Have you really thought about all of the options?

Have you considered all the optionsPigs and goats. It was the solution to a problem that many face, the need to clear brush. I have to admit that it is not a solution that would have ever crossed my mind. For the manager of a farm program at a local winery, it was the solution that made the most sense. The goats were quickly and effectively able to clear the brush. The pigs were unleashed next to address the roots. They quickly and effectively cleared the root structure and completed the removal of the blackberries, leaving land that was cleared and ready to utilize.

There are always many options to resolve problems or grasp opportunities. To some the options may be obvious, to others they may not be known. Getting the right people around the table that have the skills and background, that are aligned with the organizations values can help get you there. In the case above, there was no time pressure and the values include sustainability and organic farming. By including the right people, they were able to utilize an option that fit with their purpose and values. How are you making sure you include the right people and get all of the options on the table?

Momentum vs. Technique

momentum vs techniqueSaturday morning starts with a tough workout with Babs, my personal trainer. Over the years, she has taught me a lot about the proper technique. When we first started, she would almost always tell me to stop and start over. After a reprimand for using momentum, she would instruct on the proper technique.

This week, she was reflecting that her regular group of people know the connection between mind and body, enabling utilization of the proper technique. Momentum is easier as the motion propels the weights or the body in a direction. With momentum, and not having proper technique, it is possible to get hurt or create an out of balance in the body.

Business is the same way. Getting momentum can be a little tough at first. But once things start moving, the momentum can propel the business forward. And while having momentum is critically important, it should never be at the sacrifice of technique. Without proper technique (skills, capabilities and focus), the business may veer off course, having a negative impact that may be detrimental long-term. How are you differentiating between momentum and technique in your business? What can you do to refocus on technique?

The market always turns

the market turnsThere aren’t too many industries that have no market cycles. Some are more significant than others. Over time, as business grows and changes, some companies lose sight of the market, how they are positioned and their cost structure. As a result, erosion starts to occur in the profitability of the business.

This is the point when many companies are bought. But even if a sales transaction doesn’t take place, it’s time to put some tension back into the business. Why? Because the market always turns at some point and if not addressed, the business may go out of business due to high fixed costs and lack of market insight.

What does this mean? With lack of market insight, the company will miss the market signals that indicate it is time to adjust the business as the market demand starts to drop. With a high cost structure, the company may not have enough time to adjust before it runs out of cash. Thus becoming another company that doesn’t make it through a market cycle.

This is where it is critical to have a focused management team that has a strong sense of urgency. You never know when the market is going to turn, so acting with a sense of urgency as if the market turn is today or tomorrow, will position the company well for when it actually does turn. How are you positioning your company for market turns?

You don’t have to have the whole answer – just start

don't wait - just startI was recently speaking with someone about an effort that is getting underway that can have a transformational impact on their business over the longer term. But, there isn’t a long-term owner at this point. The short-term perspective is a couple of discrete actions that can get the ball rolling and ultimately support the longer term. The company will make some progress if it only does the short tem work, but the impact of the work will diminish over time without the longer term. The question: do something or do nothing?

It is funny how many times over the last few months I’ve come across this exact dilemma in one form or another. My advice is always to start. By getting the ball rolling, progress starts. It ultimately allows for further critical thinking that creates better focus, revisions and course corrections. It may not always work, but insights will be gained along the way. In the case above, the work started and internal support started to build, even without a long-term owner. The key was to just get started. How are you starting things without having the 100% solution?

Don’t let a good crisis go to waste

Don't let a good crisis go to wasteThere is always a point in time in business where market forces create tension in the business. It may be the loss of a significant customer, a cyclical downturn, or maybe the introduction of a new competitor or product. The point is – you now have something putting pressure on your business demanding immediate attention. It is a reason to come together as a company and do something different. It is the case for change.

Making change happen is one of the toughest things you can do in business. People want a reason to do something different – a case for change or a burning platform. It is comfortable to do the same thing – call it routine or habit. And doing something different takes a lot of effort.

Have you had a crisis recently? A big one doesn’t come around every day. So leverage it while it is there. It can make the difference in your organization surviving.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

self fulfilling prophecyOver the last several weeks, I’ve been in a number of conversations where a person talked about how they couldn’t do something, or they see people behave toward them in a way that is in opposition to what they want. In each case, the person, when relaxed and in a positive frame of mind, did exactly what they said they couldn’t do. In focusing on what they didn’t want, they created a mindset that caused the exact results they said they didn’t want. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The miss is that if the focus was on the positive, so to would be the results.

This same approach happens in business. Whether a positive or a negative focus, the conditions are created to generate outcomes. They may be in opposition to the stated goals, because the focus is not put in the right place.  And amazingly, when the focus is on the positive with a can do attitude, the results follow. How do you ensure that you have the outcomes you want in your business and the self-fulfilling prophecy is the one you want?

Do you lose sight of what is around you by focusing too much?

don't loose sight by focusing too muchThere is a pretty typical pattern. People come to Zumba for the first time, find a spot in the back and try to figure out what to do. They focus intently on the instructor, trying to match the movements while those around them move with ease as they have done it many times before. A point typically comes when the group is moving to the left and the person is a few steps behind and moves to the right, creating a near collision. People who go to the class regularly know who is new and to watch out for them. The person who is new to class has no idea they have nearly caused a collision. They are focused so intently on figuring out what to do, they have lost track of their surroundings.

This can happen in business too. Whether it is a new industry, a new person in a new position, a new product launch, etc. Making sure mechanisms are in place to keep focus on the broader business while a new element is introduced is critical to the long-term success of the business. How are you making sure you don’t lose sight of the broader perspective by focusing too much?

How to kill an idea

How to kill an ideaYou’ve probably seen this one before. Someone has a great idea. They are really excited about it and think it can have a big impact. They bring the idea forward and the response is: “That sounds like a great idea. Let’s get a committee together (or send it to a specific committee) to see if it is viable.” And then the sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach hits. The death of an idea. The committee.

Don’t get me wrong, committees can be a great thing if done right. They can bring together a bunch of different perspectives to round out ideas and figure out how to make ideas work – if that is the focus. Many times though, committees can get bogged down with no real charter to make progress. As a result, ideas die and people become dis-incentivized. How do you make sure you aren’t killing good ideas in your business through creating structures that aren’t designed to facilitate progress?

Acting Quickly

act quicklyIt was a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up half a dozen items. Walking across the parking lot, plotting my path, there was a wallet with a $20 bill peaking out right in the middle of the walkway. I picked it up thinking how panicked I would be if I lost mine in this day and age. Without opening it, I left it with the front desk thinking the person may still be in the store. Five minutes later, I was at the cashier.   And to my surprise, he asked if I lost my wallet. Wow! They had quickly notified all the cashiers within the space of a few minutes to try to reconnect the person with the wallet. What a great example of quickly adjusting to new circumstances in a way that is not disruptive to the ongoing operations. How are you able to act quickly as circumstances change in your world?

Do you see the risks in your path?

do you know the risks on the road?It was another rainy day, like many at this time of the year. And as you might expect, there were a number of car accidents on the road. This particular point in the highway is a trouble spot. The road inclines and bends to the right to weave around the hills. Given the design, the water flows rapidly across the left lane in a way that causes hydroplaning at times. I drive this path often and know to watch for it. But not everyone does. Today, there was a pretty significant accident in this spot.

In business, there are many risks in the road ahead. Sometimes you know to watch for them, because you have been down the road before. Other times, you may be on a road you have not yet traveled. How are you watching for the risks ahead to make sure you are able to safely navigate them?