A funny thing happened in my backyard last week. I was at my desk, reviewing recent conversations to be featured in my book, Slow Down to Speed Up. I was “in the zone” and paying little attention to external distractions. Yet the sound of leaf blowers and lawn mowers just outside my window drew me out of my reverie. I looked out the window and there they were—two unfamiliar men working in my yard, blowing away the remnant Autumn leaves and sailing across the lawn on a seeder.
Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound all that funny. But consider this. I moved into this house just a couple of months ago, in the dead of winter, and I haven’t yet hired anyone to work on the lawn.
That being so, I went out to investigate. When I approached the lawn guys, they were a little confused. So they took out the work order and we quickly solved the mystery. As it turns out, the lawn company had no idea that the former homeowner had moved. So, the owner simply sent his employees to begin annual lawn service without having contacted his customer to confirm service for the year—or to inform him that they’d be coming to the house.
The result? Time and money wasted, and a lost opportunity to continue the relationship with a long-term customer at his new home.
Oversights like this (literally sowing seeds in the wrong yard) can have major implications for companies large and small. Yet the solution costs nothing but a bit of time and attention. As I tell my ever-busy executive clients: Slow down. Pause before you act. Take time to connect with the people who matter—your customers, employees, business partners, investors and other key stakeholders. Make sure you haven’t missed important developments: changes in need, priority, capacity or the external environment. Adjust to changing conditions.
By pausing before you act, you position yourself and your organization to leverage the opportunities in a changing landscape, while avoiding errors and oversights that cost time, capital, credibility and repute.