What Dora Can Teach Businesspeople

My almost-2-year-old bounces on the couch each morning as we turn on Dora The Explorer. Once the excitement turns to focused attention, Dora takes us on a daily adventure. I have a background in writing and video production, so I’ve often been interested in the dynamics that make children’s television so intriguing. What can I say, it makes watching any TV show into a bit of research.

A few years ago, I made the transition into the “Business-world”, so I keep an eye out of tips that can help bridge the world of business for the rest of us without a business degree. As I watch Dora, I find myself saying “Hey I should remember that at work today.”

To spare you the need to fire up the children’s television, here is a quick list of the things Dora has taught me about business:

Make sure your team knows the destination. It’s hard to make fast-paced decisions in your business if you don’t know where you are going. Everyday, Dora and friends check the map to see where they will end up. The Map tells them 1) where they are 2) where they are going. Everyone knows the destination, which leads to great problem solving along the way.

Work as a team. Everyone should know the plan. Teams don’t work when you aren’t on the same page. Dora always takes time to talk out any new problems, listens to new ideas, and make a new plan. Then the team gets to work.

Enjoy detours. Detours will come up, but you can easily get back on track if you know your destination and work as a team. Shipments get lost. Distractions appear. Last minute meetings get called. Talking monkeys loose their boots. But having a solid team that knows where they are going and can tackle new problems, really can take the stress out of surprises.

Be willing to help. Dora is a friendly little girl, so it’s not surprising that she makes new friends. But how about you? Are you just “cordial” to those you interact with or do you really take the time to get to know people? It only takes a minute to talk to someone and look for ways to be helpful. While “Help Big Red Chicken” is not clearly marked on The Map, Dora makes it part of her daily agenda. Ten minutes of sincere help can go a long way.

Give encouragement often. Don’t fluff people up with fake encouragement if you don’t mean it; people see through that charade. Instead, learn to verbalize your praise and give it often. Adults may think about patting people on the back, but rarely open their mouths and say “Great Job!”

Celebrate success. At the end of each episode, Dora and friends celebrate the day’s adventure by singing “We did it! We did it! We did it! Hooray! When’s the last time you heard that around much excitement around your office? Celebrating your successes as a team doesn’t mean you have to sing & dance, but it does mean you must stop, reflect on what went right, and cherish the moment.

Have Fun. Too many adults “Keep Trucking” when they should really take a few minutes to smile, share some encouragement, and enjoy the fact that hard work really does pay off.