Growing up in New Jersey, my family had a great driveway for riding bicycles. It was great mainly because it was paved and fairly long. Not a mile long, but long enough to get some good speed going. Many weekdays after school a group of us rode our bikes up and down that driveway. The only problem was that I didn't ride very well, largely because I had to teach myself. So off I went. On my own. Determined to figure it out. And eventually I did figure it out. But it took me longer than it should have. Had I been willing to ask for help, I could have learned faster and it would have been less painful.
The problem with going it alone, especially in times of change, is not only does it take longer, but we also won't achieve as good of an outcome. We limit ourselves to our own experiences and knowledge. So, when I was charged to integrate the U.S. Gillette Grooming business into our P&G Beauty business years ago, I asked for help. I didn't have the luxury of time, and I wanted a really good outcome.
It was July and we had just physically moved more than 30 business leaders from Boston to Cincinnati. Many were still in shock, getting used to the Midwest instead of New England as their new home as well as the vast differences in company cultures. Subsequently, many were freaked out. I knew we needed to help keep these folks engaged and stay with the company for at least two years. So, in addition to the normal business strategic plan we put in place, my HR manager and I put together a separate people strategic plan to hold retention. Then I picked up the phone and called for help. I reached out to a consultant who had years of experience and successful results leading companies through major change. The work this company did was a big plank of our plan. And the eventual outcome was 100% retention. It was the best result of any business unit anywhere in the world.
By asking others for help we learn. We get a better and often faster outcome. We build relationships. And the stronger our relationships, the more opportunity there is to ask for, and give more help. Gratefully, I have gotten much better at asking for help over time. Partly because I love to help folks. Partly because as I get older and clearer on what I want to accomplish, I also have less time to accomplish it. So going it on my own is no longer an option for me. And a symbol that reminds me to not go it alone, believe it or not, is a bicycle.