do you really want feedback?

Are you really trying to get feedback?

A few weeks ago, a sign popped up on the side of the road. It was the standard poster size on a wood stick. The background was a light green with white type, making it impossible to see what the sign was about. After looking at it a few times as I passed by, I finally pulled over to see what it was about. The only thing I could ascertain was there was some sort of comment period about roadway amendments. The type so small and lacked contrast, it was hard to read without getting out of the car. It made me wonder if the county really wanted comments or if it was just an attempt to comply with the law.

These sorts of situations happen all the time in business. Requests for feedback are put out to customers in an attempt to show the business is open to comments. What happens next will tell you if the desire for comments is genuine. Top performing businesses genuinely want to understand what is working and what is not. That’s how they get better.

expect the unexpected

The unexpected can happen

It was a sunny day when I was in the backyard a few weeks ago. Being fall, I don’t typically look at my strawberry patch. But while looking at a few things nearby, I glanced over and saw a beautiful red strawberry. In the fall. It was totally unexpected.

The unexpected happens all the time around us. It just takes keeping your eyes open to find it.

Be a leader like Lincoln

To lead others, you must lead yourself first

Be like Lincoln. He had a depth of understanding about himself, which allowed him to keep himself in check and learn from failure. And through that journey, he was able to learn what drives others and how to bring out the best in them. To lead others, you must lead yourself first.

You can't fake normal

You can’t fake normal

A few weeks ago, a commercial caught my attention. There was no talking, just a catchy tune along with a group of people moving to the music. But something seemed off. Looking more closely, it was clear the people had been filmed separately and cut together to appear as if they were actually together. All the subtleties of human interaction weren’t there. And while the attempt to make the environment seem normal, it wasn’t.

Some businesses today are trying to artificially create what normal was 9 months ago rather than working with the conditions of today and creating a new experience. You can’t fake normal. People will notice.

people are watching you even when you don't know it

People are watching even when you don’t know it

Pretty much every day, I walk up and over the big hill by my house. Many days, the same people out walking and we say hi, expressing gratitude for the nice day.  One day, a man was in front of his house and asked about my walking route. He said he saw me pass by at about the same time every day.

And that got me thinking about how people in business watch leaders. They take clues from what they do and don’t do. And they are watching even when you don’t know it. Are you sending a consistent message to your people through words and actions, even when you don’t think they are watching?

sometimes automation gives you the wrong answer

Sometimes automation gives the wrong answer

The smoke has cleared and the sun is back! But for a while, everything went haywire. Including Amazon deliveries. My orders got to the area, but just sat there. I could see it through the tracking. The delivery dates were sliding out and finally were listed as potentially lost. There wasn’t any notice if the site was being impacted by smoke or fire and the people at the help desk didn’t know anything. After one order showed as being sent to Maryland from Portland a week later, I was finally able to reach a person live who told me everything was in Portland and would arrive that day!

When systems are completely automated and an unexpected event disrupts and intervenes, the system can give all sorts of bad information. How are you building checks into your systems to make sure you are getting the right information at the right time?

The 100 Year Event

The 100 Year Event

Heck. It is only September and we’ve already had at least three 100 year events in the Portland area: global pandemic, an extreme weather change that caused extreme wind gusts, and raging wild fires along the entire west coast of the United States. There might be more, and we aren’t even to the end of the year!

The thing is, conditions have changed and the 100 year events have been on the radar screens of many experts for a while. It was only a matter of time, a short time, before they happened. And they will probably occur more frequently than every 100 years going forward.

It’s the same thing about changing conditions in business. Looking to the past to guide the future makes sense under some circumstances, but not others. In evaluating risk, you need to assess the current environment, not the past environment to adequately mitigate and manage risk.

Are you paying attention to risks that are likely to occur today that were once considered unlikely?

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day!

The first Monday in September is the day we collectively celebrate the contributions and achievements of American workers. It became a holiday in 1894 after many years of struggle for safe working conditions and fair wages.

In the midst of a global pandemic, Labor Day is much more profound than in many years. Let’s take a moment today to reflect on and thank all the people who are working to get us through this pandemic.

what good things come out of necessities

What unintentional good things come out of everyday necessities?

It is summer. And that means the sprinklers periodically come on to keep my lawn alive and healthy. One particular day, I happened to be looking out the window and noticed something beautiful. The mist created by the sprinklers caught the light from the sun coming up and created a rainbow. It was a little thing, but it was beautiful.

There are little things that are good that come from the everyday necessities in work and in life. Are you watching to see them when they come about?

how good are you at pouncing on opportunities

How good are you at pouncing on opportunities?

My dog loves her new toy. It is really an interactive game where I race a little toy attached to a fishing pole around the room. She chases it and pounces on the toy or grabs it when it is mid-air. She is really good at figuring out where it will be next. She is so good, I’ve got to up my game to get ahead of her. She just has a knack for seeing the opportunities coming.

It’s the same thing in business. You’ve got to see where the opportunities, get good at predicting where they will be and pounce when they are available.