Paint the Parking Lot

When one of my former bosses took over a struggling manufacturing company, he found a low-spirited and beaten organization.  It seemed that every day brought new and unexpected emergencies: Financial, client, and operational problems were mounting.

After a few weeks on the job, however, he publicly announced the decision to clean and paint the parking lot. Parking lot maintenance had been neglected for years, weeds were growing everywhere and no one seemed to care.

At first glance, this looked like a small and insignificant improvement and, frankly, a waste of resources and time: After all, how would a clean parking lot help solving the immediate and urgent issues the company was facing?

Yet, it soon became clear that this decision set in motion a movement in the company which became bigger every day. The visible improvement of the parking lot boosted employee morale, and helped people re-focus on making additional small steps to create a better future. The metaphor paint the parking lot became the start of a remarkable and unexpected company turnaround.

Thinking big is a useful skill. Yet, making a big vision happen, must start with small steps. Many of these small steps don’t seem to contribute directly to the big goal. Yet they are necessary to create visible wins and bring people on-board.

Where is your opportunity to paint the parking lot to massively raise the energy of your organization?

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