Archive for September, 2011

Leadership: @ or 4 | Are You and Your Team Working Hard at Being Both?

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

“Low-down, dirty, good for nuthin…”

I still remember the first time I heard my Grandfather deliver his ultimate displeasure with another human being.  It was his considered opinion that you could be “good at” something and still be “good for nothing.”  As he saw it there were people who were darn fine farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, hunters, and so on, but if your positive-character flag wasn’t flying high, he’d keep his distance.

When it comes right down to it, leadership is influence. Yes, most organizations hold high the tangible metric “results” of the system/process/push and pull, but when it comes to people, the influencers at every level are the true leaders.

For generations there have been debates about the concise definition of leadership. The truth is, it depends. Leadership definitions are dependent on the team, situation, fate, timing, and most certainly upon the width or height of your travails. Additionally, it depends if you are speaking of leadership in the arena of business, military, science, religion or politics. And, it depends on whether you’re seeking a descriptor of leaders who are edgy or plain-Jane, powerful or powerless, figureheads or headless figures.

You can spend a lifetime learning a skill(s) that will earn you more money, and that is notable. You can spend a minute or two on a dark path and ruin a lifetime of goodwill, and that too is notable. In the midst of those who view the world as clear-cut, black or white, good or evil – there exists some grey areas.

In this blurry arena of grey is where true leaders dwell. There are realities that challenge best-hatched plans, self control, vision and values; situations where you face hard choices, tough luck and tough decisions. In these circumstances it is better to be good at something and good for something, as it has been shown time and again that working for the greater good is the most sustaining, gratifying, and dare we say, fulfilling. Perhaps simply it is best described as the “greater of the goods.” During your next leadership performance assessment (on yourself or others), stop for a moment and ponder – @ and 4 – are you and your team working hard at being both?

 It is — and has always been — the right leadership flag to fly.

Better By Design

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

When I started out in our industry nearly 30 years ago, an “event” was understood by everyone to be the opening of a new store or property. As time went along, a new definition for an “event” came to the fore in which the entirety of a guest visit to your operation became something to design with a sharp eye toward the “enhancing the experience.”

In the mind’s eye of your guests, an “event” may still be a wedding, anniversary, birthday or celebration of a child’s rite of passage, but for operators the daily pressure of creating a lasting memory of differentiation at each visit through a strong value proposition, seamless hospitality, ease of interface, or authentic-ness is monumental.

This brings me to Las Vegas, where last week had a chance to use my “guest-eyes” over a four day period. In that city of iridescence, as I watched all players compete to over-stimulate their guests, it becomes obvious that they have brought the definition of an “event” down to the level of menu offerings. At every ordering opportunity the biggest, freshest, zaniest, or most unusual is available and will smack you right between your eyes/lips upon arrival. Yes, in most cases you have to pay a premium for this experience extraordinaire and it would not “go over” everywhere, but it is difficult to deny the “bang” that well crafted design can bring to a menu item. This, of course, is merely a reflection of a significant trend in business where outstanding design is soundly trumping all other business levers.

The above brings me to your in-house Training/Development/Learning Team. Is there a chance that they would be better served by thinking about a new educational design paradigm, i.e., they are actually in the “brain-food” business?

You already know that they/you make internal products for mental consumption, right? Do you take any cues from your industry surroundings? Do you set the table, provide appetizers or salad, main-course, beer or wine pairing and dessert? Do you create memorable mental meals or knowledge crave-ables? Are they snack-size, shareable or handheld? Are they full-service, fast-casual or fast-fine? Do you have a T/D equivalent gesture for chocolate on the pillow at turndown?

These are time-tested formulas for delivering products for human consumption. Are you leveraging your expertise in one area of your business – to another?

Is there a methodology that is intended to drive traffic to your business… that you can transfer to internal learning?

Do you have developmental LTO’s, curbside pick-up, seasonal specials, discount coupons or frequency programs?

I’m asking because nowadays, design matters for everyone in our industry. Your internal customers are seeking the same things that your external customers are seeking – convenience, choice, value, and satisfaction. You’re also trying to overcome learning conditioning. If you can breakthrough to the brain receptors in charge of (insert your own air quotes here) “Tasty” I can guarantee that you’ll stand out and enjoy more success than if you are serving from a standard training and development smorgasbord.

“Better by design” is the sign of the times and not all of it should face outward.