As the weekend wound down, we thought grilling some food would be a nice way to end the day. It was a great afternoon – the sun was out, hot but not too steamy – so off we went to the store to get provisions. A few hours later, it was time to start the meal and that’s when I checked the radar as I always do when getting ready to fire up the grill. Not good. Although the sun was shining, in the 20 minutes it would take the coals to get hot , the sunshine was going to turn liquid. We moved the cooking indoors.
You need to do the same in business. Even when the skies are clear – revenue is good, expenses are under control, employees, customers and partners seem happy – you need to check the radar and make sure that there’s nothing 20 minutes out that will ruin dinner. It’s not too difficult to make alternate plans and adjust what you’re doing but the more time one has to do so can be a big factor.
Of course, if you’re going to check the radar, you have to know where to find it and how to read it. Financial reports, satisfaction surveys, web analytics, listening in social media and the hallways around the office – these are data that should feed your radar system. Much of the data comes from systems but a fair amount also comes from people – key individuals you can trust and who have finely-tuned ears that listen to what’s going on. Peers, subordinates, key customers – these are all beacons that can help guide your picture of the environment around you and help you to understand what’s coming. If you don’t have such a system in place, make that a big project this week.
What are your radar beacons? Do you have any that you think are really unusual and want to share?