56 Why corporates and universities get it wrong

I’ve recently launched my first online course! Yay! But it soon dawned on me how much I’ve learnt at university or experienced at some big corporate was all wrong for today’s online business world! Not much works the way they teach it in textbooks or training rooms!

Make no mistake, I am privileged to have studied at some of the best universities in the world, I have worked at some of the most well-known companies in the 21st century. But NOTHING could have prepared me for starting my own business! To launch a product the way I was traditionally trained would have taken years of testing, prototyping, scripting, editing, branding, etc.

So, what is the biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far? Completion is better than perfection. Every time!

Show notes

  • Why universities and traditional business fall short in today’s fast-paced world
  • The training course allowed me the opportunity to structure key insights for a desired result
  • Not much works the way they teach it
  • Perfection comes with long lead times and complicated processes
  • A traditional launch would have taken years of testing, prototyping, scripting, editing, branding, etc.
  • Releasing a non-perfect is the biggest obstacle I have learned to overcome
  • Managing your client’s expectations
  • Clients want to know that they are dealing with someone authentic in the online business world
  • Big business pay millions to launch a product or service
  • Take advantage of the feedback from mavericks and early adopters
  • Co-creation and insight from the mavericks is invaluable
  • Our challenge is to un-bundle the traditional thinking around product conception, design and deployment
  • Traditional business methodologies were right for its time
  • The need to evolve our thinking of how best to service our markets
  • Avoid corporate rubber-stamping and personal perfection
  • The move from strong, wise and dominant leadership to humble co-creation and collaboration
  • Be brave to be free!

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Transcript

Speaker 1:         00:00   Welcome to Working Women’s Wealth where we discuss what it takes to build real wealth in a way real humans can understand. Here’s your host, Lisa Linfield.

Lisa Linfield:     00:09   Hello, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. Now, I know that for many of you, you’re wondering what happened. For those of you who didn’t listen to the episode two episodes ago, I ended with a major cliffhanger. So have a little listen now. So I giggled after this went live because I had so many text messages that said, “No, you can’t leave me hanging like that.” And I have to tell you that I’m going to keep you hanging some more. Why? Because the answer to what happened next will only be revealed in two weeks time when the course is over.

So today, we are going to talk about why universities and corporates actually have it wrong and teach us things that are the wrong way around. So as you write a training course, one of the things that you have to do is to take a whole bunch of jumbled unformed thoughts that sit in your subconscious and consciously work to structure them and order them in a way that can take your learners through a process that gets a result at the end of it.

And one of the things that has been truly amazing about structuring and ordering a lot of my learnings and thoughts over the last 18 months has been a realization that so much of what I learned when I was in both the corporate world and studying at university was actually wrong and it really doesn’t help in the new online world. You see, what they taught you and what our university system has been structured to do is to teach in a world that doesn’t have online in it and integrated into every single part of what we do. Whereas right now, whilst we do talk about online business and real-world businesses, in actual fact, the two are so coming together that there isn’t much of a difference between them.

So it was a huge shock to me when I came to this realization that in this new world, in actual fact, everything is the opposite way around and not much really works in the way they teach us to launch a product. And you must imagine that this is quite a shock for me because I’m a big a learners. I am absolutely passionate about life-long learning. And I have studied at Oxford, I’ve studied at INSEAD, at London Business School. I’ve got a degree from Wits and another one from the University of Johannesburg. So I’m a life-long studier and I really subscribe to further education.

But also, I’ve worked at some of the most amazing places with some of the most amazing people. And these include massive international companies like City Group and Deloyd’s and Halifax bank of Scotland and South African companies. And I’ve had amazing mentors and teachers. The only challenge is that it’s not quite user-friendly in the new world and I wouldn’t change one thing. So I really, truly sit today for everything I’ve done in the past and I am able to do the things that I do because of the things that I’ve learned both at university and through the corporates.

So by no means do I think that it invalidates my learning experience at all but when it comes to landing new products and new ventures, I do think they have it a little bit wrong. And it doesn’t just start there, it starts from when we are very little, when we go to school and when we grow up, we’re taught that you need to be the perfect little girl and that the highest marks or the highest form or perfection is what is praised, is what is celebrated. And that goes through school and university.

And when you go to corporates, they teach you that you need to compile a business case before you want to land a new business or launch a new product. And in one of the companies that I went to, I nearly packed out laughing when I asked for the business case template and the template itself was 20 pages without one thing populated. 20 pages of question. And I sat there and I just packed out laughing because what else do you do when you’re asked to fill out and populate 20 pages of questions. You must know that that thing’s like over hundreds of pages.

And then, once you’ve done the business case, then you start to proceed with the product spec and the product spec includes a million process engineers who map the process flow like someone’s going to answer the telephone and how this thing’s actually going to work. And you then come up with hundreds of pages of what are called business specs and those business specs then get translated to technical specs. And five months later, you might have a document that can actually get reviewed for sign-off.

And then you’ve got to go through a whole process of getting budget approval, putting a team together, and then you can start building the actual piece of technology. And that is a multi-functional team with huge amounts of people and nobody talks to each other and blames each other for doing something wrong. And the designers think the architects are nuts. And when the developers come to build that they think both the designers and the architects are nuts, and you end up not launching or otherwise, launching two years later. And by the time you do launch, because you’re so late and over budget, you’ve traded back so much of the great functionality that you would have that now, it doesn’t really work. And it’s definitely not what the customer wants.

I’ve learned some amazing lessons in this entrepreneurial space. For me to have done what I did in the last couple of weeks and launch a whole online course that links to videos and downloads and different pieces of tech and all of that, it would have taken me years and a lot of cappuccinos with my colleagues to try and get something to happen. But yes, I’ve done it quickly. I’ve learned a few really good lessons.

And the first one that is quite common in the entrepreneur space is done is better than perfect. And it’s such a nice, wonderful sweet saying but it’s actually really, really hard. And I have found that over the last five weeks, this done is better than perfect is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to deal with. I launched my course and took some time before launching to go and record all the videos. And it was wonderful. I was at our weekend house at the Vaal and so I was far away from Joburg and there were no shops in sight. And it was just me and all of my stuff and I was going to be a little bee of productivity and just nail everything. And I set everything up and got kind of the right view and the right perspective and the right lighting and I had all the right things in place. And I recorded and there was no sound. I literally recorded three videos with no sound.

And in hindsight, it turns out that in actual fact the microphone was broken. I didn’t know that but all I knew is that this sound wasn’t coming, it didn’t matter how much I tried with my lovely fancy camera, I could not get it to work. And I had a decision to make there and that decision was must I do it perfect, which wasn’t an option, or am I just going to use my iPhone.

Now, one of the key secrets to recording video is your audio. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the iPhone or the big camera, you need to have good audio. And whilst I know all of this stuff and I’m very aware of it, I was faced with the challenge of needing to record this or not go live and not going live wasn’t an option. So I said to myself, okay, done is better than perfect. I’m going to record this on my iPhone.

Now, I don’t have one of these fancy iPhones. I have the very old one that is second hand and it’s been reconditioned at the iPhone store. And it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the new ones have. But I set it up and I recorded and it’s actually fine. In fact, one of the people commented that they thought that my video was really great in the first week and yet it wasn’t perfect. And when I launched, there were a number of links that didn’t work and it was basically just either copy and paste errors or something like that, but for me to launch something that wasn’t perfect was devastating and I really, deeply struggled.

I worked for the most wonderful boss and when I had messed up, I’d walk into his office and I’d say, “Oh, I’ve messed up.” And he would look at me and pause and then he’d say, “So what do you think we should do about it?” And we’d brainstorm the solutions. And the reason why he wouldn’t shout at me was because he knew that nobody in the world could beat me up as much as I could beat myself up. It doesn’t matter what he said, I was doing a job far, far, far better than anything he could ever do, and that’s the same.

So when I launch something that doesn’t have perfect video and doesn’t have perfect links and everything doesn’t work perfectly, I literally beat myself up. Why? Because I’ve been trained from a young age that little girls are perfect and perfect scores the highest mark. And he who scores the highest mark wins. And that has been such an amazingly interesting journey for me is that done is better than perfect.

Now, I think it’s going to take me … well, if I had 44 years of this, I think it’s going to take me at least another 40 years to undo this. But it’s been such a humbling and wonderful space because what’s amazing about launching something that’s done and better than perfect and managing the expectations of your customers that this is the case is that they collaborate with you. And that the wonderful and interesting thing about that is that they often are thinking to themselves and some have voiced in feedback to me, “It’s so nice to know that you also make mistakes.” And I guess that’s the thing that we always portray these perfect images.

The second thing I’ve learned is that when in these corporates you pay millions for lots and lots of people and process engineers and all these major things that you need to kind of put together to launch anything is that you pay a lot for something that many people are willing to give you for free. If you engage your customers in terms of helping you to create things, they really willingly will do it.

Now, I’m not talking about those focus groups that corporates love which is where you bring a whole bunch of “customers” in and they all tell you what they think you want to hear. I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about a false environment of paid people who give feedback on something they cannot even see or experience. I’m talking about the mavericks, the people who are at the front of the learning curve and who see that you are willing to offer them a product or a service, or in my case an online course in the hope that you can give them the value of the learning in exchange for their feedback and co-creation.

And why would people want to do that? So why wouldn’t you need a whole herd of testers paid gazillions to test your products? The reason why is because when you launch a prototype, your clients get the chance to work one on one with you. I’m heavily engaged with my founding partners, with the people who are working with me in this first batch of my course. And in my engagement with them, I help brainstorm their ideas of which businesses they want to launch. I help them with things that when it goes live and there’re lots more people involved in the process, there’s no way I’m going to be giving that level of support. And so each of them are happy to be a maverick on the frontline of development because there is significant engagement both ways and it’s a wonderful environment.

They also enjoy the feeling of co-creating, of being part of something that is new, that is exciting, that they can see the changes and I can tell you that I’ve changed my course significantly over the period of just the three weeks that we’ve been going so far. Why? Because their insight and input is fantastic and they give the feedback and as quick as I possibly can change things, I will change them.

You know, one of my course participants told me that they thought it would be great if I could put in how much time it would take to do each of the lessons so that they can judge whether they should start watching a video while waiting for their children to finish hockey or netball or orchestra or whatever it is or whether there wouldn’t be enough time. And I implemented it.

And then another participant said, “It was so great. I was sitting in an Uber looking outside and decided to quickly catch up on one of the videos and so quickly watched that because I knew I’d have enough time by the time that Uber got to the airport.” And that’s exactly the thing. They give me recommendations, I implement them, and then others go, “Hey, that’s a great thing. It really has helped.” And it makes a huge difference to your course when you have your customers co-create it. They create a product that is far better. And with 20-something of my customers going through this course, it really has created different perspectives because all of them have different thinking types. And as you will know, I’m a whole brain certified coach and the fundamental belief of whole brain thinking is that although we have four different types of thinking styles, we usually tend to choose one style over the other.

It’s like kicking a ball with your right foot if you’re right footed. You know, we choose our strongest style but we are all able to operate in all four types of thinking styles. And what this is doing is because in my group of prototype mavericks or co-creators, I have very different thinking styles. I get feedback from each of them and I get to build a whole-brain course. And in building a whole-brain course, it means that it will appeal to people who don’t have the same thinking style as me.

And I’m very honest with my participants as I had built things and do things that I have the creativity of a peanut, that I can’t coordinate colors, and I have a designer for my interior, I have a codes, dresser, shopper person who styles me and things of like that because I’m actually just useless at that stuff. But with all of them, they make up for my blind spots. And so the product that we co-create is way better than anything I would have done if it was just me.

So it is absolutely huge that we all make sure that we start to unbundle some of the thinking that we have learned over time. The thinking was correct and right for the time that we grew up in but it’s not correct and right for the time we’re going into. But the challenges that require some deep changes to us in what we do and in how we approach things.

So first, if you want to do it this way, you need to deeply value others thoughts and insights. And one of the really bad things that comes from many layered corporates with a lot of politics is that there’s a lot of rubber stamping that goes on in the corporate, that you engage people for a meeting and a discussion that is lead to believe that you’re all going to co-create something, and in actual fact, it turns out that actually, the people have no ability to change anything and it was just a rubber stamp.

When you’re co-creating with your customers, you need to deeply value their insights. You need to be prepared to make the changes that they think are necessary whether or not you think they’re necessary. But you must also have the wisdom to know what’s one person’s issue and what would be applicable to everyone.

You also need to embrace the fact that you aren’t perfect and that there is no way that any one of us could come up with a product that would meet the needs of your holistic customer base. And you need to be humble and embrace the humility that comes with understanding that other people might have a better solution than you.

And this is always a challenge because we’re lead to believe that you need to be the strong, wise leader of your flock when actually, the new leadership truly is one of co-creation and collaboration. So the last thing that you need is the grace to be able to call on the humility of other and their mercy when things aren’t right. And as I said, you know, one of my favorite sets of feedback has come from people who said it’s really nice to know that you don’t have it all sorted. And so that really has been one of my great learnings is that people have a lot more grace than we give them credit for and they don’t require things to be completely perfect.

So my course is currently being co-created with my founding partners. I’m learning so much, I can’t tell you. Not only from the feedback from others but a huge amount about myself, about my unwillingness to make mistakes, about my need to feel perfect and in control. But what I’m learning to do is to create something that is way better than anything I could have thought of. And if this course goes nowhere and if nobody has benefited at all, not even one single ounce from this course which I don’t believe is true based on the feedback that I’ve had, but if it was so that this was to go nowhere in life, these last five weeks and I’m sure the next two that are coming up have been absolutely worth every single penny I’ve spent on creating this course. Why? Because I’ve learned so much.

And that is the last lesson that I truly know corporates struggle with is the ability to prize learning over everything else. In corporates it’s about results and results are kind. And if you don’t meet those targets, then you don’t do well. And it’s similar in a university. If you don’t get the grades, you don’t do well, and then you are either kicked out of the university or you end up failing and having to redo it. Whereas, when you’re in your own business, the learning that you can get from undertaking something like this is worth more than anything else that you possibly can. Why? Because I know that if I create another course, I will create a way better course from scratch because I’ve learned so much. And that learning means that I’ve created in a far quicker time and it will be an asset that generates revenue much quicker than anything else because I’ve co-created with my customers.

But there’s a huge thing that I come back to many times. It’s my motto, my mantra and I think will be put on my gravestone is you need to be brave in order to be free. And it’s what I encourage the people in my course every single day, just take one step. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect because done is better than perfect. And you have to be brave, you have to be brave to put a half finished product out or what you think is a half-finished product that other people think is absolutely perfect. You need to be brave in order to put aside your idea of what’s right and wrong and engage with your customers for what they think is right and wrong. And you need to work hard at getting past all of those things that we were programmed to think at school and university to work out that there is a new way of what’s right, a new way of winning, a new way of doing things differently that is better and more suited for the new world we live in.

I’m Lisa Linfield, and if you want to sign up to be part of our course in February next year, please go to workingwomenswealth.com and you’ll find a sign-up page for everybody who is interested in doing the course in February. Take care. Have a great day.

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