leadership dot #2626: protect

On all the trash containers at Walgreens – outside, in the store and in the restrooms – are warning labels about prescriptions but not about the drugs themselves. Walgreens warns customers not to dispose of any packaging or materials related to their prescriptions in these easy-to-access waste bins, presumably to reduce fraud. I never thought of it, but I suppose it would be easier for someone to take the information materials or empty bottle and have enough information to secure a prescription for themselves.

Walgreens doesn’t need to provide these reminders but they have gone the extra step to help protect their customers. Is there a way for you to do the same? ATM receipts do not contain personal information but many other receipts contain membership numbers, names or other identifiers. People toss countless items with their address and account numbers from mailed statements. Electronics packaging can tip off burglars if it is prominently left on the curb.

Your role in a transaction doesn’t stop when money is exchanged. Expand your customer service another step or two to help your customers protect themselves from unintended harm from doing business with you.

leadership dot #2625: bug book

On one side of the spectrum, some people think that their passion will just reveal itself to them and then others are in a perpetual state of searching through an array of self-reflection techniques. Jim Collins, author of (my favorite) Good to Great utilized a technique that I found intriguing as a new way to learn what helps you get in a state of flow.

Collins deployed the scientific method of observation to himself the same way he used to document movements of bugs in a jar as a kid (Yes, he was a self-proclaimed nerd!). Jim designated a notebook as “A Bug Called Jim” and for a year he recorded his actions and emotions as they related to work. Every day he noted the activities that excited him and those that drained him and after several months of doing so actionable patterns emerged that led him to leave his job and pursue teaching and research.

I have just started a “Bug Book” of my own but already have found that it has made me far more conscious of the tasks that bring fulfillment and those that are done from necessity. I hope I can use the insights to adjust some of my projects or at least to schedule them differently.

Maybe channeling your inner scientific nerd could help you identify happiness amongst that which bugs you.

(As told in Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley)

leadership dot #2624: ruminate

It has been a long time since I have presented a workshop on a topic that is brand new for me but I am doing so in October. I am having so much fun with it already!

Because it is new, I have been very conscious about preparing early. I purchased two books on the subject. I have asked friends and colleagues to send me their resources. I have started making notes. And because it is on my mind, I “suddenly” see articles, social media posts and videos that will help me.

I am sure all these resources were there before but because the topic wasn’t on my radar, they did not make a connection for me. It reminds me again of the importance of allowing time for ideas to incubate.

We all pay attention to the things we are focused on. By planning ahead, we create the space for rumination and the addition of new inputs. Ideas (and workshops!) are better when we incorporate a pre-action phase just to think.

leadership dot #2623: adjustment period

Some of the resistance to change comes just from the dissonance of having something be different. Often, if we allow even a short amount of time, we’ll acclimate to the change as it was originally made and become comfortable without any further adjustments. It’s just that we pass judgment too quickly – and too many times others address our initial displeasure without giving the change time to settle in.

For example:

  • People get a new watch and “don’t like it” – not because the watch itself is an issue, rather because it is a different weight than the previous one. Within days we wouldn’t notice it, but we don’t give it that long.
  • Freshmen go off to college – and every year someone will call their parents to retrieve them before orientation ends. They have no idea what college is really like but are too fearful to find out.
  • A new procedure is introduced and people spend more time lamenting about it instead of learning it, and the powers-that-be rescind the change rather than fight the backlash.
  • As part of my redecorating spree, I purchased a throw pillow that I initially didn’t like, but came to embrace before I had a chance to return it – realizing that my main sticking point was that I had to get used to any pillow being there but that the colors really did work well with this one.

When your first reaction to a change is unfavorable, pause for a moment and consider what is generating your response. Before you back-pedal or return something, wait a few days and see if you don’t come to feel differently. It’s often love at fifth sight or twentieth, not first.

leadership dot #2622: they will come

If you’re 77-years old and want to allay the fears of Iowa voters that you’re spry enough to be president, what better way to do it than to play a softball game at the Field of Dreams? Such was the strategy of Bernie Sanders and staff who challenged members of the press in a light-hearted duel.

Of course, it was more of a campaign rally than an athletic event, complete with special buttons, free pennants and paper megaphones. In addition to the usual propaganda, they also distributed baseball cards featuring Sanders as #46 (the next president). He “bats right, throws right and thinks left.” Clever!

I have seen many other candidates over the years – all in traditional settings. It would have drawn a crowd just by having the game, but the food trucks, banners, celebrity announcers (Susan Sarandon and Yogi Berra’s granddaughter) and giveaways all served to make it memorable for its spectacle even if you didn’t agree with the politics.

The next time you need to convey a message, put as much thought into the venue as to the words themselves. Sometimes just changing up where your communication is delivered could set you up to hit it out of the park.

leadership dot #2621: shifting

I have noticed lately that the relative size of products is shrinking each time I purchase them. The dog treats are just a wee bit smaller in the new package. Snack bags used to be in boxes of 50 for $1, then 45 and now 38. Fountain beverages were 32 oz. and now are only 30 oz. in some places. The scrubbing pads used to be packaged 10/box but are replaced with 8/box for the same price.

Unless you are really paying attention or happen to have both the old and new side-by-side, you likely won’t notice these changes…

…until they reach a tipping point and you do.

The same is true of organizational culture. It’s barely perceptible when civility first takes a hit or morale shifts a little in the wrong direction or the vision becomes a bit fuzzy. People don’t notice when the standards start to lax or the transparency begins to fade – until the culture reaches that tipping point and suddenly the lapses aren’t so insignificant anymore.

Most changes – for better or worse — occur incrementally. It’s far easier to pay attention and address minor shifts rather than being oblivious until an obvious change has occurred.


leadership dot #2620: hiding

Ever since I waterproofed my boots on the patio I have been left with an intermittent reminder of the task – every time it rains, the silhouette reappears only to disappear when it dries. I have always thought that this concept was an untapped marketing opportunity – why not do art or graffiti or advertising in waterproof spray – leaving a seemingly pristine surface in dry weather and an unexpected message when it is wet.

This could be used to point people into stores: “Umbrellas sold here” or “Come in out of the rain and check out our clothes” or “Hot coffee to take away the damp chill”. Art could be ducks enjoying the puddles or other weather-appropriate designs, etc.

I just learned that I wasn’t the only one with this idea. The Rainworks organization has been doing street art using Superhydrophobic coatings and have achieved the same effect – providing hopscotch grids and messages on sidewalks and leaving a bit of joy during otherwise dreariness.

What message could you hide until it rains? Surprise someone by putting a can of waterproofing spray to a new use.

When wet
Same space when dry