Are you looking at the needles or the forest?

forestIt’s been a full week of meetings. Different purposes, different groups. But one thing emerged as a theme out of all of them. Perspective. In each of the meetings, there was a tendency to get into the weeds and not focus on the main objectives. In each meeting, someone asked a question designed at redirecting the conversation back to the appropriate level. In these cases, more strategic, longer term perspectives. The challenge for the folks conducing the meetings is that there is so much going on that they struggle with the day-to-day and getting to the right perspective. They are looking at the needles rather than the forest. How do you keep your perspective in the right place? Do you have someone to challenge you when you are looking at the needles instead of the forest?

The road you know

road you knowAn acquaintance recently reached out and suggested having coffee to catch up. We live and work on opposite ends of town, so he suggested meeting in the middle at a specific Starbucks. Knowing that particular spot, which is heavy to foot traffic, but a little more difficult to reach via car, I suggested an alternate Starbucks that is right off the freeway with a parking lot. Seemed like a great alternative to me and should have been easier for him.

So, I was surprised when he said “let’s stay with the original suggestion. It’s a little tougher for parking, but closer to the freeway.”

Mapping the route in my mind from the freeway to each location, I was still confused by the comment. The alternative location I provided should have been closer to him and closer to the freeway. Then it hit me – people tend to gravitate toward the road they know. It’s easy to flip on autopilot and just go. How often do you take the road you know in business? And by doing that, what opportunities to find a better way are you passing up?

Unintended Consequences

recycled cupsIt’s the end of cold season with lots of germs flying around. To help combat the spread of disease, an airline I fly regularly decided to no longer allow flight attendants to fill up a cup that a passenger brought on board. This includes water bottles, or in my case a cup for tea. Instead, they now bring multiple cups of water that can then be poured into the container brought on board. The change makes a lot of sense from a prevention of disease perspective.

What may not have been thought through is the impact to the environment. With the number of additional cups being used throughout the course of a flight, the impact can get to be fairly significant over time. Think about that in the context of business more broadly. How many times are decisions made with good intentions, only to have an unintended negative consequence? When you make a change in your business, how do you evaluate the impact to your business? How can you make sure your decisions don’t have significant unintended consequences?

It’s Just One Little Tweak

tweak businessA colleague and I were talking about a process he was overhauling. Like many, over the years this company had become bogged down with very long, inefficient ways of doing things. Working together, the group had come up with a better approach that would be much faster and allow the company to be much more efficient.

When it came time to implement, a key stakeholder said:

“We just need to make this one little tweak. It adds time, but it’s not that big a deal.”

The problem isn’t the one little tweak. It’s the accumulation of the “one little” tweaks. Change is hard and it’s pretty easy to get right back to where you started. Holding the line and making the change can lead to amazing results. How are you doing with not letting “one little” tweaks accumulate in your business?

Missed Opportunities

missed opportunitiesA good friend struggled for a few years with brain tumors. He went through ups and downs with treatment and went in and out of contact. Being a few time zones and a few thousand miles away, catching up was always an adventure. But he’s been on my mind for a few weeks now and I’ve been meaning to call. Sadly, another friend just reached out to let me know he passed away. We didn’t have a chance to say those last few words or have those last few laughs. And the last time we spoke there was more to say.

Missed opportunities happen all the time. Sometimes they are significant like the passing of a friend, other times small and go unnoticed. In business, the people and companies that outperform others see the opportunities in front of them. They grasp on and make them happen. How do you keep opportunities from passing you by?

Getting Your House in Order

getting your house in orderSeveral years ago my grandmother started clearing out her house – spring cleaning on a grand scale. While not cluttered, fifty years of stuff had accumulated and filled the three-story house. Grandma is a realist – at north of 90 she didn’t want to leave her family the burden of sifting through all the things that don’t have much meaning or value. And through that process, she also made sure the legal and banking documents were up to snuff. She was getting her house in order. She knew that at some point her affairs would be transitioned to her family.

The funny thing is – transitions happen all the time, whether in business or in life, but many times very little preparation goes in to making them successful. As a result, businesses that have been built over a lifetime languish after a transition because key elements in making a successful transition were not addressed ahead of time. Is your house in order? Or, is some attention needed? What steps can you take now to make sure your legacy is where you want it to be?

Even the Best Laid Plans

solutions riskOne of my favorite parts of the week is going to Zumba, a Latin inspired dance fitness program. Lots of great energy in the room, a fantastic work out and people who are genuinely excited to see you and be there. I regularly run into a woman in the locker room – creatures of habit we tend to find lockers next to each other. She hadn’t been in a while and was excited to be back. As she opened her bag to change, she realized she forgot her exercise pants

“I can’t believe it” she exclaimed. “I was really diligent this morning in laying everything out – I had a plan and can’t believe I forgot my pants.”

Luckily there was a store upstairs where she was able to find a pair of exercise pants. Figuring out her backup plan quickly allowed her to achieve her objective – making it to class on time.

Business is no different than life. How many times do you make plans, spend time and effort making sure everything is in place only to find that something falls through the cracks somewhere along the way? Even the best laid plans can go sideways. Building in back up plans when planning can help you stay the course to achieve your objectives. How are your plans? Have you thought through the various possibilities and developed a range of options to address the potential conditions you may experience?

There’s Money Everywhere

coinsA colleague and I were having coffee and brainstorming about business writing.  Having clarity of voice, keeping posts current, being relevant.  As we got up to leave, a shiny dime fell out of his pocket and sat brightly by itself on the black leather couch.  As he reached down to pick it up, he said:

 “There’s money everywhere!”

 And he was right.  Money can be found everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes peeled to find it.