leadership dot #2110: sleep

Most organizations don’t go deep enough when articulating to their customers and employees what they truly offer, but one hotel succinctly and clearly articulated their core purpose. You may think that hotels offer beds or showers or shelter, but, as one Holiday Inn Express described it, what they really sell is sleep.

Being clear about this purpose allowed them to take steps to ensure that they could deliver it. Signs were posted in the lobby reminding others to keep the volume down. There were signs on each floor outside the elevator. Each guest had to sign an agreement acknowledging that they understood the “quiet hour” policy and would abide by it. The hotel staff reminded guests of the policies during check-in. They were serious about it, and you could tell.

Think about the core service that you deliver. For banks, it isn’t checking or savings, rather security. For colleges, it isn’t credits or degrees rather opportunity. For restaurants, it isn’t the food, rather the ambiance and dining experience that allows conversation and connection to occur.

The Holiday Inn Express staff were not the only ones delivering “sleep” to the guests. They created an environment and culture where everyone in the facility was working toward the same end. Isn’t that what we all dream of for our organizations?

leadership dot #2082: in conjunction

If you pay attention to the opening credits of movies, you will notice that they are longer than they used to be. Whereas one major studio used to bankroll an entire show, now you will see multiple production companies involved in presenting the film.

I first noticed this when I saw The Greatest Showman, brought to the theatre by three production companies. I thought this may be an anomaly given all the technical aspects of filming a musical, but it is not out of the norm. The Post, a basic drama, required six production companies. Shape of Water and Three Billboards each had three while Jumanji was produced by four different entities.

I think about the competitive nature of the movie industry, yet somehow it has become routine for multiple companies to collaborate instead of compete. They have pooled both fiscal resources and human talents to make something that would not be possible without a joint venture. And it’s not just a few companies; for the five films mentioned above 17 different production firms are involved.

How can you take a lesson from this and find ways to partner with those inside your industry? Your collaboration could become a showstopper for all of you.

The Post: Dreamworks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Amblin Entertainment, Participant Media, Pascal Pictures, Star Thrower Entertainment

Shape of Water: Bull Productions, Double Dare You, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Three Billboards: Blueprint Pictures, Film 4, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Greatest Showman: Chernin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox

Jumanji: Matt Tolmach Productions, Radar Pictures, Seven Bucks Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment

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 #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.

leadership dot #2039: wires crossed

I recently donated blood and this was the office in which the staff took my vital signs and conducted my donation history:

Who thought that it was ok to leave the wiring like this? Did the installer prioritize speed over pride by leaving the job in this manner? Do the nurses even notice the entanglement when using this office to greet volunteer donors? Has the administration abdicated their responsibility for creating a professional atmosphere in which to conduct serious work?

I believe that the problem stems from the fact that it is a “general-use” office where multiple staff members meet with hosts of donors. No one has ownership of the space. It is used by everyone, so is cared for by no one.

Segments of highways receive more attention than this donor office.

Do you have common spaces in your organization that need to be “adopted” by someone to provide routine cleaning and inspection? Your space is part of your brand and reputation. Don’t let your wires get crossed as to who is responsible for maintaining it.

leadership dot #2034: listening

Former Commandant of the Marine Corps, Louis Wilson, Jr., remarked that by the time things got to his desk that everything was wonderful. He became tired of hearing sanitized versions of how things were going in the field and annoyed that people would tell him the positive side of the news to help situations look better.

To learn what was really going on, Wilson conducted a “listening tour” where he went into the field and to other facilities and asked people to tell him what the problems were. At first, he did not get much response, but eventually, people believed that he was serious and shared their impressions with the General.

As Commandant, Wilson was a full-time member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking Marine, yet he did not rest on those laurels or take the easy route to accept things at face value.

Maybe it is time for you to start the new year with a change of location. Get out there among your staff, peers and customers to learn what is really going on. You may need to spend some time convincing others of your sincerity and desire to hear the unvarnished truth, but it will be a wise investment of time. You can’t solve problems if you don’t know they exist.

Thanks, Curt!