explosive growth

Explosive Growth

For months, the forest was dormant. The evergreen trees were green, but everything else that has leaves seasonally were bare. No ferns, no small plants that line the floor. Just the look of winter. Then all of a sudden, the temperature went from lows in the 30’s and highs in the 50’s to 90 degree highs with lows in the high 50’s. And the forest exploded. What was bare filled in within a two week timeframe. The conditions were present for explosive growth and that’s what happened.

The same conditions can happen in business too. Things chug along at with a regular, predictable pace. Then something changes, creating an environment for explosive growth. The trick is watching closely enough to know when that change is about to occur and position for it.

are old rules being updated to reflect new conditions?

Pictures, Tom Hanks and Marketing

Tom Hanks was in town last week to give a talk about his new novel. As he walked out onto the stage, people clapped and got their phones out to take a picture. The security staff and ushers swarmed the aisles telling people not to take photos. The commotion lasted about 5 minutes before everything settled down and the program got underway.

Why no pictures? It was just a curtain, two chairs, a table with the book displayed, Tom Hanks and the person discussing the book with him. The point of doing book talks is to generate a buzz and get more people to buy the book. And social media is a great way for people to share a picture and get the word out. The old rules seem to be at odds with the new way of marketing.

There’s probably some explanation for why this tradition is still in place. But sometimes old rules stick around because no-one challenges them and updates them for the current environment. And that leads to suboptimal performance.

rules vs guidelines

Rules vs. Guidelines. And Who Decides

The playground portion of the park has been under construction for months. Parts are complete while others are in progress. The county put a fence around it for what can be assumed are safety issues and a desire not to have in progress portions damaged.

And still, parents disassemble the fence in places and pry it apart in others so they can squeeze through so their kids can play. At other times parents stand on the outside with their kids looking at what is to come. Some view the fence as a rule that is meant to keep people out, while others look at as a guideline that the park can be used depending upon the conditions at the time.

At work, the same thing happens. Some people look at a situation and believe rules are in place that need to be followed, while others think they are guidelines that allow for usage. The trick for leaders is establishing a common understanding of rules vs. guidelines and when they apply.

beautiful things

Beautiful things

It was time. Every year, the gray skies give way to blue, sunny days. And when that happens, the driveway screams that it needs to be power washed. So out I went for the annual ritual. And part way through, a beautiful blue dragonfly flew right in front of me across the driveway. It had been ages since I’d last seen one. And a delight for that moment.

Even in the most mundane, tedious work, beautiful moments can happen if you watch for them.

life cycles

Life Cycles

Over the last few weeks, the Pacific Northwest trillium has been in bloom. The flower starts out white, then turns light pink and eventually a dark pink before it reaches the end of its life cycle.  The color is the indicator of which stage it is in.

Products and services have life cycles too. And it takes a little more work to tell if it is early stage, mature or in decline. But a quick survey of the market will give a directional indication. That’s the step that gets overlooked. Knowing where you are in the life cycle to inform what to do next.

what is impeding your growth

What’s impeding your growth?

There’s an ornamental bush in a planter box in front of my house. I’ve wanted it to grow to a certain height, but it just hasn’t grown. And that has stumped me. Then a few weeks ago, I realized, my landscaping crew has been trimming the bush. They thought they were helping, but really they were impeding the growth I was looking for.

In business, well intentioned people get in the way of growth all the time. They think their job is to constrain it from happening.  That’s when it is important for leaders to make sure people understand growth goals and align the organization to support rather than impede it.

showing up

Showing Up

There’s a teenage boy who shows up at the park every day that it isn’t raining to practice basketball. Sometimes he is by himself, other times he is accompanied by other teenage boys. Dribbling, shooting, trying new things. He shows up and practices. That’s how skill and passion are built. By showing up and doing the work that is necessary to get good at the game.

The power of an image

The Power of an Image

The other day, I was flipping through The Wall Street Journal. I read many periodicals online, but I like the WSJ in print because of the design and layout.  So when I saw the full page image and message from the editor about the wrongfully detained journalist Evan Gershkovich, I paused. The power of the full page message did what it was designed to do—stop me in my tracks. It made me think about the gravity of the situation. Images and messages can be powerful to convey a point if executed well. It’s worth taking time to notice when they do.

when the extraordinary becomes ordinary

When the Extraordinary becomes Ordinary

I was in Washington DC last week and was able to see the cherry blossoms at their peak. Stunning! All of the hotels in the area were booked with people coming to see the blossoms. And yet, for the people living there, many have seen the sight for so many years, it is no longer a big deal. The extraordinary that people travel to see has become ordinary.

It’s part of human nature that people adapt to their surroundings. And as leaders, when we are in the middle of something special, it is our responsibility to remind people that what is going on is extraordinary and not to lose sight of it. Otherwise, over time, the thing that attracts people will get lost and become ordinary.

Coming soon

“Coming Soon”

The neighborhood park has been under construction for almost a year. There was a pause in the fall and winter awaiting material deliveries. Then a couple of weeks ago, fencing went up around what will be the playground area and construction resumed. It was like a big “coming soon” sign was on display. People came by to find out what was going on and observe the installation.

There’s nothing like a “coming soon” display when people are excited by what is coming. Think about announcements you’ve heard lately that got you excited for a movie, a tv show, or a park. Are you creating that same sort of excitement in your business?