scaling up

Scaling Up

Spring is right around the corner. Which means if you are growing things from seed, you have probably already started your seeds. My little seed tray has 40 slots. But going up to the next container size only fits 18. Two of them fit 36, or a loss of 4 slots.

Scaling up often requires adjustment. Sometimes it results in greater efficiencies. Other times, it results in loss. And sometimes those losses make way for growth to produce more. In scaling, it’s important to understand what adjustments are needed at each stage to get the outcomes you are looking for.

watching concrete dry

Watching concrete dry

The new sidewalk was nice and winding. But it had a problem that needed to be repaired. And because it was in a public place, the crew had to stay and wait until the new concrete dried before leaving to ensure there was no damage.

Whether intentional or not, people can create a lot of damage by entering areas that are not yet meant for use. They like to check out new things. Whether it is a new facility, or new systems, or something that is not yet complete, having clear boundaries that are respected by people is necessary to keep costs down and maintain functionality.

measuring progress

Measuring Progress

My neighbor got a new car. It’s great! And while new, it is designed to resemble the classic model. We were talking about it and she mentioned that her daughter asked what “that” is. Turns out “that” is the hand crank to roll the windows up and down. In the era of push button window openers, she had never seen the hand crank version before.

It’s a reminder whether in business or life, progress happens quickly. But the perspective of how much progress is being made is dependent upon how long the people have been around to see it.

showing up

Showing Up

There’s a teenage boy who shows up at the park every day that it isn’t raining to practice basketball. Sometimes he is by himself, other times he is accompanied by other teenage boys. Dribbling, shooting, trying new things. He shows up and practices. That’s how skill and passion are built. By showing up and doing the work that is necessary to get good at the game.

healthy trees can be deceiving

History, change, bugs and features

A few months back, a woman I see regularly on the trail shared the history of the trails. Years ago, it was just a muddy series of trails for most of the year that was known by the horse community. Just one of five parks in the county where they would go to ride, it was their little secret. And then several groups and the county came together to improve the trails.

The little known place where people could ride their horses started to become a magnet for hikers, bikers and runners, making it harder for people riding their horses. What was a feature for so many new people, became a bug for the long time partakers.

That’s the thing with change. Often, there’s a lot of history behind how people feel about the change. And making things better for some, can make it worse for others. Knowing the history can help reduce or eliminate the impact of change.

muddy spots create more muddy spots

Muddy spots create more muddy spots

It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest in the winter. Which means, the water needs somewhere to go. One of the trails has been worn down through the weight of horses, people and bikes such that there is no place for the water to run off. It just pools, creating one of the muddiest spots in the series of trails. So, people veer off the path to avoid the mud, creating a bigger muddy area.

These situations arise at work too. People see a mess and try to get around it. What they don’t realize is, by avoiding the mess, they create another mess because that space wasn’t meant to be used in that manner. It’s worth thinking about design in business to make sure messy spots are removed rather than being left to create other problems.

you're going to love this!

You’re going to love this!

The treat bucket was nearly empty, which meant it was time for a trip to the pet food store. New treats! They sounded like a nice addition to the usually mix. Apparently, they weren’t. She spit them out fully intact. For a rescue dog who was underweight when I got her, I’m always surprised when she turns her nose up.

You never know when people won’t like something. And yet every new introduction is proceeded with “you’re going to love this!” The reality is, some people will like it and some won’t. Rather than making the assumption they will, why not ask “what do you think?” Then ask why they like it or not. That information will help you keep doing more of what works and stop doing what won’t.

self correcting problems

Self-correcting problems

Summer came late to the Pacific Northwest. That long cool, rainy season meant late planting for tomatoes. And I figured that meant smaller vines and fewer tomatoes. Was I wrong! Somehow, the vines knew it was going to be a shorter season and grew fast and produced a ton of tomatoes. They caught up.

The same happens in business. When teams know what to do, they see the setbacks and find a way to catch up. The trick is designing teams that have the skills to recognize and address problems along the way.  And making sure they have the resources to do what they need to do.

building and changing directions

Building and changing directions

The county has started developing a community park. The plot of land had a house and a barn. To my surprise, it only took a day to completely demolish the house and another day to remove the slab and haul away the debris. In contrast, right next to what will be the park, a house is being built. Based on the pace, it will probably be at least two months to complete.

Two months to build. Two days to remove.

There is nothing like physically watching things being built and torn down to remind us of how long it takes to create something new. And how fast a decision to change direction can happen.

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?