Regaining my Chicken Mojo

I write this with a heavy heart.  Late last week, we lost six of our eight chickens.  
 
Things were going so well.  The chickens had picked up on the remodeling vibe and asked that we provide them with some additional outdoor living space.  So, we expanded beyond their 10-by-10-foot chicken run into a 20-by-30-foot outdoor space with a play structure and a covering to protect them from flying predators.  We also invested in an automatic chicken door that protected them at night.  The hens were laying, the roosters were crowing (though our youngest rooster, Sven, seemed to sound more like a choking frog) and I was really getting into the groove of being a chicken mama.
 
But last Friday morning, that all changed.  I will spare you the details, partly because they are so depressing, but also because I was out of town and missed it all.  When I arrived home on Friday evening, we were down to two chickens. And Oden, our aggressive rooster, had lost all his tail feathers and was resting in the nesting box.  He was so traumatized that he even let Mike pet him.  
 
It is so hard for me to go up to the coop now.  There are feathers all over the run, and it is so quiet with just two (traumatized) chickens.  I know I need to keep moving toward achieving my goal but right now, I have lost my energy and focus for being a chicken mama.  
 
I wonder how many business owners have dealt with those same emotions over this past year.  Sales are down, employees are sick, uncertainty is all around. Please don’t think that I’m equating the loss of chickens to what many people have experienced in the past year.  I can’t even imagine those losses.  But loss is something we will all face at some point, and we’ll have to make the decision to move past it.
 
Still, moving forward takes energy and focus, and at times, that can be hard to muster up.  For me, as I looked at my path forward, I fell back on what I know: process, or more specifically, the EOS tool on Compartmentalizing.
 
This tool helped me set my one-year goal (not buying eggs from the store) followed by my priorities for the next 90 days, then set my activities for the next seven days.  As I did this, I realized I had issues that needed to be addressed in the short term (getting more chickens so I won’t have an oversexed hen) and the long term (building a coop to separate newly hatched chicks from the full-grown chickens).  By using this tool, I created a plan to move forward that feels achievable.
 
This is a powerful tool that can help anyone stay focused on reaching their goals.  In fact, I used it last month with a CEO who is in the process of expanding his business into a higher-margin, more technical industry.  Once we completed this EOS document, he started to get clarity on what he needed to work on for the next 90 days.  He was able to prioritize his issues by relative urgency.  As he faced problems throughout the day, he was able to filter them with this tool.  He would ask himself, “Does this need to be addressed in the next 90 days?” If the answer was yes, he would add it to the Short-Term Issue List.  If not, he would add it to the Long-Term Issue list and then go back to working on his top priorities.  Even after a week, he shared that he had regained focus and energy that had been missing from his business for quite a while.  
 
That is what I appreciate about EOS and what it does for my clients.  Simple tools properly applied will get you amazing results.  If you feel like you have lost your mojo, let’s talk.  Together, we can regain it and bring you increased focus, accelerated growth and boosted profitability.  

Right Seat, Wrong Chicken?

Right Seat, Wrong Chicken?

As my husband and I started talking about getting chickens, we created our vision: free range chickens that laid lots of eggs.  

As you know, the first round of chickens were free range but they stopped laying eggs in our coop.  Our second round has been confined to our run and the quantity of eggs has slowly been increasing.  But, the free range part isn’t going so well.  We have two issues, first our dog JacX who believes her job is to catch the chickens and bring them to my husband (Mike is working on addressing this issue with the dog trainer).  

But, our other issue is Oden, the rooster. The reason we have a rooster is twofold: first, roosters will protect the hens, and second, having a rooster allows me to continue the bloodline without purchasing additional chicks.

Oden is very good at protecting his hens. But about a month ago, my husband went to put them in for the night, and Oden wasn’t quite ready to turn in. My husband gave him a gentle nudge toward the coop, which Oden didn’t appreciate. His response was to flog my husband. While my husband didn’t dwell on the incident, Oden apparently isn’t over it yet. He now likes to strut up to me or my husband to challenge us. Fortunately, Oden has learned the word “No.” But it has definitely reduced the fun in caring for the chickens. In fact, I can’t be in the coop when he is walking around, as he will come up and try to challenge me (he hasn’t tried to flog me yet). 

Based on our Chicken Values, I’ve been wondering if we have a Right Seat, Wrong Chicken problem.

The phrase “Right Person, Right Seat” comes from Jim Collins’ 2001 bestseller Good to Great. The “Right Person” is someone who shares your organization’s core values. The “Right Seat” means that person is using the skills and talents they were born with. When implementing EOS, I teach my clients that in order to achieve their vision, they need 100% of the individuals in their organization to be “Right People, Right Seat.” If you don’t have that, the organization’s performance will suffer. Allow me to explain. 

Let’s say your situation is Right Person, Wrong Seat. You have someone who shares your company’s core values. They fit your culture like a glove, but they aren’t doing a job that is in line with their skills and abilities. Typically, management makes excuses for the person by saying things like, ”He has been here since the beginning,” or “I really want her to finish her career with us.” So, you either tolerate underperformance or begin to create workarounds to ensure the organization still meets its goals while keeping that person in his/her seat. That results in inefficiency, chaos and reduced performance. 

The other challenge you may face is Wrong Person, Right Seat. This is someone who is really good at the job but doesn’t demonstrate the organization’s core values. I’ve witnessed this with a really strong salesperson who will win at all costs, even if it means sacrificing the company’s core values. It might also happen when you have a very knowledgeable technical person in a key role, or possessing a unique understanding of the product or service being provided. Organizations often feel they can’t possibly let that person go, because they will lose their competitive edge, and if that employee were then hired by a competitor, the company’s secrets could be shared. But I have seen first-hand that letting a Wrong Person go actually liberates other individuals in the organization to step up and fill the void. And oftentimes, after the person is gone, the leadership team will start to hear stories about how this person was eroding the culture and the company’s reputation.

If you sense that someone in your organization is either the wrong person in the right seat, or the right person in the wrong seat, I challenge you to do something about it. Achieving your vision requires that you address those issues within the organization. If you aren’t sure what to do or how to approach this issue, I can help you get clarity on how best to address it for the greater good of your organization.

Oh, and did I mention that one of my 18 week old chickens is a rooster…

My First Encounter with a Rooster

My First Encounter with a Rooster

I’d like to preface this story with a reminder that I grew up in the city. I’ve never been around many farm animals, including chickens. So, with this in mind, I’ll tell you about my first encounter with a rooster.

When I went over to my chicken coach’s home to get my rooster and some hens, the men were busy with man things so the ladies went down to the barn to catch the chickens. We entered the coop and there were chickens up in the rafters and on the roost, and a few roosters crowing.

Oden, Our Rooster

We put our eyes on a hen and began the process of trying to catch her. Do you have any idea how to catch a chicken? Well, I certainly don’t. But apparently, you can grab their feet or, in some cases, their tail feathers.

We had the hen cornered and slowly moved in towards her. OK, “we” is a bit strong. It was my chicken coach; I was not sure what to do. Well, as she approached the hen, the hen flew right toward me and we ended up eye to eye.

We both squealed, and the chicken got away. Eventually we caught her, and my chicken coach held the hen and let me pet her and then  hold her. We put her in the transport kennel and then caught the other hen and our rooster, Oden.

We headed home and put them in the run. I should note that it had started raining pretty hard, as we were in the midst of a Pineapple Express. It was approaching dusk but there was still light. So we left them alone and went to the house. After dark, I headed up to the coop to close the door. To my dismay, Oden and the two new hens were roosting in the lean-to and barely out of the driving rain.

Knowing it would be safer and drier for them in the coop and feeling confident that I could handle a hen after my experience earlier that day, I put my hands around the body of the hen closest to me.

Without a hesitation, Oden leaned over and pecked me hard on the hand. His point was clear: leave her alone, she is mine!

I retreated, went back to the house and shared the story with my husband. Later that evening, I went back to the chicken run. They were still roosting in the lean-to and it was still raining. I was very concerned about their safety, but with the temperature about 50 degrees, I figured they would be OK for one night.

The next morning, with the light of day, Oden was able to clearly see his surroundings and immediately took charge of the coop, placing himself at the top of the nine-chicken pecking order.

What I appreciated about my exchange with Oden was that he assumed responsibility for his hens and let me know it.

How many times have you seen leaders say they are in charge but when difficult decisions need to be made, they don’t make or own them? If you want your team members to achieve their full potential, they need a leader they know is looking out for them.

Helping a team reach its full potential requires more than making difficult decisions. It requires the ability to be clear on where the organization is going and how to get there. Creating a vision with a path toward achieving that vision is key to getting employees aligned behind that vision.

What is the best way to create that vision? Some leaders feel that responsibility lands squarely on their shoulders, but I’d challenge that approach.

Involving the team will provide different perspectives, challenging viewpoints and ultimately greater unity. It has been my experience that the more you can get your leadership team and the rest of your organization to see the vision and the path to achieving that vision, the sooner your organization will  get traction toward achieving that vision.

If you aren’t getting the traction or the results you desire, it may be that the organization isn’t clear on the direction or the path. 

If you would like a copy of the tool my clients use to establish their vision, I’m happy to share it with you.

And if you want loyalty from your team, you may be able to learn something from Oden (just ignore his views on crowing all day long)…

P.S.When your team becomes aligned behind your vision and your path towards achieving that vision that where the magic happens.  “Magic” means accelerated growth, higher profits, and more control.  And that is something everyone can get behind. 

My Costly Mistake Of Not Keeping Score

My Costly Mistake Of Not Keeping Score

The week before Christmas I filled my chicken coop with hens and one rooster.  I felt pretty good about myself as I was finally on my way to achieving my goal of having free-range eggs on a daily basis. 
 
The following afternoon, I went up to visit the chickens and noticed that one hen was outside the run.  Seeing the rest of the chickens in the run, I made the assumption that our long lost “Caramel Corn” (from the previous batch of hens) had been called in by our rooster. 
 
Both my husband and I were very excited.  And so was our bird dog, JacX. 
 
JacX began chasing the chicken as we discussed how to get her into the coop.  Our attention wasn’t on the dog or the chicken, as we knew Caramel Corn could fly.  Well, apparently, she couldn’t fly as well as we thought. JacX cornered her and killed her. 
 
I was so distraught.  How could this chicken live on her own for the past five months and then get caught by JacX in just a few minutes?  I even think JacX felt bad as well.  It was a sad ending to the “A Chicken’s Way Home” movie.
 
The next morning, I got the call from my husband: Caramel Corn was up in the front field with our neighbor’s horses and goats.  Yes, Caramel Corn lives again! 
 
So, where had this other chicken come from?  I couldn’t say for sure, but I assumed it was a neighbor’s chicken.  Mostly, I was happy that Caramel Corn was going to live another day.
 
All was fine until I went up a few days later to clean the coop.  To my dismay, I realized that I was missing a hen.  I searched high and low, but she was gone.
 
And now I knew where that free-range hen came from.  I still don’t know how she got out, but she did.  So, yes, I am down one chicken.  And, again, I’m feeling really bad about my chicken mama skills.
 
Not keeping score really hurt me. If I had been keeping count, I would have known that I had lost a chicken and could have taken steps to address the problem before the instincts of our hunting dog took over.
 
Not keeping track of the leading indicators in your business can also have drastic consequences.  How many times could you have avoided a problem in your business if you had taken steps earlier? That includes things such as declines in revenue, safety issues or losing key personnel who are not feeling appreciated or fulfilled.  
 
The reality is that no matter what plan you set for your business, issues will come up.  Small issues left unattended can grow into large issues.  If you aren’t tracking your business’s key metrics, or leading indicators, you could find yourself reacting too late, after an issue has impacted business performance.  
 
However, by reviewing your leading indicators on a weekly basis, you will be able to see data and trends that let you know you need to take action.  
 
Don’t have a scorecard?  No problem: follow these three steps to develop one.Identify key metrics for each of your departmentsMonitor those metrics every week during your leadership team meetingsTake steps once you see a metric trending off trackTo make this even easier, you can request a copy of the scorecard I created that will automatically create graphs for your key metrics. 

Now is the time to get yourself and your team aligned on the key metrics that will ensure you launch 2021 on the right foot because I don’t want you to experience anything like the sad ending of “A Chicken’s Way Home.” 

P.S. Starting your year with a clear vision and plan to achieve that vision will improve your chances of achieve your goals by 300%.  A scorecard makes sure you are staying on track.

And to All, A Good Night!

And to All, A Good Night!

Reflecting Back

As I stood outside my chicken coop this morning, I reflected back on all that has happened in 2020.  When the pandemic hit, I had two goals in mind. First, to build a chicken coop and second, to give the gift of humanity to as many people as possible.

Focusing outside of myself has allowed me to impact many people and at the same time, I’ve been impacted by countless individuals.  I appreciate all of you taking the time to read my blogs and provide tips on how to be a better chicken mama.

To end this year with some humor, I’m including some links to the most popular posts from 2020:

And, here’s the good news! I have 9 chickens in my coop including one rooster (who has already pecked me). 2021 promises to have more chicken business posts and maybe a few laughs.

Until then, enjoy the holidays and cheers to the end of 2020!

With respect and gratitude!

Julie

Another Attempt at Raising Chickens

Another Attempt at Raising Chickens

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I received one hen and four 5-week-old chicks.  We put them in the run (which has been secured to keep the chickens from flying out), and the chicks immediately escaped the run through the chain link fence.  As we ran around the field trying to get the chicks back, I really considered giving up on this whole chicken mama thing.  But with some patience, we were able to get all the chicks and the hen back in the coop.  Then I added chicken wire to the chain link fencing.  

It has been fun to actually see chickens living in my coop.

As my husband pointed out, this (1 day) is the longest any chicken has resided in my coop or run.  Once they get settled in, we will add some more laying chickens and a rooster for safekeeping.  According to my chicken coach, the one remaining chicken who hangs out with my neighbor’s horses and goats may return once she hears the cackle of the rooster. 
 
I’ve really tried not to repeat any of the mistakes I made last time, so that I can finally enjoy having chickens and fresh eggs.  And it has been helpful to review the advice from readers of my earlier posts, read more chicken books and seek out additional knowledge.  While success with the chickens isn’t life or death for me, it is something that I would really like to accomplish.
 
Similarly, I know that many business owners would like to be successful in the ever-changing world of COVID —except in this case, it is life or death.  Businesses are struggling to keep their employees safe and protect the customers while continuing to operate and be profitable.  Many companies, especially manufacturers, have had to start and stop production when they have had COVID cases within the workforce.  One local company has had to stop shipping product for at least one day every two weeks for the past two months.  That is a lot of lost revenue and increased labor costs.  
 
In order to stay on top of all the changes, businesses need to anticipate issues and take proactive steps in order to avoid shutdowns, production delays and customer shortages.  But it is hard to be proactive when you feel you can’t do anything but react.  If the leadership team is clear on the direction of the organization and the path to get there, though, they can prioritize the issues and take steps to resolve them. 
 
If you feel that your organization has become more reactive and less proactive, you can take steps now to regain control. It may feel like you don’t have time, but if you don’t do something different, the reactive cycle will continue to repeat.    
 
The great news is that I can introduce you to some tools that can help you put yourself back in the driver’s seat.  Let’s talk today and I’ll help you regain control over your business.

Regaining my Chicken Mojo

I write this with a heavy heart.  Late last week, we lost six of our eight chickens.   Things were going so well.  The chickens had picked up on the remodeling vibe and asked that we provide them with some additional outdoor living space.  So, we expanded beyond their...

read more
Right Seat, Wrong Chicken?

Right Seat, Wrong Chicken?

As my husband and I started talking about getting chickens, we created our vision: free range chickens that laid lots of eggs.   As you know, the first round of chickens were free range but they stopped laying eggs in our coop.  Our second round has...

read more
Chicken Pranks

Chicken Pranks

So, all is quiet in the chicken coop. Oden, the rooster, has assumed control of the chickens. The baby chicks are about 16 weeks old and gaining confidence (and hopefully will be laying eggs soon), and the other hens are laying eggs and running away from Oden. We seem...

read more
Survival Tips from the Pandemic

Survival Tips from the Pandemic

A Business Owner’s Perspective Running a business in 2020 presented challenges that many business owners and executives had never experienced. The pandemic impacted different industries differently. Some, like outdoor recreation, had record years that may never be...

read more
Be Your Best During Difficult Conversations

Be Your Best During Difficult Conversations

Over the past week, most of the country experienced cold, winter weather. In the Pacific Northwest, we had a storm that impacted the entire region. At our home, it snowed for nearly two days straight, with a snow total of more than 12 inches. The dogs really enjoyed...

read more
My First Encounter with a Rooster

My First Encounter with a Rooster

I’d like to preface this story with a reminder that I grew up in the city. I’ve never been around many farm animals, including chickens. So, with this in mind, I’ll tell you about my first encounter with a rooster. When I went over to my chicken coach’s home to get my...

read more
The Big Chicken Experiment

The Big Chicken Experiment

I saw my former chicken yesterday. She was hanging out with my neighbor’s goats and horses. Seeing her made me reminisce about the times when she would come lay eggs in my beautiful chicken coop. Oh, those were the good ol’ days. 
 
So, those of you who are wondering – it’s true, I have no chickens left. Of the five I started out with, only one is still alive and she has left me for greener pastures. I haven’t found a single egg in any of my nesting boxes since late July. I have no idea what happened, but I went from getting 11 eggs in one week to getting none.

Where did I go wrong?

A question I’ve asked myself frequently over the past five months. I think what happened is that I was so caught up in building my coop that I failed to consider some important details that would have made things much easier and more fruitful. 
 
One of those important details is that chickens can fly, and if you don’t want them to leave, you have to either clip their wings or make it so they can’t fly the coop.
 
I guess you could say that my first try at being a chicken mama was a failure. 
 
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and have decided I need a chicken coach. Think about it: athletes have coaches, business owners have coaches, why shouldn’t an aspiring chicken mama have a coach?
 
Most people are afraid to admit that they need an outside perspective in order to achieve their goals. While many will eventually reach their goals, working with a coach helps achieve those goals faster.
 
That is one of the things I enjoy about working with my clients. I help them reach their goals faster. Whether your goal is to grow your business, work less, make more money, or have more fun at work – I can help you. 
 
You can’t coach yourself from within. Or, in my case, you can’t coach yourself from inside the chicken coop. 
 
If you are trying to reach your business or personal goals, I’d love to help you reach them faster and maybe have a little fun along the way. 
 
I’m ready to achieve my chicken goals. Are you ready to achieve your goals? 
 
If so, let’s find some time to connect. 

Better Than the Pecking Order?

Better Than the Pecking Order?

Did you know that chickens can follow a pecking order 136 chickens long?

What that means is, through a series of skirmishes (some more violent than others), chickens establish their own governing body within their clan. The strongest chicken, typically a rooster, is in charge. He gets the food and water first and all the other perks that come from being “Top Dog” or the “Big Cheese.” But that position also comes with the responsibility of leading the flock to safety when a predator comes by and tucking everyone in before nightfall

The clients I work with typically embrace the responsibility of being at the top of the pecking order. They care about their employees, take steps to ensure their safety, and give them opportunities to grow and try new experiences. The biggest challenge they typically face is balancing competing priorities, including growing the business, managing the finances, developing employees, and caring for themselves and their families. What we know is that this can’t be done alone. Having a strong, focused leadership team is the key to a thriving business. The good news is that getting your team moving toward a common vision is much easier than it seems.

As most of you know, I love process.

I’ve put my chemical engineering degree to work by focusing on process engineering. I’ve spent my whole career helping businesses improve by streamlining their processes, from manufacturing to sales to engineering. I love process so much, I even made it part of my company name.

So, when I discovered the business operating system EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), I realized this was the perfect tool for me to help my clients get what they wanted from their businesses. If you are ready to implement a system that will lead to higher profits, less friction, and more enjoyment, let’s find some time to talk. Together we can create something better than a pecking order.