You have now commenced
your exploration of committing to your social value journey. This is great, so
next is to take a deep breath, because its time to remember you are not in a
race and there is no time deadline.
You can take as much
time as you need to complete your journey, because, as you know, this is not
just about using a set of tools, but it is also about learning more about your
business. In particular, the impacts you have on both people and places,
internally and externally. All of which may not necessarily be at all obvious
to you at the moment.
At this stage it is also
worth considering how you might blend your learning, from the use of various
social value tools, into your business. In particular, you will be using tools
that will enable your staff and customers to share, with you, the impact your
business has on them. Inevitably, this involves accepting that this is not an
add on but rather the way you will be doing business in the future. Over the
next few weeks or even months, you may end up modifying the way you do business
both internally and externally. But no problem just yet. You have begun your
journey, which is great. In our next article we will look at all the other
possibilities that are going to be revealed to you. Until next time…………………
In our last two Handy Hint articles, both available on our website, here,as seperate Blogs, we explored how you might get started with your journey to identify the difference you make to your customers. Having done the first exercise and had a go at making sense of the information you collected, it is now time to really think about how you can make this work in your business.
To help you do this, there are five key things you need to think about now:
1. Realise this is business as usual.
2. Create a positive mind set of possiblities.
3. Identify resources needed.
4. Confirm your support network.
5. Clarify the information you collect already.
What next? We will be sharing the next steps in the near future
In the The Difference You Make: Let’s Get Started! article, we looked at what you need to do, to begin your journey to identify the difference you make to your customers. You started with some flip chart paper, and a few post-it notes and asked some key questions of each other. This led to a conversation and you filled your flip chart paper and post-it with comments. But what do you do now?
Firstly, you can transcribe all the notes into an electronic document. As you know, this a good way of keeping a record of the comments made. But you do not have to do this, you can just keep the original flip chart paper and post-it notes. The thing to remember is that they are your notes, so you can do what you like with them.
But what then? Let’s go back a step to your conversation. We are all constantly making sense of our environments, including making sense of what people are saying and doing……… we constantly analyse our world. So, let’s apply this inherent ability to the comments you have collected.
- Step 1: Get everyone, who has taken part in the conversation, to look at the comments and get them to say what they think they mean.
- Step 2: Let the discussion happen, as everyone tries to make sense of what has been recorded on the flip chart paper and post-it notes.
- Step 3: Be prepared to discuss assumptions and expectations of what everyone thinks it all means.
- Step 4: Stick with it, your collective analysis is emerging.
- Step 5: Write up the key features of this discussion.
- Step 6: Circulate and/or discuss with everyone that took part in the original conversation. The purpose of this step is to check that everyone recognises the analysis. Remember they do not have to agree with it all!
Why not give this a try. It is not scientific, but it is based on how we manage all the information we come across every day. What next? We will be sharing our thoughts on this in the near future.
Beginning work on identifying the difference you make, to your customers, can be difficult. Do you have enough information? Are the right people involved? Is there any information to collect? Will people be interested? How much of a plan do you need before you can start? Do you need a plan B?
Also, this type of work is not just about you but also about the people you work with, your team and your customers. Just sticking with your team, are you clear about their perspectives of their role? Also, how they view the difference they believe they make to your customers? It can all get really overwhelming!
So, a great starting point with all of this is to gather your immediate team together and get the kettle on. Get the flip chart paper ready and a few post-it notes and be prepared to spend an hour in an open and honest discussion. Then ask three questions:
1. Who are we?
2. What do we do?
3. Why do we do it?
Simple questions, yes. But hopefully they will encourage everyone to put forward their views about their role and job, which may also include some assumptions and expectations. Now you have some notes on flip chart paper and some completed post-it notes. What next? We will be sharing our thoughts on this in the near future.
You run a successful business and also see yourself as socially minded. You like to support your local community by employing local people. You try to make good environmental choices and recycle when you can. You encourage your staff to volunteer. You also like to give some of your time to a local community group, to help them support other local people.
Does any of this make any difference to your customers? After all you know they are happy with the service and products you provide. Do they really need to know anything else? Maybe….
You know that measuring the success of your business is straightforward in relation to turnover and profit; these can be counted. However, trying to measure the difference your business choices, your staff, your processes and systems, and your time, make to both your customers, and the people, and places, within your local community, is much harder. The ways in which you bring value to your community cannot be told by numbers alone.
Does employing local people make a difference? If so, how? Does giving time to a local community group make a difference to them and the people they work with? Does any of this actually matter to your current and future customers? Maybe. Have you asked them? You might be surprised.
If you would like to spend time with other socially minded business owners exploring some of these issues, as well as being introduced to some of the tools that will help you tell your social value story, then please get in touch or check our the details of our next workshop here…https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/give2gain-summer-workshop-tickets-61625673047