Foundation a la Brucie

The foundation is elegantly simple. When constructing a building, what is needed to construct upon to have a strong building? The answer is obvious, you need a strong foundation. What do all religions have? Foundation documents: the Torah, the Bible, the Koran and the like are examples. What do we call these documents? The foundation of the faith. What do the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights do for the good old US of A? Why it forms our foundation. Are you getting this? There is a theme here. Organizations also need a foundation that outlines its goals and purpose. As an organization grows and develops, having mission and vision (or in my words, “Reason for Being”), BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and Values can create a “True North” for the organization. (“True North” is a Steven Covey term that relates to the true direction of an organization. It is based on the analogy of a compass.)  The Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values of a company can be critical to the overall success of the organization but they’re often forgotten. The corporate Reason for Being is typically created by the Senior Leadership team, captured on posters, and strategically tacked up around the building. Meanwhile, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values are seen as irrelevant to the organization’s day-to-day operations. In other words, the organization’s behavior is not congruent with its declaration of ideals. However at their best, the Reason for Being, BHAG’s, and Values, give an organization a future to live into. This potential future galvanizes and focuses the organization. Whether or not goals are met entirely, movement toward them...

Satisfying the Customer

Another valuable lesson of Stupid Games is they can teach groups about great customer service. I worked with a client that was focused on improving its customer service. This company hired a firm to survey its customers. The survey results indicated that the company’s customer service was below average. The company decided to focus on improving its service and its relationships with customers. I was brought in to help the company leadership group develop action plans for improving customer service and customer relationships. To start the session, the group played one of CMI’s classic games: lower-the-tent-pole-to-the-ground.  The participants had played this Stupid Game in the past and were confident they would be successful. As a precursor to the exercise, I said, “The marketplace has changed, so don’t be fooled by these tent poles. They’re super-duper and way different than before.” After pausing for effect, I added the instructions: “I’m the customer. I want you to lower this tent pole to the ground while balancing it on your index fingers. None of your fingers can ever lose contact with it. All fingers must be under and perpendicular to pole. No other body parts can touch the pole. You have three minutes to do this. The faster you can get the tent pole to the floor the better.” The activity started. The pole went up instead of down. Fingers lost contact with the pole. People yelled, and blamed each other. (That is how this activity typically goes.) Then the groups calmed down. Everyone focused on completing the task. The participants started listening to each other and eventually lowered that darn pole...

“Stoopid” Games Explained

Why “Stoopid” Games? First of all, I do not want to admit that I am not good at the games nor do I particularly like them. I do feel they are invaluable in teaching business groups who are truly interested in improving their performance and how to tangibly do that. For the past twenty years, we have used experiential learning as a modality for teaching and developing our clients – at least that is how an academic would name it. For us, they are “stoopid” games and they are useful because they give groups a practice field for their performance and development. First, to establish, they really are “stoopid” or as it is usually spelled, stupid. One can argue and I do, after a few drinks, that all games are stupid. I mean, give me a break about football, catch a ball and then everyone over 200 pounds leaps and pounces on you? I don’t think so. Also, in baseball, have a small ball thrown at you at over 90 MPH and then try to hit it with a stick – and that is fun. You are kidding right? However, in the world, these two mentioned games among many, many others are called fun and sanctified. So, then having a marble roll down a PVC pipe into a cup and then celebrate victory you’ve got be on drugs. Or, get a group of people over a fake supposed river in less than ten minutes by walking on blue squishy things that really belong in a health club and celebrate that as a wildly successful phenomenon is insane. That is...

It’s All About the Duck

This article opens with Ernie’s song from Sesame Street. It goes like this:     “Rubber Ducky, you’re the one,   You make bath time lots of fun,   Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you   (Woh woh, bee do!)…”   I love them. So small and cute…… Let’s see there is the blue one with the green hair – I think that is a punk duck. There is the one dressed like a cardinal – that is certainly pope duck. There is just one that looks like a yellow duck – that is a regular duck. Then there is the one that looks like a penguin with the red hat and green scarf – black duck. Then the newest one is coming out of a cupcake – could that be happy duck?????? Must be. So you see these ducks run the gambit of representing the world as we know it.     These are my travel companions – my little duckies. They live in my shaving kit. Whenever I see them my heart sings and I am happy.     Where did these rubber duckies come from? No, I did not steal them from my granddaughter Sienna. Their origin – hospitality gifts from the Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin.     I look forward to staying at this Hampton Inn in Eau Claire Wisconsin because I get a new duck every time I visit…..it is a special something that costs nothing and really delights me. Who knew that a bald 65 year old man could be brought to his knees by a duck?   During one visit, I asked...