Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Piling Strategy

15 Oct
by Bridget DiCello

Small steps towards a big goal can lead to big change.  Sometimes it is the smallest changes in how we approach our day that can have the greatest impact.

Rarely is a problem you face disassociated with everything else in your organization. Problems have causes and consequences and may have tentacles in many different processes and departments.  There is opportunity for great synergy in the process of actually solving the problem.

Often there is so much coming at you all day long, it becomes difficult to see the synergies, and you spend your whole day trying to solve the problems that arise. Obviously fires must be extinguished, but flames fanned unnecessarily by a team member focused solely on their immediate issue can create a day full of disjointed fix–it–now issues.

The interrelatedness of the issues, problems, interruptions and opportunities you are faced with is significant. Piling simply suggests grouping problems and opportunities in a pile to be addressed at a later time.  When attacked as a group, you can capitalize on the common themes, the innovative ideas that may work in one situation but not another, and the power of focused thought.

There is a significant difference between piling and procrastination.  Piling is a conscious choice that some issues or ideas can wait, and if you group them, will become easier to address all at once.  Procrastination is the delay of what should be addressed due to a desire to avoid the issue, avoid a conflict, difficult conversation or accountability, or because there is not yet a perfect solution.

Personally, I literally pile things on my desk. For example, I both sell and execute and often don’t spend time every day or every week on sales. Yet ideas and opportunities arise regularly. I could let myself get distracted by a new idea, and may decide to if it is time sensitive, but more often will literally pile papers or group information jn an Outlook Inbox subfolder.  Then I will look at those opportunities together at a point in the future.

Is your day ruled by interruptions that may more effectively be handled at a later date in a related group of issues?


Pervasive Relativism Stymies Leadership

15 Oct
by Bridget DiCello

Creativity blossoms out of individual and innovative thinking, a variety of viewpoints, and personal and professional confidence.  And no leader in their right mind would minimize the need for their team members to be thinking independently in order to pursue the company’s goals and objectives.

On the other side of that same coin is often the belief of individuals that they are entitled to act on their opinions, should be able to do things their own way, and do not need to be burdened with unnecessary rules and restrictions.  The incredible rise of pervasive relativism, defined by as “any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments,” has made it significantly more difficult to lead a group of people to achieve the company’s goals and adhere to company values and mission.

Relativism, as it rears its head in the workplace, does not recognize right or wrong, and believes more in the value of the individual’s preferences and style.

The problem is that when you, as the leader, have a powerful vision of how you want your company to operate, how you want to do business and how you will treat your customers – there is a right and wrong way to do things.  Your powerful vision is not only your passion in business terms, but also enables you to define a niche which is what provides competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Is it the only right way?  Not necessarily.  But it is the way you have decided your company or department will operate.  And within that, creativity can blossom. (Check out blog post on Processes are Strong Basis for Creative Thinking)

There is a right way and a wrong way to take care of a customer.  At times, an employee will do it the wrong way.  Excuses such as, “That is just my approach; the customer took it the wrong way,” or “They should not have approached me with that attitude,” are not okay.  The employee may have tried their best, but the fact is, it was not good enough.  It doesn’t mean they have to be fired, but they do need to realize that they did not act in a way that the company deems acceptable.

For example, Chick-fil-A believes it is right to smile and say, “My pleasure,” when a customer says, “Thank you.”  An employee could do the same thing at McDonald’s if they wanted to.  However, at Chick-fil-A, it is expected and the only right way to take care of the customer.

If you have an employee who demands to be able to do things their way, and it is directly in contrast to the behavior that you as the leader have communicated as acceptable, then their behavior is unacceptable and they must change.  This seems so simple.  Yet, over and over, I see situations where the pervasive cultural focus on relativism is brutally pushing companies to mediocrity.

What do you see?

Processes are Strong Basis for Creative Thinking

15 Oct
by Bridget DiCello

Few and far between is the entrepreneur who enjoys writing processes.  After all, starting and running a business is much more about doing that writing, right?

Many an ambitious entrepreneur has worked tirelessly in a labor of love to create something really awesome without ever documenting a process.  Then, maybe someday, when the company gets large enough to involve levels of management and departments, it might be time to write processes.

This thought processes misses an enormous opportunity!!

The process of documenting processes in writing has multiple, powerful benefits:

  1. It extracts, from the entrepreneur’s brain, the brilliant details of how they want things done, which have been the basis for their success.  These are things they often fail to mention, think others will automatically do, or don’t even realize they do themselves.  Gold mine of information!  Leads to consistency.
  2. When followed by others, it leads to more effective communication of expectations, and enables employees to be more successful at completing tasks as expected.  Many processes can be turned into checklists to ensure quality performance. Leads to increasingly successful employees.
  3. Maybe most exciting, they provide a basis for creativity.  How can you improve a process unless you know how it works now?  How can you know if a process needs to be improved if it is not done consistently in the first place?  By looking at and documenting each step of the process, each step becomes an opportunity for creativity and improvement.  Flowchart the process and circle the areas with greatest risk exposure, greatest opportunity to create awesome customer experiences and greatest chances to innovate and move ahead of the competition.  Leads to innovation and growth!

It can be quite a painful exercise to document processes – especially to getting started.  And, as innovations happen, the processes really should be updated.  But, even in a very growth-focused, entrepreneurial organization, there are still some people who ‘ground’ the rest of the team who, if supported by others, would gladly do this for you.  Who are these individuals in your organization or department?