leadership dot #2344: parked

To support the hoards of shoppers that flock to the Mall of America, the complex also includes 20,000 parking spaces on-site. Many people have trouble remembering where they parked their car at the grocery store or Target, so imagine the confusion that could ensue at a place this large.

Nothing is worse than walking out, tired from a long day, with arms full of bags, only to wander around looking for your car. The Mall attempts to prevent this by implementing multiple memory aids in their parking systems. Each floor is labeled with the name of a state and an accompanying picture to represent that area (eg: a cowboy boot for Texas). Each floor of the elevator is painted a different color. The elevator has an audio that says which floor on which you are entering. There are signs everywhere encouraging people to “remember where you parked.”

Other large enterprises deploy similar systems. At O’Hare Airport, each floor of the parking garage is named for a Chicago sports team. Everything from the elevator buttons to the front of the elevator is painted with the logo of the teams to aid in recall.

Think about what your organization requires people to remember. Are there creative ways to stimulate memory rather than just numbering something? Can you utilize color to assist as a visual reminder? How can you add in audio cues to aid in the process?

You could provide great car-finding assistance on the back end, but it is much more effective to prevent lost shoppers in the first place. Help your version of shoppers find their way home with ease through memory-enhancing tools for the easiest-to-forget aspects of your organization.

leadership dot #2343: collective

Each year, over 40 million visitors come to the Mall of America – twice as many as the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. It is crazy! Some may call it commercialism at its worst; locals are turned off by its enormous size and many find the mere concept of it to be excessive, but the Mall of America really is a visionary enterprise.

The gigantic entertainment and shopping complex was built on the site of the former Metropolitan sports stadium. Instead of seeing a forsaken plot of land right across the road from a major airport (and its accompanying noise), developers took a risk and built a bemouth with 2.7 million feet of retail space plus an amusement park complete with roller coaster plus a million-gallon aquarium plus a wedding chapel. Would you have invested billions in putting such a monster in an abandoned lot, in a state known for its harsh winters, in a location that borders the low population states of the Dakotas and Iowa? Not many would have, but 20+ years later the mall is still alive and well.

There are many specialty stores in the mall, but many are the same stores that you can find all across America. What makes the Mall special is that they are all there together – all 520 of them – so you can find almost anything (if you’re willing to walk a literal mile to get to it). It is a case of the sum being greater than the individual parts.

How can you follow the lead of the Mall of America and capitalize on the value of a collective? A job fair draws more candidates than individual recruitment ads. A craft show attracts more vendors and customers than a solo display. A medical building is more appealing to doctors than renting in disparate places.

And your organization is better off when it is in proximity to whom? You don’t need to be so large as to require your own zip code (like the Mall does!) but together is usually better.

Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America

Sources: Mental Floss and  Minnesota Fun Facts





leadership dot #2342: options

The more I hear about the Florida election recount the more some officials seem like petulant teenagers who can only come up with reasons why something won’t work instead of considering other options for how it could.

I understand that it must be a massive job to recount 8 million ballots for three races, but saying it is “impossible” to do by the deadline isn’t exhibiting much creative thinking. Couldn’t the small counties send their machines to the large counties when they are finished or maybe some neighboring states could share? Or perhaps the company who makes the machines provide some emergency assistance. And who said it had to be just the election workers doing the recount: couldn’t a temporary crew be brought in to the metropolitan areas to aid in the task?

Since it is a critical task that has implications for Florida and beyond, it would seem that if they really wanted the ballots to be counted by Thursday they could marshal the resources to get it done.

The next time you or your organization is faced with a daunting task, look beyond the usual ways to solve it. Don’t tell people that you can’t get something done; instead, tell them what you need to accomplish the task within the extraordinary parameters. Unprecedented circumstances require solutions and options that may have not been feasible in ordinary times but can become available to address extreme situations.

leadership dot #2341: campaign

Politics has been described as a circus and in one way it truly is: the nomadic nature of the workforce. I have a friend who was a candidate and he spent the week de-campaigning: driving around the county picking up signs, disposing of all the remaining literature in the office, packing anything that may be useful in the next campaign, filing reports and writing thank you notes.

He is one of the lucky ones who has continued in his full-time job while campaigning, but many of the office staffers find themselves unemployed. Their party’s lead candidate lost so there will be no congressional offices to staff or fundraising to continue. They now must either leave the area to go elsewhere for another campaign or find work outside of party politics – at least for a year until the cycle revs up again.

I previously wrote about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on before a campaign, but never really considered all the post-election operations whether you are elected or not, or for those who were on the staff and not the ballot.

Campaign has a military meaning as well as a political one. As we celebrate Veterans Day today, think about all that happened before, during and after all of our campaigns to keep America free.

leadership dot #2340: armistice

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th hour, it will mark 100 years since World War I ended. The armistice to end the fighting between the Allies and Germany was signed on this date in 1918.

The day was originally designated as Armistice Day by Britain, but other countries have modified the holiday to Veterans Day or Remembrance Day to honor not only those who served in World War I but also subsequent battle. Now, Veterans Day acknowledges the service of all veterans, living or dead.

In Britain, the country observes two minutes of silence every year at the 11th hour. Traffic stops, business pauses, public transportation halts and the people of that country pay tribute to those who died and those who were left behind as a result of war.

Even though you might be far from Queen Elizabeth as she lays the armistice wreath, take a moment to reflect today and remember those who sacrificed to make freedom possible.

leadership dot #2339: tech trash

When I think of recycling technology, I think of going to a landfill, but the office store Staples has another idea. It was news to me to learn that Staples recycles technology – and even broadly defines what that is. They do so, for free, every day, but to celebrate America Recycles Day (November 15) they are incentivizing the practice by offering coupons for those who recycle next week (November 11-17).

Staples will accept most anything computer related including ink cartridges, but also gaming systems, GPS devices, MP3 players, shredders, cordless phones, DVD players and coffee brewers! (You need to find your own final resting place for kitchen electronics, televisions and lamps.) They will even wipe your data to meet Department of Defense standards.

Staples may have ulterior motives behind their recycling – hoping their environmental practices may cause you to go there for purchases as well as drop-offs – but it is a generous and extensive service no matter the rationale behind it.

Make recycling your technology a regular part of your organizational habits – especially now that you know where to do it for free.


leadership dot #2338: appreciate

My washing machine has been out of commission for a few days and I find myself lamenting the unavailability of the clothes that I normally wear. Instead, I am reaching into the back of the drawer to wear socks that I haven’t worn in ages – perfectly good socks, mind you, but not the ones I prefer.”

The same is true in so many other settings. I am able to extract much more peanut butter from the nearly-empty jar when there isn’t an unopened one next to it on the shelf. I can work miracles stretching the supplies for a training workshop when more participants attend than expected, but beforehand I feel compelled to go buy new tools. It may seem like there is nothing to do at home — unless the weather is miserable and I don’t want to leave the premises — and then I suddenly find ways to entertain myself. I claim there is “nothing to wear” unless the washing machine isn’t available and then realize what abundance there is in the closet that is routinely overlooked.

For today, see if you can push yourself to stretch the resources you have. Eat what is in the cupboard instead of going to a restaurant or store. Read a book from the shelf instead of ordering another. Listen to old playlists instead of downloading today’s hits.

Most of us have at our disposal much more than we need but we still want to continually pursue other options for “more” or “new”. In this month of thanksgiving, appreciate what you have instead.