#29 Indianapolis

One of my favorite goal setting tools is the map of Indiana.  I learned in my college marketing distribution class that more major roads lead to Indianapolis than any other major city in the country.  If you pull out (or in today’s vernacular pull up on-line) a map of Indiana, you’ll see Indianapolis smack dab in the middle of the state.  And thick roads lead to it by going north, south, east or west.


Often when organizations set goals, the leaders either consciously or unconsciously think that it means that everyone must be going in the same direction to attain the goal.  They roll out the strategic plan and expect followers to get in formation and march toward the target.

The visual of Indianapolis shows what is counter-intuitive but actually true — that people can go in all directions to meet the goal.  Everyone can reach the destination in different ways — coming from a different direction, using different means of transport; some going faster (interstates) while others take the more scenic (2-lane) routes.  

The Indiana map makes the job of the leader crystal clear:  define “Indianapolis” for your organization.  It also allays some of the fears of the followers.  Leaders are not aiming for rote conformity.  Some level of individualism can live.  There is an element of choice in the process.  Just as long as there is ultimate clarity of where the organization is headed.  

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


#28 the invisible

I recently passed a car that had a box of tissues in the back window area.  This was a common practice of my grandparents — and something I never understood.  If you need a tissue while driving, you need to be able to reach it.  The tissues ride around back there forever because they are never used.  But I am sure no one ever questioned the practice.

The same kind of logic carries over into the workplace.  Why are certain practices or policies in place?  Because they always have been.  We recently converted to a new phone system.  This caused people to pay attention to the phone for the first time in years. Suddenly people started thinking about something that had become a habit.  “Why do we have a phone here?  Why do we lock up the phone at night even though you need a code to use it?  Why do we need individual passwords in an office when we just turn around and post them on a sheet anyway?”  

Also this week I was in a different area of the building and came upon a bulletin board in the hallway.  This board had information that was a minimum of six years old.  When we asked the person whose office was directly across from it if we could update it, he said that he “hadn’t noticed” that it was old until we pointed it out.  

I think everyone benefits when you look at the world and try to really see it.  Make it your goal today to help something invisible be seen.  Only then can you intentionally decide to continue it because it has merit instead of just longevity.  

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots

leadershipdots@gmail.com

#27 anything

My brother-in-law once told my sister that she could have anything she wanted.  Anything, just not everything.  It was a profound statement.
It rang in my head yesterday as I was participating in the cabinet retreat for our university.  As we looked ahead to the opportunities and challenges of the coming year – and future strategic plan goals – it was reinforced that we have more dreams than resources; more additions than discontinuations.  It is difficult to balance genuine operational needs with strategic initiatives; to juggle enhancements while maintaining price controls and to attend to today while paving the way to create tomorrow.
In a situation where there are more needs than dollars – and who isn’t there – it is essential to prioritize and focus on the any-one-thing that will be a difference maker instead of ineffectively trying to do everything.  Say no to something to give yourself a chance at making an impact at anything.

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

#26 true grit

For a few athletes, competing in the Olympics is a goal that has consumed most of their lives since childhood.  These talented men and women have spent countless hours preparing and training in the hopes that they will represent their nation on this world-wide stage.


In just over a month, the London Olympics will begin and, by design, we do not yet know who will be members of the United States team.  The U.S. track, swimming and gymnastics trials are occurring now and the final results of these qualifying events determine those who go forward.

It is hard for me to imagine being so close to something so big – while being simultaneously so close to watching the Games on television.  For their whole lives, those select few who do well in the next week will be known as “Olympians”.  Those who stumble will be known as “great athletes when they were younger”.

I hope that after the physical pain and mental heartache wears off for those not chosen that they can take pride and satisfaction for having given their all, even if it did not result in a medal.  These men and women have a dedication, talent and grit that we could only hope to emulate. 

Do your work as if you are trying out for the Olympics.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t make the team or win the medal – how you do your work in the “trials” is where true character shines.

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

#25 it’s worth the extra effort

Sunday was the first day this season that a local farmer sold sweet corn.  The only advertising that he needed to do was to put a handwritten note on a chalkboard by his table that said “Corn available Sunday at 9am.”  Two wagon-fulls sold out in less than an hour.
This farmer is revered because he only sells “picked-today” sweet corn at his stands.  As an Iowa transplant, I needed to be taught that this matters (as the corn has sugar which creates different tastes and textures as it ages).  “Picked-today” truly is better.  So the farmer gets a crew out very early, picks the corn, drives it to the stand and sells it – every single day all season.  It takes extra effort to do this instead of shipping it off weekly to a grocer and letting the store handle logistics. 
It is less convenient for people to make a special trip to the stand to buy the corn.  It costs the same as in the grocery.  And on Sunday, people had to wait an hour in line to buy it!  At 8:15, I was person #43 in line.  By 8:30, there were 93 others.  At 9am when they arrived with the corn, the line weaved around the whole perimeter of the parking lot. 
Why did we wait?  Because it was worth the extra effort to get this corn. 
What are you doing in your organization that adds the kind of value that your customers find worth the extra effort to obtain?

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots

leadershipdots@gmail.com

#24 Frank Wills

Ever heard of Frank Wills?  Probably not.  But Frank’s diligence in doing his job 40 years ago started a chain of events that influenced our nation.
Frank was a security guard at the Watergate office building and was the one who saw a taped latch during the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters.  He is the one who called the police, which summoned a reporter, which lead to…well, you know the rest.
What if Frank hadn’t been conscientious?  What if he hadn’t noticed the tape, or decided in his mind that it was a little thing that didn’t matter? 
I am more and more convinced that there are no big things.  Everything is a collection of little dots that are strung together to have consequences.  Pay attention to the dots; they matter.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots

leadershipdots@gmail.com

#23 implications

Too often leaders make decisions that have more consequences for those that must implement them than they do for the leaders themselves.
An example of this just occurred when one client was using a facility during the week and another user wanted it for the weekend.  Technically the space was free, so the scheduling manager booked it for the second group.  Problem was that the first client had an extensive set-up – which meant that it had to be taken down on Friday and then reassembled on Monday.  Several staff members were involved in tearing down after a rigorous day of work, and then needed to come in over the weekend in order to be ready Monday morning.  In all, several hours of time were required for the switch-over.
Not only was the scheduler not involved in any of the extra labor, he actually benefited from the two bookings.  Because he generated extra revenue, it is likely that given the opportunity, he would make the same decision again. 
As a leader you need to consider more than the financial bottom line, and take into account the human costs of your actions.  The only way to know those implications is to actively seek feedback and be present to see them for yourself.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots

leadershipdots@gmail.com