change isn't always good

Are businesses ceding customers to third parties?

A lot has changed through the pandemic. And as a result, many implemented new systems to serve the customer better.  In some cases, those systems introduced a third party between the business and the customer, who now controls a significant portion of the experience. And doesn’t allow for purchasing or making reservations a guest, without a profile being completed.

At some point, “you may like this” recommendations may be made to the customer. Will that lead them elsewhere? Is having a third party controlling the experience (and collecting their data across a range of companies) better for the business or the third party? And does that system make life better or worse for the customer?

where do you adjust when obstacles pop up

How well do you know where to adjust when obstacles pop up?

A few weeks ago, several inches of heavy, wet snow fell. It was April, so leaves had sprouted, giving the snow more places to accumulate. And the combination of the two resulted in trees and major limbs falling all over the trails. Many were so large, they were impassible. Because I know the trails so well, I was able to quickly adjust to alternate trails. When one option is closed off, there are always others to keep going.

The same is true in business. Periodically, obstacles pop up requiring a course change. When time is spent in advance to understand the market dynamics, adjusting course can happen quickly. And that speed allows you to outperform competitors.

what surprises are lurking in your business

How are you helping others avoid missing the obvious?

I love playing Wordle. It’s simple and fun. And sometimes frustrating when I miss the obvious and end up with too many guesses.

Missing the obvious happens for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we are too far into the weeds to see the big picture. Other times, it could be overthinking. Or maybe just not paying attention.

As leaders, helping people see the obvious is part of the job. And it just takes keeping that topic front of mind so it isn’t missed. How are you helping your people avoid missing the obvious?

we've always done it that way means it is time to change

Change. Are you getting the results you want?

The local grocery store was acquired a few weeks ago. And all the expected changes are underway. Will they kill the business? Time will tell. The store never sold farm raised fish before. Now it does. It never used to sell canned goods with lots of things that can’t be pronounced. Now it does. The produce section was extensive and turned over rapidly so everything was really fresh. That seems to be changing too.

People shopped there because the store did the work for them.

That’s the thing in business. Customers choose to spend their money in places where they see value. Where their needs are being met. When those conditions change, the customer base changes. It’s up to leadership and owners to decide whether the outcomes of the changes are the ones they desire.

how do you find people who predict the rare

Rare, but predicted

It’s snowing. On April 11. And not just a little. I’ve already got several inches and it is still coming. The news folks say this is the first time in at least 80 years it has snowed at this late date, but it could be longer as the records only date back to 1940. Rare, but predicted.

There are lots of rare things that happen in business. And if you listen to people who watch for them, they are predicted. The challenge is finding the right people to listen to about predictions. Some have strong track records, others don’t.

How are you finding the people who can predict the rare?

Are you considering everything when making decisions?

Decision Failure. Are you considering the right things?

It rains a lot in this neck of the woods during the winter. So, I bought a poncho to continue hiking in the rain. I wanted more coverage over my legs than I had from my jacket. My quick buy didn’t consider what was actually needed in raingear. After my first hike, the mistake was clear. I bought waterproof gear that wasn’t breathable. All that sweat just sat on my clothes making me as wet inside as it was outside!

It’s just as easy in business to make a quick decision without considering all the needs of the solution being sought. The quick decision addresses the obvious issue, but not all the considerations necessary to make the solution lasting.

How are you making sure you capture all the necessary considerations when making decisions?

Do you have a strong root structure?

Do you have a strong root system?

The tree was laying across the trail, causing me to look at it as I climbed over it. It’s roots were largely detached, probably the reason it fell. Roots do a lot. They anchor trees to the ground, they gather nutrients to help the tree grow and they absorb water. Healthy root systems are necessary for healthy trees.

The same is true in business. A strong foundation, just like roots, is necessary for the business to grow and thrive. Culture, a strong team, systems and processes are all necessary for the business to grow and thrive.

Do you have a strong root system in your business? If not, it’s time to take a look at how to strengthen it.

is bureaucracy getting in the way of solutions?

Is bureaucracy getting in the way of solutions?

A massive development is going in on the major road to the freeway. The project is developing an area that was previously undeveloped, requiring all sorts of new infrastructure. As part of the development, the road completely closes for 15 minutes, cars are let through then it closes again. If you hit the closures wrong, you’ll spend 30 minutes waiting for each back and forth trip.

The county doesn’t consider the road closed, so detour signs are not placed out, nor are signs about intermittent closures. One time while I was waiting, they explained all the rules as to why they can’t notify people of the closure, allowing them to take a detour.

The situation is a classic example of how bureaucracy gets in the way of providing solutions. The same can be found in businesses. Rules exist that make doing the job harder and less efficient, or provide lots of friction points for customers.

Is bureaucracy getting in the way of solutions in your business? If so, what is stopping you from getting rid of it?

are you taking more time than you need?

Are your products user friendly?

This past weekend marked the annual spring forward an hour. Along with that leap comes the ritual of adjusting any clock that does not adjust itself. For me, one of those is in my car. For some strange reason, my car has two clocks. One of which is very easy to adjust. The other, I’ve not been able to figure out after reading the manual and looking online. So, for part of the year, it is off an hour.

The funny thing about my car is it illustrates the spectrum of user friendliness. On the one end, a product that is easy to use without any instruction manual. On the other, so difficult that even with a manual, it is difficult to operate.

Which end of the spectrum are your products?

sometimes what looks like an epic fail turns out not to be

Sometimes what looks like an epic fail turns out to be a success

My dog loves chews. She literally runs for them at full speed. So when I got her a new one, I thought she would love it. She tore through it with gusto. But with each bite she took, she spit out the pieces in a pile all around her. It was an epic fail. Or so I thought. It turns out, she went back and ate all the pieces she spit out around her. That fail turned out to be a success.

Sometimes with new things, it gets really messy in the middle and you wonder why you got into the mess in the first place. But with persistence, you can get to the other side and will have learned a lot from the journey.

When was the last time you thought you had an epic fail and it turned out to be a success?