I like, and value, the word "decency"—a lot. (E.g., my rave reviews of Steve Harrison's The Manager's Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies.) I like the word "respect"—a lot.
But I'm stuck on-hooked on-wedded to-wild about another word these (perilous) days: thoughtfulness. I am enamored with the idea of living and then adding to our formal or informal vision & values statement: "We are thoughtful in all we do." I'm so taken with the idea that I suggest that "thoughtfulness" joins the likes of "people," "customers," "product," "profit," "action," "excellence" on the "10 Great Business Words list"—or some such.
Times are perilous.
Competition is brutal.
Hustle is essential.
Cost-cutting is imperative.
But how, in the process of getting from here to difficult there in concert with our many constituents-stakeholders with whom we hope to do business over the long haul, do we "live in the world"?
Who are we?
How are we?
What are we as a human institution?
Who am I (boss, follower)?
What do I leave in my wake?
It's character in a way, to be sure. (Another stunningly important word.) But, in a sense, thoughtfulness is even more encompassing than character. It is transactional—applies to literally every internal and external transaction—as well as something that resides deep within.
I like the idea of showing up for work in a place that cherishes thoughtfulness.
I like the idea of doing business with a service provider known for its thoughtfulness.
I like being a vendor to an outfit that's thoughtful.
All this is X10 in troubled times.
Thoughtful is not "soft."
In fact, I'd contend that "dogmatic thoughtfulness" (now there's a term) improves growth and profitability and longterm enterprise solidity in a pretty damn direct, high impact, ultimately measurable cause-and-effect way.
Thoughtfulness is key to customer retention.
Thoughtfulness is key to employee recruitment and satisfaction.
Thoughtfulness is key to brand perception.
Thoughtfulness is key to your ability to look in the mirror—and tell your kids about your job.
"Thoughtfulness is free."
Thoughtfulness is key to speeding things up—it reduces friction.
Thoughtfulness is key to transparency and even cost containment—it abets rather than stifles truth-telling.
So think about thoughtfulness, about adding "thoughtfulness in all we do" to your unit's values statement. But do so only after you and your team have figured out exactly what thoughtfulness means in a variety of contexts. And do so only after you have made a demonstrated personal and organizational commitment to thoughtfulness. Thence, you must be unabashedly devoted to keeping each other honest in the practice of dogmatic thoughtfulness—with, alas, adverse consequences, eventually severe, for those who fail to take this essential attribute aboard.
Not "today"—but "now."
That is, thoughtfulness is an especially potent "tool" in crazy-disruptive-scary times.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
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