leadership dot #2617: runway

Planes may use runways in the literal sense but I have come to embrace the concept for many other aspects in life. A runway is a way of initially moving toward your destination – being in motion when you’re not quite ready or able to fly. By intentionally incorporating a runway phase to a project or idea, you can accelerate progress in the early stages.

Some examples:

  • The dreaded icebreakers at a workshop can be reframed as “runways” – allowing participants to get focused and mentally prepared to dive into the main content
  • An internship can provide a runway for a new hire or career
  • Short-term financial and housing assistance provided to a new graduate can serve as a runway to launch them until they are established
  • A side hustle can serve as a runway to test out a full-fledged entrepreneurial venture
  • A pilot or beta-testing acts as a runway to a product launch
  • Dog-sitting can be a runway to personal ownership of an animal
  • Writing a blog could serve as a runway to authoring a book

Planes do not go from the gate directly into the air – they travel from stopped to airborne via the runway. The bigger the plane (aka: idea), the longer the runway that is required, but no plane takes flight without the initial path of acceleration. Your ideas can benefit from a similarly planned ramp-up of energy.

 

leadership dot #2610: need to

As I was listening yet another book on creativity, it occurred to me that I really did not “need” to learn more on this topic. Most people who know me would consider me to be creative already and I have been teaching workshops in this area for decades. And then a thought from James Clear’s Atomic Habits popped into my head: “I don’t need to because I do things I don’t need to do.”

For example:

  • Those who routinely go to the gym when they don’t need to, don’t need to go because they go regularly
  • People who save money when they don’t need to, don’t need to save because they save routinely
  • Folks who clean their homes or maintain their yards when they don’t need to, don’t need to deep clean because they have a habit of regular maintenance
  • Those who take a vacation don’t need to take a vacation because they regularly take time away
  • Students who study when they don’t need to…well, you get the idea.

The same applies to me listening to a book on creativity, and the concept is relevant for most any positive habit that you wish to develop. Engaging in a practice is something that you do over time, not just once in hopes that the behavior embeds itself.

Think about the skills or habits that you wish to cultivate or maintain. The best way to do so is to work on those things – even when you don’t “need to”.

 

 

Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

leadership dot #2609: easy money

The more layers retailers and service providers can put between purchase and outlay of money, the easier it is for people to buy. Thus, there seems to be an intentional strategy today to put consumers at least one step removed from actually paying for anything directly.

  • Buying online seems like typing in some numbers more than it feels like taking cash out of your wallet – and buying through an app that stores your information is even easier to do
  • Choosing a book with and Audible credit from your subscription happens much more quickly than if you had to consciously pay $15 for that same listen
  • Skipping a college class doesn’t feel like throwing away money because it was all billed as the semester’s tuition but those same students would never waste the equivalent amount of their cash
  • Purchasing a car wash coupon book makes it more likely that you will wash your car when you can just use a coupon instead of hesitating before you pay $15
  • Having insurance removes some of the pain of how much medical care truly costs and numbs the realization of how onerous the burden is for those paying directly
  • Subscribing to a movie pass or a gym membership makes it seem like participating is free even though it isn’t
  • Utilizing a gift card, purchasing card from a rebate or income tax refund feels like you have bonus money even though you paid for it in another form

Retailers intentionally craft ways to remove every decision point and barrier to making purchasing as easy as possible. Therefore, it pays to apply equal diligence to counteract their subterfuge and be conscious of all the money you spend – no matter in which manner you spend it. A dollar is a dollar – whether through the airwaves, over months or out of your wallet. Don’t let the ease of spending subdue you into doing too much of it.

 

leadership dot #2600: scientific method

The county fair featured a science demonstration by “Professor Newton” who blurred the line between science and magic. He conducted experiments that entertained the audience but then he shared the scientific explanation behind what they had just seen and related it back to the scientific method.

For many, the scientific method sounds lofty — something that is practiced only by PhDs in lab coats — but Professor Newton boiled its essence down to concepts that even kids could understand:

  • Guess (aka: Develop a hypothesis)
  • Do (aka: Conduct an experiment)
  • Observe (aka: Measure experiment’s results)
  • Answer (aka: Confirm or revise hypothesis)

The simplified formula can be used by adults as well to add some structure to their plans. Rather than just proposing something new without forethought as to what will constitute success, the implementation of a rudimentary scientific method will help clarify expectations, benchmarks and next steps.

Take the advice of Professor Newton and utilize Guess, Do, Observe and Answer for your next project. Those extra moments of analysis will provide some rigor and ability for replication as you move forward.

leadership dot #2596: off season

My birthday is in June and yesterday I received a birthday present in the mail. It was fantastic! Not only was the content wonderful but receiving an unexpected package made it even more special. I may never send a gift at the usual time again.

I have always intentionally delayed my sympathy greetings – having learned from experience that anything which arrives during those initial days of grief is lost in the blur. I send wedding presents very early for the flip side of that same rationale – as the date nears, presents become almost overwhelming among the other preparations. There has been a trend of businesses to send Thanksgiving cards instead of holiday greetings to avoid being forgotten in the shuffle and a friend sent New Year’s cards and a letter to achieve the same effect.

I have never considered sending birthday greetings “off-season” until now but perhaps an added element of serendipity enhances the giving. You can shower love on the actual day with a call, card or text but save some surprise for the gift portion of your greeting. It’s a guaranteed day-brightener!

 

leadership dot #2589: de-preciation

Yesterday was Customer Appreciation Day at my local bank – advertised with a big spread in their newsletter inviting me to come and enjoy ice cream at my branch. I had business to transact and it was 90+ degrees so it seemed like a good opportunity to partake in the festivities.

It turned out that “Appreciation Day” was an ice cream machine stuck in the corner that you would only find if you were looking for it. No signs. No balloons. No giveaways. And not even any staff to tend to the table which had gotten quite full of crumbs by the time I arrived.

Businesses have the option as to whether or not to provide an “appreciation day” so it boggles my mind as to why someone would choose to do it but do it so poorly. They would have been far better off either a) doing nothing or b) saying nothing and just having it be a happy accident that a few of today’s customers would stumble upon the ice cream machine. But to make something sound like a big deal and deliver far below is not a good strategy.

If you decide to provide recognition – to your customers, employees, volunteers or any group – think deeply about it before you do it halfway. ‘Tis better to do nothing than to underwhelm.

leadership dot #2587: ratios revisited

One of the most powerful ways to impact the environment without inconveniencing people is to change the municipal regulations regarding parking lots. Currently, retailers must provide a set number of parking spaces, plus additional handicapped spaces, for each square foot of built space. As a result, parking lots for retail are huge and have an excessive capacity for the majority of the time.

This point was brought home during resurfacing of a local strip mall lot: literally, half of the parking area was closed off, yet there were still empty spaces at a peak time on the weekend. Why did that whole area of fertile Iowa farmland need to be paved over just to sit empty?

Parking lot regulations are formula-driven and that calculation has served builders well for many years. But as more people opt for online purchasing or on-site pickup instead of parking, it’s time to revisit the requirements for how much land must become asphalt, yet be destined to sit idle the majority of the time.

Standard parking lot regulations usually translate to about 10 parking spots for every 1000 feet of retail space. (A small Target averages 40,000 sq ft = 400 parking spots vs. a large Target at 130,000 sq ft = 1300 parking spots). Not only do the parking lots have a negative environmental impact to make them, as asphalt and concrete production is energy-intensive, but they continue to cause issues when the water that drains off of them picks up contaminants instead of allowing rain to directly permeate the earth.

What is the equivalent of a parking lot ratio in your organization – something that you have not reconsidered for years but maybe could use a recalculation to reflect more contemporary times? It’s worth a look to avoid ongoing investments in something that is just wasted because no one bothered to do an update.