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10 Things I Learned About Business From Sammie

I have a new grandson. Well, not so new now that he's 16-months old. I also have two daughters, but they are older and it’s difficult to remember when they were 16 months old, so my grandson Sam's behavior was fascinating to me. As I spent time with him, I realized that many of his actions mirrored exactly the way businesses act. For example:


He was unsteady – He could walk, but sometimes he not so much in a straight line. Many businesses are like this. They are somewhat unsteady. In some cases, many parts of their business are doing well, but others, not so much. They want to move forward, but they need some outside help, just like Sam.


He needed changing once in a while – Sam may not have wanted to be changed and at times, he fought it, but when he accepted the change, he was a much happier camper. Again, businesses are like this as well. They get very set in their ways and they don’t want to change. “This is the way we have always done it,” becomes an all too familiar phrase. Unfortunately, everything is changing around them, such as their competition, the business environment, customers, vendors, technology, and the like. Whether they like it or not, they must change. They must improve just to keep pace. And just like Titus, when they get used to the change, they too become happy campers.


He liked to hold on to things – Give him keys, give him a straw, give him his shoe and for a while, Sam was very happy. Try and take those things away from him and you saw an entirely different side of him, until you gave him something new. Businesses like to hold on to things as well, even if they don’t make sense any more. Businesses have outdated systems and processes. They do a lot of things manually that could be automated. They don’t think outside the box, because that would mean having to let go of the old and that can be scary until they grab on to the new.


Sometimes he didn’t know why, but he was uncomfortable – Sometimes, Sam will cry out. Sometimes he would wiggle and pull and push for no apparent reason. Sometimes the solution was apparent, but sometimes you had to try a few different things until you discovered why he was uncomfortable. Businesses sometimes struggle with things. They see symptoms, such as decreased sales for a given month or increased costs. Maybe an increase in customer complaints or sometimes their employees just seem to be making a lot of errors. They don’t know what’s wrong, but they just feel uncomfortable. So, they try things and hope they will feel better, but sometimes it takes someone from the outside who is not so close to the problems to see the solutions.


He doesn't know what could hurt him – Sam will grab almost anything. If you offer him a hand grenade with the pin out, he would smile and grab it, so it was important to keep an eye on him and only give him things that wouldn’t end up hurting him. Businesses don’t always know what is good for them. They purchase systems and solutions that promise to deliver exactly what they need only to find out that they did more harm than good and unfortunately, now that they are implemented and people are used to them, it is too late to back out. Many times, businesses need exactly what Titus needed which was someone to watch over them; someone with the experience and expertise to ensure that they don’t grab things that are not good for them.


These are some of the ways that I observed of how my new buddy Sam is very much like many businesses. It’s not a bad idea to look at things from many different perspectives. We can learn a lot by seeing how a 16-month old views the world and maybe even improve our businesses by emulating some of his behavior and actions.


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