Almost since the beginning of time, seasons have regulated our lives. Planting and harvest, heat and cold, flood and drought marked time for millennia. And we humans marked each of those seasons with particular holidays that reflected the rhythm of life. Sadly, in our fast-paced, always-on modern lives, we seem to rush nonstop from season to season, holiday to holiday. We race from Halloween to Christmas with hardly a pause. But I think it’s crucial to resist the rush and take the time to truly enjoy…Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving – for all the “gobble till you wobble” hype – is the holiday built around gratitude, reflection, and appreciation. I know that for a lot of us, 2023 has been a challenge. Inflation is up, budgets are tight, and news from around the world is almost all bad. It can make us want to jump headfirst into the joy, hope, and excitement that Christmas brings.
I want to encourage you to acknowledge that Christmas is on the horizon, but let it come in its own time. Refrain from rushing the season, and let Thanksgiving have its time center stage. Why? Because I’m convinced that taking a deliberate pause to appreciate life’s blessings will change your heart and mind. Find joy in the simplicity of Thanksgiving traditions…pulling out that special turkey platter, making dressing from your grandmother’s recipe, welcoming someone new to the family table. Take time to build some new traditions that foster connection, gratitude, and reflection to create lasting memories. Many people use a gratitude list or cards to spark conversations around the table. Snap fun photos and actually print them out to frame and have as keepsakes. Or haul out an old family photo album and share memories with everyone. Finally, reflect on the past year and your personal and professional growth, acknowledging the fruits of your efforts. You’ve worked hard over the past months, and although I’m sure there have been challenges, you’ll be surprised at the many victories you’ve achieved.
Savor Thanksgiving for its unique qualities of appreciation, gratitude, and reflection. In doing so, you’ll cultivate a deeper sense of fulfillment and prepare yourself to fully embrace the joys of Christmas. You’ll be glad you made the effort to resist the rush.
“One and Done” can mean a lot of things. It can refer to a college basketball star who just played their freshman year before heading to the NBA. It might be something you do so well the first time that you never need or want to do it again. (Marriage, yes…sweeping your kitchen floor, no.) Some people use the term for a workout that gets you permanently in shape in just one week, Oreos not included.
At ISI Consulting “One and Done” is all about our one day workshops. We do a LOT of them, with organizations small and large. ONE DAY, you might wonder? Just how much can you accomplish? A great deal, it turns out. Especially if you’re working with experts in problem-solving.
If you’re struggling to solidify your goals and objectives, make a concrete decision and then implement an action plan, or switch directions based on changes that have impacted your organization, you can make significant headway in just one day. If you need to develop quality training on communication, priority-setting, or quality improvement to bring your team to the next level, one day will get you well on your way to success.
There’s just one thing you need to remember…if you could have done this on your own, you already would have. Even in the best of organizations, sometimes you just get stuck. And then it takes an outside expert to get your team back on track. We’re just the experts you need, so why should you waste any more time. Call today, and let’s get this “One and Done!”
We know you can’t do this alone. If you could have, you already would have. You need an outsider’s invaluable insights to help sharpen your vision, hone your team’s skills, and map out a plan for action. Someone who provides the spark that gets you fired up and moving. We can do just that. And once we’ve gotten you moving in the right direction, we’ll be out the door…so you can stay busy advancing your mission.That’s how ISI Consulting accomplishes success.
Inclusive participation matters. There is a mound of research that shows that engagement drives greater productivity, ownership and work quality. What are you doing to include and engage everyone to unleash problem solving in your organization? What are you doing to advance innovation and achieve those aspirational outcomes?
I know, it’s August. Summer is winding down. Vacations are over. School is starting back. And it’s still HOT. But guess what…August is the perfect time to dig deep and make small shifts in your meetings, interactions and engagement with your partners. I’m not asking for monumental change as we close out summer…I’m just asking for all of us to see what we can do to amplify the wisdom of others in the room. Because small shifts now can reap great benefits in September and beyond.
Below is a list of ten principles of inclusive engagement for you to consider. Which one do you want to experiment with in August? Just try one and see if it doesn’t improve your organization in some significant way.
I’d love to hear about your successes. But if you are struggling with one of these, the ISI team would be excited to help you. Set up a time for a chat and we’ll provide you with a FREE tool or resource to help you out. Thanks for being a partner and friend to ISI Consulting.
I’ve been without two key team players for the last two weeks. Good ole’ summer vacations have come around and I’ve been left with lots of tasks that I don’t normally do. Let’s just say that I may have used some colorful language on the printer, scanner, laptop…and even the ice maker this week. Yes, I know that yelling at inanimate objects isn’t productive, but somehow it made me feel better.
I’ve been doing some tasks this week that I haven’t done in the last three years plus…and man, I’m glad that I have. You see, my perspective on the complexity of a task and how long it should theoretically take has shrunk over time. I have been diminishing tasks and underappreciating all that goes into moving something from a requested task to a completed task. I had lost perspective.
Will Guidara (2022) says this so well. “Perspective has an expiration date, no matter how hard you try to hold on to it.” I needed to tap back into what it means to be the administrative assistant, project manager, video editor, social media coordinator, data analyst, and…the roles go on…and on…and on. I had lost a valuable viewpoint for the very people I was managing.
I absolutely want us to be super-focused on scaling our businesses and organizations. That is important (and probably is in your strategic plan). However, let’s scale our business without losing perspective in the process. Your organization cannot run without the valuable individuals in the office and working remotely – without subcontractors, freelancers (go Fiverr), vendors, volunteers, and even the occasional family member. We’ll all be better managers and leaders if we take time to gain, or regain, some real-world perspective. I don’t mean just reading about it. I mean blocking off some time on your calendar and getting your hands dirty. Do some jobs you usually delegate. Let’s all dig in and remember that our best recollections and memories of a task are probably out of date, and we need to get some fresh perspective. Your team members are really going to thank you!
When I was 30, if you had called me a disrupter, I’d have been insulted. I might have even sulked. Why? Because, back then, I wanted to be liked, to be accepted, and to just fit in. But now, at um….42 years old, I’d consider being called a disrupter a compliment. I’d be happy. It would be a comment on my personal business savvy and success. After all, that’s what I’m about. I want to disrupt the in-person meeting space, the snooze fest of board meetings, wasted time at retreats, and mindless virtual meetings.
My goal is to flip meetings upside down and only keep the parts that are valuable and have a purpose. I’m sick of meetings that are just about receiving information that never gets implemented. I want to invest my time – and yours – in helping groups to provide input toward decision-making and moving to implementation responsibility. I hope that meetings facilitated by ISI Consulting are different and completely unlike the norm. Yes, we’re about disrupting unproductive in-person and virtual meetings…and proud of it.
What are you disrupting? What is your organization pumped up to turn around? What makes you angry? What makes you downright giddy? What is it? Customer experience guru, S. Jeffes, notes that “Innovation is the unrelenting drive to break the status quo and develop anew where few have dared to go.” That sounds a LOT like positive disruption to me.
If I could sit with three women this year, it would be Cynt Marshall (former equity disrupter of AT&T and now CEO of the Dallas Mavericks), Dolly Parton (singer, songwriter, and philanthropy forerunner, always doing it HER way) and Sara Blakley (undergarment disrupter and CEO of Spanx…who makes us all look better). These women saw needs and didn’t wait for someone else to tell them how to do it. They moved forward and laser-focused on the issues they saw and knew they could fix. They were relentless in iterative learning and experimentation. Not everyone liked the disruptions that were taking place at the Dallas Mavs, in Nashville, or at Spanx headquarters. These women didn’t care, because they recognized that anyone pushing against the status quo is going to experience pressure. It’s OK and necessary.
I’d like you to take a little time in the next week and do yourself a favor. Think about your position and your business or industry. Are you disrupting anything? If not, where and how could you become a disruptor? How can you push yourself and your organization forward? Then write out the following sentences, fill in the blanks, and put that piece of paper where you’ll see it every day. Commit to use it as your encouragement to be a disruptor. I know you’ll be surprised at the results.
We are disrupting the ______________ industry. We strongly believe _______________ and as a result we commit to doing/providing _____________ to our customers/patients/participants.
They arranged to rent a bus for the day. And a medical doctor and two nurses devoted a half day to help my family enjoy visiting Table Rock State Park with my father…who died just three months later. The Hospice team didn’t have to do this. The doctor and nurses didn’t have to do this. There was no billing code for reimbursement for their services, but they still did it.
Why? This special Thursday came about all because a doctor listened carefully and then showed unreasonable generosity to my family. He heard my brother and mother talking about hiking to the top of Table Rock, swimming in the lake and getting ice cream at Aunt Sue’s restaurant. Quietly and with no social media optics moment, Dr. Kumar (pictured here with my mother and father) made it happen. Had he and his team ever done this before? Nope…and it didn’t matter.
Why would a physician and two of his nurses do this? Showing love and genuine care was a non-negotiable for them. It defined who this hospice organization was, and you didn’t need to read a strategic plan or mission statement to experience this in action. They baked it into their organization from the ground up, and when an opportunity to show love and genuine care presented itself, they didn’t ask “Should we?”, but “How can we?”
I know the terms welcoming, belonging, and inclusion are being used more frequently around the staff and board table. I want us to really dig deep and uncover what that means for your organization or business. How might we approach being welcoming and inviting with as much passion as we devote to our product or service line? We live in a world where money is getting tight(er), everyone is tired and stretched, and folks are slowly starting to pull back. We need connection like never before. Even in lean times, don’t slack up on your values. Hold true to the reason your organization/business exists. Lean in and be relentless in making your values shine even brighter. We all need that.
South Carolina has 47 amazing state parks scattered from the coast to the Upstate. Let me suggest you visit one of them and build some memories of your own. Because they’re incredibly important during times when we’re all stretched and need connection. If you have never visited Table Rock State Park (Table Rock | South Carolina Parks Official Site) I highly recommend it. It’s the first place my future husband and I said, “I love you” and one of the last places I shared an embrace with my father. I have since visited the park with my three-year old son. He never met my Daddy, but boy do we share stories.
Good on-boarding of new employees and volunteers in your organization is THE secret ingredient in 2023. Finding and retaining team members is a recurring theme playing out right now across the country. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee turnover rate in 2021 was 47.2%. In addition, the average cost to replace an employee can range anywhere from half to two times their salary, according to data from Gallup. And those numbers are only getting worse. You must…I repeat…you must flip your on-boarding process on its head if you want to keep your new team members.
On-boarding in 2023 needs to be completed in phases. I call it the sprinkle spiral. Let me explain. The common/outdated/ineffective – “fire hydrant” – approach is to spend one to three days with a team member and provide them with all of the information, tools, tasks they could ever need and then walk out the physical or virtual door. Boom…you’re done. You encourage them to reach out to you with any questions. You notice that “deer in the headlights look” but think…they will magically be fine the next day. You’ve done your part, and after all, you have important work to do and need to get caught back up. You recognize that the “fire hydrant” approach isn’t working when you’re frustrated and not sleeping at night because you are not getting the results you and your team desired. Sound familiar?
We need to move away from the “fire hydrant” approach and do the sprinkle spiral. I’ve completely made this phrase up – so please don’t Google it. Instead of soaking newcomers with information, let’s spray team members with information in different chunks. Start with broad/high-level information and then go deeper – just like all of the adult learning models show works best. Allow time for the team member to practice/demonstrate a skill before moving to the next item on a checklist. We put together a plan that could range anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on the complexity of the job role. We must adopt a mindset of the long game. We want this team member to be wildly successful and with us past the 60-day mark. To accomplish that we must invest our energies to train in more engaging and effective ways. We all need to create spray spirals.
I have no doubt that new team members and volunteers will be excited to join your team this year. But I want them to stay excited past the first day and three month mark. How might you flip the on-boarding fire hydrant on its head and have spray spirals across your department?
Let’s all start doing the sprinkle spiral. And if you and your team want to work on some strategies to help develop your own sprinkle spiral, give me a call, and let’s get together. I cannot wait to hear your success stories!
Yeah, you heard right. Don’t wiggle out of the squiggle. According to Leith Sharp (director of Harvard’s Sustainability Leadership), squiggle is all of the variation that happens in the “in-between” phases of any project. Apparently, it’s the new jargon for the “messy middle.” New ideas and new projects all have their own set of “issues” – stakeholders, risks, opportunities, budget, history, context, etc. With these issues onboard, the journey is rarely if ever linear. The journey is most often up, down, and all around and sideways. Yet, the final story we share is the linear story. Leith Sharp and others want you to embrace the squiggle and share all parts of your story. Let’s be real, and don’t hide the messy middle.
Just last year while teaching a project management bootcamp, I encouraged team members to be aware of what’s known as the implementation dip. As soon as you get going, there will be a dip in productivity. Beware! Don’t let that dip take you by surprise.
But I failed to tell them that, in all honesty, this process looks more like a roller coaster ride than a single dip. They needed to beware of 250 dips and squiggles that are somewhere in the middle! Did I warn them of that? Heck, no! I just showed one dip on the implementation journey and then moved on to how to sustain momentum. Shame on me.
If you know it’s coming, you won’t wiggle out of the squiggle. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep making adjustments. It’s part of the real-life project life cycle. Embrace the ride. And one more piece of advice. Let’s talk to our newest team members (Gen Z) and let them know to expect this. There are going to be a lot of mistakes, concerns, and questions along the way. Those can make your newest team members really uncomfortable. Build trust on your team and welcome this! We do not wiggle out of the squiggle. We are going to embrace it and move forward. Let’s all be more comfortable and willing to share our real – squiggly – journey so others can learn along the way.
I want to be wiser this year than last year. Wisdom is something I suspect we all are probably seeking. Something happened recently that made me think about how I develop wisdom.
While walking though the Redwood National Park in California this past week, I couldn’t stop looking up. Staring in wonder, I saw massive trunks rising over 300 feet into the sky, with green leaves and branches stretching toward the clouds. The redwood trees are massive, old, and utterly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Some of the trees in this National Park are over 2,000 years old, and even the most common, relative youngsters are over 500-600 years old. That’s a time frame I find it hard to wrap my brain around. And I submit, we can learn from these ancient trees.
I was shocked to discover that these massive, ancient trees have a very shallow root system of only 10 to 12 feet. How can this be? How can such an apparently tiny foundation support something taller than the Statue of Liberty? I learned that these trees create an interconnected web of roots with other trees that extends for hundreds of feet. You see, not one redwood tree stands by itself. Each towering tree depends on other trees around it. These trees – that have survived earthquakes, fires, droughts, floods, good seasons and bad seasons – live in a family of trees supporting one another.
I believe we all can take a lesson from the redwood tree and spend less time growing vertical roots (on our own) and invest our energies in nurturing our horizontal roots. We need a family of partners, organizations, and friends to survive and thrive in both good and bad times. Let’s focus on strengthening our horizontal roots to be hundreds of feet long. It won’t happen overnight, and we must be intentional about developing those strong connections. That can be a challenge because we are living in a time of disconnectedness. But you and your organization will be breathtaking when you’re linking hands, time, and energies with one another. Beauty comes in our connectedness. So be like the towering redwoods and send out those roots. Because we are wiser, together.