Next week the college semester will begin at the community college where I teach. I am VERY HAPPY to report that my class will be offered in the traditional face-to-face fashion! I cannot explain or describe the two-way add-value learning that is brought about via the direct students-to-instructor interaction. I pull energy, enthusiasm, imagination, and personal growth from every session. In return I observe student growth in confidence, interpersonal relationships, subject matter knowledge and willingness to step-out-of-the-box of educational traditions!
OK… I know you are all thinking… what does all this “professor-time” information have to do with this week’s TRIPLE III TIME: Re-Start or NEW START topic?
Well how about if we begin by just looking closely at the words in the title. I believe today… more than ever before… no matter your occupation… EVERYONE would be better assuming a NEW START (not a re-start) approach to their jobs. How enthusiastic would you feel if your company… your organization announced that you were going back and re-starting from a point in the past? Yes… you would be instructed to go back before pandemic impacts and pick-up… and resume your work… before you were told to stay home for maybe 5 months!
Let me be clear… I am going to begin my class Monday with a quality NEW START message, openness, and energy. I will hope that this NEW START approach will be contagious to the students, college, staff, and fellow course instructors. I will take full advantage of the face-to-face opportunity… but also express in a NEW START way… the need to absorb every ounce of positive learning… no matter the method of delivery.
Promise me you will formulate a NEW START approach as you get to return to work!
Recently I was asked to better explain my position on the growing need for organizations and businesses to have an “Interchangeable Parts” staffing arrangement versus a group of specialists. What do I mean… specifically? Today because of: 1. the ever-growing speed of change, 2. the increasing application of technology in the workplace, 3. the need for quickened customer services/products and 4. the negativity that results from a “you have to come back next week because the person that works in that area is absent” request for help response… I believe having an “Interchangeable Parts” staff is critical and HIGH VALUE!
Additionally, my rationale for building an “Interchangeable Parts” staff structure requires everyone involved to look at this option from a personal perspective. First from an employer point-of-view, it totally eases concerns about who may miss work on a specific day… because EVERYONE can cover for them. Next when staff training is being organized, EVERYONE is operationally trained in a comprehensive manner, so continuous improvement becomes everybody’s job and EVERYONE strives to achieve common goals.
Second from an employee point-of-view if you are trained in multiple customer service/product development areas… your value as a worker goes continually up. Additionally, should you happen to be laid-off… for whatever reason… your list of skills and experiences on your resume will reflect greater diversity, adaptability, and mutual responsibility.
Bottomline: Yes, I understand that there are and will always be work areas that require high levels of specialization. However, if you follow even a minimum “Interchangeable Parts” staff strategy, EVERYONE will better understand the various components of making your organization/business successful. Also, I need to stress that developing an effective “Interchangeable Parts” mode of operation demands a two-way-street of commitment and responsibility from the employer and employee…. everyday… EVERYDAY!
Making EVERYONE more knowledgeable via a comprehensive “Interchangeable Parts” initiative, will always make for a smarter organization/company overall.
Inspiring Innovations, Inc.
LEARNING MOMENT Podcast
In today’s confusing/challenging world-of-work, setting the best priorities is critical. I believe prioritizing MORALE (the state of a person’s or group’s spirits and confidence) is leadership responsibility #1! It is important not to assume positive MORALE generation will happen naturally. No… personal/staff MORALE needs to be recognized, nurtured and progressively built everyday… EVERYDAY!
I hope my suggestions help.
This week my Dad would have turned 90! It is hard to assemble in my mind all of the things he has missed because he passed away so young. Also I wonder about all of the additional Milkhouse Moments that would have been shared over the past 20+ years… and how many I could have then passed on to all of you via this TRIPLE III TIME blog format!?
Well in honor of my Father… and instead of trying to dream up what would have been the next Milkhouse Moments learning lessons, I have decided to offer you The BEST Of! those Milkhouse Moments that have been part of past TRIPLE III TIME messages.
**RESPONSIBILITY BEGINS EARLY**
I was assigned full responsibility for caring for calves born on our farm at a very early age. Feeding, bedding, and nurturing were all “on me”. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned early that I (yeah me) needed to set my own high standard for responsibility and performance. Waiting for Dad (or a supervisor) to explain it to me would have lessened the learning… because meaningful Responsibility Begins Early.
**PARTNERSHIPS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER**
During my entire time on the farm I watched and learned the value of multi-purposed partnerships. Whether it was sharing equipment, working on a project together or just plain communicating on ag issues, partnerships were critical. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned that in all personal and professional areas that Partnerships Make Everything Better. Asking for and offering help always creates opportunity, fosters creativity, builds service capacities, and facilitates a network of great communication.
** REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS**
I grew up on a small dairy and cash crop farm in rural Michigan with 7 brothers and sisters. Working hard until the job was done… was the rule. My Dad was a GREAT accordion player and as a family we all played an instrument in our well-respected polka band. Milkhouse (Learning) Moment: I learned that you need to progressively take stock of where and how you grew up. Learning from tough experiences and expanding on the cool opportunities is the best way to Remember Your Roots! Passing on the strong work ethic, benefiting from growing up in a large family (male-female) structure, continuing the musical heritage opportunity, and not shying away from trying new things (i.e. innovating) … are all areas to appreciate, share and take forward.
I hope you enjoyed this TRIPLE III TIME Milkhouse Moments – The BEST Of! Message. I know there are/were many more. Finally, thanks and Happy Birthday Dad.
This week’s TRIPLE III TIME message is totally directed to those in a position of LEADERSHIP. And if you are a TRIPLE III TIME “regular” … you should ALL realize that EVERYONE assumes a leadership role sometime… somewhere, everyday. So, think hard about appropriately applying this message in and beyond your worlds-of-work… and how the action of “Lowering the Bar” of product/service performance impacts so many areas.
During this time of challenging decision making for both the private and public sectors… how far and when have you been “Lowering the Bar”? Consider onsite, personnel attendance, customer contacts, service delivery/time frames, quality controls, new action start-ups, strategy meetings, promotional advertising… I think you get the picture.
Next… to be leadership-fair… consider the necessary accommodations that you/your group have had to make…. just to stay operational. Work from home, avoid group strategy sessions, stay distanced, use the internet (whether you have good or not-so-good access) … and “mask-up”. These accommodations do represent rational reasons for “Lowering the Bar”.. but as leaders, shouldn’t we find alternative approaches that would generate a “Raising the Bar” momentum for you and those you are responsible for?!
This week as leaders, I recommend that we introduce a “JUST 1” Raising the Bar initiative! The “JUST 1” initiative would require everyone each week to “put on the strategy going forward table” an idea for growing, improving products/services in your sector. Does this “JUST 1” plan sound easy… YES…. but full participation and consistency will make or break it? However, would/should it curb the “Lowering the Bar” syndrome and simply, creatively create a new positive, progressive momentum that is inclusive to all… YES!!!
Give it a try!
Some time ago… for a GREAT friend… I prepared a New Leader Log… which was a five-part Series of TOP 10 professional development suggestions. Why just five (5) parts? Well if you really think about the entire series… that means I offered a total of 50 suggestions/ideas to someone taking on new leadership responsibilities. And fifty was probably more than enough back then… and maybe even still today!
One of the early suggestions… and one of my favorites was: Don’t Apologize For Being Different. Often new leaders assume a very cautious stance and try to be the most like other businesses/organizations that offer similar products and services. This is obviously the safer option going forward. But what about the need to claim that you are SPECIAL in the marketplace? Isn’t it always important to “stand-out-in-the-crowd” and be recognized as progressively different/unique?
During my entire world-of-work career, I followed a “Don’t Apologize For Being Different” leadership philosophy. Yes, this resulted in always being under the “what is he doing now?” microscope… but it also enabled us to be considered innovative leaders in our field/sector. More specifically it helped us:
- Hire and retain great employees
- Bend traditional rules for the sake of improved customer services
- Obtain additional grant dollars to expand service opportunities
- Gain business/organizational support across and beyond our service area
- Be invited to share our creativity/innovations many times… many places
Bottomline: Don’t Apologize for Being Different. Build on what makes you SPECIAL everyday… EVERYDAY!
In today’s confusing and challenging private and public sector business conduct, the definition and delivery of quality customer service has been changed. If you think in-depth about the needs, expectations, timing, locations, and laws surrounding effective and efficient customer service… you realize that many of the old principles have to be altered. So when asked to possibly offer a customer service training session for a solid group later this year… I quickly realized the terms “Change and Adaptation” in the customer service arena would be key.
Therefore, in an effort to at least offer start-up suggestions about addressing The “Sliding-Scale” of Customer Service… take a look at the following specialized TOP 10 suggestions:
- Allocate more service time for every customer. Gaining a full/better understanding of what they need is critical. ASSUME NOTHING!
- Fine-tune your listening skills. Service/product requests via telephone, online, and in-person all require different listening approaches. (Roleplaying training in each listening area may help.)
- Be your own customer from time-to-time and ask: What would YOU want to hear or happen from YOU?
- Anticipate all processes and forms that may need to be revised… just to accommodate new products and service delivery methods.
- Likewise be open to, flexible, and innovative regarding customer service delivery methods (i.e. online, in-person, videocasts, drive-thru, WHATEVER!)
- Understand that there are or will be new rules for health and safety. Embrace them quickly and move on.
- Remember great customer service is always a “two-way street”. So plan to ask a number of service questions to attain high quality.
- Slow down. Although others may be waiting… ensuring you deliver customer service right the first time… will get you more great second time business.
- As you are in the customer service action… consider how you would be measured with regard to: Patience/Process/Performance/Personality?
- Think about… identify… and utilize multiple ways to say THANK YOU. Everyone needs to hear and feel appreciated.
OK I realize this message went a little long. But The “Sliding-Scale” of Customer Service has endless points of priority and impact… my TOP 10 are just a thought-generating start.
Did you ever have one of those times when one of your fun ideas came back to challenge you? You know what I mean! When someone reads something you wrote or tries one of your concept innovations… and asks REAL questions about it. Well first as we begin this message, check out the Creation & Development Supply Chain shown below:
Next, study the different “levels” and actions suggested for development. Hopefully you understand why it was a component of an IDEAS GUIDEBOOK that I had put together for a consultant customer. And then consider the challenge when recently I had a small group I was working with ask me: “Where do I/we fit on this Supply Chain?”
Well this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message is not an answer to their question. Rather I think my message is to ask all of you… where do you fit?
Are you in the early idea generation stage of where YOU are going? Or is your organization/business preparing for that “SHARK TANK TIME” regarding a new product or service. Or are you planning an approach with agency/personnel partners that will make you better in your world-of-work?
The IDEAS GUIDEBOOK Creation & Development Supply Chain is an almost timeless visual to help you place yourself in terms of progress. Thinking you are farther ahead than you really are… or thinking you are holding back and not progressing… is why you need to try and realistically place yourself/your group on this unique Supply Chain. So have fun with giving it some thought.
Problem Solving typically is NOT an easy task. However, taking the easy way out of a challenge or not asking the tough questions during the time of the challenge… is not quality Problem Solving at all!
As leaders I believe we need to hope that INNOVATION can be a standard outcome of every Problem Solving challenge. I hope you enjoy the discussion.
Sometimes as I consider topics for the weekly TRIPLE III TIME blog message… I try to look more specifically into one of the foundation Inspiring Innovation, Inc. principles: LEADERSHIP/COMMUNICATION/INNOVATION/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. This week however the Balancing Personal/Professional “Inputs & Outputs” is truly one of those topics that fall under that SPECIAL category… because it affects all four principles! So how should we start the balancing act?
First, I think everyone should conduct a Personal/Professional Information Inputs Assessment at least once every 90 days. As part of the Assessment, list (in detail) the different Input sources that you allow to enter into your “space”! The list will be extensive. Personal conversations, social media, telephone calls, radio, magazines, television, mail, and the list goes on. Then think about the “relationship” you have with each of these sources. It is family, professional colleagues, general news pieces, training opportunities, sales efforts, and/or political ads? Really consider the purpose, value, frequency, and quality of the Inputs.
Then conduct a similar Assessment on your Personal/Professional Information Outputs. What do you say, email, design, promote, or publish? Are you selective in your information sharing Output practices… or wide open? Are most of your Output messages critical or complimentary? Do they contain solid data/facts/instructions… or are they ramblings of what is, could be, should be, or confusion? How often do politics impact your Outputs?
As you can see the Assessments I suggest are not easy… nor do they provide a perfect suggestion for Balancing Personal/Professional “Inputs & Outputs”. Instead, this TRIPLE III TIME message is a simple reminder that if you want to improve your LEADERSHIP/COMMUNICATION/INNOVATION/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Skills… you need to strategically balance the sources and content of information that you receive every day and then be open, honest and balanced in your information sharing interactions with others. Just like quality and authenticity… BALANCE MATTERS!