Finding Ways to Serve

The event gathers some 500 people to eat crab, enjoy music and fellowship too. It’s a great event.

On Saturday, the Eighth of February, the Lions club I belong to has it’s 24th Charity Crab Feed, to raise money for our club’s charity work.

It also takes a BUNCH of hours to produce. Some 30-40 people volunteer their time that day/evening to put the event on — and a smaller leader group puts in tens of hours prior planning, making arrangements, etc. for the actual event day.

It all comes down to service: how can we Lions raise money for the charity work that needs support; how can we engage our community to for awareness; what can we do to serve those in need and make it enjoyable along the way.

This Charity Crab Feed does the job. My gratitude and admiration to my fellow Lions who started this project nearly a quarter century ago, ten years before I became a Lion. My gratitude to those who support the event. My gratitude to all our Lions and Friends of Lions who do the work to make it happen.

Anatomy of a Crab Feed follows, images from the prep, from the day, from the clean-up.

LIONS. WE SERVE.

A New Gig within a Gig

Learning is always good. In your personal life, in your professional life, you get better when you’re learning. Sometimes it’s not easy. But it’s always worth it.

Any company that prioritizes cross-training its personnel to support each other’s functions within a work group is doing the right thing.

I’m in that boat now at work, just beginning to learn the business processes of a sister manufacturing team at my company. Some of the activities are the same; some are a bit different. Common business goals pursued, but handling some exception situations are unique to the department.

Bottom Line: Problems need to be addressed in a timely manner and resolved in the most efficient way for the business overall: manufacturing, supply chain, accounting all working together.

This learning takes time, but is well worth it in the long term; everyone is more informed, and can help each other for the common purpose of moving the business forward.

So keep learning, keep striving to be better. That’s my goal. I feel fortunate to have the chance to do so.

GOOD.

It’s everybody’s business…

At the end of the day, it's everybody's business how the company or organization folks work for, work on, work with, is doing.

Often, especially in larger organizations, work is compartmentalized, departmentalized, specialized. That's understandable. That's fine. There's expertise to capitalize on and efficiency to be gained with this structure, this strategy.

But just because you have a specialty, doesn't mean you shouldn't care or even have some say beyond your desk or door. I'd suggest it's healthy for an organization to foster an environ that affords some opportunity to share perspective outside any given area of focus.

In fact, it's a very good idea to think about the bigger picture in your work.

You never know. Some good questions often result from some fresh thinking. And if nothing else, opening up the discussion often creates new energy and excitement that might have otherwise stalled out.

It's everyone's business to make things better.

One Lions Club, 30 Years, Fore!

I belong to a Lions service club, one of some 46,000 clubs around the world. 

This year we are celebrating 100 years of Lions Clubs and the important service work the Lions do.

Today, it’s that time again, this go around, the THIRTIETH Annual Cupertino De Anza Lions Charity Golf Classic. Today we play, and celebrate the fun and fellowship of helping others. 

The Lions motto says it all:

WE SERVE.

And today we play, for fun, for each other, and to raise funds and awareness of the needs of others in our community and around the world. 

Fore!

No Silos Please

grain silo

No Silos, if you please.

That’s not intended as a rip on our Midwest friends in the US farm belt and their grain storage strategy.  Rather, it’s a plea to everyone in every organization to use your feet rather than your hands, stop pointing fingers, and stand up and work TOGETHER to solve problems.  This is the way to be successful.

I’ve spent many years working for organizations of different sizes and with different purposes. I’ve seen it everywhere. People pointing fingers rather than joining hands, too quick with “It’s not my fault!” rather than “I messed up”, or at least “How can I help?”  It doesn’t stop there.  It’s not just shirking responsibility, it’s trying to push the blame to other departments or groups.

In a service business it’s Sales versus Operations.  In a manufacturing business it’s Production versus Sales.  I recall in the accounting world it was Tax versus Audit.   Throw the Finance, Billing and Procurement departments into the mix too, at times.  What do they all have in common when they’re NOT functioning well?

They’re operating and making decisions from “within a silo”, as it were.  What does this mean?

When a person or group is operating in a silo, the traditional meaning in organizational vernacular means something like, “groups/departments/business units not getting all the information they need to make decisions, operating without an understanding or appreciation for the bigger picture, etc.”

To my mind, being in a silo means people are choosing to play it safe rather than play together to make things better.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s book, Extreme Ownership comes to mind.  To be successful in a team of any size, people need to take 100% personal responsibility for the decisions they make, the actions they take, the work they produce.   This maxim is true regardless of where you are in an organization, however big or (seemingly) small your role might be.

When we take ownership we move things forward rather than trying to pass the buck.  In fact, Harry Truman’s famous sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here”, is a spot-on parallel.

Sixty years later, another motto has been conceived borne from today’s times — “take extreme ownership” — but it means the same thing: Own it. Resolve not to make the same mistake twice. And work to make things better.