Thanksgiving is this week in the United States. People get together with friends and family to share the bounty of the season. It is a good time to reflect on what we are thankful for both personally and professionally and express our gratitude. What are you thankful for?
As we walked to our cars after Zumba, Pam spoke about what a great class it was. The instructor is always upbeat and has such tremendous enthusiasm and joy for what she does. So much so, that it becomes infectious for those taking the class. I agreed. I always have a great time and get a great workout. But, there are a few moves I just don’t have down yet. Pam agreed. That’s when she said, “I feel like I can.”
She went on to say that the whole experience is so uplifting that even though she doesn’t have all the moves down, the instructor creates an environment that makes her believe that she can, and even feels like she does. Wow! Can you imagine that customer experience everywhere you go? The experience is so welcoming and inclusive that your perception of the experience is an 11 out of 10. How are you creating that experience for your customers and your team?
There has been a string of great news about the economy. Unemployment has been going down, labor participation rate is up, and businesses continue to have cash to invest and are investing it. In fact, there are a number of banks and high profile periodicals that believe we may be in the longest period of economic expansion ever. At some point, the expansion will end. Are you prepared for it? Do you have a set of economic metrics that indicate when your market is turning? Do you have a plan for how you handle market expansions and market contractions? If you don’t have an eye on these, it is time to start planning so you know what levers to pull and when.
It was meant to be a discussion around the table, a dialogue to further the understanding of the group. The discussion leader asked people not to raise their hands, rather, just ask a question or throw out a thought. It always seems like a good way to handle a conversation, rather than making it an academic exercise. As the discussion proceeded, people began to ask questions or further the point before the person finished speaking. He wasn’t rambling and was concise. To get a word in, you had to stop listening and think about what you were going to say.
How often does this happen in your meetings? Are you getting only the thoughts of the people who jump in first? Or are you making a conscious effort to include all of the people who have something to say? If you don’t let people finish their thoughts, you may not get key points. How are you creating an environment where everyone get a word in?
He parks his truck on the same overpass. Always dressed in Seattle Seahawks garb, he waves a “12” flag taller than him back and forth, periodically stopping to wave at the cars that drive by below. He has been there on and off for years, his dedication to his team never wavering. He clearly epitomizes the fan that the Seahawks retired the number 12 to recognize.
Can you imagine if you had this type of fan singing your praises not just to everyone he knows, but also to everyone that passes by? People tell others about their experiences, good and bad. How are you creating dedicated fans that sing your praises to everyone they know?
Hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, fires, missile launches. There have been major events all over the world over the last two months. They are important and attract major news attention. For a day, or a week at most. And then the news cycle ends and the topic of the day moves to the top of the news cycle. The major issues that attracted so much attention become all but forgotten. It is not because the situation has been resolved. It is simply a matter of a new topic catching the attention of the news cycle, even if the subject is of lesser importance.
It is important not to manage your business like a news cycle. Meetings, email, phone calls, etc. are frequent consumers of time and attention. They can be a constant stream of new stuff, just like the news cycle. But are they really the right place to spend the bulk of your time? How are you making sure you are spending your time on the things that will move your business forward?
It has been just over a year since I adopted my dog. She was incredibly timid and had lots of anxiety when I got her. So when she started counter surfing last week I had mixed emotions. There is an art to counter surfing. The dog waits until the coast is clear then helps themself to the tasty morsel on the counter that calls out to them. No one wants their dog to counter surf. It is totally unacceptable. But, I was happy that she feels comfortable and is coming into herself. She saw what she wanted and she went for it. She was no longer held back by anxiety and fear. She just went for it. In business, there are so many things that can hold us back from going for it. Whether it is a growth initiative or introducing a new product, or hiring key people, what is holding you back from going for it?
It was an intensive project. People were working on it for months. Extensive conversations involved people from each department. Every detail was looked at and planned for. Everyone knew the timing, what had to happen, how long the downtime would be and who all was involved. There was a ton of communication. Only that communication was amongst the groups involved in making the project happen. There wasn’t any direct communication with the customer, creating surprise and confusion when the downtime happened. It was a blip that people got over, but the frustration didn’t need to happen.
It is a common business situation. Whether you are in leadership or working on a project, it seems like all you have done is communicate. The real question is, whom are you communicating with? If it is only the people who are working on the project, initiative, or your senior leadership team and not those who are impacted, you are not communicating enough. When was the last time you stepped back to think about how you are getting your message out? If you aren’t talking about it all the time, its time to take a step back and rethink your communication strategy.
I’ve been listening to Masters of Scale podcasts during my drive time. Each episode deconstructs how successful businesses have been able to achieve success and scale. Almost every episode has a tale about the number of times the interviewee has been told no in trying to get their idea off the ground, or how the business has built in innovation and experimentation that results in as many failures as successes. People learn from trying and failing. The more often they try things, the better they get at succeeding. They are able to tell more quickly what resonates with their customers. They build in mechanisms to test ideas without negatively impacting customers. More importantly, they are able to move more quickly than others because they know what customers want and how to accomplish it. How are you building into your business a mechanism to learn from failing?
Years ago, I moved to Houston, necessitating house hunting. My realtor found a house three blocks from Rice University on an oak tree lined street. The houses were built in the 1930’s and had a tremendous amount of charm. My house was perfect on the outside, but was original on the inside. Original kitchen, original plumbing, original wiring. All from 1932. The paint was at least a few decades old, the ducting for the air conditioning was visible in the closets and the oak floors were in need of refinishing. To me, it was fantastic! But to everyone who walked inside, I was out of my mind. They couldn’t see what I saw. The potential.
Potential is everywhere. It is within people, in companies, in ideas, in communities. It just takes opening your eyes to see what can be. How are you looking for potential?