Thursday, December 8, 2016

leadership dot #1651: see the signs

Yesterday I wrote about the small signs that form a pattern before a major change occurs. Another example of the behaviors that are triggers before a larger action comes from Sandy Hook Promise. This group was established after the elementary school shootings in 2012, and provides this powerful video:
Watch the 2 minute video here (in the middle of the page).
According to the Sandy Hook Promise, in 4 of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker's plan but failed to report it. Pay attention to the world around you. If you see a pattern, share it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

leadership dot #1650: infamy

Seventy-five years ago today is the "day that will live in infamy": the attack on Pearl Harbor. Those who were alive at the time will never forget it, but with each passing year it engenders less emotion in today's Americans. The same is true for the 9-11 attacks; the patriotism that was palpable immediately following fades with each anniversary.
At Pearl Harbor, there were many signs that an attack could be coming, yet the fleet was never placed on high alert. The Americans knew that the Japanese had divided the harbor into zones, calling signals were changed and documents were being destroyed.  Military messages were intercepted and decoded, yet no one in command connected all these dots and saw an attack was imminent. As a result, over 2400 lives were lost at Pearl Harbor and an estimated 60 million people were killed in the resulting World War II. 
Whether it be a literal war like WWII,  an economic assault on an industry, or simply a destruction of a relationship, massive change never is announced with a definitive proclamation. Upheavals occur with many warning signs available to keen observers before the damage is done. The music business did not pay attention to niche artists having access to music lovers through the explosion of distribution channels. The couple doesn't initially give credence to the nagging silences or lack of spark. 
Learn from Pearl Harbor and pay attention to the signs that the current action is about to be disrupted. Look for outliers and indicators. Make time to pause and reflect on what your senses are telling you. Start with the premise that change is coming and use the evidence to help predict how. Don't leave your fleet stagnant in one harbor.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

leadership dot #1649: jmubeld

A friend shared this paragraph with me, and while at first glance it was startling to see, it actually proved to be easily readable.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmeneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you cna sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istelf, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amazanig, huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.
When you think about it, it is pretty amazing that you can make sense of the above jumbled message. It all comes down to having the right anchor letters.
What are the anchors for your organization: the messages your employees need to make sense of everything else?  As you can see from the above paragraph, if the parameters are set clearly, there is leeway for variation in the middle. Spend the time to get the anchors right, and worry less about the details in between. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

leadership dot #1648: find a way

A friend recommended that I read Diana Nyad's Find a Way memoir about her historic swim from Cuba to Florida. I am so glad that I took her advice, and would suggest the book to anyone who needs a dose of inspiration.
Nyad made the attempt five times, first while she was in her thirties, and then ultimately succeeding when she was 64.  She swam 110.86 miles, for 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds straight -- never touching another object during that time. Her Handlers threw pasta off the boat into her mouth or tossed her bananas for food. I could not stay awake for 53 hours straight, let alone spend that time swimming in the ocean.
But the true story of Diana Nyad is not her swimming accomplishments, rather the grit it took to make them possible. One attempt was thwarted by venomous jellyfish stings so she found the world's expert who invented a waterproof goo as an antidote. She could not see in the dark and expended energy swimming off course, so her team created an underwater LED streamer to serve as her guide. She worked with a dentist and a prosthetics specialist to create a silicone mask -- with separate molds for nostrils, eyes and retainer molds for mouthpieces to keep jellyfish at bay. They modified the escort boat; Diana changed her stroke to lesson the friction and made countless other innovations to prepare for the journey.
Diana Nyad was the first and only swimmer to make this dangerous trek -- and accomplish a dream she had throughout her life. There were thousands of reasons why she could have given up (as did the other two who tried it), but she always went back to her mantra of "find a way." If you are feeling like throwing in the towel, pick up this book and see a model of persistence and resolve. Your problems are equivalent to the kiddy pool compared to what Diana overcame.
-- beth triplett
Find a Way by Diana Nyad, 2015.
Thanks Chris for the recommendation.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

leadership dot # 1647: leakage

Even though I live in a relatively new house, I had members of our city's Green Initiative come to my house for a weatherization audit. They measured ceilings and inspected pipes, and also conducted a safety audit of my CO2 levels and air quality.
To test for the indoor pressure and sealant, they used a large contraption that made me feel like E.T. or men in protective white suits could be coming at any minute. But by putting this tarp around the door and measuring the air movement, they could tell how the house was sealed. The aim was to be like Goldilocks: "just right." Obviously, too much air leakage would be inefficient, but I had not considered that too tight of a seal could add to the accumulation of CO2 and be dangerous as well.
In the end, they concluded that if you took all of the pinholes of air leakage in my house, it would amount to a 6 inch by 6 inch square. They assured me that was in the acceptable range, although it seemed like a large gap to me.
How can you conduct an audit for your organization? It doesn't need to revolve around energy efficiency, but having someone from the outside come to review your procedures and benchmark them against others can be a valuable exercise. Sometimes we are so close to something that we don't consider the waste that is leaking through the system.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

leadership dot #1646: gallery

At a recent visit to the doctor, I was greeted by a wall of cheerful children's artwork. It was hung across a string with clothes pins; nothing fancy but it certainly added some color to an otherwise sterile and drab examination room.
I thought that this was a coordinated effort between the clinic and the school district, but later learned that the artists were the children of the doctor. She brought in their projects on a rotating basis for her own enjoyment as well as her patients'. 
But why couldn't it be done more broadly? As she pointed out, the children bring home dozens of pictures throughout the year. Could your organization adopt a classroom or two and offer to display their creations in your lobby? The children would love seeing their work in public, and it makes for a delightful and rotating addition to your institutional space.
It doesn't have to be formal to be a gallery and it doesn't have to be professional to be art. Take advantage of the vibrancy of children's projects to bring some color to your space.

Friday, December 2, 2016

leadership dot #1645: the back room

I was out shopping over the weekend and wanted to try on a pair of boots at a department store. This involved 15 minutes of waiting for a clerk to go check in the back room, only to tell me that they were out of my size.
Why do department stores still insist on keeping their shoes in the back room? Yes, it makes for a prettier display, but the lost customer convenience is a high price to pay for aesthetics.
Except for food items and prescriptions, almost all products are accessible directly to the consumer. Candy is no longer behind the counter in big glass jars. Eyeglasses are available through the mail. Electronics are sold through vending machines. Many remedies are sold over the counter.
You can conduct your bank transactions with a machine instead of a teller. You can use a self-checkout instead of the cashier. You can order your meal from the counter instead of through a waitress. You pump your own gas and clean your own windshield.
But you need an intermediary to try on a pair of shoes.
The clerk in the shoe department had zero value added after he told me they were out of my size. If they had shoes that fit, he would have handed me the box and I would have tried them on myself. Long gone are the days of the measured fittings and shoe horns.
Think about what you are keeping in your metaphorical back room. Is your process a vestige of a past when information was shared with only a few instead of on the internet? Do you have human intervention in a process that does not contribute to its value? Could you provide something more directly to your customers?
Let your clients easily find out if your shoe fits them.
-- beth triplett