a picture is worth a thousand words

Do you see yourself in the picture?

The annual catalog came out for the anniversary sale. This time it was exclusively on line, and it was available just as the sale was starting. I took a quick peek before heading to the store and was shocked. It was a series of odd pictures with prints that clashed in combinations I would never wear. I couldn’t see myself in anything that was pictured. And apparently I wasn’t alone. The sales rep I met with had the same reaction. If I wasn’t a long time customer, I wouldn’t have shopped based on what I saw.

People have to see themselves in the picture. Whether it is working in your business or buying your products or services, they have to know that they fit. If they don’t see themselves in the picture, they will go somewhere else.

When was the last time you thought about whether your people or your customers see themselves in the picture with you?

Are too many projects started, but not finished, creating chaos in your organization?

There’s an intersection that has been under construction for months. More accurately, the corners have been torn up and cones blocking the right turn lanes. The sidewalks have been closed, causing people in wheelchairs to have to enter the street to navigate the intersection. And while the project clearly started months ago, there hasn’t been any activity to finish it. As a result, the intersection remains clogged as people try to navigate it.

That’s the thing about starting too many things in a business. Stuff gets torn up and creates a chaotic situation when it is not finished. And the tendency is to start the next thing before finishing the project that is underway. It slows everything down and makes people feel like they aren’t making progress.

High-performing companies know that it is better to start fewer projects and finish them before moving to the next. Things actually work better and more progress is made. How are you avoiding chaos in your organization?

one size doesn't fit all

One size doesn’t always fit all

The ladies room at the gym was remodeled, giving it a necessary facelift. As happens with many remodels, input is taken from customers/members, then as construction happens, the facilities people get involved and make changes. And it happened here. To be efficient, automatic faucets were installed that have set temperatures and meter the water to minimize waste. The problem is, you can’t change the temperature. It isn’t possible to splash cold water on your face, or run cold water over your hands. The faucets are set to a temperature designed for germ reduction. The point that people may use the faucet for others reasons was missed. One size doesn’t fit all.

Businesses often try to put in one size fits all solutions. They may be systems to run the entire business, that don’t meet the needs of some areas of the business. Or processes that require a lot of work for one area of the business to make another area of the business work better. One size doesn’t fit all. That’s why it is important to understand whether changes will work for each of the impacted areas.

How do you make sure you don’t fall into the one size fits all trap?

are you bold

Are you bold?

The squirrel leapt out of the tree from a relatively high branch and continued to leap across the road. It noticed my dog and I walking up the hill, not far from where it landed, and came charging at us. As my 80 pound dog got wound up, it continued to come straight at us, veering off into a yard just before getting to us. It was a bold move. Clearly, the little critter was confident it could outrun my dog or knew that my dog wasn’t going to get out from her leash.

How often are you that bold? That confident? That gutsy?

don't panic

Don’t Panic!

My dog enjoys chasing critters that run. But when we are out on a walk, she can miss bunnies that are in yards if she is focused on something else. And when this happens, the bunny sees us and freezes while we walk by. The risk passes and then the bunny moves on to another area.

Sometimes what looks like a risk isn’t actually one. The best thing to do is keep an eye on it, not panic and let it pass by.

are you watching out for risks ahead?

Are you watching for the warning signs?

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful. And apparently the word is out. The roads fill with people from all over the place. Watching the license plates on the roads paints a picture about where people are coming from. And many times, they are in a hurry to get where they are going. But, they aren’t watching the signs they are about to fall into a trap. A speed trap.

Locals know where the speed traps are located. Always around a blind corner on the downhill. The locals stay out of the left lane and no more than 5 mph above the speed limit. They know where the traps are as those who don’t fly by in the left lane and get pulled over for speeding.

That’s the thing about risk. If you know what you are doing, you can push the envelope. But if you are in unfamiliar territory and those who are familiar with it are behaving differently, it’s a warning sign to understand the risks before pushing forward. Calculated risk taking is a good thing. Reckless risk taking is not.

how are you making space for new ideas

How do you create space for new ideas?

On the corner is a parcel of land where water is funneled when it rains to soak through trees and grasses back into the water table. All of the newer neighborhoods have these spots.

These parcels weren’t included in the older neighborhoods. So, the city created rain gardens in key spots. The area has many hills. These rain gardens jut out into the street a few feet and capture the rain water as it runs downhill and feeds it into long, grassy nook where it is filtered back into the ground.

It is a clever way of finding space for a new idea that didn’t fit into the older neighborhood. Sometimes new ideas fit differently into things that already exist than they do when they are created from scratch. How are you making space in your organization for new ideas?

are you poaching?

When was the last time you went porching?

The homes in the neighborhood had lovely front porches where people in the neighborhood would gather and talk. It brought the neighbors together and created a community. The woman sharing the stories talked about how much she enjoyed porching with her neighbors.

It got me thinking about my own neighborhood. The homes are designed with no front porches. The most prominent feature is the garage—a convenient feature for quickly opening the door, pulling in and closing it. But, the design doesn’t facilitate communicating with neighbors.

The same thing can be seen in businesses. Some are designed to facilitate communicating with co-workers. Others are designed to keep people apart. For businesses to be healthy, there have to be built in mechanisms that are designed to get people talking.

How is your business designed? Should you have more porching in yours?

did you take out the good stuff

You took out the good stuff

My dog loves bully sticks. Just mention the word and she runs to where they are kept. Recently, the type I normally buy was out of stock. So, I purchased another brand. But it wasn’t the same. They somehow reduced the odor, but took out whatever makes them taste good.

You’ve probably heard the same sort of thing in business. We’ve made some changes and you’re going to love it. But, the people making the changes don’t really know what it is you actually love. And that’s the part that gets removed.

It’s a good reminder to really understand the parts people love about your business and make sure you don’t change those things. How do you make sure you don’t take out the good stuff?

are you a trendsetter?

Are you a trendsetter or a follower?

July used to be a wasteland for the retail industry. That was until Amazon introduced Prime Day. And other retailers took notice and followed by introducing competing offers.

This year Amazon set records during its two Prime Days in July. The expectation was sales would be in the range of $5-6 billion dollars.

Pretty astonishing.

But that’s the power of being a top performer in your industry. Top performers create things that didn’t exist before. And people are excited about it.

They change expectations and set new ones.

What can you do to set trends in your industry? To change the game? And set new expectations?