many small light bulbs equal big oneNote from Art: Every week, I provide a few simple (but not simplistic) ideas for you to Do/Experiment/Explore in support of your professional development. Use them in great professional health and personal gain.


Focus on tackling that big decision you’ve been putting off for too long. Whether it’s the “go” on a new initiative, a critical strategy decision or the resolution of an important personnel choice (hire, fire, promote), it’s essential to tee the decision up and execute on it. The big issues that we delay rent space in our minds and slow down the overall cadence of our decision-making.

Take the time to rethink the issue. Look at it from multiple frames (positive, negative, neutral) and develop approaches that match each respective frame.

Identify your expected outcome from making this decision. Review your assumptions and then seek some outside help. Invite an objective third party to evaluate your framing and assumptions and challenge you on whether you’ve completely thought through the issue.

And take a tip from the late, great management guru, Peter Drucker, and start and maintain a decision-log. Take the time to document the issue, your framing, your assumptions and your expected outcome(s) and establish a date to review the effectiveness of the decision. This simple but powerful tool offers you a great opportunity to both assess and strengthen your decision-making effectiveness over time.


Rethink your approach to establishing team or initiative leadership. Instead of defaulting to the most senior person or the technical expert, challenge your team to select the individual who is best at working with people.

The design firm IDEO is famous for bringing together groups of professionals with diverse backgrounds and forming them into highly creative groups focused on studying and solving the business challenges of a wide variety of clients. A core part of their process is selecting a leader for the initiative that has the attributes the team believes are most essential for success. Often, the selection focuses on, “Who’s best working with people?”


Comparing your firm or function to someone other than your competitors. Too often, we develop tunnel vision around our industry and competitors and end up in a battle of “me-too” that no one wins, especially the customers.

When Southwest Airlines wanted to better understand how to turn planes around in record time, they didn’t study other airlines, they studied Indy Pit Crews.

Restaurant operators from all sectors send their teams in to study at Pal’s Business Excellence Institute…an institution established by this modest sized but wildly successful fast-food firm to share the practices that have helped Pal’s achieve quality and performance levels that are truly remarkable.

Idea Prompters:

  • Study customer service at Nordstrom’s or Zappos.
  • Explore how SRC applies financial literacy and drives remarkable employee engagement and great financial results.
  • Study how the Mayo Clinic is able to remain at the head of the medical field year after year and decade after decade through the application of a few very powerful values.

It’s time for your and your team and your firm to break out of your industry and competitive rut and studying the approaches of other successful organizations is a great starting point.

OK, I’ve done my part. The rest is up to you. Have a great week as you Do/Experiment/Explore! -Art

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An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.