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.

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?

we've always done it that way means it is time to change

What will you do when conditions change?

Before COVID, the grocery store encouraged customers to bring their reusable bags. With the current conditions, not wanting to spread germs, the store now prohibits reusable bags to protect everyone. They put all the items back in the cart after checkout and have a bagging station outside so people can use their reusable bags. Otherwise items are bagged in a paper bag. And that’s changed too….the paper bag is now plain and does not have its prior branded printing.

This move is temporary. And businesses of all types are making the same temporary changes. The trick is to make the shift to the most effective approach from a cost and availability perspective. How are you adjusting when conditions change?

is a geyser about to go off?

Is a geyser about to erupt?

There is a stretch of highway near my house that segments into blocks and depresses on one side, causing the other side to elevate. Periodically, the department of transportation comes through and replaces the section, resulting in the same thing happening to the next section.

A few days ago, after a long stretch of rain, a semi ran over the next section, causing a geyser to erupt that went many feet into the air through the seam in the pavement.

Clearly, large amounts of water are getting trapped under the highway, only getting relieved once a significant amount of pressure is applied. There are signs something is going on under the surface. The symptoms seem to be addressed periodically, but not the cause.

You’ve probably seen the same thing happening in business. Pressure starts building somewhere and eventually cracks become apparent, along with the occasional geyser. It is important when the signs become apparent, the cause is addressed and not just the symptom. If the cause isn’t addressed, the symptoms will continue, getting worse and more expensive.

How are you making sure you don’t have a geyser in your business?

are you wasting time on preferences?

Are you wasting time on preferences?

My dog has preferences that seem to change over time. Her new thing is where she eats dinner. She likes to eat on the carpet. I fill her bow and put it on a rug that is easy to clean. She then picks it up and carries it over to the carpet and eats there. And if I put her bully sticks in the bowl, she will walk over immediately and take them out of the bowl. All the work I do to make it how I think it should be is immediately undone by her.

These sorts of things happen at work too. People re-arrange data files, layouts of offices, work processes, etc. to accommodate their preferences.  And most of the time it doesn’t really matter how it is done, as long as it works for the person doing it. So, why not stop wasting time going back and forth on preferences?

the aha moment

How do you know when an idea catches?

You know that feeling when you hear a song that is about to take off. Your foot starts tapping or your fingers drum. Or maybe you dance in your chair or bob your head to the rhythm. There is something about it that makes you want to listen. It is a feeling. And people who compose music can tell you about the technical side of what makes songs catchy. But for the person listening, the technical side might not matter. They just care about how they feel listening to it.

The same is true in any part of business. Ideas catch when they make life easier for the people they touch. They feel better because it is easy and takes some of the pressure off an already busy day. And businesses that are very successful know this and make sure their ideas catch before they are released.

How do you know when your ideas catch?

are you challenging yourself to be strong?

Are you trying things that challenge you and make you stronger?

Last week, I tried a different class at the gym. And was I glad I did! My normal class wasn’t going to happen, so I needed to figure out an alternative. But I wasn’t excited by the options. Then, an instructor I liked walked by and told me she was teaching a class at the time I had open. It was a format that complemented the other classes I take. So, I tried it and was sore afterward. It was a great reminder that muscles adapt and need to be challenged with something new regularly.

The same is true in business. If you keep doing the same things, your business won’t continue to grow and get stronger. Keep doing the things that make you strong. And actively seek other things that compliment your strengths, but challenge you to get even stronger.

When was the last time you tried something new? Was it something that would challenge you, but make you stronger?

What message are you trying to communicate?

The postcard arrived in the mail. It was bright yellow and talked about Real ID. Starting in October 2020, Washington State driver licenses will no longer be accepted by TSA at the airport as they are not compliant with federal regulations. An enhanced license is necessary to use at the airport. But it requires a trip to the DMV to provide all the necessary documentation.

I’ve heard about the upcoming change for a while, so wasn’t surprised to see the post card. I set it aside to handle in a few months when my schedule settled down. That was until I pulled out my license to show it to the store clerk and they said it was expired! Usually there is a renewal letter, but not this time. The woman at the DMV said the postcard was the renewal prompt. My takeaway from the postcard was about Real ID, not that my license was expiring.

In business, we communicate all the time. But is it the message you intend?

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?

what are bottlenecks doing to your business?


Last week, several accidents and roadwork created bottlenecks on the freeway system. As the traffic backed up, it overflowed onto nearby streets and backed up adjoining freeways.

That’s the thing about bottlenecks. They don’t just impact the place they happen. They impact the entire system. What are you doing to get rid of yours?