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ABCD

This or That

Shortly after I had joined our business, we were confronting relentless downward pressure on pricing, and a buyer found very well-priced sport shirts.  These shirts were well-priced for a reason: they were not made with the quality standards of our brand.  My dad, the Shale of Mark Shale, was made aware of these shirts through a salesperson who was embarrassed to be offering his customers shirts of such quality. 

Dad immediately had the shirts removed from every store.  In the most public manner, he sacrificed a revenue opportunity from the low-cost market (this) in order to protect the trust customers have in what they buy from us (that).

It’s a powerful tool – making an explicit choice that requires sacrificing the road not taken.  It’s powerful because it’s a visible choice: we must pass up, in front of our customers, our managers, our salespeople – this in order to achieve the more important that.  

In the book Influencer, the authors describe the power of choosing one value over another to motivate and lead an organization in a specific direction.

You must ask yourself, “Why should others believe and follow me?” Then, to give weight to your talk about the importance of the vital behaviors you’re espousing, make sacrifices.  Sacrifice other key values.  Nothing makes a new vital behavior seem more credible than when you sacrifice time, money, ego, and other priorities to demonstrate that what you say is important to you really is important to you.

Influencer, p. 162

I think the organization’s leader actually “mines” for such opportunities to declare a this or that, recognizing its importance in building a culture that produces desired outcomes.  This or that becomes a mythical story for the company: an expression of who we are, and who we aren’t.

Questions in the Mirror

  1. Every business confronts the this or that present in quality or price.  Name a choice you have made and how you used it to convey your business’s values to its employees and to its customers.
  2. Every business confronts the this or that when confronted with a high performing employee who “makes omelets by breaking a lot of eggs”.  Name a decision you made and how you used it to convey your business’s values to its employees and to its customers.
  3. Choosing a this or that is how you increase the speed of the current carrying decisions forward in your organization.  In the month ahead, where do you see opportunity to make this choice clear to the organization that will make vivid its strategic direction?

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ABCD

podcast interview

Please enjoy this Midwest Mavericks interview with Dave Davenport, Founder and CEO of motherG Network Guardians, the award-winning managed IT services company. What a pleasure to tell the Mark Shale story, reflecting in a public way what we had done and the pride we felt in our company.  The interview was originally part of a 97.1 FM radio podcast series that profiles companies and their owners in the Midwest.

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ABCD

Making Faces

When I was a kid, my brother and I made funny faces at each other. It must be genetic: my son does the same thing. I treasure photos of us together, like the four-in-a-row shots taken in old time booths. We mugged photos while he served in the Israeli Army. His funny faces reduced my anxiety. That’s the point: faces communicate stuff – faces make us feel stuff. I have noticed that leaders use this to motivate people and make strengths productive.

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ABCD

The Mirror

My dad was very particular about the mirrors in our store. He spent a lot of time on capturing just the right angle. These were three way mirrors in which our customer would see himself – for the first time – in a suit or new outfit. Dad thought a lot about the lighting. It was important that the lighting be as close to daylight as possible – as daylight best captured color and intensity, and how the clothes fit the man…