Thursday, 10 September 2015


How often have you heard it?  A company is in need of a transformation and so everyone is encouraged to:

 '...think outside the box...'

People are suddenly given permission to be creative; to think on their own; to explore possibilities; to use the God-given talents that they brought when joining the company.

Isn't it sad?  We develop work environments that discourage any expression that challenges the status quo.  We wait until things are dire.  And then insist that the thought process ought to be that which we have should have promoted all along.

We built walls and obstacles; we put land mines in the way of anyone who might wander off the path of  least resistance.  And we wonder what went wrong.

Why are our best people leaving?
Why are those who remain, so disengaged?
Why are strategies so ineffective?
Shouldn't the issue really be
'...why do we even have a box...'
Leaders need to discard the chains of control and unleash the power that lies within the teams that they have assembled.  I understand that there must be some rules; some processes that guide the day to day operations.  These things provide structure and prevent chaos.  But they cannot limit the potential of the people.

The best leaders are able to function with blurred lines.  Through experience and intuition, they recognize that different people need different limits.  These leaders are willing to own the consequences when things go less well than anticipated.

Every successful company makes mistakes.  But they became successful because they accepted the risks and worked through them; not because they limited the creative talents inherent in their staff. 

Have you the courage of your convictions to think outside the box...

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Real power!

My wife owns a small fabric shop.  In the past year it has grown from a start up to a move to a larger location as demand for the products and services that she offers has ramped up beyond our expectations.

On occasion I am called into duty.  I know little about fabric and make no pretenses either.  Were I to even try, my basic ignorance of the subject would 'out' me in a heartbeat.  Fortunately the store has a tendency to sell itself as her keen eye for fabric and the extent of selection is drawing clients from a wide radius.  This, combined with sound business practices, is creating a viable enterprise.

That said, the most powerful tool that we have employed is one that should be fundamental to all businesses, but sadly is frequently ignored. 

It is simple gratitude.

We ensure that every person entering the store is greeted personally and with thanks for taking time to visit us.  Whether they are a buyer or a looker, 'thank you' is expressed sincerely. It really is a sad commentary when so many of them are pleasantly surprised that their mere presence is appreciated. They feel valued...and feeling valued prompts a desire to reciprocate.

Our shop is small; so I am not losing my voice thanking people.  In your larger companies there are many more opportunities.  And not simply clients that you sometimes speak to...
Staff members, regardless of their role
All clients, regardless of the size of the sale
All suppliers, regardless of the value of your order
Advisors, anyone whose input has made you better
Candidly, there is no one that comes under your sphere of influence who should not be thanked for the contributions that they make to your life and to your success.   It costs you nothing to recognize others and yet it pays such dividends.  Furthermore, it is easy and provides immediate gratification for everyone.
We live in a time and space where entitlement is the operative word.  As a result, our expectations, when met, are not considered worthy of thanks.  The reality is that none of us succeeds alone.  So take time to thank those who make a difference in your world.  It is a powerful tool when used with sincerity.