Business Lessons From The Lazy River

by Linda Feinholz · 0 comments

© 2008 Linda Feinholz

If you’re like most of my clients, you’ve been working to smooth out the kinks in your business. You’ve put your time into systems for streamlining activities and installed processes that make the work flow efficient.

While I was on vacation, I was bobbing along on an inner tube on the resort’s ‘lazy river’. The sun, the flow of the water, the conversation of people around me all had me unwinding and relaxing. And for a kicker, I got to enjoy the periodic 4-foot waves that tore around the curves of the river when the staff turned on the wave machine.

Just like some of the surprises that crop up in business. Fun, interesting, a brief challenge.

After those waves, I noticed all the different ways people were using that river system. The basic experience was the same for everyone: a 15-minute loop around at a constant speed, inner tubes to rest on. What changed were the variables: how people used the water, the river, the flow, the tubes themselves.

I started thinking about the way our businesses can be humming along so steadily that we forget to notice the changes we could make to enliven our workday daylight hours, and even to create High Payoff results for ourselves.

Here are some options taken from the Lazy River:

Using “The Full View

Are you putting any energy into your business, or just bobbing along?

The basics of riding the river are to plunk your rear down in an inner tube and go with the flow. Just relax, watch the view, use your feet and hands to push off the side walls and change which way you’re facing. No other attention or effort is required.

Have you noticed where you’re facing in your business? Is your attention forward towards your Vision and Goals, or backwards along the path you’ve already traveled? Or spinning back and forth as the currents happen to take you?

Shifting Onto Your Stomach

An alternative is to lie across the tube on your stomach. It’s not as comfortable as it limits your vision and that means you’ll be making apologies to people you’ve accidentally kicked. No one really minds, and it’s actually a great way to meet others. But there’s a limit to how much control you have on the trip and you actually have to stay vigilant in order to prevent your elbow and toe skin being scraped off on the walls.

Are you limiting your own view of what is going on in your business? Are constant ‘bumps’ occurring between people that need apologies? What about with your customers? Are band-aids being used to cover the breakdowns in communication or to fix the errors made due to that limited view of how things are going?

Use Teaming Up

You don’t have to do it all yourself, even in the flow. You’ll spot as many as 5 people in a circle with their feet hooked together drifting along, each person nudging the wall to direct the group as a unit. Other folks will hook together in a chain with one leading the way and choosing which side of the mid-stream islands to use.

Just as that vacationing group is creating rapid teams and adjusting to the flow and obstacles in the river, so you need to review if your business teams are using the best configuration. Are people on the watch for opportunities and obstacles in their path? Are decisions being made as rapidly and effectively as they could be? How might your teams improve your business flow?

Loose the Tube

Not everyone in that river is on a tube! Some are walking along towing the tube. Others are chasing it or even walking and diving with no tube in sight. At least half of the children are having a blast chasing each other, enjoying the speed of their swim in the current, or even just practicing floating along.

When was the last time you stood back and took a fresh look at your business, its processes and activities and asked yourself “Is this the only way to get this accomplished?” You may find yourself towing old tubes you don’t actually need  any longer, or a new way to use your time, intelligence and energy that will open new business opportunities and growth.

Walk Against the Flow

Just because everyone else is using the tube and traveling where the current leads them doesn’t mean you have to! Not only are kids hopping off the tube and adventuring in the waters, you’ll spot me and others deliberately walking against the flow. We’re using the constant predictable dynamics of the river to create a different result: sweat free aerobic and resistance work outs by walking against the flow.

Take a Lazy River Lesson. Shift your view from the day-to-day play in your business and market to ask “What might we create if we turn our business, our products, our services on their heads?”

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