Are you clear?I was having coffee with a new acquaintance when she asked about what makes the difference between companies with a good strategy and those that don’t have one.  It comes down to clarity.  It starts with leadership. They are clear about the purpose of the business. There is an alignment of values, both personal and professional.  That guides who business is conducted with, how people are treated, what the business does, etc.  It shows up in the passion and energy in the people at every level. With clarity, everything becomes simple and people get it.  Unnecessary complexity falls away and the business runs well. Do you have clarity in your business?

Do you know when you are slowing down?

do you know what is slowing you down?You probably see this situation at least every day. I was walking behind a woman when she suddenly slowed down so much, she almost stopped. She had just pulled out her phone and was starting to text someone. She was so focused on the new activity, she didn’t realize she had slowed down. She was oblivious to everything around her, except for the phone.

Things pop up in business every day that create distractions and slow us down. Many times, they take us off our primary goals. Do you know what they are in your business? How do you ensure you don’t slow down?

Are you ready?

Are you ready?It is that time of year. New year’s resolutions are made and a wave of people show up at the gym. The influx lasts only a few weeks. Some push too hard, are too sore and don’t come back. Others come back a few times, but don’t make it past the end of the month. It isn’t a priority and eventually it falls off the schedule.

As you think about your business goals, have you made them a priority? Have you thought through what it will take to accomplish them? Have you put the necessary resources in place to accomplish your goals? If not, take time this week to set your business up for success.

Is it time to make changes in your business?

is it time to change?I was walking down the street in Southeast Portland as a mail carrier walked by with his bag of mail. He walked down the block, going up and down the stairs to drop mail through the mail slot in each house. Years ago, I lived in Houston and the mail was delivered the same way. In both of these cases, the homes are 80 or so years old and don’t have mailboxes. My current home was part of a development. The mail is delivered in one location for the entire neighborhood, a much more efficient method of delivery for the postal service. At a time where costs are rising, volume of mail is declining, delivery points are increasing and the postal service struggles its budget, the inefficiencies in mail delivery are strikingly obvious when you see them. And, the inefficiencies are not addressed. Do you have any inefficiencies in your business? What is holding you back from addressing them?

What is obscuring your view?

what is obscuring your viewIt is that time of year again. The steady rain has arrived in the pacific northwest. The sky stays gray for months. When the rain falls, trucks create a mist so encompassing that it is nearly impossible to see anything but a gray wall. The mist seems to reach the sky and becomes one.  But once you get around the trucks, you can see the road, cars and trees that were completely obscured moments before.

At times, there can be items obscuring your view. It may be a project, a customer, personal challenges or other pervasive items that don’t allow you to see what is in front of you. How are you getting around the items that are obscuring your view?

The end of an era

end of an era, time for changeIt has been a local draw for 54 years for those driving up and down the interstate. A place to stop and get a bite, and stretch your legs before continuing the journey. But with major development in the works, the location was about to experience a number of changes. So, the owners decided to sell the location and move on to a new adventure.  It is the end of an era, but also the start of a new one.

Change comes in a number of ways. Sometimes it is welcome, other times it is forced on us. How are you keeping an eye out to adjust directions when it is the right time for you?

Is your data leading you to the wrong conclusions?

Is your data leading you to the wrong conclusion?Have you ever started receiving advertising from a business that makes you scratch your head? You would never use the product they are targeting for you in personalized ads. I had that happen to me recently and realized the data they were using was leading them to the wrong conclusion.

I wear a night guard for my teeth. Every morning, I take it out, rinse it off and drop it in a container with denture cleaner to clean it. So, it was a surprise when I was barraged with advertising for a variety of denture related items because I don’t wear dentures. Clearly, their data that shows I buy denture cleaner led them to the wrong conclusion.

How are you using data in your organization? Do you have a mechanism in place that keeps you from drawing the wrong conclusion from the data?

It’s not that I can actually do it, I just feel like I can

believe you canAs 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?

Do you know when your market is about to turn?

do you know when your market will turn?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.

Are you managing your business like a news cycle?

are you managing your business like a news cycle?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?