Lessons of strategic planning from a Chicago cabbie

While leaving the SHRM Strategy Conference last week, Charlie Judy and I decided to share a cab back to our train stations to depart for the suburbs. May I stop to just say that taking a cab in Chicago is like taking your life into your own hands – read more about that here.

Upon entering the cab – we noticed the Cabbie was already in a tizzy and seemed very perturbed and agitated. We told him that Charlie needed to be dropped at Union Station and then he needed to continue taking me to Olgilvee. He mumbled something in response that we tried to interpret as “No, I can’t go that way it’s Oktoberfest.” Or maybe that’s what we understood to be what he said. Then he quickly swerved into another lane to pass another cabbie and get in front of him. I can’t remember what Charlie said to the guy but I think it was something like “Man – take it easy we have plenty of time.” I could be wrong – my stomach was already in my throat and I was about to throw up.

As the guy tried to figure what route he would take to Union Station – Charlie looked at me and said “Why is this guy going this way if he knows there’s traffic?” I shrugged my shoulders thinking after all – it is Oktoberfest – he had already pointed this out to us. I had no idea because I don’t know my way around the city that well.

Needless to say we were stuck, going at a snail’s pace in bumper to bumper traffic, and what usually is a 10 minute drive took about 45 minutes total.

I laughed when Charlie decided it would be easier for him to just get out and walk the rest of the way – so he wouldn’t miss his train.

So with a few more yells from the Cabbie to other Cabbies and pedestrians he continued on -swerving in front of other cars and people on route. I finally made it to my station and paid the guy and said, “Dude, you should totally chill out and relax – next time make a better plan – or quit your job and do something else.” I was hoping he wouldn’t shoot me while walking walked away.

It left me thinking, if this guy knew that Oktoberfest was going on – shouldn’t he have planned an alternative route and could have avoided the congestion, the agitation and stress associated with it all? This would have then created an all-around good experience in getting us from point A to point B. Instead, he chose not to, to go with the rest of the crowd which created chaos and affected all involved.

Come to think of it this is what we do in life, business and the world of work. It truly affects those around us and causes us to stress out majorly. We continue doing the same things because they’re familiar or comfortable – to go in the direction of the crowd and most of the time it is totally ineffective. It makes us difficult to be around and creates chaos in our life and work.

Maybe it’s time to do something different. To take a different approach. To take a different route. Or quit – and go do something else. Just a thought.

Preview of SHRM Strategy Conference – Chicago

The next few days I’ll be attending and blogging for SHRM We Know Next at the SHRM Strategy Conference downtown Chicago. I’ll be high-tailing it on the train every day (not the highlight for sure) to the city.

I really am looking forward to hearing the keynotes such as GE’s former SR. VP of HR Bill Conaty who will be opening the general session. And then Bridget van Kralingen, General Manager, IBM North America. There are also several breakout sessions I’m looking forward to hitting such as “Building a Leading People Culture: How to Create a Flexible and Inclusive Work Environment“.

And I must hit Jason Lauritsen‘s “The Power of a Plan” on Thursday. I love hearing Jason speak and I just gotta show some love!

I’m told a lot of these sessions will focus on strategic planning, engagement, future needs of the workforce and we can’t forget culture. These words seem to be buzzing all around the HR beehive.

I’m looking forward to learning, engaging with key leaders and blogging my heart out on site.

I’m also stoked about seeing my online friends again IRL, hanging out, and getting to know them better.

And most importantly, using  my new flip cam for some key interviews for the blog. So stay tuned for some (hopefully) great interviews, session take-a ways and much more.

Here are some great upcoming conferences you might want to attend from now until the end of the year:

October 24-26, 2011 – Diversity and Inclusion Conference & Exposition,  Washington, DC

November 8-10, 2011 – Work/Life Focus 2012 and Beyond, Washington, DC

If you plan on attending, be sure to hook up with me, grab a cup of coffee or some lunch, and let’s get better acquainted. Be sure to follow my tweets @susanavello and @weknownext. Be sure to follow the hashtag #shrmstrat.

Which way did he go George?

I’m stoked and ready to head to Vegas for SHRM11 next week. I’m also excited to be going as part of the press/blogging team and for the awesome invite to participate. (I know, a total dork – check it out: Me in my SHRM11 shirt)

I have printed out all my emails, travel docs, programs and I’m spending time reviewing what sessions I want to attend, what after hours events to go to, and a list of my online industry celebrities that I want to meet in person (no, not stalk). The next thing to do is figure out what I want to take to wear. I’ve been instructed to dress for warm weather outside and freezing cold weather inside which makes it difficult to pack since I refuse to pay for my bags when flying. I will somehow cram it all in one suitcase and hope for the best.

While I’m not as anal as some when it comes to lists and in my organizational skills, I do not like to be unprepared. Especially, for something like this. I don’t want to be wandering the halls, running here and there trying to do everything but I want to have a strategy in place; a plan of action ahead of time. I don’t want to be one of those people that was referred to on True Faith HR.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a list? I know for me, I wander around in circles like I’ve never been to a grocery store before. I go up and down the isles thinking, “what did I come here for and where is everything?” I then get home and have a crap load of cookies, chips, and junk food and nothing to prepare a meal. The best thing I could do before I leave for the store is to create a menu for the week and then make my grocery store list from that. That always works best for me.

Having a plan of action ahead of time helps us in so many areas of our lives. I’m not saying that we can never be spontaneous, but for the most part – being prepared is key. It is crucial for time-management, productivity and in leading others. How can we expect to lead others when we are wandering around in circles just “happy to be there?”