Friday, July 31, 2015

#1155 accessibility

Today shares another observation from my visit to the World of Coke. One of their movies asked the question: "What makes Coke Coke?"  In the end, they came up with three answers:  unparalleled taste, uniform quality and universal accessibility.

I would have guessed something similar to taste and uniformity, but until my visit I had not considered Coke's distribution system.  Bottlers and distributors take Coke products to some of the most remote places to ensure that you can get a bottle of the beverage almost anywhere.  Even today, Coke is delivered by dugout canoes, bicycle cart, dogsleds and wagons.  

This commitment to accessibility has been a mantra of the company since the 1920s when then-president Robert Woodruff "vowed to put Coca-Cola 'within an arm's reach of desire.'"  They were the first to go beyond the soda counter to gas stations, sporting events and businesses, and invented the first "six-pack" carrying case to facilitate the product's mobility.  It has served them well as they hold market share in most major venues.

Most people spend all their time trying to make a better product, but I think there is a lesson here from Woodruff and Coke. Your product/service needs to be accessible in order for people to experience it.  Put some thought into your distribution system and consider whether improving that will take you further than enhancing the product itself.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


Thursday, July 30, 2015

#1154 drink it

As you can tell by yesterday's blog, one of the places we visited on vacation was the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.  It is the mother ship, and over a million people per year pay money and spend a few hours to become part of a 100,000 square foot commercial. For many reasons, I loved it.

The World of Coca-Cola is a well-orchestrated branding machine.  From the moment you are within sight lines of the museum, you can see a giant Coke bottle in a glass tower above the entrance way.  The information desk is shielded from the sun by a giant "bottle cap."  While waiting in line, that distinctive sound of a bottle being opened and liquid being poured is piped in the background.  The seats in the theatre are arranged in the trademarked "red ribbon swirl" formation instead of in straight lines.  Even the elevator has the Coke ribbon in raised metal to line the interior.

Instead letting guests become bored while waiting, attendants counted the number of hits people in line made to keep an inflated football in the air, always trying to beat the day's best.  The Coke Bear "ate" Cubs hats and entertained those in line as well as the guest who was being photographed.  Visitors could make their own Coke ads with special design computers, read stories others had written about their experiences with Coke or write their own memories.  And then there was the free tasting of over 100 Coke products from around the world.  By the time you left, through the store (of course), you had been subliminally indoctrinated by Coke for the last two hours and were willing to wait in a significant line so that you could take some of the magic home with you.

The Coke people have got it mastered in a tasteful (but certainly not subtle) way.  Anyone who has anything to do with hosting visitors or telling their institution's history would be well served to visit Atlanta.  It's the real thing.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


 

Information Desk on grounds                My Coke Story display and kiosks

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#1153 smile for the camera

I just returned from being a tourist and noticed that there is nothing like vacation to inspire photography.  I am sure that I took more pictures in the past week than I have in any similar time period all year.  I also realized that I am IN more pictures on vacation than at any other time.

I remember 'back in the day' when everyone had actual cameras.  Finding someone else to take a picture of you and your traveling companions was always a chore.  If you spotted a willing volunteer, the next five minutes were spent in giving camera lessons.  

Today, you can hand anyone your smart phone and they know how to work it.  Phone-based cameras have become ubiquitous.  Everyone knows how to take pictures vs. fiddling with the uniqueness of each model of camera.

Ironically, even though the pool of knowledgeable photographers has increased, the need for them has decreased.  Now people often take their own group shots via selfies or with the dreaded selfie stick.  More people know how to point and shoot, but less are asked to do so.

Instagram reports* that 40 million photos are posted daily to its site!  That's a lot of vacations and probably even more selfies.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Use your camera, and the shared understanding of most people around you, to capture visuals that convey your story better than words can.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

*Source:  Instagram reports 90M monthly active users, 40M photos per day and 8500 likes per second by Darrell Etherington, on techcrunch.com, posted January 17, 2013 http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/17/instagram-reports-90m-monthly-active-users-40m-photos-per-day-and-8500-likes-per-second/





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#1152 in a drawer

Even though Dr. Seuss died nearly a quarter-century ago, today you are able to purchase one of his new books.  What Pet Should I Get? was found in a box by his widow -- complete with text and drawings.  It is believed to have inspired the famous One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish that was originally published instead (in 1960).

Can you imagine finding a brand new Dr. Seuss story?  Even if you were his widow and secretary doing the finding, it would still be a thrill.

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) published 44 books during his lifetime, and yet he personally never saw fit to bring out the box that held this one. I wonder why.  Was he such a prolific writer that he forgot about it?  Did he think it was too similar to the One Fish story?  Or, if he was like most people, more likely the reason is that he didn't think the book was "good enough".

What is lurking in your desk drawer or on your flash drive?  As these blogs prove, your writing does not need to be perfect in order to be shared.  If you have "content", put it out there for the world to see.  It may be the stepping stone that someone needs to launch on to other ideas.  It could be the inspiration someone requires at the moment.  Or it could be mediocre.  

But let the world decide.  Don't leave your thoughts unshared for decades or until after you are gone.  Use your voice while you have it.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

*Source:  One draft, two draft, old draft...new Dr. Seuss book by Sarah Begley, Time, August 3, 2015, p. 63





Monday, July 27, 2015

#1151 Godspeed

Today is the last day of work for one of my favorite employees.  I hate to see her leave.

I met her at a pre-interview at a diner, during one of those times I have described before where a drive to meet a candidate in person is warranted.  I needed to do a "chemistry-check" before I invited her to campus, and it was well worth my 6 hour trip to verify that we had the rapport necessary to work together.

There are two things I have appreciated most about Emily.  First, is that she has served as my "utility infielder" since she arrived.  I think every office needs one, and every boss should take steps to carve out that role for someone to play.  There are invariably special projects and one-time tasks the come up, and having someone with the skill, willingness and capacity to take them on allows everyone and everything else to run more smoothly.  

The other thing that I will miss about Emily is her candor.  At times, I know it could be off-putting to some, but I have welcomed the ability to speak the hard truths to her and be heard, and to hear things from her that no one else would say to me.  She has enlightened me, challenged me and pushed us all during her time here.  I wish for every supervisor to have a truth teller.

I am glad that the ease of the Internet will allow her to continue to fill my inbox with articles and ideas, and hope she does so.  I also hope that someone among those who remain or those new to join us will fill the roles she vacates beyond her job description -- both of making it comfortable for us by taking on some projects and making it uncomfortable for us by taking on some of our assumptions.  Lucky is the office that has both.


-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com





Sunday, July 26, 2015

#1150 outside in

I recently saw the movie Inside Out, an ambitious Pixar flick that tackles the subject of emotions and how the brain works in an animated feature.  The main characters: Joy, Sadness, Anger and Disgust rotate their positions at the "controls" of Riley's brain and manipulate how she is feeling at the moment.

The movie makes it appear that emotions happen to Riley: because Joy is in charge, Riley is happy and so on.  But in reality, you are the one at the console.  You can choose how to respond to events and what emotions to express.

Inside Out is a delightful and entertaining film.  Just keep in mind that it is a movie, and that you can direct your own story as you wish it to play out.


-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



Saturday, July 25, 2015

#1149 ahhh

What's the best part about doing laundry?  Taking things out of the dryer, of course.

Charles Schultz said that "happiness is a warm puppy," but I think that happiness is being enveloped in a load of warm laundry.  Regardless of the outside temperature, things just out of the dryer feel cozy and wonderful.  

Somehow, a fresh dryer load is the perfect temperature even if it only lasts for a fleeting moment.  Think about the moments you create in your organization.  Is there a way you can capture a prized experience even for a brief time?  What about a smell that your clients soak in as they enter?  Or a sound of soothing music as they wait?  Or an unusual work of art that lights up their eyes when they first see it?

The just-out-of-the-dryer perfection does not endure, but it does delight while it exists.  Stop for a moment and forget about on-going customer enhancements and ponder if you can wow for just a brief experience.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Friday, July 24, 2015

#1148 ever present

There are certain things that you can just never seem to get rid of, even though you never set out to keep them:

> Glitter
> Easter grass
> Stickers put on by the moving company
> Cubes of glass from a broken car windshield
> Pieces of evergreen from Christmas garland

I'll bet that you have found remnants of these items long after you believe you "cleaned up" from using them originally.  I moved eight years ago and just found another moving sticker on the underside of a table.  There is constantly glitter from the "ruby slippers" on my bookshelf, and it always reminds me of the giver of that gift.  And if you have ever had a broken car window, you know that glass remains in the air vents and every nook and cranny for the rest of the time you own the vehicle.

These are all things that we wish to be rid of, yet they prevail.  How can we apply that concept to things that we hope would be preserved?  You don't have to be as drastic as the prank of mailing people a box full of glitter, but can you add some sprinkles to your next mailing with a message to intentionally extend the sparkle?  Can you ask people to share pictures on Facebook of holiday remnants long after the season is over (e.g.: evergreens in July)?  Or hold a contest to guess how many moving stickers will be used by an exiting employee?  Or just smile when yet another shows up.

There are things that have staying power.  Instead of being annoyed, how can you see the humor in their seemingly endless presence?

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#1147 latitude

The way you can make things your own is often in the details instead of the big things.

Jelly Belly entered a crowded market of candy and claimed their spot by becoming the purveyor of unique flavors.  There are over 50 of them, including draft beer, buttered popcorn, cappuccino, cantaloupe, Tabasco, pancakes and maple syrup, pina colada and chili mango.

Now they have taken their niche and expanded it through clever packaging.  For example, you can pay $1 for 1 oz (about 10) Jelly Belly beans in a Frozen Olaf Icicle Mix and have their same beans at an even higher premium price.

What I like about their packaging is that someone paid attention to every detail, including the UPC code.  Instead of the standard code like every other package on the shelf, Jelly Belly's is in the shape of a bean:

What assumptions are you making about what you produce or publish?  Do you assume your mailing has to be in an envelope?*  Do you think the UPC code has to be rectangular?  Do you think the stamp has to come from the Post Office instead of being personalized?

You probably have a lot more latitude than your are using.  Question the details and see if you can put your own mark on them.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

*See Blog #1122, June 28, 2015



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#1146 meaning

What I did not know when I started writing a daily blog is what it would teach me.  I thought that I would impart lessons to others, but I did not really expect to reap benefits myself.  Wrong.

In addition to strengthening my discipline (required to write one of these buggers every dang day), and heightening my observational skills (so I have topics to write about every dang day), it has caused me to reflexively think of implications of what I see.

In an environmental scanning workshop I attended, the example used was about a hurricane hitting the Gulf.  It is one thing to know about the event, but the next step is to make meaning out of the occurrence: A hurricane means that homes are destroyed so the demand for building supplies increases; businesses are disrupted, so employees are displaced; the oil refinery must close so oil tops $70 barrel, etc.  The scan is irrelevant unless implications are considered.

The same is true with blog writing.  It is one thing to see a hawk or a snake, but another to turn those events into a lesson that may have applicability to others.  

You don't have to write a blog every day to intentionally strengthen your meaning-making muscle.  Push yourself to think about the implications of what you observe and to ponder the impact in the larger system.  

Leadership is about making connections with your dots, not just collecting them.  Try to draw some lines with your thinking today.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#1145 a hawk and a snake

On a recent walk, I came upon a hawk in an open field.  It was just sitting there, perfectly still, until it wasn't.  In a split second, it had a rabbit in its mouth and flew away with lunch.    I stopped another walker to watch, but had I not, she would have passed by oblivious to the majestic bird in front of her.

Another day, I looked down and saw a four-foot long snake along the side of the road.  Fortunately, it was dead so I did not scare the neighbors with my hysteria.  (I will spare you the photos, but believe it to be a copperhead.)  It was as fascinating to look at as the hawk (because it was D.E.A.D.), and this, too, I would have missed had I been driving or concentrating on content through my headphones or even lost in daydreaming as I strolled.

As I have written about before,* I try to be present when I am out walking. I think the mental attention is as important as the physical exercise, and both provide a needed break from the work routine.  

I wonder how I could be better if I applied that consciousness as I walk around work.  Is there a "snake" that I miss as I hurry to the next meeting?  Have I missed the actions of a hawk that warrants appreciation?  Would I see connections that apply to other things if I paid more attention?

The next time you're off to another place, whether it be to an appointment, a store or an event, try to heighten your awareness on the way there.  Who knows what lessons may slither across your path.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

*See Blog #1105, June 11, 2015




Monday, July 20, 2015

#1144 roar

At one time, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was the center of commodities commerce.  Housed in a giant building in downtown, the Exchange held pits with 4,000 traders shouting to conduct their business.  

Now the gold, cattle and corn and other futures will be traded via computer.  No more personal interactions.  No more shouting.  No more mosh pits of brokers yelling or signaling for their transactions.

I am sure that the computer is more efficient.  It absolutely is quieter and probably is more economical.  But I wonder what the cost of silence will be.

Is there a price that can be put on passion?  What cost comes from traders being physically removed from each other, unable to develop relationships and partnerships or even to share knowledge?  How will this impact the culture of the futures industry?

I think about the initial allure of on-line learning and how institutions like the University of Phoenix are losing enrollments in massive numbers.  At the end of the day, we are a communal people.  We like being in groups and sharing experiences with others.

I lament that the futures market has moved to the computer.  Think about the trade offs you are making in your organization between efficiency and community and the impact it has on your future.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Source:  "No more ROAR" by Bernard Condon and Don Babwin for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, July 12, 2015, p. 1B

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#1143 wrap up

I am a believer in Sunday night rituals.  

In the winter, I watched Downton Abbey at a friend's house and ended my weekend with the Countess Dowager.  During the summer, I have a picnic dinner and enjoy the outdoor concert at the arboretum.  Others may spend their fall with football games.

I think that a routine to end the weekend is a good way to become mentally ready for the week ahead.  By planning an enjoyable activity on Sunday night, I enjoy the time off to the fullest.  It sends a signal to my brain that the leisure is ending and I get prepared for work to resume on Monday.

What do you do on Sunday nights?  Think about whether there is intentionality and routine to wrap up your weekend.  It may benefit you as much on Monday as on Sunday night.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Saturday, July 18, 2015

#1142 reduce

Pope Francis has been actively preaching his environmental message across the world.  I have a suggestion of one tiny step people can take to help conserve resources: reduce the number of napkins at fast food restaurants.

I went through Hardee's drive-thru and ordered one sandwich.  No fries, no drink, no other people in the car.  And I received 12, yes, one dozen, napkins in my bag.  Not all establishments are as egregious, but most of them are excessive.  Dairy Queen hands you four per cone.  Others put a handful in your bag, and I would bet that most people toss them instead of taking them out and repurposing them elsewhere.

Pay attention to the number of napkins you are given and the number that you take.  Reducing both won't change the world, but it is a place to start.  Keep in mind that napkins really do come from trees and not dispensers.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Friday, July 17, 2015

#1141 time off

Different people handle "vacation anticipation" differently.  

In the days or hours leading up to a vacation or holiday, some people shift into "leisure mode" and their systems start to slow down.  Their mind is already on the beach and their productivity level wanes.  They are mentally gone, even if physically present.

Other people use the pending time away as an energy booster.  They approach their vacation in a flurry, with lists of things that "must be done" before departing and their productivity level actually increases before the plane takes off.  They leave with a clear mind and clean desk.

Think about which pattern typically describes you.  If you're an ease-into-vacation type of person, you should schedule appropriate tasks and meetings on the last day.  If you're the get-it-all-finished kind, you need to ensure you don't schedule things in your waning hours so you have the time to knock things out.

As a manager, you can tell the patterns of your staff.  Align your expectations with your employee's expected behavior so you can both enjoy the time they are away.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#1140 lessons from the gnat

Two years ago, our region was inflicted with a barrage of gnats.  The annoying buggers were everywhere in swarms and negatively impacted the outdoor activities of many.  People avoided golfing or concerts because they were besieged by these insects.  

None of the usual insect repellents seemed to work, but one thing did: Absorbine Junior.  I am not sure who discovered this, but the muscle pain relieving liquid was the only thing that kept the gnats away.  

Once the word spread, everyone wanted to buy some. Stores only stocked a few bottles (which I am sure satisfied the demand for the previous years), so suddenly the supply was out.  Pharmacies kept their bottles behind the counter.  People were buying it out of state. The stores couldn't order enough or keep it in stock. 

Fast forward to last year, and the retailers were prepared.  They ordered lots, and people bought lots.  We were thrilled to find it so stocked up and were ready.  Sales skyrocketed.

So this year, I imagine someone looked at last year's sales and said "wow, we sold a lot, we better order a lot more again."  Only two things happened:  1) the gnats did not return in the abnormal numbers like two years ago and 2) many people still had a full supply of Absorbine even if they did.

So now, you guessed it, the muscle relaxant is in ample (over) supply and retailers are working to get rid of it.

Another example of what Peter Senge describes as "systems thinking" and the consequences of looking at only one part of the system instead of the whole.  Focus on the big picture as you plan and not just the gnat in front of you.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#1139 stall

I believe there are some things that should be a standard size.  The pillowcase with your sheet set should fit your pillow.  The bread from your loaf should ease into the toaster.  And the shower curtain liner should, well, line the curtain with the same number of grommets.  

As I learned the hard way last night, this is not always the case.

I went to Target to purchase a shower liner.  I had to select whether I wanted clear, white or frosty: check.  I chose between light weight, medium weight or heavy weight PEVA: check.  And off I went.

Who knew that I had to also check whether it was "standard" size (aka 12 holes) or "stall" size (aka 9 holes)?  Guess which one I picked vs. which one I needed.  Grr.

Apparently, bathtubs are becoming the relics just like the knick-knacks I wrote about yesterday.  Fewer homes are installing them, thus enough people are calling for "stall size" curtains that the items have become standard issue in our tiny Target.  

Nothing can stand still in today's fast moving world.  I'll bet shower curtain liners have been the same size for literally decades, but no longer is one choice enough.  Two lessons for today: 1) be sure to check the size next time you purchase and 2) you'll get all wet if you sit still.  Even shower curtain liners need to evolve with the times.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#1138 fairy dust

I was at the Hallmark Ornament Preview Event over the weekend.  A woman was purchasing #38 in a series of ornaments.  (For the uninitiated, this means she has been buying one in this series every year for nearly four decades.)

Instead of being excited by her purchase, she was lamenting the fate of it.  "I have been collecting these ornaments for my children since they were born," she said.  "And my daughter told me that she doesn't want them; in fact, if I give them to her, she will turn around and sell them on eBay!" 

It's not that the daughter is (intentionally) heartless.  Her rationale: she doesn't want to dust.  

Think of all the memories that are now shared in virtual form instead of 3D.  All the Hummels, Precious Moments, china and knick-knacks that filled Grandma's curio cabinets are gone.  That statuette that was passed down for generations is now, at best, a photo on Instagram or pinned on Pintrest.  

Dusting is an awful job; no getting around it.  But some of the things it accumulates on can be symbols of love.  

No one ever hugged a computer in the time of grief or passed a file to their offspring to cherish.  Think about what you can make room for in your physical life then clear a shelf for a few tangible symbols that are worthy of an occasional brush with the feather duster.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Monday, July 13, 2015

#1137 unhappy

I know someone who recently participated in an arbitration process.  When the parties involved arrived to meet with the mediator, it did not start with an airing of grievances.  Before anyone was able to share "he said, she said", the mediator spent the first 40 minutes setting the context for the day's events.

"The goal of successful mediation is for both sides to leave unhappy," he said.  "You won't get all that you want."  

It turns out that the goal of mediation is to avoid litigation.  The mediator knew that understanding this perspective would greatly influence the outcome of the day, so he spent the time to get people in the right mindset before anything else.

What is the purpose for why you are gathering?  It is important for everyone to share that same goal and worth your time to ensure that they do.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Sunday, July 12, 2015

#1136 growing

Sometimes common sense does prevail!

Instead of making skates for kids that will only last a season due to growing feet, Cardiff Skate Company has designed skates that expand.  Children wear their own shoes, and the base with wheels enlarges to accommodate them.  It saves money, resources, hassle and lets more than one person in the family wear them during the same summer.


Pet collars expand from puppy to dog. Belts have extra notches to provide breathing room after a big meal or permanent expansion.  Suitcases have extra compartments that can be unzipped.  

How can you accommodate for the inevitable growth in what you are doing?  

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Saturday, July 11, 2015

#1135 flip the switch

Many times we say that we want to provide good service, but we don't always take the next step and make it easy to let people know when we fall short of that goal.

One common place where people passively monitor service is in a public restroom.  Often there is a chart on the back of the door indicating when it was last checked, and then a line in fine print that says something to the effect of "if this restroom needs servicing, please let the manager know."

I have been in places that needed attention, but it has to be really bad before I will share my concerns.  More times than not, I let it go.

Recently I was in a restroom that has this:

What a great way to show that they are serious about keeping the restroom clean.  It's simple, immediate and anonymous.

How can you take steps to make it easy for customers give you feedback, especially about service that needs attention now?

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Friday, July 10, 2015

#1134 what's next

Training new staff is somewhat like preparing for some of those SAT questions that ask "what's next in the sequence?"  

You can only study so much for the SAT, just as you can only share so much information with your new staff.  Neither can have the goal of knowing all of the answers.  

What you're really after with employees is for them to understand the context enough that they can pick the behavior you'd want them to choose based on your mission and values.  Help them understand the "why" of the initial information you share so that they can correctly choose what is next in the sequence.  

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


Thursday, July 9, 2015

#1133 it's ready

Around here, the first day of Fincels' sweet corn is like a holiday.  The corn is grown fresh, and, as I have written about before*, once you have tasted picked-today sweet corn, you look with disdain on any other kind.

But unlike holidays that appear on the calendar on a set date, the first day of corn season has fickle timing, dependent upon the whims of Mother Nature.  This uncertainty only serves to heighten the anticipation and 'sweeten' the demand.

I am sure the fine folks at Fincels tire of answering the question: "When will the corn be ready?" so they have devised an ingenious way of letting customers determine that for themselves.  From the first day at Farmers' Market they display corn in a pot:

People can see for themselves that the corn is nowhere near ready in May, or June, or even by Fourth of July.  (Today is the anticipated day, and sweet corn sales began this morning.) 

Think about how you can take a lesson from the farmers and devise a clever way to answer the often-asked questions your customers have.  Can you share the evolving progress of a project of great interest to others or find a way to help people understand the length of time it takes for something to be completed?  There are much more creative ways than a thermometer to keep people apprised of the information they want to know.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

*see Blog #25, June 26, 2012


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#1132 by hand

During the last academic year, nearly 20,000 high schools administered Advanced Placement exams and over 2 million students took at least one of them in an attempt to earn college credit through examination.  In total, there were 4.2 million AP exams given.

Since it is 2015, you may think that these tests are all multiple choice or so they can be graded by computer, but in reality they consist of essays and short answers...that are written in long-hand (not typed) and graded by people (by hand).  It is a massive undertaking to get them scored.

High school AP teachers and college professors gather in a hotel for a week and do nothing but grade one subject of AP tests.  This goes on all summer for each different exam.  Graders are broken into teams and given one question to score -- over and over and over again.  One reader said she read 4500 answers to the same question throughout the week.  And the hardest part?  Reading the handwriting.  

I asked why the essays weren't at least allowed to be typed, and the answer was "to allow for better monitoring." Apparently it is easier to watch a room full of students taking a test with the traditional paper and pencil than to track whether or not they are straying from the appointed task when on computers.  

It seems ironic to me that respected schools are offering on-line degrees and yet the College Board would rather incur the expense and time to bring droves of professionals together in person to score essays that are written by hand.  I am glad they take the granting of credit seriously, but AP may signify antiquated processing.

Is there a method or procedure you are using that may be due for some re-thinking?  

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Source:  AP Open Forum




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#1131 pop, pop, pop

Those of you who love the "pop, pop, pop" of Bubble Wrap may want to stockpile a few rolls.  Sealed Air Corp., the predominant manufacturer of the packing material, is introducing a new product that will have the same protection, but not their signature sound.

The compressed air that makes the addictive noise has a down side: it takes up space.  A lot of space actually.  And space equates to money, both to ship it in giant rolls and then to store it in warehouses before it is used.  So the company is introducing iBubble, inflated on-site with a special pump.  The result:  one truckload of the new wrap equals 47 truckloads of Bubble Wrap.  You don't have to be a math genius to calculate that there would be substantial savings.

Bubble Wrap may have been innovative when it hit the scene in 1960, but with today's technology and cost-consciousness, it is becoming a relic.  I think it's good for business that they are redesigning their products, even if it is sad for the end users.

It reminds me of my blog last week when I wondered about the fine line between tradition and becoming a rut.  The same is true with products. When is something a classic vs. outdated?  I think you can tell by the price; the value of classics goes up while the outdated is given away.  I predict that you may want to save up a few rolls of the noisy stuff before you have to pay a premium to get it from a vintage store!

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Source:  Bubble Wrap Loses Its Pop by Loretta Chao, Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2015, p. B1


Monday, July 6, 2015

#1130 stop

Many people experience a gradual accumulation of unwanted things.  One incident or action seems innocent enough, but after a repeated pattern a person is left with consequences that they wish they didn't have.  

Examples include: weight, possessions, debt or flirtations.  Eating one donut or buying one thing on your credit card does not a dilemma make, but doing so frequently can add up to trouble.

If something isn't positive or moving you toward a place you want to be, the quicker you realize it and take action the better.  Especially when it comes to unwanted behaviors, it is much easier to apply the brake than to shift into reverse.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Sunday, July 5, 2015

#1129 time lapse

On Saturday, I saw a puppy at the Farmers Market that appeared to have doubled in size since I saw him only a few weeks ago.  Come to find out, he actually did!  The chocolate lab has gone from 10# to 18# in barely a month; he gained 5# last week alone.

I think it is part of the allure of puppies -- not only that they are so dang cute, but that they are so rare.  People own dogs for close to a decade and you only get that little puppy stage for a month or two.  No wonder people fawn all over them -- it is a magical and elusive time.

This video captures the speed at which two retrievers grow up and you can see what I mean:  http://youtu.be/niLxhiywXqw

That level of newness is only present in your employees and clients for a fleeting moment as well.  They may come to you as grown ups, but they only have the wonder and perspective for about as long as dogs remain puppies.

Take steps to capitalize on what they see while you can.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Saturday, July 4, 2015

#1128 let freedom ring

Today at 2pm Eastern Time, bells across the United States will "let freedom ring" by playing their chimes at the appointed hour.  When you hear them, take a minute to stop and give thanks for all the freedoms you enjoy.

Think about our country 239 years ago.  Congress sat in rooms without air-conditioning or computers; where they arrived via horseback on little more than dirt paths, and spent months at a time away from their families because they believed in the promise of democracy.

This Fourth of July, play your role as an active citizen and say a prayer that our current members of Congress will model the lesson of compromise and diplomacy that was exhibited on this date in 1776.

Happy Independence Day!

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com