In the early 90’s, the Squeegee Brigade was out in full force in New York City, creating fear in everyone. The squeeqee guys are the one’s who come up to your car, start cleaning the windows and ask for a tip. If you didn’t tip, you were subjected to further abuse.
When Mayor Giuliani directed the NYPD to finally put an end to it, they thought it would be a monumental task at best. There had to be at least 2,000 of these guys (afterall, this is New York!) They embarked on a study to see how many squeegee guys there really were and found only 180! When the police department realized this, they became confident that this problem was solvable and not as unmanageable as anticipated.
How many times do you look at a situation and get frustrated by what seems to be a difficult task? Or, how many times do you find yourself reacting to market conditions without all the information you need?
Information is critical for effective leadership. Making sure you get the right information will help put things in perspective and create the right solution.
Next time you or your team encounter a difficult situation, take a deep breath and seek out all of the necessary information. The more you have, the easier it is to solve.
One last thing. What was the result of the crackdown on the Squeegee Brigade? It turned out many members of the Squeegee Brigade engaged in other illegal activities and some had outstanding warrants. This helped NYC reduce it’s felony crimes by 5,000 per year! New York City’s crackdown on quality of life crimes was one of the key initiatives responsible for drastically reducing the city’s overall crime rate. The lesson here again is it’s the little things that can make all the difference in the world.