“Does your team put the sugar and creamer in before or after the coffee?”

I have spent the last few days in the hospital.  My wife gave birth to our second child (and second girl) – all is good and everyone is doing very well!  Understandably, I have not been in writing/creative mode this week, but I did ask myself if there was anything to reflect on for the Leadership blog.  After reading this, you may suggest that I should have sat this week out:).

This morning I took a trip to the hospital guest lounge and that is when it came to me.   I walked into the lounge and another new father was ahead of me at the coffee station.  He did not know I was there waiting, but knowing how tired he likely was, I did not want to interrupt him.  He proceeded to pour his coffee.  Then he poured sugar in and stirred, and then he poured creamer in and stirred.   Then he tasted it, spilled a little, and did it all over again.  Finally, he got it right and it was my turn.  Before he had time to clean up his mess, and throw his napkin and stirrer away, I was done and out of there.  I always put everything in the cup before pouring the coffee.  Pouring the coffee does the stirring for you and then the mess and time required is minimized.  This was not a race between two new fathers in the guest lounge of a hospital; It was really just two tired guys who make their coffee differently.

So think about your business and/or the team that you lead.  Do your processes line up with the most efficient way of doing things?  Do you observe how others in your industry do things if you know they might do things more efficiently?  Are you willing and eager to change?  Leaders know that there is always a better way, and the search for improvement is never over.

And for those of you who pour your coffee first…..My real goal is to change the world with this post by changing how everyone makes their coffee.  Just kidding, I am sure you have your reasons (such as it being guest lounge coffee that was made 24 hours beforehand).

“Preparing to deliver our services/products should be just as intense as was the effort to acquire the business”

The sales process can take days, weeks, and even years in some industries.  The longer and more complex the sales cycle, the more a sale has to be managed like a project.  To win the business, requires support from multiple levels in the organization, planning, good strategy, and perfect execution.  Once we win the business, what does it take to meet the expectations that were set during the sales process?  The same level of professionalism, and even better planning, strategy, and execution.

The larger the project, the more important it becomes for the project delivery team to have defined processes and support from multiple levels in the organization.  The sale would not have happened without good process and support; nor will a successful project once the sale is made.

Long-term sustainable growth is not possible unless we focus on excellence throughout the entire life cycle of the customer.