Saturday, October 27, 2012

Distinguish Activity from Accomplishment

When I was in graduate school at Stanford, I suffered from SDS. The campus was riddled with the malady, so I figure I contracted it from other students.
     SDS is Stanford Duck Syndrome, described in a New Yorker essay as, “a well-known phenomenon” in which, “students seem cheerful, but all the while they are furiously paddling their legs to stay afloat.”
     Every fine university has its version of SDS. So does every successful retail store.
     The closest to a cure for SDS is to distinguish activity from accomplishment. The two are related, but they are not the same. Furious paddling might energize you and, through serendipity, bring success. However, you’re most likely to be propelled toward profitability when you’ve decided where you want to go and aim there. Moreover, excessive activity fatigues you.
     You’ll want key performance indicators to measure your progress along the way. Increased store footsteps can increase store revenues, so measure store footsteps. But don’t confuse store footsteps with store revenues. It’s helpful to stay busy in order to keep shelves fully faced, but not when that impedes you fully facing the shopper who’s just walked up with a question. A break from the activity allows for the important accomplishment.
     Sometimes you’ll bind yourself to your task. In The Odyssey, Ulysses avoids the temptation of the Sirens by having his crew bind him to the mast so that he won’t deviate from his intended route when he hears the Sirens’ calls. Beyond that, Ulysses orders his seamen to stuff their ears with wax, which they are to keep there until the craft had passed the Sirens’ island.
     Ensuring that our crew helps us stick to the plan is a good idea. Still, there’s a danger in preventing all our people and ourselves from sensing distractions which should legitimately lead to us deviating from our previous intentions. The life of a retailer is filled with the unpredictable.
     Successful retailers are optimistic and action-oriented. They realize that in the fast-changing reality of retailing, those who are inactive will surely be left behind. Yet you’ll want to tell activity toward accomplishment from activity out of panic. Are you in this for the long term? Then protect your business. If you ever feel yourself taking action out of panic, start singing Simon & Garfunkel's “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” It starts off, “Slow down, you move too fast.”

Click below for more: 
Bind Yourself to Your Plan 
Avoid Panic When Cash Flow Drops 
Focus for the Holidays

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