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?

grow by the inch, die by the foot

Growing by the inch and dying by the foot

The sign read: Plants grow by the inch and die by the foot. How clever! It was a catchy way of asking people to stay on the trail that leads out from the Mt. St. Helens observatory into the mountains. The trail is pretty narrow and the tendency of many would be to trample the plants to get around others in their way. Killing plants that took time to grow.

In business, it is really easy to kill ideas or discourage people by trying to be expeditious. There are times when ideas and people need to be nurtured. And at those times, having an explicit view of how they will be protected is critical to their success.

How are you making sure your ideas and people aren’t growing by the inch and dying by the foot?

do you know when the window will close?

What is blinding you?

There are days at this time of year when the sun peaks out and is stunning. But, because the angle of the sun is lower, it has a tendency to be blinding at times. Which makes it hard to look ahead.

There are times in business when the same thing happens. Something ahead is blinding us. When that happens, how are you making sure you get a clear view to make good decisions and keep on the intended path?

how are you carving a path?

How are you carving a path for your people?

Have you ever noticed the channel cut by a stream or a river in an area that has large volumes of water that flow through? Sometimes a tree or changes in the embankments can change its course. But generally, it heads roughly in the same direction.

Leaders are a bit like that stream or river. They need to chart a course for their team, leaving a very clear path that people can follow. Sometimes they need to make course corrections in a clear way that shows people how to adjust. And the direction is always forward, at times with high velocity.

How are you creating carving a path for your people?