hurry up and wait

Hurry up and wait

It was a quick trip, so Uber made the most sense getting to and from the airport. The first ride had little traffic. Even so, the driver always followed the GPS. He found that every time he diverted, his alternate took longer than the GPS projected route. In contrast, the drive back included a lot of rush hour traffic. So, the driver diverted from GPS and drove through adjacent streets, hitting almost every light as red. There was movement for a few moments, followed by long waits at red lights. A quick look at the freeway showed that it was moving continuously, but slowly. We got to the airport 15 minutes later than the GPS originally projected.

It’s a common phenomenon. The desire to feel movement. The thing is, when movement is also accompanied by long halts, slow movement is better because it is continuous. It’s worth noting as a leader that hurry up and wait is better when the wait time can be significantly reduced then eliminated. If not, it just becomes something that slows the organization down, mistaking brief movement for faster progress.

muddy spots create more muddy spots

Muddy spots create more muddy spots

It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest in the winter. Which means, the water needs somewhere to go. One of the trails has been worn down through the weight of horses, people and bikes such that there is no place for the water to run off. It just pools, creating one of the muddiest spots in the series of trails. So, people veer off the path to avoid the mud, creating a bigger muddy area.

These situations arise at work too. People see a mess and try to get around it. What they don’t realize is, by avoiding the mess, they create another mess because that space wasn’t meant to be used in that manner. It’s worth thinking about design in business to make sure messy spots are removed rather than being left to create other problems.

delivering on expectations

Delivering on expectations

Shipment delayed-weather. That was the message about why my package was delayed. The only thing was, I could see it was at the local warehouse and there wasn’t an issue with weather in the area. So, there is sat for two days until it was delivered on the day the major snowstorm came through town, shutting the area down.

Companies set expectations about their services. We’ve come to expect deliveries to be seamless (except for the supply chain hiccups during the pandemic). When it doesn’t happen the way we expect, people take notice and they change quickly if problems persist. That’s the thing about expectations. People want the what they signed up for, whether it was written down or just a given.

you're going to love this!

You’re going to love this!

The treat bucket was nearly empty, which meant it was time for a trip to the pet food store. New treats! They sounded like a nice addition to the usually mix. Apparently, they weren’t. She spit them out fully intact. For a rescue dog who was underweight when I got her, I’m always surprised when she turns her nose up.

You never know when people won’t like something. And yet every new introduction is proceeded with “you’re going to love this!” The reality is, some people will like it and some won’t. Rather than making the assumption they will, why not ask “what do you think?” Then ask why they like it or not. That information will help you keep doing more of what works and stop doing what won’t.

what damage is not having the right skills causing

What damage is not having the right skills causing?

The spigot on the outside of my house hadn’t worked in years, if ever. I never really needed to use it, so it wasn’t an issue. When the plumber from a reputable company came out to fix it, he cut the water line and a big channel in the drywall up the side of the wall and across the ceiling. And then he left to consult with others at his office because the path he was on wasn’t yielding results. Several days later, he sent an estimate for running a new water line.

Time for a second opinion! My neighbor had a plumber out and I asked him to take a look and give me an estimate for getting the spigot working. He walked over to my water heater and said the valve for the water line was off. It is code for every house in the county to have this valve in that spot. I was completely unaware of the valve’s existence.

Not having the rights skills and information in this case caused a lot of damage. And it wasn’t just the first plumber. Whoever he consulted didn’t have the knowledge either as the valve should have been the first thing to check.

In any business, people who don’t have the required skills can cause a lot of damage. Some of it is visible. Some isn’t until later. And the cost is almost always significantly higher when factoring in the cost of repair.

the beauty of natural dams

The beauty of natural dams and filters

There are several spots along the stream where branches collect, creating a natural dam. Water collects and filters through the branches, and when the water is high, over the top. It stops the dirt, pebbles and sediment from flowing downstream and causing erosion or buildup where it isn’t wanted.

There are places in business where natural dams are helpful too. A lot of stuff can flow around a business that isn’t helpful. Creating places where it can be caught and stopped from moving forward, while allowing for the things that should makes business function better.

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.