Episode 188 – Customer Centric Innovation – Solving Problems by Thinking Outside the Box

Lisa loves a good puzzle. After witnessing the confusion that ensued after new technology systems were integrated into offices in the 90s, she didn’t panic, she saw an opportunity to establish effective processes that support employees and businesses grappling with evolving technology. Then a pattern emerged: internal teams kept failing to communicate with one another in the wake of change. To respond, Lisa founded Lcubed Consulting. As CEO of Lcubed, Lisa helps companies align people, processes, and technology to utilize agility as a strategic advantage and acknowledge change in a business constant.

Her secret sauce to success is leveraging key elements of Project Management, Process Performance Management, Internal Controls and Organisational Change Management to build teams with the skills and capabilities to drive strategic results.

Lisa is the #1 best-selling author of Future Proofing Cubed, a book she created to share her insights on productivity, profitability, and process refinement in business. Lisa’s goal is to prepare her clients with the skills, capabilities, and self-reliance they need to thrive in the future without Lcubed’s guidance. With this notion, she has broken the typical consulting model.

Lisa holds her Bachelor of Science in Electronic Media Management from Northern Arizona University. She is a Project Management Professional and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. Lisa enjoys spending free time with her family and basset hounds.


• We’d like to hear in your own words, did you arrive on this journey? How did you get to where you are today? Could you share that with our audience?

• Now, could you tell us a little bit about your company, Lcubed Consulting and also your book, Future Proofing Cubed?

• If you could share with our audience maybe you could skew it down to a particular type of industry, maybe 1 to 3 things that if you’re really trying to run a successful business with the right people, what are 1 to 3 tips that you’d recommend in terms of the culture and the environment needs to be existing for you to attract and keep the person that you want?

• Emerging out of the pandemic, what has been your experience with some of your clients in terms of customer experience, have you seen customers maybe be more demanding for service experiences or delivery? Are they putting on their foot to ensure they’re getting a certain type of service? Or have you seen maybe a more relaxed type of customer, what has your experience been with your clients as well as you as a customer yourself?

• So, I would also like for you to share with our listeners, Lisa, what’s the one tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?

• Could you also share with our listeners, maybe one or two books that you’ve read recently, or even a book that you read a very long time ago, that has had a big impact on you.

• Could you also share with our listeners, Lisa, let’s say, we have listeners who are business owners and managers who feel like they have great products and services, but they lack the constantly motivated human capital. So, the people are just not motivated. If you’re sitting in a room with that person right now, what’s the one piece of advice you would give them to have a successful business?

• Could you also share with our listeners, what’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.

• Where can listeners find you online?

• Before we wrap our episodes up, we always like to give our guests an opportunity to share with us a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track if for any reason you got derailed. Do you have one of those?


Lisa’s Journey

Me: Now, we always like to give our guests an opportunity to share in their own words, a little bit about how they got to where they are today. So, I know that your bio kind of gives a pretty good summary of how it is that you got to where you are today. We’d like to hear in your own words, did you arrive on this journey? How did you get to where you are today? Could you share that with our audience?

Lisa stated that because the journey really is the story, it’s what matters in our personal lives, our professional lives. She is an accidental entrepreneur, she left college with the desire to find safety and security in a corporate job, she was looking for a place where she would go to work, she would have paid vacation time, she would have bonuses, she would have things that seemed like they would give security. And those were important to her because her parents were entrepreneurs. And that journey isn’t always a smooth one. 

And so, she wanted something that she perceived at the time to be easier and to be safer. Fifteen years into that journey, she realised it was the early 2000s. And actually, things were a little difficult. And it was in 2008 and 2009, she was working for a start-up, it was her dream job, it was everything she had hoped that it was going to be, she was building a project management team, they were growing and scaling and going to do amazing things until she looked around and realised that every executive leader had built a fiefdom of external consultants who are coaching and guiding and advising them on how to protect their fiefdom. And none of them were working with each other and it was not safe and it was not secure and the economy tanked. 

And she looked around and said, “Oh my gosh, I can do something better.” And in that moment, she became an entrepreneur, and started a business and it’s 14 years later, it has not been seamless, it has not been without obstacles and challenges. But it’s been fantastic because she’s the one designing the journey and the bumps in the road are learning moments, and she wouldn’t change anything. It’s been great.

About Lisa’s Company Lcubed Consulting and Lisa’s Book Future Proofing Cubed

Lisa shared that Lcubed was born out of that frustration that she had watching consulting teams come into environments over her entire career and land and expand. And she would see that they were in these environments under the auspices of helping the client, but really what they were doing was growing their revenue stream. And she finds that somewhat abhorrent and counter to what consulting is supposed to be about. And she decided that she wanted to do things differently. She wanted to take all of the knowledge and the skills and the experience that she had built up in larger corporations, learning and understanding the impact of Project Management, Process Management, Organisational Change, and using all of those tools and capabilities to help her clients deliver better products and services for their clients, while building self-reliance so that she can take herself and her team eventually out of that equation. She didn’t want them to become dependent on her. 

The book Future Proofing Cubed: The Definitive Guide to Improving Productivity, Refining Processes, and Bolstering Profitability takes their business model, what they call adaptive transformation, and sort of explains how they use all of those baked best practices in a much more effective and efficient way so that companies can build those skills and capabilities without large investments in internal teams, or large consulting groups.

In Running a Successful Business – Tips to Attract and Keep the Person That You Want

Me: Now, in an organisation, as a consultant, I’m sure you know, there’s some key things that a lot of companies still struggle with, having the right kind of synergy among the team. A lot of organisations struggle sometimes with recruitment, getting the right person and actually keeping them. And so, if you could share with our audience maybe you could skew it down to a particular type of industry, maybe 1 to 3 things that if you’re really trying to run a successful business with the right people, what are 1 to 3 tips that you’d recommend in terms of the culture and the environment needs to be existing for you to attract and keep the person that you want?

Lisa stated absolutely, it may be an oversimplification. But she thinks that knowing what success in the environment looks like. With some of her smaller companies, they do work and they use Lencioni’s idea of hungry, humble and smart, that if you have an employee who has the ability, they’re hungry, they want new opportunities, they want to learn, they want to grow, they want to make an impact. If they’re humble and able to say I don’t know what I don’t know. And they’re smart, meaning that they can pick up and reader a room and understand what’s going on with internal and even with your client engagements. If you have those three things, any technical capability can be taught. But if a person shows up hungry, humble and smart, you can build a team of people who can do anything.

Experiences Customers Are Desirous of Now

Me: Great. So, I love those three points that you just brought across. So, we’ve identified the three things we want to ensure that the team member has and as you mentioned, you can teach any technical skill, I guess it kind of goes back to you really want to ensure you have persons with the right attitude versus aptitude. Because you can’t train on attitude, right? But even getting further and deeper into that, our programme is about navigating the customer experience and the experience that the customer has is not just on the outside, but also on the inside. And I’m a firm believer that if you really want to have a strong customer experience, it starts from within. If it’s strong internally, then it’s quite easy for your employees to perpetuate, and relive that externally with your actual clients that are paying, they’re the reason why you’re in business. 

And so, what has your experience been? We’ve just emerged out of the pandemic, some countries are still feeling somewhat of the effects of it. I mean, COVID is not completely gone. But what has been your experience with some of your clients and wherever you are in, in which part of the world in terms of customer experience, have you seen customers maybe be more demanding for service experiences or delivery? Are they putting down their foot to ensure they’re getting a certain type of service? Or have you seen maybe a more relaxed type of customer, what has your experience been with your clients as well as you as a customer yourself?

Lisa shared that there’s so many things in that to play with. She wants to play with the language right, that the experience starts within. She absolutely agree with that, that internally, we have to understand the experience we want our customers to have. There’s a disconnect, more often than not, when we think from the inside out and think that we know what our customers want and need. And she likes to sort of flip that upside down a little bit and teach her clients to think from the outside in

And what she means by that is actually asking their customers what they want, what they need, so that they’re not making guesses. And they’re not making assumptions, and they’re not applying their own wants and needs onto potentially what their customers wants and needs are. Because oftentimes, when we do that, on the inside, we’re really wrong and we don’t truly understand. So, starting on the outside and understanding the customer, where are they at? What do they need? And with her clients in the pandemic, they had to do a lot of that because all of their wants and needs in March of 2020 changed dramatically. And so, polling and getting that data and asking the questions so that they can adapt their products and their services to those needs. And it’s the need they have today, but the big impact is what does their needs going to be tomorrow, in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. 

During the pandemic, she had the opportunity to watch one of her clients respond to the shutdown. So, the company is a food distribution organisation and they have a national presence in the United States. Their primary job is to take food from a warehouse and deliver it to restaurants, and service providers in hospitals, in airports, in large conference centres, getting food to places where it’s going to be cooked and served and sold. Overnight, their business shut down for two weeks or so they thought. And they had the opportunity, they basically froze and did nothing initially, until they brought the leadership team together in this world called Zoom that they had never interacted in. There were people meeting each other, seeing each other in face to face interaction for the first time in 20 years, they’ve just never been in the same space together. They’re panicked, they’re at home, everything is a nightmare. 

And one person is raising their hand literally shaking their hand in front of the camera trying to get everybody’s attention to say, “Hey, I have an idea. We have all this food in our warehouses. And it’s not getting to people who need to eat, we have produce, we have things that are going to start spoiling and serve no use to anybody if they’re rotting in the warehouse. How about we figure out how to take our food and deliver it to shelters, to food kitchens, to places where there are people who cannot get to food, we’re going to spoil it off, we’re going to write it off, it’s going to waste one way or another, why don’t we make it a donation.” And for the first 30 days of the pandemic, that national company donated food because their customers, people who need to eat needed food. It had nothing to do with their bottom line, it had absolutely nothing to do with anything except doing the right thing. 

In that first interaction where one individual had an idea, they all thought about it, they experimented about how to make it actually happen. They learned how to innovate on the fly. And that’s important because they were speaking to the customers need and for them, it wasn’t their customer, it was their customers’ customer, a hungry person. And they were solving a problem that did absolutely nothing to drive their business forward except they did the right thing. 

What they learned from that was how to innovate and how to think outside of the box, think from the outside in. And as a leadership and management team today, they are still doing that on a quarterly basis and trying to evolve their business model in a way that it hasn’t in 40 years. It is wow because they thought from the customer’s perspective wants and needs, they solved the problem. We need to solve problems.

Me: And as you mentioned that, Lisa, that we need to solve problems. That’s the primary reason why everyone is in business. I remember when I started my company in 2009, it was because one of my greatest pet peeves was I thought service was just so poor. And I said, I’m going to stop complaining. And I’m going to start being a part of the solution, and try to help these organisations to improve on their service delivery. So, when I go and have interactions, I can walk away with a better feeling than the one that I’m currently having. So, I think every business is solving a problem, whether you’re selling a pencil or a fan, or you’re servicing somebody’s motor vehicle, or you’re providing some innovative solution or product that’s going to revolutionize the industry for aviation, or whatever it is. I think all businesses are solving a problem for someone. And I think, if we come, as you mentioned, from the outside in, to kind of understand where the customer is coming from, and how can we ease their frustration? How can we make life easier for them, that we can definitely create a better experience, both internally and externally.

App, Website or Tool that Lisa Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about online resources that cannot live without in her business, Lisa shared that there are so many, but she’s going to go with the one that surprises her the most, because she would never have imagined this, she cannot live without Canva. She would never in a million years have ever thought that she would use a marketing tool, a graphic design, well, now it’s kind of an everything tool, right? Presentations, video, audio, whatever, it does it all. She loves it, it makes everything so much faster, so much easier. She’s doing work for herself that she probably should be outsourcing but it’s kind of fun to do it and it looks really good. So yeah, she cannot live without Canva.

Me: Agreed, Canva has definitely revolutionised the industry and it’s made graphic designing not seem like, “Oh, my goodness, I can’t do this.” Because simple things that you’d have outsourced as you mentioned, you can do on your own. And they look pretty good. So, you’re saving a few bucks there for sure.

Lisa stated that saving a few minutes of time even right? So, you outsource it and things turn into, hopefully days, not weeks. But it’s easy enough that a person who has no skills in graphic design can turn something out in minutes, it’s fabulous.

Me: My daughter is in her final year in high school and she’s a part of the school newspaper and she sees me use Canva and she asked me if she could, like play around with it a bit to put out some stuff that she wanted to do promoting for the newspaper and for the school. And I guess at that age at 17, you’re creative and innovative. But she wasn’t even using the platform for like an hour and I was just so surprised that the newsletter that she produced, the video that she was able to generate from all of the pictures that she had taken. I mean, just simply amazing, I’m not saying that she couldn’t have used other applications but as you mentioned, Canva kind of found a way to bundle everything in one so you could just do all the things in that one platform.

Lisa absolutely agreed. And they made it easy for an end user who has no skills in those areas. There are lots of applications out there and she’ll use video editing as an example, but you have to be very, very, very skilled in the application to make it work properly. And Canva just sort of magically does it for us.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Lisa

When asked about books that has had a big impact, Lisa shared that the number one book that always comes to her mind first and foremost is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson. As leaders and as people, we need to understand how to communicate effectively and that one, it’s so foundational to everything that it affects your personal life, your business life, how we show up, how we support others. It’s always kind of the first thing that pops to her mind. 

There’s another book called Flip the Script: Getting People to Think Your Idwa Is Their Idea by Oren Klaff. And as her business was growing and evolving, and off the top of her head, she can’t think of the author’s name. But it’s taking people who run and have their businesses, sales is part of what we have to do. But we may or may not have ever been trained to be salespeople. And we may or may not even like the connotation of being a salesperson, and Flip the Script really did a lot in her mindset to help her understand that selling is a by-product of building good and effective relationships. 

And that is far more comfortable to her than the idea of going after and creating a sales pipeline and all of the technical things about what selling is, and reminding her that after now 14 years, she obviously must be able to close a deal, or she wouldn’t still be doing what she’s doing. And she doesn’t have to have the traditional sales process to make it work, because relationships are really where business comes from.

Me: Agreed. I liked that statement you made, Sales is a by-product of building effective relationships, that’s really, really true. And you said that you got that mindset, or it shaped your mindset towards that from the book called Flip the Script.

Advice for Business Owners and Managers who Lack Constant Motivated Human Capital

Me: Could you also share with our listeners, Lisa, let’s say, we have listeners who are business owners and managers who feel like they have great products and services, but they lack the constantly motivated human capital. So, the people are just not motivated. If you’re sitting in a room with that person right now, what’s the one piece of advice you would give them to have a successful business?

Lisa stated that there’s a challenge in that question because if we have a room full of employees who aren’t motivated, there is a very flippant part of her personality that wants to say, “Do you have the right people in the room to grow and scale your business?” 

And that’s a very scary question because if the answer is, “No, I don’t”….then what. 

So, and then, the then what mindset we need to understand what motivates our employees and if we have really good people that have been with us, and are no longer performing, do we understand what’s changed in their world?

Do they need a new opportunity, internally within the organisation in a different role? Have they lost the drive to contribute to this type of business?

Do we need to help them find an opportunity outside of this business? 

Which is a scary thought, but sometimes the right one, and just because we’re separating from a relationship doesn’t mean that we’re ending it poorly. And Lisa’s experience, she’s had several examples of times when she’s taken employees, help them find their next opportunity. 

They were so much more successful, her existing team was more successful, and they’ve maintained a relationship over time. So, finding that alignment of what’s in it for me, and why are they still there? And if they aren’t being fulfilled, are there opportunities to train them, coach them? Give them the opportunity to make a change inside or is it that it’s time for them to move on onward and outward?

And there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s the right choice.

Me: Love it. I’ve asked this particular question, I don’t ask it very often. But I’ve asked it a few times since I’ve started podcasting and I must say your answer, I really like it’s different. Most people didn’t take it from the angle that you took it from and I liked the fact that you focused on the fact that maybe we just don’t have the right people. And if so, even though it’s scary, what can we do to make that transition? Because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to have success, right?

Lisa agreed, absolutely. And the reality is, it’s a little bit of everything. You’re going to have some people who probably need to move on, you’re going to have some people who probably need upskilling….training new opportunities. There’s lots of different things, it’s never going to be just one thing. But taking on the scary one of “Oh my gosh, I don’t have the right people in the right roles.” That’s totally addressable.

What Lisa is Really Excited About Now!

When asked about something that she’s working on that she’s excited about, Lisa shared that the one thing that she’s working on right now that’s exciting for her is taking the stories that she has from her business and starting to share them as a keynote speaker, and having the opportunity to inspire through some of her great foibles and some of the successes. 

But the very real journey that she’s had over the last 14 years to help other emerging leaders, potential entrepreneurs, or business owners, be able to attribute and say, “Oh, gosh, I’ve been there done that.” or “Oh, my God, thank you for sharing that story. I never want to have that experience.” 

And that opportunity and sharing to larger audiences is really a lot of fun. And it’s eye opening for her to hear and get the response that something hit and it was meaningful. And hopefully, she’s sharing some golden nuggets along the way that will help them learn lessons from her mistakes rather than having to make them for themselves.

Where Can We Find Lisa Online

LinkedIn – Lisa L. Levy

Website – www.lisallevy.com

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Lisa Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that she tends to revert to, Lisa shared that there’s a quote, but it’s a Hemingway quote that has been butchered by many. And so I’ll continue to do it. But it takes from the idea that if we break something, if we break a bone in our body, when it heals that spot on that bone is stronger than the original bone around it. And so, when we’re having difficult times, the purpose and the reason that it resonates for her is that we can learn from our hardest moments. She likes to think of everything as an experiment and it’s not about success or failure, it’s about what we learn from the outcome of the experiment. 

And so, all of those things are always kind of in her mind whirling around in a not coherent fashion, the way that she’s talking right now is very much what’s in her head. But it’s about being willing to take the risk, do an experiment, if something breaks, it’ll heal, and it’ll be stronger. And we don’t really necessarily fail, we learn things so that we can make different choices the next time. And those are the things that drive her forward every day.

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·  Future Proofing Cubed: The Definitive Guide to Improving Productivity, Refining Processess, and Bolstering Profitability by Lisa Levy

·  Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson

·  Flip the Script: Getting People to Think Your Idea Is Their Idea by Oren Klaff

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