leadership dot #2056: spa c in g

Having text show up perfectly across multiple platforms is sometimes a challenge. While many websites are now constructed for “responsive design” to allow for better alignment, it still isn’t perfect.

But what I can’t understand is how humans can fail to have proper spacing in print that is low tech (i.e. handwritten!):

(sadly, just one example of many from the funeral)

Or how egregious spacing errors occur on very visible things that are done by professionals  (i.e. expensive):

(Photo from Karlee Kanz on Facebook)

Who thought this was acceptable? And where are the quality checks – by the supervisor, the person who delivered it or anyone else involved in the process?

I wonder if people are in such a rush that everything blurs together in their brain or so distracted that they don’t take a moment to pause and consider the end product. Don’t fall prey to these traps. Take that extra second to ensure your words stay together and spaces are placed where they belong.






leadership dot #2055: driver

What is an effective way to lessen anxiety in a stressful situation? Allow the person to have more control.

Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego did just that by allowing children to drive themselves to the operating room using remote-controlled cars. Instead of being rolled into surgery on a gurney, children eagerly anticipate choosing a BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes or Lamborghini to transport them into the OR. It turns something that is dreaded into something that is a reward.

As the staff at Rady regrettably discovered, adults are too large to ride in the hospital’s special vehicles, so cars are probably not an option for your staff! But think of how you can devise a situation in which people have more control over something that normally would leave them feeling helpless. Can you allow them to have more autonomy in their work? Or to choose options instead of having them dictated from above? Or perhaps have the freedom to “opt out” of tasks or obligations on a limited basis?

Everyone likes to be in the driver’s seat. You can enhance your team morale by devising a way to hand your staff the keys.

Thanks, Amy!

leadership dot #2054: craft

Ten years ago this week, Starbucks closed all of its stores for three hours in order to conduct barista training. The signs on the doors read: “Taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honoring our craft.”*

The logistics involved in conducting the training were significant. Starbucks delivered DVDs and DVD players to each of its 7100 stores. It is estimated that they lost $6 million in revenue. But CEO Howard Schultz attributes the training to “saving the company.”

The logistics today could be much easier for companies who wish to conduct synchronous training: bring in a laptop and have everyone connect to the Internet and webinar software. Yet so few (any?) are willing to invest the time and forgo the revenue that such a commitment requires.

Leadership guru Simon Sinek says: “Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.” Howard Schultz understood that principle when he made the decision to close, and the company thrives today in part because of that choice.

What craft does your team need to practice – and how are you going to create the time for them to perfect that skill? Whether it is espresso or something more significant, your future depends upon making that commitment to your people.

*As quoted in an excerpt from Onward by Howard Schultz

Simon Sinek quote from Twitter 3/22/6 @SimonSinek

leadership dot #2053: fantasy

Most people have heard of, if not participated in, Fantasy Sports Leagues, virtual games that allow people to draft a roster of players and tally wins/losses based on the real-life performance of those athletes. The concept has been expanded into a different genre – Fantasy Movie League.

Players in this league use an app to attempt to fill up to eight cinemas with current movies – all in the quest to see who picks shows that actually earn the highest gross revenue over the weekend. Players are given a budget limit and must adhere to that – filling as many screens as money will allow – but also receive a hefty penalty if their theatres do not feature a show.

The app is free, but the prizes are real: $1000 cash one weekend, a Darth Vader poster signed by James Earl Jones, $250 in movie tickets, etc.

In addition to serving as light entertainment for gamers or movie buffs, I think this also has an application for the teaching of economics. It would be great to fill your “theater” with all of the big name blockbusters, but, of course, the cost cap will not allow it. In this game, as in life, there are tradeoffs and risks that must be made.

Think of how you can help your students or your organization learn about economic realities through this game or another. It’s fun to play around with choosing movies to fill a theatre, but there are serious lessons that can be learned from assessing choices and taking the whole picture into consideration.

leadership dot #2052: commemorate

Cincinnati’s famous ice cream store, Graeter’s, marked the birth of the local zoo’s hippo by creating a new flavor, Chunky Chunky Hippo. Fiona the hippo was quickly a local celebrity, and Graeter’s was smart to jump on the bandwagon.

What is even more impressive than capitalizing on the arrival of the hippo was Graeter’s decision to leverage the event even further by re-releasing the flavor in celebration of Fiona’s first birthday. They have even sweetened the deal by commissioning a local artist to design the containers, drawing even more attention to the product.

What event can you re-commemorate? It’s easy to think of milestones in your organization’s history, but be more creative that than. The one-year anniversary of a large donation? One thousand days since a new service was offered? Your boss’s start date at the organization?

There is no need to save specialness for a one-time use.

Thanks, Lucy!

leadership dot #2051: sleep over

Businesses are always seeking ways to drive traffic and our local Chick-fil-A has hit upon an ingenious way to do so. Tonight is the Stuffed Animal Sleepover – a concocted event where children bring in their stuffed animals this evening (accompanied by their family, of course – and since we’re there, why not eat dinner) – and then come in the morning to pick up their stuffed friends (lo and behold, Chick-fil-A also serves breakfast!).

Children are encouraged to come in their pajamas, the Chick-fil-A Cow will be on hand and overall I expect it to be a madhouse. All for essentially no cost to the restaurant. I am sure that in the morning the staff will make up stories about the “adventures” the stuffed friends had and it will be a win-win for all involved.

Think about how you can model this promotion in your organization. Is there something that you can do to pique interest in visiting your business: providing a behind-the-scenes tour, a bank offering to put coins in the special vault for the night, having a scavenger hunt in a store or taking photos in a special place or with a mascot?

With the right idea, it doesn’t take much money to generate great interest.

leadership dot #2050: we can do it

The “Rosie the Riveter” poster was an inspiration to employees at Westinghouse in the 1940s – an encouragement for a new wave of female employees to join the workforce and invigorate the war effort. The image did not gain its popularity until it was commercialized in the 1980s, and since then has become an iconic symbol of feminism, grit and perseverance. The “We can do it!” refrain has become a mantra for thousands of others.

Rosie in the poster has been personified and is easily identified by most people, but mystery shrouds the identity of the inspiration for the artwork. Rosie’s identity still is not confirmed but is now believed to be Naomi Parker Fraley, (even though other accounts had attributed J. Howard Miller’s image to another woman) who passed away this week at age 96.

I learned of Parker Fraley’s death from my administrative assistant of nearly thirty years ago. She saw “Rosie’s” obituary and thought I would want to know – as if were news about an old friend. It reminded her of the days when I used Rosie as a rallying cry for my new staff as we sought to create a new culture on campus, and brought back fond memories of the time when we were on a mission to achieve something as audacious as what Rosie herself embodied.

No one is sure of whether Parker Fraley is the “real Rosie”, but a solid identity does not matter. Rosie is not a person, rather a symbol and inspiration – a reminder that with determination and grit much can be achieved. That spirit and motivation can live on to galvanize another generation of change makers if you let it.




leadership dot #2049: impossible

Talk about the impossible task: Keep your 10-week old puppy calm for six weeks until she is old enough to have surgery on a torn ACL. It is not going to happen.

The instructions from the vet made me think about other equally ludicrous goals that we give employees: pick up the work of the person who left and do your job, too; make monumental changes without revising any policies; serve more customers and serve them well, but without any additional resources, etc.

Why do we add to the frustration by expecting the unrealistic?

Part of our role as a supervisor is to help set priorities. It would serve a far greater purpose if lofty ambitions were broken down into specifics and given rankings: “Be sure the puppy doesn’t climb stairs” might actually occur. “Please do the reporting Chris used to do before you do the work for Committee X.” “Prepare a list of key policies that would be impacted by the change and your recommendations to alter them if needed.” “Let me know how we can reduce barriers and make customer service our first priority.”

Help your staff achieve results by keeping your expectations grounded and prioritized. You are far more likely to see progress in a narrowly defined area than with a broad wish list. Specificity encourages success.

leadership dot #2048: forever

Without any fanfare at all, the US Postal Service again raised its rates for First Class stamps. I doubt you have noticed, but as of Sunday, stamps now cost 50 cents each.

It used to be that an increase in rates was accompanied by a flurry of activity as everyone scrambled to buy the one-cent stamps or “letter” stamps that were put into production before the final rate was known. But once the USPS transitioned over to Forever Stamps that do not require a price supplement, they used this convenience as a way to increase more frequently and stealthily.

In the 1990s, there were three postage increases. Since 2007, when the Forever Stamp was introduced, there have been ten First Class rate hikes, approximately one every year. Rates in the last decade have gone up 21% — from 41 cents to today’s 50 cents.

Think of how you can you learn from the (albeit self-serving) genius of the Forever Stamp. Is there a service you offer that frequently rises in price that you can offer on a pricing model that makes the increases less impactful for your customers? Can you offer a Forever rate for one of your key products as an incentive? If you haven’t increased prices lately, could you offer a “Forever” rate or a “For-a-Long-Time” rate and capitalize on your stability?

Maybe there is a way for you to put your stamp on a pricing model that makes sense in the long term.

leadership dot #2047: kaleidoscope

Creating something impactful is like assembling a kaleidoscope.

A kaleidoscope is an assemblage of multiple small, colored pieces of glass. By themselves, they don’t seem like much, but when put together in the proper environment the pieces make beautiful patterns and create delight.

Oftentimes in organizations, I see evidence of many of the “pieces” but no one has intentionally unified them. Different departments or individuals often do things that help the same goal – creating pieces of colored glass – but no one evaluates them as a whole or packages the offerings as an intentional kaleidoscope.

Pieces of glass, no matter how colorful, have far less impact without the structure and cohesion that a kaleidoscope viewer provides.

When you think about your team or organization, assess what “pieces” you have in existence already and then consider how you can make them into something more. Can you build on impromptu recognition techniques to create a recognition program? Perhaps you can take your “pieces” of stress reduction and make them into a robust wellness initiative? Or maybe you can take your random volunteer work and make it into a full-fledged service program that reflects your values?

Part of the magic of a kaleidoscope is that not everyone sees all of the pieces in the same way. Focus on gathering the pieces and let individuals experience what you have created through their own perspective.