How can you survive in a VUCA environment? by Phillip W Duff

What is VUCA,you ask? A term originating in the U.S. military, it describes an environment characterized by constant Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.
Well the military has been training people to do this since its inception since war is all of these things. The collection industry is currently in a VUCA environment;  there is lots of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in the current regulations and how they apply to the average collection agency or collection law firm.
Volatility has always existed in the collections industry, the numbers have always fluctuated, the volume has always changed and the liquidation is often as up and down as a ________
Uncertainty is the word of the day when you add the CFPB into the mix.  If we all know what the regulators were going to do, we would all feel much better.
Complexity has existed in this industry since the FDCPA was created and is more complex than ever with regulations like TCPA.
Ambiguity is shown by the regulators on the ARM industry as a whole.
So how do you survive in a VUCA environment? You plan, you strategize, you look forward to the future instead of looking backwards to the past. You must be able to move past the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity to find success in the ARM industry today.
First, you plan for the uncertainty and complexity, the volatility and the ambiguity.  You expect it, you embrace it, you use it to your advantage.
When changes happen in any industry, most business owners freeze and wait to see what’s going to happen. In order to get ahead in business you’ve got to leap forward while others stay where they are.  By looking forward instead of looking around you will find success before the competition has figured out what has happened.
The key is constant forward movement yes there are roadblocks yes there will be difficulties but we have to constantly look forward and use our past to get over the roadblocks to success.
If you’re having trouble finding success contact Lighthouse Consulting at

Flatten your business for success! by Phillip W Duff

Businesses are becoming more flat, meaning there are less segmented skills needed for any one job position.  Instead, a large variety of skills are required in today’s workplace.  As businesses become more flat,  the workers have to become better trained and developed.  So you ask what I mean by flat? I mean there are more companies currently operating with less regimen regarding hierarchy of employees, meaning  the CEOs are often sitting in a cubicle right next to the second day employee. This is a flat business.
Part of the problem with companies becoming more flat is that hiring has not changed.  In order to have a multi-skilled employee to fill a position, you must be looking for a multiskilled employee in your job search.  Most job descriptions do not reflect the need for the many skills that will be needed to actually complete the job. Often those skills are overlooked or not considered because they were not initially part of that job description.  But over time, as people have left and the company has downsized, the need for the multi skilled employee has increased.
To take this information and make the most of it, you must begin to rewrite all of your job descriptions and reevaluate what each employee and each position is actually doing today.
Try this.  Go to one of your best employees and ask them to write down all the things they do on a regular basis, then compare that list with the job description that you currently are using for that person’s position.  I’m sure you’ll find that your employee is completing many tasks that are outside his or her job description. When you analyze those tasks, you’ll find that the employee needs many more skills to complete the work in front of them.
So are you providing the training and development your staff needs and are you helping them to become flat enough?

Listen to Win! Are you a listener or just someone waiting to talk. By Phillip W Duff

Are you a listener or are you just waiting for your turn to talk? If you answered “I am a listener” are you sure?  Most people spend most of the time while someone else is talking creating a counter argument in their mind. Instead of trying to listen and understand the message that is trying to be conveyed by the other person.
Most people are not listeners but the most successful people are very good at listening let me give you an example: I have a friend named Jeff Mains who is a great salesman. When I first met Jeff I didn’t understand how he was so able to sell as he’s not like most salesmen, he’s quite a good listener and doesn’t really talk a lot. In fact when talking with him sometimes I wonder if he was listening at all because after I finished talking there would be a pause before he would respond. What I learned later is that he was a great listener.
While I thought Jeff was not paying attention and was delaying in responding to me, what he was doing was making sure I was finished talking. Instead of delaying the response he was making sure that I had completed my message. But it’s what Jeff did next that astounded me once I understood his methodology. What Jeff would do next is answer every question I had raised and respond to each issue I stated. He had been listening not only listening but listening attentively.
As I begin to spend more time with Jeff I understood that he was an excellent listener and better yet he waited until someone had completed their message before he tried to respond to the message. This makes the speaker feel like the listener really cares.
So how do you learn to listen better? Well it’s something you have to practice we are not built as human beings to listen we want to interrupt the speakers message and insert our own message but all this does is frustrate the speaker. As a bill collector is very important that you hear the message the party on the other end of the line is trying to provide. Because if you listen long enough as a bill collector you will first hear “I can’t pay” you will next year “I want to pay” and you will lastly here”here’s what I can pay” but first you have to listen.
Most collectors stop the party before they get to the last part and this is what stops them from collecting the bill. They were not able to listen long enough to get the payoff.
So I ask you again are you will listen or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?

How to get to the truth in 3 questions. by Phillip W Duff

Whether in business, your personal life or debt collection, it takes three levels of questions to get to the raw truth.  I would like to share with you something that has taken me many years to learn but I think will be very valuable to you in your personal, business and debt collection life.  It’s the “theory of three”.
The first answer you get from anyone is not necessarily the full and complete truth.  It takes further probing to find out exactly what the truth is.  Let me give you an example:
Let’s  say you’re probing your eight-year-old son about a broken lamp in the house. You ask him directly “how did the lamp get broken, Bobby?”
His first answer is “I don’t know”.  So you Ask the next question “was anybody else in the house except you ?”  He answers “no”.  So you ask again “how did the lamp get broken” and Bobby says “I  tripped over the cord, I’m sorry”.
 The human mind is trained at a young age to avoid confrontation, so often the first answer is one that is nonconfrontational.  Lawyers are trained this principle early so when interviewing a witness they often asked the same question five different times, five different ways?
I’ve found also this to be the case with employees as well.   What you’re trying to do is to acquire information, provide training or teach job processes often things have to be repeated or further questions have to be asked.
In the case of debt collection the first time we ask for the money, we often get the answer “I don’t have it.” As we continue to probe we find more information which leads us to a payment. For example the second question may be , “are you employed?” The answer may lead to further information that will lead to the third question like “do you have a 401K?” and possibly a payment arrangement.
 But that doesn’t mean you need to ask all three questions too rapidly.  Often debt collectors move from the first question to the second question far too quickly.  For example many collectors move from the question of “can you pay the balance in full today?” to offering a settlement and then monthly arrangements all in one breath.   This is not a good example of the rule of three, good luck.