Carpe Diem: Make Your Business Extraordinary

Carpe Diem, translated as “seize the day”, is from a Carpe Diempoem published in 23BC by the Latin poet Horace. The meaning of this phrase is to not trust the future (or tomorrow,) but to do all one can today to make one’s future better. In a business context, it is to maximize your current opportunities that are presented to you today to make your business extraordinary.

Poor Application
I have witnessed this phrase used to justify risky business behavior, to promote one’s self-importance, or to intimidate those that take a more cautious and methodical approach to managing business conditions. In these cases, it seems, there is more focus on the pleasure of the moment without concern for the future. That is, some leaders will put aside all differences, fears, and worries and just go for it.

Best Application
Carpe diem has been best utilized to develop an organization culture that prepares itself to proactively “seize the day” each day intentionally through recruiting, preparation, training and organization development. It is not an individual decision acted upon just for the pleasure of it, but as the result of a calculated effort by an organization to create an extraordinary business by maximizing the opportunities of each day.

What Should You Do?
The primary reason an organization resists “seizing the day” is that it is normally conditioned to operate within a comfort zone that results in a reactive response, therefore creating a mediocre and predictable (or safe) experience serving the customer. Typically various departments are not prepared, or expected to deliver, timely service or support to one another, which reduces the confidence that employees within the organization are going to go above and beyond to commit the company to deliver an extraordinary level of service to the customer.

Company leadership is critical in setting the tone for extraordinary service and performance by making sure the right preparations are in place:

  • Employee Recruiting: Employees are recruited and interviewed to determine their ability to work well with others in a high achieving environment. Selected employees will have demonstrated the ability in previous positions to be creative problems solvers, take initiative, lead and influence others.
  • Training and Mentoring: Employees are trained properly for their responsibilities and mentored to make sure they know the values of the organization and how to work at a high level of performance.
  • Feedback: Employees are given regular feedback on the results of individual, group and company performance.
  • Responsibility/Accountability: Responsibility is balanced with accountability, so that employees are empowered to make decisions and take action to serve the customer.
  • MBWA (Management By Walking Around): Interaction with company leadership should be high and employees should be encouraged to make suggestions on improvements about the business operates.
  • Recognition: Publicly recognize employees and groups that meet or exceed the goals of the company or the values followed.
  • Energy: From leadership to front line employees the energy level of everyone is important. Employees should be confident in what they are doing and approach each task or customer interaction with enthusiasm. This creates a contagious work environment, which not only employees will recognize, but more significantly, will also be obvious and appreciated by customers.

A high energy, trained and confident organization, that knows how to work well together, will be able to handle a wide range of business conditions that arise. This type of organization should be motivated to approach each business day with a “seize the day” attitude. An organization that is trained, responsible and accountable is well postured to take advantage of opportunities without creating unreasonable risk. Good communication between first line employees and mid to top level management will reduce the chance that a pursued opportunity will put future (tomorrow) strategies at risk.

Becoming an extraordinary company is more than just “seizing the day” without balancing the risk of the opportunity with the skill and ability of the organization to perform. You might survive by “seizing the day” one day, but more than likely the outcome will not be extraordinary due to unprepared, ill trained and poorly supervised employees.

Delivering an extraordinary customer experience consistently is not just a matter of arbitrarily deciding that you are going to do it that day. It needs to be the result of conditioning the organization to perform extraordinarily.

Make sure your business is extraordinary so that you are in a position to approach each day with a “seize the day” attitude. It is not just making the decision to “seize the day,” but a conscious decision to develop the organization to master the skills and knowledge necessary to make it a manageable risk and business viable strategy.

Go forth and “Carpe diem” and Make Your Business Extraordinary!

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