Facing uncertainty can be challenging – being a business owner facing uncertainty is tougher.
Red Direction helps you [fast track and] grow your business – authentically, pragmatically, and resiliently.
Starting the conversation:
How do you achieve more with less? You will hear about the power of the pause, frameworks to think about success, and how we all have complex challenges.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guests: Crista Grasso, Jonathon Hensley, Erik Host-Steen
What You Will Hear:
There are three things you can use to achieve more with less and reach your goals: the power of the pause, frameworks to think about success, and how we all have complex challenges. Jess Dewell brings you real examples about stepping back and surveying the landscape and bringing what you find into your daily journey. She discusses how to hone what you’ve learned and apply it to an achievable future with Erik Host-Steen, Business Consultant; Crista Grasso, Creator Lean Out Method; and Jonathon Hensley, CEO of Emerge Interactive.
It is important now to hone what you’ve learned.
Know what you are reevaluating and invest the time to get to the core of a solid business strategy.
In the day to day (see the trees) versus survey the landscape (see the forest).
Build in time for the deep work that comes from the complexity of challenges you face.
Power of the pause prevents a full stop or large pivot.
Be clear about what the mission is and how your goals align to it.
Do less and create space for creativity by letting go of what hasn’t worked … well enough.
The difference between a target client and how the client will interact with your business when they need it.
Two stories of applying external learning to internal development.
Elements for the framework to think about success.
It is bold to let go of what doesn’t work and make space for new opportunities and achieve more with less.
Notable and Quotable:
Crista Crasso: If everything is in alignment you actually have a lot of space and flexibility in how you achieve the outcome.
Erik Hensley: Einstein says that if he’s given an hour to solve a problem, he’s going to take the first 59 minutes to define it..
Jonathon Hensley: That fear of missing out. What am I leaving off the table? That fear holds them back from the success that they want.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast, we want to thank our listener supporters who keep this podcast ad-free, Find out more at RedDirection.com forward slash listener supported, your business has many directions that can travel, the one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea, this idea is for you to apply to the opportunities and challenges you face. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. This podcast will provoke ideas and will give you insights to
Jess Dewell: The overarching question that we will explore during this program with Crista with Jonathan and with Eric, is about how we achieve more with less, not only because we want to do less and get more results. But sometimes we’re forced into a situation where we have less and really that could be a perception because we have different. If 2020 is any indication of how we can adapt rapidly, of how we can do more with less. it’s really about to hone what we’ve learned. It’s really about to keep what’s been working and new ways of doing things that we never thought we’d be doing. just because necessity presented itself. And recognizing with whatever response that we have emotionally and mentally to let go of what’s not been working or working too slow or now is obviously out to be able to make space with what’s coming next and to remain curious about it and open to what the possibility has. That’s why we’re closing out season three with this concept, achieve more, with less with different. In this program, you’re going to hear three things. The first is the power of a pause. The second a framework of how to think about success. And the third are the challenges that we have can be complex and take time to wrestle with. Crista Grasso is a lean business consultant who helps growing businesses achieve more by doing less through combination of strategic planning, as well as lean business practices. She is an expert in eliminating noise and distraction and recognizing what competing priorities exist. And to help you think strategically about how to drive maximum value, right now. She’s going to start us off today by sharing this.
Crista Grasso: It’s so important and that investment that you make in the strategic planning gives you time and freedom back in your business. It’s worth it, it feels in the moment like you can’t possibly take the time for it. But if you can just commit that time forgive yourself a month, then give yourself 90 days, and you’ll find you get so much back from it. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Jess Dewell: Okay, so if that’s not the setup that you wanted to say, Oh, well, I’m going to hear about three things that can help me now about three things that will help me reflect. Let’s just add to that, an opening comment from Jonathan Hensley. He is the CEO of Emerge Interactive, a digital product agency where he works with clients to transform business strategies using new technologies into valuable products and services.
Jonathon Hensley: Every organization is now trying to reevaluate what they have to work with. And what are the best ways to utilize those limited resources, and time and energy to really move the needle and not just survive, but hopefully thrive as we come out of this pandemic. And we think about the change in the business landscape that some of them short term, and some of them will be lasting for decades to come.
Jess Dewell: Why not now becomes the question. Thinking about achievement, thinking about what we’re working with, rising to the challenges, the easy challenges and the complex ones also. And that leads us to the final piece of our introduction from Eric Host-Steen. He is a business consultant that fixes problems associated with what he calls the round canoe syndrome. Imagine a canoe with one or he looks at business holistically identifying root causes, which sometimes they’re hard to find because we have to dig and dig and dig, and then talk about the gap between the current state and the ideal future state, not only bringing practical tactics, also helping with execution.
Erik Host-Steen: Every situation is different. Many times read in the Harvard Business Review, there’s an article that I like that talks about how few senior executives are able to articulate the vision and mission of their organization in a way that anyone else understands. If they can’t do that, how in the world is anyone else supposed to know where to start rowing the boat? Many times these visionary leaders things are just obvious to them. And then they don’t understand that telepathy is not a communication mode.
Jess Dewell: Well, that’s a straightforward way of saying it. And it’s true. So what have we heard? First, we have heard, we need to know and have at the core of everything, our vision, mission and values. We’re constantly re-evaluating. And 2020 has proven to be an exceptional year for that, as well as making a commitment to show up to what’s needed.
Jonathon Hensley: People have huge dreams and aspirations. And they confuse goals and aspirations and dreams and grit and their tenacity to charge and work really hard. They confuse that with strategy. And none of those things are strategy. And they confuse that with that will overcome the problem that they’re trying to solve. Only thing that you can do to overcome a problem is to understand the problem. You have to do the really hard work and peel back the layers of that problem. Only then can you come up with an approach that will overcome those obstacles.
Erik Host-Steen: We live in a constrained environment where we have to make choices.
Jess Dewell: Sticking with a problem requires putting a pause on the things that are really butting up against and actually forcing us to make decisions too quickly. When we make a decision without understanding the problem that we’re trying to solve or not understanding the problem enough to know that if we’re making the right decision will cause setbacks will cause the need to start over will cause going off in a different direction that can be expensive to fix will take you away from your primary purpose delivering on the mission to your customers and your stakeholders. Well, it’s hard because we feel this external pressure to keep going to keep moving to keep making progress. that hard work, as Jonathan shared. And as Eric said, understanding that we’re always working with constraints is a dance. The power of the pause is in the future, you get to work faster, the power of the pause is that you can with certainty understand what the next step is, without having to know the whole outcome. The best next step will move you forward to where you want to go. And here’s the thing to Jonathan’s point, it’s hard. And Crista explains why.
Crista Grasso: When you’re in the middle of it, the idea of stepping above it into take that thousand-foot view to say what’s actually important is so difficult to do, because you’re so trying to fix it. But the reality is you need to do the exact thing that is tough to do. And it is you do need the outside-in perspective. You can either get support on that, or you yourself need to read up above it and make that real decision around what is actually important right now? What am I trying to achieve? Forget all the things I’m trying to do, what am I trying to actually achieve? What’s the outcome that I’m going after? And what are the most important of all of the things that are going on right now? What are the most important things that are going to make a difference in getting to that outcome? And that’s where you need to start. Obviously, if you’ve got true fires burning, there’s something really critical, you have to just address those and get that off the plate so that you can take those more strategic actions. But most often when you can elevate above the needs in say what’s important, you’ll find that those things that feel like fires, aren’t actually the fires that you think they are.
Jess Dewell: Power of the pause. Crista shared a bunch of questions to start, feel free to tackle them all be okay and give yourself permission to choose one, to choose one question and really sit with that, reflect on it, understand the resources that are available, understand the constraints that are in place, understand the choices that are to be made. Those are the things that move us out of busy and into productive.
Crista Grass: That’s the key was strategic planning. A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to be really productive, but they’re being productive on the wrong things. You need the strategic piece of it to say, Where am I going? Like what is my actual vision? Where am I trying to get to long-term and what is important right now from a short-term perspective that’s in support of that vision? And once you have that clarity, you can be really dynamic and fluid in your day to day, as long as you know that the things that you are doing tie directly back to that short term goal that you have, that ties directly back to that longer-term vision that you have. If everything is in alignment, you actually have a lot of space and flexibility in how you achieve the outcome. The key is a lot of people either get really prescriptive in what they do or are very loose in what they do. But in both scenarios, they’re not aligned with the actual direction that they want to take their business and so they spend a lot of time working really hard and being really busy, but not actually seeing results.
Jess Dewell: Okay, this is part of how to think about success, that framework that was mentioned at the beginning, one of the key pieces is to have a clear and easy to communicate vision. Why do we do what we do? What makes us choose this over that. And of course, the human element is also key to that.
Erik Host-Steen: Certainly, as I’ve developed over the course of being human, I’ve recognized I’ve come to start to think about the types of thinking versus bad thinking, which is the negative scripts that come in and just wreak havoc versus beating things to death that are outside of my control, in some ways, being more deliberate. Since I’ve left the corporate america and been on my own, the clarity of the thoughts that I have are much better, because I’m not constrained by the Monday through Friday grind sort of thing. And when I work with my clients, it’s really difficult to bill by the hour, for example, because typically the line is if my clients knew what they needed to do, then they wouldn’t need me.
Jess Dewell: Okay, this is part of how to think about success, that framework that was mentioned at the beginning, one of the key pieces is to have a clear and easy to communicate vision. Why do we do what we do? What makes us choose this over that. And of course, the human element is also key to that.
Jonathon Hensley: Everybody’s had a moment to pause, we certainly did. We want to embrace your own humility. It’s been an organization that’s been around a little over 22 years, I’ve built the company to be a resilient organization. Change and adaptability is at the core of what we do. We come in and help clients adapt and change their businesses. But to really evolve under these circumstances, instead, a million times is just unprecedented. So we really looked first inside, and to say, okay, through this, do our core values, as a company do our mission, will everything still work. And once we did that, and we did the hard work internally, we were able to start re-engaging very quickly with customers and prospective customers and just working to understand and approach them with as much empathy and capacity as possible. So we could start to navigate this new world together. And through that, we’ve been able to be very successful.
Jess Dewell: We’re hearing this concept of hard work, internal work over and over again. It’s true, it’s hard work. It doesn’t have to be debilitating or create setbacks. It does have to have a seat at the table, however, so this pause, this reflection, this checking in and what are the things that we need to know right now, are what’s important to our day to day decisions, to maximize our impact and to drive results, whatever those results are for us right now, as well as into the future? And what defines that our mission?
Erik Host-Steen: For me, it really boils down to being crystal clear or reflecting and doing that sort of introspection work and coming up with what are my priorities? What do I want to achieve? What is my hierarchy of what do I want done versus not done? What do I want to achieve versus not achieve? What do I want on my tombstone versus not one on my tombstone? And sort of be, you know, classic Stephen Covey type stuff beginning with the end in mind. And that’s not easy work either, right? We get lots of messages that say bigger houses, bigger cars are what’s most important. We all put up our face that everything’s great. Usually what’s going on on the inside doesn’t reflect that. Judge people’s outsides by our insides. And we get a very, very distorted view of what’s going on.
Jess Dewell: And when it is unaddressed when we don’t take time to think about it when we don’t understand the ways that it influences was showing up in our work that can be detrimental. That can take a pause and make a full stop. There’s a big difference. A full stop is something we want to avoid. A pause makes space so that all of our priorities and constraints that sometimes feel like they’re competing against each other can be evaluated and the next best step found, which is part of the framework of how you think of success. You have to decide you want it that decision to just go forward will shape the answers to all of the questions in a pause. Now, whether you’re looking at Forbes whether you’re looking at Harvard Business In this review, whether you’re looking at McKinsey articles and reports, even Gartner articles and reports, there’s something that you can find going back one year, going back five years going back 15 years about this concept of pausing, about clarity around mission in the communication of it, about success. And so we have gathered some of those together for you. And they’ll be on the program notes, notes page, and then ends. It’s the things that show up over time, that are truths. And in addition to the truths that we can find from other companies like ours and different from ours. What we can also do is find leaders like us, and that are different from us, so that we can figure out what we can learn to expand our competency, to adapt and change with empathy and purpose. In addition to all of the things that you can find online, our guests share some of those truths with us.
Erik Host-Steen: Einstein says that if he’s given an hour to solve a problem, he’s going to take the first 59 minutes to define it.
ANNOUNCER: You were listening to the ad-free listener-supported Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. Right now, Jess is going to tell you about why we are ad-free and listener-supported.
Jess Dewell: I’d like to take a few minutes and tell you why we do not run ads on the Bold Business Podcast. We’ve chosen to rely solely on you, our listeners, for support. If you’re listening to this, you probably already know what I care about most. I care about the space between you and me, and you and your colleagues. And I care about the work that you do together and the impact that it makes for your business and for your community. The work I do comes from a deep curiosity about what makes businesses work, what makes high functioning teams and what elements truly shapes success. I’ve seen firsthand how information can help people make better decisions and change their results. Curating and presenting this information though is not easy. The vast amounts of information out there, and the overwhelming amount of stuff that demands our attention and time, makes finding useful information, firsthand experience that is actually inspiring, that can help you with the big problems that you’re grappling with, it’s really hard. We do the due diligence for you. I am fortunate to have a great team to help me research and to share this information. And one example is the preparation that it’s done for each program. We choose a question to explore, we look for people with the relevant information and experience. We do research for what the current trends are. And then we put it all together into a well-produced program. And then we repeat, and then we repeat. The production of the show notes and supporting information is also comprehensive. This shows in the positive response that we’ve received. People like to see are notable and quotables. They like to see the links that we have to the transcripts, and they like to have links and research to resources and we bet I bet you do too.
ANNOUNCER: So far we’ve talked about how we put into the production of the Bold Business Podcast. And why Jess feels it is so important to be ad-free and listener supported. And now let’s return to the Bold Business Podcast for the rest of the show."
Jonathon Hensley: The idea of just barreling forward and starting to react without really starting to understand what was happening. And even though things were changing, it felt minute by minute, day by day, month to month, things were solidifying. There were new truths we could hold on to as absolutes, the wait certain industries, were transforming overnight, with the way the economy was going, the way communities were responding to what was happening. Those were things we could take stock in and instead of reacting and go, what’s this mean to me? We took a step back and said, Does our mission still align with the changes and what is the impact for them? We came to it from a place of empathy. That’s something that we’ve learned not only from our clients, but it’s something we bring to our clients is that perspective and that empathy. Even with our own challenges, and we had plenty of them, like any industry, in any business, we approach the problem with that empathy and tried to remove our bias, and our personal fears and uncertainties and doubts and shift into let’s make sure we understand the problem as it relates to our business as deeply as possible. So we can think about the right solutions with the limited resources we had.
Jess Dewell: It makes me want to talk about pause more. I’m not going to do that though, because I think you see it too. What I do want to say is that our challenges matter, small or large, there is a complexity to them, and being able to work outside of the problem as well as inside of the problem or whatever that challenges I’m using. The word problem, it could be challenged problem issue, you name it. Being able to come back in the business and be in the nitty-gritty of the day to day being able to step out and survey, what we see around not only what we’ve learned, but what our clients have learned what our stakeholders are learning.
Erik Host-Steen: I’m a left-brained engineering-minded guy. Literally doing more with less is not possible. With one exception. The only way to do more with less is through efficiency, maximum productivity, with minimum effort, and minimum waste. That’s the way you get more with less. But we can also think about less what? Less time with your family? Less time doing things that are fun? We can get more done with doing less of those things.
Jess Dewell: Mm-hmm. The classic, what can we automate? How do we automate what is too efficient? And when do we lose the power of the people, the creativity, the problem solving, the way that we can listen, and pick up on the tone and the undertone to ask different and better questions is an important key here. What do you want to do more of and what are you willing to get less of is another way to look at achieving more with less.
Crista Grasso: My whole business is really based on leaning out and leaning out is truly achieving more by doing less. You just, you need that clarity and that focus on the right things. The things that are actually going to make a big impact from a value perspective and from a profitability perspective. And then you need to eliminate everything else. Lean is all about eliminating waste. So what is that waste in your business? A lot of times people don’t take the time to really get super clear on what is important. So everything feels important. And when you take the time to get that clarity and get that focus. that’s how you can actually achieve more by doing less, because the things you’re doing are the right things. So you don’t need to do so many things, hoping that something is going to work. You very strategically are investing your time and your resources in the things that you know are going to make a difference.
Jess Dewell: Every idea may be a good idea. Yet, not every good idea is good for the situation at hand. Having a set of priorities, and understanding what that is, is another part of the framework of the way you think about success.
Erik Host-Steen: It reminds me of an activity that we used to do at a place where I used to work where we’d be doing a week long workshop to solve problems. And we’d describe the problem, we would draw on sticky notes, how nature would solve the problem. It was the most bizarre thing, the way that you just leave your earthly thinking and come up with the craziest things, it was bizarre How would just fuel creativity. And there’s no good explanation for that other than at work. Me being the left brain, high D, high C kind of person, these sort of wubi things drive me crazy, because they don’t make sense. But they work.
Jess Dewell: Yes, they work, where we get our creativity from matters.
Jonathon Hensley: One of the things that was really a brilliant insight for Ford was they realized that we actually should be selling our trucks to women. The women are the major influencer and that buyer decision. And we really need to think about that, and the amenities and the features of the vehicle and how they talked about some of those things started to transform. Now, they still have very clearly a category of trucks that are focused on professional services and different categories, and they have all their own personas, I don’t work with them, I have no insight into how they organize those things in particular, but the interesting thing was in this case study is that how they had that insight, and then their truck market exploded. They just had a fantastic run of excess, because they started to understand and remove this bias around how they perceive who was buying their vehicles. And they started to look at that. And they could start to be more inclusive and more understanding and unlock huge opportunity that was literally right there in front of them. And they just had never tapped into it because they didn’t understand it. How many organizations today are sitting at the same precipice. They’re staring at opportunity.
Jess Dewell: The challenge the complex challenge you’re facing, only looking at it from inside. only looking at it from what we know within the organization is short-sighted. Being able to step out, being able to understand collect other data, be creative in the way that thought and thinking happens can change everything. I’m going to say what we already know right here. We don’t have to know everything. We have to be willing to do the work to find the answers.
Crista Grasso: One of the things that you have to let go of is you have to let go of perfection and feeling like you need to know it all in advance. You need to truly learn to have an experimentation mindset. I’d say that that’s probably one of the soft skills that’s hard for people because experimentation-mindset frequently means failure. And failure is a bad word. Don’t necessarily love the word failure. But things aren’t going to go right. They aren’t going to go right all the time. It’s an experiment and it’s a learning. You’re trying something and you’re saying, okay, here’s directionally where I want to go for this particular 90 days. What can I try to get there? This didn’t work. Cool. What can I try next? This didn’t work. What could I try next? This worked great, great. How could I do more of that? You need to release that, hold on, need to know everything, everything has to go exactly right. Or I am a failure. I’m not a good business leader, I’m not a good entrepreneur, whatever that is, and just say, you know, I mean, there’s a million different ways to achieve success in business, there’s a million different ways to achieve your goals. The key is when you really want to lean out and figure out what the most valuable things are, what the most profitable things are, you need to be willing to experiment and try and try to figure out what works and how you could do more of that, and what doesn’t work and how you could get rid of that. It’s not a judgment, it’s not a bad thing. It’s part of the process of being a successful business owner.
Jess Dewell: The truths of achieving more with less from these guests, from these business owners that are sharing their experiences with you, we’ve already touched on all three things. And we’re gonna continue to dig deeper into the power of the pause, a framework for how to think of success. And that challenges regardless how small they seem, have complexity, and they take time. And so let’s start with our perception. Are we willing to accept our perception and show up to our work to our challenges, to what must be done to the goals that have been set with openness, willingness and curiosity.
Erik Host-Steen: The thing that I’m blessed about is that I enjoy what I’m doing. And there’s the old talk about having work-life balance, which sets up this trade-off of what you’re either-or, and Jeff Bezos talks a lot about work-life harmony, which is when your work and your life is intertwined. When I’m working with clients, it’s fun for me. Call me sick, but it’s fun.
Erik Host-Steen: And it’s something I love to do, I teach skiing, and, you know, even though that’s work, it’s just so rewarding to share that experience with other people. And oh, by the way, I’m thinking about how, how teaching someone how to ski is a lot like helping people through change in their business. The parallels there, and you know, like we were talking about earlier, this mind doesn’t, sort of slows down, but it never really goes off.
Jess Dewell: True for Eric, true for me, true for you. Pause, pause, pause comes into play right here. To be able to get the results we have decided to go after.
Crista Grasso: In addition to my consulting and coaching company, I have a jewelry business. I’ve had this business for about eight years now. And I started off with more of a little handmade. Sell on Etsy type business, a lot of people started with it was more of a hobby, I later decided to turn it into a business, I realized I was my own bottleneck, it was dependent on my time. So therefore I built a team. I took and I transformed what had been this little hobby business into a really big global accessories brand. And I scaled it really quickly. And honestly, too quickly. I scaled it too quick, I invested too much money, I took on too many things. I did all the things that you shouldn’t do that I now help people not to do. And I almost put myself out of business.
Jess Dewell: Complex challenges show up for all of us.
Crista Grasso: At the same time that this was happening, the whole market around accessories and trade shows and everything changed pretty dramatically, by yourself going to trade shows in person, people stopped going to showrooms, the way that you sold accessories changed. I was being told repeatedly, you need to lower your prices, you need to take production to China, there were just all of these things that I was getting pressured to do by retails and retailers and my sales reps. And that just didn’t align with my core values. And what I wanted for my business.
Jess Dewell: Knowing the vision, and being able to set priorities accordingly, is what she’s talking about right here.
Crista Grasso: I took a lot of pride in the quality of the pieces and the fact that everything in my whole team was based in the US. And I was hoping keeping the US manufacturing alive. And I didn’t want to make that change. And that was how I ended up developing the lean out method and applying it more broadly to what I do today. Because at the same time that I was doing that I had been consulting with fortune 10, fortune 50, fortune 500 companies and helping them implement lean practices. I realized why am I not doing this in my own business. And why are none of my other peers applying this to their own businesses?
Jess Dewell: Being on the outside helps us get a better look at what’s happening on the inside.
Crista Grasso: And from an impact perspective. I did lower my prices, I did improve my quality. And I did keep all production and my entire team in the US. I had a ton of success with that business that has evolved quite a bit over the years, the business today looks a little different than it did back then. But that was not only the birth of the lea n out method of taking what I had done with these big companies and applying it to a smaller business. It was just being able to achieve that goal that I wanted with my business of being able to scale, stay in business, keep the quality and keep the product in the US."
Jess Dewell: Crista Grasso experience and the story she just shared, hits everything, I need to pause and take stock as stuff around us changes so that we can pause only and not come to a full stop. How she thought about success. And the pieces that she used to know she had a clear vision that she decided what was important and that she made a commitment to it and then took action on it. Now here’s another example from Jonathan.
Jonathon Hensley: One of the tools that we love to use with clients is a practice called empathy mappings. It’s a process where you bring people in your organization together and you really look at, for example, a customer. And you go this customer, what are they thinking, feeling? What is influencing them? What’s their ultimate goal? What are they trying to achieve? Get everybody in the room to start to contribute. Everybody is now helping educate the other stakeholders in the room. And at the same time, you’re pulling and gathering institutional knowledge of all this experience and all this incredible insight. sight that these individuals have, and you’re putting it to paper. And for many organizations, it’s the first time they’ve ever done that. And when you do that, you can start to look at a new picture of that customer. And you can say, is that thing that we’re thinking? Is that true? Do they really feel that way at that point? Well, if they do, and maybe they’re concerned, or they have fear, we do a lot of work in health care is one area. So there’s a good example.
Jess Dewell: The headspace that our clients are in at the moment that we interact with them is incredibly important. Yet most of the time we think about well, what are the services? And what are the benefits to them? We forget to think about that piece, what is their state of mind at that moment? That is one of the challenges that has complexity that we face in our own businesses.
Jonathon Hensley: People don’t go to the hospital for most use cases when they’re happy. It’s a bad day when you need to go to the hospital. To assume that people aren’t their best selves, as a patient or as a consumer of healthcare, and coming in the door is a bias, it makes total sense when you talk about it out loud. But it’s amazing how many things are built around the concept of an ideal customer, the perfect customer. The reality is, they’re your perfect target. But that doesn’t mean their day is perfect when they’re engaging with you, or they fit all those parameters when they’re motivated to make that decision to engage you. So empathy mapping is a way to suss that out to start to break apart some of those biases to start to look that in a group setting, and then it prompts you to go and start conversations with customers in really powerful ways.
Jess Dewell: Everything Jonathan is talking about takes time. That’s different than the pause that we were talking about. This is the time it takes to understand break down and really evaluate the challenges that we have in front of us right now, the challenges that we must show up to interact with and overcome to achieve the success that we have committed to. Now here’s the thing, Jonathan, took these experiences with his customers, and applied them inwardly, to Emerge Interactive.
Jonathon Hensley: We also use the same exercise when we’re trying to improve employee experiences. And we’re trying to really improve operations and really understand what are the different teams in our organization, feeling thinking and doing when they’re trying to deliver on the promises that company is making? That’s one example of how we do that. Once we start to understand this, we start to be able to build a stronger common language inside of an organization. And I think this is something that also isn’t really that well understood. But it is incredibly powerful. When we research and we work with high performing organizations, you see this really come through. This was a really big insight that came from the book I’ve been working on for the last two years. Really great leadership teams understand that they have a responsibility to build a common language and not just a common language than the organization, but a common understanding of that language. As an example, here, we’re talking about empathy. instinctually, probably everybody listening understands what empathy means, but have they ever dived in to really make sure they understand the true meaning of that. And when you have that understanding, that shared understanding, you can do a lot more with less. You accelerate the delivery of initiatives, you reduce excess of communication, you get rid of needless meetings, you eliminate potential massive rework situations that come up. You not only focused on the same things, but you understand it in the same way. So you’re each able to come to the table and provide your experience and your skills that are necessary to make that thing happen. That’s something that we really find that high-performance leaders, they understand that whether it’s something that they’re consciously doing, or it’s an unconscious part of their soft skill set, and they are doing that to really make sure that the organization is moving in the most effective and clear direction.
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ANNOUNCER: And now, let’s return to the Bold Business Podcast for the rest of the show.
Jess Dewell: In essence, pause, understanding and taking the time for complex challenges, making sure to just remember which part of the framework of how you think about success can create the most impact right now is slowing down. When we slow down, we speed up. You heard in both Crista and Jonathan’s example of how they took outside information that they had learned working with others turned it inward to their own businesses to evolve and scale. They did it because they slowed down. So a pause gives us a break to check and see what’s going on before we take the next action. Slowing down is actually the cadence with which work occurs in the early stages of the process. I used to call this thinking time. Present Retreats today are part of that. Yet more importantly, when we front-load the work, the thinking, the creativity, the assessment to understand the next best decision, the better off we are to make quick decisions to stay in alignment to reach that end goal as planned. Or as close to planned as possible. And that inner work of a company that hard work of vision, mission, values and the way things show up, and do we understand and do we have a true understanding of empathy around it comes down to also including emotion and personal perception from personal experience.
Erik Host-Steen: Hundred percent of my clients, we end up talking about personal feelings or how people are motivated. Unfortunately, just not everything can be reduced down to an equation. Sometimes we have to make decisions on how people feel about something. As long as we’re being transparent about that. As long as everyone on the team agrees, I don’t care if there’s data. What will happen is if we start marching down this path, that there’s consensus around feelings, one of two things is going to happen. It’s right and everything’s gonna be fine. Or it’s wrong, and you’re gonna have real data quickly that says you got to change path.
Jess Dewell: Empathy is a part of the framework to how you think about success because success is layered, just like leadership is. And part of those layers of the framework of how to think about success is making a commitment to it.
Jonathon Hensley: That was a lesson we learned early on. We were very fortunate for that it’s allowed us to pivot because the problem has changed for our clients. What we used to solve 20 years ago as a consulting firm coming in helping people build digital products and services whether web mobile, ICT, you know, Internet of Things, large platforms, whatever, both customer and internal. All of that it followed the same idea is what do customers need? What challenges are they really faced with? And how can we help them solve them? A lot of the challenges we used to solve 20 years ago have been solved. And they’ve been solved in really beautiful ways. And there’s great businesses and existing services that really just make that kind of effortless for organizations today. And we’ve seen probably five or six iterations and how that problem has shifted. Critical business thinking, understanding empathy, and how to design and the importance of alignment, understanding how technology influences and fits within our lives and the way that we work — that has not changed. The tools of how to apply it, where it’s needed in organizations, those things have evolved and continue to evolve, and they’ll continue to evolve. And that is a core of our model and understanding how does it evolve in that continuous learning and education by staying in love with the problem, that is how we maintain our relevance for our clients.
Jess Dewell: That thinking, that empathy, that design work, Jonathan talked about requires time. So why not prioritize time in the day today, and give the time needed to those big, creative endeavors.
Crista Grasso: The reality is the time commitment is as much time as you commit. I know that sounds silly. But what I think so many people do in business, they just have this to-do list that miles, miles long, they just basically work until they’re exhausted knowing that they’re never going to get everything done on their list, and every day feeling defeated, because they wish they could have got more done. The reality is you have to figure out and carve out what is an ideal day looks like for you. Knowing that not every day in your life is going to be perfectly imbalanced, but trying to think more macro scale, what’s important to me outside of my business, and how can I create the space for my business, as well as my family and friends and for fun and relaxation and self-care? And whatever those things are for you. You need to start with a goal for your business. Maybe you want to work 30 hours a week, maybe you love your business like me and 60 hours a week is more like your base like you’re thrilled to work 60 hours a week that sounds great to you. There is no right or wrong, what is is what it is for you. And then from there, I think you need to make those right strategic decisions within the capabilities and capacity that you have. Instead of just thinking I’m just going to keep working because I’ve got all this stuff to do. And you set yourself up for failure from the beginning, because you can never get it all done. You don’t start with the end in mind, you just start with stuff.
Jess Dewell: I’m telling you, it’s easy to d. Stuff takes over, stuff is the squeaky wheel. And whether it’s managing the stuff and changing it, whether it’s getting clear about your vision and mission, whether it’s understanding exactly what you’ve learned in the last year, so you can keep what’s working and get rid of what’s not. So there’s space for more and more space for what’s next. It’s bold, it’s bold, to take on and think about and take action to achieve more with less.
Jonathon Hensley: I’m very cautious about using the word innovation. It’s in many ways become very big buzzword. And I mean in the truest sense of innovation, new ideas, new processes, new ways to embrace providing service to customers providing benefits to employees, but it’s fueled by embracing constraints. Ideas are not enough. What makes that innovation bold is by really embracing the constraints and what solutions are possible with your constraints and which ones you can own the best because of what makes you and your organization unique and special, embracing that strength and focusing. When you want to really achieve more or less, that focus is really, really scary for a lot of people. They have this issue of that fear of missing out what am I leaving off the table? That fear holds them back from the success that they want. And that success in that focus is really where their best selves and the best version of their organization can shine. That’s what makes it bold, that takes an incredible amount of corporate courage to lead in drive without level of focus and capability and to do all of the things that empower your incredible team to fulfill on that vision and that focus. But once they have that you’re able to do so much more with less, and really perpetuate the next century, extenuate the capability and the energy and the capacity and the excitement of your team to make those things a reality. Whatever the focus may be for your company.
Jess Dewell: It’s bold, to achieve more, with less.
Erik Host-Steen: It requires change. Change is hard. Change is great. As long as someone else does it, doing more with less requires changing the way we do things. Something that’s become clear to me since all this COVID stuff broke out is the importance of fear and grabbing on to what we have as really really big drivers in on a macro scale the human condition. Do more with less requires change, which requires letting go. From some of the more recent Winnie the Pooh movie, to get where you’re going, you have to leave where you are.
Jess Dewell: It’s bold, to achieve more with less.
Crista Grasso: The whole reason people get into business typically is some form of freedom. There’s something that drove them to start this business and yet they end up working so much in setting themselves in such a way that they have anything but freedom. They’re actually sacrificing all of the things that are important to them for their business. In to me. It’s incredibly bold to actually live the life that you wanted to live when you started this business, to have the business that you wanted to have when you did it. To have the role in the business that you wanted to have when you envision us and you started it in the first place. And that only comes when you really truly get clear on what’s important. And you’re willing to unapologetically say no to anything that isn’t that. That’s really the only way that it is. But to me, the boldest thing that you can do is to actually create the business that you wanted to create. Stop making excuses, stop being too busy, stop being in the weeds, and actually really create what you want. And that’s what it’s all about and why we all started businesses. Actually commit to it and do it and carve out that space to work on the business in to actually lean out and focus on those things that really matter.
Jess Dewell: More than ever before, it’s time to hone what we’ve learned and use it every day, amp up the way that we show up. We have the experience from the last month from the last six months from the last year. And even though 2020 will soon be behind us, we can take away so many of these things into a future that help us timeless that help us timelessly time and time again, because when we know what’s working, and we can figure it out fast, and we can get the data quickly, we can make adjustments. That means we can take the power of the pause and use it to slow down to be able to speed up, to be able to identify opportunities, pivots, changes that need to happen, so that we’re not taking by surprise, we do it purposefully. Also, the framework of the way that you think of success comes down to your clear and communicated vision, deciding what’s important, committing to those priorities, and then taking that action with purpose. Because the last thing that we the last of the three things that are really prevalent in this program is that all challenges are complex, even if they’re small, even if they’re gigantic. So being able to prioritize time to take the time along with pausing along with the way that we think about success allows us to purposefully think about what’s next and go for it. Until next time.
ANNOUNCER: The Bold Business Podcast is brought to you by Red Direction. Jess Dewell dug into one idea in this program. Her goal is to ignite your creativity and spark different thinking with the presented material. How you apply this to your current priorities is up to you. We want to know what actions you take. Use hashtag #boldbusinesspodcast and add your voice to this important conversation. Jess Dewell can bring the missing voice back into your company. With you, Jess will solidify your company’s True North, your unique Red Direction. Provided you are ready to work with Jess, email her at Radio at Red Direction dot com. Special thanks to the SCOTT Treatment for technical production.