Writing on Bar Napkins
Somewhere out there, in a little tavern, bar and grill or lakeside resort, somebody’s pouring their heart and dreams out on a little 4 x 4 writing surface known as a bar napkin. Hopefully they’re enjoying a libation or two in support of the local establishment that is hosting them. The tiny surface will make them be concise. Strip away any artifice. Cut to the chase. What is possible will magically appear. And it will be doable. How do I know? Because that is how our business was designed. And it has been successful beyond our wildest dreams.
We actually continue to use the bar napkin strategy for our most important decisions. I was thinking about this recently while preparing to orient our two new team members (Monday, May 17, 2010 – Let’s Hire 2!). How would I explain this curious phenomena of the bar napkin? That it took center stage in creating the workplace they would be joining? How much joy it is for my husband and I to keep the bar napkin strategy going? How it makes you pare down your words and thoughts to fit the medium? Not unlike the beloved Twitter medium that really does some of the same things for our writing by forcing us to say it in 140 characters.
When you use the bar napkin strategy you are in effect saying the details will come later but here is the big picture. In the case of our business design, it always leads us to what we truly need. There will be time for the endless discussions of the how’s, why’s and when’s – honestly my least favorite part. But they can’t happen until we get the essence. In our case, the essence of Desautel Hege Communications as a business has always been its people. That’s what matters – nothing else even comes close. Great people produce great work. And it started with the partners as they were added one by one. They were chosen as carefully as a marriage partner. As a veteran of an almost 30 year marriage – if I have one clue – and maybe only one – it’s this. You should be able to focus on the essence of what’s most important because the other stuff will work its way out. Desautel Hege is made up of amazingly talented and passionate people. They’re in it for the long run. They are zealots. As we move into our future, some of it will be plotted out on bar napkins and some in spreadsheets. It doesn’t matter. As long as we never forget why we all got together in the first place. We love this business. We can’t wait to get to work in the morning (ok so I’m a morning person). This is the legacy and the hope for all our team members – old and new. As Jim would say – work hard, play hard and make a difference. And when you get a minute – jot down a few notes on a bar napkin.