warning systems

Warning systems

She came walking around the bend instead of running. What a surprise! She loves her runs. But she thought she had an injury. Probably nothing. Better to take it easy just in case. Then she got the news. A fractured tibia. A run back in November probably did her in, but she didn’t realize it because it didn’t hurt. She didn’t have the normal warning system most people have due to loose joints.

Warning systems are designed to pick up specific issues. Over time, conditions change and warning systems need to be re-calibrated to pick up problems anticipated in the current environment. When was the last time you checked to make sure your warning systems are up to date?

healthy trees can be deceiving

A healthy appearance can be deceiving

Crack. Crack. Boom! Like thunder, but not quite. It was a tree falling over in the woods. Tall, healthy looking, it came down in seconds, along with several branches from other trees along the way. If you’ve never seen a massive tree fall on its own accord in the woods, it is quite a sight to behold. I hiked by the tree the day before and you would never know that it was about to fall over from its outward appearance.

Like trees, businesses of all shapes and size can look healthy on the outside. But over time, the root system and its structure can be eaten away. If you aren’t looking for the signs, it looks like an otherwise healthy structure collapsed without warning.

It’s a good reminder for leaders not just to look at the outward facing portion of a company, but to also look at its foundation and structure to ensure it is healthy too.

sometimes you need to show them

Sometimes you just need to show them

People tend to have go to dishes to bring to events. One of mine is shrimp with either cocktail sauce or pesto. It’s easy. Every time I bring it, a friend asks how I make the shrimp. Low heat, non-stick pan, a little olive oil. He’s an amazing chef and makes high end restaurant quality dishes. So it has surprised me how many times he has asked me about something that is pretty straightforward to me.

And that’s the thing. Sometimes what is straightforward to one person is not to another. Which means verbal descriptions are not always sufficient. Showing is better than telling. It’s a good lesson for us to remember as leaders.

that's not possible!

That’s Not Possible!

A few weeks ago, scientists published their findings about how glass frogs become see through. Somehow, they are able to store their red blood cells in their liver. But doing that should cause them to die from lack of oxygen. And yet, they keep on going.

There are times in business when people will say “That’s not possible!” And that’s when the biggest breakthroughs happen. People find a way.

navigating obstacles

Navigating Obstacles

Last week was a wild ride from a weather perspective. Ice covered streets gave way to winds of 50-80 mph. As typically happens, many trees fell. Life on the trail keeps going. People climb over, crawl under or go around the downed trees. They won’t let the obstacle get in the way.

Many obstacles will pop up in the coming year, as they have in the past. How will you navigate them and keep going to achieve  your goals?

sometime you need to know when to break the rules

Sometimes breaking the rules is necessary

The big storm that made its way across the country left an ice rink where the street used to be. And when it was safe enough to drive, I found cars abandoned along the side of the road. The road dips down and then up, with a stop sign at the top of the hill. And if you’ve lived in an area with snow or ice and a stop sign at the top of the hill, you know that you can’t stop at the stop sign without sliding back down the hill. You watch for other cars and keep going.

Sometimes breaking the rules are necessary to get where you are going. The trick is knowing when the conditions warrant doing so.

what do you see?

What do you see?

There’s always a lot to see on the trail. Sometimes the expected­–horses, dogs, people, streams, trees and snow. Sometimes the unexpected like the peacock a few weeks ago. Today, it was a little figurine sitting on a tree trunk amongst mushrooms. A little out of place, but a lot of fun.

These little bits of unexpected fun can be found everywhere. If someone puts them out there and others are looking for them. We often have blinders on to keep us focused. And sometimes the focus is so strong, we lose the fun around us. As business leaders, it is up to us to make sure we have those little bits of fun and encourage people to look for them.

what are your quality expectations

Quality expectations

Two years ago, I bought a new refrigerator. The old one had been around for 13 years until a design flaw finally caught up. The repairman said he could fix it, but the problem would resurface. I’d be better off buying a new one. Then he suggested not getting one with all the bells and whistles because the more options, the more opportunities to break. So I wasn’t surprised when I started receiving notices for extended warranty plans that are pretty expensive. A signal that after two years, things will start breaking.

The situation presented an interesting question. What are the expectations of people today about how long products will last? And are businesses making products that meet those expectations? How do you make that evaluation in your business?

one size doesn't fit all

Ditch the script and resolve the issue

The trash pickup was missed. Somehow the truck just missed going through the entire subdivision. When I called, the person I spoke with explained I could just leave extra on the side the following week at no extra charge. Then proceeded to ask me if I wanted to pay the bill that wasn’t due for two weeks.

The challenge with a one size fits all script is it leaves customers confused or angry and puts the employee in an awkward situation. And it results in more time spent because all of the steps must be accomplished. Or more time is spent because the issue isn’t being resolved. The best results come when people are hired who can resolve issues and they are empowered to do so.

How are you ditching the script and resolving issues in your business?

Beauty in unexpected places

Beauty in Unexpected Places

A few days ago, I was heading down the trail when I rounded the bend and saw something that was totally unexpected. A peacock. Beautiful, iridescent blue neck and head. Flowing tail feathers. Stunning. And totally out of place in the Pacific Northwest on a 40 degree morning.

There’s beauty in many unexpected places. Sometimes, it just takes a moment to stop and observe and appreciate what is before us.