STUDIO.WHY Design Thinking

STUDIO.WHY Design Thinking

Design Thinking

 

I firmly believe that each person has the potential to become a better version of themselves if you have the tools to develop your innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.

Through the STUDIO.WHY methodology (born in the Netherlands in 2014), this is within reach. Through these interventions the mindset of an entrepreneur and design thinking meet and so starts the unlocking of your talent.

As a STUDIO.WHY South Africa Design Thinking Facilitator, I help companies, teams and individuals to implement the mindset, process, tools and technique into their daily work, where the complex-problem solving potential of Design Thinking transforms cultures from operational to innovational excellence.

Facilitation is customised for each client and could be anything from a short workshops and Design Sprint (8-30 hours over a person of 3 weeks) to a complete Transformational Programs that take time but include training, workshops and/or Design sprints

All sessions are remote.

February flew by…

Tourism Folk are unique. It takes a special kind of person to operate within the relatively informal Industry that is a small Tourism business.  We are stubborn, independent and often don’t want people telling us what to do. At the same time we are deeply passionate about our guests, our staff and more often than not go the extra mile for little or no reward, never mind a good review.

In the corporate world there are structures and fancy words that make big organisations tick over. In a small business, where you are often the person who makes the reservations, cooks the eggs while still doing your own Marketing there is very little time for fancy words.  You need understanding and solutions while also being reminded that you are not your business

Passion is a Feeling

Passion is a Feeling

“Passion is not a plan, it’s a feeling, and feelings change”Terri Trespicio

This quote out of one of Terri’s TED Talks has been simmering for weeks.

It reminded me of how I’ve always been a little bit jealous of people who have an absolute crystal-clear knowledge of where they want to be going.

I’ve never had that.

I’ve lived my life Project- by- Project. It’s true that while I’m busy with a project I get completely involved. I jump in boots and all and work my butt off to make it a success. I often get totally emersed to the exclusion of everything or everyone else.

This, of course, is remnants of my Performing Arts days. Whether I was on stage myself or Backstage Manager for a Production there is a process.

  • You start with a script or a program
  • You meet with the Director to understand his or her vision.

Then things start happening.

  • Auditions. Production, Set designs and Costumes meetings all happening at the same time.
  • Rehearsals start and things get a bit more real when you start seeing everything coming together.
  • Very soon you are on Technical and Final Rehearsals and BAM Opening Night!
  • Crazy days and nights, very little rest and pressure during shows all blur together and suddenly you are watching the Cast take their final bow to the Audience’s Applause or even more gratifying their requests for Encores and standing ovations!

And then it’s all over.

You know you’ve done a great job. The Crew, Cast and more importantly the Audience have clearly told you that the project was a success.

Awesome! Start, middle and very clear ending!

Then you hit the “real world”

Here you have working business hours (mostly) at a Guesthouse or Hotel. As before very few guests see how you operate behind the scenes. But here is no applause or ovation. It is a continuous day in and day out operation with people coming and going and no clear ending.

Also nobody to tell you, that you are doing a great job or that you suck for that matter. You have no way of measuring your success.

You might get a good review (or most likely the property you work for will) and sometimes people with say they’ve enjoyed their stay but when things go wrong you will just be dealing with negativity from people who complain and continue on much as the day before.

How on earth do you keep yourself motivated?

How do you measure your success?

I found this incredibly difficult. It’s easy to say you shouldn’t depend on affirmation from others, be they Guests or Bosses. But the reality is that you very seldom get that kind of feedback and I found it almost impossible.  I needed the “quality control check” from others to show me I’m on the right track.

Over the years I came up with my own measuring tool to help me decide if I was still heading in the right direction. If I were at a job and on waking up in the morning the first thing, I think about is what time my shift ends, then I need to move. I felt that this was my subconscious telling me that I should pay attention. That I was not living my passion anymore.

When I moved out of the Hospitality side of Tourism, I did so thinking that my Passion was training and that is where I was going to go.

It has taken me 3 years and a Pandemic to see that, although I can also do training, in reality my passion is in the coaching and mentoring of people.

It is about creating a safe space for someone who has never had the opportunity to think about what they really, truly wanted. Of helping that person ask him or herself the questions that will guide them to knowing that they deserve to live their own passions.

I’m not there yet.

In fact, I’m now starting to understand that the journey is so much more important than wherever “THERE” is.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find my affirmation in less spectacular, more real doses. Such as a light going on in a person’s eyes when they realise, they can and should have a dream. 

When they start to take those first wobbly steps to making their own dreams come true.  When they come back with smiles and hope because of the small wins along the route.

Going forward I’ll still be working on every project with passion.

I’ll just be making a point of checking in with myself to make sure I don’t lose my authentic self and that my passion is still driving me.

Because Passion is a feeling and feelings change.

And that is the REAL journey.

How to kickstart your Tourism Business in these COVID times

How to kickstart your Tourism Business in these COVID times

If you’ve had a chance to read My Journey to kickstarting my WHY and How to kickstart yourself in these COVID Times you’ve got an idea of how my head works. (“Good luck with that: “my husband would say!)

My thoughts are that if you understand your own WHY better and you’ve had time to process the incredible shock and trauma of having the world as we know it blow up like something out of a very scary Sci-Fi movie, you are a bit more ready to tackle the next important thing.

In the weeks and months after the initial COVID Lockdown we were completely bombarded with information. Government Media Statements, News Articles and crazy social media posts that frankly, caused the first Panic Attack I’d had in years.  We had to learn an entire new language of Government talk and protocols, we had to establish new contacts and networks of people who would supply verified and trustworthy information and of course then came the online meetings!

Webinar after webinar of important and smart people talking about Tourism and its future not only on a national level but the bigger international picture.

At some point I realised that I was now listening to debates.  Nobody really knew what was going to happen and when. At the very best the educated guesses by the scientists of what will happen with the virus were now being interpreted by industry experts while keeping an eye on what other countries where doing.  Of course, there were crucial things being discussed and excellent advice given. Things like the implications and interpretations of the Gazetted Regulations, designing of health Protocols and the various Relief funding options and how you could access them.

Interestingly the first option people started looking for was Funding and Grants, then looking at loans (but how the heck to pay it back if you don’t know if you have income?!) and many got the unpleasant shock that they did not meet the criteria or where not compliant. 

While the Industry was scrambling to understand the Criteria on the Funding options and frantically gathering the required documentation, I for one started realising that I had gaps in my Network. Who the heck do I ask about the UIF? I’m a one-woman business, so I’m not registered for UIF. Does that mean I’m not able to claim from the TERS-UIF fund? 

Some people I chatted to didn’t have the required Financial Statements, nor could they produce the 6 months bank statements for various reasons. Some had been operating their businesses as Sole Proprietors and couldn’t register with CIPC for the Essential Services Certificate.

Red tape, inadvertent non-compliance, the struggle through the quagmire of information, and technological challenges such as access to computers and Wi-Fi all contributed to the incredible sense of desolation and hopelessness that most Tourism Business owners where feeling. Coupled with the sense of responsibility towards staff and their families these owners were (and are) faced with, you start to recognise the stages of grief the Tourism Industry is going through. Front and centre and definitely NOT linear are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Many people I spoke to said that they tried to get help but in the end with all the frustrations and obstacles they “just gave up”

I don’t have the answers. I spent weeks sitting through those webinars, reading articles and watching TED Talks to help me understand what is happening and what I can do to make it better.  I then reached a stage where I realised that my head was full. So full that I was having a hard time processing what was actually happening. This is where I was able to stop and just breathe.  

Out of all the stuff floating in my head I started getting these questions that popped out of nowhere. They would float in and go and sit quietly in the back of my head. When things calmed down a bit, they would nudge at me until I was ready to face them.

These are by no means the 10 steps to success post COVID, but they are questions that led me to realise that there are things that I can control. Even if I don’t have the answers, I could reach out to someone who might have or who might know someone who does. 

While the smart people continue their endless and mammoth task of coming up with a Tourism Recovery plan for the entire industry it is prudent that you start with yourself. You might have more or even less questions, but these are the ones nudging at me. (And while these links are for South African based Companies, the principals remains the same wherever you are)

  1. Have you educated yourself?  
    • Do you know what the current Gazetted Regulations are, what you can and can’t do?
    • Are you keeping in touch with what is happening in your town, province, Nationally and International trends?

Be cautious of where you get your information and ensure that your information is up to date and verified.  Find a credible source such as https://www.satsa.com or https://tbcsa.travel/press-releases/ which will save you a ton of heartache and drama. This also helps you understand the bigger picture as they will keep you updated on burning issues…. and Press Releases are free!

Let’s now look at your own Tourism business
.

  1. Do you know what you’ve currently got in hand and is it possible to survive the next several months?
    • Think about your financial situation. Where you are right now and what are your responsibilities. Do you have a Financial Advisor or accountant that can give you advice? If not, who can you approach to give you guidance?
    • Think about your staff, what they need and what you can afford. How can you balance these two situations over the next coming months?
  1. Compliance
    • Do you have 6 months Bank Statements from your company? You can get the statements emailed to you on a monthly basis.  Just get into the habit of saving them in a file in your computer as they come in.  You can also get verified or stamped statements from most Banks if you are registered for Online Banking
    • Some of the banks now supply additional support. FNB has an Instant Accounting Service that pulls information directly from your FNB account https://www.fnb.co.za/business-banking/instant-Accounting-solutions/finance.html
    • Are you registered on the Central Supplier Database? It is a pretty straight forward and a very user friendly site with a helpful Call Centre if you should get stuck https://secure.csd.gov.za/Account/RegistrationProcess
    • Read through the required documents carefully, what else are they asking for that you might need in the future?
  1. What are the current, as well as potential, opportunities to start generating an income and is it viable to pursue?
    • Think about your expenses compared to the potential income.
    • Think about the staff requirements. How many staff will you need to operate at various levels?
    • Think about non-financial implications such as buildings standing empty, staff losing their jobs.
  1. When the sudden announcement came that Intra-Provincial travel is allowed, were you ready? 
Switch your mindset or Drown

Switch your mindset or Drown

Over the last couple of months, I’ve often found myself saying more and more that the world will never be the same again.

This past week I learnt in various ways just how much things have already changed.

Chatting to some young people whose jobs have been severely impacted by COVID was truly illuminating.

After going through lockdown and the various levels of the pandemic it now appears that Business, especially in Tourism is unlikely to recover to any significant levels for the foreseeable future. Having no guarantee of income, cutting back on expenses, pivoting Markets and looking for any way of being more economic has led to agonising decisions that business owners have had to make. Some of these have included which staff to keep and who to let go. Nobody should have to make these heart-breaking choices especially when you understand the impact this will have on their families with no hope of things changing any time soon.

These decisions have been made in various types of businesses as everyone is trying to stay afloat in a world where nobody truly knows what is going to happen. As I’m observing operations within these businesses an interesting thing seems to be happening. 

The last few months have been tough on everyone and you can see the strain around the smiling eyes above the masks. You know that each one is carrying a burden and yet there is a sense of strength, deeper awareness and purpose in the air. Those staff members that have remained, although different in personality show similarities in attitude and aptitude. They are working together as a team, each understanding that the work needs to get done and because there are fewer of them everyone has to stand up and take responsibility.

I hear stories of staff members pitching up for work with no hope of salaries but the idea of helping their bosses getting the business back into shape to welcome clients after lockdown.

I see how Receptionists walk past and notice that the waiters are busy and without stopping grabbing menus to welcome the new guests that have just arrived and showing them to a table.  

I see how senior kitchen staff make an effort to check with patrons to ensure their food is perfect or to sort out an issue personally.

I see back office staff answering phones while the Receptionists are busy checking in guests.

Suddenly that hated saying: “it’s not my job” has no space in this new world.

In this new world you will need to be flexible, agile, hardworking, smart, innovative, caring, supportive and above all else a team player.

With Jobs more at risk than ever you need to stand out above the rest.

Right, I hear you say, just what I need … more performance anxiety, less sleep and more pressure.

I say definitely NOT!

Now, like never before we need to take the time to understand each other both from the top down and the bottom up.

As an employee you need to make sure you are in a job that you love or that is working your way to your dream.  You spend a lot of time at work and you owe it to yourself that you understand what you want. Take time to reflect, learn and understand yourself. Make every effort to put yourself in a space where your own values and ethics are developed, defined, or even redefined. Learn skills in an environment where you are able to grow through challenges, where you learn but are also heard, where you are appreciative but also appreciated. A job where, yes, you work hard but that doesn’t consume you so that you don’t have time for family, friends and most importantly, yourself. 

As an Employer you need to challenge your staff, demand the best from them, but also understand that their jobs do not define them. They are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and children first. People with dreams and hope for themselves and their families. That if you support them as people, help them grow and actively engaging their inputs into this new process, where they can take responsibility for their jobs and truly become part of a team, this will give you the X factor that might very well help your company survive these tidal waves that keeps hitting us.

Sadly, there are very few companies or organisations that get this right.  Even in the past we were slammed with red tape, inflexible corporate culture, bad attitude and very often creatively blocked by gatekeepers with their own agendas.

To those stuck in the old ways, who are not willing to learn from someone who has the ability to adapt and even thrive in this new world I would like to say this:

If you continue to obstruct, demolish and ignore these innovative thinkers they will simply move around you. They will find the solutions without you and while you might be able to ride that wave flowing around you for a bit you will eventually be left behind. The world will demand this new way from all of us. 

We are in the middle of a Renaissance. Be inquisitive, enquiring, watch, and listen. Learn from anyone you can whether old or young, from your own people or someone you’ve got nothing in common with, everyone has something to teach us. 

Be kind to yourself. Be mindful of the lessons you yourself have learnt these last few months. If each one of us are stronger in ourselves, together we will be phenomenal.