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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • October 30, 2021
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3 Growth Seeds You Can Plant This Weekend 

Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:

There’s something very satisfying about planting seeds

A little work and some dirty fingernails now, and in a season or two, you reap the benefits – with very little to be done in between.

Here are three growth seeds you can plant in your business or not-for-profit this weekend. With each of them, look for medium-term trends, observations and results, not short-term: 

1. Plant a plant. 

Call a buddy – a colleague or friend whose judgment you respect, but who doesn’t work for you – and give them an ‘access all areas’ pass to your organization. (Think ‘secret shopper’ but extended to the whole enterprise – not just sales or front of house, but also ops and admin).

If you have a physical presence (if you're a retailer, a manufacturer or a church, say), ask them to visit, unannounced and unsupervised, any part of your organization at least three times in the next six months, and (if possible) to visit a different part each time. 

Tell them they can speak with anyone they want, ask anything they want, watch whatever they want – no restrictions, except they can’t offer advice to anyone they meet. Tell your employees, too, so they’re not confused or surprised – this isn’t about catching people off-guard.

If you operate virtually, send them an invite to a bunch of Zoom or similar interactions that will give them a similar 'feel' of what's going on in your organization.

Make dinner reservations six months from now (if we're still making dinner reservations then), and ask your friend to simply and honestly debrief you on what they saw and heard over the year.

No structure, no agenda, no forced outcome – just a simple brain dump on their observations. I guarantee that the less structured you make the debrief, the more interesting, rich and surprising it will be.

2. Bury a bulb. 

What’s the single most important contact point with your clients, customers or the people you serve?

Is it your website? Your retail locations? The ER department? Your reception area? Your service call center? The church foyer?

Whatever/wherever it is, on top of whatever existing data collection processes you already have, put in place a basic but comprehensive raw data collection process (if you don’t already have one), and just let it run for 6 months.

Maybe it’s Google analytics from your website, or a visitors log and list of resulting sales/non-sales from your car sales lot, or the on-hold time in your call center, or the 'linger time' in your church foyer - whatever it is, just gather the basic data - don’t feel obligated to slice and dice it in any way during the collection period - just accumulate it.

When the six months are up, pull out that raw data and simply roll around in it for a couple of days. Don’t pre-invest: don’t feel obligated to see anything there that isn’t, and don’t feel that something has to come out of the exercise. Just see if something does emerge, and if so, what it’s telling you.

Amongst other things, this is a great way to identify potential black swans impacting your business. (Hat-tip to Gene Cornfield for showing me the power of this process.) 

3. Secure a sapling. 

Like most growth leaders, you likely have more good growth ideas than you could ever hope to implement. So pick one idea from the top of the ‘B’ list (you know: an idea you know is good, but which you also know you’ll never get around to implementing).

Make sure it’s not an idea which, if it goes awry, could conceivably bet the ranch.

Hand that idea off to someone else in the organization.

Share with them your vision for it, agree on some use-of-resources constraints, establish an understanding that working on the idea cannot impact their usual deliverables, and tell them that unless they need some help or clarification from you, you don’t want to hear another thing about it for six months.

Schedule a meeting six months out to hear how they’ve done with the sapling.

What about you? Which of these three growth seeds can you plant this weekend?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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