How to Recognize the True Value of Your Work Contributions — Patti and Jack Phillips

It is important to know the value of the work you’re doing to keep yourself focused and maintain a healthy organization. Today on the Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re joined by Patricia Phillips, CEO of the ROI Institute and Jack Phillips, Chairman of the ROI Institute, to walk us through their new book titled Show the Value of What You Do: Measuring and Achieving Success in Any Endeavor.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Folks, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. Very much appreciate it.

Patricia Phillips:
Oh, thank you for having us.

Jack Phillips:
Good to be here.

Patricia Phillips:
A pleasure.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Congratulations on the new book. What inspired you to write the book?

Patricia Phillips:
Well, it’s certainly not our first book. Typically, our books are more academic, very detailed, very long, it’s measurements, so I’m not sure how exciting they are either. We felt like there was a need to write a book that was more reader-friendly and-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I like that, this is my kind of book. It’s an easy read.

Patricia Phillips:
It’s short, yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I got you.

Patricia Phillips:
Not a lot of math, and it includes a lot of stories from our clients and colleagues and how they’ve demonstrated the value of what they do using the process that we describe in the book.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. Share with me, why is it important to assess the value in the work that you do? What are the benefits?

Jack Phillips:
Well, I’ll start with that. First, if it’s a project you had to get funding for, it helps that funder understand the value of the money they just gave you. To keep funding coming, it’s good to show the value of what you do. Also, sometimes to get more support, to get more respect, to get more influence, and why not help your career along the way? One of the audiences in this book is people who are in a block career and they’re trying to figure out a way to get noticed or something. One way is to take a project you’ve got going on and show the value of that project all the way to impact and ROI. It’s impressive to a lot of people, particularly your boss and people funding your project.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. What do you say to the people that are listening to you, Jack, that say, “That sounds like you want me to be braggadocios about the work that I’m doing?”

Jack Phillips:
Well, it’s actually you want to be fact based and you want it to be credible. Basically, you’re not saying, “Look how great I am,” you say, “Hey, we took on a project. Let me show you the value of the project and what it’s doing for us and how it’s helping us and what we could do to make this even a better project.” It’s not so much of, “Look how great I am,” but, “Look how great this project is,” that maybe is funded by someone else or maybe there’s a team involved and it’s their great work. So you want to be careful not to boast about how great I am, but let me show the value of what we’ve done.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right, right. What are you looking for when you do that, in return from the person or the group that you’re sharing that with, if anything?

Patricia Phillips:
Right and of course it all begins from the outset. It could be more funding, it could be opportunity to improve. It’s really a process and a way in which you can inform decisions about whatever the work is or the process is. Again, could be funding, it could be this is the business case for stopping this type of effort, it could be expanding the opportunity to other communities depending on what that work is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Okay, okay. In the book you discuss the five levels of measuring the success of a project. Can you elaborate on this?

Jack Phillips:
Just think about any project you have. There are actually five levels of success. It’s a logic value chain. First, it’s how people are involved see the value of what we’re doing. That’s a reaction, that’s first level, level one. If they don’t see it’s something that’s important to them, it’s important to the organization, they won’t support it, they won’t use it. We want to make sure we have their reaction. The second level is what did they learn to make it successful? It’s what you know and know how to do. Without that, it goes nowhere, so we got to measure learning. Third is the action, we call it application, applying what you’ve learned. That is people now are doing something, they’re following a process, following a procedure, using technology, using skills. They’re doing something and that’s important, you got action. That’s not enough, that’s level three.

Level four is the consequence of that impact. It’s so what? Well, I’m getting more work done, it’s more productive. Maybe we’re having fewer mistakes, complaints, rework. Maybe it’s taking less time to do things. Maybe we’re reducing absenteeism, retention. I mean, turnover, something that we don’t want to have happen. Those are impacts, those are very important. But there’s still an ultimate level on top of that and that’s the fifth level and that’s the ROI. That answers the question, is it worth it? We look at the cost of doing this project versus the monetary benefits that it brought, and together we measure the actual ROI. Calculated the same way that a chief financial officer would calculate the ROI on a building, for example.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
What if you’re in the middle of the project, Jack, and there’s no ROI? In fact, you’re halfway through and this thing’s going to be a year-long project or six months or what have you and there’s no real ROI per se at that point in time. But it’s moving along and you’re doing good. Is there anything that jumps out at you as to how to accentuate the positives in the project?

Jack Phillips:
Yes. You see, you want to start collecting data quickly. Reaction, learning, application, impact, ROI, down the value chain. You set some objectives here. Part of this is setting objectives of where you want to be, how you want people to react, what do you want people to learn, what do you want them to do, the impact that we have. If you see things not progressing as fast as they should, then we make adjustments so we correct it. If it’s one of those projects just takes a little longer, we have to wait a little bit to get there because it’s a little bit of a delay between doing something and the consequence of that. It’s not bad news yet because we still have a chance to get it on track if it’s off track, or buy some more time to get there where it needs to be.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. Patty, do you find that a book like this is much needed because of today, where we see so much of the workforce out there working remotely? Where you don’t have an opportunity to sit inside of a conference room or at the so-called water cooler and say, “Hey, this is what I got done today, boss,” or, “This is what I’m doing each day.” I think there’s a lot of questioning out there. If they’re out of sight, out of mind, what are all these employees doing? Are they living up to our expectations? Is this whole remote work environment or this whole remote workforce working on these projects? I mean, it seems like a very timely book to be talking about showing your value and what you do with half of the country out there working from their home offices.

Patricia Phillips:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s hard to manage and it’s hard to trust that which we do not see. You don’t have the water cooler, you don’t see who’s in. Employees want to work independently, they want to be that independent contractor, yet not. But they want to work like one. Well, to do that and to ensure that you are being valued and to ensure that manager, that leader recognizes the contribution you’re making to the organization, you need a process that can help you first identify what the opportunities are for the organization to make money, save money, avoid cost, do greater good. What needs to change, what do people need to know to create that change, and what work can I do to deliver that change so we can drive those measures that matter? We need that upfront.

But then we also need a process that can help us describe exactly what we accomplished. I remember growing up, I kept hearing in my household, it was don’t tell me what you’re doing, tell me what you’ve accomplished. This process gets us moving toward an accomplishment mentality. Don’t tell me how busy you are, we’re all busy. You don’t have to show up from 8:00 to 5:00, you have to get the work done. So what is our process to ensure you are getting the right work done the right way? That’s what we’re aiming for with this book.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right, right. Do you think, Patty, that this book may have more of an impact on females, because it seems like over my 40-year career, men beat their chest all the time and say, “This is what I’ve done. This is what I brought to the table, this is the ROI. Look how great I am.” While the females that I’ve worked with over the years, while they have been very talented and gotten way more done in many cases than the males did on teams that I’ve worked on, don’t seem to really mention that. They just take a backseat and say, “Well, just get the work done and by the way, if Bob wants to take the credit for the team, let them do that.” Have you found that to be the case over the years and isn’t it important for females to take more credit for the work they’re doing?

Patricia Phillips:
Yeah, great question and absolutely because it does level the playing field when it comes to demonstrating your value. You’re right, men still today, and good for them, they’re comfortable beating their chest and they get all the accolades. We women, we get the work done. Now it is leveling that playing field, giving us all the same process in the same way in which we can measure the success and the value of what we do. It’s not about beating the chest because there’s someone always there saying, “Okay, prove it to me. This is what you’re telling me, now prove it to me.” You bet. Yeah, level that playing field has given us all an opportunity to demonstrate value in the same way.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right, that’s right.

Jack Phillips:
I could echo that. We offer a detailed learning program that teaches people this process, and we’ve been doing it for about almost 30 years now, and we’ve had close to 20,000 people to come through that. If you look at who comes through that, there’s more females coming through there than males. Second, the females have more success because they become certified. This is a program for them to become a certified ROI professional. That is, they actually conduct an evaluation all the way to ROI. The percentage of people who do that are higher for females than males. I think you just pointed out some reasons. Also, I think females are more detail-oriented, and that’s what you need sometimes. When you got a problem, sometimes it’s trying to understand a problem here that we’re trying to solve and uncover and females are more likely to want to uncover that. Men might want to just ignore it and not worry about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right. Jack, I work with my wife too. She’s my partner in business, as many people watching know that to be the case. Oftentimes we’ll have a good laugh over the fact she’ll come up with an incredible idea and I will say the exact same thing so I can put my name on it. I don’t know, have you found yourself doing that?

Patricia Phillips:
It’s true.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That is a good idea, I think I’ll own that one. I’m confessing right now to all of our listeners that sometimes that happens. But without a doubt, females and males need to do this too. Know your value and show it and show the ROI. I think that’s great. We hear the term ROI quite often today. Explain exactly what that does mean.

Jack Phillips:
You want to cover that?

Patricia Phillips:
Sure. When we talk about ROI, as Jack said, there are different measures of success or different levels we say, of success. When we talk about ROI, the most basic level, we’re talking about comparing monetary benefits to the cost. Because if you can place a monetary value on a measure of any kind, it demonstrates the magnitude of success or the magnitude of the problem. Money talks, it’s the ultimate normalizer. When we talk about ROI, we’re talking about that true measure of return where we convert measures to money. Time savings to money, and then compare it to the cost of saving that time. Because you may claim that you’ve increased productivity 75%, but what’s that worth? Well, it’s worth $750,000. Well, what it cost to get to that $750,000 would cost $425,000, that’s your ROI. That’s what we’re talking about. We talk about ROI, but what we want to ensure that everyone understands, it is just one indicator or one measure of value. There’s all this other going on, including those intangible benefits that can be huge in an organization.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And if those things are not brought up and spoken about and presented, oftentimes companies and teams will see it only as the $450,000 expense and not what it saved the company. I mean, these things have got to be discussed and talked about. Otherwise, it’s assumed oh, that project or that division that just cost us $450, $500, whatever it is. Cut the strings, cut it loose, let’s cut our losses. When in reality the losses are actually gains, right?

Patricia Phillips:
That’s right.

Jack Phillips:
One of our colleagues at the conference board who’s a co-author with some of our books, she makes this statement, “Absence of value brings in the discussion of cost.” If you can’t talk about the value of what you’re doing, then the cost will become part of the conversation then.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right, that’s right. No question about it. Hey, after going through the five levels of measurement, then what? What happens when the results are not what you expected?

Jack Phillips:
Process improvement. We’re going to make it better. You see, it is not unusual for it to be negative, but you know why it’s negative because you got these data along the value chain. It could break down at any point. Hey, if they rejected it, it’s dead there. If they didn’t learn to do something, it’s dead there. If they just didn’t follow through and do something, it’s dead there. Or if we didn’t get quite as much impact, we have to look at why not. We always look at the barriers and enablers as part of the process. What got in the way and what helped you get success? At the end of it, we know what caused the results we have. If it’s positive, we’re going to make it even more successful. If it’s negative, we’re going to make it positive and that’s what we want. It’s all about process improvement to make it better.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, exactly. You guys have helped businesses all over the world with your ROI methodology. Talk a little bit about that.

Patricia Phillips:
Well, I mean, it’s been an amazing journey. We have helped businesses, we’ve worked with for-profit, not-for-profit, and non-governmental organizations to help them demonstrate the value of the investments being made in people, programs, and projects. We’re in about 70 countries and have just met some incredible people doing amazing things. I mean, we work in business and that’s fundamental. We’re in corporate, we work in business, but some of our favorite work, especially for Jack and me, is the work that we do with the non-profits and the NGOs because through that work, we are really demonstrating the ultimate value. We’re serving communities or the programs or projects that are serving the communities, and we can show how those programs and projects are actually doing it. Then how we can scale to serve even more communities using the same process.

We’ve had a very, very exciting and interesting journey with this process and we know it works. I mean, for decades we’ve been doing this and we know the process works, but it takes changing that mindset. We can’t be afraid of it. I think sometimes that’s what people run into, they’re afraid of, if nothing else, they’re afraid of the math, which is pretty simple. In the scheme of today’s era of analytics, when we’re doing all this mathematical modeling, ours is pretty simple. But we want it usable, we want people to use it, not fear it. Sometimes they do because it is hard to put it all out there and show what you’re contributing, what you’re not, and where you need to improve. It is a different shift in mindset. On the other hand, it can position us to do even greater work than we’re doing.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
For sure. With regard- Go ahead.

Jack Phillips:
Well, one of the stories we have in the book is a program called Poverty Stoplight, and it’s the most successful poverty elimination program in the world. It’s started by a person named Martin Burt and it’s an amazing program. We serve as the evaluators for this program, and he actually thinks that they will eliminate poverty in his home country of Paraguay soon because everyone is focusing on that. But it’s working, the process works so well and our evaluation is able to show that.

You see governments support this, and we show the governments the benefit-cost analysis for supporting this process. Companies support it, we show the ROI for them supporting it. We love those kind of projects. We love the governments and non-governments, like United Nations is the largest NGO. They adopted this methodology that we have in 2008 and basically made it the evaluation system of choice for all the UN agencies. You can imagine our work with UN agencies has been significant. Seventeen of the agencies have implemented this methodology in their system. We love the non-business part of what we do, although we started in business.

Patricia Phillips:
And we love the programs. We’re working with a project now out of Little Rock, Arkansas that’s being sponsored by General Wesley Clark and his Renew America Together, it’s called Stability Leadership Institute. Their executive director is Mary Lee Smith and they wanted a different kind of leadership program where they brought people together from different races and genders and nationalities and political leanings and even personality types. These cohorts come together and they learn to work with each other across division. The whole point of it is to renew America, to find common ground and to get work done. We’re really excited to be part of that program as well.

We have had an amazing journey and we continue to have an amazing journey, and we just think it’s a process that works. It’s a mindset that works and it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s something that we can embrace because the point of it is not just getting to ROI. The point of it is let’s do the things that matter most to whether it’s your organization or your business or your family or your community, and this is one way to help us do that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
This applies to every one of those areas that you just mentioned, right?

Patricia Phillips:
Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No question about it.

Patricia Phillips:
The book has a lot of stories from all these different areas in it so we’ve hopefully provided a good look at how expansive the process has been over time and the different ways people are using it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. The book is Show the Value of What You Do. The book is very timely. Certainly we recommend that everybody gets a hold of it. We’ll make an opportunity here right underneath this video for you to click and get the book. Patty Phillips and Jack Phillips with the ROI Institute, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. It’s been very interesting.

Patricia Phillips:
Thank you for having us.

Jack Phillips:
You too.

Patricia Phillips:
It was a pleasure.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I’d love to have you back and we’ll cover another chapter in the book.

Patricia Phillips:
Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Appreciate it.

Patricia Phillips:
Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks.


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