Chip Shots: McCain, Smart Delegation, and User Experiences

Some people tell you the truth even though it’s unpopular. Other people tell lies they think will be popular.

John McCain was known to tell the unpopular truth. On the rare occasion when he seemed to inject political calculus into a decision, it made you wince (even if you agreed with him). He couldn’t pull it off because it wasn’t who he was.

The tributes will continue to flow in the days to come. As is almost always the case, the the good will be burnished and the bad will be banished. The truth is that Sen. McCain wasn’t perfect, but he always commanded respect — not because he insisted upon it, but because he earned it.

He will be missed.

* * * * *

There’s no graceful way to pivot from that to the rest of this week’s newsletter, so I’ll just begin anew.

Summer comes to an end shortly here in the U.S. with the long holiday weekend coming up. Though the crisp fall air will wait a few more weeks to take solid hold in New Hampshire, there’s no avoiding the fact that we’re about to hit the sprint from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. For many businesses, it is one of the busiest periods on the calendar.

Hopefully you have a good sense of your goals for this period — and some idea of how you are going to accomplish them. As people return from the mountains, lakes, and beaches, there’s not going to be a lot of time to catch our breath between now and the year-end holiday period.

Now on to a few thoughts from the world of business, communications, and technology.

DON’T JUST DELEGATE, DELEGATE SMART. I was talking with someone recently about the importance of delegating tasks. As leaders, it’s very easy for us to get bogged down with time-consuming work that doesn’t make highest, best use of our time. The solution is to hand those off.

The trick is to make sure that we recognize and delegate the right tasks. I’m as guilty as anyone else of delegating work I dislike, even if I may be the best person to do it. On the other hand, high performers who become leaders often chafe at giving up tasks within their expertise, even if someone else could handle it just as well.

If you delegate just to check a box, you’ll likely end up moving the wrong work off your plate. That’s not the path to better results.

TALK TO USERS MUCH? User experience (UX) is one of the cool new terms that techies have started using in recent years. It’s just a fancy way of saying that you need to make sure your product works well.

I read an article by a UX expert this week titled “How to make a dashboard that doesn’t suck.” The upshot? Talk to the users of the dashboard to find out what they need.

Too many in the world of technology and product development create things that they themselves think are cool and exciting. That works great if your customers are like you, but less so if you are not the target customer.

That’s when you need to get out from behind your monitor and talk to real-world users.

The same lesson applies to communicators. We need to be in touch with the audiences that our companies or clients are trying to reach. We need to listen to what they say and see how they react to our messages.

There’s simply no replacement for having actual conversations with the people you’re trying to reach — whether you’re building a product or delivering a message.

RED SOX. We’re 4-6 in the last 10. If this were me in 2003, I’d be panicking. But it is 2018 and Red Sox fans can breathe a little easier after winning 3 World Series in the 2000’s. But only a little.

Enjoy your final week of summer. I’ll be back to your inbox as the starting gun for the sprint to Thanksgiving sounds.

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