MBWA Lives & Rules & Is Ubiquitous!
A commentary in this week's Newsweek ["Your Gut Only Gets You So Far," 11 October 2004] by Jonathan Alter begins, "No wonder President Bush lost round one in Miami: He got rusty living in the bubble."
Mr. Bush's bubble is indeed air-tight. But, reader-bosses, you'd be surprised (just as the President was apparently surprised), I'd vouch, at how little air gets into your bubble, too!
Which takes me back to 1982. My In Search of Excellence co-author Bob Waterman and I were about to go on the Today show. We were practicing in Bob's Manhattan hotel room. And we got into a tussle. Turns out we both most loved the same thing in the book—and both wanted to utter the words on national TV. Having no dueling pistols at hand (even though we were right across the river from where VP Burr had killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel), we flipped a coin. Bob won ... and I'm still frustrated 22 years later!
The bragging rights at stake? MBWA. Remember? Managing By Wandering Around. (Courtesy a much smaller, more intimate Hewlett-Packard.)
Welcome to 2004. MBWA would have helped Pres Bush ... and it will help you. And the absence thereof will ... DOOM ... you.
The nice thing about MBWA is: "What you see is what you get." The ... BIG IDEA ... is ... uh ... to ... WANDER AROUND. I.e., stay intimately in touch. I could go on for countless words (I have gone on in the past), but I'll keep it simple here:
GET THE HELL OUT OF THE CUBE!
DESERT THE TERMINAL! ("Terminals are terminal"? Not all bad.)
CHAT UP ANYBODY WHOSE PATH YOU CROSS ... ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE NOT AMONG YOUR NORMAL CHATEES.
GO STROLLING IN PARTS OF THE ORG WHERE YOU NORMALLY DON'T STROLL.
SLOW DOWN. STOP. CHAT. ("Stop. Look. Listen."—a shrink's advice to me, courtesy railroad crossing lingo.)
NB: Email ... DOES NOT COUNT ... as "chat." "Wander" = WANDER. One foot in front of the other.
Extended Idea: Wander Writ Large. Put "wandering" on your permanent agenda! Consider: I was recently giving a speech to retailers. I had studied my butt off. Read a ton. Hung onto the Web for dear life. Phoned a dozen experts. My data was analyzed. My speech was locked into PPFinal status. I was in my hotel room in Chicago, at 3 p.m. On a lark, I decided to take a stroll. I'm not ordinarily much of a shopper, but this day I strolled the streets and "wandered" into shops, apparently aimlessly, for a little over two hours. Got back to my room. Unlocked my PPFinal. And started all over again. (Outcome: Speech was a roaring success.) I actually can't tell you "precisely" what I gleaned on that 2-hour excursion-wander. I can tell you it "changed everything." That is, I got "in the zone" re retailing; I physically inhabited my Client-of-tomorrow's world ... and it infused almost every sentence of what I subsequently presented.
Message: I am a zealot. I SWEAR BY MBWA. In any and all circumstances. Wanna join me? One last tip-idea: "Aimless" "wandering" takes discipline! And one truly last digression: Mr. Bush also serves as a reminder to "Mind your body language," especially "when no one is looking." Those "little" cutaways may have cost the Commander-in-Chief and World's-Most-Powerful-Human dearly.