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Observe. Then Choose.

July 6, 2011
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My grandma used to call it ‘window shopping.’  She loved nothing more than taking a stroll downtown (in those pre-mall days) or wandering through a shopping venue for hours just to take a look.  Every now and again she would be so won over by something that she would make an impulse purchase.  But in most instances she was deliberate and practical as she went about her shopping.  Groceries (meticulous list), shoes (required color and style determined before even stepping foot into the shoe store) and home furnishings/decor (size, style and placement) were planned for and the acquisition was well thought-out ahead of time.

I guess my grandma taught me well.  Unfortunately, sometimes I dilly and dally over a simple purchase for so long that when I drive back to the store to finally whip out the old credit card and take it home – – – it’s gone. Not cool.  Sigh.

But yet . . . what’s so wrong with that?  Is there really something unsuitable about taking a thoughtful approach before snatching up something that may just be a fad item?  A pair of shoes that look great but pinch my feet?  A painting that I’m not-quite-sure-will-match-my-decor?  A new winter coat that will be out of style next season?

I think not.


I thought of this approach last week while at SHRM11.  Naturally there are parallels to be drawn between a trip to Dillard’s and a visit to the latest greatest loudest vendor booth in the gigantic Expo Hall.  What’s on the display rack?  Where are the shiniest lights and baubles and celebrity spokes models?

But I really thought of grandma’s style of window shopping while sitting in the sessions I attended.  I contemplated her approach while catching up on blog posts and when reading the SHRM Conference Daily articles outlining the content from the concurrent sessions I was unable to attend.

I found myself, for all practical purposes, window shopping for ideas.  Trying things on to see how they fit or checking them out to determine if they match what I already own.  I grabbed a concept from Speaker A, got an inkling of an initiative from Speaker B, and a bit of inspiration from an HR peer in the hallway.  I scribbled a few notes and jotted down some ideas.  And I came home – – – without buying.

But now I’m imagining how those new notions I heard about will align with what’s already in existence in my organization, in my department, and in my own personal approach to HR.  I’ll think and I’ll contemplate and more than likely, I’ll ultimately take possession of some of the merchandise.

The best thing about window shopping for ideas?  They’ll still be there when I finally decide to complete the acquisition.

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