Andreas Kelch is the Head of Sales and Marketing at Vivior for Vision Care in Europe. Under the motto, “better well-being through better health and better vision,” Vivior has developed technology to enable data-driven customization of multifocal lenses.

Previously, opticians just provided eye examinations, contact lens fitting and other services e.g., screenings; with Vivior they can for the first time measure the environment in which the person lives and works. Andreas works with local opticians, chains, buying groups and distributors to present the value of the Vivior approach and integrate Vivior’s system into the opticians’ own sales process.

The PAS Stakeholder Canvas played a key role in establishing a constructive relationship with their customers that was trust-based, goal-oriented and quantitatively measurable.

The Challenge

Andreas Kelch, Head of Sales and Marketing at Vivior AG
Andreas Kelch
Head of Sales and Marketing at Vivior AG

Andreas explained, “We have developed a new technology and a new product for opticians, and in 2020 we successfully acquired 80 customers, mainly in Switzerland and Germany. With the pandemic challenges and the associated online meetings and training, the integration of Vivior into the business processes of opticians has proven to be a problem.”

“Business processes vary from optician to optician. We wanted to understand our customers even better and developed a new customer management process. Integration with pricing models, customer approach and process flows proved to be particularly important. It is essential that the optician recognizes the added value of Vivior and adapts his offering accordingly.”

“As the pandemic subsided, our customers experienced a large increase in business which kept them busy processing orders. They were also confronted with labor shortages and other constraints, so there was little time available to deal with new technologies such as ours.”

Desired Outcome

“We saw potential in strengthening our personal customer relationships.”

“For a startup, the most important goal is traction. Getting eye care specialists and end-customers to use the product and confirm that customers also see value and get value from the product. This is an important confirmation to investors that their money is well spent.”

“We wanted to help the optician integrate our product effectively and successfully into their sales process. We wanted to strengthen our relationships with our customers and make sure they understood the value of what we and they are doing. We wanted measurable goals, so everybody could see that the goals are being achieved.”

Path to Success

“Within the new customer management process, we created a customer on-boarding process with defined steps so we can manage and monitor our own success.”

“The first step in this process is to meet with the optician to understand his situation and help him understand what steps are necessary to be successful with our product. The next step is to analyze the processes in terms of process and price integration within his store. A systematic customer approach also proved to be very important.”

“The next step is to define and commit to a series of additional steps, including training their employees to understand the use of our product and know how to take advantage of it. Together with the customer, we set a measurement target for monthly Vivior usage. We provide an individual action plan for the entire team for easy visualization and tracking of the solutions provided. Upon completion of the customer management process, the optician is certified as a Vivior vision expert. A nice benefit for our customers to celebrate and share.”

“Once the customer agrees to buy our product, we meet and interview them using the PAS Stakeholder Canvas. We tailored the questions to our context. The canvas asks questions about goals and challenges, and the conversation offers us an opportunity to share our insights. Based on their goals, they define their “customer commitment” – what they need to do to be successful.”

Actual Result

“Sometimes the customers are a bit surprised about the questions. They did not expect us to talk about their own concerns. This doesn’t happen very often in a sales process. It was very important to emphasize confidentiality. After that, it was no problem at all. There was never a fear of sharing anything.”

“The customers appreciated that we offered this consultancy service to them. They appreciated that we did not leave them alone and that we cared about their success. The interviews were well received as they were perceived as a service to get their problems solved.”

Defining Measurable Results

“Every active customer now has an action plan with an integrated commitment to concrete usage goals. We can make visible to everyone involved how important the technology is to them. The commitment is important both to the customer and to us. The customer sees the value they get from the product and hot to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. We can define and meet our scaling goals.”

“Our relationship with the customers is now stronger. They understand us and our product better, too. The benefits are more clearly perceived and their commitment to use our product is high. We also have opportunities to learn how our product could be improved to make it easier to use and more valuable for our customers.”

 

 

© 2022 Peter B. Stevens and Maria Matarelli

Extracted from: Personal Agility: Unlocking Higher Purpose, Alignment, and Performance, by Peter B. Stevens and Maria Matarelli.

PARC Badge
PARC Personal Agility Recognized Coach Badge

Today we are excited to announce the first recipients of our Personal Agility Recognized Coach™ (or PARC) designation, Liviu Mesesan and Adelina Stefan. As a result, you may be rolling your eyes and thinking, “Just what the world needs… another certification!” Why did we create this recognition anyway? The answer lies in the mission of the Personal Agility Institute.

Early on, we recognized that The Personal Agility System wasn’t just another way of getting things done. It often serves a pathway to deep and enduring transformation for the people who apply it. For example, Sharon Guerin turned her life around, thanks to PAS and the coaching and support she received from Maria. Her case represented potentially millions of cases, and this inspired the mission of the PAI.

The Personal Agility Institute strives to enable one million people and companies to change their life or work situation, measurably and obviously for the better.

Today, we have collected dozens of case studies of people who did exactly that: they made an important improvement thanks to Personal Agility. Usually coaching plays an important role.

The PARC recognition celebrates those who enabled the transformations. A PARC has worked with multiple clients who have transformed their lives, work, or companies. The clients  have gotten results for which they are thankful. These cases are publicly documented, written in close collaboration with the people involved, and validated by the Personal Agility Institute.

Announcing Liviu Mesesan, PARC and Adelina Stefan, PARC

Adelina Stefan, PARC
Adelina Stefan, PARC
Liviu Mesesan, PARC
Liviu Mesesan, PARC

Congratulations and special thanks to Liviu Mesesan, the first to receive the PARC recognition. Liviu pioneered the ideas that PARAs (Personal Agility Recognized Ambassadors) could share PAS through coaching. Two of his coachees have gone to become PARAs themselves.

Congratulations to Adelina Stefan.  Adelina’s work highlights the challenges faced by people in career transition.

Unlike most agile certifications, you don’t get the  PARC by attending a class or passing a test. The PARC is a celebration and proof that the holder has successfully enabled real clients to make important changes. We believe future clients can turn to a PARC with confidence.

Thank you to both of you! You are making our vision a reality.

How to become a PARC

The essential requirement for a PARC is to document and publish at least five case studies. Of course, an applicant must be a PARA, which means the candidate is also a trained coach. The candidate has assisted and people with their challenges using The Personal Agility System, and documented these transformations through case studies. They must publish their case studies on the PAI blog and may publish them elsewhere.

 

 

Michael Mrochern
Michael Mrochern, Chairman Vivior AG

Michael Mrochern is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Vivior AG, a Swiss digital health start-up. Founded in 2017 by a group of experienced eye care professionals, the company offers a novel wearable device – the Vivior Monitor – to objectively measure visual behavior prior to vision correction interventions.

Michael formulated the problem: “The situation was really frustrating. We were bringing a new type of product to the market in health care. We knew this would be hard, but COVID-19 made our lives very difficult. We tried to position the product in three different markets. We had early successes with each and had secured agreements with major players. Then all these initiatives were put on hold due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

“This made it impossible to get additional funding for our projects, which left us in a difficult situation. We were good at raising money from investors, but the money got spent to keep the company afloat at a time we could not develop the product.”

“We were running out of money but our industry partners could not proceed. As a result, we were not meeting our revenue goals and the cash was burning.”

The PAS Stakeholder Canvas played a key role in enabling everyone to understand the positions of each board member and stakeholder as well create a common understanding of what really mattered. Thanks to this alignment, the board was able to agree on the best strategy moving forward, then implement that strategy effectively.

Challenge

“Our market challenges were compounded by our internal challenges. There was a difference of opinion between the founders and management about how to react to this situation. Two opinions became two camps: On the one side, ‘We have a product, we just need to find the right customers.’ On the other side, ‘No, we have customers, but they don’t seem to want the product. We need to adapt the product.’”

“We had focussed on being ready to ramp up, but information did not flow effectively within the company. We had a ‘my kingdom mentality’. We were set up to address the three market segments, but did not have the necessary strength in any of them. We were not able to say no to any markets.”

“The organization seemed frozen on making decisions. We were able to acquire new customers, but they were not using our product and our revenue depended on usage. We had lots of endless discussions that did not lead to useful results. Personality and ego were getting in the way.”

“There was a mismatch between the internal perspective and the investment perspective. Internally, we believed we were doing everything we could, but there wasn’t any progress to show the investors around our key success measures: usage and revenue.”

“We had a roadmap to enter our markets with strategic partners. The roadmap didn’t work any more, because everything was cancelled. The organization was not equipped to respond to the situation. We had three directions we could focus in. There were huge opportunities, all had challenges, and we need to focus on one of them.”

Desired Outcome

“We needed to get the company unstuck and create the willingness to try something new. I knew, if we kept on doing what we were doing, we would fail.”

“I believe successful companies have a good ear to their customers. We didn’t have that. We had a mindset of ‘we know better than the customers’, and we needed to change that into ’we are learning from the customers’. We needed alignment within the organization about the importance of learning. Individual efforts were not sufficient. Individually we heard, but the organization couldn’t react.”

“We wanted progress on revenue. We wanted progress on activations of our product. Things that weren’t happening. Most immediately, we wanted to create clarity on the need to focus and agreement on which market to focus on. We needed to figure out which opportunity was the right one to focus on and get full support from all the stakeholders on the new direction.”

Actual Result

“We got unstuck. We started really listening to each other.”

“We were able to create a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges. We were able to identify the possible routes forward then create a consensus around the best route forward. We were able to move forward with the full support of the board and no significant opposition.”

“We realized we needed to focus, although initially there was no agreement on what to focus on. We realized we had many opportunities. We chose to focus on one market, where we saw the most immediate potential. We were able to refocus without delay.”

“We began adapting the product and the company to the needs of the market and we sharpened our focus on the most promising market.”

Path to Success

“We engaged an outside coach to interview each stakeholder individually then lead us through a workshop together with the goal of deciding what to do next. The coach used the PAS Stakeholder Canvas to guide the conversation and understand each stakeholder’s point of view.”

“The interviews covered the objectives at hand, challenges, fears, frustrations, definition of awesome, and possible next steps. To conclude each interview, the stakeholder confirmed what really mattered from their perspective.”

“The workshop emphasized storytelling and listening. We made small working agreements, such as listening before we talk, asking before we tell, listening for understanding, and asking clarifying questions. Making small agreements in the morning enabled us to have conversations about real issues later in the day with minimal conflict.”

“The facilitation played an important role. One the one hand, people were worried that this would be a “feel-good, sing kumbaya” kind of event that would not produce any results. Having the authority in the room enabled us to make decisions, while having a neutral facilitator ensured constructive discussions.”

“We had identified a champion for each market segment and they spent the afternoon presenting the alternatives we could focus on. Each champion made their best case and we strove to understand their reasoning and the strengths and weaknesses of each one.”

“At the end of the day, everybody voted, which resulted in a clear recommendation. Even one of the other champions voted for the winning approach. The next day, the board ratified this recommendation.”

“The process of interviewing everyone by an outsider gave us a condensed, holistic and honest view of the situation.The process created transparency and alignment. We were able to see outside the system. We got confirmation about what we were thinking and feeling. It became clear what we needed to do.”

Conclusion

Before considering what to do, the board first built alignment on “What Really Matters”. The Stakeholder Canvas provided powerful questions to enable them to identify what they already agreed on. Finding consensus on “What Really Matters” enabled them to agree on the strategy moving forward.

“We were able to get all of our key stakeholders on board and in agreement on the direction for moving forward. We were able to implement the new strategy immediately with no significant resistance.”

“What made this effort successful? Getting all the key stakeholders and decision makers  involved, listening to them and having them in the room (at least virtually) enabled us to decide quickly.”

“Make the vision visible and ask people what they are doing to make it real. The same applies to activities: make them visible to ensure they are in alignment with ‘What Really Matters’”.

“After agreeing on ‘What Really Matters’ to the company, we wrote the topics on cards and put them on the wall where everyone could see them — it became the first column of our task board, just like in Personal Agility!”

This exercise set the stage to apply agility within the leadership team. We applied the basic principles of cadence, ownership, transparency and a focus on producing tangible results, sooner.

“We became responsive as an organization. Previously, individuals would hear things from the customer, but we were unable to respond effectively. Collaboration and talking to each other on a daily basis solved this problem. The company can now respond quickly to any challenges and problems that emerge.”

“If I had to do this again, I would put even more emphasis on taking away the fear. Several people were uncertain and getting them to voice these uncertainties put everything on the table and allowed us to have real, meaningful discussions.”

“I would also spend more time on how we work together. Just because you have spoken to someone doesn’t mean you are aligned. The difference between cooperative and argumentative discussions is huge. A culture based on dialog makes it much easier to surface difficult issues.”

This is how The Personal Agility System scales to any level of an organization. Leveraging tools like the Stakeholder Canvas, constructive dialogue based on Powerful Questions and a shared understanding of “What Really Matters”, a company can focus on the right things and move forward with the support of their stakeholders.

 

© 2021 Peter B. Stevens and Maria Matarelli. Excerpted from Personal Agility: Unlocking Higher Purpose, Alignment, and Performance

 

A year ago, Maria and I upped our game by focusing on the Personal Agility Institute. Why? Because we saw the potential, based on our first case studies, of positively impacting millions of lives. Today, we are pleased to share release candidate 1 of our vision and mission for the PAI. It’s not new, but never have we stated it so clearly.

 

We envision a world where people live and work according to things that really matter
We envision a world where people live and work according to things that really matter

 

Our mission is to enable one million people and companies change their situation for the better
Our mission is to enable one million people and companies change their situation for the better

At today’s Personal Agility Lean Coffee, I was asked for a simple explanation of PAS. Here is how I explained it:

The Personal Agility System is a simple framework to align what you do with what really matters. Thanks to its dialog-based approach, Personal Agility scales from the individual to the largest organization.

At the heart of PAS you find:

  • Purpose – Align what you do with what really matters.
  • Celebration – Celebrate what you got done, even if it was different than what you planned or intended.
  • Choice – Choose how to spend your time. You probably have too much to do, so choose things that matter first.
  • Emergence – Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Together with others you can become something bigger.
  • Kindness – Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can, given the situation at hand.

Thanks Sakthi Chandrasekar, Has Razwi and Jyoti Dandona for the invitation and to Ipsita Mishra, Susannah Chambers and Adelina Stefan, for bringing and sharing your experience.
 

Maria has been working with Alistair Cockburn, creator of the Heart of Agile Framework (HoA). According to Alistair, the essence of agility can be summed up in four words: Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect, and Improve.  This led me to wonder, what is the heart of Personal Agility? I think we can sum it up as follows:

Ship's wheel

Personal Agility is…

The Personal Agility System is a simple coaching framework to help you spend more time on what really matters and create alignment with yourself and those around you.

Purpose

What really matters gives you clarity of purpose. That gives you context for making decisions. If life is an ocean, you are the owner and captain of your boat. It’s your boat, you get to decide where it goes. What really matter is also the focal point for creating alignment with people around you, like your family, your customers, your manager, or their managers and other stakeholders.

Celebration

Life happens faster than you can plan, so decide as best you can and celebrate whatever you got done. Be kind to yourself and remember the retrospective prime directive.

Choice

It’s normal to have too much to do, so you choose what you want to do, based on what really matters and what will make you happy.  Choice puts you in charge of the boat and puts your hand on the rudder, even when you are in a storm.

Emergence

It’s your boat, but no man is an island. Who you are is a reflection of what you do, and vice versa. How you are perceived and what you can achieve depends not just on your own skills and abilities, but also on your interactions with other people.

 

I believe every element of the Personal Agility System can be mapped back to one of these four elements. This is a first draft. How does this resonate with you?

 

P.S. As previously announced, the Personal Agility System is an HoA-compatible framework. Our training materials are now recognized by HoA.

The Personal Agility Recognized Practitioner Program teaches you how to apply powerful questions to be a catalyst, that is to help other people identify and solve their problems.

Many people find the coaching approach difficult because you are expected to lead someone through a problem-solving process without being the expert or even offering solutions. How do you do that?

We now have a canvas to help you coach other people to solve their problems.

PAS Problem Solving Canvas v0.92
PAS Problem Solving Canvas v0.92

It’s called the PAS Problem Solving Canvas. Use it to lead someone through a 5-step process to understand and come up with solutions to their challenges. The basic steps are:

  1. Create safety so the person is able to talk about potentially sensitive issues
  2. Identify and understand the goal
  3. Identify and understand the problem
  4. Explore alternatives for solving the problem
  5. Identifying a possible course of action

For each step, the canvas includes a number of questions you could ask to help your coachee through the problem solving process. Your job as a coach is to be and active listener. You are striving to understand where your coachee is in their thought process, so you can ask the right question next. Remember when you have gotten an answer to “read it back” to  confirm your and their understanding of the issue or solution.

This is a draft version. Please give it try! We’d be thrilled if you share your experience with it on Linkedin. Be sure to tag Peter, Maria, the PAI and your PARA.

We are taking what is probably an unusual step. We are releasing the PAS Problem Solving Canvas both as a PDF and as an MS-Office template. Yes, source form!  So you can use it to log conversations or you can maybe come up with your own versions. Please respect the CC license conditions if you make an improved version, please share it back with us. Good luck!

Download the PAS Problem Solving Canvas

The Personal Agility System (PAS) is a simple coaching framework to help you spend more of your time on things that really matter. Why is PAS a coaching framework? Why not just call it an agile framework? And why is coaching so important to the Recognized Practitioner training?

Other agile frameworks are often defined by tasks or processes: The core principles of Kanban can be summed up with, “visualize your work” and “reduce your Work in Progress (WIP)”. Both of these are tasks. The heart of Scrum is the Scrum flow, the series of events to create a product by inspecting and adapting on the product, the work and them.

Personal Agility was informed by both Scrum and Kanban. As you get to know Personal Agility, you will recognize the family resemblance! There is however a third major influence: Powerful Questions, the core coaching skill. (Now would be a time to mention the other important influences: Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process, Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and Tim Urban’s amazing Wait, but Why.)

Six Questions of Personal Agility
Six Questions of Personal Agility

The heart of Personal Agility are the six Powerful Questions, including What Really Matters? What could you do? Of those things, what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s going to make you happy? A powerful question encourages you to think.

A very early observation coming from PAS practitioners was that asking yourself questions encourages an attitude of kindness to yourself. Making active choices about how to spend your time, even though you have many constraints and demands on your time, is quite empowering. You take command of your ship while having better acceptance of yourself. ‘What really matters’ enables you to know why you make the decisions you do, and to make adjustments (“course corrections”) if you are not in alignment with yourself.

Questions are surprisingly versatile instruments. You can ask questions to yourself and you can also ask them to other people as well. What really matters turns out to be a very scalable organizing technique. Clarity of Purpose got man to the moon, and enabled transformational development more recently at places like Microsoft, Apple, Tesla and SpaceX.

As our case studies emerged, we saw people’s results are often not just incremental improvements but substantial transformations in their lives. Coaching usually played a role in these transformations.

So the Personal Agility Recognized Practitioner Program starts with coaching techniques to help you get better at getting things done, then to achieve long-term goals in the face of distraction, procrastination, and other resistance.

Once you can achieve long-term goals, you learn to apply those same skills to become a catalyst, then a leader in your organization, by helping others to solve problems and ultimately to identify consensus and build alignment among diverse groups of stakeholders. The goal is not to make you into a coach, but to give the right tools to have impact in your life and work and to inspire others to follow you.

 

Zurich, October 1, 2017. Just in time for Scrum Day Portugal in Lisbon, Maria and I prepared the September, 2017 version of the Guide to Personal Agility.

Thanks to great conversations, especially with Steve Denning, we have realized that Personal Agility descales (takes a big problem and makes it smaller) the problem of creating alignment. Expect to hear more on the subject of “Leadership Agility”!

As always, we are looking for suggestions, corrections, thoughts and feedback! Thanks!

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Then download the Guide to Personal Agility!