Tripwires, Entrepreneurs, Candy, and Van Halen: A Book Review
Do you know how M&M’s™ can help you make better decisions? David Lee Roth did.
According to Chip & Dan Heath’s new book Decisive, in the 1980’s, Roth and his band Van Halen used M&M’s™ as what the Heaths call a “tripwire” to trigger another set of actions.
See, back in the 80’s, Van Halen had the biggest stage production in the history of touring bands. With 8 or 9 tractor-trailers (when most bands only had 1 or 2) full of lights, pyrotechnics, and all kinds of other crazy things, setting it all up was an exact science. It had to be done to precise specifications in order to prevent any problems that could ruin the show, or even injure someone (remember, this is during the era when Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire during a Pepsi commercial shoot). So, what did the band do in order to ensure the setup was done right?
They used M&M’s™.
They buried a stipulation deep within their contract that under no circumstances could there be any brown M&M’s™ in the dressing room. If they showed up to your hometown for a show and found a bowl of brown M&M’s™, they knew they needed to go through the entire stage setup with a fine-tooth comb. The contract had obviously not been gone through in detail, and more likely than not, other things besides the M&M’s™ would be wrong or missed.
They weren’t being rock ‘n roll divas (entirely), just creating a “check engine light” of sorts to raise their antenna to more potential problems.
Cool. So What?
As entrepreneurs, we face situations every day where a tripwire would be very useful.
Because of the sheer number of balls we juggle, we necessarily have to put as many things on autopilot as possible to preserve our mental and emotional resources. This means that many things go relatively unmonitored until some scenario triggers a need for attention.
For us, our Quarterly Employee Strategy Day serves as our reminder to revisit many things: positioning, ideal client profile, messaging, growth strategy, staff changes, etc, etc.
Inevitably, within a two weeks of our Strategy Day we make the HR moves that we’ve been intending to do for a while but just hadn’t quite made them a priority yet. It’s much easier to just keep motoring along with the status quo, even though it may really benefit the company to add that new account rep or intern. Or maybe there’s a chance to help find a new opportunity for that person who has been underperforming for quite some time (even though that’s never a fun thing to do).
During our Quarterly Days, we reflect on the successes of the previous 12 weeks and look forward to the opportunities of the next 12. This requires removing our nose from the grindstone long enough to regain perspective of the “forest” and to implement the actions and decisions that have been simmering on the back burner for too long.
Prior to our last Quarterly Day in April, I mentioned to a number of our team members that I don’t know how companies exist without a Quarterly Day because of how many decisions it forces us to make every three months: decisions that are required to maintain momentum and keep propelling us forward…ones that may not be urgent but are incredibly important.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to go out and schedule a ½-day retreat with your team every quarter per se (although, if done right, it will revolutionize your culture and absolutely rock your world—in a good way), but it is vitally important that you create some tripwires, some set of triggers in your business world to shake you out of autopilot and into attentive action on decisions that will intentionally influence the direction of your business.
You owe it to your customers, your employees, and yourself to take control of the direction of your company with intention.
What tripwires have you set for yourself in either your business or personal life to trigger action of some sort? I’d love to hear about them…and make sure you pick up the Heath brothers’ book, Decisive as well; it will be a decision you won’t regret.