For most who travel through Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport, we see a sign as we exit airport security identifying “The Recombobulation Area.” We probably take that sign for granted – perhaps we shouldn’t.
First a little history. Recombobulation is somewhat of a made-up word, wryly invented by Barry Bateman, Mitchell International’s now-retired airport manager. According to OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee is the only airport in the world with a Recombobulation Area sign. Cool. But what does this have to do with business or anything else for that matter?
Well, whenever I see this quirky, homespun sign, it reminds me it’s time to get my s*%t together. You too. And this the perfect time to do it! The economy is better now than it has been in the last ten years. Wisconsin unemployment is down to less than 3.5%. Interest rates are still low. C’mon now! Let’s ALL Recombobulate!
And here’s a handy checklist:
- Take care of your team. (First, make sure you have a team.) Patrick Lencioni, a marquee business book author and consultant, was in town this week for TEC’s (now known as Vistage) 60th Anniversary Celebration. Pat packed his presentation with both substance and inspiration for the 600+ attendees. He concluded with a quick review of his latest book, The Ideal Team Player. Most CEOs will recite: “Our most important assets are our people.” But unfortunately, that CEO promise is too often not the reality. Given the low unemployment rate, plus the growing economy, we’d better take care of our “A” and “B+” players with challenging work, excellent professional development, and appropriate compensation. Move those “B-” and below players on to another career — someplace else, that is.
- Know your strategy. I have a practice called “Corporate Anthropology.” I administer and then interpret OAD personality assessments and I also conduct one-to-one interviews with an organization’s entire executive team. The first question I always ask is: “What’s the strategy of your organization?” Amazingly, less than 35% of leadership team members I’ve interviewed over the past ten years give the same answer as their CEO. 35%! And it’s not uncommon for the CEO to say, “We don’t have a strategy.” Let’s go folks. It’s Strategy Recombobulation time!
- Get an advisory board (and a peer group). Things are moving faster than ever before. None of us can stay on top of anything or at least everything. The best we can do is get an outside perspective from a variety of people. Obviously, as a Vistage Chair, I believe every business owner/operator ought to be in a Vistage group. But in addition, most CEOs should have a true outsider advisory board. Boards and Vistage groups have two very different purposes (a topic for another column), but both can provide critical insight into employees, markets, the economy, and the future.
- Take care of yourself! Given the improvements in the business climate, yet a lingering fear of a 2008 rerun, I observe too many CEOs today doing double or triple duty. As a result, their waistlines are expanding, lack of sleep is common, and their overall health is at significant risk. You won’t do your family, company, or your team any good if you end up being viewed (think horizontal—eyes shut) and not seen (think vertical—eyes wide open).
In any airport Recombobulation Area – whether so named or not, you’ll usually see a table or two, and someplace to sit. Particularly when your carry-ons have had the dubious honor of being selected for search, you’re forced to take a little extra time to look around you and ensure you have everything you need for your trip. How many people rush through their recombobulation – even if they aren’t running late for their flights? How many people leave important stuff – cell phones, wallets, laptops, even briefcases behind in their haste to move on? Then they look back and wonder: “How could I have done that?”
So, take some time to recombobulate your business, your relationships, your life…. then, enjoy the journey!