Monday, September 30, 2013

#486 digital addition

Fight it or capitalize on it -- that is the question that school districts face when it comes to cell phone use in the classroom.  Many schools prohibit use of cell phones and other technological devices, but recently others have realized the computing power that students have in their backpacks and made the decision to take advantage of it.  The growing number of applications with educational value is also influencing teachers' use of portable devices. 

Access to smart phones is not the problem.  USA Today reports that even in poorer school districts, the students have phones.  Where challenges come in is with the infrastructure to support the smart phone use.  According to the US Department of Education, only 20 percent of the country has the infrastructure to support digital learning.  What a sad statistic!  Wouldn't it make more sense for the learning environments to be the first ones to have the equipment needed to teach the language of the future?

Educators and school districts also face the balance of being cutting edge vs. playing catch up.  Our education department wanted iPads when they first were being used in the schools.  At the time it was seen as frivolous, like they wanted the 'new toys' vs. serious equipment.  Yet already students in our elementary schools are using tablets and prospective teachers need to know how to teach with them.  

There is greater expectation for people to have mobile technology.  Instead of fighting it, we should embrace the fact that the majority of people own more computing power than the first rocket.  Students like those below are going to expect it. 

-- beth triplett

Source:  BYOT:  Bring your own tech to school by Josh Higgins, USA Today, August 8, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

#485 one-third

If you count holidays and weekends, they constitute about one-third of the year.  It doesn't feel that way, but it is true.  Think about what impact that has:

> for those in the tourism or recreation industries, you can rejoice that consumers really do have a lot of disposable time
> for dieters or those exercising to lose weight, it means you really can't fall off the wagon every weekend and holiday and still expect to shed the pounds
> for those in office settings, you need to consider how you serve your customers and prospective customers during the one-third of the year that you are not there to answer the phone
> for retailers, it provides a bonanza of opportunities for themed sales
> for educators, you need to consider how to provide a year's worth of learning in a year minus one-third and summer

What opportunities lie in weekends and holidays for you or your organization?  Maybe you can start taking advantage of them today!

-- beth triplett

Saturday, September 28, 2013

#484 perspectives

My two dogs bark like crazy fools when they are out in the yard and someone walks within six houses of mine.  It doesn't matter if the walker is alone or walking dogs of their own, the response is always resounding.

But when I take my dogs for a walk and I am the passerby, they never utter a sound.  Every other dog that we pass either barks, howls or yipes loudly, but my two just stroll on their merry way in silence.

It seems to be an apt metaphor for change.  If you are cozy in your own yard, going through your routine with pleasure, you bark like crazy when change approaches from the outside.  You are adamant that your happy equilibrium not be disturbed and you are quite vocal that you want nothing to do with it.

But if you are on the outside, there seems to be nothing to fear.  You are going about your business without thought of the impact you have on others, even if those others have four legs.

Employees often "bark" when change from the outside approaches.  Managers often are puzzled as to why there is so much fear or resentment.  The next time you are on either side of the change effort, think about my dogs.  Sniffing each other before barking may be a good strategy.

-- beth triplett

Friday, September 27, 2013

#483 honk

I was backing out of a parking space at the grocery store and saw that a man in a pickup truck was waiting for my space so I backed out further.  The woman across from me also saw that the pickup was waiting, but she did not see me (or vice versa).  You can guess what happened next.

After the impact, we both pulled back into our spots and got out to assess the damage (which fortunately was minimal).  Yet the man in the truck pulled by without so much as a second glance.

Another witness came up the aisle and was ranting about the man in the truck:  "Why didn't he honk?  Why did he just sit there and watch you two hit each other?  What was he thinking?!"  I wondered that myself.

In many ways, the man who watched and did nothing was as much at fault as the woman who backed into me.  He had a birds eye view of impending trouble and did nothing.  I guess he was thinking that it was not his problem.

Do you find yourself in situations where you act like the man in the truck -- staying out of situations where you could be of assistance because you aren't really involved?  The thing is that you are involved, because you are seeing the situation and you are a member of the community where it is happening.  You have an obligation to "honk" -- either literally or in a more formal or verbal way -- when something wrong is taking place.  Don't just sit there and watch a wreck happen -- in a parking lot or in your organization.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, September 26, 2013

#482 connected

Over the weekend, I also had the opportunity to make a brief stop at my alma mater, Western Illinois University.  The University Union there is anchored by a huge lounge, adorned by two walls of plaques on either side of it.

The West wall is named the Wall of Honor and houses plaques full of student leader recognition for various organizations.  Union Board leaders since 1966 are listed.  There are special leadership awards, Blue Key, Mortar Board, Order of Omega, Student Government and the like.  It is a perpetual tribute to those students who contributed their time and talent through the Office of Student Activities.

On the opposite wall is the Wall of Thanks which contains plaques listing the major donors to the university.  There are recognitions for the different donor levels and for special campaigns, and this wall is also full.

What Western realizes better than many schools is that the same names on the West wall are eventually listed on the East wall.  Student involvement engenders loyalty and dedication that often manifests itself into significant alumni contributions.  Those who receive later give.

Can you learn lessons from these two walls and think of how to foster connections in your organization.  Who benefited most from their work for you or was the recipient of your service?  Have you recognized them in lasting and appropriate ways?  And then can you facilitate a reciprocal relationship where they are asked to transcend generations with a meaningful gift?  Spend some time thinking about how you can create, then bridge, the two walls in your organization.

-- beth triplett, '81

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#481 McScramble

One more observation from the weekend, but this one is not about the inauguration itself, rather the journey there.  Twice we stopped at McDonald's to partake in their $1 any size beverage promotions.  Twice, at two different McDonald's, we had to weave our way through a construction zone to reach the counter.

Both restaurants were under renovation down to the studs.  The seating areas were entirely temporary tables and folding chairs.  The bathrooms had signs taped to the door and makeshift facilities.  The parking lots were full of cones.  Half of the counter was removed.  It was a serious rehabilitation in progress.

Some of you may know that McDonald's has been struggling with sales recently.  The firm reported its first sales decline in a decade and the worst quarterly sales growth performance in nine years.  It seems that they are responding by renovating their restaurants.

You don't have to have an MBA to do the quick math and realize that when sales are down it is a bad time to have capital expenses increase.  But beyond the cash flow challenges, there is added risk to the timing.

It is much smarter to innovate and remain current to keep your advantage rather than reacting to try and reclaim it.  Take a lesson from McDonald's and avoid becoming complacent with any lead you may have amassed.  The time to invest and invent is when things are good, not when you are playing catch up.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Huffington Post Business, McDonald's Sales Fall For First Time in Nearly a Decade, 11/8/12

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#480 true blue

Yesterday I wrote about attending the presidential inauguration at Illinois College.  Among the many impressive things about the weekend, the one that was most surprising to me was the proliferation of the royal blue color on campus.  Their slogan is "Be True Blue" and let me tell you: they take it seriously.  

I will bet that a full 90% of IC staff had some element of royal blue as part of their ensemble on Saturday.  Cardigans, ties, necklaces, suits, blouses, shirts, dresses -- you name it, and they had it.  Even the vast majority of students wore blue t-shirts to the ceremony so both sets of bleachers were a sea of royal during the event.  I have not seen this much of one color attire since my last St. Louis Cardinals game that is known for its inundation of red.

The Illinois College folks didn't stop with attire.  The microphone cover, liners for the coffee urns, flowers on the table, stairwells, bulletin boards and even the stamp on the inauguration invitation were IC Blue.  It was an overt testimonial to school spirit and buy in.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a tag line or mantra that so readily lends itself to a specific color, but most do have some organizational color palette in place.  Think of how you can extend that level of branding beyond the corporate stationery or signage.  Can you take a lesson from Illinois College and really make a statement with your use of a limited color range?  Maybe it won't work for everyday, but if you need to impress outsiders for a special event, I can vouch for the fact that this is one way to do it!

-- beth triplett

Monday, September 23, 2013

#479 I do

Over the weekend, I went to a colleague's presidential inauguration.  For those not familiar with the rituals of higher education, the appointment of a new college president is a cause for joyous celebration for the entire campus community.  There is a whole series of events, culminating with an inauguration ceremony full of pomp and circumstance.  Faculty and delegates from dozens of colleges march in a processional; there is music, a litany of speeches and presentation of symbolic gifts to the new leader.

I liken an inauguration to a professional wedding.  In some ways, the new president is agreeing to stand by the institution in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, etc. so the analogy is appropriate.  But the rituals and symbolism also remind me of a wedding -- only instead of exchanging rings, the chair of the board places the presidential medallion over the head of the new leader and the marriage begins.

Prior to the ceremony, the president hosted a luncheon for about 100 guests.  Many of those in attendance were former colleagues of hers.  Again, like a wedding, it was an occasion to mix together in one place people from all the parts of her life.  Her first boss did the invocation.  Her most recent boss did her introduction.  Someone from her alma mater spoke.  Family and friends were there in addition to members of her current college community.

Even if you aren't in higher education, think about who would be on your "guest list" for a similar type of affair were you to host one.  Who has been significant in your life on your professional path?  Who has remained in touch as you have changed jobs and cities?  Who knows you best?  Whose mentoring shaped you and helped you become who you are today?

And then, instead of calling them up with an invitation to lunch or asking them to speak on your behalf, call them today and share a word of thanks.  None of us has succeeded on our professional journey alone.  Vow to take a moment and acknowledge those who have helped walk you down the career "aisle" and taught you along the way.  

-- beth triplett


Sunday, September 22, 2013

#478 bye bye Miss American...

As American as apple pie?  Maybe we need to change our lingo.  At the local Village Inn restaurant, they boast that they sell the best pies in America.  But their #1 best seller is not good old apple, rather it is French Silk -- a chocolate mousse with a cream topping and chocolate shavings. (Country apple comes in #2, followed by cherry, lemon supreme and then a tie with coconut and banana cream.)   When did chocolate become America's favorite flavor?

Whereas yesterday I wrote about a product with brand extensions to the extreme, the pie seems to be on the opposite end of the spectrum.  A pie is an inherently old fashioned dessert.  Cupcakes have taken on a whole new life, but not much has changed about the recipes, shape or size of the pie.  The leading flavors are even pretty traditional.   Unlike many foods today, pies are usually eaten slowly -- on a plate vs. on the run.  Village Inn not withstanding, most pies are homemade, often with Grandma's original recipe.  They still win blue ribbons at the fair.

How can your organization anchor some of its values to the symbolism of a pie...something that has the stability over generations.  The pie can be your values and the ice cream the new innovation that you add to enhance it.  Every organization needs to have both.  Bon appetit!

-- beth triplett

Saturday, September 21, 2013

#477 chip off the new block

I am a fan of choice, but I think that Lays has taken it a bit too far.  Recently they introduced Chicken and Waffle potato chips -- what?  I wonder if when BBQ and cheddar first came out if they were seen as outlandish.  Now it seems that the goal is to be different to the extreme so as to capture the attention of consumers.

When does the brand expansion stop?  Apparently no time soon.  In addition to chicken and waffle, there are now jalapeno and Sriracha Lays.  Maybe if the Sriracha chips are hot enough, you could eat just one!!!!

I think that Lays illustrates the continual challenge that companies and organizations face today as the demand for innovation grows.  It's not enough to stop with one new variety; now new flavors are introduced multiple times/year.  It's not enough to have a new version of a traditional flavor, or even a combination that occurs elsewhere in a normal pairing.  To stand out, apparently Lays believes that you need to go way outside the box.

Is there something in your organization that lends itself to an extreme makeover or radical innovation like waffles and chicken chips?  Lays still has their Original version and I suspect that it is still their sales leader, but a little experimentation may be what you need to draw attention from a new crowd.  

-- beth triplett

Friday, September 20, 2013

#476 every which way

One of the best places for good wayfinding examples is a hospital.  Since hospitals are used to a high frequency of first time visitors, the signage is usually more explicit than at most places.  For example, I have seen colored lines along the walls: "follow red to the x-ray lab" or signs every few feet to direct the new patient to where they are going.

I recently visited a new hospital with a friend, and once again saw the proliferation of signage that was helpful in getting us where we needed to go.  An electronic directory with every department listed on the scroll through was right inside the door.  A compass was embedded into the floor design so patients knew which wing was in which direction.  There were signs for check in, waiting, checking out and about every step in between.  We had never been there before, but without much effort we knew where to go.

Pay attention to the wayfinding system during the next time you go somewhere new.  Are the directions explicit?  Are the signs directing you using common, understandable language ("pay bills here" vs. comptroller or bursar)?  

Many organizations could take lessons from hospitals.  It may be worth a visit to your hospital or to a new building to experience navigation from a novice's perspective -- then translate that to your organization.  Are you set up to make it easy for a new visitor (client/student/employee, etc.) to find their way around?  The writing isn't always on the wall.

--- beth triplett

Thursday, September 19, 2013

#475 distinctions

Last night, I attended our city-wide college fair.  Approximately 75 schools were represented -- all lined up in neat little rows behind the standard issue 8 foot tables.  Rules prohibit most elements of personalization, so everyone had similar looking brochures, inquiry cards and pens, a listing of majors and smiling representatives to tell the families wonderful things about their institution. 

I went as a stealth shopper and by eavesdropping heard the same things from many institutions -- "We offer athletic scholarships" (said as if they were the only campus there who did).  "We are small, friendly and caring."  "We have lots of student organizations and ways to be involved on campus."  

It makes me wonder how a student ever can distinguish among all the choices and make a decision.

It also reminded me of the paper bag exercise I wrote about last October* in which participants secretly put something in a lunch bag that is a symbolic representation of themselves without being blatantly obvious.  Other participants then try to guess whose bag it is and then the owner shares the story of why those particular objects were chosen.

This college fair was like rows of paper bags.  Most were small, private colleges and at this level, they all appeared to be the same lunch bag.  The state schools were there, and aside from distinguishing themselves by being a bigger bag, they too were bragging about scholarships and "friendly".  There were a few different color bags that stood out: the National Guard, cosmetology schools or a bible college, but for the most part everyone looked the same.

If you are the shopper -- whether for colleges or another service -- I think it helps to recognize that at some level there is little distinction.  Anyone can make a paper bag look great on the outside; it's what is inside that matters.  You need to take the time to open up a few bags and hear the stories that go with them.  Hopefully one will resonate with you and call you to write your own story there.  

And if you are the organization, reconsider your participation in events where all the paper bags are lined up in rows.  If you can't highlight your distinctions there, maybe your time is better spent elsewhere.

-- beth triplett

*Blog #138, October 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

#474 cracking the code

Fifty years ago (1963), Postmaster General Day proposed the idea of zip codes to assist in sorting the mail.  It wasn't an original idea; he adapted the notion from a similar plan that had just been introduced in West Germany.  He outlined no greater use for the adaptation other than to make sorting quicker in an effort to handle the increased volume.

Today, zip codes are utilized as much by businesses outside of the Post Office as the agency itself.  Zip codes are a convenient way to categorize census data, demographics, mortgage risk zones and socioeconomic analysis.  I know from firsthand experience that colleges use them to purchase the names of ACT/SAT test takers and to track all kinds of enrollment data.  We often refer to target areas by zip code rather than city/state.  IBM estimates that the annual value of Zip codes is $9.5 billion.  

ZIP is actually an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan.  With its introduction, the two-letter state abbreviations were introduced to accommodate space limitations on magazines and address labels when the ZIP numbers were added.  The Post Office originally introduced Mr. Zip to promote the use of the codes when use was optional.  

Now zip codes are mandatory for most classes of mail and are used by GPS systems, credit card authorizations and countless other forms of technology.  Ironically, the use of codes has grown exponentially while the physical mail that needs to be sorted with them is dwindling.

How can you apply lessons from zip code adaptation to your organization?  Can you overlay your zip code analysis with other demographic or psychographic data to gain a more robust understanding of your clients or potential customers?  Do you have data that can be used in multiple ways -- either inside your organization or beyond it -- as happened with the zip codes?  Those five little numbers at the end of an address are the key to a wealth of corresponding information.  Take the time to unlock that knowledge for your organization.

-- beth triplett

Source:  50 years in, ZIP codes still beneficial by Adam Belz, Minneapolis Star Tribune, in the TH  6-7-13 and
Wikipedia ZIP code

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#473 for free

In the wonderful book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely lays out the argument that social norms and market norms are two different things and it is best not to mix them.  Translated, this means that people are happy to do things, without pay, when they are doing so for social reasons (a cause, a relationship, to be nice community members), but they are not happy to do the same things when they are paid a token wage to do them.  

His book gives lots of examples, both of the social experiments they ran, but also from real life.  A mother-in-law would be insulted if you offered to pay for the wonderful dinner at her home; a friend does not need payment to help you move a couch, and lawyers are more willing to work pro bono for a cause than to be paid a fraction of their regular billing rate.

I see market and social norms collide on our campus when it comes to co-curricular activities.  When I was a staff member in student activities, we did not pay anyone for any type of involvement.  I had students volunteer for me who put in hours and hours of work for the lessons it taught them and the enjoyment of the act.  Today, there is pressure to pay student leaders, tour guides, student ambassadors and just about everyone else that is involved on campus.  The argument is that they "need" the money and don't have time to work and be involved.  Personally, I do not believe it.

Time magazine ran a cover story last week advocating that Division 1 athletes be paid "at least the cost of full attendance."  As if that would be enough.  First it would be a few hundred dollars beyond their full scholarships, then a few thousand, and then the social norms would be broken and collegiate stars would want hundreds of thousands of dollars that they "deserve."

There is something to the notion of doing things for love.  Ariely argues that "when a social norm collides with a market norm, the social norm goes away for a long time.  In other words, social relationships are not easy to reestablish."  Think carefully before you cross that line and offer token payments.  Volunteers, boosters, members and fans are willing to do heroic things for you -- for free.  Show them appreciation, recognition and provide the tools for it to be a valuable experience, but keep your cash in your pocket.  Once you open your wallet, it will never be enough.

-- beth triplett

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, 2009
Time Magazine, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

#472 three dribbles then shoot

A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed what many may see as the soft side of business: office rituals.  The repetitive motions by an athlete may be common, but the Journal article shared numerous examples of how rituals are being built into office cultures as well.   A human resources firm in Minneapolis rings a big brass gong upon signing of a contract.  A tech firm in Pittsburgh holds a late afternoon video game contest.  Employees at a Kansas City firm grew beards and let their hair grow until a big project was completed.  Intel rolls out the red carpet (literally) for new hires.

Closer to home, our admissions area has its own culture in what is lovingly called "Cubeland."  A whiteboard tracks the up-to-the-minute status of the admissions flow by counselor, allowing friendly rivalry and lots of trash talking to occur.  A giant inflatable banana graces the cubicle of the counselor with the most incomplete applications.  A cut-out of the student's home state is posted for each new deposit.

It may seem like play, but current research at the Harvard Business School and University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management has concluded otherwise.  Research at these schools has shown that rituals actually make people perform better than those who attempt difficult projects without them.

Think about your office setting.  What do you do routinely to engage in symbolic behaviors on a regular basis?  What could you do to bring others into the mix?  Is there a task that could benefit from a regular warm-up exercise -- whether as a group or even by yourself?  Think about an appropriate ritual so you can come up with something equivalent to a few extra dribbles of the ball to help improve your game.

-- beth triplett

Source:  The Power of a 'Project Beard' and Other Office Rituals by Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2013

Thanks to Colleen for sharing!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

#471 survey says

My sister sent me an interesting link regarding a Business Insider poll that was conducted with 1600 Survey Monkey users.  They asked participants to answer opinion questions about states other than their own.  Results are then shown in a series of interesting maps:

Examples include:
> Which state is the nicest?  [The survey says: Georgia and Minnesota]

> Which state is your favorite?  [California and Colorado]

>  Which state has the ugliest residents?  [Alabama]

> Which state is the rudest?  [New York]

You can follow the link for more results.  What strikes me is how people have formed opinions about these things and are willing to choose one state out of the Union to make their judgment.  It is doubtful that the voters have even been to all the states they chose, let alone know enough information to make a reasoned choice, but they cast their answers anyway.

And so it goes with your organization.  People who may have never interacted with you are forming perceptions -- not only about you, but how you stack up against your peers.  The U.S. News and World Report college rankings [something I loathe] gives campuses a peer assessment score that figures into where colleges rate.  The peer voters may have never heard of your school or be ignorant of any changes you have made, but they rate you anyway.

You need to acknowledge the reality that people are forming perceptions of you.  Do what you can to provide those who do know you with factual information and stories to share, and don't lose sleep over the judgments people are making without merit.  They're probably all just from that rude state anyway, right?

-- beth triplett

Saturday, September 14, 2013

#470 pithy

The iconic t-shirt turns 100 years old this year, and it has come a long way since the original white undergarment peeked out from beneath shirts and became a fashion statement on its own.  Now there are literally millions of them, many sporting wild designs or visual art.  Some of my favorites, though, are the ones that can convey a message using just a few words.  "You had me at woof" is the one in my collection that I smile at most.

I admire those who can capture the essence of the meaning in just a few short words.  Because of my donation to our new science building, I am able to have an engraved brick of 5 lines, 14 characters each.  Just putting my name on it seemed too boring, but I am still hard pressed to come up with something appropriate ("If you build it, they will come" didn't seem quite right!)  A friend searched Google for science quotes and found several that were appropriate ("Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge" Carl Sagan), but alas, not pithy enough.  

If your organization wanted to communicate its mission, what could represent it on a t-shirt or a brick? Would your personal mantra be appropriate and pithy enough for these venues?  Challenge your brain to think about how you could capture the meaning of your big picture in a small size.

-- beth triplett

*Suggestions are welcome: leadershipdots via gmail or @ Twitter!

Friday, September 13, 2013

#469 expectations

A colleague and I recently presented workshops to supervisors of our student employees. Many of the lessons shared there also relate to supervisors of professional staff, and much of our message was imploring them to treat their students like professional staff and to teach them how to act in the “real world.”

Julie utilized the theme of "you've got the power" to help supervisors realize that they have more authority than they sometimes exercise.  They have the power to prohibit use of cell phones or social media use during working hours; to delay paychecks of those who fail to complete time cards by the deadline; to correct unprofessional behavior and even to fire students who fail to meet performance standards.

To some, enforcing such rules and expectations seemed strict.  Often bosses of student workers are "too nice" and lead the employee to believe that the workforce is like that after college when we all know that it isn't!  

I was recently given a quote that read:

"What Great Leaders Do"
> They care.
> They believe.
> They are fair.
> They expect excellence.

Never did it say that they made things easy or that they let you get away with less than satisfactory work.  Quite the contrary, they set the bar high and are confident that you will achieve at that level.

If you supervise a student, a junior employee or even senior staff, use your power to create a work culture that exhibits the four traits outlined above.  It will take all of you a lot further than letting things slide for the sake of being "nice."

-- beth triplett

Thursday, September 12, 2013

#468 credibility conduit

I have recently been involved in several situations where people I know referred strangers to me for assistance or I made a similar referral on behalf of others.  A colleague sent a new colleague to me for advice on locating an interim enrollment manager.  I was asked to give another person I did not know a crash course in enrollment data benchmarking.  I sent a student to a former colleague for tips on how to become a consultant in higher education.  My sister has gone as far as emailing a photo to her contacts of someone with whom she wanted to connect to see if anyone could make an introduction for the relationship.  

Certainly the term "networking" is known by everyone and it is true that social media can facilitate such connections.  But what a personal touch provides is what my sister terms "credibility by association."  Because of my referral, you automatically come with legitimacy.  It is a symbol to those on the receiving end that it is worth their time to provide you with advice, assistance, inroads, etc.

Think of how you can add value to the networking chain.  Can you make appropriate referrals that assist others in their career goals or knowledge needs?  Are you willing to serve as a resource and provide information to those you may never meet?  You can garner credibility by being an effective conduit or congenial expert.  Do your part to make networking work.

-- beth triplett


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#467 go inside

Over the weekend, we held an open house event at our new science building.  Countless neighbors, community members and friends of the university stopped by to see inside the new building.  I was so glad that they did.

How many times have you driven by something but never bothered to stop and look further? Our campus is near a local high school and all the time we hear: "I don't need to do a campus visit; I drive by every day."  Driving by is not the same as coming in to meet people and take a tour.  In St. Louis, the Gateway Arch ran a campaign touting "it's not the same from your car."  (And it truly isn't!)

All this is on my mind today as I reminisce about the World Trade Center.  I saw it numerous times on trips to New York, and like a good tourist, even made the trek up to the Windows on the World on the top floor.  I am glad now to have had that memory; I think it made the attacks more real to me.

Take a moment to pause today and reflect on the events of 9-11-01.  You will never have another chance to be enthralled by the towers.  Those who lost loved ones will not have a second opportunity to say what they want to say to them.  Don't live life from your car.  Get out see things first hand while you have the chance to truly experience them.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#466 before

I have owned one of my dogs for two years this week.  It seems like it has been forever!  Unless I intentionally concentrate, I forget what it was like before her or even before her one-year old sister arrived.  It seems like I have always had these two goldens in my life.

I embrace relationships with people in the same way.  It's hard for me to remember what it was like before our new CFO was part of cabinet even though she just started in January; the pre-Kelsey/Holly/Ken days even though they are relatively new on staff; or what it was like before my staff had their babies.  

Getting in this comfortable groove is, for the most part, a very good thing.  It's a sign of fit, competence and overall congruence with who people (dogs!) are and the role they play in my life.  It does remind me, however, that patterns develop very quickly.  It is important to start a relationship off right, during those precious few moments when you are actually thinking about forging a bond.  Invest some conscious thought about how you want the relationship to be before it becomes ingrained and automatic.

-- beth triplett

Monday, September 9, 2013

#465 picture this

While on her vacation, our university president was staying in a cottage that had puzzles in bags, but without the box or front picture that lets the maker know what the completed puzzle should look like.  She was able to put together the edges, but did not make much progress on the center section.

For this year’s opening session address, she used the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe the importance of our strategic plan.  “Our strategic plan is our puzzle box top,” she said.  “It gives us long-term direction, allows us to make optimum use of our resources and maximizes the impact of our effort.”

How true it is.  Think of the frustration and wasted energy when only those at the top know what the puzzle is supposed to look like.  Organizations are wise to share the picture widely and to encourage others to help assemble it.  Sometimes a person may only link two pieces while passing by, but they may be the crucial start of a whole new section.

Keep the puzzle accessible and the picture on the box visible and your puzzle is likely to be assembled much more quickly.

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Joanne!