I Wish I Could Hear You…

Lance Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Simplicity Leave a Comment

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but we have a policy

See if you recognize these scenarios:

1) At a company which claims “Customer Sevice is Job #1!” —

  • One customer proves to be untrustworthy, so a policy is implemented.
  • Time passes…
  • Because there is a policy in place, all customers must be treated as if they are untrustworthy.

2) At a company which claims “Talented, Committed, Professional People Are Our Competitive Advantage!” —

  • One employee makes a bad decision, so a policy is implemented.
  • Time passes…
  • Because there is a policy in place, all employees must be treated as they will make bad decisions.

Locks on doors have a purpose, but doors that can never be unlocked aren’t doors at all – they’re walls. Likewise, policies have a purpose, but if they can never be deviated from even when all Good Sense, Reason, and professed Core Values demand it, then they aren’t policies at all – they’re prison walls.

The Fog of Celebrity

Lance Leadership Leave a Comment

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When people working in an organization become less of a person and more of mere “resources” and “FTE’s,” a set of blinders descends over the Leaders, making it easier to make decisions that are good for the numbers but hurt the people.

But what happens when it is the view of the Leader that gets distorted — viewed as being more than just a person?  Local/intraorganizarional celebrity status kicks into operation the same fog machine that distorts the sperceptions of pop culture celebrities. The effects can be costly:

  • Leaders become detached from the people they uhare here to serve
  • Leaders drift into acting like normal rules of behavior don’t apply to them
  • Leaders begin to overestimate their own ability
  • Leaders become invested in maintaining their image, which can lead to being less likely to admit failings and not knowing

Of course, the “do you know who that IS?” that makes leaders into celebrities doesn’t just affect the Leaders:

  • People become invested in being near to or associated with the celebrity Leader
  • People self-censor criticism and disagreement while offering up effusive praise
  • People become invested in maintaining the celebrity leader’s image (the proximity to which they judge their social standing), leading to insulating the celebrity leader from bad news

It pays for both Leaders and People to chase away the haze of Celebrity and remember the sage wisdom of Depeche Mode: People are People


Lance Creativity, Discipline, Excellence, Leadership Leave a Comment

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An audacious goal…


A ridiculous time line…


Necessary tools and materials that hadn’t been invented yet



Starting already behind the competition



A vision that had to overcome the loss of the Leader



An organization that had to face catastrophic failure



Despite all this … MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:


What’s your excuse for not leaving your mark?


No Time Like Now

Lance Creativity Leave a Comment

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Imagine being faced with an intractable contradiction — a problem demanding a solution but yielding nothing close to one …

Imagine the convention-busting audacity it requires to claim to solve such a puzzle … by questioning humanity’s very understanding of time itself

Imagine being RIGHT 


What sacred premise are you unwilling to question in your search for a solution to the challenge lying in front of you? How far away from the herd are you willing to run to hunt down your Big Idea?

It’s Just One Hair

Lance Excellence Leave a Comment

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There are, on average, 100,000 hairs on the human head. No big deal if one goes missing, right? … until that missing hair is found in your food.

The temptation is to say that having 99 details in order is plenty good enough — obsessing over the 1 detail out of place is just “nit-picking.” Oddly enough, the person who sees their own work through this prism of good enough is likely to obsess over that one little hair in their burger just the same.

What if we held ourselves to the standard of perfection we expect from our chefs and waiters, doctors and pharmacists?

Details matter. All of them. The higher the quality of a product or performance, the more a detail out of place sticks out and can dominate the experience. Last night I had an incredible dinner of magnificent crab legs, but the 30 minutes we spent after dinner waiting for our simple dessert order to be delivered overshadowed what had been a great dining experience. Spending 2 hours at a restaurant and eating dessert at your kids’ bedtime because of slow service tends to do that.

Ask yourself: which of these two versions of the Star Spangled Banner is the more cringe-inducing?

Expectations matter. Aim to be more professional everyday, and your tolerance for details out of place has to go down, not up. Sure, the “devil is in the details” … so climb down into them, evict him, and allow Excellence to start living there instead.