the power of guidelines

The power of guidelines

At the local hiking spot, the parking lot is a large gravel area. The area that accommodates three cars always has three, because it is obvious how cars should be parked. In another larger area, somedays people park in a way seven cars can fit. Other days, people space out and only four cars fit. Human nature often leads to having less capacity than if lines were in place that guided people to the most optimal fit.

The same is true at work. Having guidelines helps people achieve the optimal work. The point isn’t to micromanage or have no rules and let people flounder. It is to have the boundaries set so people know where to go.

How are you doing at setting guidelines?

do you really need to tell people what to do with avocados?

Do you really need to tell people what to do with an avocado?

When the local grocery store was purchased, their ads changed. Historically, pictures of the product and the sale price were listed. Just the facts. Now, the use or medicinal properties are shared. Oranges are touted as being a good source of vitamin C.  Avocados are great for spreading on toast. But most shoppers already know that.

People look for unique perspectives or the specific information they are looking for. They don’t want to hear what they already know. And that’s the challenge for businesses. Providing useful or thought provoking information.

what is your customer experience?

Amazing customer service at the local high school

One of the local high schools recently held a plant sale. The kids learned how to grow plants from seed and sold the starts as a fundraiser. Upon arriving, I was greeted by one of the students who escorted me through the greenhouse. He showed me where each item I was looking for was located, put my selections in a box, escorted me to the check out, then put the plants in my car. The service was fantastic! I was so impressed, I shared the experience with family and friends.

Creating raving fans is easy to do. And it starts with amazing customer service.

How are you creating amazing customer service in your business?

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?