Keeping fresh is one of the most important things people can do to stay at the top of their game. I recently started a new hobby (clay shooting) and that has reminded me of some key lessons that are particularly important in running a successful enterprise.
People can hurt you accidentally. It’s important to have high awareness and have our heads on a swivel to avoid unintended consequences. Unintended consequences might be a gun going off at the wrong time or a new initiative killing productivity down the line.
Little guns can break clays as well as big guns. (An older guy illustrated this point with a little .410 shotgun, humbling everyone else on the field with the standard 12 gauge shotguns.) There really is no substitute for being on target. For example, it makes no sense to do a big team building exercise if the issue is just one employee or to impose all new quality procedures if the quality issues are coming from one part of the plant.
Shoot where the clay is going not where it is. Related to the previous point, we have to have focus on addressing the future. A company shouldn’t just be hiring for current needs, they need to be hiring for future needs. I bet Kodak wishes they had hired more digital experts than chemical engineers as the future of digital became clear.
People make the place. The guy who runs the shotgun area of the shooting range is very patient with beginners, makes everyone feel welcome, and keeps the place running like a top. If he was not so nice and helpful, it may have negatively colored my first impression of the sport. How well is your team doing at getting people started? Sink or swim is an awfully expensive mindset.
If you don’t know what you don’t know, get help from someone who does know. I had no clue about how to get started and my buddy Ben (a very experienced shooter) was a great help. Getting started actually turned out to be quite simple, but when things are ambiguous people slow down. Reducing ambiguity is one of the fastest ways to speed results. Never be shy about getting help whether from internal resources or external resources.
So stay fresh. There are lessons (new and remembered) nearly everywhere we look.