Rivers of Thought

Life, Leadership, Business & Technology

It took just 25 seconds Saturday. 25 seconds and the RCA Dome, former home of the Indianapolis Colts, was a pile of rubble. As the dust cloud floated west and settled on downtown Indianapolis, the memories of 24 years came flooding back; the first basketball game played in the dome between the NBA All-stars and the Olympic Team; Bobby Knight and the IU players spelling out “THANKS!” on the floor after an NCAA tournament practice; the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen concerts; my oldest son playing 3 on 3 basketball on the turf of the football field; and of course, the Colts. Thousands suffered through the “lean years” of the Dolts when the stadium as rarely, if ever, sold out. And, who could forget the greatest game ever played in the dome, when our Colts rallied from a huge deficit to defeat the Patriots and head to the Super Bowl…and the victory celebration that followed in February as the team brought home the Lombardi Trophy?

Across the street is Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home of the Colts. It is a great place to watch a game and I am sure it will soon be filled with memories just as the dome had been. Just a few blocks west sits Victory Field the home of the Indianapolis Indians since 1996, and a great place to watch baseball. Their previous home, Bush Stadium, sits vacant, neglected and overgrown. A couple of blocks in the other direction is Conseco Fieldhouse where the Indiana Pacers have played since 2001. Their former home, Market Square Arena, has been paved over for a parking lot.

Sunday’s news carried, not only coverage of the implosion of the RCA Dome, but the announcement by IUPUI that they planned to tear down the Indianapolis Tennis Center and the Carroll Track & Field Stadium.

According to the IRS, the depreciation for commercial buildings can be taken over 39 years. Thirty-nine years, yet the oldest of these facilities only made it 27 years. When did our stadiums become disposable? I find it ironic, that at least in the case of Conseco, Lucas Oil and Victory Field, that the new stadiums have been designed to look like stadiums of the past. They have all the modern amenities but they are designed to give the visitor a sense that they are entering a bygone era.

Yes, I will be in my seat in Lucas Oil on Sunday as the Colts take on the Titans (don’t rest ’em Tony!); will watch our young Pacers battle in Conseco; and, this summer, I will take in a game or two at Victory Field but when I really want to connect with history, and feel like I am a part of the game I will take in a Bulldogs game at Hinkle Fieldhouse and live what Indiana basketball has been for 80 years.

I think about my Granny often, but probably more so during the Holidays. Granny has been gone from us now for several years, yet as we gather for our traditional celebrations the memories of her are all around.

There was the Thanksgiving Day, watching the traditional Dallas Cowboy football game on TV when it began to snow in Dallas. Granny immediately declared that the astronauts were to blame! Sending men into space had disrupted the weather patterns years ago and that would explain snow in Texas.

Or playing a rousing game of dominoes and “catching” Granny cheating by going out of turn. When my brothers and I were really to blame as we sat there not making a play so Granny would assume it was her turn.

Or looking forward to Christmas because we knew that Granny would be making each family a “care package” of baked goodies. I can still taste those orange rolls! No one really even cared when, as she got older, she would forget an ingredient or two.

Or waiting (sometimes impatiently) as she veeeerrrrrryyyyy ssssssslllllloooooooowwwwwwlllllllllyyyyyyyy opened her gifts so that she would not tear the wrapping paper and then very meticulously folded the paper so it could be reused the following season (these days my mother has taken on this “tradition”).

Now Granny’s motivations might not have been trying to be green, or trying to save the planet, and the astronauts might not have caused the snow in Dallas (but I think there is little argument that mankind has had significant impact on the earth’s weather patterns). Granny grew up in a different time; a time when a simple game of dominoes was an evening’s entertainment; a time when, because of a very limited budget and a growing family, she would give baked goods in lieu of shopping for gifts; a time when during the depression and years following you learned not to waste a thing and reuse everything.

But, in her own way, Granny was right! Maybe the secret to sustainable living is learning from the past and adopting some of the same “simpler” approaches to life…Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

It’s about the People people!

Of the three bottom lines of People, Planet, Profit, I think People is listed first because it is, by far, the most important.  Have you ever stopped to think about the number of “mouths” your business feeds? It is an incredibly humbling exercise to go through. Start with the employees, then their spouses, add in their children, but don’t stop there. Count the vendors whose products go into yours, their employees, their spouses, their children. Look at your customers or clients. Hopefully, they are buying your product to enhance their life or business in some way. Soon, you have a very big number (and probably you counted Kevin Bacon somewhere in there).  Look to the wider community and the impacts your business has on them. Whether you are a business owner, executive, middle manager or front-line worker, each and every one of them is depending on each and every one one of your decisions and/or actions.  Its an awesome responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.

While I don’t think it is  feasible to consider each and every stakeholder in every day-to-day decision, I am continually amazed how little thought is given to the impact of a decision or of an action has on one or more of them. Just in the last few weeks I’ve talked someone who has been waiting a week for an employment offer that was said to be forthcoming immediately. No communication, yes, no, or still in progress. Another employee has an annual review that is three months late. Again, no communciation, yes, no, or otherwise. I’ve talked with a small business owner who has been waiting months for an invoice to be paid with no indication as to why it hasn’t been or even better as to when it might be paid.  I could go on, but you get the point.

Part of the triple bottom line approach to management is to identify these stakeholders, understand what strategies, policies and procedures impact them (both positively and negatively), and determine ways in which to measure those impacts. Next put in place strategies to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts and report the progress.

It is not an easy process and quite frankly can be painful. However, I think two words go along way in making this process easier: communication and respect. If we show respect to our stakeholders, even those with whom we disagree, and communicate openly and honestly with them, I believe we can identify strategies to resolve most impacts and issues.

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Insights is the weekly, thought-provoking newsletter from Jeffrey S. Ton.
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Leadership Thought – A lesson-learned, an insight shared
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