Great Mantra: Make it Easy, Make it Hard

Quick review:

We’ve been talking about banishing mediocrity (because it is THE biggest sin committed in business) and about creating energy instead (because energy generates to Ho‘ohana power). Energy is the greatest resource managers (who both manage AND lead) have at their disposal.

No energy, no action. No action, no business life to speak of.

And in my view, business, whether the business of work, or the business sensibility of life, is a great playground to Ho‘ohana within.

Let’s dig into this a bit more. I’ll share one of my favorite mantras with you from an Alaka‘i leadership perspective today: Make it easy, and make it hard.

Bonzai Wannabe

Make it easy for your Customers

Here’s a quote for the day:

“I’m so tired of watching us lose our customers. Just because we work for the government doesn’t mean we shouldn’t run the operation like a business.”
— Joan Capinia

You’ll never guess where Joan works. Reinvention can happen where you least expect it. Came from this older article about the US Postal Service, but it’s still relevant today (and hope the mindset stuck with the USPS).

The reputation that government and much of the public sector is saddled with has to with something that is an even bigger sin than mediocrity, for it equates to chronic mediocrity which is now regulated and institutionalized: It’s Bureaucracy.

Rules. Antiquated, or just plain stupid rules.

Red tape. Loop holes. Both are negatives: Loop holes are normally thought of as idiotic, as cheating, or as the tacit approval of stupid rules. Both red tape and loop holes have to do with jumping through hoops versus acting like a dignified professional (or an honored customer.)

Inconvenience no one seems to care about, saying/thinking “Just put up and shut up and deal with it; that’s the way it is.” can be a sneaky part of bureaucracy too.

Perception, reality and your reputation

Yeah, I’m starting to squirm uncomfortably and get irritated thinking about this too. Every business needs to figure out how to make it easier for their customers, and how to make processes streamlined and just plain common sense (and in business it’s all a buying process when you think about it).

Though the private sector can be just as bad, the public sector is a very easy target with this; think about the last time you might have visited a City & County office of any kind on any island. Personally we all feel for those affected by the current furlough discussions; we empathize with them as human beings in similar tough spots. However we all have heard (or said) the whispers between friends along the theme of “Could be a real good thing” maybe now they’ll be forced to improve and strip away all the red tape. I’ve never been happy paying taxes to support such thick-as-thieves bureaucracy.”

Perception is reality, and reputation is about that combination of what your customer experiences, and what they think they experience, especially if they feel they have been greatly inconvenienced, taken for granted, or abused or wronged in some way.

Great Alaka‘i leadership creates visionary pictures of how the future will be easier for the customer, an easy which delivers great experiences (and for both internal and external customers.)

Make it hard for your Business Partners

By ‘business partners’ I mean your employees, staff, co-working peers and your vendor partners; anyone and everyone who is responsible for delighting the customers who create cash flow. Hard ups the game, and fires up the energy.

Hopefully there isn’t anything which is unreasonably hard for anyone, but if push comes to shove, the hard stuff should get taken care of by those associated with the business, not the customer.

Remember this? Fulfill the biggest need:

There are two things business owners are focused on right now, and they go together:

a) Boosting cash flow quickly

b) Making customers deliriously happy

Said another way, cash is King and a paying customer’s loyalty is Queen.

We talked about it before in terms of creating job worth (Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch) as the advice given to job-seekers: Position yourself to fulfill the biggest need of the employer.

Same goes for this discussion: Those associated with the workings of a business ”“ any business, no exceptions —must position themselves to fulfill the biggest need of the customer.

And customers want you to dazzle them, and exceed their expectations. Today, they expect you to Lead the Slow Charge, and they are happier when they do not have to share your limited attentions with other customers!

What that means, is that of course it will always be harder for you! Hard is a good thing in this context, for it is not normal —and we had said that excellence is not normal. (Review the section called “2. Avoid the Middle and Work on the Edges” within our last talk story here: 3 Ways Managers Create Energetic Workplaces).

Bring ‘hard’ into your Language of Intention

What Alaka‘i leaders will do, is reinvent the internal vocabulary of what ‘hard’ for your business partners means. In this mantra, “Make it easy, make it hard,” hard is pure excellence.

However we use the word ‘hard’ instead of excellent because we want that association with energetic effort too: Hard means with vigor, with strength, and with force to be reckoned with. Hard resists cracking under pressure because it is sure, it is intently confident. It is virtually flawless and exceptional.

In work cultures managed and led with Aloha by Alaka‘i managers, hard is about constantly learning to improve so everyone can live better, work better, be better. Hard has good kaona: Small word, big meaning.

Get hard to be about an exciting challenge, one which requires —what? That’s right: Increased energies. Mediocrity-banishing energies.

Get hard to mean rock-solid goodness —no stupid rules, no red tape, no loop holes, no basic standards, just extraordinary ones (we talked about that last time too; it was the 3rd way that managers create energetic workplaces.)

On Thursday we’ll get into the management side of the “Make it easy, make it hard” leadership initiative. Hope to see you back for, What the heck do you mean by ‘Achievable?’

Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share?

Photo credit: Bonzai Wannabe by Rosa Say.

For those who prefer them, here are the Talking Story copies of the links embedded in this posting:


~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i”
June 2009 ~
Make it Easy, Make it Hard


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