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The 3 Most Dreaded "Seasonal" Words:
Some Assembly Required.

By Bob Taylor
December 12, 2012

While I’m way past the stage in life where toy assembly requires a reserved block of time on my Christmas Eve calendar, I can still recall the “joy” associated with the exercise.  Good times, indeed. (Candidly, just thinking about those lovely, thoughtful instructions and microscopic parts still sends shudders down my eggnog-infused spine.)  And even though my kids and I are beyond that particular stage in life, I have concluded that my old Christmas Eve assembly rituals have applicability beyond the construction of doll houses and rockets and, in fact, speak to similar needs in the workplace.
For instance, can there be any doubt about the value and benefits of providing a picture or graphic of what it should look like when you’re done?  Imagine trying to build little Sally’s “Magic Castle With Working Drawbridge” with only a couple of paragraphs of text or a list of required steps.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you’ll reference the picture on the box as much as you do the piece of paper labeled "Instructions" (assuming you can find the ones in a language you understand).  Related Workplace Tip #1: When helping team members envision the goal, use a picture.  Not just any picture, one that helps them see what it will look like when you’re done.
Moving beyond the value and benefit of a picture, how much more likely are we to “get it right the first time” (i.e., no left over pieces or, as I taught my kids, “spare parts”) if somebody would only provide us with clear and plain instructions? After all, a picture may help me envision the end result, but it won’t tell me how to achieve it.  To do that, I need the step by step construction logic … and another glass of eggnog.  Related Workplace Tip #2: Add a relevant and supporting picture to those clear instructions and you’ll have created a useable Job Aid!  Think single piece of paper, readable type, basic illustrations and plenty of whitespace.
Finally, and maybe it was just me, but I seem to recall that my Christmas Eve assembly rituals also brought with them significant anxiety and no small amount of stress.  Was the angst I felt the result of my inability to manipulate the various pieces and parts?  Or my failure to anticipate how long the glue really needed to dry before the toy could support its own weight (and not implode into an unrecognizable pile of plastic rubble)?  Perhaps.  However, with the benefit of hindsight, I suspect my assembly-related stress was directly attributable to a result of two factors: my sincere desire to do a good job and the realization I only had a little time with which to accomplish unfamiliar tasks.  In other words, I had scheduled these important tasks in such a way that, if anything went wrong, I’d have little or no ability to recover.  I’m not sure when I realized you could actually assemble things prior to Christmas Eve, but I know it came late in life.  Related Workplace Tip #3: Don’t wait until the last minute to tackle the difficult stuff!  While it may be gratifying to check the easy things off your list, avoiding the “uncomfortable” can kill you.
You know, this has actually been kind of cathartic for me. I used to bear a fair amount of resentment towards the sick, twisted toy makers of yesteryear.  For all the blood, sweat, and, yes, even tears, that I put into building "Malibu Gidget's Beachfront Villa with Authentic Granite Countertops and Working Mini Espresso Maker" or "G.I. Somebody’s Nuclear Sub with Real Articulating Hydraulic Torpedo Launchers," can you really blame me?  But lo and behold, I (and, hopefully, YOU) have now actually learned a little something from those trying days (beyond the proper bourbon to eggnog ratio).  Or, at least gotten a couple of good reminders: relevant graphics + thoughtful supporting instructions + a manageable timeline = a higher probability of happiness for you and your loved ones.
Because we can't say it too many times, from your friends at Orgwide … Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, and Happy Holidays!

About the Authors:
Bob Taylor, co-founder and CEO of OrgWide Services, brings 30 years of hands-on management, real-world leadership, and business experience to our organization. Bob's enthusiasm and commitment for developing skills in others has resulted in a synthesis of a business and personal philosophy that culminated in the inception of Orgwide.  A former Sr. Manager in FedEx's world-recognized Leadership Institute, Bob learned the leadership trade by practicing and applying his lessons in the trenches.  After an impressive career in operations at FedEx, Bob was invited back to headquarters to train and develop other leaders.  Bob was rewarded for his contribution to the success of the Leadership Institute and its students when he received the company's most coveted award for individual contribution, the Five-Star Award for Excellence.  In 1995, Bob elected to open RFTaylor & Company, a management consultancy serving such corporate clients as Emerson Electric, FedEx, Hilton Corporation, and Nike, Inc., to name a few.

Jim Hartigan
Chief Business Development Officer & Partner
OrgWide Services
165 N. Main Street, Suite 202
Collierville, TN 38017
office: 901.850.8190  Ext. 230
mobile: 901.628.6586

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