.

This will set up generational conflicts, says Bain. Chiefly, it will pit millennials against boomers for jobs, and for differing government assistance: millennials will require job retraining and perhaps a basic income to compensate for low or no wages; and older Americans will demand the Social Security and health care that are bedrocks of current society. This will all be set against the backdrop of a government strapped by enormous deficits racked up since the start of the century.

“The question is what decisions are made on who gets the first call” on the government budget, Harris tells Axios. “That will bring tension between the working-age population and retirees.”

Source: The coming conflict between millennials and boomers – Axios

Can Your Business Compete in the Digital Age?


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In this 30-minute webinar with digital strategist David Rogers, you’ll learn:

– Why digital business is actually not about technology

– How companies like Walmart, Disney, Dominos, and Ford are proving that legacy businesses can still compete with Silicon Valley

– The five domains of the strategy rulebook that have been rewritten by the digital revolution

– What every leader must do to guide digital change in their own enterprise

This is sponsored by Columbia Business School. It is presented by David Rogers. His book can be found here.

In the book, he discusses how every business begun before the Internet now faces the same challenge: How to transform to compete in a digital economy?

Globally recognized digital expert David L. Rogers argues that digital transformation is not about updating your technology but about upgrading your strategic thinking. Based on Rogers’s decade of research and teaching at Columbia Business School, and his consulting for businesses around the world, The Digital Transformation Playbook shows how pre-digital-era companies can reinvigorate their game plans and capture the new opportunities of the digital world.

Rogers shows why traditional businesses need to rethink their underlying assumptions in five domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. He reveals how to harness customer networks, platforms, big data, rapid experimentation, and disruptive business models—and how to integrate these into your existing business and organization.

Rogers illustrates every strategy in this playbook with real-world case studies, from Google to GE, from Airbnb to the New York Times. With practical frameworks and nine step-by-step planning tools, he distills the lessons of today’s greatest digital innovators and makes them usable for businesses at any stage.

Many books offer advice for digital start-ups, but The Digital Transformation Playbook is the first complete treatment of how legacy businesses can transform to thrive in the digital age. It is an indispensable guide for executives looking to take their firms to the next stage of profitable growth.


Google Launches Its First Cybersecurity Company, Chronicle


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Now this is serious. Google tends to play for keeps. It is interesting that is funded as a “moonshot” initiative with no initial expectation of profitability. Exactly how Amazon had been run until recently. It will definitely require keeping an eye on what the launch as a part of this.

At the end of January, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced that it would launch its first cybersecurity company, which it is calling Chronicle.

Chronicle will be a subsidiary of Alphabet (the same way that Google is), after originally being incubated in Alphabet’s so called “X” unit (AKA The Moonshot Factory) dedicated to inventing and launching “moonshot” technologies that Alphabet hopes “could someday make the world a radically better place.” (“Moonshot” refers to ground-breaking technology projects that are undertaken without any expectation of achieving profitability or some other benefit in the foreseeable future.)

As announced in a blog post, Chronicle will initially offer two services: The VirusTotal anti-malware intelligence service (acquired by Google more than half a decade ago, and run by Google and Alphabet since that time), and a cybersecurity intelligence and analytics platform that will help enterprises better manage and understand their own information-security-related data.

Source: Google Launches Its First Cybersecurity Company, Chronicle |

What does a digital business and its evolution look like for you?


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Thinking and planning through the evolution of your digital business requires some holistic and strategic thinking. It is a core function of the C-Suite and the CEO is accountable to the Board of Directors for the results. So, what are some of the areas to consider?

  • Business departments/functions: marketing, operations, human resources, administration, customer service, etc.
  • Business processes: one or more connected operations, activities and sets to achieve a specific business goal, whereby business process management, business process optimization and business process automation come into the picture. Business process optimization is essential in digital business strategies and in some industries and cases is essentially customer-facing today, whereas in others internal goals come first in initial stages.
  • Business models: how businesses function, from the go-to-market approach and value proposition to the ways it seeks to make money and effectively transforms its core business, tapping into novel revenue sources and approaches, sometimes even dropping the traditional core business after a while.
  • Business ecosystems: the networks of partners and stakeholders, as well as contextual factors affecting the business such as regulatory or economic priorities and evolutions. New ecosystems are built between companies with various background upon the fabric of digital business, information, whereby data and actionable intelligence become innovation assets.
  • Business asset management: whereby the focus lies on traditional assets but, increasingly, on less ‘tangible’ assets such as information and customers (enhancing customer experience is a leading goal of many digital business “projects” and information is the lifeblood of business, technological evolution and of any human relationship). Both customers and information need to be treated as real assets in all perspectives.
  • Organizational culture, whereby there is a clear customer-centric, agile and hyper-aware goal which is achieved by acquiring core competencies across the board in areas such as digital maturity, leadership, knowledge worker silos and so forth.
  • Ecosystem and partnership models, with among others a rise of co-opetive, collaborative, co-creating and, last but not lost, entirely new business ecosystem approaches, leading to new business models and revenue sources.
  • Customer, worker and partner approaches. Digital business strategy puts people and strategy before technology. The changing behavior, expectations and needs of any stakeholder are crucial. This is expressed in many change sub-projects whereby customer-centricity, user experience, worker empowerment, new workplace models, changing channel partner dynamics etc. (can) all come in the picture. It’s important to note that digital technologies never are the sole answer to tackle any of these human aspects, from worker satisfaction to customer experience enhancement. People involve, respect and empower other people in the first place, technology is an additional enabler and part of the equation of choice and fundamental needs.

This list is not exhaustive and de facto the several mentioned aspects are connected and overlap. We do look at some less business-related ‘digital evolution’ phenomena and at so-called disruptions but the focus is on the business, which by definition means a holistic digital strategic view whereby aspects such as customer experience, technological evolutions and innovation with a clear purpose, instead of a buzzword, are crucial elements.

So, the evolution of your digital business strategy is certainly not just about disruption or technology alone. It is even not just about transforming for a digital age. If it were the latter, one has to realize that this digital age exists since quite some time and is relatively vague.

Why does the holistic picture matter in becoming a digital business?


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We read a lot about digital transformation. Transformation is really only part of the picture. The end game is to be a digital business. That may require what some see as transformation but that sounds way too hard to a lot of people so they get stuck. The digital business journey may be more like “crawl, walk then run”.

In that light, it is important to always think through what the holistic picture looks like. Some of it may always be fuzzy, but thinking it through will help. As a company begins to explore digital opportunities, it will help to know as you grow, do you to provide consistent but not truly innovative products, services and customer experiences. Or, do you want to be a market leader and eventually a market disrupter.

Being a digital business is a whole lot about culture. Is being interconnected more important than department silos? Is being fast more important than being steady? Is innovation and market disruption desirable? Is the customer experience the top of mind and top of performance expectations?

It is a C-Suite and leadership responsibility to see the digital business holistically. Customer service can’t make up for finance department systems that are riddled with errors. These digital systems have to connect to a common vision. They also have to have the right leadership. “Old World” leaders may need to find something else to do. New roles may need to be created with very talented leaders.

The six steps to build a successful digital business (chart below) are a good framework to the holistic approach needed.

Image result for digital business

So what are some of the characteristics of a holistic digital business?

Image result for digital business

Want to understand Bitcoin? Try this children’s book


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Square uses the style of a children's book to explain Bitcoin
Screenshot of “My First Bitcoin: And the Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto” from

Talk of Bitcoins and blockchains is unavoidable these days, but it can be tough to join the conversation if you don’t speak the lingo.

There’s lots of ways to get up to speed, but the most simple could be this children’s book-style introduction from Square.

Source: Login – Axios

Who holds the future in their hands?


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We have choices to make about where to work, what to buy and what to invest in. Many are conspiring to get you to believe that isn’t true. To insist it is true is a fabrication and perhaps even a lie. “They” know it. There is a lot to be lost.

There is an advantage to living and thinking in a different way. It is a power thing, for sure, to prevent you from seeing the world differently. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others have invested trillions to get you to believe you don’t have a choice. At one point they were the future.

In technology, and now our digital world in general, the speed of change is staggering. Consider the simple world of web browsers. In 2009, Internet Explorer (Microsoft) had 70% of the market. By 2012, 4 short years later, they were tied with Chrome (Google) at 30%. Chrome now in 2017 has a 62% share.

But the question is, who will dominate next? It is unlikely it will be Google. If you dominate your industry now, who is going to disrupt you? Can you disrupt yourself? Corporate life and death is dependent on this issue.

This can be multiplied industry by industry. What has digital transformation brought forth in the market place?

The simple answer is massive, speedy disruption and obsolescence?

The good news is; you have lots of choices. Don’t let “them” make you believe otherwise.


What is the role of the customer experience team for the new marketing launch?



Our marketing department has a real focus and wants to launch a new campaign. They  have done a lot of research and believe it will drive sustained growth with existing customers.

What is the role of the customer experience team for the new launch? A key function is to assess whether employees believe we can keep the implicit and explicit promises that will be made to the customer. A quick journey map may do the job.

Can we validate what will be different for the customer? Is that a good thing? If it isn’t in the best interest of the customer, how can we change it to make it better?

All questions to be asked. Nothing worse than unintended consequences for our marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing


“It’s very difficult to reason with someone if their hair is on fire.” ~Seth Godin


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This customer service summary from Seth Godin is right on target. We have all, way to often, experienced the opposite of what he is advocating for here. It seems the be the norm, just based on the customer service calls I make.

These suggestions are pretty basic, it doesn’t take long to learn them or teach them.

It’s very difficult to reason with someone if their hair is on fire. Customer service (whether you’re a school principal, a call center or a consultant) can’t begin until the person you’re working with believes that you’re going to help them put out the fire on their head.

Basic principles worth considering (are you listening, Verizon?)

The first promises kept are hints that you will keep future promises. Putting people on endless hold, bad voice trees, live chat that isn’t actually live, an uncomfortable chair in the waiting room, a nasty receptionist, unclear directions to your office, bad line management… all of these things escalate stress and decrease trust.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good sign, a take-a-number deli machine and a thoughtful welcome.

Don’t deny that the customer/patient/student has a problem. If they think they have a problem, they have a problem. It might be that your job is to help them see (over time) that the thing that’s bothering them isn’t actually a problem, but denying the problem doesn’t de-escalate it.

Leave the legal arguments at home. It’s entirely possible that your terms of service or fine print or HIPA or lawyers have come up with some sort of clause that prevents you from solving the problem the way the customer wants it solved. You can’t do anything about that. But bringing it up now, in this moment of escalation, merely makes the problem worse.

The goal is to open doors, not close them. To gain engagement and productive interaction, not to have the customer become enraged and walk away.

Empathize with their frustration. It’s entirely possible that you think the patient’s problem is ridiculous. That the customer is asking for too much. That you’re going to be unable to solve the problem. Understood. But right now, the objective is de-escalation. That’s the problem that needs to be solved before the presented problem can be solved. Acknowledging that the person is disappointed, angry or frustrated, and confirming that your goal is to help with that feeling means that you’ve seen the person in front of you. “Ouch,” and “Oh no,” are two useful ways to respond to someone sharing their feelings.

One minute later, then, here’s what’s happened:

You were welcoming and open.

You didn’t pick a fight.

You saw and heard the problem.

Wow. That’s a lot to accomplish in sixty seconds.

Do you think the rest of the interaction will go better? Do you think it’s likely that the person at the airplane counter, the examining table or on the phone with you is more likely to work with you to a useful conclusion?

Source: Seth’s Blog: First, de-escalate

The Experience When Business Meets Design


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Brian Solis

Brian Solis was invited to present at FIC (Festival de Interatividade e Comunicação) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. While he couldn’t be there live, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to present on a topic that he’s passionate about to an audience equally passionate about it…”the experience when business meets design.” After all, that’s the name of his most recent best-seller.

The event theme was, “The Experience Economy,” inspired by Joe Pine. Brian’s job was to help the audience understand the meaning and sensation of experience and how to bring them to life in brands, products and everyday ways of business and customer and employee engagement.

The presentation focuses on three different pillars of experience, 1) Technology, 2) Brand and 3) Design. But more importantly, his approach to experience architecture, centers on human beings and the relationship between these three pillars and emotional reaction and memories to them.

Experiences, the best and worst of them, become memories. People are going to feel something at every moment, so why leave those moments and ultimately, memories to chance?

The best experiences are intentional, connected, and personal. That takes design…human-centered design.


What is LaaS (Leadership as a Service) all about?


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The chaos and intrusion caused by traditional consulting firms often makes things worse long before they get better. More importantly, the learning curve required by often inexperienced consultants is a costly risk to any client. If those firms do finally begin to bring value, it is always compromised by their use of a library of reusable work product and templates designed to standardize your solution. In other words, these standard templates help them make more money while using teams with far less experience. Unfortunately, the answer to your problem will always require educated decisions to be made, and they are not equipped to do so.

Fortium’s revolutionary executive services model is superior to traditional consulting. LaaS (Leadership as a Service) can benefit you immediately. While others leverage teams with a mix of experienced and inexperienced consultants and use live client situations to train them on real world situations, Fortium aligns one individual or a small team of experienced (25 years or more) executives to the conditions of your specific engagement. Our partners, among the best technology and digital leaders in the world, bring the credentials, deep-industry expertise and hands-on experience to confront risks and opportunities with the skills and commitment they demand. And while consulting firms consistently look for opportunities to expand their presence within your organization, Fortium is there to help you solve problems and move on to your next challenge.

Your situation may not demand a small army of consultants. Fortium aligns the delivery model with your need. For very focused situations, the best approach may be to help you through project leadership. In other conditions, it may be best to place the Fortium partner in the CIO, CTO, CDO or CISO seat or other strategic leadership role on a short-term or long-term interim basis. When you’re ready, the Fortium partner can be replaced by a permanent resource without the complexity and cost associated with termination of a permanent, long-term employee. Throughout the delivery process, you and the Fortium partner have the immediate support and expertise of our entire firm of technology experts to fulfill your needs and minimize your risk. Would LaaS (Leadership as a Service) benefit you?

Fortium Partners offers what no one else can: instant access to some of the world’s most experienced technology and digital leaders (CIOs, CDOs, CTOs, and CISOs). Our clients often need interim leadership, fractional/part-time leadership, strategic program management and guidance, coaching, or other roles that expand the capabilities of the management team. Fortium clients get the technology and digital leadership they need in a matter of days, obtaining an immediate competitive edge, often at a lower cost with more return. We also offer specific solutions to address your technology and digital challenges.

Missing Your Technology or Digital Leader? Break from Tradition

What if you could fill your technology leadership slot (CIO, CDO, CTO, or CISO) immediately, in a matter of hours? What if you could guarantee that your new technology leader would be a true strategy partner with more than 25 years of experience, and not just an technology operational generalist? What if you never had to pay for search fees, employee benefits or severance? What if you had immediate access to a technology and digital executive with exactly the right experience to help guide your team toward a new strategic direction? Leadership as a Service (LaaS) can help immediately.

Enter Fortium Partners

Fortium’s partners have served in C-suites of the most respected companies in the world. Unlike consulting firms, with Fortium your service level is exactly what you need and you will never be subject to unnecessary fee expansion or lower-level resources. Best of all, our Partner becomes your company’s CIO, CDO, CTO, or CISO – a dedicated member of your senior staff reporting directly to executive leadership, yet equipped with world-class processes of the largest provider of technology and digital leadership services in the world.

Fortium Partners can reduce a 12-16 month lag time to onboard technology executives down to a matter of days. 

Strategic Issues in the LaaS Model

Strategic issues to be considered in the LaaS model is having a knowledge that digital invaders exist and that they are experts at rapid disruption. As a result, the entire C-suite now sees digital as the biggest game-changer. It can fuel growth, but drastically change the landscape.

While most CxOs believe they see the “Big Picture,” few actually know how to create that view and execute a series of initiatives to get there.  Industry leaders are looking beyond the immediate future, and employing a full range of strategies.

Strategic Imperatives

Coming to market second or third is a luxury few can afford. Creating a business model that offers both speed and scale can be tricky. Nonetheless, some leading enterprises are using their resources to out think the competition.

Do you want to:

  • Be First – this approach is costly and risky but may be your cup of tea. If so, we have ideas that no one else has tried yet that could catapult you ahead.
  • Be Best – this approach has costs but excelling in most areas, particularly the giving and post giving experience will pay off.
  • Be left behind – this approach is to be avoided. Unbeknownst to you, someone may be about to disrupt your business model.

Please contact me so I can learn more

“There is nothing that a Big-Hearted Leader can do that is more important than turning his or her company or organization into a force for good.” ~Donn Sorensen



The customer experience, at its core, is a matter of the heart that is obsessed with serving the customer. Donn Sorensen is executive vice president of operations of Mercy Health System is one of the largest Catholic health systems in the United States. Donn is on to something.

A heart-felt leader will make a difference. Are you ready to lead the charge?

There is nothing that a Big-Hearted Leader can do that is more important than turning his or her company or organization into a force for good.” ~Donn Sorensen

Source: Leadership Lesson: It Comes From The Heart


“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos


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What is the urgency of transforming (changing) the digital customer experience. Just think of the many customer experience fails that were magnified to thousands or millions of potential customers.

There is a benefit to transforming (changing), there is also a risk. Is it worth it? Think about it some more. Is it really worth it?

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi


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We all want to deliver amazing customer experiences. It our greatest desire. There is much that gets in the way of that noble goal. Executive leadership has to focus on clearing the obstacles out of the way.

We need more employees, not less, that can lose themselves in the pleasure of service. We need to unshackle our employees. In their heart and soul they want to service. Nothing gives them more pleasure than creating experiences that lead loyalty and growth.

Imagine going home at the end of the day knowing we were able to love a customer or two. How great is that?

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi

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Digital Transformation has a problem. Transformation has a brother named Fear of Change. Transformation also has a sister named Change Management.


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Digital Transformation has a problem. Transformation means massive change or at least it sounds that way. If you said to your spouse, I want to fundamentally transform you, how do you think they would feel. It doesn’t sound good. At least when you are the other side.

Transformation has a brother named Fear of Change. Most of us don’t like change. Say about 10% do and 90% are quite happy the way things are. Things are comfortable. Why do we need to change? What’s wrong with the way we are doing things today? Maybe just a few tweaks here and there.

Transformation also has a sister named Change Management. Change management is difficult because it starts with “the need” to change and the challenge of “I don’t want to”. Running a marathon is daunting. Two tenths of one percent of the U.S. adult population accomplish it annually. It may not seem worth it considering all the effort that will have to be put into it. I  will have to get up early. Training will be painful. I won’t have time to do other things I am used to doing. Power walking a few days, like I am doing now, seems more attractive. A marathon runner only runs 3 miles a day on average (with one long run a week and 2 days of rest) to get ready for the 26.2 miles need for the victory. It takes 18 weeks to get ready and finish.

The challenge with “change management” is that it is typically used on minor or small scale initiatives. Digital transformation is an extreme approach that is not easily achieved. It requires an approach to change that can handle massive number of initiatives and heavily culture oriented change.

There is an approach that may be helpful. It is called the “Agile Methodology” and it is used extensively in software development. Building a new application or significantly updating an existing one is an overwhelming task. This approach essentially breaks the massive number of tasks down into small deliverables that can be accomplished in three week increments. When you line up the sprints one after another, after a while you have made some significant changes. It is a little more complicated than I make it out to be but a fundamental level, the approach works.

If it wasn’t a “technology approach”, we would call it change management but that might be mislabeled as well. This methodology actually moves the ball down the field, incrementally, toward a touchdown.

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What does an amazing “unboxing experience” look like?


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Today’s customers are shopping online much more often than in past years. This change has had a profound impact on companies who now have fewer chances to interact with their customers. Because the number of touchpoints within the customer journey has decreased, companies face increased pressure to impress buyers during each interaction.

One of the most important moments that brands communicate with their customers is when a buyer receives and opens their package. The most successful businesses understand that creating loyal customers means providing exceptional order fulfillment services, down to the packaging of their product offerings.

Making little tweaks to the experience of getting a package in the mail can really change the way that customers view your brand and their shopping experience. Interesting packaging can also help your company stand out in a competitive marketplace. Examples of small but impressive changes businesses can implement include sending personalized thank you notes along with packages and offering unique packaging designs like fun colors and branded tissue paper. Prioritizing these types of details can help set you apart from competitors!

Red Stag Fulfillment developed a list of the most important tips to create the perfect unboxing experience for your consumer. Read on to learn the best practices for providing an exceptional packaging experience, no matter your industry or product type.

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Are our digital donor experience goals relevant?


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The fourth criterion for SMART goals stresses the importance of choosing goals that really make a difference in improving the donor experience. A digital executive’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance to the donor. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization and but most importantly, your donor, will receive that needed support. Being able to frame up simply how it will benefit the donor is very powerful.

Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department, and organization forward in creating stunning experiences for the donor. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other donor goals would be considered a relevant goal.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  1. Does this seem worthwhile to the donor?
  2. Is this the right time in the donor experience lifecycle?
  3. Does this match our other donor journey efforts/needs?
  4. Are you the right person/team to focus on this?
  5. Is it applicable in current socio- economic- technical environment? Will it move digital change (transformation) ahead to the next phase?

How many times have we been “handed” a goal and we all have said, this isn’t going to move the needle. It’s just not relevant. Having employees and donors engaged is a “big deal”. Relevance is the key.

Without relevance, it is hard to know what we want to accomplish. When a goal is irrelevant, we all see the air go out of the balloon. There is nothing more demoralizing.

The digital executive is responsible for accessing “does it pass” the relevance test. This cannot be delegated. Having a pulse of donor goals helps a lot. Even if it is not relevant to an employee, a case should be made that it is relevant to the donor. How relevant it is becomes the driver.

Relevance can be given a score so that ideas that produce the best results are funded. We may need to do a series of quick tests to determine the winners. With limited funds and budget, the digital executive must focus resources.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start focusing employees on the issue of donor relevance.
  2. Begin testing and scoring the results of ideas.
  3. Encourage listening to donors to know what is relevant to them.
  4. Have clear goals for testing programs.
  5. Know why this is important to the donor.
  6. Involve donors and employees in generating ideas.
  7. Be clear about resource constraints.

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