Tuesday, August 22, 2017

leadership dot #1908: service call

I upgraded my internet service last week, thinking that since I had the same provider it would just be a matter of some off-site programming somewhere to provide the enhancements. Oh, was I wrong. 

My technician, Jonathan, was at my home for five hours, then called me again in the evening and came back in the morning. To say that there were complications is an understatement, and I was without any internet during all the time he was working.

If I had known in advance this was going to happen, I would have been livid. But instead of being angry, I ended up contacting Jonathan's boss to tell him what a great job Jonathan did in providing service. He kept me apprised of the process, called after hours as he promised, was back promptly in the morning, stayed to ensure I was fully connected and functional, and gave me his cell phone number in case I needed it later. I became a fan of a company of which I had not really been a fan. 

For those who do not believe in investing to keep the best people, please take the Jonathan story to heart. I stopped my service with the cable company because of one person, and I will stay with my internet provider precisely for the same reason. People are not only your most valuable assets, they hold the future of your organization in their hands. 


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Monday, August 21, 2017

leadership dot #1907: eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon aligns with the sun and Earth and blocks the sun's light. We now know that it will result in approximately two and a half minutes of total darkness in the middle of the day, but think of the fear this would cause in people who did not understand what was happening. The uninformed could believe that the world was coming to an end.

Do you have a "total eclipse" in your organization -- where a rare event occurs and not everyone knows that it is coming? Does your leadership do something that seems to cause total darkness without cause and that incites fear in those observing it?

To watch the eclipse today, it is recommended that you are equipped with glasses or a pinhole projector. If you are preparing to launch a historic event of your own -- whether that be a merger, major restructuring or change in focus, help your employees have the equipment they will need to be safe when the light returns.


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Sunday, August 20, 2017

leadership dot #1906: old school

There are some days when I wish I had a warehouse to store everything I have ever owned so that I could cash in on things when they come into vogue the second time around. Such was my feeling when I saw the display of "decorative felt boards" at the craft store.



Back in the day, these old school felt boards were called "spaghetti boards" because the rows of felt look like the pasta all laid out end to end. Organizations had cases of those little plastic letters that the unfortunate person using the board first had to locate, then stick into the 'spaghetti' one by one. The letters were never even, they often fell out and overall the boards were a pain in the neck to use. We were more than thrilled to toss all of it when computerized signs became an option. I can't believe they have returned!

But there they are -- in a glorious end cap display -- featuring the nasty pull-apart letters and the felt boards just waiting for those who want a low tech option for decorating. 
Retro is all the rage these days. Typewriters, turntables and now spaghetti boards are around again. What lurks in your attic or the bowels of your building that you could revitalize and give a second life? 


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Saturday, August 19, 2017

leadership dot #1905: protection

Leave it to America to jump on an event and commercialize it -- which is just what has happened with the solar eclipse. The rare total eclipse of the sun was last visible in the United States in 1979, but, unless you have been oblivious, you know that the next one happens on Monday (August 21). You may know this not because of any scientific interest, but because suddenly filtered glasses are available for sale everywhere!



For those of a more low-tech persuasion, you can make your own pinhole projector by creating a tube and putting aluminum foil with a pin prick on one end and white paper on the other. (Our library offered a workshop and here is a custom leadership dots version!)



This is the first time the total eclipse is visible only in the United States so it's a big deal. But whether you buy your glasses or make your own viewing tube, to enjoy the big event you'll need to be prepared (no direct viewing!). I think of all those who will do harm by looking without protection or who will miss the event due to lack of preparation. Don't let it be you!


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Friday, August 18, 2017

leadership dot #1904: right

Three of us asked our weather app to provide the forecast for the next day. My site indicated that there would be "heavy rain." Another person's app said "overcast" for the same day and location. Still a third person's app predicted "sunshine." Of what use is that information?

But it turned out that all three were right.

It poured rain in the early morning hours, then there were several hours of overcast before a long stretch of sunshine. This was followed by an afternoon of clouding over and another dose of heavy rain before it cleared up again.

It reminded me of the old story about the blind men and the elephant -- whether the elephant feels like a rope, a high wall, a fan or snake depends on what perspective you have and what part of the animal you are touching. And whether the forecast is correct or not depends upon what time of day you are looking at the sky.

Think about the weather forecast and the elephant the next time you are sure you are right. You might be totally correct -- and totally wrong -- depending on the context. Take the time to look at the bigger picture before declaring with certainty that your answer is the only right one.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

leadership dot #1903: go deep

Today my oldest nephew leaves for college, the first in the family from this generation to head off. Two of my sisters and I do not have children of our own, so Daniel’s achievement of this milestone is a pretty big deal for his doting aunts.

I wrote him a melancholy note (that I will mail to him the old fashioned way once he lets us know his address -- boys!!). In it I offered a single piece of advice: to find one extra curricular activity that interests him and to go deep. “Don’t be casually involved in a dozen organizations: instead pick one and become a leader. You will learn valuable skills. You will gain career experience. You will develop relationships with people that know you well and can serve as friends, mentors or references. You will create connections and have experiences that last a lifetime instead of a semester.”

I think the advice works for anyone starting a new phase in their life. New employees can dabble in many projects, but will become more successful if they go deep in one area. Those who move to a new city can make connections through volunteering or becoming substantially involved in one aspect of the community. Politicians can make a difference if they chose one area to focus their efforts.

Think about how you are allocating your time and see if you can make a greater impact if you go deep. Breadth is overrated.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

leadership dot #1902: evidence

At the recent city council meeting, the police chief recommended the installation of additional traffic cameras in town. He said that the police don’t even take down the accident victims’ stories anymore: they look at the recording before arriving on the scene and already know what happened.

It seems that so much of life is recorded these days that it becomes harder and harder to believe something without “proof.” People pull up old Tweets to provide evidence of what someone has said months ago. Camera phones record everything from amusement ride accidents to tsunamis. Police officers wear body cameras and major league sports have video replays.

The more we rely on external validation, the less attention we pay in real time. Why bother to note the details or take notes when we can see it again?

The trouble is that even images are not “proof” nor do they provide a comprehensive picture of the entire scene or conversation. Cameras only have so many angles. A single social media post could be taken out of context. Even the tangible is subject to interpretation.