Business leader to business leader… how often do you find you are working in your business instead of on it? Quite often, we get consumed with the day-to-day tasks, immediate business needs, and urgent issues, rather than slowing down to nurture the important matters at hand. Unfortunately, in business and in life, the important is seldom urgent, and the urgent is seldom important. If we’re honest with ourselves, the urgent tasks are the ones that tend to win out and take up our time. The problem with that is if you keep going to the urgent issues, you’ll never get past them. So, for the next few months, I want to equip you with some practical tips that have helped me responsibly move past the urgent, prioritize the important issues, and effectively work on my business instead of just in it.
One way you can effectively trade the urgent for the important is by taking a step back. As a leader, you are consistently in the trenches of the day-to-day operations — but what would you find if you took a step back to view your business from a different perspective? In fact, I want to challenge you to view it from three different perspectives.
At Chick-fil-A, something that helped balance our thinking and served our organization well was a deep appreciation and understanding of three different types of logic. We have talked about the difference between Consumer Logic and Producer Logic before, but I want to introduce to you a third type: Team Member Logic.
Consumer Logic, Producer Logic, and Team-Member Logic Explained
Many of us tend to operate out of producer logic, meaning we look at our business through our eyes of producing the product and leading the team. Our consumer looks at it through their eyes of consuming the product, and of course, our team member looks at it through their eyes of expertly serving our customer. Often, these perspectives don’t align. In fact, many times they create a tension that requires resolution in order to create the optimal result for all three parties. A quick Chick-fil-A example is this: Restaurant Operators are making decisions based on overall revenue, profitability, and operations, customers are making decisions determined by their impression of the Restaurant’s Service, price, and product quality, and team members are making decisions based on what will allow them to effectively and efficiently complete their tasks. You can see where these perspectives might compete and that by looking at all perspectives we can maximize each person’s experience and desired outcome
It may feel more natural to look at just one perspective, but the big payoff comes when we take a step back to look at all three.
Let’s consider this further using the airline industry as an example. Many airlines are struggling with a shortage of employees and impromptu flight cancellations, and I’m sure a vast amount of their time is spent trying to figure out how to recoup costs and help their bottom line. This is not a bad thing! But airline leaders are using producer logic when they do this. I wonder, how many airline executives ever have to sit and wait on their own plane? Or ever have to sit on the tarmac and experience the life of their customer? Or what about their front-line team members dealing with all the frustrated customers and taking longer shifts? Are the industry leaders experiencing a day walking in the shoes of their customers and team members? I believe that if they intentionally found ways to experience the business through the eyes of the customer and their employees, they might come to very different conclusions about how to operate and find success.
Far too often, we make decisions based on what is easier or more profitable for us, but those decisions can, in turn, make it harder on the customer. Additionally, way too often, the people closest to the work are usually the ones furthest from the decision-makers. At Chick-fil-A, we used to say that the people closest to the work are the world’s greatest experts on the work. What would it look like to view your company through the eyes of a consumer or your frontline workers?
Early on in my career, I experienced a successful example of how to lean into this logic, along with consumer logic, when I had breakfast with the co-founders of Home Depot, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. They were still starting up and growing Home Depot at the time and said, “We like to spend 80% of our time in the stores rather than our office.” I was dumbfounded. These guys were operating a billion-dollar company and found a way to spend 80% of their time in their stores?! I couldn’t believe it. But they explained that spending more time in their stores made all the decisions simple and easy when they returned to the office. Before, they were getting reams of paperwork, reading research, and looking at data that at least ten people had filtered before it got to them, and then would spend hours going through the data and trying to make decisions from it. But when they would simply talk to customers and team members in the store, the decisions became clear and easy. Bernie and Arthur understood that exploring different perspectives and balancing these three different types of logic were important, and would ultimately simplify their day-to-day urgent decisions.
How To Balance Different Types of Logic
So, how can we prioritize examining these different types of logic? Unfortunately, the most important time for us to pursue these perspectives may be when it’s least convenient. But don’t let that stop you. At Chick-fil-A, we knew that in order to get the true consumer and team member experience, we had to go when the majority of our customers were there. So, we would prioritize going through the drive-thru during lunch rush vs. off hours to get the most accurate representation. Although it was the least desirable time for us, it was the most important time from the consumer and team member standpoint.
I encourage you to view the pursuit of balancing these perspectives as an important issue despite your urgent day-to-day tasks. It’s tempting to wait until life slows down to look at things, but the highest quality of understanding your customer’s and team member’s experience likely comes at the least desirable time for you. Don’t trade quality for convenience.
It’s imperative to remember that we need a counterbalance to our natural producer mindset, and to try to see things how your customer or team member sees them. That doesn’t mean your producer logic is inherently wrong, but that it is incomplete without taking the other valuable perspectives into account. This type of thinking helps create a healthy tension and balance to ensure value for the customer, motivation for the team member, and remarkable business results.
What do you need to add to your meetings, your dialogues, or even your digital spaces to serve as that reminder to take a step back and work on your business?
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Together, we can Spark a Revolution of brands more defined by meaning than money, brands that achieve success in a manner that redefines it.
Founder, Spark A Revolution