Lukasz's Blog

My name is Lukasz Zawilski. I'm a seasoned business executive and IT leader living and working in Wellington, New Zealand.
Recent Tweets @lukasz_zawilski
One of the most important things I can do is encourage people to bring me bad news and make them feel I will respect their views and take action where it is appropriate. That’s what builds trust and commitment.
Phil Bentley, British Gas (The Language of Leaders)

Values are beliefs or convictions that guide and direct my behaviour and support my purpose and vision. My values define who I am. Values are absolutely critical and fundamental to living a life of meaning and purpose, which invariably creates joy, inner peace, contentment and fulfilment. Values provide guidance, direction, meaning and purpose in life.

1.   Integrity

I am committed to honouring and managing the integrity of my word by being my word in action. Integrity is the foundation, the fabric that keeps everything together. Integrity is being congruent with my thoughts, words and actions – walking my talk. I treat integrity as if it is the only option, as in the final analysis, it is. Integrity is the internal compass that provides me with guidance and direction by living into the integrity of my values.

2.   Courage and Determination

I am committed to having the courage, determination and conviction of being and doing what is integral for me, by taking risks, being bold and unreasonable by asking more of myself than I ask of others.  I’m accepting and welcoming of change into my life, releasing negativity, holding myself to the highest standards, acting as role model to others, and facing my fears head on. Courage is having the will, self-discipline, commitment and perseverance to follow through on my actions to completion.

3.   Ambition and Pursuit of Excellence

I am committed to the continuous practical and results-oriented pursuit of excellence. Being good at something is a point along the journey, not the destination. My constant dissatisfaction with the way things are is the driving force behind everything I do. I set myself goals which I know I cannot reach because stretching myself to meet them will get me further than I initially thought possible. I aim to make everything I do better for everyone involved through innovation and iteration.

4.   Authenticity and Perspective

I am committed to bringing forth my authentic self by being real and honest with others, and myself by owning my vulnerabilities and accepting my humanness. I am also focused on keeping things in perspective – seeing the facts rather than just my perception of things – and responding appropriately. I am open, transparent, vulnerable and courageous in self-disclosing and sharing with others who I am to build lasting and meaningful relationships.

5.   Compassion and Love

I commit to everything I do being generated from a place of compassion, being genuinely concerned for others by being kind, empathetic, caring, sensitive, patient, humble and understanding. Compassion, kindness, acceptance, patience, understanding, forgiveness, selflessness and humility lead to authentic love. I’m committed to authentic love by having compassion and integrity in everything I do.

6.   Trust

I am committed to trust by being congruent, impeccable and in alignment with my thoughts, words and actions through my commitments, agreements and promises. I am committed to building trust by being believable, dependable and reliable, by seeking feedback, listening actively and being open, vulnerable and supportive of others. The degree to which I trust myself (self-trust) is the degree that others trust me and this leads to a life of openness. Without trust I cannot have integrity. The leader inspires trust – the manager relies on control.

7.   Embrace and Fostering Change

I continually seek innovative and creative ways to do things better and create new value.  I’m willing to relinquish the familiar, step into the unknown, take a risk without knowing the outcome. I will constantly challenge and stretch myself. This requires confidence, belief and a willingness to flourish in the face of the unknown/unfamiliar.

Me to a T

Your average corporate IT user is in essence an animal living in IT captivity. For decades corporate (or enterprise) IT has spent countless dollars on, for the best part, downgrading the computing experience of its users - all in the name of standardisation and efficiency. The poor captive at the heart of these ‘efficiencies’ has had little or no choice.

The recent advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives has at least given users more choice in what device they use to access corporate applications and services; and whilst users are waking up to the possibilities of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions the average corporate IT user is, for the best part, still getting the same old computing experience.

What needs to happen is a shift in thinking and culture in enterprise IT. I’ve worked with plenty of organisations whose idea of operational excellence was getting hardware, software & services into some sort of service catalogue, defining processes almost no-one uses and wrapping (often meaningless) Service Level Agreements (SLAs) around the whole lot. All of which results in (if you are lucky) the same captive user experience.

What if the users weren’t captives? How would you adjust your products and services if your user population was ‘at risk’? What if every time you engaged the user the business was yours to lose? How would that affect your service delivery?

The trick is how to transform ‘old school’ enterprise IT to this brave new world model? Change is welcomed by everyone as long as it doesn’t affect them. Internal resistance to such change could potentially be huge.

Most case studies of this more contemporary approach are organisations which are relatively young and had no legacy to shed. Often their leaders/founders have had experience with enterprise IT and understand why, from a user perspective, it often sucks.

So is enterprise IT an endangered specifies? As more tech savvy users hit the workforce will the role of enterprise IT be diminished to the point where, from a business perspective, it’s irrelevant?

The lesson for enterprise IT is clear - change the way you think about your users, they won’t be captive much longer.

We recently moved house, which can in itself be pretty stressful, but our telco decided to add to the stress by ‘forgetting’ (their words) about us moving.

Now to set the scene; we have been with this particular telco for over 5 years getting out phone, broadband and TV services via them at about $150 NZD+ per month - over 5 years that’s in the order of $10,000NZD.

So about 3 weeks before we moved I contact the telco provider and advised them we would be moving. At that stage they explained that the cable-based service we had was unavailable at the new house. After talking through the options it became clear that to keep our TV service we would need to move onto a fibre based connection which was slightly more expensive and would require a two step provisioning (first onto ADSL for phone and internet and then a move onto fibre to add TV) which I was happy with as long as we had phone and internet on the day of our move. I had it very clear that we needed a phone & internet and was told that was no problem.

 So 3 weeks pass and the day of the move comes – stressful as expected – and by the early afternoon the movers had moved everything across to the new address.  We had already received an account statement to the new address, which made me think everything was on track with the move. As mid-afternoon came around I clicked that I hadn’t seen anyone arrive to sort out the phone and internet so gave my friendly (this is before they gave me the run around and generally f*cked me around) telco provider a call to see when someone would show up.

 After being on hold for 30+ minutes I talked to someone who seemed to get quite flustered and kept needing ‘to check something’ and who eventually told me we had been ‘forgotten’ and that no-one was coming to get the phone and internet up and running. Now I was surprised given the 3 weeks notice but these things do happen so I asked that someone call me back with an update on when things would be installed.  After several more calls to their call centre - and a few tweets their way – someone eventually rang me back and apologised saying that a work order was raised to get it done urgently. The next day was Saturday and he said he’d try to get it installed then but realistically it would be Monday. Whilst not pleased with that I accepted that these things take time and thanked him for stepping up to sort out the stuff up on their part.

So Monday morning arrived and I almost chocked on my toast when I got an SMS to say the install had been booked for 2 weeks time! So I got on the phone – again waiting forever on hold – to figure out what had happened. The lovely lady on the other end confirmed that the text was right and then proceeded to go round and round the issue whilst in essence saying that there’s nothing she can do about the situation. When I asked to speak to a manager she put me on hold and then came back saying there were ‘no managers on the floor but someone could ring me back within 24 hours’! At this stage I was not amused and suggested that our, thus far great, customer-provider relationships might have to cease to exist which they didn’t seem to give one damn about.

I got put through to the disconnection department who seem to equally give less of a toss about me as a customer. I gave them one last chance to speed things up but they simply rang back and blamed Chorus who told them they had ‘too few technicians in Wellington’ to get onto my request.

 I got tired of being told that ‘nothing could be done’ and that everyone had the same problem. As an aside I had dealt with the telco in my professional capacity and I can tell you that corporate customers get the same great levels of ‘service’ from them – over promise and don’t deliver.

We rang Telecom and they were far more helpful. They explained they needed the current telco to clear the move house request (so I rang the telco and got them to do that ) and then usually within 48 hours they can get us up and running. Excellent service – clearly explained the options and reasons for things. At that stage that was the best customer service I had experienced in ages!

We then ran Sky about the TV – they were helpful and said they’d be here the next day to get us connected up.  That took all of 10 minutes to get sorted – great service.

So the lessons for the telco in question (even though I doubt they will learn anything from this experience) is:

  • As a customer I don’t care about your business model.  I don’t care who Chorus are and what they do for you, that’s your business.
  • Do something to empower your staff – just saying there is nothing they can do is not what customers want to hear.
  • Put as much effort into your work schedule systems as you do in the billing department. You’re great at billing and kinda  sh*t at everything else.
  • If you say you’re going to do something do it or at least ring me proactively and tell me why and when it will be done – I shouldn’t be chasing you and sitting on hold to your call centres all the time.

I’m looking forward to a long and productive experience with Sky TV and Telecom - here’s to the next $10,000+!

I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions however I’ve spent quite a bit of time on professional and personal development in the past year and it felt right to set up some resolutions for the year to come. My resolutions for 2014 are, in no particular order:

  • Stretch myself and think big - I feel like I played it ‘safe’ in 2013, especially on the professional front. In the coming year I will ensure my goals stretch me and take every opportunity to grow. I want 2014 to be a high performance year. CxO roles these days are synonymous with innovation - it will be a core focal point in the coming year. I’m committed to continuing to invest in my  continuing education
  • Value each day and don’t worry about things I can’t change - time is scarce and each day brings with it huge potential both on the professional and personal front. I will strive to be more ‘in the moment’ in all respects and make the most of each day. I think the concept of work/life balance is dated; it’s about how you integrate the two. Last year I didn’t succeed at getting it right and this year I will ensure I make enough time for family and friends.
  • Demonstrate better leadership and be more thoughtful - there’s a difference between running and leading. I feel like I spent too much time ‘running things’ last year than providing leadership. In 2014 I want to focus on providing thought leadership and enabling the success of those around me. Being thoughtful is one of the most important ways to develop relationships. It shows others you notice and appreciate the part they play in the organisation’s success.
  • Increase my Emotional Intelligence - I’ve been fortunate to acquire a unique set of skills and knowledge - across different geographies, industries and organisations - but haven’t always spent enough time on the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of myself, of others, and of groups (also known as Emotional Intelligence). I’ve read extensively on the subject; 2014 is the year for putting it all into practice.
  • Spend more time with customers - it’s so easy to fill the days with endless meetings and internal commitments. I will set aside fixed time blocks in my diary to meet, and develop quality relationships, with customers and stakeholders. I will also be more ruthless in terms of meeting organisation - each meeting needs to have a clear purpose and desired outcome stated upfront.
  • Learn and use more industry/customer speak - learning to speak the language of the customers will allow me to establish richer relationships with stakeholders. This is joined at the hip to the previous resolution.
  • Continue to hone my communication skills - decades after the knowledge age made tradition top-down communications ineffective we still have most many managers doing it and thinking they are communicating. I was fortune enough to learn about communications from someone who had been enlightened (it was during the early part of my career) and was the most effective communicator I’ve ever met. In 2014 I will be refreshing and growing on what I have learned and experienced.
  • Grow and invest in my networks - strong networks foster strong thinking & practices. The best way to learn is from those who have done it before so you can use that information to develop yourself and your organisation. Upon review I’ve realised that I have significantly under-invested in terms of my networks. Time is scarce however I need to set aside time to shape my networks to effectively learn from - and give back to - others.
  • Exercise daily and eat better - my physical state directly relates to my overall efficiency and effectiveness. If 2014 is going to be a high performance year then I need to be fighting fit.
  • Take things more lightly, Inject more fun into every day and smile more - I have been told I can be ‘intense’ at times. I’m ambitious and driven and there’s nothing wrong with that however I need to see situations for what they are and learn to take some things more lightly.  I will do at least one small thing each day to bring fun back into work. I resolve to really deliver happiness in everything I do with my organisation, my family and my life in general.

It’s a lengthy list but the next year will be one of action and focus on my part. Countless studies have shown that agreements and resolutions made in a public forum are far more likely to be effective, so here are my public declarations for 2014 - it’s going to be the best year yet!

Happy New Year and bring on 2014!

“Theories abounded that if you paid attention to what your customer wanted, you couldn’t go wrong. But the truth is that customers often ask you to do wrong things, not because they’re difficult to deal with but because they just don’t know better. The distinction is moving from customer-focused to user-centered, and the ability to understand the users of their products is a cultural shift that corporations have to make.”

Read the rest of the article here  -