Over the last week the reaction to the coronavirus has been truly inspiring. People have come together to help neighbors and communities. Businesses that make alcohol have started producing and donating hand sanitizer. Small businesses have started curbside pickup or home delivery. Creativity and innovation are everywhere. Are you inspired yet?
Things are changing quickly. Businesses and public institutions are shutting down quickly. People are working from home and scrambling to adjust daily life. For many it is stressful and scary. And the news seems like it is non-stop and bad. And that is why taking a moment to step outside, take a walk and observe the beauty of nature is so important right now. When was the last time you took a moment to stop and observe it?
The weather changed just a tad and the humidity level notched up just a lot. It was just enough to cause a number of women at the gym trying to fix their hair trouble. They were working against what their hair wanted to do and the hair was winning. They were fighting against nature.
The same thing happens in business. Industry conditions, the economy, the nature of products, etc. all have a natural flow. Companies that learn how to leverage that flow have the greatest success. Meanwhile, competitors that fight things and constantly struggle lose ground. How are you leveraging that natural flow to outperform your competitors?
A friend was telling me about tuna he buys. He loves it. So, I did what many do when something is highly recommended. I went to Amazon and bought one to try. The package arrived a couple days later. And when I opened it, I was delighted. Attached to the tuna was a hand written note, addressed to me, that said they hope I enjoy my tuna. That little touch brought a smile to my face.
How often are you adding a little touch that delights the people around you?
Every year, the American City Business Journals hosts Mentoring Monday. I was pleased to participate today as a mentor in Portland. The Portland Business Journal brought together 50 mentors and more than 200 mentees from across the region. The bell rang and the conversations started. Each 7 minutes, mentees rotated to ask questions and get exposure to many different perspectives. It was a fantastic way to start the day.
As I reflected on the conversations and the format, I was impressed. It was a great way for ideas to be shared quickly in a relevant way. And a great format for companies to adopt too. Why not have a morning where people in the company can sign up to talk to leaders about the business, career paths, ideas, etc. one on one.
Kudos to PBJ for putting together a great event and giving a format for a great way to start mentoring conversations!
There is a stretch of highway near my house that segments into blocks and depresses on one side, causing the other side to elevate. Periodically, the department of transportation comes through and replaces the section, resulting in the same thing happening to the next section.
A few days ago, after a long stretch of rain, a semi ran over the next section, causing a geyser to erupt that went many feet into the air through the seam in the pavement.
Clearly, large amounts of water are getting trapped under the highway, only getting relieved once a significant amount of pressure is applied. There are signs something is going on under the surface. The symptoms seem to be addressed periodically, but not the cause.
You’ve probably seen the same thing happening in business. Pressure starts building somewhere and eventually cracks become apparent, along with the occasional geyser. It is important when the signs become apparent, the cause is addressed and not just the symptom. If the cause isn’t addressed, the symptoms will continue, getting worse and more expensive.
How are you making sure you don’t have a geyser in your business?
It has been raining in the area. A lot. January was the wettest in the last 14 years. So it is no wonder my backyard is really muddy. With an 80 pound yellow lab, it is hard to keep the mud in the backyard and not in the house.
I knew there was quite a bit of work necessary this weekend to get it cleaned up. No amount of toweling seems to get it all. But, I was surprised when the sun came out and lit up my stairwell to see the mud drops all the way up the stairs to the second story. On the walls. Yikes! What a mess!
As hard as you try to stay on top of things, messes can creep in. The same happens in business. And it isn’t until a bright light shines on different parts of the business that you see some work is needed.
How are you shining a light through the business to see what is working well and what needs attention?
John Kerry was talking on the phone over the weekend, sharing his thoughts on what he would have to do to enter the presidential race. Nearby was an NBC news analyst who overheard the conversation and reported it. The reporting set off a series of tweets and statements that Kerry wasn’t considering a run.
While the prominence of Kerry resulted in coverage in the media, conversations in public are regularly overheard. Sometimes by people who are interested in the intelligence, and sometimes not.
The situation is a good reminder for leaders not to share confidential information in public, whether on the phone or in screens that can be read by anyone nearby. You never know who is listening or looking!
My dog has preferences that seem to change over time. Her new thing is where she eats dinner. She likes to eat on the carpet. I fill her bow and put it on a rug that is easy to clean. She then picks it up and carries it over to the carpet and eats there. And if I put her bully sticks in the bowl, she will walk over immediately and take them out of the bowl. All the work I do to make it how I think it should be is immediately undone by her.
These sorts of things happen at work too. People re-arrange data files, layouts of offices, work processes, etc. to accommodate their preferences. And most of the time it doesn’t really matter how it is done, as long as it works for the person doing it. So, why not stop wasting time going back and forth on preferences?
You know that feeling when you hear a song that is about to take off. Your foot starts tapping or your fingers drum. Or maybe you dance in your chair or bob your head to the rhythm. There is something about it that makes you want to listen. It is a feeling. And people who compose music can tell you about the technical side of what makes songs catchy. But for the person listening, the technical side might not matter. They just care about how they feel listening to it.
The same is true in any part of business. Ideas catch when they make life easier for the people they touch. They feel better because it is easy and takes some of the pressure off an already busy day. And businesses that are very successful know this and make sure their ideas catch before they are released.
How do you know when your ideas catch?