Recently I had a conversation with a scientist friend who told me how biologists use information about animal life cycles to accomplish diametrically opposite objectives – in some cases to purge populations, and in others to conserve them. The secret: determining in which stage of its life cycle is the animal most vulnerable. And it’s at these points of vulnerability that either the worst or the best is the easiest to accomplish. It is when the animals are at greatest risk that it takes the least effort to destroy them, or conversely, to protect them. He gave me two examples to illustrate his point.
The Bertha armyworm
The Bertha armyworm is a significant insect pest of canola in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the interior of British Columbia. Like many insects, it goes through a four stage life cycle – egg, larva, pupa and finally, the adult moth stage. However, their vulnerability is greatest at the larval stage. As eggs, they are not susceptible to pesticides; as pupae, they are buried in the ground and therefore well protected; as adults, they are widely dispersed and therefore difficult to control. Because scientists know that the insect’s defences are the weakest when at the larval stage, substantial and successful control efforts are targeted at this point in the life cycle. Continue reading
As the last of the Boomers move through their 50’s and beyond, those who elect to take early retirement often take decades of tacit knowledge with them. This boomer brain drain – the loss of undocumented, intuitive experiential information about people, business processes and informal procedures can leave huge gaps in an organization’s cumulative intelligence.
The boomer brain drain can cripple your company
This corporate amnesia can cripple a company, so if you’re a leader, it’s up to you to actively identify and work to mitigate this possibility. And the time to do it is now, well in advance, and not just in the months and weeks before a key employee is due to leave. In my latest column for The Globe and Mail, I offer five strategies to brace for the boomer brain drain, and retain crucial institutional knowledge.
When it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy, things don’t always go according to plan. Stuff happens … deliveries are delayed, products don’t work exactly as intended, and your service falls short in one or more areas. So, no matter how hard you try, the unfortunate truth is that things will go wrong! Which is why I’ve always said that it’s not bad customer service that makes or breaks an organization, it’s the quality (or lack) of their service recovery that makes the difference. It’s how your staff react and respond to a customer’s problem or complaint that will decide whether you now have a disgruntled customer (who will likely tell many more via social media) or a raving enthusiastic fan. I have blogged in the past about how some companies don’t understand this fundamental reality of service recovery, most recently when writing about the Royal Bank.
But in today’s blog post, I want to go in the other direction – I want to tell you about an organization, and more specifically, one of their employees, who gets it! Samantha Scott is the Guest Services Manager at the Delta Hotel in Burnaby BC, my hotel of choice when I work in the Vancouver area. And something happened last week that reinforced why I choose to stay at this hotel, again and over again.
Is there a gym above me?
At about 9 PM on Tuesday night, an endless racket began in the room above me. It sounded like my room was placed directly beneath a gym – I could hear furniture moving, what I thought were weights being dropped, and what seemed like an endless skipping rope, thumping against the floor. Eventually, shortly after 10 PM, I called the front desk, and Samantha answered the phone. Continue reading
Is it possible for a small young company to outperform an industry titan, for David to beat Goliath? Yes. Just ask Uber, Netflix and AirBnB. Upstart Uber became one of the world’s largest taxi companies without owning a single taxi. Netflix revolutionized the video market, essentially putting Blockbuster out of business. AirBnB has become an accommodation provider to be reckoned with, without acquiring a single piece of real estate. It’s called disruptive innovation. And many a senior leader across North America loses sleep over whether it could happen to their company, and perhaps more importantly, how they could prevent it.
Disruptive innovation is often overlooked
Historically, established corporate leaders don’t often see disruptive change as a hazard, usually because it starts when their own company’s profitability is robust and the competitive impact is minimal. However, by the time the threat is conspicuous, the disruptive force has already gained so much traction that any efforts to reverse the tide are futile. So what is really needed is an advance warning system. Which is exactly what I cover in my latest column for The Globe and Mail, out this morning!
In this column, I identify three specific actions leaders can take to assess whether their company and industry will come under attack, well before the threat becomes a reality; three things you can do to ensure that you don’t become collateral damage when your market niche is disrupted.
Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2KFP2zO
So I’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives on disruptive innovation. What have you observed in your industry? What have you seen that leaders have done really well, or missed completely? Please share by commenting below.
When was the last time you washed a rental car? Probably never. And the reason is simple. Because you don’t own it. This simple reality offers a compelling insight into what it takes, really takes, to create engaged employees.
Four things you can do with immediate impact
In my latest column for this morning’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out four specific things you can do as a leader to create a level of interest and ownership that would not only get your employees to wash the cars, but also check the oil, and rotate the tires. Interestingly enough, none of the four are high-level strategic engagement initiatives developed by senior management at the annual planning retreat, or policies developed by a small army of bureaucrats in a backroom somewhere.
I make the point in today’s column that engaged employees occur at an individual level, person by person, and as a direct result of the one-on-one relationship each of your staff has with their immediate and direct supervisor. Which means that if you’re a manager, supervisor, team leader, or any other title that has direct responsibility for people, then your behaviour and actions will unequivocally determine how engaged each of your employees are. This is a weighty responsibility, one that I believe no leader should ever take lightly.
Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2l3vEOc
But as always, I’d like to hear what you think. What have been your experiences? Do the four specific actions I list in this column resonate with you. Please share your thoughts by commenting below.
I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results. In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals. Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.
Multi-speed bikes are an asset
When I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle. It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions. As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike. The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains. Brilliant!
Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving. Continue reading
Last fall, as part of my regular column series for The Globe and Mail, I wrote a piece titled Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial? This is a topic that is close to the hearts of many, so I was not surprised when it got a lot of reaction, both positive and negative. About the same, time, the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) asked me if I would pen a similar article for their members, one that directly addressed the acute staffing shortages and challenges they face in their industry. The average age of those in the construction industry in British Columbia (well actually almost everywhere else in Canada too) is rising, and the industry is struggling with how to attract young workers into their companies. The article I wrote was recently published in Build Magazine, the association’s annual flagship publication.
Take a few moments to peruse other articles in this excellent magazine
The above link takes you directly to a copy of the article. But you can also access the entire magazine at VICA’s website here: https://www.vicabc.ca/resources/publications/. My column is on page 38, but there are many other articles you may find of interest.
Well, as always, I would love to hear what you think? As I’ve said before, most people have an opinion on this subject of Millennial employees, either positive or negative (not a lot of fence-sitters on this topic), and I’d love to hear yours. Please share your perspectives below.
Earlier in January this year, the subject of one of my regular columns for The Globe & Mail was titled It’s time to get rid of the performance review. In it, I made the case for why the “performance review”, long a staple in many organizations, was an archaic practice that no longer served any useful purpose. So when a colleague and long-time reader of the blog forwarded me a link to this recent article in Harvard Business Review, not surprisingly, it caught my attention.
A quick summary of the article …
While you can read the entire article at the link above, here’s a Coles Notes version. Essentially, in this paper, the authors compare two types of reference points in four studies on performance reviews containing data collected from 1,024 American and Dutch employees. Continue reading
#$&*&@# happens! Well-laid plans don’t always turn out exactly the way you’d anticipated. A sale that was one signature away from being finalized falls apart at the last minute. One missed detail takes a project down the wrong path and it then costs a significant amount to bring it back on track. The leadership journey is fraught with unexpected challenges and unknown landmines, and sometimes even the smallest misstep by a leader can result in financial and reputational loss. The reality is that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen.
It’s how you respond
to the mistakes that will matter
Some mistakes will be small, ones that you can simply shrug off as minor bumps in the road. But others will be large, ones that affect major company objectives, directly impact profitability, or put important relationships in jeopardy. It’s how you respond to these large slip-ups that will determine whether you’re a leader or a manager. In my column in today’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out the three essential actions that separate the leaders from the managers, the three steps you have to take in order to successfully move past these blunders.
All decisions carry risk and therefore come with potential obstacles that can sometimes derail progress. But when bad stuff happens, what do you think separates the leaders from the managers? I’ve given you the three necessary actions from my perspective, but I’d love to hear about your experiences and points of view. Please share your thoughts by commenting below.
What is the Diderot Effect? Simply put, a social phenomenon in which, when a consumer obtains a new possession, it creates a spiral of consumption that leads to the acquisition of even more possessions. These examples may sound familiar. You buy a new piece of clothing, and immediately you start looking for new shoes, a new belt, or other accessories. Or when you replace the carpet in your living room, suddenly the window coverings seem dated and tired, so you need to replace those as well. Or you finally purchase a new car. But now you need premium gasoline, and new floor mats (the ones from the old vehicle will no longer do), and other assorted car-related paraphernalia. This is the Diderot Effect.
“Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown”
The effect was first described in an essay “Regrets on Parting With My Old Dressing Gown” written by the French philosopher Denis Diderot in 1769. In it, he describes how he received a gift of a beautiful scarlet dressing gown which while he was initially pleased with, led to unexpected results, eventually putting him into debt. Once he had a fashionable new dressing gown, the rest of his possessions seemed cheap, so he started making purchases to live up to the new level of elegance and style. He replaced his old straw chair, for example, with an armchair covered in Moroccan leather; his old desk was replaced with an expensive new writing table; his formerly beloved prints were replaced with more costly prints, and so on. He writes in his essay” “I was absolute master of my old dressing gown but I have become a slave to my new one.” Continue reading