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Spring Cleaning. How to Clear Away The Clutter so Good Ideas Rise to the Top.

 Creatis Online Content 9

I love Spring Cleaning. For some reason as the snow melts and the temps rise, I just get a wave of new energy to clear away the clutter. Could be because at home it makes it easier to find the golf clubs that I stashed away last fall. But whatever the reason, it's healthy to clear away the clutter to find the most important things to keep and the less important stuff you can throw away.

One the of things I like most about EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System - www.eosworldwide.com) that we use to run our business is that EOS helps to clear away the clutter so you can focus on what's important. It let's great ideas rise to the top and provides an efficient and effective way to identify and resolve issues that are getting in the way of achieving your goals

I find the Five Leadership Abilities they define to be particularly compelling. When you and/or your team have hit a ceiling and are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated, it is a good time as the leader to STOP and clear away the clutter. This lies with your ability to deploy the five disciplines of good leadership which are:

  1. Your ability to simplify. The bigger you are, typically the more complex and chaotic your operation becomes. But I found that even in smaller organizations like Creatis it is easy to make things harder than needed. To clear away the clutter you should simplify messages, processes, structure and communications. Ask yourself, "Is it as simple as possible?"

  2. Your ability to delegate and elevate. I find myself way too often working "IN" our business versus working "ON" our business where I can have the most impact. EOS has a very helpful tool around delegating the clutter that is eating up your capacity so you can elevate your focus on moving the company forward. It's simply putting where you are spending your time into four quadrants: "Love/Great", "Like/Good", "Don't Like/Good" and "Don't Like/Not Good". If you are spending most of your time in the last two, you probably need to clear away some clutter.

  3. Your ability to predict. Running a small, dynamic company like Creatis has pushed my focus to be much closer into a one year and even a 90 day horizon. As leaders, our ability to see what's coming for the long-term matters but being able to do so in the short-term could matter even more. Invest time so you can see what's coming - as your ability to provide clear direction, focus and prioritization for your team is what matters most.

  4. Your ability to systemize. I was lucky enough to be trained in Six Sigma while at Carlson, but today I find all that great process mapping can actually create more clutter for my team. Systemize simply means to document, simplify and get everyone following the top core processes that make up your differentiating way of doing business. Per EOS, you have to systemize the predictable so that you can humanize the exceptional.

  5. Your ability to structure. Both inside and outside of EOS, I have found that really nothing else matters until you have the Right People in the Right Seats.  EOS has a great toolkit around developing a clear Accountabilty Chart to determine the right structure for your organization. Start with the seats - then add great people. Because really talented and exceptional people in a seat that allows them to do what they do best means they are constantly clearing away their own clutter which enables them to be excellent.

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Easy + Quick. What Business Leaders Can Learn from the New Rules of Golf.

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I love to work - I really do. But if push comes to shove - I gotta say I think I love golf more. Lately I've become fascinated with the new Rules of Golf that were released this year by the USGA and R&A which are the governing bodies of golf. In the most sweeping revision in more than 60 years, they have reorganized the rules to make them easier to understand and to speed up pace of play.

Now it may be a bit of stretch, but I think business leaders can learn something from these new rules as well.  First - don't be afraid to change even if there is a 60-year history of how it's always been done.  Second - ALWAYS look for new ways to run your business in ways that make it easier for your employees and allow them to have a faster 'pace of play' in terms of how they get things done. Finally, be sure to know the rules of whatever 'game' you are playing. More than one professional golfer has lost a tournament because of an avoidable rules infraction, and just like in business that can lead to the loss of a LOT of money.

So even for you non-golfers out there (hey - you can at least appear smart to your golfing colleagues) - here is an overview of some of the key rules and changes:

  1. Flagstick In or Out. You can now have the flagstick in or out of the hole while putting - it is the player's choice. 

  2. Take a Knee. When you drop the ball while taking relief - you now must do so from knee height. 

  3. Ready. Set. Play. You now don't have to worry about whose turn it is to hit during stroke play - it is now fine to hit your ball when you get to it as long as you can do so safely. But - order of play does still matter in the Match Play format because remember that your opponent can make you replay a shot if you hit out of turn.

  4. Go Ahead and Pick Up Sticks. Or stones. Or other things similar which are all called loose impediments. You can now do this without penalty from Bunkers and Penalty Areas (previously called Water Hazards) - so clean away but don't move your ball when doing so or you'll incur a penalty.

  5. The Dreaded Double Hit. A double hit (when your club hits the ball twice during one stroke) is still likely not a very good shot - but at least now there is no penalty and it counts as only one shot.

  6. You Can Search Just Do It Quickly. To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five minutes. Thinking is - if you haven't found it in three minutes, you likely weren't going to find it anyway.

  7. I Swear It Was the Wind. If a natural force like wind or water moves your ball - that's OK. There is no penalty and you play the ball from its new spot. However, if you are on the putting green and have already marked/replaced your ball and then the wind moves it - in that case there still is no penalty but you move your ball back to its previous spot.

  8. Taking Relief is as Easy as A-B-C. Take a drop from a Penalty Area or when you have Declared Your Ball Unplayable is still as easy as A - B - C (although all incur a one-stroke penalty):
    1. - All the Way Back (also known as stroke & distance) - go back and drop the ball from within one-club length of your previous spot. 
    2. Back-on-the-Line Relief - go back as far as you want on a straight line formed by the flag and the reference point; drop the ball. 
    3. - Two Club Lengths Relief (red stake penalty areas only + for unplayable balls) - drop the ball within two club lengths from your reference point, no closer to the hoel.


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Zen and the Art of Juggling (Work)

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Have you ever watched a professional juggler - either in person or seen a video of he/she doing their thing?
What’s striking to me is how calm the very best jugglers appear, as if they’re not even thinking about juggling. The rising and cascading of three, four or five juggling objects at a time looks effortless to a juggler, like it’s second nature. There's something almost serene about the master juggler.

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It's Your Choice to Live Here. Quit B*tching

 kathycoatblog

It's hard to live in Minnesota lately. Really hard! Closed schools, 3+-hour commutes, 20 degrees below zero and freezing cold offices have challenged even the heartiest of us Minnesotans. But we do choose to live here. Free will and all that. But with more snow storms heading our way, it kinda makes you wonder why we made this choice, doesn't it?

I live in Becker and have a 60-mile drive to Minneapolis - so a 2 to 3 hour commute is not that uncommon for me. I just tell myself "Suck it up, Buttercup" because it is MY choice to live in the cornfields so far away from our office. We all make choices in our personal and professional lives - some intentional and some accidental - but either way we have to live with these choices. Or do we?

I got a chance to speak at the Executive Forum for Career Partners Twin Cities (www.cpitwincities.com), which is an executive coaching and transition services firm that has been instrumental in my career. During our forum discussion, we used my career as a backdrop and talked through some of the key pivots - choices - that I have made during my career and the good/bads that went along with each.

Here are some of those key pivots:

  1. Grad School or Bust. - After getting an undergrad in business I started working in St. Cloud as an HR assistant for $13,800 a year (seemed like a lot back then). I made the intentional choice to go back for an MBA after two years of working as I wanted to move into the 'big city' and get into marketing. Today I get asked often if an MBA or some type of advanced certification is a good idea. My very helpful answer to this is, "It depends." If you want to shift functional disciplines or gain new skills that add to what you already have - I do recommend it. But evaluate if the time and money you need to invest is worth it - as just getting more of the same training with some additional fancy letters may not make sense.

  2. But Won't I Miss the Winters? - I had a great opportunity to move to Atlanta for a job early on in my career - although it meant moving away from my family here in Minnesota. Was I willing to take the leap for a job that could set up my career - or would I play it safe and comfortable? I did take the job which led to 5 years of leading global marketing programs and travel to more than 20 countries. Fortunately, I got lucky in that my husband and I found a way to make the commute work (although we never got a chance to have children which is one of my biggest regrets.)  Career choices aren't always easy, but when a great opportunity presents itself that seems like the perfect fit - I say grab it.  It may be awhile before it comes along again and definitely is worth a try.
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  3. Getting Fired Can Mean Opportunity - I was blessed to lead marketing and product development at Caribou Coffee for a few years - one of my absolute favorite jobs to this day. When a new CEO was brought in during my tenure I was given the chance to work out a transition to onboard my replacement and then stay on as a consultant for another 6 months. This lead me to the accidental choice of starting my own consulting business, Blackline Marketing, with my first client being Caribou. But I will say, I had to check my ego at the door each morning as it wasn't easy to onboard the guy who was replacing me or go sit in a cube - but it was worth it. It is devasting to lose a job you love, but try to stay positive and look for the opportunity that may come along with it.  It may just set up your next great career step.

  4. Helps to be Lucky AND Good. I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Creatis board over ten years ago, which put me in a great place to join Creatis as President in 2014. Are you putting yourself in enough of the right places that can lead to opportunities?  If not - make the choice now to focus on building out your network, get engaged with a non-profit or actively seek to join the board of a small to medium-sized company. Good things can follow, but you have to get yourself out there as being in the 'right place at the right time' doesn't just happen by itself.

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