We have a staff member who is deathly afraid of bats, and we give him a lot of ribbing about it. But apparently bats are no laughing matter. My sister is undergoing a series of shots in preparation for a trip, and received rabies shots as part of the visa requirements. They may serve her well in the States too, as it is now recommended that if you see a bat in your house, you head in for rabies shots. Bats bite so lightly that you may not know you have been bitten, and if the bat is carrying rabies or the bat disease lyssavirus, the result without treatment is fatal. The bite or scratch may be so insignificant that you failed to notice it, but once the symptoms appear, death is eminent. Especially if a bat is seen after you have been sleeping, it is time to run to the doctor, instead of just running away from the bat. Rarely are there protocols that are so one sided: mortality from rabies without treatment = 99%; treatment with little or no delay = 100% effective. Bats can be a lesson that even the little things — or something that is almost invisible — can have a large and significant impact. Are there metaphorical bats “biting” people in your organization — creating fissures in the culture or harming the fiscal health in ways that are so insignificant that they aren’t noticed? Think of your equivalent of “rabies shots” that you can administer today instead of waiting for the untreatable symptoms to appear.
In the center of our campus is an atrium, with a 70 foot high vaulted glass ceiling. Occasionally, a bird enters the enclosure and frantically flies from one end to the other trying to get back out. Last week, one such bird was perched on a pipe by the window, pecking away in a vain attempt to escape. It obviously couldn’t comprehend “glass” or “windows” and did not have the intelligence to go back out the way it came in. I know a bird doesn’t have the capacity for reasoning, but I kept thinking of how frustrating it would be to see your freedom and have no knowledge on how to reach it. Contrast that with humans, who do have the capacity to see alternatives. Yet, many times humans know that what they are doing is not working, but still keep pecking at the window anyway. If you find yourself on one side of the glass when you’d rather be on the other, take advantage of having a brain bigger than the bird’s and use it to develop options to change your fate. Take advantage of your rank in the pecking order and stop pecking away.
Yesterday’s blog about equality reminded me of a lesson from diversity speaker Bill Grace. He was describing the impact of no lines at the men’s restroom during a break in his presentation, whereas there was a long line at the women’s facility. “Both restrooms had the exact same facilities; the line was because it takes women longer. That was equal treatment under the law. Some architects and builders are providing facilities for women that are a third larger than those for men — that’s equitable access,” he said. Think about how you address the needs and fair treatment of your customers and staff. Are you providing equal treatment or equitable access? Do you require everyone to follow the same rules, or do you make accommodations when flexibility is required? Have you made adjustments that reflect the reality of the situation? Think about the restroom story the next time you are making decisions.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Iowa Association of College Admission Counselors newsletter by Ann Johnson, April 2011
When you think of gender equality, you may consider fair wages, discrimination-free work places or female access to the same positions and perks than men enjoy. One area you may not consider is money itself. Women on 20s is a national organization seeking to compel a change in whose face is on U.S. currency. Instead of Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill, W2O is conducting a national campaign to raise awareness that all of America’s bills feature men. This organization hopes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (which guaranteed women the right to vote) with a change in who is featured on our paper currency. So far, the organization has conducted a national campaign and narrowed the list to four finalists: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller. You can vote for your choice every day until midnight on May 10th at: www.womenon20s.org/vote2
“Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history,” says Gloria Steinem. Whether you vote for the change in currency or not, think about how you have (or have not) honored segments of your history. You hold bills every day and may not have considered the message they send about equality. What in your organization is blending into the background without consideration to the overall message it makes? And, most importantly, what will you do to change that?
Just as I noted yesterday about MSN recognizing a niche component of the audience, PetSmart has done the same with those who consider their pets as part of the family.
A vinyl graphic greets visitors as they enter:
Welcome to a furrier version of parenthood.
The headline of their ad in People reads: “Pethood. It’s just like parenthood. Except with occasional fleas, harder bath times and no eye rolling in the teenage years.”
Not everyone considers their pets to be one of their children. Many have pets that don’t have fur, and PetSmart devotes half of their store to serve those needs. But they have decided to be bolder with their messaging and go deep with one segment of the population.
I think the parenthood theme will have great appeal for some people, and likely it won’t resonate with others. Good for PetSmart.
How can you rethink your messaging to speak specifically to a defined segment of your audience? If what you are saying will be liked by everyone, perhaps you should rethink it and try again.
A furry parenthood isn’t for everyone, but for those who have four-legged hairy children, you know where you can find others like you.
It is about 3500 miles from New York to London, but the fascination with the English royals seems to have transcended that space.
On the MSN News app, here are the main headers across the page: Top Stories, Royal Baby, US, World. Yes, the Royal Baby, who wasn’t even born as of this writing, has its own main category on the news feed. What will it be like when there actually is a birth?
I admit to being interested in the royals in a casual way; no where near the “superfans” who have already been camping out for days in anticipation. But there are those out there, and MSN is trying to capitalize on that passion.
It is expected for MSN to regularly supply a news feed of credible news, but what harm does it do to throw in a little frivolity every now and then if that is what people have interest in?
Think about what your audience really wants from you. Do you have the equivalent of a Royal Baby topic that could boost interest in your organization? Can you share information of something from “behind the scenes” that may be off the beaten path but would interest your clients? Is there a way to provide your “superfans” helpful information before it becomes public?
Inquiring minds do want to know. How can you capitalize on that?
I recently attended a retreat about gratitude and it reminded me of a project John Kralik undertook several years ago. He was down in the dumps; “anything but thankful” is how he termed it. But instead of wallowing in his misfortunes, he decided to be grateful for what he had and pledged to write a thank you note a day for all of 2008. By 2010 he published a book of his notes and continued writing for several years after that. Kralik offers three simple steps of how to craft a note that effectively expresses your gratitude: 1. Make your note handwritten. 2. Be specific about what you are grateful for. 3. Keep it short — three or four sentences. I have been the lucky recipient of many expressions of gratitude over the years. I have saved them all, in a special file that I drag out and look at on occasion. It is hard to be sad after just a few minutes of reading. You don’t have to be as ambitious as Kralik to make someone’s day today. Spend the few minutes that it takes to thank someone. You can be like Kralik and thank the Starbucks barista who remembers his name or the surgeon who relieved him of pain. Or you can stay closer to home and express your gratitude to someone who has helped you recently or just made you smile. Either way, “thank you” are two beautiful words to give as well as to receive.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Up your gratitude by John Kralik in Parade magazine, January 1, 2012, p. 12 Also see: A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik or www.365thankyounotes.com
The other day when I was browsing in the bookstore, I came upon a bookmark that read: “Ah, Spring! Wondrous! Like a good book.” How true that is for me. It is hard for me to imagine someone who doesn’t enjoy the warmth and green of the new season, or someone who doesn’t cherish those getting-lost moments that come with a good book. Both have the ability to transport me from gloom to glee. I ended up picking a selection that had been chosen by a local book club. Just as much fun as looking at the book titles was reading the names the groups had chosen for themselves: > Knit Lit > This is Not What I Signed Up For > Same Page > One Night Stand > Lit & Lattes > Read Between the Wines > Book Marks > Books on the Rocks There were dozens more, many aptly named so you could get a sense of the group’s character before joining. I wonder why we don’t apply the same ingenuity to naming committees and teams at work. Do they all need to have basic, functional names like “planning group” or “budget committee”? Would it change the culture or outcome if we scheduled a “Lewis & Clark council” or “nickel and dime” meetings? The next time you assemble a group, think about the tone you set by what you call it. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you may be able to judge a group by its name.
One of the best books I have read lately is Crucial Conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high. It seems like the stakes are high and emotions are elevated more frequently than they used to be, thus I am trying to learn how to be more effective in this environment as both a participant and leader. The authors provide several very useful strategies, the heart of which revolves around creating a safe place for dialogue to occur. Only in dialogue can people share their meaning and stories so that they come to a true understanding. When people don’t feel emotionally safe, they revert to two behaviors: silence or violence, and the dialogue ends. (Silence is when people withdraw or avoid expressing themselves, while violence involves controlling or attacking language.) I think that we all default one way or another, but neither are healthy. The book made me consider these responses and raised my consciousness as to how I conduct meetings to keep dialogue flowing and how I can contribute when emotions are high. It often feels like saying nothing and avoiding an argument is the polite or preferred response, but it shuts down dialogue as much as shouting does. Think about the dichotomy of silence or violence the next time you find yourself in a important conversation. Do what you can to keep the dialogue flowing so that you reach mutual understanding of the crucial issue at hand.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler. 2002
I recently participated in a focus group where members of an organization were trying to learn my perceptions about the previous events they had hosted. As we shared our observations, it became apparent that a few of us had attended some of the lectures while others did not, and selected people had access to the common readings while others were too new to have received them. More so than feedback about which event was good and which was not came the realization that what was needed was a way to provide an archive and access over time. As members come and go from the group, it would be helpful to have a way for them to learn from what was done previous to their joining. We described the current mode of the organization as “one and done”, meaning that something happens live and in the moment, and no attention is paid to capturing, preserving or sharing the learning that occurs. The sessions are not recoded; notes are not taken; materials are not archived — so if you miss it, you lose out. How much richer the long term impact could be if the experience — or at least the essence of it — became available outside of the present place and time. Think about the content that your organization is generating. If it has value, it is worth saving so you can share.