You gotta put in the work

I’m a devout follower of Seth Godin (@SethsBlog). I encourage you to follow him. A recent post focused on how the best strategy in the Universe is useless without a focus on executing the details of that strategy. That really hit home for me as process person.

There has been a lot of recent attention focused on how to sustain change. Dealing with the human side of process and organizational change is a huge barrier for a lot of organizations. After all, processes don’t change. Peoples’ activities change, and the culmination of those changes align to produce a new, hopefully more productive process. That takes focus, alignment, and grinding out the work.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the sexy part of change. Most of your process ‘rain makers’ focus on the up-front planning, the theory, the estimated return-on-investment to the organization, or technology. I often hear about the folks out there that are actually taking the reins of real change and getting the work done, so I went on a quest to find an example to draw an analogy.

Linny Boyette

Meet Linny Boyette. Here is a picture from his Facebook page.

If you watch the Today show on NBC, you’ve seen the folks behind the window, outside on the street dressed as aliens or sporting a sign about their hometown in an attempt to standout and get on the air. Not Linny. He’s shows up and just stands there. For nearly 18 years! That has led to the Today doing a segment on him, there are Web pages in his honor, and he has tons of Web fans. He did it through grinding it out.

So, my question for you is, “who are the Linny Boyette’s of process and change?” You need to find them and put them to work. They’ll get things done without the flash and glitz. They’ll show up every day and grind it out.

Seth Godin’s Feet on the street

Feet on the street

The complement to the brilliant strategy is the thankless work of lower-leverage detail.

An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one than hits and runs.

  • Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why.
  • Create a newsletter for every journalist who covers your space, and deliver it every three weeks, even when you’re not asking for anything. Just to keep them in the loop.
  • Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged.
  • Sponsor industry events and actually show up.
  • Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one.
  • Build your permission asset by 1% every day. Every day, 1% more people are eager and happy to hear from you.
  • Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach.
  • Connect people in your industry, because you enjoy it.
  • Host community meetings in your store.
  • Put a lemonade stand in front of your business and let the local kids donate the money to whatever charity they like.
  • Hand out free samples every chance you have.
  • Keep in touch with people who used to work with you and continue to help them get great gigs and new business, even years later.
  • Put together an honest buyer’s guide, pointing out in which instances your competitor’s products are a better choice.
  • Run classes for your customers.
  • Run classes for your competitors.
  • Build a recruiting pipeline that is in place more than a year before you need to hire someone.

None of this is sufficient. Your product and your strategy have to be brilliant. But a lot of it is necessary. Hearts and minds…


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Categories: Continuous Improvement, Human Resources, Process Management

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  1. Crash diets don’t work | Successful Workplace - August 21, 2012

    […] This is tough advice and something we don’t want to hear. We love the idea that automaton alone, for example, will bring amazing new business, a fallacy accelerated by the Internet of Things. We’re always looking for that one, easy thing that will change everything. But success comes from steadily putting in the work. […]

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