change isn't always good

Are you still doing things that are no longer necessary?

The local wooded park has standing water in places. And that means mosquitos. They love me, but I don’t care to be bitten. So, my ritual has been to hop out of my car and apply mosquito spray. Until one day, I realized the temperature had been well below the point where mosquitos are active for some time. I had been applying mosquito spray out of habit, not because it was necessary.

The same happens in business. We continue to do things out of habit that may no longer be necessary. It takes periodically, deliberately examining work being done to determine if it continues to be necessary. Are you still doing things that are no longer necessary?

are you creating hazards?

Are you unintentionally creating hazards?

Have you ever seen situations and wondered what the person was thinking who created it? A few days ago was one of those times. A crew was working in the neighborhood and left their trucks overnight.

The truck and its trailer were wrapped around a corner. They were so large, you couldn’t see around them, forcing drivers to turn into oncoming traffic hoping no-one was there. A particular hazard because oncoming traffic was coming around a bend and would not have time to react to a car on the wrong side of the road.

People do things all the time at work, focusing on the task at hand. Sometimes they are not aware of the hazards they are creating. How are you making sure you don’t have any unintended hazards in your business?

what are you building to last?

What are you building to last?

The wooded park down the street has miles of trails. It feels like being in a forest with tall trees, a stream and the elevation changes you’d expect on a hike. And in the middle of it all stands a chimney with a sign that says it was built by Ken Custards in 1930. It was built to last.

Just like that chimney, we build things in our companies and lives. Some are meant to last a short time, while others are meant to last much longer. What are you building to last?

Be clear about your objectives

Be clear about expectationsYou need to be clear about what has to be accomplished, and you need to share it broadly. If you don’t, your brilliant team will turn into a second-grade soccer match; it’ll degrade into a bunch of people running around, without a strategy, pushing the ball all over the place, but not necessarily towards the goal.


are you watching out for risks ahead?

Are you charging ahead or hesitating?

There’s a blind corner at one particular spot on the daily walk. And when I say corner, it is a really long, rounded corner with a waist high cinder block wall with a 6 foot fence on top that seems to take forever to traverse.

Although we take the walk almost every day, as soon as we get to that corner, my dog starts pulling really hard and starts going even faster. What might we encounter that we can’t see? She is charging hard to find out!

In business, there are lots of blind corners too. We’ve been on the road before, but today there might be something new on the way. Do you charge ahead fast to find out? Do you proceed cautiously? Do you hesitate? Each approach has its upsides and drawbacks. If you aren’t prepared for them. Which do you choose?

do you know what is going on when you are not around?

What is going on when you are not around?

My rescue dog is reactive toward other dogs, so we go for walks early. Really early. When fewer dogs are around. And often we see things that you wouldn’t when people and cars are around. One recent morning, a pair of coyotes were in the middle of the road, just standing there. Probably hunting. A rather large owl was perched further up the road in a tree hooting. Ducks squawk loudly at the pond. And periodically, a deer can be seen grazing. All these critters are gone as soon as people come out.

The same happens in business. Things happen when you aren’t there. Some of it is creative and positive. Other times it isn’t. What is going on when you aren’t around?

how are people living up to expectations

Is everyone living up to the same expectations?

The local park has a bunch of different trails where people hike and run. Some with dogs, some alone and others on horseback. And while there are signs all over the place for people to “scoop” after their horse, none do. As a result, the trail is covered. But the people with dogs do scoop, even though there are virtually no signs asking them to do so. The expectation is the same.

At work, we often have expectations that are the same across the organization. Some people follow them, while others disregard them and continue on, leaving a divided organization. For a culture to thrive, everyone needs to live up to the same expectations. And leaders need to make sure they do. Organizations with two different sets of rules are doomed to fail. How are you making sure you don’t have them in yours?

how do you get perspective?

How do you get perspective?

When I go for walks in the area, there are frequently hawks and eagles flying above or sitting on power lines or high up in trees. From that height, they get a perspective of what is going on on the ground, and can easily find their prey. From a higher level, they get a broad perspective.

The same is true in business. It is hard to get perspective when you are in the trenches. It’s important to step back and get perspective. How do you step away to get yours?

how do you spot opportunities?

Are you spotting opportunities or challenges?

Deer aren’t typically out in my area. But recently, I noticed one nibbling on a bush off the main path. Most people probably wouldn’t have even noticed it was there because it was on a small path that was mostly obscured by a fence and bushes. As soon as I stopped to take a peek and a picture, it ran off into more densely packed bushes.

In business, there are opportunities and challenges lurking all over the place. The trick is keeping your eyes open to spot them. Is your organization structured to keep an eye open to opportunities or challenges?

how do you assess risk?

How are people self assessing risk in your business?

Every morning I see rabbits all over the place. Some are on their own, while others are in groups. On one particular morning, there was a group of four nibbling on the grass. As I approached, three ran up the hill and into a bush. The fourth ran down the hill, paused and watched me as I walked by.

Everyone has their own perception and tolerance for risk. But in business, that can be problematic if individual tolerance for risk is too permissive or too restrictive. How are you making sure you get the balance you want in your business?