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Do You Flemish?

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Huh? Am I asking you are from Belgium? Or have a cold... phlegmish? No. No. Do you flemish? To "flemish" is to coil the loose end of the lines* (ropes) used when boating.

It is an attractive and safe way (reduces tripping) to tidy and stow loose line.

Not all boaters do this, but when you see it, you think...
  1. they care,
  2. how neat and professional, and
  3. what great attention to detail.

One of the reasons I admire Walt Disney is the way he pushed his teams to take extra steps to care and make their work neat and professional. His animation, theme park legacy, and brand was built on this attention to detail or "flemishing the lines."

Are there things at your business, with your products or services - or perhaps personally - that are being left untidy? Knotted ropes? Things customers could trip on?
If you fathom the benefits, take the time to coil those loose ends. Trust me, the tangles are noticeable, flemishing will reflect positively on your brand.
*Just like marketing, boating has lots of jargon. When boating you never call them ropes, they're "lines". Also the kitchen is called the "galley," maps are "charts," and the toilet the "head." The expression "bitter end" comes from boating... it's the last just before a line ends.

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Hi there!

I'm Paul Williams... guest writer on Daily Fix and founder of Idea Sandbox.

I'm a professional problem solver. Through brainstorm facilitation I help people create remarkable ideas to grow their business. As one client put it, “Idea Sandbox turns brains into idea machines.”

Prior to launching Idea Sandbox in 2005, I spent 15 years building marketing, branding, and customer-experience strategy for The Disney Company, the Aramark Corporation, and Starbucks Coffee Company.

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  • by Paul Barsch Fri Aug 24, 2007 via blog

    A former boss' favorite phrase was "sweat the small stuff". He was right. Small details, once taken care of with quality and accuracy roll up into the bigger picture. There's no shame in being a detail freak--as long as you balance that with the sum of the parts.

  • by Paul Williams Fri Aug 24, 2007 via blog

    My personal mantra for years has been: "It is not enough to be good when you dream of being great." It is the same concept... why settle for good when there is room for greatness? Thanks for the discussion, Paul!

  • by Linda Athans Fri Aug 24, 2007 via blog

    I am a flemisher! (Boy, that felt good to get off my chest!) Everything should match. Everything should be addressed. Everyone should be heard. Individually people only see what they deal with every day, so having continuity across the board says exactly that about your company. Think that small things don't matter, and that's the impression you send to your customers. Which image do you think a CEO would choose?

  • by Majd Awary Tue Aug 28, 2007 via blog

    A great insight Paul, thanks. We really miss this kind of attention to the detail in the world of business. I think it's more about taking the easiest way out for practitioners. On the other hand, those who give to much attention to the detail and forget the big picture and integrity within, make me nervous. Sometimes little details should be forgotten; actually some untidy little things give the "natural effect". I think people with insight doubt 100% perfection.

  • by Jennifer Thu Aug 30, 2007 via blog

    Great post. But I also agree with Majd. I think a lot of people struggle with perfection vs. excellence and spend too much time on details while the ship is sinking in other areas. My question--how do you recognize the difference?

  • by Paul Williams Tue Sep 4, 2007 via blog

    Jennifer / Majd - Yes, yes, yes. This is about excellence, not perfection. In fact, I'm not even pushing excellence... I'm encouraging awareness. Catch the Details - Are the headlines on the different pages of your PowerPoint all the same font, size, and in the same position? Or do they appear to jump around as you flip through the pages of the deck? Include All of Your Audiences - The in-store consumer promotion you are running has an incentive for the store hourly employees, but not the store manager. Could you find a way to include and encourage them as well? (Won't their buy-in lead to the whole store being excited?) Show Care, If You Care - The vacation request form your employees fill out is a copy, of a copy, of a copy. (In fact, you can even see that someone used WhiteOut to turn a used form 'blank' again, and made a copy of THAT). This signals you don't care about employees taking vacation. I'm sure you can think of more... As always, thanks for the conversation!

  • by Paul Williams Tue Sep 4, 2007 via blog

    Jennifer - RE: Perfection vs. Excellence... I found this and thought it may help.... Good stuff! Perfection is being right Excellence is being willing to be wrong Perfection is fear Excellence is taking a risk Perfection is anger and frustration Excellence is powerful Perfection is control Excellence is spontaneous Perfection is judgement Excellence is accepting Perfection is taking Excellence is giving Perfection is doubt Excellence is confidence Perfection is pressure Excellence is natural Perfection is the destination Excellence is the journey

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