What I found at Apple

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to have a better outlook on life. So what did I do different? Eat better and get more exercise to start with. This post is not about why you need to exercise or eat better; it is about habits that will make your business better.

Let me begin with this week’s insight.

After resolving to be healthier this year, I decided that during the winter months I would be aggressive in walking for exercise. Because I am in Germany and the winter weather is not the best for walking outdoors, I decided to walk in the local shopping mall. Here in the eastern Germany, snow was coming down on a daily basis during January and February and my options for exercising were few.

During my walks I was focused on getting my walk out of the way in order to pursue other things. So, day after day I did the same old thing after breakfast and coffee. I would walk to the tram stop and take the busy tram to the mall. Once I stepped off the tram, I started the app on my phone that would measure the distance I would walk and record the results. As I walked through the mall, I would see store employees going about their morning tasks in preparation for opening stores, people reading newspapers, drinking coffee, window shopping, or just standing around looking at their smartphones. Then, it struck me one day that I was seeing the same thing, day after day.

You can learn a lot about how a business is run by the actions of the employees at the beginning of each day. As you know, a mall is a people-run business and the customers come to you. That is a very novel ideal that someone had—to build an indoor shopping area and the customers will come.

At 930 am each business day, I noticed something happening at the same location; a group of employees sitting on stools around a large table, one person was leading the discussion . . . and it all came back to me! This business had a daily huddle to discuss the way they would approach the business of the day.

What would they discuss?

Would it be the latest product? The number of products they had to sell to achieve their goals for the day, week, or month?

I know that in our business we started out everyday with a huddle and we discussed all the important items that affected our business in 10-15 minutes. I have to say, it paid off for us. Each person involved in that huddle knew the priorities of the day, what we had to get accomplished and where our stuck’s were. I can not imagine starting a day unprepared, without that huddle.

Now getting back to my walk, the business I am talking about is definitely a Good to Great business by anyone standards. At this store—the local Apple Store—customers start lining up, waiting for the business to open each day. No exception. This business releases new products but not on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Yes, this business has a routine it follows each day. I cannot say for sure that this is an Apple driven standard, but one would suspect it is. From my personal experience, when people in a business know what is going on, the business will run as planned, with fewer hiccups. This post is not about Apple; it’s about doing things right all the time.
My plan will be to continue to walk in the mall each morning and observe business practices as I get healthy, and until the weather improves.

My question for you is, what routine do you have in your business that allows you and your team to be on the same sheet each day? Please share, if you dare, in the comments below.