Archive for Action

Make YOUR company a Cirque Du Soleil

This evening I had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday a little early by attending KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil, a gift from my kids (thanks kids). What a show – between the antics, the acrobatics and the feats of amazement, I could not help thinking about how all our companies could learn a thing or two in both customer service and leadership.

Here are a few of my observations:

1. Not just any old circus

The quality of each and every act is superior to any show I have witnessed. Painstaking detail goes into every costume, all the makeup, the lighting, the sounds and especially safety. With the maintenance of equipment, upkeep of fabrics for costumes, and the polished shine on the metal parts to catch the light, it is all miraculously new-looking and beautiful, despite hundreds of previous shows. NO cutting costs for cheaper fabrics that don’t stretch with the body, cheaper makeup that runs when you sweat, low-cost equipment – nope, because this is a class act.

There will be no oil leak at this Cirque!

2. Everyone is a star in this gig

If you are a trapeze artist, there’s a good chance you will be moving sets and removing items from the stage. If you have some other talent in your past that would be beneficial like massage therapy or plumbing, you may be asked to provide that as well.

There are no headliners or heroes. Everyone is a star in this gig – you have talent, well, chances are you were gifted with more than one and your job is to not only contribute those talents but also support the talent of others in every way possible by pitching in on everything you can.

Get over yourself – get into the team.

3. Don’t show the customer the cogs, give them what they came for

We went to Cirque du Soleil to be entertained, and entertained we were. There are a ton of mechanical, technical and physical adjustments between acts, but we were barely aware they were taking place because of the high-energy, excitement going on all around us. The clever distractions and crazy antics kept us highly entertained and laughing the whole way through. And then suddenly, we became aware that they’d put together rigging right there out in the open for the next act, and we barely noticed its arrival because we were so caught up with the fun of the show.

This is how the best of the best make your life happy as a customer, they make your experience seamless and fun. You don’t notice how hard they are working in the background to deliver your product and you don’t have to care.

Getting great service or a great experience should be just that, great!

4. Surprise EVERYONE

This is the third Cirque du Soleil show I have attended and I never grow weary of them. Why? I am always pleasantly surprised. They don’t do this with any one thing; it is the combination of things that offer me continual enchantment, so much so I forget to blink in the event I may miss something. There is action happening at every level, every corner of the facility or tent to keep me in amazement. I have a hard time finding anything at all to complain about because of the perpetual activity that astounds me.

If you have one department that truly shines above all others according to customer response, then learn from these folks, because EVERY department needs to shine and surprise. This means learning how to become a company that always exceeds customer expectation rather than meeting it.

Think Apple.

We cannot all be Cirque du Soleil, but we can certainly learn a lot about business and leadership by being one of their customers, I recommend you attend and while you are there, observe, learn and figure out how you can implement.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


Happy Earth Day, Does Your Company Say It’s Green?

April 22 is Earth Day! What are you doing about it? Are you working within a company puffed up with the promotion of its GREEN initiatives? Are your marketing materials all telling customers and prospective customers what a fantastic sustainable programme you have going on?

Sustainability is about ACTION. It’s about making a difference for the planet and getting as many people involved as possible. If sustainability is ONLY about making a buck you’re missing the point! If you’re not taking action to support your words, you are blowing smoke and the customers will recognize that. No one likes being lied to!

I personally feel it’s sad our society must choose to pick a single day to celebrate needs that are extremely important rather than practice vital and essential action each and every day of our lives. We do, however, have to remind people who busy themselves to the point of forgetfulness that we are living on a planet suffering from over population and depletion of resources. We must remind them they live in an amazingly beautiful and remarkably spectacular environment called planet earth which was created to work perfectly were it not for human interruption.

What IF there were things we could do in our regular day, supported by the executive staff and didn’t cost anything but time to coordinate? What if YOU were waking up on Earth Day and knew you could make a difference, no matter how small, to help the planet, and you were given the opportunity to do it by the entire organization? Well, what’s stopping you?

Here are some ideas to MAKE Earth Day count for you and your company!

  • Get a group of people together at lunch and clean up the garbage around your building – a box of garbage bags and a box of latex/vinyl gloves could be donated by someone
  • Send out an email reminder to ask everyone to hold off printing anything that is not absolutely vital for hardcopy.
  • Ask all your workers to “eat in” at Tim Horton’s before work and insist on no paper products.
  • Bike or take public Transit to work
  • Take part in an Earth Day event in your area as an after-work activity.

These activities don’t cost you any MONEY and they all make a difference. At morning coffee tomorrow try to think of some different ideas and make it a great game across the company – document and take pictures, get that executive behind you by giving them an opportunity to document the things you did for Earth Day and add it to the marketing materials so they can PROVE they aren’t just blowing smoke!
Do you know what it MEANS to make a big difference by gathering collectively with small actions to change the world? Find out by trying hard to take part, it’s all up to YOU and who you bring into it!

DON’T be a leader who shows their employees that all you do is talk!

Great Leaders walk their talk! Great leaders don’t allow marketing to own all the airtime, and great leaders follow that talk with action because they CARE!

Cut the hot air and take action! Get your employees passionate about making a difference, drive it from the source – the CEO – and go to sleep tomorrow night knowing you have made a difference!

Strategic Sense is a Leadership Development, Plans of Action and Facilitation organization who’s mission is to change the world for leaders and their employees everywhere. We believe each individual comes with their own unique talents and skills that can be enhanced and utilized to help them become the very best leaders only they can be.

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A Chicken Doesn't Stop Scratching Just Because Worms Are Scarce!

“A chicken doesn’t stop scratching just because worms are scarce.” ~Anonymous

I love this quote, in fact this weekend on Twitter that quote received the most replies of any quote I sent out. Why? Perhaps it speaks to us about the current economic situation. It speaks to us about never giving up, about knowing deep down that we must keep going. It tells us that we still must eat, pay our bills and says loudly that a defeatist attitude is a greater danger to our success than is scarcity.

To add to this concept I remind you of the inspirational, sincere and heart warming day of the inaugural celebrations both prior to and after the swearing in of the new US President, Barack Obama. Hope, change, transparency are all themes we saw rise out of the incredible activities and the vibration that was Washington!

Take a few minutes for deep thought on “scratching” no matter what your role; Leader, Employee or Newly Unemployed!


When times are tough, some of the first cutbacks are in the areas of Training, IT and Travel & Expenses. Risk management is at an all time high to ensure companies are careful with projects and initiatives such that there’s no room for profit margin fallout. It’s tough to lead in these times, your boss is demanding and your employees are holding you under a microscope. Your heart knows the many things you would LIKE to do as a leader, but the cutbacks make you feel like your hands are tied! Take heart, you are the one who needs to provide energy, optimism and enthusiasm to your team – grab the reins and take the challenge! Perhaps these questions will help you find a path to motivate and inspire your staff.

· Have I been honest with my team about our situation?

· Do I trust the staff and their talent and generosity of ideas for solutions to find our “best actions”?

· Do I know who my employees really are and what significant contributions they make to the company, or how we can work with their strengths to improve?

· Are there ways I can go above and beyond in order to make a difference for my team and their success and ultimately for the company?

· Am I modelling the behaviour I wish to see from my employees?


Man, when you get scared that the axe is going to fall it can be hard to head to work every day. It is also hard when the axe has fallen and some of your favourite co-workers have been let go. Morale sinks to an all-time low and some days it’s hard to dig your way out and keep pace with your workload. Remember, you have a job and part of that job is loyalty to the tasks you have been asked to perform. No one can create a great attitude for you; that’s your job!

Now is not the time to lay low and hide, now is the time to shine. Ask yourself these questions to see if you are on the right track.

· What am I contributing to the team in order to help my boss make it through this tough time?

· What have I done in the last 6 months that make a difference for the team such as mentoring or holding a training session for the junior people?

· What can I do over the next 6 months to a year to support the team, my boss and ultimately the company?

· Am I really giving the best I’ve got or am I sliding by in discouragement?

· How am I stepping up to show leadership as an employee?

· Am I willing to bear the load with integrity, honesty, and transparency in order to complete projects and maintain a “thrive-don’t-dive” attitude?


If you have been a casualty of the many lay-offs around the globe, then you have been hit hard, and most likely blind-sided! You have responsibilities, maybe a family and you certainly have bills to pay. For some of you it’s been a long time since you’ve had to seek work and it’s even possible you were hired out of college through a student co-op with barely any experience in finding work. Answering some of these questions might lead you in the right direction for your search.

· How long am I willing to let the shock, anger and <insert-your-emotion-here> keep me from taking action? How long will I allow myself to grieve? (pin down a date here)

· Have I sent a personal email out to ALL of my contacts letting them know I am available for work? (Now is not the time to feel shame or embarrassment!)

· Am I aware of the many online networking tools available to me?(Linkedin, Twitter, free blog sites, Facebook, Plaxo, etc.)

· When was the last time I wrote an article or whitepaper for a trade magazine in my industry?

· Am I aware of the government programs available to the unemployed for retraining?

· Am I taking advantage of the outplacement sessions provided with my package?

· What kinds of industry networking events are available in my community?

· Have I contacted my creditors to negotiate payments and lower rates?

It is ACTION that brings one to solution; building a plan starts with asking yourself many questions so that you are clear about your situation. By answering the tough ones, by standing up to some truly difficult truths about yourself, you will be able to start your action plan for moving through difficult times!




Top Ten Lessons From 2008

Top Ten Lessons from 2008

It has been quite a year of change for Strategic Sense; change highlights the adaptive skills inherent in every individual and business! From the tail-end of a boom in Calgary to the significant change in business due to a recession, many lessons have been learned. We wanted to highlight a few here with thanks to each and every one of you for contributing to our early success.

1. It is a very small world on the internet we have been visited from as far away as Indonesia. Seeing the many countries who have visited the website certainly prove we are in a global age.

2. Web 2.0 has significantly changed the face and the means of doing business. We can’t wait for what’s next.

3. Exceptional Leaders are needed in bad market times, especially if they want to get the people rallied around company success.

4. Many people understand how to define a goal, but are not quite certain how to apply the actions for getting results.

5. Employees often tell us they wish we would work with their leaders. Those same leaders often tell us they are doing all the right things. (disconnect)

6. Business can be done from anywhere, but meeting face-to-face is the only way to learn the passion the other individual has for the topic.

7. PayPal is brilliant.

8. The people within a company and the customers they serve are the two most important things to focus on. Internalized self-serving executives will kill a business.

9. Leaders who have employees with bad attitudes are responsible for attitudinal change.

10. The most difficult leadership position, is adequately and responsibly leading yourself!

We wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year. May prosperity find you and may you recognize that YOU are in charge of you, YOU are in charge of changing your own world and of making a difference in the lives of others. Happy 2009 from the nice people at Strategic Sense!

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Patti Dragland


Changing The World For Humanity – What Are You Doing?

In my last post I put out a challenge to ask what you are doing to change the world in your home, at work, within your community and for the world. The first of this series is based on Humanity.

December 10 celebrates human rights day. Human rights surpasses religion and is about recognizing “dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”.

The challenge is to stop, take a close look at how you, as an individual, can make a difference in the world starting at home, at work, in your community and then looking around at your contribution to the world. Add your changes to the others!

Here are just a few of the responses I have received so far:
> I work as an educator in addition to my “day job”.
I also serve on community non-profit boards and committees to advance art in the region.

> Recycle
Volunteer my time to various shelters
Donate money to charities
Pray every day for peace on earth

> Home: I am changing my cooking schedules to accommodate my university son’s exams
Work: I am volunteering my time and efforts for students needing decorating expertise on their formal dance.
Community: Sit on one Board of Directors and on the event committee with the Chamber of Commerce.
World: I am working hard at being more energy conscious and efficient.

In the spirit of understanding what Human Rights are, please consider reading The Universal Declaration of Human Rights  created by the United Nations.

Take on the challenge and share as many as you possibly can this week.
Stop back next week to hear more about what others are doing to change the world and find out what the next challenge is.
Peace and good will to all.

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Happy Thanksgiving to Our U.S.A. Friends!


In Canada we celebrate our Thanksgiving in October, it seems to me that living here and celebrating at an earlier date affords me the time to “work-into” my Christmas planning. For many in the United States, the immediate days following the Thanksgiving feast, shopping hits an all-time high as people leap directly from Thanksgiving to Christmas giving! 

As a plans of action strategist, being afforded time to plan between the holidays is a luxury I both enjoy and wish to keep. I also make time to be grateful on both days, the Canadian and U.S.A. Thanksgiving. With family on both sides of the border we are not always able to get together and so we send messages of thanks for each other and our prosperous lives via email, facebook, or phone. This year I am exceptionally grateful for the many people who have entered into the “Strategic Sense” community and welcome their part in helping leaders kick it up a notch! 

May our U.S.A friends have a wonderful holiday whilst enjoying great friends, family and food. May our Canadian friends take a moment in the day whereby they recall all those things for which they are truly grateful. 

Look forward to a great discussion and observation on “planning” and what that means for decision makers who invest in ‘planning tools’ in the next blog. In conversation this week, a colleague shared some experiences on these tools and I look forward to sharing those with you!

In the meantime, have a wonderful day, regardless of where you live or what celebrations you have in your life today!

Patti Dragland, President – Strategic Sense

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