leadership dot #2755: have a ball

Tonight, at precisely 11:59pm Eastern Time, the famous New Year’s Eve ball will drop from One Times Square with millions watching. It will be the 91st time for the ceremony and serves as a revered bridge between the old and new year.

The ball contains 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights to create its magic. The crystals come in varying shapes, including this year’s addition of a pineapple shape to represent the Gift of Goodwill. Other crystals represent the Gift of Harmony, Gift of Serenity, Gift of Kindness, Gift of Fortitude and Gift of Imagination. You can learn more in a fascinating fact sheet here.

 Just as the ball remains on display all year, goodwill, harmony, serenity, kindness, fortitude and imagination should represent more than crystals on the New Year’s Eve ball. Make them your mantra to live by in the coming decade.

leadership dot #2754: just looking

It’s a delicate balance for salespersons to know whether you wish to have their help or be left alone to do your shopping. Cosmetics company Sephora has devised a simple yet effective way for customers to communicate their preferences. By offering two different colored baskets, it eliminates the guesswork and makes for a happier environment for both the shopper and salesperson.

Can you adopt this model for a decision point in your organization? Use one color form for those who want assistance and another for those who are confident in their ability to complete it on their own. Create two lines for check-in to distinguish newcomers from those who have already heard the instructions. Give people stickers as they enter the dealership to indicate that they are “just looking.”

Providing a simple solution to this vexing question can make the experience much more pleasant for all who are involved.

leadership dot #2753: onslaught

As I walked into the grocery store, I was bombarded with an overload of signs. Hot deals, price declines, low prices, and sales! It reminded me of the quote from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

In a store that is not known for its bargain pricing, the onslaught of signs was neither believable nor appealing, rather it was akin a paragraph in which the author utilizes an exclamation point for every sentence.

Sale! and Wow! should both be used with scarcity, not abundance.

leadership dot #2752: not applicable

A restaurant promoted their new app with table-top signs, banners, and messages on their packaging. I frequent the establishment and went to sign up…only I was unable to do so. Come to find out, it was three days before the new app was available.

The next time I was there, I tried to sign up again but still could not, so I asked for help. This resulted in three managers taking my phone for the entire length of my meal and only then learning that the cards they had been handing out with the instructions were for the old app and did not work for this iteration. (I did get a free meal for the frustration!)

Don’t let your organization fall victim to such unnecessary sloppiness. Dial the phone numbers before you publish them. Test the links for any websites you promote. And if you go all out to promote a new app, please wait until it’s actually available and then download it yourself first. Not all your customers will have the persistence to try it over and over again.

leadership dot #2751: right-sized

Have you noticed the change in packaging that Amazon and other retailers have adopted? Instead of boxes coming stuffed full of Styrofoam peanuts or bags of air, many boxes now are delivered with just the product inside or smaller packaging is used.

I noticed this when I had two packages on opposite ends of the spectrum. One contained three items, all squished around a piece of cardboard to cover them. I literally could put my hand inside the package without opening it. Great for the environment, but bad for the third item in the wrap that was squished upon arrival. Another box contained one bottle of cologne – and could have contained about 20 more of them in the same container. I am amazed that it arrived in one piece after loosely shifting around the box with no protection.

As more and more business is conducted through online shopping, I applaud retailers for trying to minimize the environmental impact of the delivery of all these goods. And I suggest that they have not yet found the right answer to what is too much packaging and what is too little.

May your organization adopt similar practices of environmental consciousness and experimentation – continually trying new things that help you be better, but not yet where you need to be.

leadership dot #2750: ratings

I understand the intent of the Motion Picture Rating System, but sometimes I can’t figure out how they come up with the ratings they do. In addition to labeling a film G, PG, etc., the rating system now indicates a rationale for why the rating was given. My favorite: Ford v Ferrari – the movie about race cars, received a PG-13 in part because of “fast driving!!”

The rating system is done by a board of parents – not movie executives – who are employed by the Classification and Rating Administration to reflect “what they believe would be the majority view of their fellow parents in rating a film.” The descriptors are designed to help parents know what type of content gave the film a non-G rating, including language, smoking, sex, “extended sequences of intense fantasy”, violence, “frightening images”, and, apparently, fast driving.

With any type of rating system, the results are inherently subjective. Almost every movie has something that someone too young could find scary or objectionable. Even Frozen received a PG for “mild action and rude humor” and that was far less intense than some of the classics like Bambi.

The bottom line is to take context into account with any rating system. It’s hard to develop hard and fast rules that apply across a wide spectrum of content and reflect different values. What movie is appropriate for your kids, what restaurant is “the best”, what college ranks highest on your list – all are subjective decisions. Utilize ratings to inform you, but not to decide for you. Fast driving in a race car movie is a very good thing.

leadership dot #2749: priceless

A real estate firm in Baltimore surprised its employees by handing out a total of $10 million in bonuses as a tribute to the holiday and celebration for achieving a company-wide goal it set in 2005. The 198 employees received checks ranging from $100 to $270,000 based on longevity with the firm, with an average gift of $50,000! I’m sure it made for quite a memorable holiday.

Even if your year-end bonus was slightly smaller this year, I hope that you have a holiday filled with the same amount of joy that these employees must have felt. As the Grinch reminds us, Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Today, celebrate all the good in your world that doesn’t have a price tag.

Happy Christmas!

Thanks, Emily!