Tradition and change are strange bedfellows.
Traditions are everywhere: families have traditions, schools have traditions, churches and corporations have traditions. People worship, teachers educate, governors govern.
Traditions acknowledge our accomplishments (educational). Traditions spark our imagination (vision). Traditions foster confidence. Traditions seep into the most mundane of our daily routines. To put it simply, tradition(s) adds value to our lives.
But tradition is also a double agent, an evil genius, if you will. It can spark imagination, but it can also snuff it out. It can foster confidence but it can undermine initiative. Tradition can express meaning through shared beliefs or create mundane events that isolate our understanding. When it adds value, everybody loves it. When it becomes Dr. Evil, everyone despises it.
Tradition(s) grows out of formative life stories. Most people love a tradition because they know the story that gives life to it. Remember when Hewlett Packard merged with Compaq? This was a battle of narratives: HP employees and board members knew change was imminent. How? They told and retold the HP story, the Hewlett Packard Way which served as a guiding force to its corporate mission, vision, and values. A merger with Compaq would mean a loss of this fundamental narrative.
Alas, all traditions, it seems to me, have a limited life cycle. This means that at some point tradition gives way to change.
Leaders know the value of change. But they also must also respect tradition. To Lead, consult, and manage change we must become experts at uncovering the narratives that spawned the tradition. When we understand this narrative we are then equipped to provide a new narrative; a narrative that respects the past, but fashions and tells a new vision that inspires new processes, new activities, new "traditions".
To be a great leader, respect tradition while making room for change. Really, the bed is beg enough for both. And in point of fact, one can't exist without the other.
Achieving vitality sometimes is more art than science. On the other hand, sometimes a simple list is enough to get us going down the right path.
Here is today's top five items to foster vitality in your leadership or business:
1. Be willing to fail.
2. Always be planning new experiments.
3. Always be learning.
4. Work at imagination.
5. Engage in activities that renew your strength and motivation.
A customer ALWAYS expects an encounter with your business or organization to be pleasant.
Last month I ate at a restaurant in Albuquerque NM. The restaurant came highly recommended by a hotel attendant.
When I arrived there was no host to greet me. A waitress cruised by and motioned that I should follow her. In just a few minutes a different waitress dropped a menu on the table and zoomed off. I was able to order my meal ten minutes later, The food came promptly and was good (not great).
Would I return to this restaurant? No. Sure, I received a meal which gave me energy for the evening. Beyond that however, I didn't have a great experience. What would have made the difference in this case? A simple, honest, authentic personal greeting. Essentially, I was treated as a unit on an assembly line. But what I wanted - in addition to a good meal -- was to be received as if I were actually welcome.
Regardless of who they are, customers always want to be welcome.
Always give your customers a simple, personal friendly greeting. It will set the tone for their entire experience. It will facilitate repeat business and it will generate a loads of good will as they share their experience with others.
I recently traveled from California to Missouri and then back again. My family and I frequented restaurants, rest stops, gas stations, hotels, gift shops. Without exception, what caused us to think highly of any particular visit was our hosts attention to details designed to make our visit "nice".
Organizational strategy is a key component in vitality. Never emphasize strategy, however, at the expense of the details. Every tiny detail creates a positive experience for your guests. Every positive experience translates into a larger fan base.
Strategies are critical in war. But the battles are won with masterful handling of the details. So, invest today in the little things. It will have huge payoffs tomorrow.
www.getvitality.org by Glen Edward Quiring is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.getvitality.org.